Thursday, December 24, 2009

SOS! Stranded!


The 23rd was a good day at the South house. We received an e-mail and a snail mail! I cut and pasted the two letters together.
12-23-09

Dear Mom and Dad,
It has been a long time since I have been able to email you...sorry. Last time we came in we didn't have time to do it. That was the first of the transfer but I did get to call you and talk to you for a few minutes. That was really good and I am looking forward to being able to talk to you in a couple days.
You sent quite a few emails so I hope I can remember all the questions you asked and answer them all.

First off, Elder Ako is fine and he doesn't have any problems. His foot problems were because of a blister that became really badly infected. He went to Guam for a week and everything was fine. It was more of a vacation he said than anything. He had hot showers, e-mail, air conditioning and fast food! All of that seems unreal to me. While Elder Ako was in Guam, Elder Ulmer came out to Romonnum and joined me for a while. That was fun but it was not the same as having Elder Ako with me. Three transfers with the same companion on Romonnum is a long time so getting a new one was weird. While Elder Ulmer was here we went to Paata and met a lot of cool folks. Elder Ako came back from Guam and was there for about a week then he got transferred back to Guam. Now Elder Cherrington is with me and that is fun, but I really miss Elder Ako.

The island of Tonoas was closed down because the septic tank is still broken. There are only 10 missionaries in Chuuk now. That is a big difference from when I got here. There used to be 15. Not too much happened this last transfer. Most people stayed the same. This next transfer will probably be big.

Elder Cherrington has been in Chuuk for three transfers so I now have the language role. That will be good for me.

While talking about news on Elders in the zone... We got some bad news last night. Elder Kuss was going to give blood to Siramino's wife who is in the hospital because of complications from her pregnancy. The hospital tested Elder Kuss' blood and it isn't 100% sure but he may have some health issues. The news was a shock and some more tests are going to be run. The sad part about it all is that he didn't have it before his mission and if it is true it will end his mission most likely. Please keep him in your prayers. It has been troubling him a lot and he is really worried.

I am excited to hear about all the exciting BYU news. That makes me even happier that they beat UNR in basketball. It sounds like it was a good game. I can only imagine the agony Grandma Jenny and Grandpa Duane had. Who did BYU play in the bowl game this year? How did TCU end their season?

I sent you a camera chip the day after I talked to you on the phone so I hope that comes soon. There are some of the pictures and videos you wanted on that like the Paata house and other stuff.

You asked a little about the stuff that happens on Romonum too. The people clean their clothes in wells around the island. They are dug by the people and are just little pools. They shower there as well. The average Chuukese person showers about 4 or 5 times a day so that is why they look so clean. There are no showers or bathrooms in any of the houses. Back to laundry though... they don't scrub their clothes or soak them but they get some dead coconut leaf things and beat their clothes. They use laundry soap and just beat the dirt out of everything. It is the only island I know of that beats clothes instead of scrubs them with a brush. It works really well though.

About Christmas now. There is no Santa Claus and gifts are exchanged within the branch but that is all I have heard of. It is a secret Santa type thing. We won't be with the Romonnum branch this year though so I won't know what it is like. I will be there for New Years though and I will have some cool stories about that. New Years is a lot bigger than Christmas here. They say it lasts for something like two weeks. I hope you are having a happy holiday season. It is strange being away for Christmas. Write and tell me about your holiday plans.

The ugly ankle you saw in one of my pictures was Elder Brown's. He came for our AP exchange with a bummed ankle. I just thought it was picture worthy.

My toiletries are alright. I could use some face scrub and an occasional shower gel would be nice. They are hard to get here and are really expensive when we do find them.

I can't believe Kristen is engaged!!!! I found out when I listened to the tape you sent out. It was hard to hear Ryan talking but after a couple times of listening to it for clarification I picked out he said he was her fiance. WOW! Tell her I said congratulations and wish I could be there for the ceremony. Tell me more about Ryan. Is he a stud or a U of U bum? haha I already know he goes there but tell me about him.

I think that is all of the questions you asked. Everything else is going great here.
While Elder Ako was gone for a week I worked with Elder Ulmar. He was a lot of fun to work with. We got along really well. We worked hard as we are pushing to get two more baptisms before the end of the year. One would be on Romonnum and one on Paata. The one on Romonnum is a lady named Margery. She is from a part member family and could never get baptized because her mother wouldn't let her. She is married and has 3 children and is over 30 years old, but it is part of the culture here to get parent approval. We talked to her mother and her mother has let up. She was actually really nice about it. Margery is pretty excited about it all. The other is a 9 year old on Paata named Peterson. He is a really cool kid and is the branch president's son. He only needs to hear all the lessons and then he will be ready for baptism. He has asked me to be the one that baptizes him and we will go to a smaller outer island to do it. One of Peterson's good friends would like to get bapized too. He comes to church every week. But his parents are both on Guam right now and he is not sure when they will be back. It will be a spur of the moment thing when they come back.

I have decided that Paata is my favorite place in terms of cool people to talk to and have fun with. But, my trips to Paata have not been all smooth. On one of the trips Elder Ulmer and I left on Wed. and were going to return on Thursday. We worked Thursday morning and went and packed up our stuff. We had brought food with us but only enough for our planned amount of time. At lunch we finished all our food and then we waited for the boat to come and get us. And we waited.. and waited... and it never came. We were abandoned on the island! We had not brought our phone so we had no way to call for help or anything. Luckily Sam, the branch president, helped us out with food. We had dinner with him that night and it was really good. That night we slept, but we had no idea about what we were going to do or what would happen. We started the next day with our normal schedule and the boat showed up! The next trip I made to Paata was the week that Elder Ako came back from Guam. We went to Paata Sunday night and worked with Peterson and then planned to leave on Monday. The boat was going to come at 11 to meet us. But we waited.. and waited...and waited, but the boat never came. It was frustrating. Once again, no clothes or food. But we did have the phone this time. We decided to call the Zone leaders to see if they could help us. It was pitch black and we had to venture up a pretty tall mountain on a skinny path with rough terrain to get our phone to work. We had flashlights but the batteries were dying and so they were pretty dim. That is the only place on the whole island where a phone will work. We were looked after though and all went well. Once again I went to bed with no idea of what would happen because the Zone leaders were not sure where the boat driver was. But the next day the boat showed up at 7AM. I have learned to laugh things off. We all had a good laugh together.

We are pushing to hit our baptismal goal in Chuuk. Originally it was 72 but got pushed up to 82. We are at 76 now and have 5 more potentials. We can make the goal though! It's possible!

We got to have the AP's come to Romonnum recently. Them coming to Romonnum is difficult. It is such a small island and there is not enough work for 4 missionaries. We made due though. The AP's are Elder Brown and Elder Sandvik. Both are golfers and go to BYU! We had a lot to talk about. We had a lot of fun and they loved being on Romonnum. They stayed only one night. I am not a failure as a missionary because they did not find anything we are doing wrong! :)

Mom, I have to confess that Elder Ako and I opened up the stocking boxes you sent us just before he left. Sorry... but he was leaving and.. thank you so much! We both love everything so much! We had a ton of fun with all the stuff. We LOVE the ties too. I took pictures of both of us. Thank you again!

So I am loving life and I am looking forward to our phone call!
I hope you are both doing great and having a great Christmas. I love you both so much. Take care.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

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