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!
Christmas was great! Just really getting needs today for those in Kainaba. And by the way to this point I have not been able to get my Christmas package from you still. We'll see if it is here today. The work is great and rewarding. This last week I was blessed to witness the baptism of Bwataua, Tietao, Ioane. Really cool baptism and the Spirit was there! We got a referral of a golden investigator. Really cool guy and he has the desire to be baptized by the 13th of January! My companion has the language down and I believe he is confident in speaking and he should be good when I leave at next transfer.
Quick Spiritual Thought for the week: Jacob 6:11 "O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life." We need to always repent to stay on the path that leads back to our Heavenly Father.
Sorry this is a short letter but this all the time I have today and I won't be on next week as I am spending Pday in Kainaba. Enjoy these pics! I cut hair also - if you can't tell - with a pair of sewing scissors.
Our Christmas call with Elder Haycock was one for the history books! It was the first time we had been able to see and hear him during the call. I am so very grateful that it happened this way. He shared many things with us during the call but was mostly surprised by how much his siblings had changed in height and faces and hair length as they've gotten older while he's been gone. He loves the people of Kiribati and says they are the friendliest people he has ever met. He has changed his favorite food from dried sandworms to deep fried fish (Thank Goodness!!) When he asked how cold it was here - which was -22 at the time - he said that it sounded good because it was 90 degrees there and too hot. We all laughed. The best part for me was hearing him laugh, seeing him smile and listening to him bear his testimony of the gospel in the language of Kiribati.
After our call and a few technical difficulties, he was also able to email us. We still had questions because the delay for us was roughly 20 seconds between us speaking and him hearing it. Here is the gist of our conversation:
Mauri I am back on for an hour!
Samuel A. • Sun, 3:55 PM
So you are with Elder Roberts for one more transfer? I think that's what you said...pretty good chance you'll be transferred right?
Sun, 3:57 PM
How was the skype? any other questions you want to ask me? I am with Elder Roberts until the middle of January that is when I will be transfered President Larkin has already let me know that I will be transfered.
Samuel A. • Sun, 3:58 PM
Hearing your testimony was awesome! I could only understand a few words - Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon - but I could feel the spirit very strong!
Cool. Do you think you'll go to another outie?
Sun, 3:59 PM
Thanks. I don't know with 10 more missionaries coming in they are going to have to open places.
Samuel A. • Sun, 3:59 PM
Wow! Can you imagine if you get to open one?
Do you know if you'll be training again?
Sun, 4:00 PM
I know I it will be cool to know. I will most likely be training again.
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:00 PM
Second pancake is usually better 😂
Sun, 4:01 PM
Josh's video hasn't loaded yet. That is so true.
Is there a way you can change the file format?
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:01 PM
It isn't a video, it is a music file. I will have to see. It can be played through Google music
Sun, 4:02 PM
I think google music is blocked😓
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:02 PM
Bummer. Let me see what I can do.
Do you really think you've lost 40 pounds? That is a lot of weight, but would explain the change in pants size
Sun, 4:03 PM
yes I believe I lost that much weight. I definitely have noticed that I am lighter.
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:04 PM
We got all of your letters from November and the first week of December all in one day. That was cool. Love your stories. Got any pics you can send from the last week or so?
I've noticed,your pants hang on you. And you look very thin
Sun, 4:05 PM
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:06 PM
I'm trying to convert the file now
I just sent it. It was easier to convert than I thought
Sun, 4:10 PM
really what format is it?
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:11 PM
So today you are going to have a pday with all the missionaries in Kiribati?
Just emailed it
Sun, 4:11 PM
We are going to have pday with all of the missionaries on Tarawa along with a christmas Lunch at 1:00
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:13 PM
Lucky you! I am sure the missionary couples will take great care of you. I really hope they picked up your package. I swear it arrived as delivered on the 22nd - so fingers crossed you get it today! I have faith!! How's Elder Tollefson (?) liking the mission so far? He's pretty new right? Can you tell me who is in the pics you sent?
