Email from this week:
Ngkami, kam uara? I am doing great this week! Just another busy week with the baptism of Taniera. I finally sent another letter - sorry they are so hit and missed. I also finally received your letter that you dated on the 28th of July. So what is new: in two weeks there will be two more elders coming out to Kainaba on about the 20th of this month. The battle is real, but what is even cooler is the converting power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not a 100% sure how long I will be with Elder Curren as he is going home on December 18th. Well health wise I feel great besides being exhausted from the long hot days, but that is nothing to complain about. Yes, other people have noticed that I have lost weight and I don’t feel sick - I feel wonderful. Because if you remember two weeks before I left for the MTC we were moving and food was probably not the most nutritious so I actually think I am fine. My pants so you know how there were 36 inch waist when we bought them it is now easily a 32-34. As I have lost some inches around the waist. I’m excited for my package and can’t wait to see what is inside of it!
My thought this week comes from my personal study, as I have been studying from the Book of Mormon. I love reading Nephi’s writings as he does two things, he one: testifies of Jesus Christ and two: gives all of his glory to God. Which makes me pose the question “How am I giving my glory to my Heavenly Father? And do I stand as witness of my Savior Jesus Christ and his Infinite Atonement?”
This is my thought this week and I know that my Savior lives and loves me too. That through Him I can be cleaned. I testify that He loves each one of us and wants what is best for us. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Letter dated August 28, 2017
Sorry about last week's letter - just no a whole lot happened. I can say that Elder Osborne left safely from Tarawa, Kiribati. That was kind of fun to send off all those missionaries and to be gathered with all of the other missionaries. I helped Elder Baker by being his companion so he can do his Zone leader responsibilities. We also picked up Elder Deacon from the airport that evening but ran into some troubles with dropping off Elder Hilliard as the Temwaiku Elders didn't get back until late Tuesday. We went to the mission office to pick up needs for the members here in Kainaba and got back here on the waa and had a nice Tuesday.
Wednesday was fun as we visited Namwaroro and Katikora. I dropped off my laundry to be washed and then came back here because we had to clean up the trash from previous Elders. We had dinner that night with Itaia. We went to what is called te re (lessons for the Kiribati dancing). This was in preparation for District Conference and it has been fun for getting close to the members here.
Thursday was nice as we mastered our dance more for next week with Kamaera he'd Taekan te Aro, had English class, had dinner with Tanieara and had the te re again. Friday was an interesting turn of events as we had a normal morning and we went and taught Namwaroro and Katikora and had a good weekly planning session. Started going to the southern part of the Island when my companion, Elder Deacon told me he needed to go the bathroom. So we buy some toilet paper and let him use the bathroom at the primary school. Things weren't good there and he needed to be seen by a doctor. We texted the Belens. After this experience, we had to come back to Tarawa to get him checked out because he was so sick. We started learning a march for our District Conference. Here are the lyrics:
Ana Teka te Atua
Bon te kabang ae Vaitera wiina
E urua ninia rabwatan te ro.
E bon tokanikai.
Saturday we went to Tarawa to switch out my companion so Elder Deacon could be checked out at the hospital. Now I am working with Elder Bollin for a week until we see what happens with Elder Deacon. Sunday was nice as we had 75 at church and another 11 in Nabeina.
My thought for this week comes from Matthew 7:1-5. Are we judging righteously? I know that as we show our love for others we will be blessed by our Heavenly Father to have the gift of Charity. I know this to be true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Matthew 7: 1-51 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Letter dated September 4, 2017
This week has been different as I have helped the members of Kainaba get ready for the District Conference this past weekend - 1st through 3rd of September. However the preparations for this conference have put a lot of stress on me as I had to prepare the members.
Monday, Preparation Day, we got up and we practice the dance for the conference for over 8 hours. We asked Katiria to help fix our hands, legs and head movement. Kiribati dancing is almost - if not as hard as the Samba. To give you a perspective - all the little head movements, hand positions have to be perfectly in sync. While we were practicing, I got a call from President Tamana (2nd Counselor in the District Presidency). He told me I needed to interview all of the Aaronic Priesthood brethren to see who was ready and worthy to accept the Melchizedek Priesthood. I interviewed 11 Aaronic Priesthood brethren and found them ready to accept the Melchizedek Priesthood. This is what consumed the rest of my Tuesday and I finished Wednesday. Wednesday was our last whole day before we came in for the District Conference. I taught a few lessons, but really just visisted everyone to make sure they were ready.
Thursday we came in on the waa which was a lot of fun as we were able to be close to our members in Kainaba. Friday was the big day for dancing as we were able to perform for the Mission President and his wife, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy - Elder Johansen (super neat guy - Tongan, very good at explaining principles), and some senior couples. It was a blast! I will have to try and send a video. I will at least send some pics.
