Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Week

Elder & Sister Hedgpeth in Pohnpei fed us a wonderful meal on Sunday and looked after us until our midnight flight back to Guam.  They are adjusting magnificently to Pohnpei and are a great boon to the work.

 We returned to Guam early Monday morning and participated in a Zone Christmas Dinner and movie (Miracle) that afternoon.

 Dededo Ward Christmas Party - December 23rd, with a roast pig, more food than you could carry, dancing and, of course, a nativity!

 Jeanette with Santa (Junior Nicerio - HPGL of Dededo Ward)

 Christmas Eve Dinner - Senior Couples at the Mission Home

 Senior Elders:  Pres. Zarbock, Hurst, Reed, Thomas, Martin & Guercio

Jeanette, Christmas Morning at Tagachang Beach in Guam!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Upon a stone altar," Pohnpei

We arrived Wednesday afternoon at the beautiful island of Pohnpei.  This was our third visit, so we were relaxed.  We have learned that its OK if the agenda is not firmly set.  Here we have to go with the flow and have faith that everything will work together for our good.  It did.  Wednesday evening we caught up with the Stake Presidency at the Panasang Stake Center to confirm our meeting schedule and while there attended a baptism.  

Elders Bunn, Tupua and Fiti and Sisters Kolini, Finau and Pahulu.  The gentleman in the back is from Chuuk and came to Pohnpei for a funeral.  He was so impressed by his LDS family members that he asked to be taught the Gospel and be baptized.  Afterwards we met the Hedgpeths, the new Senior CES couple, for dinner at Arnolds.

Thursday morning we hired a boat and driver and went snorkeling in the lagoon out near Saptwik. The main island is ringed in mangrove forest so its not possible to enter the ocean from the shore.

The coral was amazing and the fish plentiful.  At Saptwik we saw a well preserved Japanese wharf and at neighboring Lenger, island a Japanese sea plane ramp.

Murphy, the driver, and Ivan, the guide (sort of).

In the afternoon we drove to Paliker where me met Betty, the FSM archivist, and picked up films and a digitizing contract for FamilySearch.  Pohnpei has one of the best vital record collections of any island in the Pacific online at FamilySearch. Collaboration continues and will hopefully result in even more searchable records for the FSM.

Friday we drove down to Sapwalap to train three amazing new consultants, Pedrus, Daisy and Martin.  They worked for three and a half hours!  The ward is in good hands with this group.  We returned to Sapwalap on Saturday morning to train the priesthood leaders for that ward as well as Mand and U Branches.

President Albert and his son, the only priesthood holders in the U Branch, find and attach records for their family at FamilySearch.  We found the youth to be extremely interested in the website and thoroughly capable of using it to help their parents and ward/branch members do their family history.

Here Daisy and her dad, the Stake President, work on their family history.

After the meeting, President Nakamura of the U Branch took us on a short walk to Kepirohi Waterfall down the road from the Sapwalap Chapel.  Entering the jungle was like entering the Garden of Eden. The path was well worn and well groomed and lined with beautiful flowers and foliage.

President Nakamura and Elder Hurst take a rest at the falls.  

In the afternoon we met Bradley, one of the YSA consultants who lives in Kolonia and he took us to where the men from his island of Kapingamarangi do traditional carving.  

The people of Kapingamarangi, an outer island of Pohnpei, were given land in Kolonia where they settled in Pohnrakied Village.  The people support themselves by traditional crafts and fishing.

Traditional fish traps and box in the rafters of the craft house.

Sunday we attended church at Paliker then returned in the afternoon to train priesthood leaders from Panasang, Paliker, and Sekere.

We are confident that great things are going to happen in Pohnpei as the people learn to use FamilySearch and the records there from them.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saipan Family History Fair, Our Lady of Camarin Procession & Christmas Lights at the Governor's Mansion

We spent the weekend following Thanksgiving in Saipan participating in a school sponsored family history fair.  This is Lino Olopai, traditional story teller and entertainer.

Sisters Benson and Burton taught a class on gathering stories from your family history.

Sister Hurst taught a class on the basics of family history research.

Members of the Saipan Ward - refreshments following the fireside on Sunday evening.

Saipan Ward - Brother & Sister Wiswell and Sister Benson

Our Lady of Camarin is the Patron Saint of Guam.  It is a statue of Mary that was washed up on the beach in the 1700s, apparently from a shipwreck but legend has it that it was brought to shore by two crabs, each with a lighted candle on its back.  December 8th is her Feast Day and a holiday in Guam.  In 1992, so goes the story, the legislature eliminated this day as a holiday.  Unfortunately the good Lady did not take too kindly to this and shortly after this a huge typhoon was unleashed causing massive damage - especially to the legislator's house who had introduced the bill to eliminate this as a holiday.  The holiday was soon reinstated!  Message:  Don't mess with the Lady of Camarin.