Sun, 4:17 PM
the picture of the kiribati words are The end of Ana Boki Moomon I finished it before Christmas how is your reading? the group picture top row L to R E Tollefson, S Tamale, E Payne, E McCarthy, E Roberts, bottom row S Peterson, Me, E Ekaki. I will ask and see I can also see if it is the mission office. but the person doing packages is in Maiana so I will see. He is doing great.
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:20 PM
Awesome! Are you excited for this next transfer? Or still feel like you need more time in Kainaba?
Sun, 4:22 PM
I am excited and excited for this weekend because Bwataua is getting baptized this Saturday. I feel like it has been long enough
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:22 PM
Tell her congratulations! We are excited for her!
Sun, 4:27 PM
I will so. She is a lot like you.
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:27 PM
Had to step away from the phone and email for a minute cause the stove was smoking us out. Guess the potatoes were greasier than I thought. Whoops
Sun, 4:28 PM
ah that sounds so good
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:29 PM
I finished reading the Book of Mormon about a month ago and started over. I'm in Mosiah again. I have really enjoyed reading it.
Sun, 4:30 PM
yeah it is my second time in Kiribati now that I have finished it.
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:30 PM
I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to talk about food. I'm sure that is hard,for you especially on a holiday. Liz says sorry too about the cutie earlier - we didn't mean to,make you homesick.
Sun, 4:31 PM
no it's good because I know in 8 months I can enjoy those kind of things. I'm excited.
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:32 PM
I love how every time I read it, I find things I didn't see or remember reading before. I also love that we are reading as a family and discussing it every morning. Some days we only make it through 2 verses,because the discussion is so good
I love your attitude.
Sun, 4:32 PM
That is really good. I really liked yesterday when I read Moroni chapter 9 yesterday it stuck out to me.
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:33 PM
I will talk to USU about deferring. I will probably have to forward some info to you to get your info needed. I still have everything - A number etc. - but they may have to have something directly from you. I'll find out. Finish out, come home, adjust, get settled in - grandma and grandpa have offered to have you stay there until you're ready - get a job and go on a date! We are excited for you, but finish the important stuff first - you will be blessed for it!!
Sun, 4:36 PM
okay sounds good I will finish strong
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:37 PM
9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
10 And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.
This is my favorite. BELIEVE.
Sun, 4:37 PM
yeah from Mosiah right
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:37 PM
Sun, 4:38 PM
I really like verse 11
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:38 PM
Face it. The whole chapter rocks!!
Sun, 4:39 PM
that's true when you have king benjamin speaking
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:39 PM
I know right??
Were you able to open Josh's music file?
Sun, 4:40 PM
yes and I have it downloaded
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:42 PM
Josh wants to,know what you think
Not sure if you have to go soon, but Merry Christmas son! I love you and I am so very happy we got to see and hear you for the best talk ever!
Sun, 4:46 PM
i really liked it and wish you a merry christmas
Samuel A. • Sun, 4:49 PM
We received a month's worth of letters today! It was wonderful to hear some of the experiences in detail that Elder Haycock has been involved in. Enjoy!
Letter Dated November 6, 2017
How are you all doing? This week I am finally starting to reap the rewards of my labor. We have had our ups and downs too this week. Monday was good as I was able to get out some of my wiggles and get some other stuff done during Pday. Tuesday was a nice busy day where we were able to have 10 really good lessons with all of our progressing investigators. Our days in teaching lessons are really messed up so we did service, had district meeting and we were able to get three lessons in. But the most rewarding part of the week would have to be Saturday. It was my first marriage that I had been able to attend. Tiingau and Taorita were married along with Namaroro and Katikora. It was also rewarding because Tiingau and Taorita were finally baptized after 6+ months of investigating the church and always coming to church. They were also confirmed (given the gift of the Holy Ghost) and Tiingau received the Aaronic Priesthood.