Saturday was super awesome especially the Priesthood Leadership Training. I was so good to get some counsel from the Seventy in how to be a better Branch President, and programs that need to be started in Kainaba. Sunday was nice to be able to help Elder Peterson here in Eita and to try and get people back to church. Before I close my letter, I will close in a spiritual thought. I take some advice from Elder Johansen. he spoke about the Sabbath Day. He emphasized what we should and should not do. He said, "The sabbath day is a significant day, cooking should be to a minimum, in fact we should be fasting every Sunday." This never occurred to me that Sunday should be kept like this. Thought that was interesting. I know that as we keep God's commandments, we will be blessed. I know this to be true. And I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
We heard from Elder Haycock on Sunday evening too. It was brief. He was headed to play games with his District for his preparation day. He said he is happy and loving what he is doing and very much looking forward to his package. He also sent a couple of pictures. They are a bit goofy - as in we don't think he was paying attention when they were taken, but we don't care because we love seeing him!
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!
Letter dated July 31st, 2017
This week has been fun. This last P day was a blast not having internet and being able to spend time with members. We did some service for Katikora - it is called borau, which is picking up all of the pandanus leaves that are not broken and are pretty new so that they can last a long time as the roof. After that we went to play games at Titana's home which was a lot of fun.
On Friday the primary had a day called, "Culture Day" in which they did everything of the iKiribati. That meant no English food such as the rice, flour, and sugar, or even canned foods. It was a very fun day as Elder Osborne and I were judges of the events. I'll have to send pictures when I can.
Saturday was my first time going on splits as we just have too much work to do and we were able to visit a lot of people quickly. This past Sunday we had church here in Kainaba and church in Nabeina which is also part of our area, but haven't been able to visit since we are so busy here in Kainaba. Before I go, I would like to share a spiritual experience. I told you I went on splits last Saturday. I went and visited Namwaroro and Katikara and we were teaching them on repentance and for him to stop smoking. I don't know where these words came from (I do now...), but I was prompted to say, "When you have the urge to smoke, I want you to open the Book of Mormon with a prayer in mind and then open the book and read it until the desire to smoke is gone." I want to tell you that this is the power of the Spirit and it is a promised blessing to all of us as long as we live worthy of it at all times. I'm so thankful that I have been able to serve here in this mission for the Lord. I am also thankful to have the opportunity to serve here in Kainaba. I love you all a lot. Ao I atargi bwaai aikai n arau Iesu Kristo, Amen
Letter dated August 7th, 2017
I have had an adventurous week as Satan really doesn't want this branch to be formed. The biggest tool Satan has for Kiribati is their cultural norms and gossip. Last Friday, there was some gossip that was shared about how this family couldn't go to the temple because she supposedly saw them drinking nengkona (alcohol), but they weren't. So it caused some contention to the point that they didn't want to come to church because they are afraid they will be made fun of and cause the church to back downhill. Well we put a stop to that rumor and encouraged them to come to church (which thankfully they did). The other major problem we had this past week was we were supposed to have dinner with a family but one of the members went up to them and told them that "missionaries don't have dinner with nonmembers." When we heard this it crushed our hearts. This week we are having dinner with them tomorrow. That is the gist of this week. Trouble in paradise, but still...it's paradise.
My spiritual thought for this week comes from Moroni 7:15 - 19. In this section of scripture Mormon is talking about the Light of Christ that is given to every person. I know that through Christ, we can be clean and that we will be judged by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, that we should judge righteously. I love you guys a lot and I know that my Redeemer lives. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Dated 24th July 2017
First, Happy Pioneer Day! My week has been full of adventures, getting to know the area, and MIRACLES.
So I want to start off with the miracle of the week: Elder Osborne's foot. You know from last latter that his foot got something in it from walking at low tide without any shoes on. We think it was coral. Anyway, to continue the story, this past Sunday, I fasted for his health and that everything will be ok and that we will be able to go to Kainaba. Later that night after I have already closed my fast and was about ready to have dinner with a member, my thoughts were drawn away and I started thinking of the future and what was coming up. When I thought of Elder Osborne and his foot, I had this overwhelming feeling of peace that everything will go well and that there will be no problems. So the next morning at 8:00 AM, he went to the hospital for his "surgery". It turned out that the appointment was just to look further at his foot and to determine what needed to be done and where it needed to be cut to get the things out of his foot. They decided he would have his surgery the next day at 9:00 AM. He told me afterward that he wanted a blessing, so the AP's gave him one. He went to the doctor the next day to get the surgery don and the doctor looked at his foot and tried to figure out where he was going to cut. He told Elder Osborne to get an ultrasound done to see. He had had this done the day before and when the nurse did this she said, "Yesterday there were signs of objects in your foot, but now there are none." Elder Osborne was amazed and thankful for this miracle.
