Monday, June 28, 2010

You Don't Need a Lawn Mower! Use a Machete!

June 27, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
I got a package from you today. Thank you for that. I haven't opened it up yet but I will do it tonight when we get back to our house. Elder Standage and I will be there tonight. We are going to have a missionary exchange. I am looking forward to getting to be with Elder Standage again. We are going to switch tonight after P-Day and then switch back tomorrow night. This last week we had an exchange with the Kitti elders. I went with Elder Sandvik in Kitti again. It was weird going back with him. I felt like we were still companions and I had just gone on an exchange that lasted longer than normal. It was really good being in Kitti though. I got to see Rickson Paul and all the people at his house. I saw a lot of other members of the branch too. I really liked that. The work in Kitti is still going really well. They have 3 baptisms this Saturday and should have some more coming up after that. We will have one from our area too. Her name is Selerihna. She is doing really well. She is going to open up the door for a lot of her family too. She has a daughter who said she would get baptized too. We just have to start teaching her and helping her get there. She has come to church a lot already but never really joined in our lessons. I think once her mom has been baptized she will be a lot more active. Selerihna has a few daughters that should get baptized.
Apart from them, the work in Palikir, as a whole, is going really well. Our member work is on fire. We had 14 member present lessons last week and only 1 without. That is so awesome. It seems like the branch is just really excited to get involved with missionary work and everything. They are all great.
So everything else in Palikir is going well too. Elder Larson and I are getting ready for zone conference but still have a lot to do. We have some activities that we will be doing in our training and we are working on getting those all coordinated. We have also been preparing everything that we will be talking about. I am looking forward to giving the training. It is on the Spirit and I am really looking forward to talking about personal revelation. That is one of the most simple and also complex things in my opinion. Preparing a training on it has helped me have a better understanding on it and its importance in missionary work.
I am still praying for Uncle Roland.
So mom asked if I got anything while I was on Guam. I did buy a pair of shoes that I can use for zone conferences and zone leader councils. All I had at the time were my crocs and the leather sandals. Other than that I didn't buy anything but that's only because I didn't need anything else. I am fine right now with everything that I have. Socks and shoes are good now and clothes are fine too. I don't have much longer so I will make do with everything that I have.
That is so crazy that Luke Babbit and Armon Johnson got drafted to the NBA. Good for them. I will be able to watch them on TV now and say that I played against them. I will really enjoy telling people about the time that Armon sank that NBA range three in my eye and then slapped my butt and said "Good defense #33!" for the good effort of getting my hand in his face. Now that he is in the NBA I can feel better that he made a shot over me!
Dad asked about a camping trip with the quads and that sounds like it would be a blast. I really enjoyed the last one we did. If we go I will get a chance to pull out some of the survival skills I have learned out here from the Micronesians. To them they are just skills needed for everyday life but to us they are survival skills practically. My machete will definitely be accompanying us on that trip if we go. I have decided that the machete is the wonder tool of the world. Did you know that it works as a lawn mower? It takes a LONG time but it works and all the people here do it.
So nothing else new has really been going on. I hope you are both still doing well. Give everyone else my love. Thanks for everything you do for me.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sights on Pohnpei

The pictures below were taken by the Clarkes. They are also serving in the Micronesia Guam mission and were fortunate to be able to visit each of the islands. We made copies of some of their pictures to ask Kevin about and were excited to learn that he was living in one of the houses on their blog. Kevin has not sent home a camera chip since arriving in Pohnpei so we were happy to see these pictures. Thank you, Brother and Sister Clarke!
The picture below shows the trunk of a rainbow tree.

Sometimes we feel sorry for Kevin living in such primitive conditions. When we see sights such as this one, we begin to wonder if he will want to come home!

This is a picture of the betel nut. People on the island like to chew it and it makes their mouth numb.

This is a picture of the refrigerator of the house in Kitti. (the last house Kevin lived in) Due to the humid and wet conditions on the island, things rust really easily. Kevin said it looks bad, but works great!

This is a picture of the Palikir house that Kevin is currently living in.

