It is so crazy how much time has flown and all of the new changes that have came in this past week! As you have heard, as I have been assigned as the new Bikenibeu District Leader. All I can say is that at first I was overwhelmed - but can I say I am thankful for a Mission President that leads this work and that I can talk to him. I can testify in the power of a Priesthood Blessing. So many cool things that he shared with me and I can testify that I am loved by my Heavenly Father and that he knows me and knows how to stretch me. I am so excited for this change! So a little bit about our district... I am over all of Bikenibeu. There 4 Elders and 4 Sisters. That makes us 8 total in this district. Should be lots of fun! Sorry for not emailing you all last week. The internet was out in Bairiki. So I wasn't able to email. But I have sent a letter explaining what happened last week as time is almost up. I want to say that I love you all and will try and send some pictures to you all as internet is slow this week.
Bikenibeu 2 West
Letter dated 30 April 2018
Thanks for sending me that note. I can testify to that. The Lord really knows his children and knows what they need. Countless times I have been blessed by his love and mercies.
This transfer so far has been interesting. I can't tell you if it's good or bad because it has definitely had its good and bad. Definitely a different type of work here on Tarawa. I mean it's all missionary work, but the responsibility of leading a congregation is put upon the Bishop. It is so weird working with a bishop. I am loving really being able to focus on investigators and really having the members support has been so nice.
My thoughts or words of advice are found in True to the Faith under the section, "Adversity". Really a good section. I really like the section that says "trusting in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ". This section has brought peace to mind and has prepared me to be able to face trials and sufferings. I know that through Him we can receive all strength to face the opposition. I testify of those things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Betio 2nd East
Thanks for your letter I got it last Friday. Thanks for the counsel you've shared with me. I am going to try and implement it into my teaching with less actives. We have this less active we are trying to help come back, but he seems to always defer it. I'll have to work on that.
Highlight for the week would have to be running into Bonibwatio. Just his firm testimony and his commitment to the gospel. We started lessoning with their son and it was like we were teaching with a member present. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all his children and when they will receive the gospel. I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father who appreciates me and knows what I need. I know that my Heavenly Father is at the head and that His son, Jesus Christ, leads and guides the church today. I know that we have a prophet here today who receives revelation for us. A new revelation of Ministering really changes the focus to Missionary work. I know Heavenly Father is our Eternal Father and we are His children. I know that there is power in the Book of Mormon. I know it is God's word. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Do you have any cool mission experiences? How is the work? Any cool experiences with ministering? Are you still doing your soccer thing? Anything exciting planned?
Betio 2nd East
The time is getting shorter until Elder Ekaki is home again. We were reminded of that this week as we received his travel itinerary for his return trip home to Montana. It is weird to think he will be home before he leaves there because of the time difference. He will be home late on the 16th of August and we are so very excited!
We got our Mother's Day call a little early this time, but it was the best by far. I am not sure if it was because it is the last one before he comes home, or if it was because the technology actually worked this time. It was wonderful! He looked healthy and happy to see us. We were not all able to talk with him - Allan and Nathan were hurrying back from a soccer game 2 hours away - and missed it. His wrist is healing and he has good movement, but was fighting a sore throat and headache that had gone through the apartment earlier last week. We spoke about how strange it was for him to be surrounded by so many people. He has missed being on an outie being away from so many people and the quietness of it. The little city he is in has roughly 17,000 people in about 1/2 a square mile of land compared to his last area of 1,000 people in and area of 4.5 square miles. He says sometimes he gets a little panicky when the people are so close to him. Chicken has been hard to get used to eating as he's had mostly fish, rice and sand worms for the last 21 months to eat. He says the hardest part is eating the chicken knowing they'll probably get sick because it is under-cooked. He is loving working in a ward now with functioning Priesthood and Relief Society - they are all excited to help the missionaries and are great sources for referrals for the missionaries to teach. Personally, I am so very thankful that he is having this experience before he gets ready to come home. I am grateful that Heavenly Father knows him so well to give him opportunities to re-acclimate to life outside of the mission. He confirmed to us that he is leaving Tarawa on August 16th and arriving in Belgrade, Montana on August 16th after going back in time flying over 26 hours to get home. He is sad to be leaving - he loves the people, but he is also happy to be coming home.