While this was happening, I was with the West Zone Leaders, heading to Betio to drop someone off when the phone rang and Elder Osborne was on the phone asking where we were. He said we are headed to Kainaba, my foot is cleared and the waa leaves at 4:00. So after we dropped off Scheffield in Betio, we hurried back and grabbed my stuff and went to Eita to pick up Elder Osborne and then headed to Ambo to catch the waa to Kainaba. We got on the waa which was thankfully powered by an engine - which only takes about 40 - 60 minutes to get to Kainaba. (I'll have to send some pics when I get internet.)
I got to Kainaba around 5:00 and started right away visiting members and getting to know them. I have introduced myself many times. My first whole day was Wednesday where we ran to the south end of the island - which takes about 7 minutes to run at a slow pace and exercised with Aroito to help strengthen his back after that we went to Itaia's house and had breakfast soup with breadfruit. It is very good with donuts (fried bread). After we showered and studied, we went to a small island named Biikentoka. To get there you have to wade through waist deep water if it is high tide. We went to visit - honestly THE best investigators I have had. Their names are Namwaroro and Katikora. Katikora is probably the only person that I have seen that is so dedicated. She only has one leg and gets around by using a stick. We lessoned with them and learned that she has finished the Book of Mormon and that she comes to church in Kainaba which she has to cross that 20 yard stretch of lagoon to get to Kainaba. We are trying to get them ready for baptism on the 19th of August. I'm excited! After that, we visited a bunch of people and tried to find some of our investigators to get them ready for baptism as most of them had their date for this coming Saturday. Afterwards, we had dinner with a less active family to try to get them to come back to church. It was so much fun and there are a lot of potential investigators with that family. So we are trying to open more doors to be able to hopefully be able to teach, so we brought with us a volleyball net, volleyball, and a soccer ball to get started having a game night on Friday. We asked them to set up a volleyball court. On game night, we had volleyball, Sorry, and Canasta all going on at the same time. Honestly, is was just a fun time to get everyone out and together.
This last Saturday we were blessed to have a baptism that completed a family.
Now you are probably wondering what Kainaba is like, how are the people?? The best way to describe it is Zion. It has a potential of just getting better and only increasing! The people here are the nicest and most caring people of I have met so far. It is like a little piece of Heaven. This area was opened in January of 2017 and the work has boomed! So far in this area there have been 50+ baptisms. The people here are really excited about the missionary work and if we need anything, the members are there to help us. We eat about 5 - 6 meals a day and this does not include the big dinner that we have every night. I LOVE KAINABA.
My spiritual thought this week comes from Alma 5. I encourage you guys to read it and really answer those questions personally as an interview with yourself. It is true when it says that the Shepherd is still calling. Jesus Christ is that shepherd. He is calling to you to repent and to come unto Him "all ye that are heavy laden" (see Matthew 11:28-30) I know that Jesus Christ lives and is my Redeemer and Savior. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Mauri au utu,
I already wrote a letter for this week but I thought I would attach a short note to say that I love you guys and that there will be pictures attached.
*************we should get that letter in about a month.......haha!*********************
He was online still, which was a real treat so we traded messages back and forth. Here's what he had to say about Kainaba:
"We take a waa to Tarawa once a week for District meetings. It costs about 2 dollars and takes about 40 - 60 minutes to get there. We are allowed to come in on the first PDay of the month and since this is Elder Osborne's las pday, we came in. Technically Nabeina is also part of our area. We are in a district of 2 Sisters and 4 Elders. The people are awesome and they are so helpful and yet stressful as they want us to visit all of them every single day while we are trying to balance teaching new investigators. We stay on the northern end of the Island in a buiia. It is more like my time in Nonouti as far as conditions. It is one village of about 200 people and we have over 80 that are now LDS. You can walk from end to end of the island in 15 minutes. It is very small. I will be able to catch up on emails (the ones you send me) once a month when we have access to internet, and I will keep writing letters. I love you so much!"
I asked him if he needed anything:
"I've had to "loan" my pants and some shirts, and most of my ties to members who just have nothing Mom. I really hate to ask, but can you please send me a pair of gray pants and maybe 2 white shirts or some older ties? Snacks would be good too. "
When asked how his shoes were doing, he replied..."they are ok. Super hot and I've had to make modifications to them. If you think of it, and there's room, a nice pair of flip flops would be wonderful!"
When asked what kind of snacks he'd like most, he said, "peanut butter, trail mix, cheese nips, gummy bears, candy corn, potato flakes or mac and cheese sound sooooo good!"
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.