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