Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Many Great Meetings

December 6, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, Chuuk is similar to when I left it before. The missionaries I worked with are all gone except for Elder Krause, but the unity is still strong. This last week was pretty crazy here. We had three days of straight meetings over the weekend. On Friday we had a zone conference. Elder Awiagi (spelling?) of the 2nd quorum of the seventy was there with us. He speaks a little bit of English, but not much so there was a translator there with him. It was fun having a man there speaking Japanese. The training was way good. President Dowdle gave a training which was one I heard on Pohnpei. It was a shorter version and even though I had heard it before it was so helpful. It was about learning by faith. I am trying to have faith in my work now. I need it since I am doing all the teaching right now. This area has a lot of work that needs to be done.
Saturday I went to three seperate meetings. In the morning I went to a seminary inservice meeting. I am the seminary teacher in Sapuk. The person in charge was the former Elder Kuss who is now done with his mission! I was so excited to see him again! He is a super stud! We had time after the meeting to hang out and talk. He is doing so well back on Romonnum. He is helping so many people. The branch is so strong now because of him. After that there was a priesthood leadership meeting. I went since I am the branch president. It was a good meeting too. The last meeting I went to that day was an adult session of district conference. There weren't many people there which was sad, but it was okay. After the conference we had interviews. President Awiagi interviewed me since he interviewed the leadership. The interview was a good one. He asked about an experience I had that has really stuck with me and then aksed if I had any questions for him. I did not as the conference answered the ones I had.
On Sunday it was the general session of district conference. It was a big time reunion. So many people were there from Rommonum. They feel a lot like my family away from you guys. We all had a great time together and the meeting was good. We had two people from Sapuk get sustained to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. They will hopefully get that next week. One of them is an 18 year old who plans to go on a mission!
I guess everything else here is same old same old. Elder Fisher and I are doing well and the work is progressing slowly but surely. I have not heard from you yet, but I imagine I will soon. I have one more thing I would like to ask you for. I would like to get a lamp like the rechargable one you sent me on Rommonum. It will be a present for a member family here. People think those things are the coolest things ever here! Thanks in advance.
I trust you are both still doing well. I am looking forward to hearing from you at Christmas. I love you both!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

PS I already heard about the BYU vs. U of U game. That is ROUGH!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Quick Phone Call and Pictures Make a Happy Week

Still no mail at our house, BUT we did get something even better this week! On Wednesday I picked up the phone and heard a wonderfully familiar voice say, "Hi, Mom!" It was Kevin calling to arrange his Christmas phone call with us! Not wanting to be greedy, I quickly called Brett's office to get him in on the call. Our conversation was brief, but we were able to determine that our Christmas packages had arrived and that Kevin was going to be able to fulfill his wish and share a "candy filled" Christmas with the people in Sapuk. Kevin says he has mailed us a letter every week so maybe the Christmas rush is slowing the mail down.
Today we had another great day! Yesterday Elder Fisher's family received their first letter from him since he arrived in Chuuk. Elder Fisher is Kevin's companion. He is a new missionary and arrived in Chuuk a day or two after Thanksgiving. It was a happy day for them to finally hear from him and to know he is doing terrific! Elder Fisher also sent home a camera card and the Fisher family shared several pictures with us. Our first Sapuk pictures! Thank you Fisher family for sharing! We received 5 pictures, but are holding one back so we have a picture for our next blog post.

This is a picture inside the missionary house. We were happy to see that there is a stove and oven in the house. I have heard the power goes out several times a day, but for the most part there is power.

Bedroom. I am assuming Elder Fisher's bed.

Outside the house and the familar bue water tanks.

This is the road that Kevin and Elder Fisher walk along each day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Year's 2010 on Romonnum

No word from Kevin yet. This video was taken last year on Romonnum. Romonnum is an island in Chuuk which is the area Kevin is back in. A feast to celebrate the New Year was being prepared.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sapuk is the Coolest Place Ever and Farewell to the Duncans

November 29, 2010
So! My first week back in Chuuk! It has been really interesting so far. Sapuk is the coolest place ever. It really is like outer island lifestyle. The people in the branch are all really awesome. We weren't left an area book so work has been a little rough. We had a few names to start with and will move on from there. I have made it a goal as branch president to see all the members in the branch so that is taking a lot of time. I love talking to the locals! I think that will also be really helpful to get the work started. We have had a few contacts with a few really good investigators. As of now, we have one who wants to be baptized and that will happen on Christmas.
My companion's name is Elder Fisher. He is from Texas and plays rugby and loves to cook. He is a brand new missionary.
The language has been coming back pretty well. Since Elder Fisher doesn't know any Chuukese it forces me to know it. People tell me I know it pretty well,though I hope to learn a lot more. One of the fun things about being in Sapuk is the accent. They have the most noticeable accent. It is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Romonnum accent. I am doing my best to pick it up. Sometimes I slip up when I get really going. I'm sure I will be great by next week.
The zone has changed a lot. The only person who is here that I already knew was Elder Krause. He is still just as studly as ever. The rest of the elders are all good guys too. The zone is super young and inexperienced with the language but they get by. They will get a ton of good work done here.
The Duncans were here when I arrived. We had Thanksgiving at their house the day I arrived. It was way good. Two days after that they left. Their plan is to go home and then go on another mission. I am sad I missed Thanksgiving on Pohnpei, but I am grateful I was able to see the Duncans again before they left.
I've only been here a few days so I don't have a ton of fun stuff to say yet. I am waiting for good news about the BYU and U of U game. I really hope BYU dominated them! Tell me how it ended up.
I know something else I want for Christmas. I would really like to make Christmas and New Years special in the branch and would like to have candy for everyone! Could you please fill up a flat rate box full of candy that I can give to everyone? You can just buy the bulk type candy. People here LOVE candy and it would make it a great holiday for them. Other than that I am set for the rest of my mission.
I may or may not have told you yet, but I will get home on March 18th. They sent me a paper to fill out so they can make my flight plans.I should get that in about a month and I am sure you will get a copy too.
Well that about sums up everything here. It was sad to leave Pohnpei but coming to Chuuk feels like coming home. A huge chunk of my heart is in Pohnpei and a huge chunk in Chuuk. Life is good out here.
I hope you are both doing well and everything is good at home with everyone.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Travel News

This picture was taken when Kevin previously lived in Chuuk. It was taken while he was visiting on the island of Weno (also known as Moen). This is the island Kevin is now living on.

We have not heard from Kevin since he left Pohnpei and went back to Chuuk. We did receive a letter from church travel and would like to report that Kevin will be arriving back to Reno on March 18th. We know it will be hard for him to end his mission, but look forward to having him home!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pohnpeian Stick Dance

We have not heard from Kevin since he left for Chuuk, but thought we would post a video clip he sent home. When the chapel was dedicated on Pohnpei there was a celebration which involved dancing and singing. Kevin sent home a clip of a very spectacular stick dance, but the clip is too long to load on blogspot. This is another stick dance that is shorter.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane.. and Heading Back to Chuuk!

The above picture was taken on Pohnpei. We sent Kevin a big bag of carmel apple lollipops last month and were happy to see him sharing his treats with the locals.

The following letter arrived snail mail.
Dear Mom and Dad,
Ran Annim ami!
Big transfer news! I am going to Chuuk again! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to go back! Especially to where I will be! My new area is called Sapuk. It is on Weno(Moen) which is the main island. My new assignment 100% intimidates me though. I have been called as the branch president of the Sapuk branch. Sapuk is the only area in the mission that has a missionary as a branch president. The branch is awesome and the plan is to have me be the last missionary branch president.
Sapuk is probably the best area in Chuuk. All the people there are so awesome and the relationship between the missionaries and the branch is great! I will have the same tranquility as I did on the outer islands. It is a walking area. It is the farthest area away from the town as possible. It is like a little heaven out there.
I talked to President Dowdle briefly about my responsibilities and it is pretty much to get the branch ready to hand over to the local members about the time I come home. I am so happy that I get to be an instrument in preparing for this!
I will most likely not be able to e-mail again for the remainder of my mission so it is back to letters. Please don't wait by the computer this week! I hope that isn't disappointing.
Well, that is my big news! I was blown away when I found out. It will be a new experience, but it will be great!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South
PS I don't have any information on my new companion yet. Also, same mailing address as before when I was in Chuuk.
PPS Cheer extra hard for me when you watch the BYU and U of U game!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nine Baptisms at the Sapwalap Chapel Dedication

In October when the new Sapwalap chapel was dedicated there were 9 baptisms as part of the clebration.

