Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Kevin mentioned eopwet in November. I have copied the paragraph where he described it. When we received his camera card last week, the pictures from his experience with eopwet were on there and I thought people might enjoy seeing the pictures.
Kevin said, "I have some new food news. I tried a local Chuukese dish. It looks like diarrhea, smells like diarrhea and well... tastes like it. It is called eopwet. It is breadfruit that has been buried in the ground for over a month. It just sits underground and rots. After a month they pull it out and cook it in banana leaves and then let it cool and enjoy! I never want to have eopwet again. Only about half the people here actually eat it. That is really good because now I know that not everyone here is crazy."

Working with the Chuukese Speaking Morchlokese People

April 26, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
This last week has been a good one here on Pohnpei. We had our zone conference and it was awesome. President Dowdle gave a training on prayer that was amazing. It really opened my eyes to true prayer and the price we pay for it. It is something that I am really working to improve in my own life. I did also have a really good interview with President Dowdle this week. We got to talk a lot. I haven't had the chance to talk to him in 2 months so we had a lot of catching up to do. He told me that he thought I would be going to Guam this last transfer and was surprised when he felt that I should come to Pohnpei. He said it seems like I am doing well with it here though and he told me to keep going with it. He asked me to really buckle down on getting my language mastery done soon. I have finished the requirements for the first two transfers and some in the third but it will take me at least another month. That is really good though. My Chuukese one took me about 61/2 months. My teaching has been getting better and better here. It is still far from what I would like, but I can't complain. I teach a couple principles each lesson but Elder Parker still does everything else.
Speaking of Elder Parker though, we got our transfer calls last night. Elder Parker will be going to a new area and I will be getting Elder Sandvik. He is a great guy. He is coming out of the assistant position so I am really looking forward to working with him. He was originally going to go to a different area but there were some things that happened to cause changes to be made so now he is coming with me. I really liked serving with Elder Parker. It seems like I have had a lot of companions in the last few transfers. This will put me at 5 companions in 4 transfers.
The work is going really well in Kitti right now. We have a couple people that are really showing through and doing a good job reading from the Book of Mormon. They are starting to see the light of the gospel. I hope they have the faith to continue on though. So many times we have people that see the light but reject it and choose not to change. I think that Elder Sandvik will be able to help them a lot. He is a convert to the church and was baptized when he was 18. He is the only member in his family. His testimony and understanding of where investigators are will be extremely useful.
Last week I also got a huge blessing here. I got the chance to meet with some Morchlokese people. They are from the outer islands of Chuuk. They came here a little while ago and don't know any Pohnpeian. Their language is a little different than Chuukese but it is close enough for us to understand each other. There is a branch here called the Sekehre branch that is mostly Morchlokese people. The branch president was the one to arrange the lesson. We will be going back tonight as well as meeting with a couple others he has met who are interested in the gospel. I am really excited. The Sekehre branch doesn't have missionaries right now and they are all studs. It is probably the most independent branch on island. That makes me happy. Chuuk is representing! Sekehre is located in the zone leaders area so they will be going with us as well.
So it sounds like everything back home is going well. I can't believe that both Luke Babbit and Armon Johnson are going into the NBA. They are studs but I had no idea that they would be considering that. I hope they do well and represent Nevada well. In all honesty, I hope that Jimmer Fredette doesn't go to the NBA this year. I want him to stay another year so I can see him play and so the team has him around. He sounds like a super stud in the articles dad sends out but I question him going as a first round pick.
I haven't gotten the package yet with the Pohnpeian books but I will probably get that by next week. I did get Grandma Helen and Grandpa Bob's food box they sent. I wrote them a letter and will send that off today.
That is super awesome that Jaxson is doing so well in preschool!
Dad asked some questions about my studies and stuff lately. I have been reading the Book of Mormon a lot and loving it. I spend half an hour each day reading that. I go slow now so I can take a lot out of it. I haven't been working much lately on memorizing scriptures because of Pohnpeian. I try to memorize new words every day so it is hard to memorize all of it at once. I will start memorizing more soon though. I do work on making sure I know scripture references and brief summaries of what the verse says. That is helpful.
