Sunday, July 12, 2009

A great weekend!

This is our past weekend.
Friday, we left about 12 and drove to the boat dock. I took some more pictures of the building site.
We left for Uman about 1:15 PM. The ocean was about 3 foot swells so Herman Walter ran slower. We were loaded heavy anyway; with Elder Mitton’s luggage, food for both sets of Elders, 4 Elders, Sue and I and the two that take care of the boat. We carried their groceries to their apartment and that is a long walk; about half a mile. The plastic bags really cut into our hands. One of the bags I was carrying spit out the bottom from the weight of the cans. I had to put them in other bags I was carrying and hope they would hold the added weight. Sue’s finger next to her pinky was numb for the rest of the day. Sue suggested that I take some pictures of Elder Mitton and Tuaitanu and we would send them to his mom. Sue did the Apartment Check and we went back to the boat.
We took Elders Wood and South to Tonoas and helped carry all their things as well: about ¾ of a mile. I got a heavy box and cans of Butane this time so I carried it on my head. I had a bag in the other hand, but along the way some kids came and carried my bag. I took Sue’s bag and another kid carried that later. Sue was carrying a case of Top Ramem. This time she got a fairly light load. We did the apt check. They said that the batteries that hold the solar electricity will sometimes run out in the middle of the night and they would like us to get them a couple more batteries. Just like I could go down town and buy a couple. We put it on the list for Mission President, President Dowdle to consider. None of the Elders have a hot water heater. They just get water off the room piped to holding tanks and then piped back into the house and they shower in what ever temp the water is. On hot sweaty days if they have lots of water they may shower twice. Then Sister Duncan and I walked back to the dock.
It was a fairly short ride back from Tonoas and we missed going through any of the rain storms. We saw them all around us, but were never ‘in’ one.
We came home and washed our hands well because we had shaken hands with many people.
Saturday, we gathered our things and got ready for another day at sea.
We delivered some papers to President Wainis about the New Church Building. Then we left about 10 on the big boat for Romanum. Again we helped carry supplies to the apartment. It was not as long a walk maybe only a hundred yards and I made Sue carry less. I made two trips. We had Elder Sears’ luggage because he has just been transferred there. We did an inspection of their apartment and took some pictures of the newly completed meeting house there. We loaded up and went to Paata. This was our first time to go to Paata.
President Sam Roby and his family were just coming home from Weno when we arrived. So he took his family in and then came back and got us. They have a long tunnel through the Mangrove trees to get to the chapel. I took pictures. The tide was out and with 6 of us in the boat we drug bottom a lot and they had a very hard time getting us up to the little boat dock. The teenage boy, Erlast Este (Es-tee) was really sweating to pole us in. Sometimes the pole would go 2 or 3 feet down in to the mud before he hit something solid. President Roby took off his flip flop and put a leg over the side and pushed in the mud to help. It also took some weight out of the boat. Then we walked up a very steep trail to his house. The ladies welcomed us warmly. But we couldn’t understand them.
President Roby went to find Takson (Tack-son) Pwach (sounds just like you would sound it out) who had been taught by the Elders and was committed to stop smoking. Elder Sears interviewed him and he said he had stopped some time ago. So we stayed to have his baptism.
Sam Roby’s mother went in the house and came out with a fancy embroidered skirt for Sister Duncan. She put it on over her other skirt. Later I wished I had taken a picture of Sue with Sister Roby.
The Elders suggested that we go down to the Church to wait for Sam to come and get us. It was about 1:30 and we had not had any lunch yet. The cold cereal we had eaten that morning was running out. So Sue got out an apple and we shared it while I took some pictures of the Chapel.
They took us on Sam’s little boat to the little island and we picked up President Walter and Kerfin Dein (Dain). The Ladies were already there cooking chicken over an open fire, burning palm leaves for fuel. That is how most of the cooking is done here. Takson Pwach climbed a coconut tree and cut down palm leaves and coconuts. I took movies of him doing it. Then they cut one open and gave it to me so I took it to Sister Duncan and got a movie of her drinking it. Then they spread the palm branches out on the ground and we sat on them instead of on the ground. We sang some hymns in Chuukese and President Roby called on President Herman Walter to give the Opening Prayer. Elder Sears gave a good talk on Baptism from the Book of Mormon. He speaks and reads Chuukese well. Then Elder Vankoman walked with Takson Pwach out into the ocean. President Roby and President Walter went out also as witnesses. They had to go out maybe 50 to 60 yards to get deep enough water. But the water was a perfectly clear blue and the different colors of the coral underneath were breathtakingly beautiful. There were rain squalls in the back ground and a cool breeze blowing. The Baptism went perfectly. I think that is the first baptism I have seen done in the ocean. I just glowed inside and I am sure others there did the same. What a spiritual experience that was for me. With the beautiful setting, and the spirit saying this man could be a branch president someday, I was touched very deeply in my heart. We are truly in the Islands of the Sea.
We had a closing song in Chuukese and I realized that President Roby was calling on me to give the Closing Prayer, when he asked me to bless the food also. My heart raced and I felt panic. I had not even considered him calling on me. I tried to calm myself and I stood to pray. I prayed in Chuukese. After I settled down some, it went much better. And I did remember to bless the food. The District Clerk, Herman Walter said again that we were the first Couple to learn their language.
The ladies brought Sue and I each a large plate of food and we said no thank you to one of them and shared a plate. We had no eating utensils as they never use them so we ate with our fingers. We ate Taro, Tapioca, cooked banana, rice and a chicken leg. Our meat was cooked very well. I took more pictures. It was getting late so we left about 4.
We stopped and dropped the Elders off at Romanum then headed home. A heavy rain storm came across and we could not see any land marks in front of us. For a while District Clerk, Herman Walter navigated by the island behind us, but it soon disappeared also. He slowed the boat down so he would not run into something or coral reefs near another island. When it cleared enough to see we were headed toward an island that we needed to go around. So he had to make almost a full left turn. It was about 5:10 when we arrived at the mooring place for the big boat. Then we had to load our things in the little boat and Kerfin poled us to the dock. Sister Duncan commented that he would do well in Venice as a Gondolier. It wasn’t raining and we walked to the truck. It was then 5:35 PM. Just after we got inside the truck it started raining and rained most of the way home. We washed up very well and then had supper. I offered to do all the clean up while Sue relaxed. She took me up on it and got her shower to get the salt spray off. I then got mine and that warm water with lots of soap felt sooooo good.
Sunday, we attended Church in Mwan, Sue helped a lady enter her family in and I conducted an YSA broadcast. I even used my Chuukese to call for the Opening Prayer. The sad part was that only 8 kids showed up and they were all too young, 14 to 17. We didn’t have one 18 and older show. So I sent in a report of 0 attending. I will let your Mom tell you about her helping the lady.
From mom: The church is still fairly young here. Often, no one is sure just how something should be done. Today a man showed dad his ordination certificate. It said he was ordained a priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Um…don’t think so! When I tried to register the sister on new.familysearch, it required a phone number or email address…she doesn’t have either. Finally the District president said we could use the District office phone number so we could get her registered. In helping her enter her information I found out that her husband decided to use his father’s FIRST name as his last name. Nothing was ever done to make it legal. Also, people take in other people’s children and raise them. Sometimes the child takes the new family’s name, or an auntie’s name, or they just create a new name for themselves. And they rarely know important dates, like birthdates, death dates, wedding dates. But it isn’t because they are stupid or anything. These truly are wonderful people, and they are trying very hard to live the gospel, but in their culture, data like that simply is not important. Until they want to go to the temple and receive their endowment and do work for their dead. THEN they need the info, and it is hard to get. I am really enjoying working with this sister. She is so sweet. If I were to move here, I think she and I would become best of friends. Tho she is younger than many of our children. Her oldest daughter is 15.
I really enjoyed the ride home on the boat yesterday. I am no longer the least bit uptight or concerned when we travel on the ocean. Yesterday I just enjoyed and soak up the sea, the sights, the smells, the wonder of it all. At the branch party, I really enjoyed watching the people. As the baptism meeting began, a storm moved in and the wind really blew hard. It got COLD! Well, not the ‘cold’ that we have in Wyoming, but it sure didn’t feel the least bit WARM!! The wind blew so hard I was afraid a coconut would fall and bonk someone on the head…people die of that!
At Sam Roby’s house, I was able to talk to his mother a bit in Chuukese, and she seemed very surprised that I could speak her language. I really like the skahtoe she gave me. We will get a pic of it and post it. And today I loved helping the sweet sister in Mwan with her family history. The more I associate with these Chuukese people, the more I like them. I’m so glad God called us to serve here.



