Friday, August 22, 2014

What do we do?

Many of you may be wondering just what are we doing here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?  To summarize, we are missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We were called to serve in the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission for 23 months.  Our mission covers a huge area, spanning from the Marshall Islands, south to the Kiribati Islands ( I previously knew them as the Gilbert Islands) and then to the tiny Republic of Nauru. It is the largest mission in our world-wide church. However, if you measure by land mass, we are only about the size of Maryland in the United States.  We could have been assigned to serve anywhere within our mission boundaries (except Nauru, which we are still working on to accept missionaries), but our mission president was inspired to put us on Ebeye.  We were officially called to be MLS missionaries. Member Leader Support.  Basically that means we do whatever is needed!  Simple!  We are here to support the members in the Kwajalein District.  We are not here to take over.  We are here to stand by their sides, leading and guiding.  We are to lend support and help in whatever capacity that may mean.  Our purpose is give them guidance so they can be self sustaining in running their church units.  There are three Branches (congregations) on Ebeye, one on Kwajalein Army Base (four miles south of us, and a ferry ride away), and one on Lae Atoll (90 miles away).  No day is really the same, so we just go with the flow.  Much of our support comes in the form of attending Sunday meetings, attending leadership meetings, speaking in various capacities, teaching (institute/Young Adults and Temple Preparation), assisting the Branch clerks and Branch Presidencies with recording and updating records, coordinating temple trips, family history work, participating in or coordinating service projects, supporting the young missionaries, and whatever else comes our way.  Oh, and enduring nine hour boat rides to Lae every six months (and then five more hours on to Ujae)!

We have been living on this tiny little island of Ebeye in the Kwajalein Atoll for about ten months now.  And we will probably be here for another year unless our assignment should change (highly unlikely).   We pretty much stay right here on our little Island in the Kwajalein Atoll, except for the occasional boat ride.  We love it here.  And we feel loved here. This is our home.  We are surrounded by many, many wonderful people who make our time here worthwhile and rewarding. We feel the warmth and the love (not just from the sun!) as we walk around the island, greeted by young and old alike.

Here are some photos, in no particular order, that capture some of the essence of what we do. I don't take pictures of our Sunday meetings, so know that our Sunday is FULL of meetings and singing! Oh, I love the singing in Marshallese!  We attend all three Branches on Ebeye every Sunday, as well as attend other meetings. On occasion we go over to the Kwajalein Branch to speak or to just visit.  Many Sundays our day goes from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm.  Needless to say, Sunday is generally our busiest day of the week.

waiting to talk to the King, Mike Kabua

Getting ready for a meeting to start with some of the missionaries and Branch leaders

decorating Christmas cookies for Christmas baskets with the Kwaj sisters

fixing a bike, never know when you will be needed!

helping Relief Society leaders sort donated clothing

Young Women and their mothers at Mother-Daughter night.  I was privileged to be one of the speakers that night.  Aren't they all so beautiful?

helping with Young Single Adult activity
Young Women dancing for us.  Beauty and grace!

We attend many Yokwes, going away parties.

Women feeding us again!
Kwajalein District High Council and their wives as we said good bye to the Thomas's

Elder Becker checking progress on the roof repair

honing our homemaking skills
learning the art of Marshallese weaving
making sandwiches for the school children
Delivering lunches to the special needs students at the local public school

creating relationships with the local school admin

Checking out one of the local school rooms
Attending one of the many activities and enjoying their Marshallese dancing
Singing with some of the men on Mother's Day

Speaking at a meeting, with Pres. Kajai as his interpreter
Speaking at a wedding
Attending the wedding of Kamina and Mickey

And even making the wedding cake!

