Elder samuel haycock's
bringing the light of the gospel to the people of kiribati
Elder samuel haycock's
Finally there's internet! So excited that I can talk to you all! An update: I am doing great and I am really enjoying the work here. The members are great and are really helpful in pushing forward the work. Heavenly Father really knows his children and what they need especially when it comes to hearing of the gospel. We arrived in Aranuka on the 13th of March, and were blessed with someone that wanted to have lessons whose parents were supporting her decision - even though they were of another religion. We plan on having three baptisms this week! Super excited as the the Lord's work is moving forward and cannot be stopped. We were also blessed to be visited by the East Zone Leaders and helped us out with our work and really helped to encourage us to keep trying our best. Hopefully they will send some pictures, as I know that is important to you. Well sorry this is short....
I want to end with my testimony that I know that this church has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith, that he was a prophet of God, and that my redeemer lives and loves me and wants what is best for me. I know that God is at the head of everything and has power over everything. He knows and understands his children. I encourage you if you are not reading the Book of Mormon, to start reading it now. It will help us to be protected against the adversary. I know that Russell M. Nelson is God's prophet that lives now. That he leads and guides our church in these days. I know He lives! He is my Savior and through our faith through Him we can be saved and receive eternal joy. I testify of these things in His name, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Later in the week, Elder Jackson - one of the East Zone Leaders - emailed his mom and she graciously shared some of it with us.
From Elder Jackson:
Mauri family and friends!!
This past week was adventurous!! We went on a super cool exchange to an island called Aranuka! We went on an adventure through the forest, cut sticks for building a house as a service, flew back on a private plane, and brought people unto Christ! Missions are the best.
So my companion and I have been so excited this past week to go on our exchange to an outter island called Aranuka. We went and visited Elder Brinkworth and his companion Elder Haycock. It was lots of fun to see Elder Brinkworth again because he was living in the same house as me before he went out to Aranuka. It was so fun working with him! He said it was just nice to hear another voice speaking english besides his companion's. He's been deprived, but he'll be okay.
While we were out in Aranuka we went and cut sticks with an investigator to help build his house. We went to the forst and cut leaves off of coconut fronds as material for the elevated platform for his house. While we were cutting sticks the man called us to come over to a hole in a rock. He told us to look inside and there was a coconut crab the size of a football in there! He took awhile teaching us how to smoke it out. It didn't come out but we had fun!
The day that we were trying to leave back to Tarawa from Aranuka we were waiting in the airport for awhile. Elder Haycock took me to go skip rocks for awhile on the beach. Then he said there is a cool mud pond he wanted me to see. We went deep into the forest along a bike path and we came to this mud pit that natives say is bewitched. I didn't really believe it but I saw a green fish in the pond so that was cool. Maybe thats about as bewitched as his pond gets ha. It was a cooler sight to see the 30 foot tall mangrove trees around the mud pit though. THAT was amazing! They looked like aspen trees.
When we finally got back to the airport a private plane flew in to take a sick person off the island to the airport. Problem was that the engines werent starting back up properly! The plane was there so long that the regularly scheduled plane came in. The airport agent swapped our places with the sick lady so she could get to the hospital sooner. That meant we got to fly in on the private plane. That was neat!
Lesson of the week: I was tracting with Elder Brinkworth and we came up to a 50 year old man's house who was holding a bucket of water. I told him that looked heavy and we carried it for him over to his pigs. He started talking to us for awhile. I could tell he was shy so I just started telling allll sorts of stories to keep the conversation going haha. Then his older brother came up and started talking as well. The brother worked on a ship when he was young and had been to Jerusalem and saw the house of Joseph! Wow! what cake! we used that and started telling them about the Book of Mormon story. They were interested and accepted a book of mormon and a reading in 1 Nephi 8. That was such a good tract! The conversation definitely related well to the gospel.
I think that is about all for this week. Thanks for tuning in! Don't forget to make someone smile today! The Book of Mormon is True! (Yes, with a capital T.) I love you all so much, I'm keeping you in my prayers!
Have a new adventure this week!
Letter dated 26 February 2018
I am writing on this paper because I am out of the writing pad. Who knew right?? Anywhooo, you probably want an update of the life of Elder Ekaki in Kuria. Let me break down my letter. There will be a week summary, a culture update, an experience - both physical and spiritual - and of course a spiritual thought followed by my testimony.