All I Want for Christmas is.......... a Chuukese Dictionary!

November 14, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
This week isn't very rushed so I won't have to cut things short.
So this last week was crazy again here. Work was slow because of meetings but we have a lot of good people we are working with still. There is a part member family who is progressing really well and should get baptized in December. There are three in the family who will be baptized. We have other part member families we are working with too that are doing a lot of really good things. I am super excited for everything they are doing. There are so many people to work with in Palikir. These last two transfers have been so busy. I am going to miss Palikir when I go. That pretty much sums up our work this week. Everything else was just a lot of meetings. We had our leadership training on Tuesday with everyone. It was really good and we learned a lot of great stuff. President Dowdle always gives such awesome trainings. Something about the way he opens up the scriptures just makes it that much more meaningful. On Wednesday we had our zone conference. We gave a short training in it that went well. President's was the main part though that really made it a great experience. He talked about learning by faith and renewed a promise that was given to Pohnpei in 2007 by a general authority. It is up to us to act on it now that we have an assurance. The week overall was crazy because we had so many extra missionaries here. There were 9 extra that came that needed food and transportation and places to stay. We are the only ones with a car that live anywhere close to Kolonia so we had to take them everywhere and do everything for them. It was hectic and stressful but now it's all done so that is nice. On Thursday we had an opportunity to get interviews with President Dowdle. It has been a long time since I have really gotten to talk to him about stuff and had an interview. It was great.
I am glad to hear that Russell is doing well. I am really excited to get to see him again at some point. I really miss him and pray for him often. Tell him I said I love him.
That is really cool that Isaac Olive found someone from Micronesia that he is teaching. In Kansas I expect it will be either a Pohnpeian or Chuukese. There are a lot of them there. Micronesians are mostly focused in Hawaii, Guam, California, Oregon, Kansas, and a few scattered between the Carolinas and Nevada. Most everyone we meet has family between those places. I don't know if you remember but there was a family in our old ward who was from Micronesia. One of the sons went to high school with me and played on the JV team when I was on Varsity. I think that some of his relatives are twins who returned from missions about 5 months ago. I talked with them about it a bit and they said that is most likely their family. I don't know much about them there in Reno though. It could be them or it could be a Chuukese family. They stayed in the South Meadows ward after the split.
You asked about the dog I ate. A recent convert had a dog that kept killing people's chickens so he had to shoot it. He cooked it in the local style oven. He saved a leg for us. It still had the fur on it so we had to take that off and we tasted it. It tasted a little like dark turkey meat.
So no information yet on when to expect me home. I should get the information in a few weeks I suppose but just expect me sometime in March. I will have to work things out with President and do what I can. I'll let you know when I know more.
I have thought about something you could send for Christmas and there is only 1 thing I want. It is a Chuukese dictionary. I have the Pohnpeian one but I would really like a Chuukese one. They don't have a grammar book so don't worry about that at all but there is a dictionary made by a guy named Goodenough (or something close to that) that is really good. He lived on Romonum for something like 60 years. He was part of the peace corps and just fell in love with the place so much that he went and lived there. Elder Kuss knows who he is and remembers him but he was either dead or had moved by the time I got there. He was like the Chuukese master. He spent 60 years figuring out EVERYTHING in that language. The dictionary he made rocks. Other than that though please don't send anything out for Christmas other than like candy. I am fine with everything I have now.
Well, that's about everything. I am glad that you are both doing well. Thank you so much for everything you do. I love you both tons.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

I Love to work with the People

Snail mail sent November 8, 2010

Dear Mom and Dad,
We are coming back from Guam today and I won't have much time to send you an e-mail. When we get back to Pohnpei today the AP's and 5 elders from Chuuk will be there. We are all going to do an activity to build unity. We are going to play football! It is going to be a lot of fun.
So I guess I am 21 years old now. I feel so old... hahaha! Just kidding! I still feel like some punk 18 year old. I'll be a teenager for life! Guam was a lot of fun. We went bowling together and I got the high score out of everybody. I got 104 the first game and a 140 the second game. I only had one strike the whole time which was rough, but during the 2nd game I was the king of spares. It was a blast there with everyone. I set a goal to get a least 120 and I dominated that. My next goal will be 150. Bowling was our activity Saturday night after we got in. On Sunday we went to church at the Barrigada Branch. It was a good experience. I joined the Chuukese class which was a lot of fun. When church was done we went to the mission office and started our council. It was soo long. We started around 1PM and ended at 10:30PM. There was a lot of really good stuff talked about that when implemented right will help the mission a lot. Our mission is super young right now so it needs a lot of help. 60% of our missionaries have only been out since June of this year. 7 more go home this transfer and 10 more are coming in.
This week on Pohnpei we are going to have leadership training. That's why all the extra missionaries are with us. It is only a one day thing that will happen on Tuesday. On Wednesday we are going to have zone conference. We are going to give a short training during it. I am also looking forward to my interview with President Dowdle. Elder Colemere said that he will probably talk about transfers. I have been in Palikir for 4 transfers so I am thinking I may be moved. I have been with Elder Brandenburg for three transfers so something will probably change.
Work in Palikar was rough again this week. We didn't have time for much because of all the other things we had to do. We had a scare with one of the new misssionaries. He felt sick and went to the hospital and they diagnosed him with mumps. The mission puts people with mumps on a strict quarantine with two weeks without going out of the house. we were trying to coordinate how we would be able to work with the investigators in Kitti. It was a lot of stress and planning. The morning we left for Guam we got a call from the missionary asking if he could get a second opinion because all his symptoms had disappeared. The doctors did not really understand it because all his symptoms just sort of went away. I believe it was the answer to a lot of prayers and a priesthood blessing. He is okay now and not on quarantine. That is a huge relief to everyone on the island. Because of that and other things we did not get much work done. I want to end my mission being able to do lots of work with the people. Outer island Chuuk was the best!
So I am sending a camera chip with this letter. It has a lot of videos and stuff. The Pingalese Stick Dance from the open house of the new chapel is super cool. I have another chip with pictures on it that I will send soon. Probably in a couple of weeks. I'll let you now a week in advance so you will be expecting it.
I hope you are both doing well still. Thanks for everything you do for me.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South
PS I got the other birthday box you sent! Thanks for all the cookies and the awesome ties! YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!

Monday, November 8, 2010

30 Extra Days

Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, this is going to be a short email to you. I am sorry that I have had to do that to you a couple times recently. I wrote a hand letter to you on the plane today though to make up for it. Today we got back from Guam which was a blast and had 7 extra elders with us from Guam and Chuuk. We all got together and played a football game. It was a blast.
I did get the second birthday package you sent out to me. Thank you very much for that. I also got Grandma Helen and Grandpa Bob's birthday card as well. I will send them a letter soon. I started it but haven't finished it yet.
I have made arrangements with President Dowdle to stay for 30 extra days on my mission. I don't know why, but I really feel this is the right thing for me to do. I'll find out soon when I will be home. Plan on me coming home in the middle of March.
We have leadership training tomorrow and then zone conference the next day so this will be a good week.
Work this week was rough. We had to help more sick elders and prepare a lot of stuff for this week. This week work will be hurt too. We have some great people that we are working with though and some people will be baptized before the end of the year.
Well, I hope you are both doing great still. I love you both so much.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

P.S. Tell Thomas and Russell I love them when they get to Reno.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Practical Birthday Gifts Can be Opened Early

