Sunday, July 26, 2009

Check out Kevin's Dear Elder page

New pictures have been posted on Kevin's Dear Elder Web Page. For those of you who have not checked out that page before: Go to Dear On the left click missionary sites, then when that comes up, type in South where it asks you who you want to find. There are a few items posted on that page, but people who follow this blog will have read most of it. There is a link across the top of the page that says photos. You can click there and you will see a few photos on there that have not appeared on this blog. Enjoy!

News from Tonoas

Dear Mom and Dad,

You both must be getting tired of me saying this in my emails to you, but I do not have too much exciting stuff to tell you about. I just wrote you a letter on Tuesday and I mailed it off today. It has all the good stuff in it. Anyways, how are you both doing? I hope all is going great back at home. Things are going great here.

We are on Weno now for zone conference. That was yesterday. It was so good. We got a ton of really good training from our leaders and President Dowdle blew my mind as always with the doctrine that he teaches. This time it was on the fall and agency. He went into some really really deep stuff and then even tried to help us see how the other churches view the fall. I am really looking forward to next zone conference when we hear about the Savior's atonement. I did also have a really good interview with President Dowdle. He is such an uplifting person. He truly does care for the mission here so much and for all of the missionaries. He helped me with things and answered some questions that I have come across.

One thing that may be of interest to you is that I am allowed to take videos with my camera. He just does not want me to go overboard and look like a crazy tourist or something. He said it will be good to create some memories and have them with me from the videos. So, next time you get a camera chip from me it will have some videos on it as I come across fun stuff. I have some things that I want to show you on videos and stuff so I am looking forward to it.

So today is a pretty relaxed day. We are on Weno and will just be doing some shopping and emailing. I really don't have any shopping to do now so I will go around with the others and look at some fun stuff. We will head back out to the outer islands today and then tomorrow we will all be going to Romollum (pronounce Romanum). It is the small island here that has 600 people on it. They just built a new church building there that will be getting dedicated on Sunday and we will just be going for the open house. It should be a lot of fun. I really like the Island there. It is closer to the edge of the reef and has some nice beaches and other stuff like that. It is quite a little paradise. Well, all of Chuuk is in reality but Romollum is different.

We did not baptize Noris this week as we hoped. His mother did not feel well. She is also not sure he should be baptized as she says he is "nukumage." (disobedient) We explained to her that he should still be baptized and given a chance to try to be obedient but she is not so sure. She also said when he is grown up he won't so what he should and will just sin.

This week Elder Wood and I met with the branch president and worked on cleaning up the branch. We had to fill out quarterly reports two weeks ago and it was embarassing. Pretty much every aaronic priesthood holder is behind on where they should be in terms of ordinations. We made a list of callings that need to be filled, ordinations that need to be done, and made a home teaching schedule. When we get these things done our branch will be much stronger. Many people don't want to come to church because of how unorganized it is. That can be changed though. I'll let you know how it goes.

Elder Wood and I hope to go fishing soon. Most people spear fish, but we are going to do it with a line. I am hoping to catch a shark so we can try it. Some of the people here know places where we are pretty much guaranteed to catch one.

Noris just came by with a sting ray. He is cleaning and gutting it right now. It isn't huge, but it is pretty sweet. We are going to deep fry it tonight and eat it. I'm looking forward to that. I actually don't know if it is considered deep frying, but we will put some olive oil in our frying pan and get that way hot and throw it in. I'll take pictures of it so you can see.

Oh, I almost forgot. We got a new missionary in our zone who is younger than me. He spent two transfers on Guam and then came here. It is weird having someone here younger than me, but it was bound to happen! His name is Elder Mitten.

So Mom asked about why the islanders get mad when we burn our trash.. They like to dig through it and find items that could be of value. Pretty much anything that isn't rotten food is used. I helped a member build a little "fanang" or hut for storage the other day and while cleaning up the area I came across a lot of our trash stacked up. People like to see what we "Americans" throw away.

I am still sorry to hear that Pearl has not shown up. There is always still hope. I am also glad to hear that Grandpa is still improving but am sad to hear he has days in which he struggles. I keep him in my prayers and am grateful for the help that he has already received.

I was excited to hear about everyone's mission calls. It is so strange to think that people are going out on their missions now who I was friends with. I am really excited for all of them. Brenden will love Iowa and that is a cool place to go. Eric's call was also an exciting one. I'm sure he will really love it there. (Argentina)

I received a letter from Robbie LaRovere about two weeks ago and it was neat to hear from him.

I received a package from you this last week as well as one from Grandpa Bob and Grandma Helen which is always so appreciated. Oh, and thanks for sending my rubik's cube. I can even do designs on it now as well as solve it. Thank you for all of that. I hope you are doing great and am looking forward to hearing from you again. Take care. I love you!

Tongei fofoch,

Elder Kevin South

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Almost Paradise

The following are pictures from the camping trip that Kevin took with the Tonoas branch Priesthood. The island used for the campout was 30 yards by 30 yards. There is a small "shelter" that is used by a family from Tonoas that lives on the island three months of the year. Kevin said he could not imagine anyone being so fortunate! The island is on the edge of a coral reef which is also pictured along with the fish that were caught to eat.

