It was a great day to hear from Elda Ekaki! He sent this letter on June 19th and we received it nearly a month later which is pretty fast. This is the first letter we have received from him that is handwritten while he's been in Kiribati. We giggled at the stamp placement being all hodge-podgy, but it was such a great surprise to hear from him again. He gave us permission to post some of the things in the letter, so enjoy!
I love you so much! I miss you too! I send my hugs and kisses to you! xoxoxoxoxoxooxoxooxoxoxox. Make sure you keep helping mommy and daddy.
I have been blessed this week to be able to use the internet. Well, I haven't made it to Kainaba yet because we had a little hiccup with Elder Osborne's foot. He is having pieces of coral removed this morning and should be ready to go tomorrow or Wednesday. That's the major things that happened this week. I am excited to have this time to email you guys though because there is no email or postal service in Kainaba because there is no counselor there. Luckily we are an hour boat ride away, so I have continued to send letters I don't know if you have gotten any yet. Well, I am super excited to go out there to Kainaba. While I have been waiting for Elder Osborne's surgery, I have been working with Elder Rowsell which has been nice to see someone in my intake.
My spiritual thought this week comes from Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 it says: "Look unto me in every thought; Doubt not, fear not." This phrase has been of comfort as I have been contemplating this week and
as my 1 year mark is coming up, I am thinking about what I am going to do and what my plan is and the fears and doubts of the unknown. But as I have relied on my Savior who has already gone through everything, I have found my solace. I testify that there is power in the Savior's Atonement and that it is infinite. This I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Update: I finally found someone whose son has served here. There wasn't a lot of information about this area because he and his companion will be the 3rd set of missionaries to ever be there. Most likely we will not hear from him more than once a month because there is no internet where he will be. They walk approximately 3 hours to get to the nearest area that does have internet - crossing through areas connecting the islands in low tide when possible. It reminds me a bit of his time and circumstances in Nonouti and am excited to hear of his experiences in this new area. Please keep he and his companion, Elder Osborne in your prayers for not only their safety as they walk from island to island each week, but also that they will have success in sharing the gospel. If you'd like to read more about what types of adventures Elder Ekaki may get up to, click on the links below.
Boat Rides and Baptisms
Mosquito on the keyboard
When in Kiribati...
We really don't have much information regarding Kainaba. From what we can gather, it is roughly 45 feet above sea level, has a population of around 250 people, but from what we can tell, there aren't many missionaries on the northern side of Tarawa. Can't wait to hear more about what he and Elder Osborne get to do together in the month before Elder Osborne heads home. It will be fun to hear his adventures!
This week has been fun to review and reflect on what happened during my time in Butaritari. My feelings on being transferred at first was frustration - as I have not been able to, in my opinion, serve there long enough; but as I have thanked my Heavenly Father for my time that I have had there, it has helped me realize that He really is in control and everything will work out to His will. I have come to love the people of Butaritari, and I know that I can and will meet up with them again later. So... I am being transferred to a small island off of Tarawa called Kainaba and I will be working with Elder Osborne! I'm excited to work with him as he is a hard worker. I know our time is short together as he will be going home next month.
So while I have been staying in Tarawa this week, I have been primarily in Bikenibeu with Elders Darm, Tomlinson, and Tui. It has been so nice to see what happens when someone leaves to go home from their mission. While I was here, it was Elder Darm's last week and his final push for baptisms. He was blessed to finish with 8 baptisms of people who are ready and were prepared by the Lord. It has been nice this week to work with Elder Tomlison and see how he teaches and what methods he uses. I've learned a lot.
My spiritual thought is on the power of testimony: This week we had many baptisms and the power of a simple testimony is the strongest thing there is. I know that this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Jesus Christ's Gospel has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet and leads and guides the church today. I love my Savior and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The following message came shortly after his first email. We have no idea where he is being transferred to. Stay tuned!
From the Assistants to the President:
You are getting transferred Wednesday the 5th, so get ready to fly! Please pack up your stuff sometime and be ready by Wednesday, your PTA number is 8120. Please email us back and let us know you got this email.
Ti na kaitibo ikai!"
How are you guys doing? This week has been super fun and was filled with a baptism which requires a lot of effort. Happy 4th of July! and Sarah - Happy Early Birthday! So for my last week here in Butaritari we wrapped a few things gave some people the Aaronic Priesthood so that they could help us out while we are gone. I will explain the baptism that happened this week: I was blessed to interview and baptize Ekeuea, Tiita, and Ruitiera. We received a referral from Motimoa, a friend of Ekeuea who lives right across from each other. We didn’t actually contact them until the start of June. We sat down with them the first time and it kind of just felt natural to be there and they were very interested to hear the gospel. At first it seemed way too easy to teach them because they would keep the commitments, but after a little bit of time, I noticed their true conversion and the desire to change and follow Jesus Christ. When we extended a baptismal date they accepted and held true to it and changed behaviors such as drinking tea.
