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
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.