I am really looking forward to our upcoming Mother's Day call. That is just around the corner now. I'll probably call you soon to set the call up. Be prepared for it. Unfortunately it will probably be in the nighttime hours again. We'll schedule the actual call for a convenient time with both of you though.
Well, I hope you are both doing great and all is still well at home. I love you both. Thank you for everything you do for me. Take care.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bring on the Rain!

The pictures below were taken the day Kevin left Chuuk and went to Pohnpei.

April 19, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm glad to hear that my camera chip made it home. I was a little worried about that. I always am worried about sending a chip home but it never making it. There is a lot of important stuff on it that I want to keep. I hope you enjoyed it all.
So this last week has been a good one. Life has continued on as usual to tell you the truth. We have been doing some good work here and have some good stuff going on. No baptisms yet, but some people are getting closer and closer. For them it is just baby steps right now but eventually they will reach it. There is a family with one of the Protestant teachers who really agree and like everything, but they just need the final push. AND we figured out just the thing. There is a recent convert in the zone leaders' area who used to be in the same position. His name is Patrik Gallen and he is a stud. We have coordinated with him to come and we hope that once the family hears his testimony and his conversion story that this will be the final thing they need. It is hard for Pohnpeians to take seriously the things that two white Americans say, but with the testimony of a Pohnpeian that will help. It will help them see how true these things are and how they can bless anybody regardless of race or nationality.
We were able to watch General Conference this week which was amazing. Fortunately the branch decided to watch it in English and I was super excited. It would have been two long days of just sitting there and not being able to follow everything. They did watch the Sunday afternoon session in Pohnpeian so I will have to find time to watch that again but that won't be too difficult. I felt the spirit a lot during the talks and really liked the messages. I definitely caught the family message. It seemed like almost everyone spoke about families. Priesthood session was so awesome. There were some really awesome talks. I particularly liked President Uchtdorf's about patience. I found that one to be really relevant since I am learning another language. I have had some struggles in all honesty. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I have to say a silent prayer and try to endure. I am blessed to find relief every time though. This week I tried teaching a lot more and it has been alright. Yesterday we had a lesson with an investigator and we decided to start over from the beginning with him. It was a bit of a training moment for me and Elder Parker just told me to do what I could. I taught almost the whole lesson. I let Elder Parker take over for the last little bit but I did it for a long time. It went well and I think the investigator understood it all. He was patient with me and he had heard it all before so it was helpful. The only frustrating thing I face now is having to think about everything in my head before I say it as opposed to just being able to let it come naturally. That will come with a lot of practice and a lot of time. My brain has adjusted to learning a new language now. A lot of learning a language is getting one's brain trained. I feel as if I don't start teaching more I will go crazy. Just sitting there during lessons without being able to teach is hard. I get a big yearning to just jump in and be included. I have a lot of energy during the day that I just need to get rid of, but I can't if I am just sitting in on lessons.
I also really like President Monson in this General Conference. He showed a side of himself that I hadn't ever really seen. His opening remarks Saturday morning were awesome. I really liked his Sunday morning talk too. I could really feel the spirit as he talked about Jesus Christ and His atonement. The other talk I really liked as well was Elder Holland's. Mostly because the tea joke he said was the funniest moment of conference. It took me a little bit to stop laughing. I could also feel the spirit when he talks. He is an amazing speaker and every time he speaks it seems to just blow me away.
President Dowdle will be coming in tomorrow and the next day we will be having our zone conference. I am super excited. President Dowdle is a great guy and is an awesome mission president.
It sounds like Shain's homecoming went well. That must have been really cool to be there at the airport with him.
Ok so you both had a few questions I'll answer:
Elder Parker is from Mesa AZ (same as Elder Standage my MTC companion). He goes to a community college in Mesa and really likes golf. He played for the community college but won't go back to it. It is fun talking golf with him sometimes. There is one other BYU student here in the zone. It is one of the zone leaders, Elder Linzey. Mom has e-mailed with his mom. We haven't had too much of a chance to really talk about BYU sports or anything like that but if the time ever comes up I know we will do it.
