Photos from the last few months.
Meet “Betty”, my assistant, a.k.a. Sister Lata (who is from America and is of Samoan ethnicity). Sister Moungatonga left me a few weeks ago and went to rough it in Tarawa Ieta (she’s doing great by the way. We manage to catch up every now and then and she loves Tarawa Ieta – Tarawa Ieta is more of an outer island and one of only two that sister missionaries can serve in). She’s from Los Angeles, California and has the BEST love story ever. Seriously the best. She’s so funny and it’s been great being her companion. She is always ready and willing to carry my camera bag anywhere and everywhere. She loves being my go to girl when I’m trying to capture some shots and she even gave herself the nickname of “Betty”. It’s one of her many aliases. She’s teaching me a lot about love and kindness and every day we’re strengthening the sisterhood between us. I feel so privileged to be her companion and to get to know her.
This is Anatita. We had started teaching him about a week ago. One day, as we were leaving a lesson we saw him sitting on his buia. He was reading a book of Bible stories. I have the same book (I got it from a member and use it to study Kiribati) and became excited. We talked with him for a little bit and we invited him to hear our message. He invited us to share it and so we hopped onto his buia and went from there. In our next appointment we taught him about The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith. When sharing about the Book of Mormon he was sceptical but said that he would read it. We bore testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon with everything that we could. We all shed tears, even him. He is sincerely seeking the truth, which is evident as we sit and talk with and teach him. Just recently we returned to follow up on his reading and discovered that he had already begun reading and was about to finish the Book of Alma! I was shocked. Pleasantly shocked. He’s going to Abaiang for a few weeks and will be back in the first week of May, so we’ll catch up with him then and see how he feels about the Book of Mormon.
Guess who is back on Tarawa? It’s Elder Jim! He came in from the Christmas Island region and is working in Temaiku. It’s on the total opposite end of the island and I’ll only see him once in every month but it’s better than nothing. I think that’s one of the great miracles of serving a mission – the people you enter the MTC (Missionary Training Centre) with becoming your family. Elder Jim’s doing great and is still being a little heartbreaker. I catch up with Elder Tuikolovatu every now and then but haven’t seen him since Christmas. He’s on Maiana right now, which is an outer island and is doing some great work there.
Sister Tuilotolava is leaving! Right now, she only has one more week left and then she finishes her mission and will head back to the friendly islands of Tonga. Time has honestly gone by so fast. I will always be grateful for all that she taught me during our time together. There were definitely hard times in Bairiki but we got through. She had a strong work ethic and always had a smile on her face despite the challenges.
My mum was kind enough to send a few things in a package and one of them were some facial cleansing masks. Oh how blessed we were that night! The next day my face felt so supple and smooth, like a newborn baby’s bottom. The only downside was that when we put them on we looked like we were characters from a horror movie. They were actually pretty scary to look at, as you can see… but worth it nevertheless.
Sister Lata trying to recreate our facial cleansing masks with a tortilla.
General Conference companion photo! I really enjoyed General Conference this April. I’m not sure if it was because I was more prepared and more earnest in my search for answers to the questions of my heart, but I just felt like I got so much out of it. I felt so much gratitude for the preparation of the various speakers, organisers and all those who assist in the success of this great event. Here in Kiribati, weeks before General Conference (we watch it the week after America does) translators are working so hard to translate the various talks into Kiribati for the two stakes here on Tarawa, as well as the Temaiku District (the Stake Presidencies will take the General Conference recordings to the outer islands over the next few months). It’s a pretty crazy time for them. They play General Conference in the chapel with the Kiribati translation and then have two other rooms in English. We watch both the morning and afternoon sessions one after another, with a ten minute break in between. By the end of it, all I want to do is sleep – a long, never-ending deep sleep. But it’s great and I find that I’m surprisingly more awake than I would usually be during the afternoon sessions at home.
Remember Sister Ukenio? I worked with her for a few weeks in Bairiki before she was transferred to Betio. She was waiting for her visa to work in the New Zealand Wellington Mission. Well, she’s there now! If you see her around, give her some love. She’s a really sweet sister and she will be a blessing to the mission there.
The Battle of Tarawa is quite a significant battle in World War Two history and this building is one of the few ruins that still exists from it. It was used as a communication centre for the Japanese. It’s actually right next to one of our chapels in Betio. A few P-Days ago Sister Lata and I caught the bus to Betio to explore. I wanted to walk up the stairs and have a little look around but there was faeces everywhere so that stopped me right away. I remember watching a few documentaries and movies about the war in the Pacific but serving here, among ruins from one of the bloodiest battles of World War Two is something else. These ruins have a rich history but now they stand more than 72 years later, as a silent reminder as people use them to defecate.
These few photos are from the Japanese barracks a few metres up the road from the communication centre.
Just so beautiful!
Piggy in the bag! We visited the Atanimans (my family from Bairiki) after our visit to Betio and saw that they had a baby pig in a rice bag hanging off a branch. I only noticed it because I was standing next to it and it started to move all of a sudden, giving me a small fright.
We were waiting at the chapel for one of our investigators to meet us for our lesson and I saw this man walk out of one of the rooms. I really loved his necktie and told him so. He was really grateful and saw that I was holding our phone in my hand. He told me to take a picture of him so I pulled out my camera instead. I couldn’t take it with the phone because it’s not very capable. So after I took his picture he told me to put it up on Facebook. I tried to explain that I couldn’t because I wasn’t allowed, so he told me to give it to his niece to put it up. Haha. He really wanted his picture on Facebook. I really did like his necktie though.
We have a new job on Thursdays… teaching the little primary school kids. A week or so ago these little kids from our ward told us about “Taekan Te Aro” which is a time every week where various teachers from different churches come and have story time or churchy time. They asked us if we could come, well actually, they more like demanded that we come. I told them we’d think about it and get back to them. I forgot all about it until they knocked on our door Thursday morning. We ended up going and singing a few primary songs from the Church and reading the Book of Mormon Stories. They’re good kids, just a few bossy ones among them. One thing’s for sure – they’ll definitely help me learn patience.
This is Kantara (our friend from Teaoraereke 2nd Ward) and his fiancé! They just got engaged. In Kiribati culture, when a woman is engaged, there’s a special ceremony where they decorate her hair with hairpins or adornments.
Photos from Easter Sunday
Meet my little friends from Church and from around. Whenever I go past their houses they always enthusiastically wave and scream out “Sisters” or “Mauri”. I know I probably shouldn’t but I love giving them little hugs and kisses every time I see them. But they’re little teases though.
Sister Lee & Sister Lata