The next day, we received an email from him:
Yes it was great to see you all. Well it sucks when your companion is sick and out for three days. So this week was blah. However one of our investigators started coming to church! So exciting! He has made so much progress! We are going to extend him a date this week to be baptized. Investigators are great!
Definitely something I am trying to work on this week has been frustration. But all things will all work out in the end. There is a reason for all things. I know that God gives me challenges so that I can grow. I know all will be for my good in the end I just have to endure. I want to say that I love you all and thanks so much for the Skype. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Betio 2 East
Letter Dated 16 April 2018
Ngkami kam uara? (How are you doing?) Sorry that it has been a while since I have written. Mainly because I have the internet now, and also because I was out of paper. Yep, so here is the start of a new trend.
I can officially say that I have been in Betio for 1 week. It has been a blast, but I am still having a hard time with the amount of people in our small area. It freaks me out sometimes not knowing where I am in the city. We have found this week 15 new investigators, but yet there is a lot more houses that we have not been to. The other thing that has been nice is to actually be working in a ward that is excited about missionary work. Just this past Sunday, we got a new ward mission leader so things should be picking up here.
Spiritual highlight of the week: We were lessoning (teaching) with this couple named Ubwaitoi and Kabo. Super excited to lesson and really want to learn more about the gospel. We gave them a Book of Mormon and Nei Kabo said at the end of the lesson that "It is my job to read and to pray about the Book of Mormon." This was the first time in forever that someone has said that. I know that there is power in the Book of Mormon. I know that we can receive truth from our Heavenly Father. I know the Book of Mormon is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Betio 2 East
Wow what a week this has been! It has been packed with fun and disaster. I can tell you it has been different living with other elders, but it also makes it nice because everyone helps each other. I really like how everyone in our house is really obedient. I definitely can tell that we are being blessed as a district because of it. The work is progressing and investigators are making progress - so rewarding and so exciting to witness. I will work better at trying to get photos - it is just hard sometimes because there is nothing exciting to take pictures of. Well.... our house has been sick this last week with migraines and tonsillitis. Thank goodness I haven't had those....
Physical Highlight of the Week:
We just finished our blitz in the Sisters area (of the ward), and we were on our way back and were going to catch a bus. Well the cement over the sewer system/ drainage system has holes big enough to fit my foot through. Well what do you know? I stepped into one perfectly causing me to fall on to my wrist hard. I attached a picture of what it looked like on Wednesday. Thank goodness it is not broken! But do have say it is sprained - might even have bruised the ligaments.
Spiritual Highlight of the week:
We were finally able to get a time with this investigator named Bwerea and her husband - who is a less active - Rataro. Such a neat family! They made comments to us that they want us there and they want to learn more about the gospel. He stated, Rataro, that he wants to come back. I can say that patience brings blessings even if we don't see them first hand. I testify He lives and because of that so can we. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Betio 2nd East
PS: I am finishing up letters this week to be sent. Sorry if this is short.
So excited to be able to talk to you this week! This week has been awesome as we have been able to add three golden families to our teaching pool this week. I will share the experience with one.
Binobwatio ma Tibera:
We received a referral from the Sisters in our ward and they told us that he was in our area in the Mwaneaban Beru - who they received from a member - so in all... a member referral. We contacted him and we contacted his wife and we found out that he's still drunk because he just drank the night before. So we were a little disappointed, but we decided that we will set up a return appointment for that Sunday (BTW this is Friday) @ 6:00 PM. Well after we set up that time, there were a bunch of teenagers in the mwaneaba. One of them called us over and said that they wanted to lesson or hear more about the gospel. Super exciting! We taught them a lesson when we were interrupted at the end by Binobwatio who came to apologized for being drunk and then he told us that this was his last time drinking. We told him that we would visit him on Sunday at 6:00 PM. He also asked what time church was and that he would come to church. Well Sunday came around and our Sacrament Meeting starts at 8:00 AM. We were blessed to have 7 of our investigators there one of which was Binobwatio! Super happy on the inside! We go to our appointment scheduled and he explained that he has investigated the church before, but decided to go a different way and was lost. But now he is super thankful that we have found him so that he could be converted to this gospel. He told us that while he was preparing for the Sabbath, that he was preparing hot water for tea and he decided right then that he was going to keep Tuan te Mauri (Word of Wisdom). I am so thankful that Heavenly Father has kept an eye out for me. Their only problem at the moment is they have not yet been married, but that is being taken care of tomorrow and should be able to be baptized in three weeks. She, Tibera, is actually a member baptized in the 1988, we are double checking because when we were introducing ourselves, they told us that they desire to be sealed in the temple! I was not expecting that response. I can testify that they are ready though.