My spiritual thought for the week comes from Alma 34:27. This is where Amulek tells us that we must always have a prayer in our heart at all times so that we may receive help and be able to move on. I know that there is power in prayer. I know that we are children of God. I know my Savior lives. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Alma 34:27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.
Letter dated November 13, 2017
How are you all doing? This week has gone by too fast as we were out of our area Thursday and Friday of this week. Other than that, this week has been fun and full of surprises.
Monday is what is called combined pday which happens every first Monday of every month. What happens is that all the Tarawa Elders and Sisters get together and have Pday together. Well this one was different as we had Mission Tour coming up so we also had all the Elders and Sisters from Christmas Island and all the other outie islands in . To make this more fun, the East Zone Leaders planned out games and teams. So my team was the Pink Team. Our team members were Elder Butcher, Sister Boss, Elder Murri, Sister Silito, Sister Peterson, Elder Hansen, Elder Sablon and Me. All of us are super skinny except for Elder Butcher who ended up being our anchor for the katikirobu (tug of war). Surprisingly our team won against all other teams. We also came back on the boat to Kainaba.
Tuesday was a stepping stone in the upward direction, because I finally realized something that Heavenly Father was trying to teach me. And that is what the Holy Ghost sound like to me. I finally hear it more clearly, and I know now that it has been with me ever since I was baptized. But now, I am able to fine tune and be able to follow it without hesitation. I will explain:
I was in a lesson with Namroro ma Katikora and they have been taught all of the lessons and we were there to strengthen them. To be honest I had no clue what I was going to share with them. So after we open with prayer and asked how their prayers were and what they felt as they were reading, in my heart I was praying to my Heavenly Father asking for guidance in what I should share to help them be ready to receive the ordinance of baptism. I felt prompted - more like a chain of thoughts - and the way my mouth was filled with words that I should say. I remember opening up to Moroni 4:3 and reading the prayer of the sacrament. I remember explaining our covenant that we make when we are baptized, and the importance of keeping God's commandments, and what it really means to take upon us the Name of Christ. Then I felt nudged to ask about how he is doing with smoking and nongkona (kava/alcohol). He said he hasn't done it. I questioned in my mind with the Spirit and was trying to discern if he was telling me the truth. This overwhelming feeling of joy rushed over me - the same feeling you can get when you ask God for the truth of things - and I knew he was telling me the truth. I am so very thankful for the Holy Ghost and the job that he has - that he can help us to know Heavenly Father's will for us. After this I felt prompted to ask Katikora if she had any gospel questions or any questions in general. Usually she doesn't have questions, but his time she asked me, "How can I pay my tithing?" At first I was struck with amazement because investigators usually don't ask about paying tithing. Then the Holy Ghost whispered to me two words.
So that is what I did. And I am so thankful for it. The Spirit during that lesson was so strong and really taught me a lot about the Holy Ghost and how he speaks to me. I can say that I had been edified. The rest of Tuesday was like that. I was very happy that I could be a part of it.
Wednesday was an interesting day as we had most of our lessons fall through. Probably the most stressful part was teaching English to kids from the ages of 5 - 11. It was very difficult. Especially when the kids don't want to listen or follow directions so it makes it hard to teach. So if any of you reading this letter have suggestions - any at all - I am more than willing to try them.
Thursday we had Mission Tour. Basically it is when a General Authority from the Church leadership comes to visit the mission. This time we had Elder and Sister Ardern come and visit us. For us to get to south Tarawa from where we are at on Kainaba, you have to take what is called a waa (canoe). We we didn't want to miss the waa so we woke up early, got showered in our 5 gallon bucket, and dressed in our dirtier clothes in case we got drenched on the way over. The meeting started at 2:30 and went until 7:30. It was a really good, insightful conference. (And you are probably wondering because I had a seminary teacher named Brother Ardern...turns out this is his dad.) Well he asked us all to prepare a spiritual insight. Before the meeting started I had a prompting that I would be sharing my scripture, so I made sure my scripture was marked so I could find it easily when I was called upon. Before he called for the last one he asked for everyone to stand that had had his son for a seminary teacher. Elder Mitch Adair and I stood up since we were both from Cache Valley, Utah. He picked me to explain what his son is teaching, so I shared 2 Nephi 11:6 and it says:
"And my soul delighteth in proving that save Christ should come all men must perish."
