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)

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