Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another Great Week on Tonoas

Another week has gone by. The weeks seem to be going so fast. Life is still great here in Chuuk. I have good news. The box that mom sent in March that never came, has arrived! I was really confused when I saw some of the contents, such as the camera battery, but then I figured it out. The post office had put it in the wrong area. I'm glad it showed up. Now the only thing missing is the camera card and hopefully that will show up too.

We have established contacts in a new village and have been working there. The village is about a half hour walk from where we live which really isn't anything to complain about. One day we were talking about the church to a person named Ryan (pronounced Ree-anne) and a large crowd gathered around us to listen. We met several people who were very interested in what we had to say. Last week, while in this village, we came upon the coolest basketball court ever. It is only half court and the basket is attached to a coconut tree. There isn't concrete, only sand that is super compact. We watched for a few minutes. There were 40 young adult men playing in a tournament. They asked us to play, but we were dressed up and couldn't. They invited us to come back later so we went on our p-day. It was so much fun. Nobody there knew that I know how to play so they all laughed when Elder Wood and I joined in. The laughter continued because at first we were confused as to who was on our team. We got things straightened out and then the game really got underway. I'll give it to a few of the Chuukese that they know how to play. The Chuukese have a different style of play and they make it work. Our teammates weren't being the greatest at first and wouldn't pass. One took a shot and I got the rebound. A couple of defenders tried to get it away but I managed to get it up and in. Everyone stopped and started clapping. It was kind of awkward. The game progressed and I scored 4 of our team's 5 points. I also had some sweet blocked shots. The Chuukese were loving it. We had a blast and they have asked us to come back again. What an awesome way to do missionary work! Find people to work with by playing basketball on p-days!

Our week also had another fun day. You may remember me telling you about the zone conference when the now former area 70, Elder Hopoate came? He is from Tonga and super funny.He came wanting to meet some of the seminary teachers and students. His first stop was Tonoas. We organized a small greeting party with coconuts and necklaces. We all met for a little bit in the church and he gave a quick little message and testimony. It was fun.

Our recent convert, Darien, has been struggling. He got drunk the other day. He ran through the village whooping and yelling and cursing everyone's moms. (huge Chuukese insult) He ripped down laundry lines, threw rocks at people and started fights. He destroyed a small house made of nothing more than a rusty tin roof and a few wooden poles. It was horrible to watch. The poor family's house was in ruins when he got done with it. He terrorized the village all day long and into the night. He went after people with knives and saws. (even the women) He treid to come after us too. Two days passed until we saw him again. We gave him a warm smile and visited with him. He apologized but is still really struggling. I hope he figures out what is really important and we will keep working with him.

So I have more exciting news. I have started a small collection of filipines. Filipines are the darts that the Chuukese use in their slingshots. They are the #1 weapon of choice here. (well, maybe a rock is too) I have a slingshot that I am using it with and they would be pretty deadly. I got one to go into a tree about an inch. I didn't shoot it that hard either. Don't worry. People won't ever shoot them at us. I don't carry mine around either. You would be surprised at how accurate people are with their slingshots. I let a little kid play with mine the other day. I should have figured out what he was going to do but I didn't. First shot, he hit a little bird in a tree. It was both impressive and depressing. At least the bird didn't go to waste though. He had it cooked and ate it. I would never have thought small birds were good to eat. They tell us that they are good though. They told us that they would get some for us to try, but we were not too fond of the idea.

We have been working on the marriage issue here on the island. (for those of you who have not read Kevin's prior entries he mentioned that there really is not a marriage, couples decide to get married and just move in together which means they are married. Technically the rest of the world does not recognize these couples as married.) We are making people marriage certificates. The two people sign it and then we take it to Weno and for $2 we get it stamped and made official. The couples do not even have to be present. Several other missionaries on the other islands are doing this too. Another thing we are working with the priesthood members on is to strengthen their friendships with one another. We have had all the young men come to the church every night this week and we showed them church movies. We had to translate but they loved it. Things like that are a rare treat here. I told you in my last letter, too, that we have the campout planned for them where we will all go to a distant outer island. People here do not really know how to schedule and plan events and activities. They are really enjoying the things we plan for them.

We have gone to the island of Uman a few times recently and worked with the missionaries there.

Whenever all the missionaries get together in Weno, we play with Elder Well's rubic's cube. I have my time down to fixing it to 4 minutes. All the missionaries in our zone know how to do the rubic's cube so we always joke that the Chuuk missionaries must be the smartest zone in the world.

My Chuukese improves more and more each day. I work on it diligently. I am still a little rough around the edges but I am getting better. I love working with the people. They are so simple and pure.

Mom, could you get me some pictures of some of the people I have sent you pictures of? They love to see themselves in pictures. If you have any more questions about life in Chuuk please ask. I love telling about Chuuk! Thank you so much for everything you do for me. I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

Tong Fofuch (Love always)

Kevin South

Saturday, June 20, 2009

WW2 information about Chuuk Area

Since posting the pictures of Kevin and Japanese WWII remains he has been exploring on Tonoas, I found the following information I thought might be of interest.