For p-days we pretty much always play football. Today we played and had fun. It was raining so it was a challenge but we liked it. All the elders play each week so it is a 5 v. 5 game. We haven't really done anything else for p-day yet.
Mom asked about a driver's license and I haven't had the chance to get one here. I don't drive the truck but that is fine with me. Mine is long expired so I will probably just have to wait until I get home to get a new one. It will be a bit of a hassle but it is fine. It really isn't that big of a deal.
My shoes are doing alright. I have the pair of crocs now that are holding out ok. They are getting a little bit thin on the bottom but when they go I still have that other pair of leather sandals I came out with. Once the crocs go I will just wear those ones so don't worry about sending out any shoes.
Pohnpei is not a stake yet. It is a district with 7 branches and one unit. It will be awhile before it becomes a stake. For district conference everyone meets in the district center and President Dowdle comes. Occasionally another general authority comes. My fingers are crossed to see another one at some point in my mission.
We do a lot of tracting here, but we would like to do more with member referrals. The only problem is that the branch is small so we can't get many.
A lot of our work is done in the jungle. We walk through a lot of small streams and on a lot of crazy paths. We get soaked a lot here. Getting soaked isn't comfortable but I love it now. The missionaries say that the more finding a missionary does in the rain, the better looking his wife will be. All I can say is BRING ON THE RAIN!
On Sundays we get around 30 people at church. As missinaries, we do a lot of the work during church, but there is a primary teacher and an adult Sunday School teacher. There is not a Relief Society or Priesthood block. We don't want to overstep our boundaries so we can't enforce one. The District President knows.
There are 10 elders and 3 sisters on Pohnpei. There is a 4th sister coming soon. The zone is good and I like it a lot. There is only one biking area. Pray that I don't go to the biking area please!
Food on Pohnpei is really similar to Chuuk. A lot of bananas, tuna, spam, ramen (from Japan with MSG in it), fish and of course RICE!
I have not gotten to see any ancient sites yet, but I hope to soon. We do those types of things on zone p-days, but we haven't had one yet. There are some really cool ruins here from what I hear. I have seen some sweet waterfalls though. There was a sign by one that said it was higher than 500 feet. They are all over our area.
All is well here on Pohnpei and I like it. I will love this place a lot more once I can speak to the people more. It was the same thing on Chuuk. Once I could speak the language I loved it.
Thank you so much for getting the Pohnpeian books for me. I really appreciate that.
I liked reading about both of your accounts at Half Moon Bay. But is does sound COLD! I don't know the definition of cold any more so I can't even imagine how you felt. I have good memories of that place though such as the bagpipes on #9 and how beautiful everything is. Thinking about it makes me trunky for golf. Hahaha!
Alright, well that covers this week. I hope you both are doing great still. Thank you so much for everything you do. I love you both tons!
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting Soaked for a Great Cause

April 12, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
I can't believe how fast this last week has gone by. It seems like I was just emailing you. So this last week has been going well. We have some really good stuff going on that is exciting. I wrote to you earlier today in a hand letter about a couple specific investigators and their stories that I will send out to you today. I will try to mail the camera chip today so you get that soon. Sorry that took me so long to get it out. It is completely full and I just put it in the pouch on the carrying case and kind of forgot about it. The camera chip will have pictures and videos from New Years on Romannum that you will really like.
