Email from 9/17/2017
There is a letter on the way about more details of the week, but overall my week has been awesome and full of experiences! Everyone is progressing to baptism. Namwaroro and Katikora came to church a half mile walk across a lagoon and Namwaroro carried her on his back. Elder Curren and I were amazed! And now he is rocking my white shirt and one of my ties you sent me! My health is great. Probably the most humbling moment this week would have to be finding out my progressing investigator is moving to Christmas Island and the fact is, I have grown to love that family and I am really going to miss them. I think I have the balance thing figured it out and it should be a lot easier when there are two more Elders here to help.
Woke up to a post from Elda Ekaki's mission President's wife, Sister Larkin. I watched briefly and then realized, with great joy, that one of the young Elders dancing was our son! Tender mercies of the Lord to be able to see him moving and enjoying the people he loves to serve. We combined all 4 videos into one and posted it here for you to see and enjoy as well!
Letter dated August 14, 2017
Mauri Au utu,
Ngkami Kam vara? (How are you doing?) Ngkai, I kekaki ibukin ba te wiiki aei. Kanoana te wiiki e bobota iaonte Tangira Ae Konoraoi. (Right now, I am hanging in there because of this week. This week I have learned more what charity really is.) The best way I can describe this week is stressful, but in the end with a high reward. I have never had this much stress as I did this last week. The stress of being a Branch President when you are only 19 years old ... It is very difficult to find balance, to please everyone and strengthen all 80+ members (all new converts), while trying to teach investigators at the same time.
To start things off, Elder Osborne and I returned to Kainaba on Tuesday afternoon as that is when the waa goes back to Kainaba. We went back to the house and took a bucket shower as it was high tide when we got back from Tarawa and the water came up to mid thigh trying to get back onto the island. After that we had 2 lessons and dinner scheduled at 6 and 7. We went on splits with melchezidek priesthood holders, and I was blessed to teach Temwatu ao Aroito. Really a great couple as Aroito is a member and she has not been baptized yet, our goal for her is hopefully the last week of August, but we will see if she is ready. She does come to church and she has stopped smoking, right now it is just a matter of finishing all the lessons to make sure she understands what we are teaching her. After that we ran into a little problem as one of the members got confused and thought that this was her time to cook for the Elders, so we ended up having two dinners that night so we went on splits again.
Wednesday....let's just say it was good, but could have been more productive. So we finally had a District meeting in Abaokoro. The only problem with this is it is a two hour walk if it is low tide or a three hour walk if it is high tide. Thank goodness it was low tide. We got there a little after 10 as we had service that morning with Tooti, and we left later than we thought we would. We got there and the District Leader was just barely up and taking a shower, so we actually didn't start District Meeting until 12 - nearly 2 hours after we were supposed to start. The meeting was great, but what sucked (his words, not mine..) is there were two bikes for the Elders and we had to bike all four of us down to the corner of the island where Elder Osborne and Elder Tetea could go back to Kainaba while I worked with Elder McCarthy in Abaokoro. We basically went on a split till the next day. Anyway, after we dropped them off, we went back to the house and picked up the Sisters and we went to get lunch at the hotel in Aboakoro. The cook wasn't there yet so we waited for a good hour, finally he came. We ordered and it took another hour to cook the food. We didn't finish lunch until 4! What was planned was to be working in the norther part of Aboakoro which is about a 45 minute bike ride. It was nice to get to know Elder McCarthy, but when Elder Osborne and I finally met back up we could honestly say we missed each other. I was so happy to see Elder Osborne on Thursday!
Thursday was a nice, busy day as we had Taekan te Aro and English class - we were busy and really had no time to think.
Friday we tried to help give our service to Antonio as we were trying to build a buoia, but the custom in Kiribati is that the guest, or white man, does not work. We tried our best. After that, Elder Osborne and I finally got back to the house and took showers and got ready for weekly planning. As this was Elder Osborne's last week, we started from that Sunday and planned out what major things are happening and what needs to be done so he is ready for his flight on the 21st. We were told about a Branch Conference, so we called President Atiria and he told us that there will be a waa that will pick up the members at around 4 on Friday to take them to Abaokoro. On Saturday there will be Te Mwaie (Kiribati Dancing) and then the conference on Sunday. So we originally had 8 baptisms scheduled for that Saturday. But as you can see, we ran into a little problem with timing. We were also trying to have dinner with Nei Tooti and her family, but we could not find anything that worked, so we phoned a friend who has a great understanding about the gospel and the role of missionary work. His name is Titana. A little about him - he has a wife who is 7 months pregnant and his 4 kids - the oldest being about 17 and the youngest being 4. We tried to telephone him to tell him to come to our house because we needed to talk to him, but he didn't answer, so we went to his house and asked if he could come to our house. He quickly put down his stuff that he was doing and immediately followed us. After we explained our situation, he really helped us to understand what to do. What we decided is that we would have a bowi (meeting) the next day at 10 am to get all of the members on the same page and that the Saturday before we will come back from Tarawa because Elder Osborne has an interview with President Larkin at 2 and the waa won't get back in time. We have his farewell on Thursday this week with the members from Kainaba, and we are going to eat with Nei Tooti and her family Friday night before we get on the waa to go back to Tarawa. After we made the plan, we went from end to end of the island giving the message about the bowi that next day.
Saturday.....well. I went to the bowi like we said, but the only problem is NO ONE showed up on time. So we waited. We then went and tried to get everyone to come quickly and that is when Itaia left. So we were like, "That is weird." So we had the bowi and then went and visited Itaia. I didn't face him because I was behind Elder Osborne, but after this meeting, was feeling very low and did not know what to do. What I loved is instead of panicking and blaming someone else, he went inward and communicated with his Father in Heaven. There is a spot on the island where there are no houses. We went there and asked me to give him a priesthood blessing. I was so honored that I could do that for him. After we both knelt down and offered a companion prayer. I have never felt so close to a companion until Osborne. He has helped me to reflect on myself and make me want to be a better person. After that meeting, we went and visited everyone. We were told by Itaia's wife to come back to dinner, which we did. The power of repentance is real. I have seen it. He was not the same Itaia that I met with earlier.
Sunday was a great last one for Elder Osborne. Lots of people came, especially some that have been a little more less active. In total we had 73 there, 1 YSA, 10 investigators and 9 Melchezidek priesthood holders. This next week will be fun as it is his last week. After sacrament meeting we had to leave to go get on the waa so we could get back to Tarawa. It took us about an hour.
My spiritual thought is on the power of repentance. The definition of repentance is a change of heart and changing our will to Heavenly Father's will, stopping an unrighteous action and doing a righteous action instead. I know that Heavenly Father loves us. I know that the Savior's Atonement is infinite and works for all of us. Our Savior Jesus Christ loves us and wants us to come unto him. I want all of you to know how much I love you. Keep moving forward!
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.