The reason I chose this verse was because I love how it explains my purpose. That only through Christ can we be saved. So I love teaching and testifying of Christ. After I shared my testimony. So one of the four - Elder and Sister Ardern, President and Sister Larkin - would stand up and share some further insight that they received when reading the verse. This time President Larkin stood and remphasized the point I had just covered. I really loved Elder and Sister Arderns training. It really hit home for me. Let's say it inspired me to try some new things or things I have been wanting to try but haven't been able to because 1: I didn't know how to and 2: I was lacking resources until now. The thing I really liked was the famous quote of "Ask, Seek, Knock". I love how Sister Ardern explained it. She said it is the same as ask is if we pray, seek is as we study, and knock is as we are obedient. She was pretty specific in saying that we should be following all mission standards, rules, white handbook, laws and ordinances of the Gospel. Then Elder Ardern pointed out a very important principle: obedience does not even save us one bit. It is the saving ordinances of the Gospel. So as we are obedient to the ordinances (our covenants), then we are saved. That was what my heart was telling me. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to be here for mission tour. The other thing that happened was after mission tour, he asked for Elder Adair and I to meet him in the back of the chapel. So that is what we did and he took pictures of the four of us. As we waited for the bus, my intake took another picture together because we didn't know when the next time would be that we would all see each other again.
Friday was a relaxing kind of day, but we were able to get some of our needs from the Landers - a set of senior couple missionaries. Saturday as a pretty normal day - just a lot of time lessons didn't go through. Sunday was an interesting day as church attendance was pretty low as most everyone from Kainaba was in South Tarawa. Then some gave excuses for not coming to Church which were really kind of lame. So that is what we spent the rest of Sunday doing - trying to fix and figure out why people didn't come.
My spiritual thought comes from my personal study and it is a chapter from the Book of Mormon - Alma 47. Sometimes we think why is this chapter included in the Book of Mormon? It teaches a very important principle. If we are obedient and follow God's commandments, we will be safe from the temptations of the devil. I know this to be true. And I know that Heavenly Father lives and that He loves us. I testify that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and because he lives again, we can be saved. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated November 16, 2017
Happy Birthday Dad! I'm just writing a quick note to tell you that I love you and I am so thankful for the great example you have been to me. I want you to know that you did a great job being my father. Since I have been on my mission, I have noticed how thankful I am that I have a father that has taught me the important principles of hard work and charity. You have been an example of these all of my life. I want you to know that I love you and am thankful for your support. I say these things humbly, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated November 20, 2017
Ngkami kam uara? This week has been interesting and full of surprises. Monday was fun as I hung out at ana auti Bwataua and played cards, volleyball and learned a new dance. The song goes like this:
"I kaka bo ma ia tei kaia. Tina taerooia n te tewenakoa bwa ben te riki betia ae kamangeange.
Ai kakamaura te kakaieie inanon marawa iaon abaia (bass) (te bike matoora) e katikitiki ia aan angina ma kamaru angin aon te reveua."
It is a dance of the ancients meaning that most of the words are not known by the modern Kiribati. Later that night, after we had family home evening with them, my stomach started hurting and I got a really bad case of diarrhea - the same as if you were to turn on the tap. I had it the rest of Monday, all of Tuesday and Wednesday. I called the mission nurse and asked her what I should do. She said to take the amoxicillin and the flagyl. Since I have taken that medicine, I have noticed a difference and my stomach feels better.
