Saturday, March 28, 2009

No water for 10 days

This is a letter we recieved from Kevin this week.

It is good to hear from you again. I got your letter in the mail yesterday too. It sounds like everything is going well back home for the most part. That is an interesting case you were a juror for. It is good that we can give justice to people like that. I mailed a letter to you and dad with a story in it about a drunk man here on the island and the culture behind it all. It is the thing I dislike the most about here. The drunks are the reason we can't proselyte past dark. They are too dangerous. Oh well though. We do our best with the time that we are given and it is going well. The work is great here in Chuuk. Right now our zone is leading the mission in baptisms (not that it is a competition though). It is the first time since the mission opened that Chuuk has lead it. Our work is moving faster
than we set our goals for too. President has told us in both zone conferences that we are part of something big here in Chuuk now and that we are revolutionizing the church here. Before the Missionaries were the branch presidencies. Now we have enough members to run a branch on their own. As for my companionship we are doing good work as well. We have a few baptismal dates coming up that, unfortunately, may need to be pushed back a little bit. It is hard for a lot of the investigators to come to church because Tonoas is so big. We did a walk around the island for the first time on Saturday. It took us 4 1/2 hours. It was a big waste of time too. The people on the other side aren't interested at all and are truthfully quite rude to us. On our side we are always welcomed warmly. I guess that's why they chose to build the church on the side it is though.
So it finally rained. We went 10 days without water. It was funny because in your letter you said you were worried about me with coconuts. Trust me, I've learned to like them now. Its all we had to drink. To shower we did Chuukese bucket showers. There is a well nearby that we draw water from with a little bucket on a string. It's kind of awkward. We wear basketball shorts but the Chuukese children still watch us all the time. They don't see many white people so they are interested in like everything we do. I don't want to say too much about the little kids here though. They try my patience here a lot.
In regards to things I need from home... I did say a few things in the letter I sent you but I will just say them now so you know. I need new pants. In the letter I only said one pair but two would be nice. Chuuk is really primitive and dirty and clothes get ruined fast here. I need durable pairs like Dickies. I also need some more black socks (preferably dockers so they match the ones I have now). Along the lines of food, refried beans would be awesome. I really miss mexican food. I know refried beans come in cans and can be sent easily. Any other foods you can think of sending that I like would be amazing. My diet here consists of rice. I used to eat ramen noodles but the kind we buy have MSG in it so I avoid it now. I really don't want to get cancer from my mission. Thank you in advance for whatever you send me.
So everything else here is going well. I don't have too much big news really. Mostly because I have no idea what is going on. I still can't speak the language really well so it is hard. It is coming along well though. President told me I am picking it up really fast. Hopefully if I work hard and keep relying on the Lord to help me I can have it down in 4 months. As for now I need to be patient, study, and pray. I know I will get it eventually. I can't do anything yet in regards to lessons but I can say my testimony and say a simple prayer. I have done it a few times here. I can't wait to be able to teach and bring people to this gospel. It kills me just to sit during lessons and guess what is being said. I can pick out words here and there so I know what is being talked about but I don't know what is fully being said. Soon I will be able to do the Lord's work here though.
Well I hope everything is going well. It will probably be three weeks from now until I get a chance to e-mail again (that will be transfer time). Thank you so much for the support you are giving me while being out here. I love you so much!


Elder Kevin South

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home sweet Home

At last! We have heard from Kevin and can pass on information about his new home. Kevin spent one day in Guam and said it was gorgeous. He then took a plane to Chuuk and landed in Weno. It is not pronounced anything like Reno. It is pronounced Wooda. (We checked Weno out on Google Earth and you can see the little landing strip) He then took a boat to Tonoas which is pronounced Todoas. Kevin was warned Tonoas would be very primitive. He also said Tonoas was "beyond any paradise you have ever seen. At least until you see the houses." They are made of three walls of plywood and a sheet metal roof. The windows are screens. There is no electricity. Kevin said there is only one road that goes all the way around the mountain but you can't even tell there are houses around because the forest is so thick. He said the area is so poor that the houses in Tijuana, Mexico look like the White House. The weather is always about 85 degrees but the humity must be 1,000,000%. It is the dry season right now and so it only rains every other day. This is good that it rains because Kevin says they live off of the rain. They have rain gutters which send the rain into two big tanks. This is where Kevin gets his water. They do have filters for the water they drink. Since it is the dry season they often have no water, but Kevin says if that happens they drink coconut milk. Anyone who knows Kevin well will laugh here as Kevin has always disliked coconut. He does say that coconut there is way better as they eat it fresh there. He says we eat the ones that have fallen off of the trees and are rotten. He says the milk is clear and like water and the meat is the texture of egg whites. He also makes the statement that he is sure he will like it more in the future. Kevin also says the only food they have is white rice, ramen, tuna, and spam. "If variety is the spice of life, I am not having much spice in the diet category." Kevin's home does have solar panels so they can do a little bit of cooking. Many of the locals cook over a fire. Kevin says the people there are nice. At least he thinks they are... he is not sure of what they are saying. He is working on learning Chuukese. Kevin currently has two companions. One is from Arizona (Elder Tyson Peterson) and the other is from New Zealand. He says they are very patient with him. Despite the hard living conditions Kevin expresses that he loves it there and is glad to be there. As you can imagine Kevin does not have internet service. He does have an internet address he can check when he goes to Weno to get supplies but he does not have time to sit down and respond to e-mail. Tonoas does not have mail service, but he can pick up mail when he goes to Weno. Kevin will be in Weno about every three weeks. If anyone has time to write I am sure he would love to hear from you!