Week Summary: To be honest it has been hard to proselyte without a bicycle. But, Heavenly Father knows our problem and has given us an investigator, Tiau, who we can walk to to teach. Really it is a tender mercy. The plan for this coming week with her is for her to be baptized this Saturday. This week we also had the chance to visit some members really the plan for this week is to visit all of them before we leave for Aranuka. That sums up the week.
Culture Update: I've decided every culture is different. To help us all be on the same page so everyone can understand the difficulty of having culture above government, I will start with the basics in everywhere in Kiribati.
First, is how the power is split up in the Kiribati Culture. I feel a pyramid will help explain this idea:
So the major problem is finding true investigators that genuinely want to investigate the Church. Sometimes I like being on the top, but sometimes, it is really frustrating because all they want to do is appease us. Second, if grandparents are alive...good luck. So if grandpa and grandma are Catholic, because of the culture, everyone is Catholic. "No switching religions is allowed." Only by those that are trying to find an excuse to not lesson with us is really frustrating, but does not help to eliminate bad investigators. Third, when people are talking. It is rude to walk through them (past them). So to avoid being hated you need to bow your head and say "mata uninga" (excuse me - literal translation = eyes pillow). Now let us move on to individual cultures of Kiribati. There are three major groups: Itera Maiaki (South), Nuuka (Middle) ao Meang (North):
South - Everyone stays in their house and property is a big thing that you don't cross. You don't visit people. Houses must be clean and well kept. You must have sleeping mats. There is a very strict adherence to the culture of old.
Middle - They are known for Taetae buaka (talking in vulgar, swearing, and all around bad language). Also doing really inappropriate actions and body gestures. Culture has changed a lot. It used to be that when the water bowl was started, everyone stopped eating.
North - A different language, because it was not established like the other islands. A complete opposite of the southern culture. Where you are supposed to meet everyone and everyone shares. More open.
Here's the breakdown:
Story Time: I feel like it has been a long time since you have heard stories from my mission. So this week I will share two - a physical trial/experience and an uplifting spiritual experience.
Physical - It is like any other day. Wake up at 6:30 AM, pray, exercise, shower, breakfast, studies, lunch, and go proselyte. Well after I was done showering, the dog by the house took one of my shoes and hit it. I couldn't find it. End of lunch I still couldn't find it and we really needed to go and work. So we did. We walked to the main village which is Bouatoa from Oneeke. It is an hour and a half walk on a hot, dusty, rocky, unpaved road. I walked barefoot because...you know...no bicycles and no shoes because I lost one. All I can say is my feet got a nice workout and were sore the the next few days. I did find my shoe before I went to bed. Turns out Tangita put it on my buia.
Spiritual - Yesterday was Sunday and I am again in a place where there is no branch - only a unit. Basically I am the Branch President and I am designated to lead and guide the Church here on this island. So while I was conducting and announcing who was speaking, the Holy Ghost whispered to me that Noa and Tangita need to share their testimonies. Another weird thing was when I was speaking. Words kept coming out in perfect Kiribati. I would open my mouth and the words would flow. Really a blessing. Noa asked me why I called on him to speak. I told him it was the Holy Ghost. Then he thanked me for following that prompting.
Geography of Kuria
My spiritual thought for this week comes from the Book of Lamentations. Yep. That small book in between Jeremiah and Ezekiel that is a total of 5 chapters. It is Lamentations 3:22-32; 40 - 41. It says:
22 ¶ It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
I found this passage of scripture when I was studying the Old Testament and really liked the feeling that I got from it that I want to focus on. It is that God does have a plan for each of us. The problem we are sometimes faced with is accepting and following His plan. Sometimes we want to force our way on God, when in reality, we should be looking at aligning our will with God's. The other thing we are sometimes frustrated with is that it is not instantaneous or we think sometimes that it would be easier if it was a specific way. It reminds me of a scripture in 1 Nephi 9:6:
6 But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.
It is pretty self explanatory that God knows everything and does have a plan for all of us. I want to end by bearing my testimony that I know this gospel is true. I love its simplicity. I testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Church was restored through him. I testify that Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God and lives and guides the Church. I testify that there is power in prayer. When we pray, we really do talk to Heavenly Father. I know that my Redeemer lives, that he has paid the price of my sins and that I can be made clean again through him as I partake of the Sacrament each week and use the Atonement. I testify that the Book of Mormon is true and is the Word of God. I testify that God knows everything and is infinite in His power. I know he really does have a pan for us and it is our job to follow His plan. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
1. Church Pants
2. White Shirts
3. Mac and Cheese
4. Drink Mixes
5. Gummy Bears
I'm so happy that I can send this small message. To you all. I want to say I love you all. I can't wait to hear from you next week. I hope you got the message about my needs. Pics are too big but this is a quick message.
