Saturday, December 28, 2013

Walk to Biketawa

A great way to spend a  P-Day. We were invited to join the Moroni Ward on a campout on the island of Biketawa (where we went last May for the husband-wife retreat).  We had no desire to lie on the ground all night fighting the mosquitoes, but we did want walk there and enjoy the day.  At 6:00 this morning we went with Elder Youngberg and Elder Robison and drove to Buota where we parked the car and began our journey.  We walked across the channel to Abatao as the tide was low and the water was only knee deep.  On the other side of Abatao, instead of crossing the ‘Broken Bridge,’ we walked to the east of the island where tide was still low enough that we were able to walk across to Tabituea without the elders changing their shoes.  I had just worn my Tevas so I didn’t bother to change every time we came to water.  This was the longest of the islands and we found another broken bridge which we did cross to the next island of Nebeina.  On the other side of Nebeina we walked across the channel that again was only knee deep to the island of Kainaeba. It is a very small island and only took us about 15 minutes to cross. 

Top left: The island of Biketawa, Lower left: Rich swimming
Right: Walking across to Biketawa
Now we could see Biketawa, our island destination on the other side of that channel. However, the tide was coming in the water was quite deep crossing over to Biketawa.  The path Rich and Elder Robison took found them both swimming and I didn’t want to get my camera wet.  Elder Youngberg found a shallower path so I followed him.  I still stopped and put my camera and i-phone in a plastic bag and wrapped them in my hat. Holding my backpack and hat over my head I walked across.  The water came up to my chin with me on my tip toes but my camera and
i-phone are still good.  According to google earth we estimated it was about a 5 mile walk but it took us three hours by the time we stopped for pictures, let the Elders change shoes, and make it across five channels of water. I was grateful for a coconut frond mat in the maneabwa for a cool rest out of the sun.  After a short nap we went swimming in the beautiful, blue, crystal clear water, but the current was so strong we didn’t stay out long.  Rich retrieved water from the well so I could use the toilet and shower.  Sister Tune prepared us a great meal of rice with chicken curry and mild soy sauce chicken.  After lunch Brother Tune brought us back to Moroni on his boat, arriving at home at 3:00 pm.  As we walked through the villages of grass huts and bouias along a dirt trail surrounded by coconut palms and pandanus trees with a blue sky over head and the amazingly blue ocean, I am truly humbled at the creations of our Heavenly Father.  What a beautiful world we live in.  I was also surprised at the large number of people living on the island of Tabiteuea.  Brother Tune says there are some who are members there and they have their own gathering on Sunday. They are members of the Buota Branch but that would be a couple hours walk one way just to get to church.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


E & S Robison, Sis. Youngberg, E & S Wall, E & S Rasmussen,
Sis. Talataina, Sis. Ucunibaravi

On Dec. 23 we met with the other seniors to enjoy Christmas treats, a short video, “Christmas Mission,” and exchange gifts. It was a delightful evening. The rain was coming down hard and when Elder and Sister Wall arrived a few minutes late, they blamed it on the winter snow storm and how slow the traffic was because no one knows how to drive in the snow. We all enjoyed a laugh.

Christmas Eve was spent baking six dozen rolls for the next day’s dinner and orange rolls to take to Titeebwa’s family party. Titeebwa came around 6:00 and she treated us to dinner at the Chinese Pacific restaurant.  We then went to her family’s maneabwa in Temaiku. It was supposed to start at 6:00 but Kiribati time it started around 8:30. Her family consisted of three of her sisters and her older brother and their families. Little ones were tired and were falling asleep on their parent’s lap. They had a Christmas tree, which was really a branch cut from a tree and put in a large ten can filled with rocks. It was decorated with a string of battery operated lights, a few ornaments, and purple balloons. There were a few small gifts under the tree wrapped in plain type paper, newspaper, or aluminum foil.

Titeebwa with two grandchildren (The girl in the pink is our
 All of Titeebwa’s family belong to the Kiribati Protestant Church.  After singing a couple of their songs, we were asked to introduce ourselves.  It was a great opportunity to tell non-members who we were and what our calling was as well as to share our testimony of the birth of the Savior, His life and teachings, and His atoning sacrifice.  I love experiences like that. One brother-in-law in the family who is a deacon in the KPC spoke but of course it was in Kiribati and we didn’t understand him. We were then asked to pass out the presents as one of the sisters took the presents from under the tree and called our their name. Some were hesitant to take a gift from an I-Matong, but most were excited and eagerly came forth.  About half way through, the sister, told the kids they needed to dance for their gift.  Some did a little dance but there were a couple that really put on some moves to the delight of everyone. It was Dad’s turn when the name of one little girl around four years old was called out.  She stood, put her hands on her hips, cocked her head and eyes to one side and slowly moved towards Dad with all the hip movement she could make. It was the show of the night as we laughed and laughed. As I watched the children eagerly open their presents, I realized they all had small bag of chips and were thoroughly pleased.  I then passed around the bag of Starburst which they enjoyed.  It was truly an enjoyable evening and I felt honored that Titeebwa invited us.

Getting ready for the big meal. 

Enjoying the feast. 
 Christmas Day was busier than ever. It started with an 8:00 am baptism of five sisters which they termed as White Christmas. Then we had the great opportunity of Skyping with the family as they had all gathered at Angie’s.  We were able to see them open their presents and we opened the ones they sent to us. We then hustled to finish preparing dinner for the missionaries.  I cooked a 25 lb. ham which barely fit into our oven, made 6 doz. rolls, and 12 boxes of Stove Top Dressing.  After a great dinner of ham, potatoes, rice, dressing, gravy, salad, banana pie, pumpkin pie, and lemon bars we spread a table cloth over the leftover food.  The Elders and Sisters enjoyed a couple of movies, and then came back and ate ALL of the leftovers. We had 47 in attendance including the Seniors.  It was another great fulfilling day.

Sis. Tauteoli, Sis. Temau, Reerei, Terouta, Anna, Elder Risk, Elder Tarati

Rabangaki, Sis. Tauteoli, Tiakana, Nikaua, Sis. Temau

Sister enjoying a Christmas feast

Elders turn to eat

Getting ready to burn the Yule Log sent to us from Janine.