My thought for you to think about comes from ALMA 36: 3
Adversity is part of life and we have to know that it is not the end of life. Without it there is no growth. I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. That He lives and we can be cleaned through Him. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Betio 2nd East
We got a gaggle of letters from Elder Haycock today.
Letter dated MARCH 5, 2018
Missionary update....I am so thankful for a spare! I'll explain. Run down of the letter: Baptism, Spare, Spiritual Experience and a Spiritual Thought for the blog.
Baptism: I am so thankful for Heavenly Father's tender mercies. He gave us this daughter of God that was ready to be baptized. Her name is Tiau. She is a mother of a six year old daughter, is great friends with Reina, is divorced and done with the whole "man thing". She has been investigating the church for a couple of years but things have not worked out until now. I guess Heavenly Father has his own timing that we need to trust.
Spare: I LOVE my companion Elder Brinkworth - even if he loses my glasses in the ocean. Let me say that I am thankful I had a spare pair of glasses that I brought here with me. The only problem is I am missing a nose pad so I wear them with no nose pads to fit better. In my next package, can you send me something for him - like candy or along those lines. He is a good companion.
Spiritual Experience: Well, this one happened during my personal study. You know how sometimes you can be studying something, but you are learning something completely different than what you are reading? So I was reading from the book, "Our Search for Happiness" - I really enjoyed reading it, but I got a different lesson from it. My thoughts were drawn to "how well do I know Jesus Christ? Am I living His gospel? " Really it was a time I had to personally reflect on what I need to do better - a time of personal reflection. That means goal #3 and #4 are accomplished - I forgot to insert this - I finished the Old Testament again this past Wednesday, and I really liked the book of Daniel. He was so loved by Heavenly Father, and I finished Our Search for Happiness - a book I suggest everyone read.
Spiritual Thought: It comes from Alma 7: 14 - 15
14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
I really like this scripture because it is a daily reminder of what we need to do to be clean. I would like to change the last wording a bit to "and witness it unto him this day by going to church and partaking of the sacrament."
I know that my Redeemer lives. Through His blood I can receive cleansing from my sins. I testify that this Church has been restored through Joseph Smith, a prophet of God. I testify that God still leads and guides His church through a prophet today, President Russell M. Nelson. I know the Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and that power comes from it when we read from it. I testify that we can receive personal revelation through prayer. I know God lives and loves us and wants what is best for us. We can receive help through prayer. I testify of these things, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated MARCH 12, 2018
Time to spice it up! I'm doing things a little backward - I am explaining my week with scriptural insights - so bear with me.
Monday, 5 March: Matthew 7:13-14
Tuesday, March 6: Matthew 18:1-4
Wednesday, 7th of March: Matthew 20:1-6
Thursday, 8 March: Mark 10:25-27
Friday, 9 March: Luke 2:10-14
Saturday, 10 March: Luke 6:35-38
Sunday, 11 March: Luke 12:5
Midnight call: So last night, after going to bed at 10, I was having a dream, when I was woken up by Noa. His wife needed a blessing. I got dressed in a white shirt and dress pants and went to see what was needed. She was complaining of pain in her thorax (I am assuming he forgot the word for chest haha!) I was able to give her a blessing. It is so interesting when the Spirit speaks through you. I had no clue what I was going to say before I started, but when I heard what I was saying, it surprised me because it was in perfect Kiribati.
This pretty much sums up my week. The plan is to go to Aranuka this Wednesday. Hopefully that works out. The work is moving along slowly, but surely. Other than the above experience, all that happened is just like any other week in working as a missionary.
