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