How are your converts? Our converts are doing great! We just gave Tibiriano the Aaronic priesthood yesterday and that family is staying active and we have dinner with them frequently.
How was your week? My week this week was short and full of stuff as we had to plan around a bootakin te mate (funeral service) and Mwakuri iaon te aba (government work that is required by the village). We prepared Ekeuea’s family for baptism. Also we enjoyed a nice Sunday service in Kuma as we took a car and gathered together as one.
What new adventures are you having? This Wednesday we will be starting a new adventure as we are going to Makin and seeing how the church is there.
I've been watching the weather and feeling bad for you. It looks like rain all this week and the "real feel temperatures" are in the 100's. Are you hanging in there? I haven’t noticed a difference it feels normal and the rain has been nice as we just had a huge rain shower with thunder and lightning last Saturday Night but cleared out for a nice car ride on Sunday.
Taking good care of yourself? I believe so. No sicknesses yet. Showering twice a day.
Something I've never asked you is how you get your monthly money allotment. How does that work? On outer islands it is sent as a Telamo which is money that you go and pick up from the Treasurer. If you are on Tarawa, your card is loaded and you can withdraw the money from it. Do you ever run out? It is always just about the right amount for the month. Do you use it to buy stuff other than renting cars for people for church? Yes like food for the mornings, moon tigers for the mosquitos, and snacks for the hunger. Just curious. Are months that have 5 weeks in them harder than other months for budgeting? They are about the same just the big expense is car and internet.
Hi Son! I was hoping to catch you before your left the internet today. I've been asked to speak next Sunday in church on our religious freedom and liberty. Will you share with me what this means to you especially now that you have lived in a foreign land and seen the differences there and here? I'm interested to know what you think and what it is like there?
I'm glad for religious freedom as I have seen it here society is mainly built on religious practices. But something that I have noticed the difference between here and there is if you change your religion in America you are not laughed at made fun of by others. However, if you change your religion here especially if you are older into the religion you are made fun, hated by the community which I know is not right but that is what happens here sometimes when people change their religion. I'm thankful for religious freedom or else we could not really work here because people can't change their religion. Religious freedom allows Missionary work to happen. Well that is my thought. It is important to me because it allows me to express my thanks to my Heavenly Father. It allows me to worship with no problems from state.
My spiritual thought comes from a hymn in Kiribati the title is I Kainanoiko Ngai (I Need Thee Every Hour)
I really like this song in Kiribati as it is simple, but teaches a very valuable principle. That through our Savior Jesus Christ we can stand in front of the Judgment of our Heavenly father clean. I have relied more on my Savior’s Strength to help get through the week. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
This week to be honest and to the point was low chilled but also stressful as we are getting four investigators ready for baptism! It is so awesome when you extend a commitment and they do it that next day. I just love it! And it has been awesome to see them grow. I'll share more about their conversion next week, but their names are Ekeuea, Tiita, and Ruitiera for one family and Otirake who has been waiting to be baptized. The hammock in the pic last week is the one that we have outside. The thing with the rats is this: if you don’t want them destroying your stuff or eating your feet, you don’t make them angry. So if they get into something, we give it to them. Or if we are not going to eat, occasionally you give a little bit so that you don’t have your stuff ruined. The Katabu is over and we didn’t participate, but we did help with the cooking which was very good. No problems yet from the Katabu but we will see in the coming weeks.
(Excerpt from mom's letter) "I am finding that murmuring stems from a lack of a true, heartfelt testimony of the gospel principle and that murmuring can become a cancer to a group of individuals who are new and tender in the gospel who have not yet had a chance to "prove" the Lord. What are your thoughts on this? As I read about Laman and Lemuel, the challenges of the children of Israel, even the parable of the rich young man (Mark 10), I cannot help but think, "What if they had a testimony of this principle? What if they merely desired a testimony and sought after it actively...what would their story be instead?" Do you see this where you are serving? Any advice for how I can help someone stop the murmuring or help them build a testimony of the principles?"
