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

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