Picture of a Pohnpeian Road
Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, this week is not a holiday here on island so I will get the chance to write a normal length email. Thank you for the birthday comments. I honestly don't feel like my birthday is anywhere close. It doesn't seem like I even have a birthday anymore sometimes. Your packages and comments helped me remember a bit though. Thank you for all the stuff you sent out. I hope I don't make you mad by this but since you told me in the letter that the presents you sent out were all practical stuff I decided to open them early. haha I know I'm terrible. Sorry. You mentioned there were three in total but I only got one box with two in it. Maybe another is on the way but if not that is fine. I am grateful for the pens and new shoes. My old crocs were getting old. I almost wore a hole right through the sole on them. The new ones are great.
So this last week on Pohnpei was a rough one for me. Work got shot so badly for us in our area. We had an exchange with the elders who are staying in Sokehs early on. I worked with Elder Iglesia (a district leader here) in Palikir. I shouldn't say I worked with him actually because that is wrong. He came to Palikir on Tuesday night with me and the next morning he woke up with a fever of 103 degrees. I took him to the hospital that morning and then stayed with him in the house all day. It was a long day and we had a lot of appointments that had to be forgotten. He is doing much better now though which is good. Elder Brandenburg and I had to pick up the Assistants on Thursday at the airport and didn't get to start work until later that afternoon. I went with Elder T and saw all our Chuukese investigators. It was a blast working with him and he blows me away with how well he knows Chuukese. My Chuukese is defintely rusty but I understand pretty much everything that is said. It is just harder for me to say it than it used to be. I get by ok though. On Thursday the Assistants went out and worked with different areas after our district meeting. They split up between the two districts so they could meet with as many companionships as possible. That was a normal day for Elder Brandenburg and me after that. On Saturday though we got shot badly. Elder T had been under the weather a bit when he was with us on Thursday and had actually thrown up Friday morning a few times but got better in time to go out with the different areas. Saturday he got hit again and had a really bad headache and stomachache. If you knew Elder T you would know that the only thing that will stop him from working is the worst of the worst conditions. We went to pick him up that day and brought him to our area. We were going to do weekly planning which takes like 3 hours so we figured he could nap while we did that at our house. We ended up staying in all day with him to help him feel better. He was vomiting a lot and not doing well at all. We think we know what caused it but I won't go into details. He ended up staying with us for the rest of his time on Pohnpei. Sunday we all went to church in Palikir and then went back and rested at the house. Elder T and Elder Colemere left for Chuuk last night around 1:30AM so we took them to the airport. It was a long week in the house. It made me really miss talking to our investigators and doing work. All is normal now though so it is good.
Our area is still doing well and we have some great people we are helping. They will be baptized but not in the next couple weeks. There are a of couple families and others. They are all awesome people and are doing really well.
This week I will be going to Guam for zone leader council. We leave on Saturday then come back on Monday like usual. When we come back we will have leadership training and zone conference that week. It is going to be a good experience but will be really hectic like those weeks usually are. I think we are getting into a good routine with these kinds of meetings though so it should be much smoother than organizing all the ones in the past.
Not too much else has changed here this week. I am glad that you both still doing well. Uncle Shaun wrote told me about stuff going on back home with the Hughes and others.
I ate dog for a second time this week. It was last night actually. It was only a small amount but it was good like the last one. It is almost a half way between dark turkey meat and beef. I really enjoy it. I hope I get more in the future.
Thank you again for everything you do for me. I love you both so much.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South
P.S. I will send off a camera chip next week to you. I showed Elder T the stuff he wanted to see and I was going to mail it off today but I left it at our house on accident. Next week for sure though!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pohnpeian Dinner

I Ate Dog, the Work is Good and That's All I Have Time to Say

Dear Mom and Dad,
Today got thrown out of whack here on Pohnpei so I have to give only a short email today. Sorry. It is a holiday so all the normal places with internet access are closed. We are at the telecommunications place and there is a long line of missionaries. I want everybody to be able to finish on time and get back out to work when they are suppose to.
This week was good and I wrote a letter to you with some details on it. I ate dog and the work is good.
I am glad to hear that Thomas, Shaun and Kerry received the priesthood. I was glad to hear that everyone else is doing well too.
Nothing else big is going on right here now. This week the Assistants come to island to work with everybody. I am excited to work with Elder T. We are going to go see all our Chuukese investigators together.
Well, I hope you are both still doing well. I love you both so much!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This week Rocked on Pohnpei

Dear Mom and Dad,
It is always so good to hear from you both. It sounds like things back home are going really well. Before I get into my awesome week here I'll respond a bit to your letters. I am glad that you both got a relaxing weekend at home. I'm sure that was a nice change. That is great that Jaxson and Kolby are doing so well now and that Jaxson can even point me out. I am excited to see that on video. The big test will come in a few months I guess when I actually get to see him. Tell me how Grandpa Duane is doing now. I really want to hear that he is doing well. I continually pray for him. I really liked the comments that dad made about some of the articles he read and also the talk that he gave. I don't know how soon I will pick up that article about return missionary life though. That kind of stuff scares me now. I'll definitely pick it up when I'm home.
Ok so on to my week now! This week rocked here on Pohnpei. We had the open house, dedication, baptisms all over the place, and met with a general authority. I'll start with the baptisms since that was the best part of the weekend. Synthia, Donna, and Love all got baptized this weekend at the Sapwalap open house. We were worried about them all being ready for this weekend but they were. The open house ended at 4:00 and then at 5:00 we had the baptismal service. They were part of the first group to be baptized in the new chapel. It was an awesome experience. I got to baptize Donna and Synthia. President Ongesel (Branch President in Palikir) baptized Love. Elder Stevenson and both President and Sister Dowdle were all there for the service and got to see it. I am so glad that they all were baptized. We helped unite two more families in the gospel. They are all studs and the branch is excited to have them there. Those three weren't the only ones to get baptized at the open house either. Kitti had five people get baptized. 3 of which were a family that I got to work with for a while down there. The sisters in the Uh area also had a baptism. There were 9 here in one weekend! That is huge! There will be more coming up too. In total there were 14 people who got baptized on Saturday. 5 were child of record baptisms in the Sapwalap branch. The work is going really well here and we have some more people who should get baptized soon. We found a part member family with a wife and two children who aren't yet baptized. The wife and one child accepted a baptismal date for the 6th of November. The other child wasn't in the lesson but will be there next time so we'll offer the same invitation. That will be yet another family that will be united in the gospel.
So you probably have figured out by the way I have been writing that I did not get transferred. I am still in Palikir with Elder Brandenburg. This will be our third together. I am excited to still be in Palikir and am looking forward to all the work that we will get to do. There are 5 more people that I want to be baptized before the end of next transfer. I hope they will all make it and I will get to see that happen. Nothing too big happened here for transfers. Elder Standage went to Guam already and we had a new elder named Elder Corn come in on Friday. Elder Donakey is training him in Kitti. He is a great guy too. Sister Howard left for Guam late last night and we had a new sister missionary come. She had served on Pohnpei before so she is here for the second time. Next transfer will be an interesting one here on the island. I don't know if I will get the chance to stay in Palikir again. It is hard to say where I think I would go if I do get transferred. I'll just have to see what the Lord wants me to do.
Elder Stevenson came in on Friday with President and Sister Dowdle. We had an awesome chance to have a missionary meeting with him. He talked about some great things and focused on the simple doctrines. He told us about his experience going to Salt Lake City for General Conference when he had the meeting in the upper room of the temple with all the General Authorities. He said the First Presidency always teaches them about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel so he wanted to do the same for us. Those are the most important and we shouldn't look beyond the mark and focus on stuff that isn't as important. I know it is important to master the basics in life so it was a good meeting. He basically taught us the message of the Restoration of the Gospel over a two hour period. I learned a lot and got a lot of good ideas in how to teach. He used me for an example with golf. I got up and briefly taught people the basic mechanics of a golf swing. Then someone (Sister Howard) who had never golfed before got up and tried to repeat back everything and do the swing I just taught. It was a disaster. He asked how I learned to swing and I said with a lot of practice and hard work. He used it to show that missionaries learn how to teach effectively over time and that it takes a lot of practice before it is natural. He made a lot of really nice comments to me on how he thought I was good teacher and was doing good work here. Last night when we were at the airport with them he compimented Elder Brandenburg and I on all the good stuff going on in the zone here. It was really nice getting to hear all that good stuff from a general authority. President Dowdle also made a lot of really nice comments.
On Saturday we had the open house in Sapwalap and it was a blast. There was dancing and singing and everyone had a great time. I got a lot of the cool cultural stuff on camera for you to see. There is an awesome Pingalapese stick dance that stole the show. It is the kind you would expect to see at the Polynesian Cultural center. I want to make a Micronesian Cultural Center some day. haha. The open house was from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It was really long but good. A lot of people got to learn a lot more about the church and I even talked to a man who lived in Reno for about a year. He was a really nice guy and was open to some things but didn't seem too interested. He doesn't live in my area but if he did I would go see him and talk to him about everything. After the open house we had the baptismal service and then went back home. We got back around 8:15 p.m. and hadn't eaten dinner so that ended our day.
The next day was Sunday and church was really good. We had 4 investigators there and Synthia, Donna, and Love all were confirmed. Elder Brandenburg confirmed Donna and President Ongesel confirmed Synthia and Love. It was really good for all of them. As soon as church was over we went to the Sapwalap chapel for the dedication. The drive over there is painful. It takes an hour from our house on windy pot-hole filled roads. I don't want to make that drive again for a long time. The dedication was great and there were a lot of people there for it. I really felt the Spirit during it. When the dedication was over we had time for pictures with everyone and got to talk to people for a while. It was a great time.
Late last night we went to the airport to help Sister Howard. Her plane left at 1:30 am. President Dowdle and Elder Stevenson were on that plane as well. They went to Chuuk and Sister Howard continued on to Guam. We have to be there to pay the departure fee for Sister Howard and make sure everything is ok. We had a few minutes to talk to President and Elder Stevenson which was fun. We got home around 12:30 and then got to bed. I am really tired today since I didn't get as much sleep as I normally do. Life goes on though. It was good being able to talk to President and help Sister Howard.
That covers my awesome week here. I'll send pictures of it all home soon. I have the two camera chips and I'll send one home this week. All the pictures are scattered on the two chips and I am going to keep one for a little bit longer because I wanted to show Elder T. the pictures of the Pingalapese stick dance. He will be coming for a tour at the end of this month. I am excited to get to talk to him and see him then.
Well, I hope you two are both still doing good. Thank you so much for all that you do for me.
Elder Kevin South