Speaking Pohnpeian and Chuukese

June 20, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DAD!!!!!!!!(and Grandpas) haha I laughed as Dad went through all of the memories we have had. We had a lot of good ones. I remember all of the ones that dad talked about except for the one with the snake. I have heard that story quite a few times though so I can put myself there pretty well. It sounds like you will have an awesome Father's Day there at home with everyone else. Next year I will enjoy it with you more. For now this is the sacrifice we all have to make.
So another really good week has gone by on Pohnpei. Our member work in Palikir is going so well. We have some recent converts who are such studs. They are still coming with us and helping us and I get to speak a lot of Chuukese here. Sometimes when we go in at night I feel like I spoke more Chuukese than I did Pohnpeian. It is fun being able to speak them both. Sometimes when we are talking to some of the Morchlokese people in Pohnpeian I will randomly switch on them and they will get all surprised. It is fun to listen to what some of them say to each other when they think we can't understand. I haven't met any yet that talk bad about us yet but when I do I will sit quietly and patiently until they are done then I will chime in in Chuukese. That will be a fun day to see what they do.
Work has still been going great. We have a few people who are doing well right now and progressing towards baptism but not very many. One is a woman named Selerihn who is trying to quit smoking. Once she can kick that habit everything will be good. She has come to church a lot already but she just needs to be more prepared. Other than her we have a few people who have received answers to their prayers and want to be baptized but their families won't let them. Approval of family members is a big part of the culture here. We just need to help them go forward with faith and follow the answers that they have received. The Lord will prepare the way and help them they just need to do it.
I haven't had the chance to do any splits yet. This week we will go on one with the Kitti Elders. I'll be going with Elder Sandvik again in my former area. This last week we did have our district leader council. We basically just have the two district leaders come to a meeting and we discuss what we heard at zone leader council and we get them to then take that information down to the individual companionships. The way information goes to all the missionaries is really a pretty cool thing. We had a lot of stuff that we needed the district leaders and other elders to do. We will follow up on that at a future time. Being a zone leader has given me a much different perspective on being a good example. If we tell the other elders to do something that we ourselves aren't doing we are being hypocrites. We have to make sure we do dot all the "I's" and cross all the "T's".
We haven't had our zone conference yet. That will happen in two weeks. This week we will be going around to both of the district meetings and we will be giving a short training. It is nothing very big but we will talk about obedience. We felt that that would be a good thing to really hit on since we have so many new elders in the zone right now. That is the most important thing for a missionary to stay on top of and if they learn that early it gives them a much better advantage.
The language is still coming along well. I can teach and talk to the people. I don't think I would call myself fluent yet but I know everything that is being talked about and I know how to talk to them about most things. I am still learning better ways to say particular things and I still have a lot to learn in terms of vocabulary. It is coming along well though. I really can't complain I just barely hit three months on Pohnpei during this last week.
That sounds like your trip to Alaska is going to be great. Take pictures of all the cool animals that you see along the way. I would love to go to Gold Beach again for the 4th of July next year!
The pictures that mom put in the email are of the Palikir house and of the Kitti fridge. That fridge looked really bad on the outside but it was a champ. The Palikir house is pretty nice as well. I like it a lot. I figure I will be here for quite a while.
Mom organizing Dad's mission stuff for Father's Day is really exciting. I'm sure dad loves going through all of that stuff. I know I will love to go back over everything from my mission and think of all my good memories. I don't know how everything is being put together but when everything is done I would love to put everything together that way too.
So that about covers this week. I hope you are both still doing great back home. Happy Father's Day again! Tell everyone else Happy Father's Day for me as well. Thank you for everything you do for me.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I am in Palikir Now