With your problem I do have some insight. Let us take it one more step before testimony. Before we can even gain a testimony, we first have to exercise our faith. As that is the first principle in the gospel, it is also the most vital. Only through our faith can we start to repent and gain a testimony of that principle. Yes, I see this every time, but it is not until they (investigators) try and work that faith that they are rewarded with testimony. Here's an example - because I just taught this lesson yesterday - our faith is like rope. If it is thin and not very thick, it is easy to break, easy to get confused and be led by Satan. But, if our rope is like parachord, or has many principles interwoven, we are able to stand up and contend against Satan. In Jacob 7:1-23 - Jacob contends against Tierem (Kiribati) (Sherem) who is an anti-Christ. When questioned with someone murmuring, do as Nephi directs and ask God (see 1 Nephi 15:8-11). Ask if they have tried to live this principle, and bear your testimony of the power and blessings you have seen from living this principle. Emphasize as James 2:17 directs, that "faith without works is dead". I know that as we are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ we cannot fall (see Helaman 5:12). I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Happy Father's Day!
So ..... how was your week? It was a little stressful as missionary work slowed down because of the Katabu. I want to describe this Kiribati tradition. The people of Kiribati are very focused on families. They love to help one another. This week was the week of the Katabu (ordination) in the Catholic religion someone was sworn to be a father. So the last part of this week has been hard to teach investigators who have family who is related to the Katabu. Everyone gathered as families and prepared the cooking for guests that came from the many islands including Nauru, Kritimati, Tarawa, Nikuanau to Makin. This influx of people has caused stress on the resources available, but I was reminded of an important eternal principle that is taught throughout the scriptures. I will share later.
How are your investigators coming along? Ekeuea's family is coming along great and should be ready for baptism on the first of July. Definitely converted just finishing the lessons right now. We have other investigators who are busy and not really progressing but they love to hear the message.
Have you been constructing any more homes? Just that one but we will see in the next couple of weeks.
What are you hoping to wrap up before you leave for Makin? I am hoping to wrap up all baptismal records that have missing information. And have the people here ready to lead tauramauri.
I am guessing Makin doesn't have internet, so I am preparing myself now for not hearing from you....it's sad, but I can do it. I am told that there is internet on Makin, so need to worry yet about communications and we just met a guy here who is trying to improve the way of communication between islands and trying to get the radio tower back in operation which means telephone.
Will you be in Makin over your birthday? Yes I will be in Makin, and my birthday falls the day after Independence Day of Kiribati, which this year it will be Gospel Day. I will let you know how that goes.
(On Gospel day, the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches host a celebration
- a combined service is conducted by one of the heads of the two churches.
Following the service, the people celebrate in the maneaba with local dances, choir, and
religious songs performed by different groups from the two churches.
I am so excited for you two to be able to go to this island and help the people with ordinances and spreading the gospel. I am sure they are excited to have you. There used to be elders on Makin. Do you know why there are not any now? Because the missionary work slowed down to a point where there were no baptisms for a year, and President Larkin felt that they could be used in a different, more growing place.
My message this week is based on an eternal principle that I was reminded of as people were busy with the Katabu. It is found in many places but I'm going to start with 1 Nephi 16:29 "Ao e a koreaki te koroboki ae boou iaoia, ae e maataata aron warekana, are e anganiira the atatai n aron ana mwakuri te Uea; ao e a koreaki ma ni bibitaki n taainako, ni boraoi ma waakin the onimaki ao te nanomataare ti anganna. AO TI A NOORIA IKAI BWA MAN KARAOAN BWAAI AIKA UAREREKE AO E A KONA IAI TE UEA NI KARAOI BWAAI AIKA KORAKORA." This eternal principle is by small and simple things are the great and mighty things brought to past. For example this week as members have found a problem they can't seem to find the solution but as I have asked how their reading was they have told me that it hasn't been as good and soon as they did that small thing their life was blessed immensely. I am reminded of another scripture in Alma 37:7 "Ao te Uea ae te Atua e bon mwakuri ma the kantaninga bwa e na karokoa ana babaire are kakannato man akea tokina; ao an bwaai aika a uarereke ao the uea e kaminoia aika a wanawana ma ni karekea kamaiuaia aomata aika mwaiti." I am reminded of a event in church history his name is Joseph Smith he didn’t have any wisdom but he did a small thing by praying to Heavenly Father and he was able to restore this church to the earth. I know it is by small and simple things that the great things. These things include Sacrifices sometimes some examples of small things daily individual and family prayer and scripture study, weekly family home evening, attending all of your church meetings, obeying God's commandments this sometimes means sacrificing what the world is and coming unto Christ. Some examples of these commandments include: Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, Tithing, Modesty, Sabbath, Law of the Fast, Following the Prophet, Obedience, prayer, scripture study, Baptism and confirmation staying worthy to partake of the sacrament, and obeying and honoring the law. I have seen the blessings this week as I have stayed dedicated with my scripture study. I am able to teach by the spirit easier, easier to recognize. This principle is so easily bent but the blessings are there as we keep this principle. As we Keep this principle we stay on the straight and narrow path that leads back to our Father in Heaven. When all is said and done can you say as the Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7 "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have KEPT THE FAITH." I testify that our Savior lives and loves each one of us. I testify of these things in the name of our Savior, Redeemer of the world even our elder brother Jesus Christ, Amen.
HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!
Sending birthday wishes to you as I'm here! Hope your birthday goes well. One tradition here when they sing the song: Happy Birthday to you! is the first chorus followed by Happy long life to you! and the third chorus being in Kiribati Ko na tekeraoi! ( you will have good luck). We have been here in Butaritari we are planning on teaching him (the man they found last week after praying) tomorrow. I did find out what my companion's favorite candy is. He loves chocolate with either peanut butter or caramel. In the picture last week, the older lady was flattening pandanus leaves for the Kiai. We are going to help her again tomorrow. You asked about how many shirts I have left of the 18 you sent me with. White shirts here in Butaritari is three, in Tarawa I think three. The hammock is very comfortable and stretchy.
I hope everyone is doing well and is healthy. This week we continued lessoning (teaching) with our investigators and we should be having four or five baptisms coming up at the start of next month which is exciting.
I'm doing great here and work is moving along. I'm still here in Butaritari because we are trying to finish up our investigators before we move for awhile. We plan on going the first week of July to Makin. I'm excited because that means a change.
My spiritual message for this week comes from 2 Nephi 4:34. I love this scripture as Nephi tells us what we should do so that we can receive eternal life. "O te Uea, I a tia n onimakiniko, ao N na onimakiniko n aki toki. N na aki katoka au onimaki iaon te iriko; bwa I ataia bwa e na maraia ane e onimakina te iriko. Eng, e na maraia ane e katokaa ana onimaki iaon to aoata ke e onimakina the korkora airon the aomata." It tells that we need to put our faith in our Savior Jesus Christ and as we do we will receive the help and power to do anything. This I testify of in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
2 Nephi 4:34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
Well this week can be summed up in three phrases: E bwaka te karau (Rained), E roko ara bwakiti ao te Taabati e nakoroai (our package came and Sunday went well), ao Iai te rongorongo ma Tarawa (there is news from Tarawa).
Before I talk about my week I will answer your questions first:
How are discussions going?
This last week or the week before we found this family who was ready to hear the gospel and this last Sunday we were upfront about it and invited them to church and they came we are going to see later in this week how it goes.
Are people receptive?
The culture of Kiribati is if you are a missionary, white, or a guest. They will invite you to sit down and listen to your message. The hard part for us is determining who is a progressing investigator and who needs to be dropped or needs a little more time.
How are you doing in your leadership position?
It can be stressful but I can definitely say that this is what has grown me the most in these last two months and having to do a lot more. One thing that I have found this last week is stress is opposite joy, success, faith, and trust. As I have put my faith and trust in the Lord I have found the extra strength and success in the field of the missionary.
Are you able to keep the stress to a minimum?
I have tried my best and the best solution has been praying for that help and strength.
What is one good thing that has happened for you personally this week?
When your investigator accepts a baptismal date and is excited to come to church the next week.
One good thing as a companionship?
When as a companionship the lesson and unity starts to go well and is easy to follow the Holy Ghost.
How is the Church growing there in Butaritari?
Little by little but the best way we have found is when you tract you try and teach a whole family as that is how the church is run and it is easier for them to keep the commitments.
How does Fast Sunday work there on Butaritari?
We hire the car for the first Sunday and we go to Kuma as the Mwaneaba is bigger up there and is easier to fit everyone. We take the car to Ukiangang at 8:00 if it is on time and get there by 10 10:30 and start church at 11 and have sacrament meeting, primary/Sunday school, then you have Priesthood and Relief Society. Then we get back on the car at 1 and go back to our house and start normal proselyting.
Do you have to conduct multiple sacrament meetings?
If we do not hire the car we have about 4 to 5 because how long the island is.
Or do you hire cars to bring everyone in centrally?
We do this once a month as the cars are expensive.
What is one thing we might not know about your companion?
What his favorite candy is.
What do you like best about your companionship?
That we can get the most done out of our day as we work our hardest and when your lesson falls through we are able to come up with a backup plan.