Brother and Sister Duncan,
Ran Allim!!
My name is Chris Hale. I served on Chuuk from 95-97 under President Ward. I was looking for a Chuukese hymn book online when I came across your blog. It is so awesome to see how the work has progressed since my time. The people there would know me as Elder Pwipwi especially Herman Walters. He is the man!! He was district president when I was there and his dad drove the boats for us. Would you tell him Hi for me? I will be watching your blog for more updates and especially pictures. Please send my love to the branches that you meeting. I was in pretty much all of them. Sapuk, Metchitiw, and Mwan the longest.
Thanks so much for your blog!!
Tong ennet
Chris Hale

kanani said...

Brother and Sister Duncan,

We really enjoy reading your blog. That is so great that you are learning the language and are able to communicate with the people. Our son, Elder Wells, also LOVES the people of Chuuk and everything about Chuuk. Hope everything continues to go well for you! Thanks for all you are doing.
Brother Scott and Sister Kanani Wells

Chuck and Sue said...

Fenfeinochok, Elder Pwipwi,

It is good to hear from you. We will tell people we see about you. We attend the Metchitiw Branch. You might be interested that Chuuk has had over 50 baptisms so far this year. They are leading all other zones right now.

Good luck in what you do.

Elder and Sister Duncan

Kevin said...

We enjoy reading your blog and learning more about Chuuk. Thank you for helping the missionaries. We appreciate what you do. Kevin loves being in Chuuk and we can tell you do too.
Brett and DeRonda South