June 13, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
So another week has gone by and a lot has changed. I am in my new area now with Elder Larson. It is a lot of fun. Elder Larson is a great guy and Palikir is doing so well. The member work here is exploding. We have a man who was baptized in January. Prior to his baptism, he was a teacher in a local protestant church. He went to Bible school for over 7 years before receiving that calling. After meeting with the missionaries for a LONG time and overcoming a lot, he was baptized and now is a like a tornado going through Palikir. He teaches people in a way that us as white boys really can't. His testimony is great and he really likes helping people do what is necessary for them to progress.
Another recent convert we have was baptized in April and is a huge help too. He was taught for only a month and within that month dropped every single word of wisdom problem imaginable, got married, and came to church every week. Even more amazing than all of that too is that the missionaries started teaching him about 1 month after he had a surgery on his leg that he had broken badly. He uses crutches and just limps around but he always wants to go out teaching with us. The best part about him too is: he's CHUUKESE!! I have so much fun talking to him. We teach some of the local morshlokese people and he lays down the law about the word of wisdom and is getting people baptized. Between the two of them we are going to have some big baptisms coming up soon.
Dad had a lot of questions that I will try to answer now:
I have talked to Elder Larson about the connection with his grandpa and grandpa Duane. All we really know though is that they were "blood" buddies back in the days. We don't know if that means they did the sharing the blood thing people used to do or something else. We thought it was really neat that they know each other though. Mom had asked which one Elder Larson was from the picture title God's army that Sister Dowdle had taken. Directly to the right of me is Elder Linzey (now home) and then to his right is Elder Larson.
The Branch in Palikir is amazing. It has the strongest Priesthood leadership I have ever seen in a Micronesian branch. We have a handful of members that are temple endowed and many men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. The whole branch has a strong Spirit. There will be a new church building build in Palikir that will be started in January. I'll never get to see much of it but it is going to be great. The building we meet in is really small right now so we need a bigger one. By the end of the year though it will only be more cramped and the branch will have a much more desperate need for he building.
The apartment is good. It is not as nice as the one in Kitti but it is still nice. We have everything we need and then some more. We have a Toyota truck that we drive around. It isn't 4 wheel drive so we call it the Polly Pocket truck. It gets stuck in some pretty pathetic conditions. I haven't had any problems with it yet but it has had some in the past. Elder Larson is the designated driver. It usually goes by senior companion and he has been out longer than me so he gets that title.
We do have a full Pohnpeian translation of the Bible. It is a Catholic version that has small differences in it.
Being a zone leader is nothing special really. I just have a lot of extra little things to do. We have to take care of all the vehicle reports and do all the balancing for the zone's bank account and other than that we just are errand boys for the zone. We don't have to do very much ever though so it is fine. We will be doing a training in zone conference and we also do a district leader council which will happen this Wednesday. Apart from that, we do a training in each district once a transfer and then do exchanges with all the other elders. We haven't done any of those yet but as they come I'll let you know how they all go.
This week we got a lot of new elders in the zone. We had 3 new to the zone, 2 of which are "greenies" and we also have one new sister who had been on Guam for 1 transfer before coming here. We were suppose to get 1 more "greenie" but he got injured in the MTC so now he won't be coming until next month some time. His companion -Elder Parker- is pretty bummed about that. They are doing pretty well getting into the zone and the zone is doing a great job helping them to feel at home.
I got the box that Grandma Helen and Grandpa Bob sent. I will be writing them a letter today to thank them for it.
I was excited to see that Tori and Lewis' house is going up now and that everything is going well.
I can't believe that all of those people graduated this last week.
Did you ever hear anything else about Elder Mitton? I think he writes to the Chuuk zone occasionally but I never hear anything. Can you get an address for me?
Tell Uncle Roland that I still keep him in my prayers and that I hope everything goes well with his surgery. Also give Grandpa my love and let him know that I still pray for him.
I hope that everything is still going great for you both too. I am glad that the weather is getting a little better for you there. Hopefully it gets warmer soon. Were you still planning on going to Elder Well's homecoming talk?
Well that about covers this week. All is going well here in Pohnpei and I love everything that is going on. The Lord's work is going great here! Thank you so much for everything that you do for me.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South

Monday, June 7, 2010

In Guam the Cars Go fast

These two pictures are from Sister Dowdle's blog. Sister Dowdle is Kevin's mission president's wife. She titled the first one "God's Army." The pictures are from the zone leaders council Kevin attended in Guam.