Do you think he had enough postage? Two letters in a week was such a blessing! We have devoured his words and relished in them. Read on:
Letter Dated 11 December 2017
This week was interesting as I am trying to run a group, lesson, and still train my companion. It has been a little rough on me when investigators and members decide they would rather break God's commandments than be happy and follow his commandments. Monday was a nice day that I could let out some of the stress and be prepared for this coming week. I did get a haircut also as it was bugging me how it touched my ears. Tuesday was a normal work day where I was able to get all of my studies and start handing out invitations. Wednesday was a big waste of time as we had a district meeting Tearinibai which this time we took a boat to. It took us two hours to get there and then we traveled back at noon time. It felt like forever. Thursday Kain te aro (LDS) decided that they wanted to bootaki and start learning their dance for the kakiritimati. Friday, weekly planning day, it was really good and worth the time. Saturday, we spent a lot of the time just visiting members and fixing word of wisdom problems. Really that is what the big catch is right now with everyone being so close to baptism. It is just the smoking. Sunday was better a little we got almost all of the kids to come. Not very many adults came to church. If everyone came it should be high 70's low 80's for attendance.
My spiritual thought for the week is this, "E uara am wareware ao kamatebwai ma ana boki Moomon?" (How is your reading and studying of the Book of Mormon?) I have found that as my investigators read from the Book of Mormon, they receive strength from Heavenly Father and they were able to keep their committments such as smoking, coming to church, etc. I testify that there is power in the scriptures. I know that in these times we need that extra protection from the adversary. We can receive that if we read and ponder daily from the Book of Mormon. I testify that the Book of Mormon is true and it is the word of God. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated 5 February 2018
This week was an emotional roller coaster....
Baptism, as I mentioned last week we had a baptism that actually happened when I scheduled it. It was of this couple Taniera and Anna. Here is their conversion story:
They have been investigating the church for a year now. Six of those months there were no missionaries on the island. Talk about Faith! They have been consistently coming to church and participating in activities. They took care of their marriage on their won. They were married on December (Ritembwa) of last year. The only thing that was holding him up was his smoking. I do have to admit that he cut it down from what it was. When I first met him, he told me his problem with smoking and instead of jumping and forcing my will, I tried something different. From past experience I have found that it works. I listened and asked questions like "When? Where? and Why?" The one question that is the most decisive is "How is your Book of Mormon study going? I want to say this is the key to conversion. I testify that there is power in the Book of Mormon. He told me his reading efforts weren't the best and that it could be better. Instead of focusing on the big problem, I found the small and simple problem. I encouraged him to read it with all of his heart. From that visit I noticed a huge difference in him. He even told me that it was a good read. That he is learning more that he did when he read it the first time. I had a thought, an impression, to set a date to stop his smoking. I followed it. I asked him when he thought he could stop smoking. He told me next month. That didn't feel right. I asked him to shorten the time. So he said the end of the month. It still didn't feel right. I then looked at my calendar. I felt impressed to give him the 24th of January as his stopping date. Once I said this the Spirit fell upon us and confirmed in our hearts that this was Heavenly Father's will. There was no doubting it was from the Holy Ghost. So, the Sunday before the 24th, he announced that he had a moninano (a vow) meaning that he decided to stop on the 24th of January. He asked for our help in prayer. To really pray for him and to be his support. Well the 24th rolled around and we asked him "How was the smoking?" He told me he stopped! I was amazed, but doubting, so I asked his wife who bore witness that it was true and now instead of smoking, he would do more proactive stuff like digging a well, reading from the Book of Mormon, or eating. After, I felt that I should give a baptism date of the 3rd of February. I want to testify that Heavenly Father has been preparing them for me to come and teach them. They testified to me that the Holy Ghost is real and it works through different people. I know that God's plan cannot be frustrated - the only condition is that is has to be on his time. He was baptized on Saturday the 3rd of February with his wife. After having a thorough interview and really seeing if they were ready. He thanked me Taniera for giving him that date to stop smoking. He testified that it couldn't be any other way. They were confirmed on the 4th of February.
Trio, well....Elder Joseph is going back to Tarawa to talk to the mission President. We are currently in a trio with Elder Brinkworth while we wait for Elder Joseph to go back to Tarawa.
