Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pohnpei - Not only rain but the spirit showered upon us

Forgot to mention seven little things before we boarded the plane in Guam for Kosrae...
Early in the morning before going to the airport, we went to the mission office to pick up the laptop computer charger. We opened the door, walked in, and there was a seven legged visitor on our wall near the mission map.

He looked as surprised as us. With the main door opened, I persuaded him to go back outside. Sister Martin and I have wondered what other creatures may be under our desks while we are at work.

After Kosrae, we left for Pohnpei on Saturday. It was less than an hour flight. When we exited the airport, Elder and Sister Chandler were there to greet us. Very thoughtful of them, since we had never been there. We got our rental car and followed them to our hotel.

After getting settled in, the Chandlers came back and asked what we wanted to do. We had heard about a little village nearby called Kapingamarangi, that offered hand carved wood items like sharks, turtles, etc., and also tiny weaved decorations/wall hangings. The Chandlers knew exactly where it was. We wound in and out of tiny streets, not much bigger than a large sidewalk.

It was uncomfortably hot and humid in the shop. Elder Chandler said, "Let's see how long you can stand being in the shop, I'm waiting outside." Immediately beads of sweat broke out all over our bodies.
We stayed long enough to buy a few things and then we went to the outdoor shop to see the wood carvers in action. They had a lot of very nice crafts and are very skilled.
Kapingamarangi village wood carving shop - See wood Hammerhead Sharks with real Shark teeth
After a nice dinner at the Cliff Hotel we went to the Panasang church building for a Stake Youth conference. It was supposed to start around 6:30pm, but it didn’t start until around 8:30. We think it was because they had to make more food and plates. 

While we were waiting a member told us a story that happened many years ago that strengthened their testimonies that God cares about His faithful saints. Some missionaries were going to teach about the gospel of Christ in a local school. A minister pulled out his gun, loaded it, and threatened to shoot any missionary, Mormon or investigator that came to the school to hear the message. But, he fell asleep, and the meeting went well without any interruption. They thanked God for protecting them and causing him to sleep.  

The young men and young women were dressed in their Sunday best, almost like a Prom. In the Chapel/Cultural hall they had two long tables set up with leaves and each place had a hand weaved bowl for their food. They had a variety of island food, like breadfruit, bananas, chicken, rice, and several other things.  Each one had a coconut which was individually cut on the top so they could drink the juice. 

The boys escorted the girls and got their chair for them. There were so many youth that they ran out of places at the tables so they set up more chairs and lined them up on both sides of the room. It was amazing they were able to weave more plates and have enough food for all of them. I think they had about 200 youth there, 14 and older.

We were seated on the stand with the Stake Presidency and the Bishops. The Stake President was amazed that so many came, he said it was about double from last year's event. 

Then the testimonies began. The youth kept coming and coming up to the pulpit to bear their testimonies. All but one or two spoke in Pohnpean language. Even though we didn't know what they said, we felt the powerful, peaceful spirit of their testimonies. One young man said he was just baptized that day. Another was baptized one week. Others were investigators, interested in the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Most testified they knew that Thomas S. Monson was a true prophet of God, even though they will probably never see him in person. 

Panasang Chapel
At church the next morning we sat behind two young women that had attended. One girl's first name was "Rejoice". The Sister Missionaries said the girls had been to several church activities and meetings and were about to be taught our wonderful message about God and His wonderful plan for us. What a wonderful time at church. The holy spirit continued to pour down in abundance upon us. 

After church we enjoyed an excellent meal prepared by the Chandlers. One of Sister Chandler's salads was called a Snicker Salad. 

It is a fruit salad with Snicker candy bar pieces and whip cream mixed in. 

The missionaries came over for lunch, and to make calls or Skype with their mothers  and families for Mother's Day. 
Sister Roberts talking to family on Mother's Day 
Sister Komra
Sister Orrock, Roberts, Ioane, Ilaoa, and Komra made mother’s day cards and cookies for Sister Chandler and Sister Martin while we were driving around with Elder Chandler. 