June 6, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
Alright, so another week has gone by and this last one was super eventful. I don't even know where to begin. We had our zone leader council and that was great. I may have left some room for confusion in my last email but as far as I know now I will be replacing Elder Linzey here as zone leader this Thursday. Elder Linzey, Elder Larson and myself were the only ones who went to Guam from Pohnpei. All the zone leaders from the whole mission went and participated. It was great. The meeting started early in the morning and we got trained on a chapter from Preach My Gospel by the Assistants. That is the training that we will be giving when we have zone conference this transfer. It is about the Spirit and revelation. That was our morning session and ended around 1:30 in the afternoon and then we took a short lunch break. We started the afternoon session and had a big council. We talked about challenges that the mission is having and how to solve them. It was a great open floor discussion led by President Dowdle. We had a lot of stuff talked about. That ended at about 4:30 and then we went to a place called Leo's Palace and went bowling. That was a lot of fun with everyone there. The next day was our shopping day. We joined one of the district meetings that morning and then went to a few different stores. It was insane seeing how crazy Guam is compared to Chuuk and Pohnpei. It was scary thinking that life in the states is even more hectic and crazy than on Guam. The cars go so fast and everywhere is so crowded. The people aren't as nice to each other as on the islands either. Life on the Micronesian islands is so much more simple and enjoyable. While I was on Guam I had the chance to take a hot shower but I passed it up. I didn't want to enjoy that then come back to Pohnpei and complain about the cold. I just took cold showers the whole time I was there. I had a chance to eat out at Chilis with all the other missionaries and President Dowdle as well. I had a burger that was sooooooo good. We went to McDonald's one night too and that was way good. While we were in the zone leader council we got some interesting news from President Dowdle about that meeting. In the past it has happened once every other transfer but President has arranged to have that meeting every transfer from now on. So next transfer I will be going to Guam again. The days will be different but the meeting will still happen. I was surprised to hear that but he said that the meeting is important and will really help the mission. I sincerely believe that. President told us the price that it costs to get all the zone leaders to Guam and it is around 8-10 thousand dollars in airfare alone. That blew me away. That is a testimony to me of how important that meeting really is to the work here.
While on Guam I had the chance to meet a lot of the other missionaries in the mission. I didn't know most of the ones that I met there. I was really happy to see the other ones from Chuuk though. The three of us from Pohnpei stayed in the zone leader's apartment and one of them is named Elder Stanley. He is Chuukese and I had so much fun talking to him. I remember Chuukese a lot better than I gave myself credit for last time we talked on the phone. The first day I had a few things that were slow to come out but by the second day I had it down really well again. Elder Stanley even said that my accent was really good still. That surprised me because Pohnpeian and Chuukese have pretty different accents. I assume that means my Pohnpeian accent is pretty bad then! haha.
So we came back on Friday morning and that day was really hard for me. I was really tired and Jetlagged. All is well again now though.
The work is still going well in Kitti. I will be in Kitti until Thursday then I will go to my new area. I will miss Kitti. Elizabeth and Olfred are still doing well but need to quit their word of wisdom problems. They struggle giving up smoking and Kava (called Sakau here). Once they do that they will be able to be baptized. Rickson and Justin are doing well still too. I am excited to start teaching Rickson about missionary work. He is 18 so we want to help him get prepared to serve a mission. It would also be really good if he could come out with us teaching sometimes. He will make a great missionary and will be able to help a lot of people. This last week at church we had 11 investigators again, not including Rickson and Justin since they are not investigators any more! Two families showed up and a few other people. We had 48 people at church which is the highest I have seen in the branch. I have heard that once a branch gets 50 people in regular attendance for a quarter, a church building will be approved. Within a year or two I think Kitti will qualify. The active members we have right now are all studs and doing a great job. I think once a church is built even more people will get baptized.
So I tried a new food. I do not know what it is called in English, but here they call it sumum. (the u makes an oo sound as in boo sound) It is a shellfish that can boiled or fried. I had it boiled. The shell of the fish is like a spiral pyramid. It was alright, but nothing special. Nothing to write home about! (haha lame joke) It didn't have much of a taste and was kind of chewy. Breadfruit season is here again and I love it. On Pohnpei they bake the breadfruit in their homemade rock ovens and it is so good. I eat it as fast as they give it to me. Just like when mom would peel shrimp for me when I was young!
I had an exchange with Elder Clark before I went to Guam. we had a great time together. We spent most of the day doing service. We cut down weeds with a member and chopped firewood with an investigator. It was intense but fun. Elder Clark is a great guy. He goes home soon though. His family is coming to pick him up. First they will go to Guam and then come to Pohnpei for a few days. I am looking forward to meeting them.
I am glad to hear that Larry Thompson got baptized and that everything went well with that. Grandpa is such a good missionary! I am sure that everything went well with the confirmation. The Spirit will help Grandpa to perform that ordinance.
Thank you for sending the last post from the Duncan's blog. I was really excited to see the pictures and to read about some of the stuff going on in Chuuk. The work there is going really well from what the Chuuk zone leaders told me. I was really excited to see the picture of Elder Tuaitanu especially. I love that guy so much. Mom asked about me getting pictures through the e-mail. Downloading is hard so I can't get videos. I was able to get the picture you sent, but if the picture is pasted onto the actual email it comes really well. I got the one from your trip to Utah and thought that was really cool. I was excited to see Russell in the picture. Tell Russell when I come back he can stay with me in Provo if he wants to. We can work on that as it gets closer.
So I guess next time I email you I will be in my new area and with my new companion. I will probably have a lot of other stuff to tell you about then. I am excited to go there but will also really miss Kitti. I love the people there. I am grateful for the chance I had to serve there. I am grateful for the chance I have had to serve here in Micronesia in general. I know that this work is true and I am eternally grateful for the time I have had to help our Heavenly Father's children here. My time here has change me a lot and I have loved it all. Most importantly though I am grateful for what a blessing it is to be in this family. I hope that you are both doing great still back home. I love you both so much. I look forward to hearing from you next week.
Love Always,
Elder Kevin South