A Scene From Chuuk
March 30, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have been writing a hand letter today to go along with my email so I won't cover my whole week in this email. I'll try to send out hand letters when I can as well just because those seem nicer than emails. I will put a camera chip with my letter so you should get that soon. Sorry it has been so long. The new chip has AWESOME stuff on it. You will love it.
Right now we are in Telecom and it is 7:00pm. I was really happy to hear from you both. Today we had an Easter dinner with the Holloways (the senior couple here). They are awesome and the dinner was good. All the missionaries were there and we watched some clips from the seminary movies about Jesus Christ and hung out. I really like getting together with the zone. Elder Standage and Elder Keel from my MTC group are here so we get along well and have a lot to talk about.
I have lost weight. Somehow I lost 12 pounds in 10 days? Don't worry though
Ok, so this week has been good. I am liking Pohnpei and getting used to it more. I do still miss Chuuk though. I get to speak Chuukese occasionally to some Chuukese people here but it is rare and they have lived here so long they don't understand it all anymore. That is sad. Their accents are ridiculous too. It is amazing how different the tones of the languages are and the influxtions are way off. It interferes with me speaking Pohnpeian a bit but I will get over it soon.
So I'll probably just respond to all the questions you asked:
I would love to get emails and hand letters from you both. I love hearing from you and hearing how everything is back home. Don't worry about sending one of each every week. Just write when it is convenient and you have time. As for email, tell everyone that time is short for email and I will most likely write them hand letters. Time is a lot shorter here on P-days and I struggle to get the letters out I want.I get mail once a week and get a chance to send it once a week. The zone leaders pick it up and hold it until we come in for P-day.
Please contact Elder Mitton's family. Tell him to write me and where I am. Tell him I miss his guts and he is in my prayers every night. I love that guy so much and was so sad when I found out he went home. Tell him the whole mission is praying for him to be able to come back.
The mission didn't give me much in terms of extra study materials for learning Pohnpeian. I just have a small language packet that I borrowed from one of the elders here. The packet is sufficient to give me a foundation and then I will just listen to the people and ask them questions. That's how I did it in Chuuk and I got the language pretty well so I will do it here as well.
There are outer islands of Pohnpei but we don't have missionaries there yet, only here on the main island. Maybe in the future there will be but the church will have to get a lot stronger here on the main island before that.
There are some foods available here, but not a lot. I miss some of the things you sent me while I was in Chuuk. I miss tortillas, canned chicken and mashed potatoes. The Idahoan powdered potatoes are awesome. Candy is always awesome too! haha. I can get ingredients like milk and eggs on Pohnpei. Milk is all ultra pasteurized so it isn't as good as the stuff back home but it works. We do have a microwave and oven too. I miss some of the Chuukese food too. I really want some breadfruit, but you can't get me that!
The school system on Pohnpei is way better than in Chuuk. There are quite a few kids who know good english and they are pretty intelligent.
I attend the Kitti branch here. The meeting house is half of a house here. We have a small branch and attendance is small. The members are nice and similar to Chuukese people. They seem to be a little bit more of a serious people though and a lot less joking and laughing goes on. A lot of the fun language stuff in Chuukese doesn't exist in Pohnpeian so that is the main reason for it. All in all the members are the same. We have a few studs and a lot of less-actives. We'll try to help the members the best we can and work to make the branch stronger.
We do have a Pohnpeian Book of Mormon but it is not complete and the translation is bad. Soon there may be a full translation approved which would be great.
Kolonia is the capital of Pohnpei and is by far the most developed part of Micronesia. Quite a few people know English in the city and there are a lot more tourists here which help to bring in money. Chuuk is about 15 years behind this place. It isn't a problem though. Chuuk is humble living and it is good. The Savior talks about simple life a bit in the New Testament when he says the fowl don't put any thought into tomorrow. Heavenly Father loves the people all the same and they have put there faith in Him to watch after them and help them live day to day. Pohnpei is more developed but is still far from the level of the states. It is still a pretty simple life here. Especially when you get out of the city. There are still shacks here and people who live entirely off the land and what they can catch from the ocean.
That made me laugh when so many people thought I was in Greece or Italy. Nope, I am on a tiny island in the Pacific. I am prejudiced, but I think it is better than Italy or Greece!
Your laundry comment made me laugh. I hope I didn't say that in a negative light last week. I actually like doing my own laundry with the machines. It is fine and I don't mind the time it takes. The machines get them pretty clean too so that is good.
The work right now is a lot of finding. We have some investigators but no studs yet. Last week we got 15 new investigators and this week we got 14. That hints a little how fast we drop people. Most people aren't willing to keep commitments we leave so we don't want to waste our time. The elect are out there and we need to find them. The people we drop though can have a change of heart later that will prepare them to accept the gospel. I pray that they will be able to accept it soon and reap the blessings of the Restored Gospel. I don't do any teaching here yet. It is all Elder Parker. I don't do much but pray and bear simple testimony. The languages have similarities but a lot of differences as well that are hard to get my thinking pattern adjusted to. I tend to throw in some Chuukese when I try to speak to people here. With time that will stop though.
We haven't done any service projects here yet unfortunately. The people here respect us and don't want us doing work for them. It is annoying but we can't do anything about it. We offer it and look for opportunities but it is rare.
We don't baptize in the ocean here. Where we have actual church buildings there are baptismal fonts. I will miss the ocean baptisms. The location doesn't matter though. It is just good to help people receive that ordinance.
Elder Parker and I are the only ones who stay in the Kitti house. Every Monday night the Elders from Mand (the d makes a t sound) come over and stay the night because it is easier for them to get stuff done for p-day. It is fun when they come over. For p-days we try to play football when we have time and then go take care of everything else. We do shopping, laundry, emailing, etc. Today we got an oil change for our truck and renewed our registration. Next week I will try to get a driver's license.
For zone p-day we try to look at historical sites or cool cultural stuff. I'll tell you about that stuff when it happens. We haven't had a zone p-day yet so I can't tell you anything yet.
Ok, so that was all your questions. There was a cultural thing I wanted to tell you. It is a big problem here. For some reason the people here pound the roots of a plant called Sakau. After pounding it on a big flat stone they wring it out and it makes a thick milky substance that looks like it is mixed with dirt. They drink that and it gives them a drunk like feeling. It is against the word of wisdom now and it is really hard for people to give up. Not because it is addicting but because it is so big in the culture. Another gross thing like that is the betelnut. Chuuk has it but there are only a few people who chew it. Here it is a big problem and is so gross. They chew this little nut and it makes their mouth numb. I don't understand the big thrill of it but almost everyone does it here.
Alright that is it for the questions. Ask me the ones I missed again and I'll get to them next week. I'll send a letter out next week with stuff from this week and the upcoming week. I'll still write you hand letters because those are always good.
All is well here in Pohnpei now and I am liking it. I will get a much better love of the people soon and I look forward to it. For now I am going to just work hard with the language so I can start teaching. The Lord will help me with it a lot.
I hope you are doing great. I love you. Thank you for everything you do. Take care.
Elder Kevin South