Thursday, April 23, 2009

A much-needed update

We have had so many FIRSTS! We hiked up into a high jungle clearing to visit and train a new seminary teacher. He and his wife and 3 children live in a lovely clearing, surrounded by so much greenery and flowers! They have a small home, about 7 by 9 feet. They live off the land and are usually outside. The home is used for sleeping and protection from storms. They are wonderful people. The children are adorable and they all seem very happy and healthy.
We met sitting outside on a mat, but when a storm came up, we all went to the house. It is tiny and humble, but very clean and nice inside. No funiture, but a small hammock-type bed for the infant.
We have traveled to 3 outer islands to train seminary teachers. Took the small boat (26 foot outboard) to Romanum and Uman. Went in the larger church missionary boat to Tonoas. THAT was an interesting experience, since we had no one with us that could speak English. So, once we landed on the island, we were on our own to find the church, the missionaries, and the seminary teacher. We felt like explorers! It's a good thing we had learned enough Chuukese to ask the locals a few simple questions! After the training session, some local kids got some coconuts for us and the missionaries opened them for us so we could drink the juice. Man! That was SO good!
We are learning Chuukese ways. We attended a Branch Family Home Evening, and that was fun. Twice, when attending RS on Sunday, Sue has been asked to teach. So she did. And Chuck taught Priesthood. We have learned to be ready for anything, anytime.
Elder and Sister Hopoate, Country Director, are coming in a few days to help us prepare for the Seminary and Institute Graduation in June. Elder Kinjo, the Area Director, Japan, will attend our graduation, so we need to make sure everything is well-planned.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another week on Chuuk

Last Saturday we attended the Branch RS birthday celebration. It was a nice, short program, but was all in Chuukese so we didn't understand much.
The meal was served, but no utensils. We were served first and we were unsure whether to just dig in with our fingers, or wait for the utensils. The other branch members were waiting for us to begin eating. I finally asked if there were forks. The girl seemed very surprised, but went and found ONE fork for us to share. There are no kitchens in these island chapels. The food was all prepared in the home of the Branch President and brought to the church in big plastic containers.
We ate and enjoyed the food: rice, turkey tails, chicken, oriental noodles and koolaid. When the women finished eating, someone began playing a ukelele and they all began singing. It was wonderful! Their lovely voices harmonizing, and everyone swaying back and forth to the music. They sang and sang and sang. I loved every minute of it.
The members seem to be pleased that we are trying to speak their language. We get frustrated when our old brains will not remember the new words. But we ARE progressing. And we try to use Chuukese whenever we can.
Our apt faces the sea and we get a nice breeze off the ocean. But it is still very hot and humid. Our temps usually begin at about 84 degrees at 6 am and reach a high of 98 in late afternoon. In Pohnpei we lived in our own house out in the jungle. We had no neighbors at all and usually heard just silence or sometimes some distant music.
Here we have lots of very close neighbors, so we hear crying babies, and people talking and vehicles all the time. But this apt is much nicer than the home we had in Pohnpei and we are happy here.
These people are much livelier than the Pohnpeians. But seem to have more of a temper too. But they smile alot and are very nice. It's no surprise that we are beginning to love them.