My spiritual thought for this week comes from 2 Nephi 31:20. There is a phrase in Kiribati I really like. It goes like this: "Teimatoa Inanon Kristo". So Tei means to stand tall and strong and Matoa means hard and immovable. So if we are to follow this phrase above, we are to stand for Christ and follow his example and his teachings - strong and immovable. I know that was we stand firm, we will be blessed. I know that my Redeemer lives and has suffered for us. I know this to be true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated November 27, 2017
How are you all? This week I am doing good, just adjusting to the change in having all of us being in Kainaba and Elder Curren and his companion in Nabeina. This week has been interesting. On Wednesday we went to Tearinibai for District meetings. We had a nice photo shoot. I will have to show you the pics when I get internet. The major thing that happened this week was the anniversary of the "Stone". The stone is significant because is signifies that drinking is not allowed in the kawa (village) and this is the 35th year that the stone has been there. We have been in the mwaneaba for breakfast and dinner since the 25th of November through the 30th of November. I will have to show you some of the videos when I get back.
My spiritual thought for the week is from Thomas S. Monson's book.
"Commit thy work unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established." - Proverbs 16:3
President David O McKay advised, "I implore you to think clean thoughts." He then made this significant declaration of truth: "Every action is preceded by a thought. If we want to control our actions, we must control our thinking."
Fill your minds with good thoughts and your actions will be proper. May each one of you be able to echo in truth the line from Tennyson spoken by Sir Galahad, "My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure."
I really loved this inspiration because it reminds me of God's commandment of chastity. That we must let virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly. I know that as our thoughts are clean, so will our words and actions be also. I testify that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet that lives today. I know that he is called of God to be His prophet. I know that my Redeemer lives and loves me too. I know this to be true because of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It is He that testifieth of truth. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated December 4, 2017
Wow what a week! It has been a long week because everyone in this village was busy with their celebration. I will explain. This village banned drinking of alcohol - hitting the 35 year mark this year. So to celebrate they had a week long party - the biggest of which was the 30th, where they celebrated from daytime to daytime. We left early so we could go to bed on time. It was good that we spent time with the village because now they are more receptive to being taught the gospel. This is a small note as it is a combined Pday. So I get to email later!
My spiritual thought for this week is to "open your mouth". This is important as all of us are missionaries in this world. The thing that is important is that we are open about talking about the Gospel because missionaries love it when you share the Gospel, then give them a referral because a referral usually means higher rate of success. I know this gospel is true. I know our Heavenly Father loves us and wants what is best for us. I know this to be true and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
One last surprise was in this envelope with the above letter. It was a letter dated September 11, 2017 that had been returned to Elder Haycock somehow.
Letter dated September 11, 2017
Happy 9/11 day. This week was eventful and I am glad to come back to Kainaba and work with Elder Curren. To summarize my week, Monday was combined pday in Teoereke which was a lot of fun seeing everyone and being able to get needs done for those in Kainaba.
Tuesday I went on splits with Elder Peterson, who served in the Marshalls for 10 months, then came here to help. It was a lot of fun talking to the people of Eita. Wednesday was our Zone Conference with everyone on Tarawa and we had Mission President there which was awesome. Our theme for this conference was "small and simple things" - Aramwa 37 (Alma 37:6-7) I learned some great things that I am going to try and do that I have not tried already. I was also asked on this conference to share a spiritual experience. I accepted and shared my time that I found that house in Butaritari. I will again share this experience here.
"It was a Sunday evening after church services and we had lessons planned but low and behold all six of them fell through. So we were back at the house deciding what to do and where we should go. At this time I was a little down, but I remember the promise of Jesus Christ "Seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall receive, knock and it will be opened unto you." (3 Nephi 14:7). At that time in my heart I prayed to my Heavenly Father to know where I needed to go to teach the Gospel and to do his work. He showed me this image in my mind.
