Sunday, July 19, 2015

Our Penultimate Week in Kosrae

Its hard to believe that the Celebration is almost here.  Preparations are in full swing.  

Sisters Daniel, Lowary and Alokoa and others have been collecting shells on the beach and in the ocean to make beautiful necklaces.  They work while others practice the "skit."

Sisters Nena and Phillip are making more scariris from the bark of the wild hibiscus tree.

Elder and Sister Batty, from Lake City, Utah, arrived on Monday to serve as CES missionaries on Kosrae.  Sister Batty helped sew children's costumes for the skit.  Kellly Ann Lowary helped too.  

Brother Likaska Sigrah along with Elders Amato and Johnson help prepare props.

We had District Meeting at the senior couple's house on Thursday with the Battys.  They are great.

The children in Utwe Branch enjoyed the Book of Mormon Readers that Elder Hurst gave them.  

Our Relief Society lesson in Utwe was about family history.  The sisters were finding ancestors in the Kosrae Elak Sra Onak Book.

Sunday evening we had a Temple and Family History fireside at the Lelu Chapel.  

Permides Mongkeya explained how to use the My Family booklet.

Binton and Sepe Lowary and their extended family work on the their family history.

Likiaksa Tony Sigrah found his family in the Kosrae Elak Sra Onak book.

Moulton Monkeya and Mitichigo Tolenoa 

These young men from the Lelu Branch are enjoyed filling out the My Family booklet.

Mr. Paliknoa I. Sigrah, author if the Korae Elak Sra Onak Book.  

Thursday night Lelu Branch members assembled 500 hygiene kits to be donated to the Kosrae hospital as part of the Book of Mormon Celebration.

Elder Batty, Eric Mongkeya, Sister Batty, Benkin Daniel, Sarlynn Monkeya and Sister Alokoa along with other members of the Lelu Branch helped with the project.

Jay-ann Mongkeya,Leilyn Henry, Bradley, Permides Mondeya, Sepe Daniel, Mitichigo Tolenoa.

Serlyn Mongkeya, Sister Alokoa, Sister Batty, Molton Mongkeya, Jay-an Amngkeya and Sepe Daniel help assemble the kits.  Other donations to the hospital include 500 pairs of eye glasses.  The Church is also donating 50 soccer balls for the public schools.

We look forward to a busy week as we work toward the Book of Mormon Celebration on July 25.

Friday morning we walked out early and met Justlina Lowary with her net.  She was out fishing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Our Last Week in Guam

Its hard to believe that we have spent our last week in Guam!  We arrived July 4 for our annual CES Couple's Conference.  Its a miracle we made it as tropical storm Chan-Hom sifted slightly north that morning and gave us a chance to slip in before coming back down on Guam with a vengeance.  Our experiences with the weather out here in Pacific have made me realize that we live in a fantasy world  most of the time, created by wealth and technology, where we think that we have control over our circumstances.  We were glad to make it, not only for the conference but also for a much needed root canal and the chance to wrap us our Family Search Supprt Office and pack and clean up our apartment.  It turned out to be an impossibly busy week.

Sunday we attended church in the Barrigada Ward for the last time.  We both bore our testimonies and said our good-byes to the delightful people we have come to know and love there.  I ended up spending the second two hours of the block in the Family History Center with Tami Burton helping members prepare names for an upcoming temple trip.  A record 30 are participating.  Grant spent the last two hours of the block with Elder and Sister Hardy working on the soundtrack for the Book of Mormon Pageant for Kosrae. 

 After church all the senior couples gathered at the mission home for FHE.  Because we have traveled so much with our family history assignment, we have gotten to know the couples in the islands and it was really fun to see them again.  They are all strong, adventuresome and hardworking folks.

Tuesday through Thursday were filled with stewardship reports, instruction and socializing.  Wednesday we all went to lunch at Pizza Hut.  These are the BEST people and we feel like we are in our own little Zion when we are gathered with them.  Standing at the end of  the table is Brother Freddie Nicerio, the CES director for Micronesia.  We were also instructed by elder Tae Gul Jung of the Eighth Quorum of the Seventy and Asia North Area director of Seminaries and Institutes.  

