Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tide's Out

When the tide goes out so do the people and the dogs.  They go hunting for shell fish and whatever else they can find to eat. The dogs seem to be quite the fisherdogs. We counted 11 dogs the day we took this picture.  
Haze Lasika (student) enjoying the surf behind our flat.

Watermelon & Bananas

Elder Rasmussen and Elder Bush with the prize watermelon
We are so grateful for food on this small atoll in the middle of the Pacific.  Once in a while we get blessed to have a watermelon grow, and when it matures and ripens we celebrate.  It tastes soooooo...... good.

Looks good enough to eat!

Elder Osborne enjoying every drop.

A few weeks ago there were no bananas to be found on the island.  So Rich and Elder Bush decided to raid the banana pit on campus behind the dorms.  We had enough bananas for all of the seniors for a couple of weeks.


                                                                                                Hanging the bananas to ripen

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

General Authorities' Visit

We were blessed to have three general authorities visit for the recent stake conferences for both the Tarawa East and West stakes:  Elder and Sister Haleck, Elder Wakolo, and Elder Tarati.  Elder Haleck is from American Samoa and is the new second counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency so is now residing in New Zealand.  Elder Wacolo is from Fiji and Elder Tarati is from Tahiti. It was a treat to be spiritually fed by these great men. The first evening they were here we were able to have dinner with all of the senior missionaries and the general authorities.  What a treat. 

Sister Uncunibaravi (from Fiji), Elder Haleck, Sister Talitaina (from Samoa), Sister Haleck
Sister Talitaina has known Elder and Sister Haleck for many years and has been a translator
for many general authorities as they have visited Samoa.

 Elder Haleck told us that there is enough membership on this small island to create a third and maybe a fourth stake, however the Priesthood leadership and membership in general is so new maintaining activity is extremely difficult. He gave the missionaries the opportunities to share their concerns for investigators, new members, and those whom they are reactivating thru the rescue program.  He said all of the struggles the church is facing here is very common for a church that is really in its infancy compared to the rest of the world.  The church is so young here they are just beginning to send out their second generation of missionaries.  Most of the first generation are the current priesthood leaders. Our Stake Presidency is young in their thirties.  The second counselor has only been a member for six years and he is also the assistant principal here at Moroni. Many of our Bishops are converts who are return missionaries who have been home long enough to marry and just beginning to settle down.  They are trying so hard to guide and direct the church here with little to no training. It is just growing faster than the leadership can keep up with it.   Thus the reason for sending out Senior couples with church leadership experience and assigning all of us to different wards. Elder Haleck and Elder Wakolo spent their time reorganizing the stake presidency in the Tarawa West Stake.  The new president is Ioram, a very young man who has been a Bishop and currently teaches here at the school. His first counselor, Tebakaro, only 29, was also a Bishop and also teaches here at the school.  They are so very young but great leaders at the school and on the island. One evening we had the opportunity of listening to Elder Tarati speak to the youth.  What a choice man he is. Being from Tahiti he speaks broken English with a French accent and of course there was a translator to translate into Kiribati. He spoke on the power of fasting.  He told the story of when he was a stake president and a young man came in for an interview and to talk to him about going on a mission.  He asked all of the normal questions about prayer, scripture reading, church attendance, etc. but then he asked him about fasting.  The young man was honest and told him he had never truly participated in a fast except to go without food and water a couple meals.  He said he could not recommend any missionary who does not understand the power of fasting. Without the power of fasting the evil one will catch you.  With the power of fasting you can cast out all evil spirits.  He told him to go home and fast two 24-hour periods twice a month and to come see him in three months. He never thought the young man would come back, but he did in three months.  He told us miracles will happen when we begin to understand the power of fasting.