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weddings are Awkward in Micronesia

Dear Mom and Dad,
It sounds like you both had an awesome week. I am glad to hear that dad did so well with golfing and dominated KR. Don't get too comfortable though, dad. I'll be there next year to put you in your place again...hahaha jk. You will probably beat me for a while before I get back up to where you are now. An 85 is a really good score. It sounds like all the boys are doing really well and you had a good visit with them. I am excited to see them again. I can't believe our house got struck with lightning. That is such a rare experience. It must have been really scary.
This week was a good one for me. I guess I'll start first with general conference seeing as dad made some comments that I want to respond to. I really enjoyed conference this time but still have a few talks that I need to hear. There were a lot of disruptions for us with our responsibilities so I had to miss part of a few sessions. Once again Elder Holland's talk blew me away. It was such a different style for him but it was so powerful. I could feel how much he genuinely appreciates all the saints and the things we do. The Spirit bore a strong witness to me of Heavenly Father's love for all of us here. There were also many other talks that I really enjoyed. Many because I was able to take a step back and analyse myself to see if I am living the counsel that was taught. General Conference is always a good call to repentance in our lives to make sure we are living in harmony with the standards of the restored gospel. I have a testimony of the 15 men who hold the keys of the kingdom here on earth. They are inspired men and they gave us the will of the Lord concerning all of us. It touched when you wrote that President Packer worked so much with Brother Mcallister too.
In other news this week, we have a lot of people who are doing really well right now. We should have 3 people from Palikir get baptized this week. Synthia, Donna, and a 9 yr. old named Maureen. They are all doing really well and will get baptized at the open house that is going to happen here on Saturday. I guess I haven't made much mention of that yet but this Saturday is an open house for a new chapel here in the Sapwalap area. It is the exact same building as the one they built in Chuuk. Members are excited and it is causing a big stir all around the island. To celebrate it we have about 9 people scheduled to get baptized there. With Synthia and Donna it worked out well because they may have been baptized already but because of general conference they wouldn't have been able to be confirmed. This way they will be baptized and confirmed in the same week and have a special part of the open house. Elder Stevenson of the first quorum of the 70 is coming on Friday. I am super excited for that. He is going to have a missionary meeting with all of us here. I remember the zone conference that he joined us for on Chuuk. It was a great experience for me. I am sure this one will be too.
We also have some other investigators who are doing really well here now. We should have quite a few baptisms in October and November. I am excited for it. We have gotten close to the people in our area and I am grateful for the time I have had to grow to love people here and help them.
On a sad note this week Elder Standage got transferred early. We found out when we were on Guam that he was going to be the new office elder. Elder Krause is going back to Chuuk to be the zone leader so Elder Standage will take his place. He was really torn up about leaving Pohnpei. He will most likely end his missionary service in the office. He only has three transfers left. We took him to the airport and had a sad goodbye. I know he will do good work there and as it is transfers, I know it is revelation, so that is where the Lord wants him to be.
We had two investigators get married this last week. Like the other marriage I told you about this one was awkward. The two held hands in front of a gathering of about 15 people. They made their vows and then just sat down. There was no exchange of headbands and no kiss. Honestly, if they had kissed it would have been more awkward. I haven't seen people kiss in a LONG LONG time. It is just against the culture in Micronesia.
So I guess nothing else really exciting is going on this week. We do have transfers this week. I don't imagine I will go anywhere but I am not safe yet. I won't be until Wednesday night. I really want at least one more transfer in Palikir. I have so much more I want to do there. And I want to be a part of the harvest.
Oh, so I was writing in my journal the other day and I wrote down the date then realized that it is my birthday in a month. I remembered that last year you all sent out presents and stuff early for both my birthday and Christmas so I wanted to make sure I get this in now. Please don't send me anything. I have more than enough out here for the next few months and you can put the money to use for something else. Put it to a jungle gym and sand box for Jaxson and Kolby.
I have been realizing lately that I really don't have much longer out in the mission field and that scares me. I have seen missionaries who think a lot of home and others who have done really well with focusing on the work. I want to finish off stronger than I have ever worked before and stay focused on helping others here. I am excited to see you again but I want to make sure that I work for the full two years that I have been called to.
Thank you so much for everything you do for me. I am grateful for a loving family on the earth and for the gospel. I love you both so much!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South
p.s. I can't believe you saw Elder Perry again! We got news about him the other day. He is coming to Guam to organize a stake in December. I might not see him but it is a super exciting thing for us all here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Staying Put for Another Transfer

Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, this has been another eventful week. I just barely got back from Guam about an hour and a half ago. On the way from Chuuk to Pohnpei I got to sit next to the branch president from one of the Chuuk branches. He is also one of the FM workers (that's why he came to Pohnpei) so I knew him pretty well. It was great being able to talk to him and see how everything was going. I came back to Pohnpei alone today. Elder Brandenburg had to stay on Guam to get his back looked at by a chiropractor. He has bad posture and it has caused pain now. I don't know what they will do but he is going to come back on Wednesday. Being on Guam was a lot of fun. There are a lot of big changes within the mission now. We had a lot of new faces at the council. Elder T from my MTC group is the new AP. He is really mad about it because he had to leave Chuuk. He wants to be back there really bad. Elder Krause is going to go back and be the new zone leader. Within every zone there was a change in zone leader except for Pohnpei. Elder Brandenburg and I will be together for a third one here. I can't imagine going another one past that though. It is extremely rare to go with the same companion for more than three. I don't know where I will go next transfer but if I leave but there are a few possibilities. Chuuk and Guam are both in that pool. Only time will tell. For now, I am happy to be able to stay in Palikir for another transfer. There is a lot going on here that I want to see.
There weren't any baptisms this week. They will possibly happen this week. It is really up to them though. We are going to have general conference rebroadcast here on Saturday and Sunday so they may get baptized on Friday. If they do they will have to wait for a whole week to get confirmed. It has to be done in a sacrament meeting. Tonight I am going to see them and see how they feel. Last month I know I told you that the zone set a goal of 22 for baptisms. We ended with 3 which was sad. The zone didn't get the idea of how to set an effective goal. We tried to explain it better this last week and have everyone do it again. We had a bit of a miscommunication though. The zone set it for 26. Elder Brandenburg and I went to the zone leader council wondering what to do. We set a goal for the zone at 8 and made that the official one. I asked for help with how to handle the situation and what it was that we did wrong in getting everyone to set it. President basically said that everyone is just losing sight of reality. That's why we chose to set it at 8. The best month Pohnpei has seen this year is 14 and that was an explosive month (Feb.). I have confidence in 8 as our new goal.
I did get the camera chip and got to see all the pictures from Alaska. It looks amazing up there. Some of the videos you got were awesome. One of the new elders in our zone (Elder Carlson) is from Anchorage and we had an exchange together so we got to talk about stuff up there.
I also had an exchange with Elder Donakey this week (lots of exchanges this week). It was fun to go with him. We were together down in Kitti. He went to BYU for a bit before he came out so we have that in common and we both really like basketball. He is a good missionary and has picked up on Pohnpeian really fast.
Well, I guess that is all that is new and exciting here. The work is still great here and life is good. Thanks for all you do for me. I love you both.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Monday, September 27, 2010

Truckin' Along in Pohnpei

Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry to hear that your weekend was so rough. It sounds like things just went wrong in every way possible. I am especially sad that Grandma Jenny is going to have bragging rights over BYU.
Well, my week here in Palikir was really good. We had a baptism this week. Logan (J.R.) got baptized on Saturday and everything went really well. He is 13 years old and is the first from his family to be baptized. We are working with his older brother and his mother and they will both be baptized too. They will possible be baptized in October and will definitely be baptized by December. This week we have two more baptisms scheduled for Selerihna's two daughters. They are doing alright but tonight will be the big deciding factor if it will happen this weekend. They were not doing a very good job at reading and weren't showing the greatest desire. I think they just didn't understand so much what we are trying to help them receive though. They both came to church and the one who had word of wisdom problems is clean now. It really is just the attitude towards everything that needs adjustment. We had a really good lesson last night though and I explained the difference between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Holy Ghost. As we talked about how we are trying to help them receive the gift of the Holy Ghost we saw a big change. They seemed to understand why we are here to teach them and why it is so important to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The hard part about the baptisms happening this week is that we are leaving for Guam on Saturday and will come back on Monday. If they happen we will have them on Friday and the branch will take over the confirmations on Sunday. That is how we did it with Selerihna though so it will be fine. It is really just up to the two girls if they will be ready or not.
Apart from that stuff I really don't have much exciting news. We haven't heard much about transfers yet. They happen in two weeks and I am excited to see what is going to happen. It is going to be a big one. All the zone leaders on the east side of the mission go home and one of the assistants. Things are getting crazy here. I am afraid that I might get transferred but it is a 50/50 right now. If I do get transferred I will probably leave this island. I may find out by next week since we will be on Guam.
Oh, I almost forgot. We got a new truck this week. It is a Ford Sportrac. It is brand new. We picked it up on Wednesday and get to drive it around now. The old one is going to be sold. I like the new one for some reasons but like the old one for some too. The thing I really have a hard time with now though is the smell. I really do not like the new car smell at all. It makes me car sick. We manage though. We spray it with air freshener almost every time we get in.
Well, that is everything from this week. I'll send my camera chip soon and can't wait to see the one you are sending me. Probably next week.
I love you both so much. Have a good week.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Harvest Time

The picture below is a Pohnpeian Stove. In the following letter Kevin shares that people in Pohnpei make "neat" things to fulfill their needs.

Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, another week has gone by now and it was a great one. Yesterday we had 9 investigators attend church. That is the most I have had there since I got transferred to Palikir. JR did not get baptized last week but he came to church yesterday so it will happen this Saturday. He is so ready for it now. He just needs to hear a couple more principles and commandments and then he is set. Our other investigators are doing well too. Selerihna's daughters, Donna and Synthia, both came to church and are doing well. They should be baptized on the 2nd of October and then we have another 12 year old girl who is in a part member family set for Oct. 9th. She is Morchlokese so I get to teach her and her family in Chuukese. It is a lot of fun over at their house. I am excited for the rush of baptisms coming in now. There is a lot of good stuff going on in our area. There are some other people we have been doing a lot of work with who are really good investigators too. Dad asked about the possibility of me being transferred and it seems to be about a 50/50 now. I really hope that I get one more in Palikir though because I want to be here for the harvest. I have been working hard here and have really come to love all the people we see.
Before I forget as I have many weeks in a row now, Can I please get pictures of the baptisms that were sent home on the last camera chip? People have been asking for some and I keep spacing it. Thank you in advance. Oh, and about that picture with the wooden contraption on the tree, that is a Pohnpeian stove. They cook all their food on it. There are some really neat things they are able to put together here. I will take more pictures of some as I see them for you to see. JR's family has a cool one that is in the basin of a wheel barrel.
This week we had the leadership training here on Pohnpei and it was really good. We talked about the Doctrine of Christ again and at first I was disappointed because I had been trained on it about three times before. It was sooooo good though. I am glad that was the topic. I needed to hear it again because I had stopped focusing on the Doctrine of Christ as much as I should. It is the basis of EVERYTHING we do out here and if I'm not focused on it then I am not fulfilling my calling. It gave me a renewed urgency to help people work towards baptism and confirmation. The days before and after the leadership training were crazy here. We had to take around 9 extra elders and also help President Dowdle get around island so he could work with a couple of the companionships here. We drove so much. In one day we drove over 100 miles which on an island that has only a 49 mile circumference is a lot. We started about 8:00am and didn't finish until about 3:30pm.
So I am sad to hear that BYU lost again. That really stinks. I hope they pound UNR though. I still bleed blue!
As for some of mom's questions: Pohnpeian is not a written language. They have a Bible, a poorly translated Book of Mormon and a few other religious materials from various churches and peace corps. type organizations. It is only a spoken language which presents the challenges in learning it. The kids do go to school but it is not mandatory. Most do though because they know they need it. School is taught in English which is required by law. The kids do not really know any English though. I think the teachers are too lazy to teach in English so they just do it in Pohnpeian.
Well, that is all I have got for this week. I hope you both have an awesome week. I love you tons!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Dream in Three Languages

Dear Mom and Dad,
Another good week has gone by here on Pohnpei. Last week we had almost the whole time to work and meet with people. That has been a rare treat since I came to Palikir. The work is going really well right now with a couple baptisms coming up soon. We are working with a boy named JR who lives right below the church. He is 13 years old and has been coming to church and other activities for a while. His parents are not members but really like that he is involved with the church and want him to be baptized. He was scheduled for this Saturday but did not come to church so we are going to give him another week just to make sure he is ready. The young men were really helpful yesterday though because when Priesthood started I asked if we could all go down to his house and see how he was. We had like 8 young men with the young men president and Brother Patrick Gallen (counselor in the young men presidency) all go down with us. JR was really shocked to see us all there but it was great. Brother Gallen told him how much we love him and missed him at church. He is such a stud that way. Next week JR said he will come to church so on the 25th he should be good for baptism. We have other good investigators right now that we are working with too that hopefully get baptized sometime in October.
The zone is having a lot of baptisms coming soon. We had two this week and both are studs. There should be more to follow. Our September goal of 22 is daunting though. We have to average seven a week from here if we want to make it. That is a lot of baptisms!
Pesident Dowdle will be coming for a leadership training this week along with two elders from Kosrae, 5 from Chuuk, and the 2 assistants. This time the training will only be a one day thing which will be really nice.
As for school, I would really like to start right away and go to Utah in April. When things get closer we can work out schedule and other things. I imagine that pretty soon I will receive permission from President Dowdle to get on and start looking for classes and such.
I am sad to hear that BYU lost to Airforce. I always love pounding those guys. It must have been a really sad day. We'll dominate them next year though. It sounds like this year is a bit of a rebuilding year since we are so young and lost a bunch of stars. That will be good though because when we start our independent season we will be ready to rock.
So I kind of laughed when dad asked if I am fluent in Pohnpeian and if I have dreams in it ever or if they are still in Chuukese. Last night I had a dream with what started off as a conversation in Pohnpeian with some people that turned to Chuukese and then English. haha it was a fun dream. I would say I am almost fluent in Pohnpeian now. I still have a lot to learn and work on but I can communicate pretty much whatever I want to now. I don't think I know Pohnpeian yet as good as I knew Chuukese when I got transferred out of Chuuk. I still have a long time to go here in Pohnpei though probably.
I was happy to hear that Grandpa Duane is showing progress. As always he is in my prayers. I hope that everything goes well with Aspen. It sounds like a bad accident and she is also in my prayers.
Mom mentioned that my birthday is coming up soon and to think of stuff that I may need. I don't think I need anything though. You can just save the money and put it to something else. I will be home not long after both my birthday and Christmas so I don't need anything out here really. I have all I need. Thanks for the offer though.
Well, that's about all for this week. I hope you are both still doing great. I love you both!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Missionary Hard at Work