I just have to name all these great folks!  Center:  Elder Jung and Brother Nicerio.  Behind them, left to right:  Elder and Sister Hardy (CES, Chuuk), Elder and Sister Hedgepeth (CES, Pohnpei), Elder and Sister Thomas (Military Relations, Anderson Air Force Base and Navy Base), Elder and Sister Brimhall (CES, Yap), Elder and Sister Guercio (Mission Nurse), Elder and Sister Reed (Self-Reliance, Chuuk), us, Elder and Sister Proffit (CES, Palau), Elder and Sister Martin (Mission Office), Elder (Dr.) and Sister Eliason (Medical, Chuuk), Elder and Sister Furstenau (MLS, Pohnpei), President and Sister Zarbock.  We really love and admire these magnificent people!

We were so busy with so many things that we were not able to attend all of the Conference. One of them was a meeting with Governor Eddie Baza Calvo.  On Wednesday morning we slipped away to meet with  rigada Stake Family History Center Director, Tami Burton, to present some family history to him.  He is an avid history buff and knows a lot about Guam and his family's history.  He was so excited and interesting to talk to I think we all came away wishing we had more time to just sit and share.

We met with the governor several months ago to try to start the process of digitizing Guam's vital records.  At that time he expressed interest in knowing more about his great great great grandfather's sister, Carmen Olivares Calvo, who married an American whaler and eventually ended up in Alameda, California in the 1870s.  We decided to follow this question and in our research ran across a distant relative (by marriage) who has been interested in Carmen's family for a while.  He had done some excellent research and was willing to share it with us to share with the governor.  We printed a very nice book from a PDF file he sent.  For our part, we entered and sourced all the information we could find about Carmen and her descendants in FamilySearch and then generated family group records with sources.  We printed this also and created a second book.  Here you can see the governor holding both volumes.

The digitizing project is still in the approval stages, but the governor is squarely behind it and has asked that it be a priority.  Hopefully it will happen soon!

Preparing for the Book of Mormon Celebration

Branch members are starting to prepare for the Book of Mormon Celebration scheduled for July 25.  

Sister Daniel and others are making scariris from hibiscus bark.  They strip it, bleach it, dry it and then pull it apart into thin strands that they tie onto a waistband to make a skirt to wear for traditional dancing.

Tying the hibiscus bark strips onto the waistband. 

Elder and Sister Hardy came from Chuuk to help. They helped build a stage and block the pageant.

Sister Nena is making flower holders from palm leaves to decorate the stage.

We attended the baptism of two cousins performed at a beautiful waterfall.

The Zarbocks also came to Kosrae for Zone Conference and left Kosrae together on the same flight.

With typical Kosraean generosity Brother Daniel brought us a gift of breadfruit and steamed crabs.

Guam, June 2-15

From this point on we are splitting our time between Guam and Kosrae.  Its a crazy way to end our mission but it has sure kept us from getting trunky.  We haven't had time!!

On June 2 we left, with Elder Blackwell for Guam.  Sister Nena made his this beautiful lei.  He has been a great missionary.

Back on Guam we met up with Keiji Sugimoto and Jun who went right to work setting up the FamilySearch camera at MARC to photograph the Jane H. Underwood Guam Population Cards.  Ralph has been hired to do the job. The cards are a great source of Chamorro genealogy.

We had a fun opportunity to meet with the Talisay YW for a "Meet my Grandpa" night (in anticipation of Father's Day).  We had a great time sharing stories about ancestors and we helped one young woman find the names of her grandparents using Pohnpei records online at FamilySearch.

Jim  and Rose Marie Cruz took us out to lunch at Mescla and we tried Manahak, fried juvenile rabbit fish, a seasonal Chamorro specialty.  They are harvested on the beach by the bucketful and then fried until crisp.  Not bad.

On the way home from Merizo one Thursday evening we stopped to enjoy another beautiful sunset at Umatc .  We are going to miss the skies of Micronesia!

Susana Sam and James Gogue check out the FamilySearch website at the Micronesia Island Fair FamillySearch booth.  The Fair ran from Friday, June 12 through Sunday, June 14.  

June, Jeanette and Keiji Sugimoto in front of our booth.  Note Jamiliz Remarii being herself in the background and the cool banners that Tokyo made for us.

Here Jamieliz helps a visitor from Palau.  The booth was a great way to introduce people to the FamilySearch website and the Barrigada Family History Center

Another great consultant, Krisitan Dana, helps out at the booth.  

We enjoyed a lovely Chinese dinner on Sunday evening with Julie and Richard Fee and the Martins.  Its so sad to be leaving all these wonderful people! We flew to Kosrae the next day.