From rt to left: Elder Wakolo, Elder Tarati, President and Sister Tekeiaki (Tarawa East Stake)
Sister and Elder Haleck

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Youth Conference

Sept. 4-7 (Yes, I'm still catching up.) We had a twin stake youth conference held on campus. It involved about 200-250 kids from Tarawa and the outer islands. Since this last week was the off week for students between terms it was an ideal venue for a youth conference. All the young girls stayed in the dorms and the young men stayed in various class rooms. It began on Wednesday and lasted until Saturday about noonish.  Each morning began at 5am with aerobic exercises on the basketball court right outside our front door and the dancing and games didn't end till 10:30pm.We were asked again to help with table manners and how to use a knife and fork. We set up enough school desks and chairs to create place settings for 90 Laurels and Priests. Well, over 100 showed up. The kitchen staff ran out of plates and had to use tin foil for plates. Plus, they actually did run out of food.  The loud music became so exhausting for us we visited the other couples at the far east end of the campus just to have a break from the noise. 

5:00 AM Aerobics

Coconut husking relay

Coconut shredding relay

Classrooms turned into sleeping rooms for the boys

Our never ending music supply


A couple of weeks ago Elder Edwards came over and asked if he could borrow a mouse trap.  All we had is the one Rich has caught crabs with so we gave that to him. He said they have large (maybe a rat) droppings on their bathroom counter and in their shower when they get up in the morning.  Their bathroom windows will not shut all the way and they have a hole in their screen. Then while Sister Edwards was taking a shower she noticed a chunk from their bar of soap had been eaten with teeth marks to show for it.  She then realized that a mouse (rat) was eating their soap.  The Bishop saw our small mouse trap and said that will never do and gave them a rat cage which they loaded with cheese.  Within a few hours, they had at least an 8 inch rat with a tail longer than that. SICK!!!  The Bishop gave them a bucket to drown him and over the sea wall he went. I’d definitely make sure the window and screen were repaired. Within a few days they had caught four rats and sent them to the sea.
Every morning the next week, Mary, our counselor, whose office is next to ours, would open her door to a mess.  Rat droppings everywhere, they had eaten her plant, knocked things off her desk, and scratched the new door terribly trying to escape. We thought they might be coming in from the small hole in the ceiling where a pipe goes through. Last night Rich went over to the office around 9:00 and shined a flashlight through the window.  He could see two rats.  Again the next morning there was another mess.  He thought maybe they were still in there and just can’t get out.  A few hours later Lita saw one sitting on the ledge near the ceiling and tried to coax it down with a broom. All of a sudden it was chaos with three women shut in that small office trying to catch the two rats running all over.  They succeeded!! Yeah!  It added to our excitement for the day and the rat population is now down by two more.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Good Bye - Hello

Elder and Sister Rasmussen, Elder and Sister Osboren

Elder and Sister Osborne arrived in May and were in Kiribati for three months.  Their calling was with the Technical, Vocational, Education Program at Moroni High School.  Elder Osborne was the director of Davis Area Technical College for many years and Sister Osborne was a Home Ec and Special Ed teacher.  They spent their time cleaning and preparing the TVET programs for the new curriculum which will begin January 2014. They completed their 23 month mission on Aug. 1, 2013.

Elder and Sister Edwards arrived on Aug. 8.  Brother Edwards is a retired Seminary & Institute Area Director.  Their calling is to work with all of the seminary teachers in the secondary schools in the Pacific.  They will be with us till Oct. 24 and then will travel to Tonga.
Elder and Sister Robison are a newly wed couple of one year from Idaho. 
They will be working with member/leader support.
We are excited to have these new couples to add to the talent and priesthood strength here in Kiribati.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pioneer Day

Pioneer Day Trek
Grand March
The Tarawa East Stake celebrated by having a pioneer trek on our one and only road.  The youth and many others met at the Bikenibeu chapel about five miles from here.  They were put with 20-30 in each group to walk to Moroni High School with stops along the way.  At each stop the participants had to say an article of faith and then they were given a challenge, such as someone has been hurt and will need to be carried.  We left here around 7:30 and walked a mile or so to meet the first group and then turned around and walked back to the school with them.  It was great fun.  When we arrived at the school the students from Moroni High School led by the senior missionaries performed a grand march.  Then the students performed a square dance and the Virginia reel.  Breakfast consisting of crackers and corn beef hash was served. Everyone seemed to enjoy the activity remembering the pioneers and their sacrifices for us.

Breakfast: Crackers with corn beef hash

Square Dancing