Hey, I'm here for real now! It's been a crazy while! I'm just going to go to town, dump everything I can think of on you folks, and let you guys clean up the wreckage. :)
We've had two baptisms, total of five people! Picture of one of them should be coming through today. Tokariaou, Maomao, Tiibanga, Ereata (who got married last week), and Matua. All super good, those last two overcame pretty serious Word of Wisdom issues, and it's great to see the light and happiness in their eyes!
I never get over how such a simple thing, the act of baptism, can take so much to prepare for, and has such long-lasting and HUGE consequences! Christ, in His Grace, really has made it SO easy for us to come to Him, if we'll just have faith and repent! Glorious times.
Both baptisms happened in the ocean with big waves, which is always exciting, (you have to time how you say, "te Tama, ao te Nati, ao te Tamnei ae Raoiroi" just right so you can baptize them into the wave) but they all worked! Luckily, I'm tall and David is strong, so we didn't drop anybody. (Don't laugh, it's happened on other islands!) (Okay, I just laughed, I guess you can too.) But ya, good times!
PACKAGES!!! Holy crud, we've been eating good! Rationing out the Peanut M&Ms, we've eaten one of the Snickers bars, and the Peanut butter, well, I'm sending a picture of it next week so Mom can be proud of how much peanut butter we got out. :) all of it is SO GREAT! Especially the camera! With the video and pictures! AAAAHHHH!!!!! I LOVE MY FAMILY SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!
Relief Society Presidency. Shoots. I looked through PMG SO much, absolutely NOTHING on how to extend callings. So, prayed my heart out, fasted, and we think we got a good crew set up here. Interestingly enough, I've never attended a Relief Society presidency meeting, and most of our folks are recent converts or recently reactivated, so none of them have any idea how to do it. So, we're doing our best on that one, doing a lot of praying, and trusting that the Lord will help us figure things out.
Also, set up Taekan te Aro (words of Religion)! Which is basically release time seminary that all the religions in Kiribati do in both elementary and middle schools. Funny story, also don't have any curriculum for a seminary class, so we're using Preach My Gospel, with the Book of Mormon for our main textbook, and going from there! Hard, but fun, the kids are a hoot, and the end of it is that I'm learning how to be a Primary teacher, a Seminary teacher, a Relief Society President, a Sunday School Teacher, and an Elder, all at the same time! Glorious. :)
Finished Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price as well, starting over with the New Testament again. Every day, I read at least one chapter there, one chapter in the Book of Mormon, more if I'm feeling it in either book, and then move to Preach My Gospel, the manual for missionaries. Doctrine and Covenants is AWESOME! SO much in there for missionaries, and so much for Priesthood, and just so much for everybody that I never even knew! Pearl of Great Price is interesting as well, I feel like there's more layers of it that I'm not really cracking into yet.
It's interesting, because we don't get any outside spiritual support, we get it all from the scriptures, meaning that I've been getting the best studies of my mission out here. I feel so spiritually hungry, which is hard, but it really helps me get more out of my reading! And when the Liahona comes, I read it until it's done, including the cool little cut-out pictures in the back for the kids. :)
So, more stories! Saturday, we're getting ready for the baptism. I reached my hand inside a shirt that had been hanging up to dry, and bam, get stung. Hurt REALLY bad. At first I thought it was a bee, but I shook the shirt and nothing flew away, so I turned it inside out, and there was a scorpion hanging on in there. :P Luckily, it was a small one, so after only 6 hours of excruciating pain, just kidding, maybe fifteen minutes, it was totally ok. :) Not a lot of North Idaho boys can say that. :)
Anyway, funny story, when you're on an outer island with no contact from outside, occasionally your mission president can decide to come visit your island and have no way to tell you, so he just catches you by surprise. And that happened yesterday. :P He walked up while we were just about to start a church meeting. And holy crud! I haven't seen a white person in two months, and there shows up my mission president, unannounced! I was SO GLAD to be caught doing something good. (Kinda got me thinkin, that's how it's going to be when Jesus comes again. No warning, and BAM, there he is. DEFINITELY want to be caught doing something good.) So, biggest surprise of my mission, and definitely the best! :) It was funny, because Elder David and I were walking to church that morning, talking about how nice it would be if President would come, and how we thought he was coming in April, and now he wasn't coming until October, what a bummer. Heh heh. So anyway, there he was, along with his APs (one of whom is my trainer, who I love so very much) and it was AWESOME! Gave two guys the Melchizedek Priesthood (no stake out here, so Pres has to do that) and he and his compadres gave AWESOME talks that were exactly what Nonouti needed.
So then we had interviews (funny story, president told my kid that he's going to be ZL someday. No pressure, training a Zone Leader) and President did what he always does. We talked for a while, and then he asked if I had any questions. I had about a million, and he said, "Elder Clatt (ZL) did that to me once, had a list of about 30 questions he wanted answered. I told him 'Good, go find the answers and we'll talk about it after.' " So I got to ask one question, and he answered. But like always, his answer was not at ALL an answer, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. So it was AWESOME! I LOVE my mission president, he's a crazy man but he's inspired, and I'm so glad I got to see him.
He also said that I'm getting transferred out in August, and I might never get to work Tarawa, which would be a first as far as anybody out here knows. So, I don't know where I'll be heading after that, but man! I worked my first area for 7 months and something, 4.5 months doesn't feel NEARLY long enough! I feel like I just got here! So I'm going to double down, get enough work done in the next month and a half to get it up to the 7 month level, and then I'll be transferred to some other random island in the Gilbert group. (I almost said God-forsaken island, just for the rhetoric, but check out 2 Ne 29:7. Oh yeah. :) )
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
Anyway, that's loads, my comp is done emailing and I still haven't emailed pres. I'll have to catch up on writing to everybody else next week. Sorry! Love you all back there, hope everything goes well, sounds like you guys have been living it up! Keep being awesome! The Church is true! Loves! Love, Elder Marks
June 26, 2014 Letter
*static buzz* Pssh Psssh Nonouti to Earth, Nono Pssssshhh Earth, this is No Psssshh.... Nonouti to Earth, Nonouti to Earth, come in, Earth!
Hey, I'm still alive out here! Internet just came on after forever of being down! We're at the Council, waiting for an investigator to come so he can get married in the law, and they JUST got the internet back up! So, here I am!
I am indeed still alive. Just read all of the emails I've gotten over the last month and a half, but it's going to have to wait until Monday for me to respond to all of them. But it's SO good to hear from everybody, you're all more of a strength to me than you know! Here, I'll just give a quick overrun of what we've been doing.
We've had a baptism (another one tomorrow), got LOADS of packages (pictures coming on Monday!), called a Relief Society Presidency, finished the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price (only book in the Missionary Library and standard works that is left is the Old Testament, I think I'll wait for that one), branch bootakis, teaching lessons, and doing the work! I guess that's it. :)
Tired, but giving it all we've got out here, and learning a lot! Planning on keeping my Preach My Gospel for the rest of my life, WAY good book, and I'm writing lots of notes in it.
Shoots, I feel like I can either write LOADS or really write next to nothing. And there's not loads of time today, so I guess I'll just write loads on Monday. But I'm alive! I love everybody back there! Keep on being awesome! The Church is true! The Book of Mormon is the word of God! And Jesus Christ is the Word! And now I know I'm a missionary because I started expounding on that from my personal study today, but we'll wait on that. Our person just got here to get married, love you all!