The Lady on her cart with procession.

The procession consisted of children from all the different parishes and schools as well ceremonial guards and caretakers.

And on and on and on . . .

The Governor's Mansion overlooking Agana was decorated reminiscent of Temple Square - well sort of.  There were the traditional and then the more local - Santa from his shell being pulled by dolphins and a fisherman with his nets (above).

Elder Thomas, Elder & Sister Reed and Susan Alek at Brother & Sister Laanan's for holiday lunch of island foods.  Delicious!
 Brothers Bedrikdrik Henry (Marshall Islands), Ilden Ioanis (Pohnpei) & Elder Hurst deep in conversation about the goodness of island food!
A smattering of the families at the luncheon.  A Ioanis at the left top, three Taiwerbwe (red shirt and two in front-Yapese), Kalima boy and top right Brother & Sister Ioanis.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November in Guam

Its been good to be here on Guam for the last two and a half months without the interruption of travel.  I feel like we have been able to put our roots down a little deeper as we get to know and work with the people of the Barrigada Stake.

The rainy season is giving way to drier weather here on Guam, although the temperatures remain in the 80s.  Less rain means stunning sunsets.  We are treated to beautiful displays like this one nearly every evening as well leave our office.  This was the view from our parking lot at the Service Center earlier this month.

Our Family History Consultant Training for November included some exercises with the FamilySearch Sandbox.  We have a great team of adults and youth.

Early Saturday, November 15 we drove down to the little village of Umatac on the southwestern coast of Guam, the supposed landing spot of Magellan in 1521.  Here a fisherman wades back to shore with his catch.

Umatac is famous, or infamous, as the epicenter of an ALS-Parkinsonism- Dementia complex which at its height in the 1950s afflicted 420 out of every 100,000 on Guam.  Scientists have tried to determine if the disease is genetic or environmental but no definitive explanation has been found.  One positive outcome of the research is a comprehensive study of Chamorro genealogy done by a biological anthropologist which I helped process at the Micronesia Research Center at the University of Guam.   I have found it to be very useful in doing Chamorro Family History.

Grant and I hiked the coastline from Umatac south to Toguan Bay at low tide. Much of it is rugged weathered limestone (karst) interspersed with lava flows.  The tide pools were full of crabs, fish and coral.

We continue to work with  families and individuals as they prepare to go to the temple or just get started with their family history. Grant is helping William, a great YSA, put his Pingelapese (Dad's side) and Marshallese (Mom's side) family into FamilySearch.

Yesterday morning we hiked the beach at Tarague on Andersen Air Force Base at the north eastern tip of Guam.  Its always quiet and deserted up there.

This time we struck inland and followed a dirt road through the old Atikns-Kroll copra plantation which operated from 1914 until the beginning of WWII.

Northern Guam is all limestone, no lava.  I love the patterns in the weathered coral on the beaches.

On the way home we stopped at Tanguisson Beach to collect shells. (I am that little dot in the distance.)  It was a perfect afternoon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Youth challenge - Reef shelf walks - Friends - Missionaries - Halloween - Day of the Dead

Dededo Ward Young Women working on the Youth Challenge - to find and take the name of at least one ancestor to the temple.

Great youth family history consultant helping the young women. 

Ubiquitous -  blue linckialaevigata - star fish.

Jeanette with friends Susan Alik (from Marshall Islands) and Rose Laanan (Guam) 

Mangolia Dun - from Burma via New Jersey, serving in U.S. Navy and on her way to Virginia. 

Tidal pool 

Sea urchins or tuitui - very sharp and barbed as Grant found out - islanders crack them open and eat raw insides. 

Gorgeous clam hiding on the reef flat. 

Grant at "Lost Pond" - a fresh water pool about 50 yards from the beach. 

Near Taguisson Beach on the west of Guam. 

Elders Murdoch and Malais in from Palau for some leadership training and family history. 

Also, in from Palau were Sisters Purcell and Talakai .

Barrigada Guam Ward Halloween Party starting with pie eating contest and musical chairs - followed by a chili cook off.  This must be required of all Church units worldwide nowadays. 

Sunday was "Day of the Dead" a sort of Catholic event where people remember their dead.  Primarily they picnic on the graves - we have a better way!