So this last week I tried teaching for the first time. It went pretty well. Nothing overly spectacular but what I said made sense and was clear. I still have to think about stuff a lot in my head before I can say it but it is coming along. The part that is hard for me with it all right now is that I can understand about 75% of what is being said by people but I can't put it all together to speak it yet. That is good though for now because I will at least know how to say stuff in the future. On Chuuk I could say a lot more than I could understand when I first started. That was a big obstacle being able to understand the islanders when they spoke. I have an advantage right there so that is good. This week I will try to do more teaching. I figure the more teaching I start doing now the faster I will get the language and the less stressful circumstances will be for me now. Just sitting in on lessons and not being able to teach is hard for me. I want to get involved so badly but I can't really do that effectively yet. Every now and then I do find some Chuukese people that I get to talk to and I really enjoy that. It gives me a chance to be able to talk to someone here. It isn't very often though that that happens and when it does it isn't usually an actual Chuukese person but someone from the Morchloks (sp?). They speak a different dialect and I can understand most of what they are saying but that is the place that uses "l" when they speak so catching their words is harder and they use some different words. I had one guy use a really strange word that I had no idea the other day and I gave him a puzzled look and he said it to me in English "laugh" and I had never heard that word before. It wasn't one used in the Chuukese dialects I learned.
It has rained almost every single day since I got here. Not a light shower, but a hardcore pouring rain. It never stops us though. We get soaked everyday, but it is for a cause greater than staying dry.
We do have a truck to drive. It is a big Toyota Tacoma that is 4 wheel drive, It is the only 4 wheel drive truck in the mission.
So your trip to Half Moon Bay sounded like it was a lot of fun. Your beach adventure sounds like it was a lot of fun too. I laughed when you said that you got wet from the ocean and had to change. I can see you two trying to scramble away from the water and getting wet. haha it was probably really cold water though. The ocean is so warm here that I probably can't imagine how cold it must have been.
That is exciting that Shain will be going home in a couple days. Tell him I said "hello". That is really neat that their will be videos of it and stuff like that.
The stuff that dad sent to me about the church history in Micronesia was really interesting. The first person baptized that was mentioned in Chuuk's history is a member in the Mwan branch. I have had the chance to meet him a few times. He is a pretty good guy and just went to the temple for the first time last year.
This last week we had a branch conference and the district presidency came by and spoke to the branch. It was so awesome. The district here functions really well and all of the district presidency are studs. The District president is from the Morchloks and knows Chuukese as so is one of his counselors. I got to speak to them a little bit and they are studs. Not many micronesians understand how the church actually functions but they have it down. They gave awesome talks on Sunday too that will really help the members. We had a really good turnout on Sunday for the conference so hopefully that helped the members to have a stronger desire. I know the spirit was there while the district presidency spoke and the members felt it. I am excited for this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. We get the chance to hear the general conference sessions. The only sad part is that we will probably watch them in Pohnpeian. That means I will have to take them to the house after and try to find time during lunch and dinner hours to listen to talks. I am super excited to hear what the brethren spoke on.
Ok so dad had a few questions in his email:
There are no wards in our entire mission yet. Only branches. So there isn't ever a stake conference. They are trying really hard to get Guam to become a stake but it doesn't qualify yet. There aren't enough active Melchizedek Priesthood holders now or enough full time tithe payers. Hopefully soon that will change. The members here are decent with member missionary work but not the greatest. It is hard with such a small branch. Previous missionaries have sucked all the referrals they can out of them and there is a limited number of people who can go teaching with us. There is one woman who wants to go with us but we have to coordinate to have a male there as well so it poses challenges. The members are really nice to us though and I really enjoy seeing them. We have joined the branch president a few times for family home evening and I have really liked that. His family just came back from the temple and they are doing really well.
I have been able to get apples here which is really good. I like those a lot.
I really liked the scriptures that Dad put in about the isles of the sea and what the Lord has promised them. I never noticed before my mission how often the isles of the sea are mentioned in the scriptures but it is quite often. It happened long before the Nephites took sail into the west sea too so I wonder what islands were inhabited by people other than the Nephites and which ones were direct descendants of them. I think about that sometimes with the Pohnpeians and Chuukese.
Alright, well that covers my week here. I have a hand letter that I will be trying to get out today as well. I hope you are both doing great and all is well back home. Thank you so much for everything you do for me. I love you both tons.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dogs and Plates

The following pictures are from when Kevin was on Tonoas. The little boy is named Timson and he was very proud of the big fish he caught.