September 5, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
We just got back from Guam a couple hours ago. Guam was fun. We found out last Thursday that we were going. We left on Saturday morning and did the same routine as last month. The zone leader council was really good as always. I love getting the training from President Dowdle. It was such a good training on the Spirit and how it works to help us. I am super excited to teach about it in the future. This last week was transfers so there was a new zone leader there from Saipan. It was Elder Shuler. It was awesome getting to see him there. He goes home next transfer which is sad but I will get to see him again on Oct 2 when we go back again. There will be a pretty big group who goes home then. The mission is going to take a pretty big hit. With this transfer we even took a big hit. Elder Parker and Elder Sandvik left for home. I miss them both already. The zone just isn't the same. There are two new elders who rode on the plane with us today. One is from Alaska and the other from Logan Utah. They are both good guys. Elder Standage and Elder Cook are training them. Right now there are 10 elders in our zone and we are struggling on language speakers. There are only 4 right now. We have two companionships here who have barely any language experience. The most within them is 2 transfers. The zone here is really young. It is hard but the Lord is the one who has it this way. There were options for people who already know the language to come back from Guam but the Lord made it this way. Things are going to work out good.
It sounds like your trip to Alaska was a blast. I have gotten 5 postcards from you already. They are awesome to see. I can't believe you planned that trip while I was out here though. I feel so cheated! haha jk. It looks amazing up there in Alaska though.
I am glad to hear that BYU won their game and things are going good for them being independent now. I am more happy that we will get to watch their games on ESPN a lot more now. That is awesome news. What ever happened to Boise State? Are they in the MWC now?
The Gallen family is still doing good now. Patrick has taken it pretty well. The wife had a hard time but now she is better. We went over one day and she started talking to us about how she found him and what led up to it. It was kind of awkward to hear from her because she told us in the actually house where he had died. She pointed to the closet and said that was where she found him. I felt so bad for her and didn't know much about what to say. She didn't cry though so I think she is getting a lot better.
We have some really good stuff going on in Pohnpei right now. In Palikir we have 10 people with baptismal dates in September. I am so excited to be helping them and working with them. We have a goal to get 4 of those people baptized. It can happen and I think it will. We have some great families and individuals right now who want to be baptized. As a zone we have a goal for 22 people to be baptized from now until Oct 2. That is huge. I have faith that it can happen.
Well, I hope you are both doing great still. Thank you so much for all you do. I love you tons!!!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

p.s. In mom's email none of the pictures made it. It may be better to just send hard copies of them because it costs more to receive those in emails. We get charged by how much memory we use on the computers so that consumes a bit. Thanks.
p.p.s. Dad, don't get too comfortable beating the younger guys in golf. That won't be the case for much longer... hahaha jk.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tragic Events

August 29, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
A lot has happened this last week. It has been a good week in terms of the work. We had a lot of good lessons and a lot of people have accepted baptismal dates. I am excited to keep working with them and helping them.
I am glad that your cruise was good. Your adventures up there sound amazing. I'm sure it was beautiful up there. We were probably in the most opposite climates possible while you were up there. Everything is just hot here. Dad asked if I ever get cold and somtimes I do when it rains all day and we get soaked. Usually after the sun goes down is the coldest. That is really the only time though. Other than that we just sweat all day long.
I did get the package you sent with the toiletries. I needed some of the things pretty badly so thank you for that.
So I didn't say too much about the missionary labors this week because I have some other stuff that I need to tell you. Unfortunately tragedy has struck here in our area. We have a recent convert family, the Gallens, (the one I told you about who used to be a teacher in the Protestant church) and their 13 year old son committed suicide on Friday night. His body was found on Saturday by his mother while she was hanging up laundry. He had hung himself in a neighboring house that was abandoned. They hang their clothes up there to dry and unfortunately the mother was the person who found him. We found out around 6:00 pm and rushed over to their house. When I heard I thought it was only a sick rumor. We got to the house and in the house right next to theirs they had a viewing of the body with lots of people there. The mother was devastated as you can imagine and sat next to her son the whole time crying and wailing. Patrick, the father, was hurt too but took control of the situation. He wanted his son to be buried that night for different reasons. One being that traditional Pohnpeian funerals last for four days and everyone drinks stuff called Sakau that is against the word of wisdom (Kava in Samoa and Tonga). Second, so that he could go to church the next morning. I was blown away at the faith he exhorted by telling everyone that the traditional Pohnpeian funeral would not happen and that the boy would be buried that night. I'm sure many people were upset by that. We stayed up really late that night helping with everything. Most of the branch was there to support and help as well. We helped to dig a grave for him right next to their house. We had a small service and around 2:30 AM Czaq (Jake) Gallen was buried. We returned home after that and got to bed. The next morning Patrick and his oldest son Jeff were at church. The mother was too torn up by the whole experience to go and I think the two younger children were too tired since they stayed up all night. Patrick was a true man during the whole thing. I don't know what the Lord has in store for Jake but I am grateful that Christ's Atonement is infinite and things can be fixed. The Gallen family can be reunited and be together forever. I am grateful for the gospel principle of eternal families and I know that the Gallen family is too. Please keep them in your prayers to help them through this hard time. They are an amazing family who is going through a lot of hard times. I really do love them dearly.
Well, that sums up my week. Things will turn around here and everything will be fine soon. Thank you for everything you do. I love you both so much.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Many People to Teach

August 22, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
Wow I can't believe you are already on the cruise. I hope you are having a lot of fun there. Things are going well here still. We met the best couple ever the other day. We had received them as referrals from some of the members but were told that we couldn't go see them because an older woman who lived in the same house was really against the church. The members invited the couple to church a lot and they came two times. We said hi to them there but we were never able to make an appointment to go see them. That was about a month ago. The other day we were walking around out in the area where they live and we came across a random house. Before we could even introduce ourselves a man sitting outside by himself quickly told us to get in the house. It was a small house made of wood with a roof made of leafs. It is a very humble home. We only had a chance to tell him our names and he quickly told us about how he needs help to be a better father. I didn't recognize the man and so we asked him a little about himself and found out it was the same man the branch referred us to see. He poured his soul out to us about how he can't provide very well for his family and it was really humbling to hear the man's story. He then told us a little about himself. He went to Bible school for 4 years and was an active member of the Protestant church his whole life but then stopped going because his life felt empty. A year or so later he decided to go to our church and see what was there. He only lives about 100-200 yards away from the church. That was actually the first of the two times he went. He heard the district president speak on families and it touched his life. He said he felt more from the one talk than he had from all the shcooling and years of activity in the protestant church combined. The second time he went to church he stayed for Priesthood and just sat quietly. As he listened to the lesson and the discussion he felt the Spirit again. We weren't able to meet him for a lesson that day but we set up an appointment to see him for yesterday and he was there sure enough. We met at a nearby house of members. They both accepted baptismal dates for Sept. 18 and I think they will possibly be ready before that. They are an amazing little family. The Spirit was strong in the lesson. The man's name is Molens Molen and I will keep you updated on everything with him.
As for our other investigators we have some good things going on. Unfortunately one of Selerihna's daughters is no longer progressing well. We are going to see her tonight and figure things out but I think she is just getting too much pressure from her mom right now. We had an investigator come to church for the first time this Sunday and he has a scheduled baptismal date on the 18th of Sep. as well. He is a great guy named Redson Hadley. I think he has really big potential to be baptized. We are going to see him tonight too.
So that is crazy that BYU may go independent. That would be awesome but at the same time I feel like that would generate a lot of negative media attention. I don't know what they are saying now so I have no idea. I don't know all the details behind it so I don't really have an opinion if it would be good or bad. I know whatever decision is made will probably be best for the school though. Shaun wrote me and said that the decision will actually go all the way up to the quorum of the 12 Apostles. I know whatever they say on the matter will be right. haha! Revelation and football... I never really thought the two would mix.
I got one the package you sent last week with all the grocery stuff in it. The cheesecake was amazing. Thank you for all of those things.
Well, I need to get going now. We have a lot to do today. I hope you two are having a great time on the cruise with everyone. Thank you for all that you do for me. I love you both so much.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nan Madol Ruins, Pohnpei