The thing is, at the time, I completely forgot where this was so I again asked Heavenly Father if it was North or South. He told me North. Then I kept asking Heavenly Father in each kawa (village) until I heard, "Turn here!" I turned and followed the path until I came in contact with this old man I had been shown. I don't know the rest of the story because I was transferred the week after."
Thursday Elder Curren came and we were able to go back to Kainaba. Since I have been with Elder Curren, we have found 10 new investigators!
Spiritual thought for the week comes from Alma 37:6-7. And if we think about the message from this scripture, if we do the small and simple things, we will be able to do the great things. For example, praying, reading our scriptures and coming to church are the small and simple things. Through these things, we are able to put on the Armor of God. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Ngkami kam uara n te bong aei? Ngai i marurung ao I anga au kaitau bwa e bwara te bootaki n te kawa. Tera riki I ingainga nanou ibukin te tai aei are te tai ni kiritimati ibukin I kona n bootaki ma kain te aro. E rabwa ibukin ami reta ni wiiki aika a nako. Te kamea n te tamnei are e pass. I taku bwa ko atia n noora au reta iaon te mition tour. Ngaia I tangiringkami. E na kanako te naan tamnei imwiin aei.
Dude. I love you but I have no idea what this says....
It says " how are you all doing? I am healthy and I am really thankful that the party in the village is over. Also, I am excited because of this time of year that is Christmas time because I can celebrate with the religion. Thanks for your letters from the past week. The dog I approve it looks like a lot of fun. I thought that you have already read my letter about mission tour. I love you all. I will send pictures after this."
I love you all Elder Ekaki
just an update all of my pics just got wiped. That is the truth - all of them from beginning of my mission to now. So the pics I am sending you today are from my companion. I plugged it in and there was none so I don't know but at least I have some from the blog so I am not totally out of pictures. I can't wait to have the Christmas package! Is anyone else sending a package? It has been pretty normal month beside this last week with the party going on. The island just celebrated 35 years without drinking.
Yes I am still training Elder Roberts. It has been a learning experience as you have to sometimes deal with opposition. We are officially a group, not quite a branch yet and we have group leader who has the power to lead church but I am still in charge of administrative stuff. I have a message for you - but I will have to write it out first when we get to Moroni.
I am sorry you have been feeling opposition. Can you tell me without too much detail - what kind of opposition you are facing in training your comp? Desire is the best I can answer right now. There is a lack of desire to do the work. I am trying very hard to be patient and to help motivate all 3 of them. The Lord will bless us. I just need more patience and time.
“NAKOMAI NAKON KRISTO”
- Moronaai 10:32
Ti tangira ni butimwaeko ___________________ bwa ko na roko ma neboa te Atua. Ti butimwaeko n te Taabati aei are 10 n Ritembwa. E na bo te aoa 10 AM n te oo n reirei. N roko n taroamauri ti berita bwa ko na namakin ana tangira Tamara are I Karawa ibukim. Ibukina bwa ngkoe bon natina. Morarariki, ti kakoaua bwa ko kona ni namakin naba mwakan ana Mwakuri ni Kamaiu Iesu Kristo are akea tokina.
Ti kaitbo ikai!
In English "Come unto Christ " we would love to invite you (name of the person) that you will come and praise God. We invite this Sunday the 10th of December. It will begin at 10 AM at the school. When you come to church we promise that you will feel Heavenly Father's love for you. Because you are a child of God. More importantly, we testify that you will also feel the power of the Infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. We will see you here!
I want to testify that I know this church is true and that as we do the small things Christ will make up for the difference. I am excited to be a part in this work. This invitation is something I am working on to get others to come unto Christ. I know he lives and that he help me with all things. This I testify in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Let me know where you'll be on Christmas, because I am kind of planning on skyping on Christmas Eve for you guys. Well I hope all is well in Montana. I will talk to you in two weeks!!!!