Letter dated 12 February 2018
Wow, what a week! Finally productive....talk about Less Actives and Tender Mercies!!
Elder Joseph - we found out that on last Monday there was a special flight that had room for him, so he flew out Tuesday. We spent the day with him before he flew off. Then our bicycles were stolen so that dampened the work.
Tereke - Our first time going to Baurua (the southern tip), I had no clue where his house is, so we go for a while and then I look at this house. I thought, "Lets try that one." Of course it's his house. He accepted us into his house and we sat down. You could tell by the house that his life was a little out of order. He explained that it was just him, that he had a missionary out that would be coming home in March or April, a daughter in Nonouti, and a wife and 2 kids in Tarawa for school. He described to us his experience. He told us that he prayed with his full heart and really just wanted help. The next day, we showed up on his doorstep. He was so happy that we were there. After he shared his experience, it was like a mask was taken from my eyes and I saw him with 20 + other men and women dressed in Sunday clothes all coming to church and him being dressed in a white shirt and brown pants and really happy to be there. Just as quickly as it opened, it closed. I am so thankful for Heavenly Father's mercies.
Bonto - An unimwane is the name for "old man". A culture update. It is extremely rude to fart especially when you are having dinner and especially if you are in the presence of an unimwaane. Back to the story...We were having dinner at Bonto's house. Bonto is an unimwaane. Earlier that day I had octopus that was sun dried and my stomach was really hurting during dinner. I was trying so hard to hold it in, but the pain just kept increasing until I moved one of my legs because it was sore. Out pops the first fart (not silent - REALLY LOUD). I felt stuff moving so I asked for the restroom and while I was getting off the buia (house platform) another one fell out. Now I really needed to go! The panic was real. The struggle to take off my pants in time. I felt so bad for farting. I apologized, but he was laughing to hard he thought it was funny. I guess I lucked out.
Spiritual Thought - Comes from Isaiah 49:16 it says;
"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." I really like this scripture because there is a deeper meaning. First let's change it a little. Whose hands were pierced? Therefore we know the first part about Jesus Christ and that we are on his palms. The second part - walls can be changed. The atonement of Jesus Christ is key. There is no end to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I want to testify that God knows his children and loves them. We can never be out of the reach of his helping hand. I testify that we are his children. I love you all. I am so thankful for Him, Jesus Christ. I testify of these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
PS: Needs of your missionary
2. white shirts
3. mac and cheese and liquid cheese
4. gummy bears
After a long dry spell, we finally heard from Elder Haycock in the form of a very worn envelope full of letters for each member of the family. What a happy day! His words are the following:
Letter dated 19 February 2018
Mauri Tinau (mom),
I imagine you have tons of questions. Seeing that I haven't heard from you, I'll try my best to put some questions to rest.
Elder Brinkworth is my companion now and we were in a trio for a brief time with Elder Joseph since the 31st of January. A little description of him - tall, skinny, we have a similar personality. It has been fun to have someone that sees eye to eye. Only major problem is we are both pretty indecisive...
Aranuka is a small island. Very hot - especially since I am right on the equator. There are four villages and it is really dusty and dirty. We have biked the whole island and have seen it tip to tip. It is really a beautiful island. I have taken lots of pictures because I know that you would like to see pictures. Internet should hopefully be up in the next two months, but I would encourage you to write me snail mail instead.
Kuria - I got here this last Wednesday. Just one small hiccup we ran into because of reopening this island for preaching the gospel...there are no bicycles at the moment. I saw my first frog my first night here. Very interesting. They aren't really afraid of humans. It is much more dense than all the islands I have been on and is a lot cooler which doesn't make sense. These two small islands are connected by a bridge.
My spiritual thought this week for you comes from Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk entitled "Three Sisters". The part I would like to focus on is, Which one are we? Once we have decided, are we in line with Heavenly Father? How do we get there? It's simple, when we start with the small and simple daily tasks. But sometimes we get discouraged when we see the big picture. My encouragement is to focus on our small actions. Then we will surprise us at how well we did in staying faithful to God's commandments. I know that as we choose to be glad, we will be blessed to the point where we will have a desire to only do good and serve our Heavenly Father with all our heart, might and mind. I atongi bwai aikai, N aran Jesu Kristo. Amen. (I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen)
1. Church Pants
2. White Shirts
3. Mac and Cheese
4. Drink mixes
5. Pad of paper
Letter dated 19 February 2018
Mauri Tamau, (dad)
Wow, how are you? How's work? The calling as a high counselor? Any fun projects coming up? Yeah, this whole thing with opening up these two islands have been hard on me. Mainly just knowing where to start. Or where to pick up from past missionaries. Do you have any experience with white washing or reopening an area? One of the other problems is the amount of less actives on these two islands. I have counted a rough estimate of 50 families. It is so devastating. Do you have any suggestions in helping these less actives to come back ? This is what I have seen as I have been able to visit both islands and am able to finally pass judgment on what needs to be done.