Friday, July 10, 2009

News from Paradise

Wow! Another week has already gone by. I am sorry I was not able to e-mail last week. I did go to Weno for zone p-day, but we had a crazy schedule. Also, every single computer at the telecommunications center was broken. It was really lame.
I am sorry to hear about Pearl. I haven't gotten an updated email on her so I assume she never showed back up. I feel bad. She was a nice cat and I will definitely miss her presence at the house when I return.
I got a small package/ letter from you today. It had some really good BYU football articles in it. Thank you for all of that. The information you gave on BYU is very interesting. I am excited for the program and a few of the missionaries here join with me in my love for the school. We have some really fun conversations about it. (I am glad to report: NO UTAH FANS HERE!!!!!!!!!!)
So things are going great here. I now teach 50/50 with Elder Wood and am much more active in our activities. I still rely on him to help me understand some of the things people say to me, but I am getting much better. I can hold my own in conversations and lessons so that is really all that matters right now. I won't be satisfied until I can talk about other than simple things and the church though so I will continue to work. It is so weird for me to think that I communicate with people in a different language. I love it. I know that it has helped me to rely on the Lord in ways I never used to. It has helped me to see that no matter what the struggle or challenge is, the Lord WILL help.
We got transfer calls this last week and there is no change with me. I am still on Tonoas with Elder Wood. I was suprised by that as three transfers with the same companion is rare and four transfers in one area is about the limit. Next time I should see some change. We have some good investigators right now that are progressing well and should be baptized soon. I'm excited to stay on Tonoas because I will be able to see our investigators progress and be baptized. We are working with a youger boy named Noris who is from a part member family. We have developed a close relationship with him. We are also working with someone named Alziem. He is about 40 years old and used to work for the Chuuk government. He knows English. He went to a Protestant high school in Palau and knows the Bible really well. He has also come to love the Book of Mormon and has an understanding of the truthfulness of it as well. It is great to see how the gospel has touched his life. We have several other people we are working with. They are struggling to overcome problems but we are working hard with them. I will let you know all about them as time goes on.
To answer a few questions you have asked. The pink thing you saw me eating in one of the pictures was a Chuukese apple. They grow a few places on the island and are delicious. They are sweet and have a really unique texture. We are fortunate enough to have a tree that grows right behind the branch president's house. He shares with us whenever we ask. The picture of the little black animal running around was a pig. It got off its leash that day so it was running around. It gets off the leash quite often though. The people here raise pigs until they are big and then they kill them. As for the garbage, some people put their garbage in a pile and burn it about once a week. Others just throw it in the forest. That is why the island is so polluted. We try to burn our trash, but some people get mad when we do. They like to go through our trash and then they toss it across the road. They toss it in the same place they go to the bathroom. It is a disgusting place. So to answer your questions about the food... I have enjoyed the pasta dishes you put in. I can't remember the brand exactly but I believe it is Knoll. Those were really good. I also really like the potatoes you sent. Other than that everything else you send is great. Tell grandma I love the cookies she sends and the beef stew.
Today I received the package with the Mormon Doctrine Book in it. Thank you so much for that. I love it and it will definitely help me increase in knowledge of the doctrine of our church. Thank you also for the food. It is all great and I am definitely looking forward to the spaghetti. The pictures are also going to be good. The Chuukese love pictures so everyone in them will be really excited to get them.
Two weeks ago we had a zone conference. It was at the Blue Lagoon resort on Weno. It was really good as always. There was tasty food there and air conditioning. I love air conditioning! I had a good interview with President Dowdle. I also found out some good news at zone conference regarding President Dowdle. Remember that I told you that President Dowdle was only going to be the mission president here for two years? The position is so demanding here that instead of three years like normal, mission presidents are only here for two years. President Dowdle requested an extension and gets to stay the third year. He will be my mission president for my entire mission. I was very excited to hear that.
We had several exchanges last week. We had one with the assistants to the president. I went with Elder Lange who served in Chuuk before he became the assistant. It was a really good learning experience. He taught me good stuff about the language and also about teaching methods. The other exchange was with the zone leaders. Elder Wells came to Tonoas with me. He has been on his mission about a year now. I learned a lot from him as well. Tomorrow we will be having an exchange with the Uman Elders. Elder Sears will be coming to Tonoas with me. I'll tell you about that next week.
I have some sad news. Two elders in Chuuk will be leaving next transfer. Elders Varo and Hatfield. They have done some really good work here in Chuuk. I had to say good bye last week because we probably won't be able to see them off at the airport.
I have some fun news. We had the campout this last weekend with the priesthood. It was sooo much fun. There were 20 of us that went. There were members, investigators, and less actives. We loaded up two small boats on Friday and left. We stayed on an island that is about an hour away. The island is about 30 yards by 30 yards. It had trees and grass in the middle and some nice sandy beaches. The island was on the edge of a reef which was really cool. The water was only about two feet deep the whole way around the island. Some people in our group were professional spear fishers. They got so much fish! We ate fish and rice. I also had sashimi which is raw fish. They skinned it and gutted it and gave it to me. It was really good except that it had a ton of little bones in it. We had a really good testimony meeting and everyone pretty much got a chance to talk. People went spearfishing with flashlights when it got dark. They call that Antios. We also watched church movies and we translated for everyone. We slept on coconut tree leaves at night. I had to put a sheet between me and the leaves. The next day everyone fished again. They caught a ton of fish. They prepared all the fish while on the island and then took it back to Tonoas for their families. They caught octopus, squid, pufferfish, and even lobster. One of the guys gave Elder Wood and I a lobster to eat. It was really good. I ate squid too. That was good too. I took a ton of pictures. The little island was so much fun. A family from Tonoas (no one kows who) goes there and lives there for three months a year. They have a little shelter set up there and everything. It is just a tent style shelter made of sheet metal. I was blown away that someone was fortunate enough to be able to live there. It is such a paradise. The campout was a really good thing because it strengthened bonds within the priesthood here. It also helped create new bonds between investigators and members.
I hope that all is going well with everything back home. I can't wait to hear from you again. Thank you for everything you do.
Tong Fochofoch,
Elder Kevin Notou (South)