We finally got a gaggle of letters from Elder Haycock. They encompass the entire month of October...but it was wonderful to hear from him!
Letter dated October 2
Well, I don't know if you will get my last letter because I had every intention of sending it but I don't know where it went after I wrote it and sealed it. Well this last week had its highs and lows. Some things that happened this week: So the school here is having a competition against the other schools in the Tarawaieta. All of our member have been working since sunrise to 8 or 9 pm every day this week getting the school ready. I am so excited that the work will be done soon so we can get back to teaching the gospel more. On Thursday we went to Nabeina and we got invited to a birthday party on Saturday. (Kiribati people only really celebrate 2 birthdays - when they turn 1 and 21.) So this party gave us a way into the hearts of the people of Nabeina. The only problem we had this week is all our Melchezidek Priesthood holders were busy with fixing the school. This made us have problems finding people to go on splits with us. All the people we were supposed to meet with weren't home, so we spent a lot of our time rescheduling our appointments for later in the week. Saturday was an interesting day for Curren and I. It was also a frustrating day. We were told that this Bootaki (party) was supposed to start at 2, but it turned out that the cake stayed in Tarawa and the boats couldn't get out because it was low tide. So we were forced to wait on that until 4 and had a dinner appointment for the same time. Elder Curren and I divided and conquered both tasks.
Letter dated October 9
I decided I was going to combine this letter. Monday was a great combined day, it was nice to see almost everyone from my intake. Tuesday through Thursday was pretty much ordinary missionary days where we wake up at 6 am, excercise, shower, study, teach 8 - 10 lessons per day, have dinner, go to bed. Thursday night we had YSA from Eita 2nd Ward come and stay here for three days so we had a kainutu that night. Friday was a bigger day as they wanted to help with the missionary work. They helped us track 90% of the houses here in Kainaba. That night we had a game night with a fishing contest and a bunch of card games. Saturday we were priveledged to have the baptism of Taniera, a member who lost his records from Abemama. Really awesome baptism. Sunday was a nice taromauri and relaxing Sunday. Sorry that this note is short - just not a lot happened.
Letter dated October 16
Ngkami kam uara n te wirki aei? I am doing great and happy that help is coming this next week, I think I will know more on Wednesday. So for Monday, what a waste of a P-day. I helped Elder Curren with his test, fix his essays, grab stuff for Kainaba, and then we finally got to Moroni at 4:30 with just a half an hour to play games and to relieve some of my stress. But nope - it wasn't to be because he had to find a bar for his pullups so that time was wasted. Then we had a kainutu.
This week has been a little frustrating as we were super busy with two companionship's and just a little frustrated with how many times I've been lied to this week.
Thougts for this week comes from a list of scriptures that I have been studying. 2 Nephi 4:28, Jude 1:21, 2 Nephi 9:45, 2 Nephi 11:6 and 3 Nephi 12:48. The general theme that I have gotten is that as I rely on my Savior I can receive strength to do all things even when I'm frustrated with members, investigators, companions, branch presidents, etc. I know that he can give me strength. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated October 23
How are you all doing? Ngai, I rangi ni maraning n te bong aei. Well the breakdown of the week. I am sending four letters this week. Oops. Life has been crazy busy. Breakdown of Tuesday: normal work day with Elder Curren. On Wednesday we came in for Zone Conference. Super good. It was really nice to see almost everyone from my intake. Thursday was an adventure. We ended up missing the waa and so we had to bike from Kainaba to Temwaiku during low tide because we had to be at infield orientation. That was my first time training as I got a new "kid". His name is Elder Roberts. So I am still working on Kainaba with my "kid" and Elder Curren and his "kid" - Elder Payne - so now there are four of us. Friday we came back and had a bootaki to welcome the new elders. Super fun. Saturday was a full day along with Sunday. That pretty much sums up the week. I would like to close with my testimony that I know this church is true. That Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. That through Him, I am saved.
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.