Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Lord Works Among His Children

      We thought we would share a missionary experience with all of you that was written down by Sister Chynoweth, the Mission Office secretary/assistant manager.  This will give you an idea of just how the Lord works among those serving Him.  We quote from Sister Chynoweth's letter:

     "A few weeks ago in a meeting we attended where President Brewer asked his assistants, Elder Frei and Elder McNeil, what they knew about Ifira Island, a small island nearby.  They said they had never been to the island, and didn't know anyone who had.  They were instructed to "go and check it out".  They talked about what to do with the assignment and pondered how to go about it, but didn't really know where to begin.  You have to understand that each small island has a set of chiefs that run the show;  one head man and several other lower men who make up the tribal leaders.  Everything that happens within the territory of the chief must have his approval.  The Elders were still pondering how to begin the assignment when they attended District Conference.  There among the crowd of members attending the conference was a sister from Malekula.  She had been baptized last year by Elder Frei, and they were delighted to see each other again.  He learned that she had moved from her home island and was living...  you guessed it, on the island the Elders were instructed to research.  She said that she and her boyfriend want to get married, and that he is very interested in learning about the gospel and getting married in the temple.  She asked if the Elders would come to her island to teach him.  She said she would try to arrange a meeting with the chief to see if he would give permission for the lessons to be given.  A few days later the Elders got on a boat and headed for their appointment with the young couple.  On the ride over they sat next to a native grandma lady and struck up a conversation with her.  When the boat docked, they asked if they could please help her carry her heavy bags to her destination.  She was grateful for two clean, strong young men who were willing to help her.  She asked where they were planning to go, and when they told her they had a meeting with friends, she smiled and said, "I live very near your friends, I will show you where they live."  They proceeded through a labyrinth of small streets and paths and at last, arrived at a place they could never have found on their own.  The young couple and the missionaries talked together and made a plan.  A meeting with the chief was arranged.

      When the missionaries met the chief, he was reluctant and suspicious as he greeted them.  He asked if they were Jehovah's Witnesses, and if they were going to expect to be paid to preach.  They introduced themselves and explained that they were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that they were serving as missionaries, at their own expense, for two years.  They told him that the young lady and her boyfriend wanted the missionary discussions and said they had come out of respect for him as the chief, to ask for permission to teach on his island.  His countenance softened, and he told them they had five minutes to convince him it would be a good thing for his people to learn what they had to share.  The chief called in one of his 12 counselors to join in the meeting, and the Elders began... they spoke of their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and their sacrifice to be in Vanuatu.  They talked about the importance and eternal nature of families and of another testament of Jesus Christ that had been written on plates of gold.  The Spirit came, minds were opened, and hearts were softened.  The Chief said,  "I can not stop God".  He gave permission for the Elders to come to teach the young man.  Then the chief asked if they had power to give blessings.  The Elders affirmed that they held Priesthood power and could indeed give blessings.  The chief said he was in pain; he had been having pain in his chest and he needed a blessing.  All eyes were on the Elders as Elder Frie anointed chief Mantoi Kasekau III.  Then Elder McNeil placed his hands upon the head of the chief and pronounced a blessing.  The chief was told in the blessing that because he had been kind to the servants of The Lord, he would be blessed and that as he led in righteousness he would be blessed with strength and with wisdom,  and that his family and his whole village would be blessed and prosper.  At the moment the Elders lifted their hands from his head,  the chief's burning pain in his chest stopped and a feeling of cool comfort replaced it....  he was healed.  The chief was amazed and impressed.  He gave his full permission for the missionaries to come to the island and teach anywhere, any time.

      It is wonderful to see how the Lord works among His children.  It is wonderful to see how the Lord guides our path in all that is needed to accomplish our assignments."

      We are indeed blessed to be working among these humble people.  We hope our efforts will indeed help lift them up and bring joy to their lives as they realize the importance of gaining knowledge and training to help them become self reliant.  It takes time and patience and for the most part the results of our labors won't be realized until after we have left Vanuatu.  We know this is where we are suppose to be laying the ground work for the future of many in Vanuatu.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More Great Students

      Maria is originally from PNG - Papau New Guinea.  She is the mother of two children - a boy and a girl.  She is determined to get a college degree.  She is attending UPS - the University of the South Pacific - at the Vanuatu campus.  UPS has campuses on many of the pacific islands.  Each campus specializes in certain subjects.  Here in Vanuatu, the specialties are law and accounting.  Maria studies very hard.  She is determined to get a scholarship for next year.  She is doing business management and accounting.  Maria is our Gospel Doctine teacher, and she is a very good teacher!
 Here Maria is nursing her 22 month old while working with Clyde on the computer.

      Annies (pronounced anis)  also is the mother of two.  She is originally from Ambae, another island north of here.  She has really impressed us with her personal drive and ambition.  She is working for a meat packing company.  She started in shippig on the floor.  She has since moved to the main office.  She completely surprised us with a letter from her boss, a New Zealander.  She had asked him for a letter descibing her talents and abilities in the company.  This is completely out of character for a Ni-Van.  Most of them have a hard time saying anything - let alone ask for something.  We saw the letter.  It was very complimentary of Annies.  Now this letter is part of her personnel file.  Very smart woman!
      Annies is taking computer courses - spread sheets, etc.  Then she will take business management classes.  She wants to be number one, right behind the manager.  Someday, she wants to be the manager!!!!
      This is Annies, her husband, Norton, and Jenny and Jordyn.  We got their picture this morning at the Erakor Branch, just before church.  The other little girl just wanted to be in the picture.  Annies is the Young Women's President, and Norton is on the Port Vila District High Council.  By the way, Annies is the bread winner, and Norton is at home with the children.  Actually, he is a trained electrician but has not found work for two years now!