The missionaries were able to enjoy a zone p-day activity to the Nan Madol Ruins on Pohnpei. There are many legends about the ruins, but no one is sure what they were used for or who built them.

Visit to Nan Madol Ruins

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Missionaries Gather on Pohnpei

The picture below was taken during one of Kevin's trips to Guam for Zone Leader conference.

August 15, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
I hope you get the letter I sent off last week soon. It has most of the stuff that happened last week but I’ll give you a brief update here.
Last Saturday we went to Guam and that night we had the service project that you saw on Brother and Sister Clarke's blog. I have no idea who’s house it was but it was good to be there helping them. It was a good bonding time for all of the missionaries too. On Sunday we went to church at the Barrigada branch and that was awesome. I joined the Chuukese Sunday school class again for kicks. It is fun being with all of them again and Elder T and Elder Vankomen were the teachers. After church we ran over to the mission home and then had our zone leader council. President Dowdle gave us a training on the Doctrine of Christ. It was a great training which was the first of the eight sessions during the leadership training later that week. When the Zone leader council was over we went back to the different houses and the next morning we woke up really early and went to the airport. It wasn’t much of a sit around kind of trip to Guam. We got in and out really quick. President flew out with us along with the 2 Assistants. We picked up 3 more Chuuk elders on the way to Pohnpei too. When we got to Pohnpei we got off with the Assistants and the 5 Chuuk elders (2 Zone leaders and 3 district leaders). It was so much fun with all the Chuuk elders again. Elder T, Elder Vankomen, Elder Wood, Elder Sears, and Elder Reiri were all there. That Monday we took a hike up to the top of one of the mountains here and saw some old Japanese guns. It was a good bonding time for us all. Unfortunately, all the pictures I took up there got erased somehow by my camera which is really lame and while we were hiking people broke into our car and stole a bunch of stuff. I had like $80 stolen from me and others had money and watches taken. It was not the greatest. While we were on the hike President Dowdle continued the flight on to Kosrae with the one zone leader from there. They got there that day and had their zone conference then came straight back to Pohnpei. There was the one zone leader, Elder Wilson, and 1 district leader from there, Elder Mathews. They came in on Tuesday and as soon as President got in we started our zone conference. It was a good one. We didn’t give a training which was nice. Preparing a training through all the stuff we had to do already would have been impossible. We had to figure out meals for zone conference and the days of leadership training while also getting 9 extra elders around island while also taking care of our area and all other responsibilities that we typically do. The leadership training was great. 4 straight days of spiritual feasting. The training focused a lot on us teaching by the Spirit and being led by Him in all things. Everything we learned is going to help the people of Micronesia so much. I have seen great changes already. That training was every day from Wednesday until Saturday. As soon as we finished on Saturday we had to run all the Chuuk elders and the assistants over to the airport. They left that afternoon and we had the 2 elders from Kosrae stay with us until today. We just barely came from the airport. We took them there so they can go back. Today was the end of all the hectic stuff. It feels great too! It will come again though. We have a district leader council tomorrow which won’t be too bad but on September 4 we go to Guam again for zone leader council. A couple weeks after that we have another leadership training here on Pohnpei.
That was the crazy of last week but there was good too. We started work in a new area called Sekere and there are a lot of great people there who will get baptized. I am excited to start working with all of them. The branch is a huge help there too. As for investigators in our area we have some that are still making good progress. Selerihna’s kids probably won’t get baptized this month but they will in September. Synthia just needs a little more time. Donna is ready but we want to baptize them together. Armstrong is doing alright but hasn’t talked to his dad yet. We are going to get one of the members to go with us to talk to the dad again so we can get permission. I pray that all that will go well. We have another newer investigator who has so much potential. Her name is Maleen. In the lesson last night the Spirit was so strong and it taught here truth and I know it testified to her about the Book of Mormon. She just needs to identify the feelings that she is having. That is our next lesson with her for sure. That is one of the things that the leadership training taught us to do so I am excited to apply that. The work is going good in Palikir and Pohnpei right now. There were 4 baptisms on Saturday in Sokehs (Elder Parker’s area) and more will follow in the next upcoming weeks.
Your Alaska trip sounds like it is going to be a great time for everyone. Take a lot of pictures of the snow for me. I have forgotten it a lot and love to see it. Take pictures of all the bear and moose. I got a chance to see Jaxson and Kolby in the videos you sent. They are a lot bigger than the last set you sent out. It is amazing.
I continue to pray for Grandpa Duane. I am glad to hear he is still making progress. I love Grandpa and want to see him have a full recovery. Tell him and Grandma that I am looking forward to sushi when I see them again!
Please let Aunt Lisa know that I am sorry to hear about Uncle Roland passing away. I know that he is out of pain and in a great place, but he is missed here on earth.
I could hardly believe it when mom wrote that I have been out for 18 months now. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long. I am grateful that I still have a long time left. The tradition for 18 months is burning pants. I couldn’t bring myself to burn a good pair of pants so I cut out the back left pocket and burned half of that. The other half I kept and wrote on it so I can keep it. I did have a video of the experience but it got erased on the card with everything else. Life goes on though.
I haven’t gotten the new football articles yet but I am looking forward to it. Uncle Shaun wrote me last week and talked about BYU possibly becoming independent. I was surprised by that one. Tell me how everything develops in those regards. Right now I think the biggest thing on my mind though is crushing UNR! I hope we pound them into the ground and kick their mommas while doing it!! Haha jk….. but not really.
Well, that’s all from this week really. I hope you have an amazing time on your trip to Alaska. I am looking forward to hearing about it soon. Thank you for everything you both do for me.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South
p.s. Mom asked about sending out anything like shower gel and that would be great. Can you send out the Axe one that has dragon fruit in it? I think it is called fever. I really liked that one in the small bottle you sent out. Thank you!

