Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bishop's Garden

Elder Rasmussen, Elder Youngberg: Building the Teaching Mwaneaba
On Sat. Sept. 28 we joined the Eita 2nd ward in their walk-a-thon. We thought it started at 7am but come to find out they actually began at 6am. So we had Elder Bush take us down to the Bishop’s Garden where we met up with them. It’s about a 15 min. drive by car. Remember the road is bad so it really wasn’t that far; maybe 6 kilometers.  Elder Youngberg has been working extremely hard to complete the structures in the garden before they are released in April. The first building was the shade house, then they built a teaching mwaneaba.  Next will be a composting bin, bathrooms with composting toliets, and finally a large mwaneaba as a meeting place.  They were able to use the wood from the old Temwaiku chapel to construct the teaching mwaneaba. 

Tioramia showing how to sew on the thatched roof
made of pandanus leaves. 
Once we had all gathered we cleaned around the area where some construction is going on. It didn’t take long when you have that many people working together. Many hands make light work. When finished we began our walk back to the high school. It took us about an hour and forty minutes. The bishop made sure we had plenty of water because even at that early hour it was getting hot. With all the smells of wood burning for their meals and all the beautiful foliage it did remind us of a camping trip.

Clean up
Every little boy loves a pile of dirt!

Moving the wood pile

Walk back: Highest point on the island; 4 ft elevation
By the time we made it back we were soaked with sweat. However, it was fun to be with the saints of the Eita 2nd ward. This ward makes sure there is always some activity planned or in progress.

Next Week: Teaching mwaneaba complete
Cutting some cabbage

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Moroni High School Graduation

Preparing the pig

President and Sister Weir

The academic graduation for Moroni High School was held on Fri. Nov. 22.  President and Sister Weir were the guest speakers. He made an interesting comment, “The Lord will be constrained by the things we do not learn.” The more we learn and are able to serve, the more he will be able to bless us.  After the ceremony, we were served a nice lunch in the mwaineaba. Tonight there will be a banquet with a pit roasted pig and all the trimmings, dancing, singing, and then the graduates will have a dance to who knows how late. 

Form 7 (Yr 13) Graduates

Roasted pig

Taraia, head secretary and her son, John

Mary, Turian, Bwebwenang

Titeebwa & Gloria

Monday, November 18, 2013

President's Dinner Invite

President Beretitenti Anote Tong
On November 18, we were invited to attend a ceremony with the President of The Republic of Kiribati, Beretitenti Anote Tong, and the First Lady, Bernadette Meme Tong to meet and have a dinner with the Ambassadors of Brazil, Taiwan, and Morocco. All the senior couples and several missionaries were invited along with several American citizens who were to attend a ceremony honoring their fallen comrades during the bloody battle of Tarawa during the 2nd world war. The entertainment was fine and the food was ok. It was fun to watch the missionaries eat and eat and down about 2 cases of Coke. They couldn't get enough of it. Had it not been for all the missionaries who attended the event,  there would have been very few there.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

North Tarawa

North end of North Tarawa
Students throughout the islands that have never attended Moroni need to take an intake test or an entrance exam. The teachers have been so overwhelmed scoring the end of year exams that Rich and I volunteered to help with the intake test on North Tarawa.  There were four of us who went, Taraia (head secretary), Taua (substitute), Rich and I.  I’m sure they could have done it on their own, but we were grateful for the experience. We were up at 3:30 am and Sister Cassita took us to Brother Tune’s home at 4:00 am.  By 4:30 we were loaded with our buckets, which protected our food and the tests,  

and headed out across the lagoon. It was a full moon and the stars were amazing. There were so many of them.  It was incredible.  The further we go out to sea the stars became brighter and the Milky Way was as bright as I’ve ever seen it. The water was very calm which made an enjoyable ride.  It took us an hour to get to the south end of North Tarawa, where we let Taua and Dad off and then we rode for another hour to the north end of North Tarawa.  Brother Tune dropped Taraia and I close to the chapel and the Elders' flat.  We borrowed the elders’ bicycles and started down the road (they call it the 
bush) to find the Branch President.  

Branch President and wife
We stopped at a couple of small villages for Tairaia to let them know the testing would begin at 9:00. Upon arriving at the Branch President’s home he prepared a moi moto (fresh coconut water) for us and some salt fish.  I’ve learned to really like the coconut, but the salt fish is too much.  They preserve their fish here in salt much like they did in biblical days.  It’s like sucking on a salt cube with a fishy taste. By the time we got back to the chapel, set up for the test and the kids arrived it was 10:00.  It’s an hour timed test and a couple of girls came about a half hour into it.  They were both Form 3 and we had used all of our Form 3 tests.  One girl 

said she just wanted to repeat Form 3 again next year, which I find not unusual for kids to repeat a grade here so Tairaia said we could just get her transcript from her previous school.  The other girl needed to take the test.  As soon as the first group of kids finished the tests we hand copied the test on the back of some application papers so she could take the test.  After the testing was complete the Branch President’s wife prepared rice and fried breadfruit for us.  By that time the tide was back in and President Tune was back to pick us up.  

  Now it is hot, the sun is high in the sky and the sea is very rough. It took us 2 ½ hours to get back including picking up Rich and Taua.  When I put in my application to serve a mission I remember distinctly checking the box stating that I could walk 3-6 miles. Never did I see a box that stated you must be able to ride in a 12 foot wooden fishing boat for 2 ½ hours on rough seas. I held on for dear life and bounced all the way back. We were soaked completely through and my bottom was sore.  Brother Tune doesn’t go into the water without dropping a couple of fishing lines. They don’t use poles; they just hang onto the line with their hands.  Rich was holding his line when he said, I’ve got one.  We slowed down enough to pull in a nice Travoli, a beautiful white fish.  We’ve been told not to eat the fish in the lagoon so Dad just gave it to the Bishop when we returned.   Between us we tested  23  kids today some of whom are not members of the church.  It was a great day and we came home very tired and sunburned, even though we used sunscreen.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Good-Bye Again

On Oct. 24 we said good-bye to Elder and Sister Edwards.  Their three month stay went by way to fast.  Elder Edwards accomplished a lot in the time they were here working diligently with the Seminary and Institute program and training the teachers. Sister Edwards worked closely with Marinoa and cataloging new books that had been donated to the library.  She also worked with Mary, the school counselor and interviewed most of the Form 7 students for their exit SSEOP. 

A week later on Oct. 31 we said good-bye to Elder and Sister Bush.  It was hard to see them go, but exciting for them knowing they have completed an honorable mission with a job well done.  The night we all had dinner together, I told them how impressed I was at how they interacted with the local members so well and the people truly came to love them.  Both the Buota and the Temwaiku wards gave them a “botaki” (party). They mentioned how leaving here is harder than leaving home.  When we leave home it’s only for 18 months.  When we leave here, we don’t know that we’ll ever                                                                                             see these people again in this life. 

A week later, on Nov. 8, we welcomed Elder and Sister Wall from Payson, UT.  He is a retired high school math teacher and she taught Kindergarten and third grade.  They will be working closely with the Robisons in ward and member support. They do not have the luxury of living on campus, but will be living in a two bedroom flat in Nanikai.  I truly admire their courage as they have no hot water and no internet.  The flat is only about 8 feet from our one crazy road, so they get a lot of dust and noise. The local neighbors around them are only a few feet away as well.