Speaking at the Lae Branch Fireside, with interpreter James Jelke

Teaching Institute, with a little fun thrown in for good measure!
Men of honor cutting the cake! Pres. Kajai 2nd Counselor Kwaj District Pres., Branch 1 Pres. Loeak, Branch 2 Pres. Jibas, Branch 3 Pres. Anjain, and Elder Becker
attending a funeral at another church to support the members

Attending baptisms in the lagoon

Enduring the wild boat ride to Ujae and Lae

District leaders who helped us find a home for the missionaries on Ujae.

Ready to find a home for the missionaries on Ujae

Helping with a service project to clean up the island.
Visiting with some of the Kwaj members (Skinners and Tippetts) after speaking in Sac. meeting.

Feasting on Kwaj before Family Home Evening with the members and Pres. and Sister Weir.

Attending meetings on Lae (notice the cloth in Elder Becker's hand? that's for wiping sweat). No A/C here.
Visiting with some of the sisters after a Relief Society meeting.

In addition to supporting the members, we also help out the young missionaries assigned to Ebeye.  You could say we kind of have our own mini mission on Ebeye (the mission home is on Majuro, a one hour plane ride away).  There are six young Elders and two Sister missionaries assigned to proselyte on Ebeye.  We are here for them and try to help them with whatever need they might have - living accommodations, personal, or financial.  We try to fill whatever needs are there.

One thing we do is take care of apartment issues.  We have dealt with flooding, broken fixtures, holes in walls, mice infestations, missionaries being locked out, cleaning filthy apartments.  The list goes on and on....  We also do apartment cleaning checks (my least favorite job) and we purchase items for the apartments.  This includes monthly purchases for phone cards, prepaid electricity, and never ending kitchen and cleaning supplies.

We also attend weekly missionary district meeting along with a variety of other meetings, cook (on occasion for the missionaries and visitors), and maintain the checkbook and the finances.  We are also their first go-to when they have a medical issue.  We have a stocked medical first aid kit if the need should arise and a mission nurse just a phone call away, if we don't know what to do. We have also been the listening board and the shoulder to lean on.  We love to hang out with them and we try to make their holidays away from home as memorable as possible.  We can't fix all the comfort foods for them, but we do the best we can with what we have.

cooking Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to a donated turkey!
missionaries at our place for dinner
Missionaries gathering at our place
One-on-one time with a sister missionary
attending baptisms in the lagoon

listening to updates from Pres. Weir on one of his visits

watching baptisms

making goodies, of course!  cinnamon rolls, good to the last drop!  It doesn't even look like there was anything in the pan!

feeding the poor and the hungry. :)

buying apartment supplies in one of the local stores

teaching the Elders to play "Ticket to Ride" on Christmas Eve
greeting new missionaries at the dock
receiving support from our mission President, Pres. Weir, & his wife

feeding missionaries, again, at Christmas!

Attending the Jeiks' baptism.  Amazing people!

Ebeye District along with the visiting AP's (assistants to the Pres)
Doing member visits on Lae with Sister Tafili and Sister Butler

watching General Conference in English at our place, then feeding them
playing Ticket to Ride on P-Day with the sisters!
Doing apartment checks and changing filters in the water filter system in the Sister's apartment

Hosting special guests.  Area Seventy, Elder Hamula and his wife (front right), and President Weir and his wife (front left)

more Hellos and Good-byes at the ferry
Purchasing apartment items to send off with the new Ujae Elders

Being trained in our weekly district missionary meetings

I am sure there are many items that are not represented here, but this is some of what we enjoy as we serve with these awesome missionaries and the beautiful people of the Kwajalein District.  As it states in the scriptures, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17.  And that is exactly how we feel.  We are doing this for Him. It is our privilege to be here serving in this capacity.   Our lives have been blessed as we have labored in this part of the Lord's vineyard.  And we know our family has been blessed as well.  We have come closer to our Heavenly Father as we have been in His service.  We know that we have been put on this earth for a reason, that our Heavenly Father has a plan. And if we listen to His words, He will show us the way.  We love our brother, Jesus Christ, and are grateful for His sacrifice he made for us.  In this we testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.