Service Project in Guam

The pictures and service project below were taken off of Brother and Sister Clarke's blog. The are serving a mission in Guam. They did such a great job describing a service project that the missionaries participated in while in Guam that I couldn't resist sharing a part of it on Kevin's blog. It was also great to see pictures of Kevin. Thank you for sharing, Brother and Sister Clarke!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Service Project
We have a family in our Branch that is building a home on the family property. This is a weekend project and the missionaries decided to lend a hand. It was interesting locating the property. Guam does not really function on an address system so we had a map drawn showing that you turned right just before the yellow bus stop then turn right on the dirt road and go until the end. It was back in the jungle and was so green! The first thing I noticed when we got there was President Dowdle. In the six months that we have been here this was the first time I had ever seen him in anything but a white shirt and tie.
I also noticed that one of the counselors in the Branch Presidency was helping out too. Brother Henry is from the Marshall islands. He works for the Facilities Management office of the church. He does the maintenance on the Church facilities and here he is on his day off doing more of the same.
The missionaries were clearing the land of trash and rocks. A big part of the homes here is the cement slab out front where most of the living is done. The rocks needed to be removed and the dirt leveled out to pour the cement.
Construction is very simple. This is a typical tin house. It consists of two bedrooms and a main living area. The kitchen will be outside. This keeps the heat out of the house. Many hands make light work and I am sure that they saved the family hours and hours of work.
Tonight we had an opportunity to see some more of these tin houses on the north end of the island. Wayne and I have tried to visit potential Institute students with the Yigo Branch Presidency. Our destination this time was to the Ranches. This is an area that was marketed to be a new development with power, water, etc. but when the people bought there property the improvements were never installed. The roads are dirt which is full of potholes. Since it has been raining they are like little ponds everywhere. Only parts of the Ranches has electricity so there are actually people without lights and power. They also do not have water and so they have to haul in any water they need. I noticed port-a-potties on several properties. A lot of the homes are actually cargo bins like you find on trains. There will be several used for bedrooms, etc. I am impressed that they have been so resourceful. Cargo is shipped over here and the containers are not sent back to the point of origin and so they have found a really good use for them here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cooking Breadfruit on Pohnpei

Breadfruit cooked as shown in the video is one of Kevin's favorite foods.

Things are Absolutely Crazy Here

Kevin sitting on Pwisin Malek(Chicken Poop Hill) on Pohnpei

Elder South's letter arrived Monday night and was very brief.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I wish I had a normal amount of time to talk to you today but I don't. Things are going absolutely CRAZY here and we have to go pick people up from the airport here really soon. I wrote you a letter that I sent off today so that should get to you soon and it will tell you all about the week and everything good going on.
My license did arrive this week so all is well there.
Thank you so much for all you both do for me. Sorry I can't write you more right now. I love you both.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Start of a Very Busy Two Weeks

Dear Mom and Dad,
I can't believe it is August now and I haven't heard anything from either of you about Hot August Nights!!! haha jk. Has it all got started up now in full force? Take some pictures for me.
I got the package you sent with the camera chip I believe. I got a package today but I haven't opened it yet. I haven't had time. I will later tonight. I also got the letter from dad with the BYU articles. I was excited to get those. I was sad to hear Utah left the MWC. The rivalry will be strong still though. The hardest part though is that now when we play them it won't have the same kind of terms. Usually it seems to have a BCS berth or MWC championship on the line.
I haven't gotten my license yet but I got a letter last week saying that it should be here within 15 days. So next week I should have it.
So this last week has been an interesting one. I am with another companion now (my 6th new one in 5 transfers!). His name is Elder Brandenburg and he is from Oregon. He is a good guy.
The work here is going great still. Selerihna's daugther accepted a baptismal date for the 21st of August. She will have to work for that date but she can make it. Hopefully Selerihna's other daughter will be there for that too. She wasn't in the lesson we gave the baptismal commitment so we'll have to get her on one soon. The other good news is about a 14 year old boy named Armstrong who is pretty much a member already. He goes to church all the time and goes to all the young men activities. He is a great kid. His family belong to another church and we were expecting them to not be very thrilled about Armstrong always doing those things but we talked to them last night and it sounds like they don't care too much. That hopefully will be good for him when he talks to them about being baptized. We are going to talk to him about that soon. The other investigators we are working with are doing well still but not great. The English speaking couple got hit with a funeral in the family and those are always really big here. It makes a person busy for like a whole week. We haven't seen them in a little while but we will see the tomorrow night. Hopefully that will go well. We stopped by the other night and the girl, Jasmin, read a little bit so that is still a good sign.
We will be leaving this weekend for Guam and that starts the hectic week of trainings. It should be fun but will be crazy. I think people are going to be looking to Elder Brandenburg and I to put everything together and have it all organized since a lot of the trainings will be here on Pohnpei. I am really excited to see Elder T. who was in the MTC with me. He is the new zone leader in Chuuk so I will see him again.
It was good to hear that Grandpa is doing well still. I am looking forward to seeing him again and talking with him. I got a package from Grandma, Granpda and Shaun and it was fun hearing from them. The stuff they sent was great too. I'm writing them a letter today that hopefully I finish so I can send it today. If not it will be next week.
Next time you see Brent, Brandon or any of that gang that I used to hang out with tell them I said hello. Tell Brent that he better get training hard if he wants to beat me on the course too. I'll dust off the clubs and be putting him in his place real quick when I get back. haha jk.
Well, I guess that is all I have to say about this week. I hope you are both still doing great. Thank you so much for all you do for me. Take care.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A New Companion

This picture shows the missionaries serving on Pohnpei. I was able to get this picture from Kevin's mission president's blog.
July 25, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!! I cannot believe it is already your birthday again. I feel like it was just last month that I was writing you from Chuuk telling you the exact same thing. I guess time flies. Dad told me about you looking at the picture from the mission blog and getting emotional because I have grown up. Don’t worry mom. I am still your son. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t feel any older. I still feel like the crazy teen running around Reno in my mustang. Now I just run around Pohnpei talking about Christ instead of blasting rock ‘n roll. Hahaha.
So another eventful week has gone by. Transfers came and for the fifth straight transfer I have been directly effected. Elder Larson got transferred off to Guam and will finish the last two transfers of his mission there as zone leader. My new companion is Elder Brandenburg. He served on Pohnpei for 9 transfers before going to Saipan for 2. Now he is coming back to be with me. He will be coming in on the plane in about 2 hours. Right now I am with Elder Parker again. His companion will also be coming in today. For the last few days we were left without companions so we teamed up. We had fun covering both our areas. We mostly stayed in Palikir though. Next transfer will be crazy with everything going on and I feel like it will be a lot more overwhelming now that Elder Larson is gone. Elder Brandenburg didn’t go to the last zone leader council so he really doesn’t know what is going on and I will have to teach him all the ins and outs of zone leader while preparing him for all the big meetings and such. We leave in two weeks and that is the start of all the crazy stuff. Before we leave we have to have zone conference done and get everything ready for 10 missionaries to come from the other islands. It will be hectic along with all the other things we do. Everything will be fine though. Oh, and to answer mom's question about the meetings, I don’t think that I will ever go to a different island for the leadership training. Pohnpei is the most suited place to have a big meeting like that. I would love to go to Chuuk for it though and spend 4 or 5 days there again. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for other meetings.
The missionary work in Palikir is going really well. We have a lot of good member work going on and they are helping to fellowship all our investigators. We had a family come to church yesterday who we have never met yet but the members were the ones who invited them and now we are going to try to meet them at a member's house to teach them. That is the best way to do missionary work. I am so grateful that the branch has such a strong desire to do missionary work and help us out. We also had Selerihna’s daughter come to church yesterday and it was the first time I had seen that particular one there. We have been teaching her for a while so she is making good progress. I imagine she will follow her mom and get baptized sometime in August. Unfortunately, the English speaking couple didn’t come to church yesterday. They woke up and got all ready and then their parents called them and asked them to pick them up from Kitti, which is a good half hour drive away from their house. They said that next week they’ll come.
I will send off a camera chip today so that should get to you soon. Mom asked about the license and I think they will send that to me if I read the form right. I haven’t gotten it yet but I will keep my eye out. I am the assigned driver now so I need that soon. If I don’t get it by next week I will let you know so you can ask them about it. I haven’t gotten the package mom send a little while ago yet but it should come soon.
Your quad trip sounds like it was a lot of fun. I love Lake Tahoe and how beautiful it is. We saw a lot of really beautiful places on the quads with all our adventures. I am looking forward to a camping trip on them like dad talked about a little while ago. That will be awesome. I am looking forward to seeing what your trip to Alaska is going to be like.
Well that is all for this week. Oh, mom had a few questions about conditions here. All the missionaries have power here and most of the locals do too. Most cook over fires though and use the power just for light and night and fans to cool down their houses. There are a few televisions here too. Women do wear the scatos but they are called urohs here (urohs is single not plural even though it has the s at the end). Some women wear jeans or pants though. It is more American here than Chuuk.
Well, I hope you are doing well. Thanks for all you do for me. I love you both tons!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South