One thing I want to testify of is God's love for his children. He also knows when they are ready. For example in Aranuka, Taniera ma Anna - a couple that got baptized the 3rd of February. Since I have been here, we have received a referral of a super cool lady who came to church and all should be baptized this week or the week after.
The other thing I'm thankful for is God's mercies to me. For example, allowing me to work here, showing me spiritual pictures, thoughts, impressions, His spiritual gifts to me like discernment, listening, faith, tongues, and so many more I can't name right now at this time.
I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father that leads and guides me every day. I know my Savior lives and loves me and has atoned for me. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated 19 February, 2018
(Lots of personal questions we won't post here, but it was followed by some great testimony)
...."I'll explain why I wanted to serve a mission. Ever since I was little I have always wanted to serve one. The best thing I can say to help you be ready to serve a mission is to one: develop a daily routine of prayer and scripture. Actually have a testimony and be converted to the Gospel, something I wish I had developed one more firmer before I left so I could build off it. Two: the Book of Mormon is your best friend. Learn it and Love it. Don't forget Preach My Gospel goes hand in hand with it. I love you and can't wait to hear from you."
(again, lots of personal questions and some advice may be left out below because of the nature of the advice...but nonetheless, it is great advice.)
....some advice for you, since it has been a long time since I have talked to you. 1. Please only go on group dates........4. Have fun and enjoy high school 5. God is first, family is second, and friends are third. 6. Book of Mormon study it everyday. 7. Daily prayer morning and evening 8. Keep God's commandments. 9. Prepare for a mission 10. Smile and make the best use of what you have. 11. Don't worry about other people's mistakes. We are all not perfect. 12. Develop Charity, Hope and Faith 13. USE THE ATONEMENT.
Some of these things I have taken for granted. My suggestion is to use them to your fullest ability. I can promise you will be blessed. I want you to know how much God loves you as a child of God. Au Bubuti (my plea) is that you will listen to our parents and really follow God's plan for you. I know my Savior lives and I know I can be free from guilt and pain. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
It has been a long time. First off, I want to thank you for sending me that song. What things are new in your woods? I don't know why I am writing this but I will follow what I am told. Sometimes I have bad days. Days that I am upset, days that I am sad, and even some times days when I want to give up and hide in a corner. I have found the following to work the best. It comes from "Meet the Robinsons" and it goes like this: "KEEP MOVING FORWARD". I would also like to add a quote here from Elder Neil F. Marriot, "IT WILL ALL WORK OUT". I know it can be tough, I can promise you it is true. Let me share an experience from my journal:
"I was assigned to re-open Aranuka and Kuria with Elder J who is from the Marshall Islands. He just came this week and is not good at the language yet. We are basically a white washing (both missionaries are new to the area with no information/contacts yet) and training combo. To be honest, I am terrified and nervous not knowing where to start or how to help him comprehend. I arrive in Aranuka and things go great. I get along with the Branch President, some members and now I am super excited to go and work. Well, turns our my companion has different ideas. To make the story short, I spent two weeks not being able to work, being frustrated by his laziness and loss of desire to work. But I pushed through it. Since I pushed through that hard and frustrating time, I have been blessed with 2 baptisms."
I know God knows each one of us. He knows what we need. The only thing He desires is that we talk to Him. I encourage you to KEEP MOVING FORWARD, because I know IT WILL ALL WORK OUT! Don't fret what other people think - just stay positive and do what counts. I love you! I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
How are you? I am doing great! It has been fun under the sun...I want to hear from you - tell me a story!
Top Ten Foods:
1. Sandworms - especially dried
2. Octopus - in soup
3. Bonefish - Ikari ae Tinimaki (barbecued)
4. Tuna - fried
5. Mai - fried, in soup, boiled and with sugar
8. Tuai - dried Pandanus fruit
9. Manta Ray
I want to tell you I love you and I hope all is well. I am thinking of you and can't wait to hear from you!
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.