BERU IS HOT!!! Okay, to all you folks back shivering in the snow, I know you're all thinking, "No duh, Sherlock, you're in Kiribati. Quit complaining and enjoy the heat." But you guys don't understand. It is HOT. Like, while I was on Tarawa Ieta, it was comfortable. There were even times it was cold, from our view. But Beru is NOT! It is SO HOT!!! So I'm not dead yet, but I'm going to be a little brown boy when I get back. :)
Beru is tough, not gonna lie. We have almost no investigators, and there is a lot of opposition from the Catholic and the KUC (Kiribati United Church). So we have been tracting like I've never tracted before! (Honestly, I think I'd tracted maybe 2 or 3 houses in my mission before here. So it's a change!) But we're starting to get some people, and we will CONTINUE to get more people until this entire island is taken up into heaven or we collapse trying to get it there! :)
Best part of my week was definitely last night. We did church all day, up and down the island, and after the last one, the unit we did it with invited us to dinner. As we were eating, they pulled out guitars and started playing and singing. They were good! They even knew a bunch of Country songs and Christmas carols! There was one of them who didn't have an instrument, so he grabbed some spoons and started hitting them together to the beat. Then he went to eat, and I was done eating, so I grabbed his spoons, a glass, and a metal ladel, and when combined with the sticks we were sitting on and a folded up portion of the mat we were on, I made a pretty mean drum set. Started singing along with them too, and they were blown away, because Elders before have been pretty terrible singers. So we just sang until it was time to go home (we don't work here after dinner, because it's dark and most people don't have light in their houses.) SO MUCH FUN. I don't think I've ever gotten so into singing "Jingle Bells" my entire life. :) Also, taught them "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". Almost cried. :P I love Christmas carols so much, especially that one, because it's just pure praise and joy for Christ! It's glorious. :)
Also, just saying, there is cold Coke on the island. I'm really glad that the First Presidency came out with that thing saying that caffeine isn't against the word of wisdom, because that's pretty much the only drink here. Still wary of caffeine, so I don't go crazy on it, but man, cold drinks! SO GOOD! :)
Anyway, my companion is done emailing, so I should probably be rolling, but just saying, the gospel is true! Read the Book of Mormon! I love you all! Keep up the good everything!
Letter of February 15, 2015
FAMILY!!!! AND EVERYBODY ELSE!!!!!!
First of all, it was SO GOOD TO SKYPE!!!!! Ah, that just gives the last little bit of juice to make everything glorious for these last couple months here. Ain't nothin can stop me when I've got folks like I've got praying for me!
Also, last night, I got to interview with President Weir. 4th interview of my mission. And just saying, I don't mean to bad talk any other mission presidents, but my president and his wife are most definitely the best on planet Earth. :) I love them both SO MUCH. I got to interview, we renewed my temple recommend, and then just chatted about the work on Tarawa Ieta and Beru. It warmed me heart. I haven't heard from him in months, really had no idea what he thought of the work we were doing out there, and it was a REALLY rough area so I was worried he was going to be disappointed in us. He said that we did a "miracle" out there. (Reminder to future missionaries: Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles.)
(Lest anybody think I'm bragging, I feel like it's an Alma twenty six situation. Ya, we went, we were obedient, and we worked hard, but looking at the individuals that made the changes in our lives, it was NOT us that wrought those changes. That was the Holy Ghost. Like, Buddy, AWESOME reactivated member, got reactivated because we were going to lesson with his wife, and asked him to sit in with us. He said, "I've been baptized, I went to Moroni (the church high school),, I don't have any problem. You guys just need to work with this girl." And he had an earring and was drinking and smoking and not coming to church. But we kept asking, and told him that we weren't allowed to lesson with just a woman. Lots of missionaries in Kiribati don't keep that rule, but President Weir says it's important, so we do it. ONE LESSON. Not even that spectacular. We lessoned on the Sabbath, and that week, Buddy came to church.
Now he's completely active, has been bugging our branch president to get home teaching going, and even went out to do it by himself when they all agreed to meet and do it and nobody showed up. THE MAN. 100 percent change. And that's the kind of thing that happened all over Tarawa Ieta. Just because we were out working, and keeping the rules, God put people in our path who were ready to make the change. It was SUCH a hard area, but a lot of good things happened.