I tangiria n kaoti nakoimi bwa I tangiringkami. Ao, I ataia bwa te aro aci, Ana Ekaretia Iesu Kristo ibukiia aika Itiaki ni Boong aika kaitina bon aban uean te Atua Ti kona ni karelsea te kamaiuaki iai iroun Iesu Kristo ara tia kamaina. Morariki E maiu Ao tikona n Neoa te Atua n arana. N na kaungaiia nanomi bwa kam na teimatoa n te tataro ma te wareware n Ana Boki Moomon. Bwai aikai a angi ni kakawaki. Ng Kana ti aki karaoia ti kaoti nakon te Atua ti aki tangiria ana Kakabwaia. Titebo ti ririba te Atua. I rangini Karabwarabwa ibukin ana Mwakuri ni Kamain Iesu. Ibukina bwa e atia ni mate ibukina ao tenibong imwiina e uti man te mate. I ataia bwa te Atua e tangiringkami. Ao Ngaia bon Tamara are i karawa. Ngaira natina. Ti riai ni ongeaba nakon ana tua ni kabane. Kam na kekeiaki ma n Teimatoa n ua te toki. I tangiringkami ao I mitiningkami. Ao I atongi bwaai aikai n aran ara Tia Kabomwi, Iesu Kristo, Amen.
PS - Translation will be found in the next letter...
Letter not dated, but definitely follows the above letter, so we are guessing somewhere 17th or 18th of March.
This week has been full of events. We were finally able to fly to Aranuka. Heavenly Father is mindful of his children. He has prepared some people for us to teach. The one thing I am really happy about is this one person named Ieumwa. He has finally grown up and is now acting like a man and caring for his family. He actually came to church this week - marking his fourth week of activity. I am so happy!
I had one really good personal study and have included a quote. I can testify that Jesus Christ cares for me. I have felt his love for me. Lately I have had many chances to use the priesthood to bless the sick. It is really an awesome feeling when the Holy Ghost whispers through you and you know exactly what to say in perfect Kiribati. The feeling of happiness is so amazing.
My spiritual thought comes from Ephesians 6:11-18. I testify of the importance of having the armor of God on at all times. I know that through our faith in Christ, we can do all things.
Translation of my testimony from last week: "I want to tell all of you that I love you. And I know this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the kingdom of God. We can receive the saving grace through Jesus Christ our Savior. Moreover, He lives and we can praise God in His name. I ask you that you will stay firm in praying and reading the Book of Mormon. These things are extremely important. If we don't do them, we show that we don't love His blessings - same as if we hate God. I am so thankful for His Atonement, Jesus Christ. Because I know that He has already died for us and three days later he lives. I know that God loves you and He is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. We must keep His commandments. We need to hang in there and endure to the end. I love and miss you. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, Amen.
Kam na bane ni Mauri,
Can you believe that today marks 4 months left? It seems like yesterday I was just being dropped off at the MTC. Anywhoooo - update for Mother's day skype will be for me the 6th of May at 1:00pm. So for you it will be the 5th of May at 6:00pm.
I got it last Saturday! Thanks so much! It came just at the right time! I believe everything made it. The mac and cheese was SO GOOD I had one yesterday. The cheese was so nice.
What is new in your world?
New things 1. Chicken is the main diet here - so weird.
2. being in a house that has electricity.
3. Being assigned to a ward.
How different is it to be serving in a more populated area?
Well let me say that there are so many people here and our area is so small, but you can easily run into a thousand people in one day. The surprising thing is how many people have not heard of the Gospel that are right here in Betio. The other hard thing is that you also have to fight the problem with people working Monday through Saturday so the hours of 5 to 7 are extremely busy to schedule appointments to teach and frustrating sometimes when lessons don't go through.
How is working with Elder Seffker again?
It has been fun cause we can share more of the lesson and really honestly be able to do splits.
What are your responsibilities now?
Right now I am the companion of the District Leader. I am actually the Junior companion for a little bit. Really just trying to be an example for the District.
How many other missionaries are you with?
There are 6 of us in the Betio House and in our District 12 of us - 6 Elders and 6 Sisters.
What is your living situation like now?
Fine, but I can say it is weird having a fridge, a fan, a stove, a sink, running water - it is still crazy. Yeah but it has been super nice though to see other faces and work with other people.
Any more experiences you can share?
I don't want to give the experience I shared in my letter. So looking back to last week, we have this couple named Eana and Tebwebweia - super awesome couple - his only problem was smoking, so we extended a commitment for him to stop by the 14th of April. I am so proud of him! I was able to check back up on the 15th and he told us that he hadn't smoked and his wife testified of it. I testify that there is power from prayer and I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Betio 2nd East
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.