April 5, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
Ok so another week has gone by now. It is hard to believe that I have been in Pohnpei for almost 3 weeks now. Time has gone by pretty fast. Each day seems to take forever though. It has been hard just sitting in lessons and not having a part in them. As the language gets better I will be able to do more. It is my goal to start teaching sometime at the end of this week or next week. It won't be a lot but I just want to teach a little bit here and there. That will help me to learn the language faster. Speaking of language, Pohnpeian has a lot more resources for learning the language that are available. Could you please go on Amazon and try to buy a pohnpeian to english dictionary and also a Pohnpeian grammar book for me? They would be a big help to me out here.
So, there isn't a whole lot of news for this week. Life is just going on as normal and the missionary work is about the same. We are really busy meeting with a lot of people but not very many are making steps forward. It is the same old story that really stinks sometimes. We have a couple people that we think could make some progress here soon so keep your fingers crossed. I wish I could tell you more than that about the work but honestly I don't do much talking and I can't follow what the people are saying 100%.
We do have 1 kid with a baptismal date right now but he didn't come to church this week. We met him one night and had a short lesson with him and he felt the spirit pretty good. Elder Parker felt impressed to invite him to be baptized and he accepted. His scheduled date was on April 17th but we will probably have to push that back to early May.
On Saturday we had a branch picnic that was a lot of fun. I can't remember the name of the place it was at but it is a little park that is right on an artificial beach. They have traditional huts for rent that are really cool. It is called a "nahs" and is in a U shape and has a dried reed roof. To rent one is only like 20 dollars a day. The branch had a lot of fun. There was food that we BBQ'd and we just hung out and had fun. A lot of the people went swimming. There was some dancing and stuff too. We didn't stay the whole time because we had stuff going on that day as well but we stayed for a few hours and had fun with the members. I really like the members here. There are some strong ones in our branch and they are all really nice and a lot of fun to talk to. There is one lady named Alma who is from the outer islands of Chuuk. She has been here a really long time but still knows Chuukese pretty well. She actually knows a different dialect than me but we can understand each other. I also had a chance to talk to one of the branch presidents of another branch here who knows Chuukese. It is fun speaking it to people. I am worried that soon I will start to lose the comfortable feeling of speaking in it.
Today we had a chance to play football as a zone. That was a lot of fun. I really like the zone a lot now. We all get along pretty well. I went on an exchange this last week with Elder Linzey. He is a really good guy and we had fun together. It was weird being with him though because I don't know Kitti all that well and I can't talk to the people so it was awkward at moments. He took care of the situations really well though. This Thursday I will go on an exchange with Elder Clark in my district. I'll go to his area for that. I'll let you know how that goes next week.
Haha so about the dogs mom talked about... my bad on thinking you meant they get stuck on the license plates. The people do eat dog here. I know that probably sounds barbaric and I would have thought so before my mission but being in a different culture and seeing how people are about those kinds of things has shown me things from a different perspective. I have heard dog is good. It is funny the joke that mom heard about the dogs on a plate and me misunderstanding it though because families usually eat their dogs after they have been killed by a car. Elders say they don't feel too bad if they accidentally hit a dog because it will feed a family. (note from mom: Two weeks ago in a letter I told Kevin I had read that in Pohnpei there were lots of dogs running around, but to not get too attached to any of them as they all ended up on someone's plate.. Kevin had responded saying that he had not seen any dog remains on anyone's license plates.. maybe he is losing his English comprehension?)
I got a letter from Elder Kuss last week and I'm going to write to him today -as long as my Chuukese is ok at least. He is in Guam now.
How was Half Moon Bay? I hope it wasn't cold for you the whole time you were there. Half Moon Bay is such an awesome place. I hope I get the chance to go there again in the future. How is the rest of the family doing? How is Kristen doing with her husband now (that feels so weird to say)?
I hope that you have an awesome week. Thank you both so much for everything you do for me.