What do you need to work on as a companionship?
Unity in teaching is struggling a little bit because we have different styles and have figured the balance little by little. It's still not perfect as we are not yet perfect.
Is there anything we can focus our prayers or fasting on for you or the people you're serving?
That word of wisdom problems can be overcome as it is huge problem here with the Koben (tobacco with imitation vanilla, and toothpaste), smoking, and beer from yeast, karewe, etc..
E bwaka te karau (Rained)
I have officially decided that it is rainy season. This last week it has rained every day and last Saturday, it rained pretty much all day. Not just a sprinkle, but a very good downfall for a couple of hours.
A roko ara bwakiti ao te Taabati e nakoroai (our package came and Sunday went well)
Thank you so much for sending out that package! I got it yesterday on Sunday. The bag has been nice to use so far, the hammock I'm going to set up today and send a pic next week. Ties thank you as I have been giving mine way to Aaronic priesthood brethren who don't have ties. A little side note - can you send some more white shirts as I have given some of those away too? Phase 10 game - haven't played it with Kiribati people yet but they should be good at it. Acne pads have worked so far no problems yet, toothbrush I'm about ready to switch out, chap-stick thank you, drink mixes thank you can't wait to use them, the snacks I'm excited to eat one today. Sunday went well with a just a little hiccup with the car being late, but still we were able to get there on time. Had a church attendance of 52 and we were able to get 5 investigators there! Hopefully we can get some more next week. And I love the power of prayer! We had time to go tracting for a little bit and I had no clue where to go and so I prayed to my Heavenly Father and this image came to my mind of this path that I have seen before but I forgot where. I asked again is it maiang ke maiaki? (North or South?) 'Maiang'. We start biking and as we are biking I'm looking for this path. We get to the counselor's and I ask nuka ke te atai (center or the right) 'nuka'. We keep biking. I ask again as we pass the Kamatu maiang riki? 'Eng'. We keep biking and we get to Vasikano and I remember this person that was really nice. As I approached the trail to his house, I saw the trail I had seen in my mind and asked aei te kawai? (is this the path) 'Eng'. We found a nice, older gentlemen who was ready to hear the gospel and actually prayed with us. Even though he was Catholic he prayed and closed our lesson!
Iai te rongorongo ma Tarawa (there is news from Tarawa)
So I load my email this Monday morning and I found a message from the Assistants to the President. "So we would like you Elders to go work in Makin for a couple of weeks. There is a house for elders over there and there is a family that is waiting to be taught and baptized as well as some kids of members that need to be baptized. We would like you to go over there for about 2 weeks to work with the people there and then come back to Butaritari. If there is a lot of work for you guys over in Makin then you can possibly go back every 2 weeks or at least once a month. The ideal way of transport would be on a plane, which the tickets shouldn't be too expensive. Please if you can pay for them and keep the tickets so you can get a refund. You can leave whenever you would like! Please let us know though when you will be travelling and if you have any questions." Wow! This is a surprise because that means our area is possibly expanding! Well that is awesome and can't wait to go! Still waiting to hear from the Assistants to the Presidents when they want us to go out there.
Message for the week:
Comes from the Bible from the book, 2 Corinthians 5:7 in Kiribati it says this "Bwa ti nakonako n te onimaki, ao ti aki n ane noraki" One of the purposes of this life is to walk by faith and the way we do that is by following our Savior Jesus Christ and following his commandments and teachings. I know that God loves us and cares for each one of us. I love my Savior and Redeemer because I know that it is only through him that we can be saved and receive the Celestial Glory. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that we have a Prophet that leads and guides this church and his name is President Thomas S. Monson. I also want to testify about the power of prayer; that as you pray with all your heart, might, and strength, and if it be for a good purpose, you can receive it. I know this as I have seen it throughout this week. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight:
Grammy Gayle and Pal:
Mom said you'd wondered how the "construction" and repairs were going. I attached a picture of the door and how I tied it on. I first untied all of the rope on the door and retied so it was a lot sturdier. Then I lashed it to a pole to act as a hinge since there are no hinges here. All those Boy Scout knots have come in handy. I will send the picture of the house we just finished in the next email as we are working on building another one.
Elder Samuel Haycock
I am called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This blog is about my adventures in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ for the next two years in the Republic of Kiribati.
Rachel Haycock - I am the mother of 6 amazing children and the lucky wife of a dear, sweet man. I love to write, read, cook, teach and sew. I hope you feel the Spirit of the Lord as you read about Elder Haycock's adventures in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.