Recently a drunk man broke into one of the Sister Missionaries apartments at night. The sisters took a broom to him and literally kicked him out. Later, the authorities made him come and apologize. It is also the local custom to drink something like a coconut juice together during the apology.

The next morning we decided to walk down the main street of Kolonia. Elder Bourne from England and Elder Nansen walked up and we talked with them for a few minutes.

Note the approved shoes for the mission...Crocs or similar
Then we slowly walked back to our hotel. When we arrived it started to rain, and rain, and rain. A few minutes later it seemed like a river was going down our street. It poured like sheets. We were glad we didn't get caught out in the storm.

Later we were checking out one of the mission vehicles in need of body work.
Sometimes I think if you looked too hard at a Yaris it will dent
There were dents and scratches everywhere and the hubcaps were gone. Two lug nuts were missing from the wheels. The Zone leaders said the auto parts stores on the island are out of lug nuts so we'll need to order some.
A lot of dirt roads on Pohnpei as you can tell
It was easy to find which road our hotel was on because of the obvious landmarks. They don't have the kind of street signs you would expect. This forklift was abandon on the street corner many years ago and a tree grew through and around it. It is now a permanent landmark. It's common to see this on the islands. When a vehicle quits, it often stays where it quit. 

That evening we joined the Chandlers and drove down to the south of the island near Rohi. There the Mauriso family had a simple dwelling where we enjoyed a wonderful meal and an amazing Family Home Evening. They called there home a "Nahs" which is open, with no walls or doors, just a roof and a floor.
This is a video of us singing "Let Us All Press On" in Pohnpeian language in the home/shelter of Peter and Carleen. We also met Eric, Rockson, Marielee and others.

We sat on the cement floor and ate the dinner they prepared for us.  They first served snacks that were like chips but were actually fried yams and fried breadfruit. They also served yams fried in a ball and some sort of banana dish. The food was picked and prepared from gardens and trees in the area, and from the ocean, not bought at a store.

They served us food and watched us eat, before they ate. We were the only ones who had a plate and spoons. Everyone else just ate from the platter with their hands.

For dinner they served tuna, chicken in a gravy that he Peter called curry, white rice, and fried rice. They said if the tide was higher, crabs would've been served. For desert we had chocolate cake that Sister Chandler made. 

These new members have so little, but great faith and a love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Many people who live in the rain forest have no houses. They cook outside and just hangout outside. They sleep on the floor of their Nahs, which is raised up above the ground  just enough to keep them dry when it rains and when it rains it comes down in buckets. We all shared our testimonies with each other and the missionaries translated. There were about 20 family members of parents and children who were related. 

One of our churches is a Nahs that we visited after church on Sunday. 

It is located in a village called Nett. 

It is an outside, open church building. Sometimes, pigs, chickens and dogs, pictured here, wander into the meetings. We were told the Deacons often have to push them aside while passing the sacrament. 

The next morning we went with the Chandlers to Seminary at the High School. They teach during lunch time in one of the school rooms. 

It was standing room only with some of the Sister missionaries sitting on the floor. 

They taught with a lot of visual aids and videos. They also showed a slide show created from photos of youth conference. It was exciting and students outside were peaking in the windows. There were several investigators attending seminary as well. 

What a great place to visit and good-byes are always difficult. 

Our three days in Pohnpei went so fast. We will definitely miss the Chandlers.  

We love the missionaries, we love the people on the islands and we love the Lord.

Our next blog will be on the rugged island of Chuuk. 


  1. I came across your blog and was very surprise to see a picture of our son Elder Bourne. It was really interesting to read and see what life is really like in Pohnpei. As you can imagine Elder Bourne doesn't always share what life is like on the Island. Thank you.
    Sister Sharon Bourne

    1. You're welcome and glad you enjoyed it. We hope we can get back out to the other islands some day to collect some more candid pictures of missionaries. They are wonderful hard workers and we know the Lord loves them.

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