Kevin was met in Guam by the mission president and his wife

Kevin with his district in Provo, Utah

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kevin Opening his Mission Call

The Wideriksen Family sent in a video of Kevin opening up his mission call! Thank you for sharing this with us!

Click to play Kevin's Mission Call
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Kevin's Mission President

Here is Kevin's Mission President and his wife's blog, Guam Adventures.President and Sister Dowdle give great insight into where Kevin is serving.

Kevin is in Tonoas

Kevin's parents received an e-mail from a senior couple missionary in Kevin's mission. Here is what the e-mail said,

"Kevin has been assigned to labor on the island of Tonoas (sometimes called Dublon) in Chuuk (Truk). Tonoas has a small branch with an attendance on Sunday's of about 40 people. He will be in a 3-some for the first transfer (6 weeks). His companions are Elder Peterson from Arizona (he's been out 9 months) and Elder Matuauto from New Zealand (he's been out about 18 months). Send mail and packages to PO Box 861, Weno, Chuuk, FSM 96942. US postage rates apply so a regular first class stamp is all that is required for letter. Most Elders receive packages in the Flat Rate boxes.Elder South will be learning Chuukese. The Chuuk Zone is leading the mission in baptism currently and we have a great group of 15 Elders in the Zone."

Wow! What a neat experience for Kevin. He must have gotten off the plane in Guam, flew to Chuuk and then got on a boat and headed to Tonoas! Kevin said he wanted to go somewhere where it was authentic! Boy did he get his wish a then some! Keep him in your prayers!

Peanuts and a Drink

Kevin left the MTC Tuesday March 3rd at 2am in the morning. He left the SLC airport and headed to the LA airport. He had a quick layover there and was able to call a couple family members. He then headed to Honolulu. When he arrived in Honolulu his famiyl was hoping he 'd have a chance to call one last time, but unfortunately there wasn't enough time and they didn't hear from him. He landed in Guam Friday the 4th at 7:00 pm Guam time. Nobody knows exactly what area he will head to once he arrives there, so until we hear from him.....

When his family talked to him on the phone he sounded great and like a spiritual giant! He talked about how he broke the MTC sit-up record, how great the food had been (he even mentioned he put a little weight on), how much he loved his zone and companions, and how it felt weird to be back in the real world.
Here is a blog entry from Kevin's sister, Tori, about getting to talk to him at the airport.
"This morning I received a call from Domino's Pizza Boy, J/K my little brother called from the LA airport getting ready to depart to Honolulu and then head to Guam. For some reason every time we call each other in my family randomly we tend to be some fast food chain, thinking were teasing each other! Anyway it was so wonderful to hear is voice. He sounded so grown up. He said he loved the MTC and went on and on how wonderful it was. He mentioned that it was the first time in his life that he ever sat in one tiny little classroom for 12 hours! I can't believe how fast those missionaries learn. He loves his companion and district. He was flying with 4 missionaries from his zone and one missionary met them at the airport who had left for medical reasons and was returning to the missionary field. We talked about how much he loved the MTC food. He told us that in the short amount of time he was there he gained 15 pounds!!! OM goodness. He talked about how he broke the MTC sit up record- 226 sit-ups and he said his stomach was still hurting! I asked him if he was nervous and he said a little and that it felt weird to be back in the real world. I asked him if he could think of anything he was already missing and he said no. I mentioned to him that I read that missionaries in his area crave Taco seasoning. I mentioned this to him and he laughed. He said he couldn't ever imagine himself writing us to tell us to send him taco seasoning. It's so weird to think about where Kevin is heading to. An island where there may be no electricity, an island where there are no birds because the snakes have eaten them all. An island where the closest church is miles away and you have to carry the children just to get there because it's to far for their little feet. An island where you baptize the members in the ocean. Kevin is about to embark on an amazing mission for our Heavenly Father. We are so proud of him. It was so good to hear his voice I guess until Mother's Day??? We love you Kevin and pray for you everyday!"

This is a picture of Kevin at the MTC with a friend from Reno, Ryan Christensen!