Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We Found a PIcture of Kevin!

Elder's from left... Tuiatano, Mifale'o, South and Ulmer. Elder South is the newest missionary in this photo and is getting help on his Chuukese language packet from Elder Ulmer as they wait their turn for interviews after zone conference. Our missionaries are really supportive of each other.

We were delighted to find this picture of Kevin on his Mission President's blog. We have not had any recent pictures due to the missing camera card mentioned in a previous post. The only thing we wondered was why he doesn't look more suntanned!

Turtle (Pwapwa) Soup

Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks for the email even though you sent out a letter in the snail mail. It is always nice to hear from you guys as much as I can. So things are going great out here right now. The work is going great. We are on Weno right now because we had zone p-day yesterday. We were supposed to go back to our islands after everything but we ended up staying the night because our zone leader, Elder Hill, is leaving to Guam today to be the new zone leader there. It is a long story about the whole organization and why it is all happening. We are all sad to have to see Elder Hill leave. He is a stud missionary. We are all going to miss him a lot.
So about the missionary pal book, don't worry about getting the one in the best condition you can find. It doesn't matter to me at all. Just having one is great. I really could have used it the other day when we tracted into some guy who is a head church leader for one of the protestant churches here in Micronesia. He was really hard hearted and only wanted to bash. He says that none of our doctrine is in the Bible so I would have loved to show him how everything really is in there and the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. He said he was busy and could go back another day. We didn't get the chance to meet with him again though. It was probably a good thing. Contention isn't good so we avoided it I guess.
So we have a baptism coming up next week if the guy can stop smoking. We have been working on helping him with his struggles and he is showing some real heart and desire. We have been meeting with him for literally two times a day to make sure all is well. Hopefully it will all turn out good.
I wrote to you about this in a letter I sent out today but I think it would be neat for you to hear about it sooner because I know you have asked me about it a few times. I did get the chance to eat something cool the other day and I will eat it again tonight at a branch party. It is a soup with pwapwa in it (turtle). It is really really good. I love it. It is like a lean beef. I think that turtles are on the endangered species list or something because I know that it is illegal to have anything in the states made out of turtle shell. I wanted to send home some rings they make from the shell but I don't want to risk it. I heard it is a $10,000 fine. The turtle we are going to have tonight is huge! It is the biggest turtle a lot of the Chuukese have seen. I took pictures of it when they were dragging it over to the branch president's house. He lives right next to us so it is just laying on its back outside our house. It is sad to see it just have to sit there and wait to be killed. It tries really hard to flip itself over but it can't do it by itself. The little kids around us all torture it and throw rocks at it. We watch out for it and take care of it the best we can. They leave it sitting out in the sun all day and it seems like it would dry up so we take water out to it and pour it all over it. We just want it to have a little less suffering in its last few days. Even though it is illegal to kill them the Chuukese really don't care. They have eaten them for as long as they have lived here so it doesn't really dawn on them that the turtle is protected. They probably don't understand what it means that a species is in danger of becoming extinct. That would be a way complicated thing for these people to comprehend.
Well there really isn't much news for now. We have been working hard and things are going great. I have another letter from last week that I forgot to bring with me today but I will be having it sent out on the 20th so you will get that soon. That has a lot of the news from last week. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon. I hope all is going well. I am glad to hear that Grandpa is continuing to progress with everything. Give him and Grandma my love. I wrote them a letter that will be send out on the 20th as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chuuk is Amazing

We were able to talk to Kevin on Mother's Day and then we received a letter today. Our house is a happy place to be!
Because of the time difference and Kevin's schedule, we talked to him at 11 PM on Saturday night. We were able to talk to him for about two hours. Even then, it was hard to hang up. It was so nice to be able to ask questions and get the answers right away. We noticed several things, such as that Kevin seems to talk with a draw and that he was extremely grateful and appreciative. He loves the packages he has been receiving. We expected him to say he loved the Werther Carmels and he surprised us by saying how wonderful it was to eat the canned chicken and the tortillas that Grandpa Bob and Grandma Helen sent.
We are sad to say that it will be a little while before we can post new pictures. Kevin sent us one of his two camera chips. We unloaded everything and sent it back quickly. The chip never made it to him so until we get another chip and mail it to him, he can't send us anything new. Sigh.. We are working on this.
Kevin says hello to everyone! He loves all the letters! He is excited to hear Skyler is going to Virginia! Wanlass family, he asked for your address which I have passed on to him.
The letter we received from Kevin starts with this paragraph, "Another week has gone by with some good memories made. All is well here in Tonoas right now. Nothing has changed. Then again, things in Chuuk never really do change. It stays awesome all the time."
Kevin says his Chuukese is progressing though he is impatient when he is not able to say what he wants to say. He has learned to love the people there and would love to be able to communicate better than he is.
Kevin gets a day off each week. For those of you who don't know about missions, this is called a P-day. Kevin said this last P-day he and his companion, Elder Wood, went exploring in an old World War Two tunnel. It started as a tunnel and turned into a cave. There were a lot of bats in there and Japanese remains. They saw many artifacts that were left behind, including items such as trays that the Japanese ate off of.
Since many of you are very interested in the Chuuk culture, I always ask Kevin a culture type question and he is getting pretty good about answering them. This time I asked him about school. He said, "The children do go to school here but it is not mandatory. Most only go a couple times a week. They have grades just like in the states. The problem is that there is only one school on the island and it is about 3 miles away from our house. that is a long way for the kids to walk. Most don't like doing it. School is only a few hours as well."
Kevin reports that he is teaching a mother with three children and a 15 year old boy. He is enjoying working with these people. His zone had 14 baptisms at this time last year and right now they have 42.
This week Kevin will be staying on Weno for 5 days as he attends a zone conference. There are 14 missionaries there and Kevin reports that he really enjoys working and hanging out with the other missionaries. He said several are as big of BYU fans as he is and he loves talking about all the "fun stuff" at BYU.
He will be hearing one of our church leaders named Elder Stevenson talk during zone conference and he is really looking forward to that. Kevin also mentioned how much he loved Elder Holland's talk from the last conference.
It is amazing how much Kevin has learned and experienced in the last three months. We are very excited for him and very proud of him.