Anyway, that was a long explanation on that one, got a bit side tracked. :P The interview went super well, I almost cried when President Weir closed in prayer, the Spirit was so strong. He prayed that I would receive the very things that I've been trying to cultivate so hard lately, and even thanked God that I was trying to develop them. (I did NOT tell him or hint or anything.) He is an inspired man. He also told me that my time would finish out on Beru, unless I really wanted to work Tarawa, and then he'd have me in right away. Meh. I've spent my whole mission roughing it on outer islands, don't want to spoil a good thing by spending my last month in a nice house with air conditioning and fridge and stuff. :) And he said I MIGHT get to train again, so here's hoping! :)
That was done, he had an interview with Elder David, who I trained on Nonouti, and then we were about to leave, and I mentioned that there was NO ice cream on Tarawa (I know, right? None. In ANY store on the island.) And Sister Weir said, "Oh, I think the last ice cream on Tarawa is inside our freezer!" Because they basically work two missions, Tarawa and Marshalls, they had some that had been sitting there for months with nobody to eat it. And it was just enough for 3 bowls, one for me, one for Elder David, and one for Elder Davis, my first child and the Zone Leader who was taking care of us. They sent us over to Senior Couples house to get chocolate syrup, cracked open peanuts, had some cookies, and even pulled some maraschino cherries out of the fridge (of which I had 3, because the other two don't like them. :) ) So my mission president made ice cream sundaes for us at his house at nine fifteen at night. (We figured it was okay to stay out late, because he made us do it! :) ) Hence, my mission president and his wife are the best in the world. :)
So then this morning I woke up at five in the morning to get on an airplane to Beru! I'll talk a bit about it since most people didn't get to skype. Beru is a little island south east of Nonouti. HOT. Just like Nonouti. Famous for eating "mud", which is actually this moss stuff that grows on a lake. I don't remember what all I told the family, so I'll just not make a line between stuff you guys know and what you don't. My companion is Elder Tarati, Kiribati, four more weeks to go until he's done, and the MAN. President says he's one of his best Elders, and just meeting him today, he's not kidding. Way good guy.
Elders coming off here always call the house "that hole", but they're just pansies. It's nice brick, we have cooking stuff, plenty of space, we're sleeping on kies and it's going to be great. Honestly, it's nice. And what's even better, the Elder who I replaced got a package a week ago, and you really don't have space to take extra stuff because we only get fifteen kgs, so we have a good chunk of a very large, new elder from America's quality package. :) Just had a nice cup of Crystal Light!
Elder Tarati says that the work is pretty hard here, because they whitewashed the area (both Elders being new, rather than the usual of one getting moved at a time so that the one who stays can show the area to the new one) and a lot of people don't want to listen. So it'll be hard, but that's good! We've got two ridiculously experienced Elders out here, and we're going to kill it for this last month until Tarati goes home, and then I'll kill it with my new comp until I go home!
It's strange! Being on Tarawa, I was the oldest missionary I saw. I spent a couple hours working with an Elder from Fiji because his comp had flight issues and wasn't there yet. I was thinking, "hey, this guy's pretty good! I wonder when he came in?" Turns out, I trained somebody from his intake at the MTC. It was the second person I trained. CRUD I'M OLD!!! It's scary. And it's so interesting. Being on Tarawa is a whole different feel. I feel like it's more like another mission would be like. There are Elders, there are district meetings and such, and it just feels... I don't know. I just feel more like the kind of Elder that worked back home. Outer islands it's you and your comp against the world, back on Tarawa you're part of a team. I don't know, it's just a way different feel.
So now I'm back on an outy, it's like being back home. :) And I'm so excited! It's going to be hard, and we are going to work it! But it was really good being on Tarawa, getting that battery recharge from all the missionaries, interviewing, skyping, the whole gig. I'm definitely pumped to finish out hard on this!
Well, this has been long, and my comp is Kiribati so he's fast with email (future emails will probably be shorter until he dies the end of next month.) So we'll probably be rolling! But I love you all SO MUCH!!! Keep on praying, prayer is the only way. In so many things.
Keep on keeping on, and I will email to y'all next week!