      These are pictures of the Erakor Branch chapel.  Something else unusual - when it was time for church to begin, only men were present.  Most of the branches are starving for active priesthood holders.  Annies and the Branch President's wife were they only women there on time.  Notice that this is another open air branch building.  Classes meet under trees.  This branch does have pews, though.

This is the Erakor Branch President and his wife.  They were very friendly. 
We were meeting them for the first time  

Vanuatu Wedding

      Remember Elder Anderson's address at the April Conference?  He talked about couples not getting married because of old customs of doweries, etc. He was talking about Mozembique.  The same is true here in Vanuatu.  Friday there was a wedding at the branch.  The couple have been together for years.  They have several children - some adults  They have also been attending church for a long time.  Because they were not married, they were not allowed to get baptized.  In fact, the branch president is the groom's brother.  It was a lovely afternoon service - wedding party and all.  I only had my camera at the very end of the event.  I did get a few pictures.  Now the next step is for the family members to get baptized!

  Today we took copies of the pictures that I had taken and gave them to the bride at church!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Some of our Great Students

      We would really like to tell you about some of the great people that we are working with now.  I need to be better about getting pictures of them in more casual situations.  The pictures that we take of them for their applications look like mug shots.  I will start with Fredline and Merrie.
      Both of these girls are returned missionaries.  Fredline served in Fiji, and Merrie served in New York City at the Visitors Center.  They are both from Tanna Island which is south of Efate where we are.  It is a primitive island.  There are no paved roads.  The vehicles that the missioaries use there are the land cruisers with the snorkels.  The so called roads require crossing rivers.  Can you imagine Merrie going from Tanna to New York City?!  I asked her about it once.  She said there was no room to walk in New York.

      Fredline has had a grade six education, and Merrie has had a grade eight.  Both girls want to go to school.  Merrie would really like to be a nurse.  This is practically impossible.  She would need to take classes to get her to a grade twelve eguivalency.  This would take at least three years.  Then she would have to accepted into the one and only nursing program in the country.  This program only accepts thirty students a year.  We are constantly in need of inspiration from the Lord to assist these students.  The best part is that the  students fast and pray for us to receive that guidance!

      Currently, we have both girls taking computer classes - basic skills, word processing, and spread sheets.  The hope is that Merrie can get a job in the hospital or a doctor's office.  This would be a foot in the door in the medical field.  She would make a wonderful receptionist.  Fredline's family has a low key tourist operation on Tanna.  They own property at the base of a volcano.  She will plan on returning to Tanna and improve the family business.  They both want to return to Tanna!

      These pictures of us are at the mission office.  We spend a lot of time on the computer looking for answers.  We email Naomi, our coordinator in Auckland, several times a day.  She has the information that we need, or she finds it.  Her support is critical to our efforts.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Vanuatu Mission Senior Couples

We are serving with some wonderful couples.  In fact, at Nasama and the Blue Lagoon, we have had other senior couples as neighbors.  It makes to very nice to know our neighbors.  Anyone of them will come to our aid in a moment - and we to theirs.  This happens to be a district mission conference luncheon.  This is the only
event we have had of this type.  We ate at the Melenesian Hotel! 
 This is Elder and Sister Chynoweth.  They are from Orem.  They are the mission office couple. No one works harder than Sister Chynoweth. 
We love spending time with them.  They always will be dear friends!
 This is Elder and Sister Williams.  They are from the Seattle area.  They are the mission
 audit couple.  They have just recently moved to Santo Island in the north of Vanuatu. 
They travel to all of the parts of the Vanuatu Mission for the audits. 
Santo needed a couple, and they can travel from there just as well.
 This is Elder and Sister Wallace.  She is the mission nurse, and he does mission housing and transportation.  They are from the Ogden area.  (Diane, does he look familiar?  Remember Chris Wallace from Bryce Canyon?  He is her cousin, and I knew that immediately.)
This is Elder and Sister Mortensen.  They are from Washington state.  They have moved to the Solomon Islands now.  They were taking care of Young Adult activities here.  Sister Mortensen was also teaching piano lessons in each branch.  She did some kind of grant and had keyboards donated to the mission.  Some of the members now play on Sundays!
This is Elder and Sister Hinton.  They are from Utah county.  They are the Welfare Missionaries in Vanuatu.  Elder Hinton really likes to eat.  Here we are at an outdoor cafe.
This is Elder and Sister Tolley.  They are also from Utah county and were only with us for a month.  They are Humanitarian Missionaries and travel all over the world.  They were here to conduct the measles and rubella campaign for Vanuatu through the world health organization. 
 We really enjoyed them.  One night we taught them to play Phase Ten!
One more couple, Elder and Sister Jolley, complete our crew at the present time.  
They are from Oregon.  Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of them, before they left for Malekula, another island that is north-northwest of here.
Sister Tolley and I enjoying the flowers.

We will all miss Elder Williams.  He liked to plan outings.  One night he arranged for us to go to a barbeque place.  It is run by a woman from Colorado.  It is full of old western memorabilia.  Just like you would expect from a western place at home.  Elder Williams had the place open early just for us.  It was a very fun evening and very good food.

 See the cute shirts that all of the servers wore.

Sister Chynoweth picked out the pot that she really wanted to take home.