Tonoas, the traditional name for the island called Dublon during the war, was the location for the Japanese military and civil administration of Chuuk before, and during World War II. Tonoas was extensively modified leading up to, and during the war. Land was reclaimed, trees and vegetation were cleared, and traditional historic sites were interfered with. The massive migration of Japanese onto Tonoas had a big effect on the Chuukese living there. Before the war, under military (Navy) administration from 1914 to 1922, then civilian administration from 1922 to about 1937, Japanese and Chuukese lived reasonably comfortable together. The Japanese provided Chuukese with work, education and health, and as in other colonial settings, alienation of Chuukese land, and the breakdown of Chuukese traditional lifestyles commenced. The war changed this delicate relationship, many Chuukese were forced from their homes, and the island itself; education stopped; forced labour was introduced to carry-out the many military construction projects; and the breadfruit, coconut and banana trees were either cut-down or made unavailable for Chuukese consumption.
During the war Tonoas was a hive of activity. A civilian township comprising all the facilities to expect of a small town, called Dublon Town was located in the southeast section of the island. The Japanese Fourth Fleet was based on Tonoas and they established buildings and facilities, many of them were prefabricated wooden structures, built onto concrete foundations with a tin roof. There was also a submarine base, a seaplane base, a number of very large fuel tanks, and a repair facility for vessels. There was also a number of small and large buildings established as 'comfort houses' where women were forced to entertain Japanese men. The island contains numerous guns that were used in its defence, as well as many small and large tunnels to shelter people, equipment and munitions from the bombing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pet Pig... Sort of......

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am sorry that it has taken so long to email you again. I had the longest single amount of time on the outer islands of my mission so far. Three straight weeks. It was hard. Weno helps to keep us sane. So I have been receiving all of the packages you have been sending. Thank you so much for everything. I just received one today.

Since yesterday was my p-day I was able to write to you about my last week already. I will be mailing that out either later today or tomorrow. I am glad to hear that you got the Book of Mormon and the picture card. I was worried because in one of dad's letters he mentioned something that hinted towards you not getting it yet. I was worried.

So life is continuing on here. Things are pretty much the same. I told you all about the work and some fun stuff that has been going on here in the letter.

I am sorry to hear that Pearl has run away from home. I know how she is loved by the family despite some of her personality issues. I do hope that she is ok. If she does not return though we can all take solace in the fact that she had a good life. She was taken care of very well with us and she lived quite a long time with us.

Please tell Eric congratulations on his graduation for me. That is an exciting time and I know he has some great things ahead. If I remember right grandma and grandpa told me that he is going to be putting in his mission papers soon. Let me know all about that. I have been in contact a little bit with Reilly and he has told me about the situation with his mission. I am excited for him to get that going. I can't wait to hear where everyone will be going on their missions.
So to answer your question about the culture here:The Chuukese do keep pets but it is much different than what we consider pets. They raise pigs from very small to be food. There are dogs and cats but the people don't take care of them. They just have ownership really. Some people eat the dogs too. I would like to try that soon. Bati (the branch president) said that I may get the chance to soon. Chickens are raised by just about everyone on the island but only for fighting. Cock fighting isn't illegal here so it is big some places. They usually don't use razors so they don't ever die. If you have any more questions on the culture here go ahead and ask. I'll do my best to answer but I really haven't been here to long so I might not know everything.Well I hope that everything is going well back home for everyone.

I am looking forward to hearing from you all again. I will be coming in to Weno next week for zone p-day. We are in this week for zone conference. I will email you again then.Thank you so much for everything you do.

Found: Japanese WW2 Remnants

Friday, June 12, 2009

Strange Critters and Foods

Greetings from the Land of Coconuts

News from Tonoas. And pictures! Kevin reports he is continuing to enjoy island life. He also reports that his Chuukese is improving. He is teaching more and understands most of what is being said around him.He said part of the difficulty with Chuukese is that their language is missing many key words found in our language. He said to try to go an entire day without using the words "need" and "have." Make sure you don't use any of their synonyms, either!

In my last letter to Kevin I had put little thumbnail pictures of things here at home. I put a picture of his little baby nephew, Kolby, doing one of his favorite activities, watching the clothes wash in the washing machine and pictures of his mustang, one of his favorite golf courses, our home and other such items. He mentioned that it was startling to see those things and it seemed surreal that those things do exist.

In one of Kevin's previous posts he mentioned eating turtle and that he would be eating it again as a church party was planned because an extraordinarily large turtle had been caught. He was able to attend the party. He missed seeing the turtle cooked, but learned more about how it is cooked. Kevin's little home has a solar panel and a hot plate to cook on, but most people on the island cook over a fire. That is how the turtle is cooked. The turtle is left in the shell and the fins are cut off. Then they put the shell in the fire. The shell acts as an oven and everything is cooked right in the shell. He said it sounds gross and a little sad (I'm sure he is thinking of his poor mother when he says that) but it is really delicious.

Kevin mentioned an interesting experience he had while going to visit someone he has been working with. The person lives on the other side of the mountain from where Kevin lives. He and his companion tried to find a shortcut to the house through the jungle. The jungle was very thick and there were no trails. They came across some really "neat Japanese stuff" from WW2. There were also holes the Japanese had dug out all over the mountain. The holes were used for bunkers. They also found a huge gun turret.

The good news Kevin had to share was that Darien, an investigator that Kevin has been working with since his arrival to Tonoas, was baptized. Kevin performed the baptism in the ocean. Kevin also did the confirmation. (in Chuukese) He said it was an awesome experience.

Kevin has been able to work and visit with many people on the island. He said he is welcomed everywhere and greeted warmly. He loves the Chuukese people and loves getting to know them and understand their culture.

There is a church activity planned for the men in hopes to establish a more unified group. They will be camping on one of the small islands on the edge of the reef. They will play volleyball and other games. They want Kevin to teach them to dance the American way. Kevin says Help! He really has no idea what he is doing! He tried to show him that he really can't dance and they loved what he did when he tried to convince them he really can't dance! They will catch fish for dinner by going on a boat and using poles and also by spear fishing.Kevin closes by saying that it has been another amazing week in Chuuk and thank you to those who contact him. Tong fofoch! (that means Love always)

Darien's Baptism