Throughout my time on Kiritimati Island we randomly decided to take a few photos in black and white which are now labelled “The Band Photos”. These are them…
Throughout my time on Kiritimati Island we randomly decided to take a few photos in black and white which are now labelled “The Band Photos”. These are them…
I’m in my third area now – Tabwakea, Kiritmati Island! I’ve been here for about two and a half months. It’s a different experience to Tarawa. In fact, the population here is around 6,000 in comparison to Tarawa with a population of 60,000 on a land mass that is 6 times smaller than Kiritmati. There are 5 branches here whereas in Tarawa there are 13 wards (two stakes) with 2-4 branches. There are 6 missionaries here on this island, including me.
When I first arrived I needed to use the bathroom but there were no toilets at the airport. Yes. No toilets at the airport. So Sister Pilkington drove me a little ways away into the bush, gave me some toilet paper and hand sanitizer and off I went. It’s a different experience to Tarawa indeed but I love it and I feel in my heart that this is where I need to be.
My companion is now Sister Boss (woop woop) and we are working in two branches – Tabwakea 1st and 2nd. There were a set of elders who worked in one of the branches however they were transferred out to cover a different area. So the blessing fell upon us to cover both, and it truly is a blessing! We have been able to meet more members, both active and less-active, and investigators and get to know and help them. They are wonderful and I feel so blessed to be around them and to have an opportunity to work in this area. At first it seemed overwhelming and I was a little at a loss at how to work with both branches and ensure that both were getting equal amounts of attention, love and work but we were able to find a happy medium. The work is going great. We have some really great people we are working with and I can see just how much the light of the Gospel can change their lives for the better, giving them hope in a brighter future. Working with Sister Boss has been a great blessing also. It’s always hard changing areas or changing companions but once you get through that “adjusting” period, you grow to love it just as much as your old area which is what has happened for me.
During my short time here in Kiritimati I have learned so much about myself, about my journey, about my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. There have been trials and challenges; some from here and some from home. At times I have cried out in frustration, not willing to drink the bitter cup and questioning why it was given to me. However through these experiences I have learned faith. I have learned patience. I have learned that it is because of opposition and pain that we can grow. I can truly say in my heart that I am grateful for the challenges, the tough times, the pain. Pain seems to have been my friend these past couple of months and it is because of him [pain] that my soul has been carved out, that it might one day be as Elder Neal A. Maxwell says, the receptacle of joy.
Here’s the latest from the Queen of Kiribati…
Ok so these past couple of weeks have been so crazy! We had Transfers, Christmas, a Mission Tour with President Haleck (I gave birth that same day) and New Years. I thought it might be more fun and to be honest, faster, to share about these past couple of weeks with a series of photos and captions, which, let’s be honest are more like epistles.
This photo of Sister Tutu’ila and I was taken on our last full day together before Transfers! I would be transferring to Teaoraereke (which is actually not that far from Bairiki) and Sister Tutu’ila would be staying in Bairiki. We visited Ametira and her family to read with them from the Book of Mormon. When we arrived she was busy weaving a mat so Tutu and I decided to climb the tree next door and take selfies, which is what we do best. It was so sad knowing that I would be transferred from her but at the same time I was excited for her and for this next part of her mission – she’s the new STL! I’m so proud of her and all that she has accomplished. She’s an exemplary missionary and I know that she will serve her fellow missionaries with all of her heart.
The Zone Leaders announced Transfers on Wednesday and they happened that Friday. They didn’t know what time it would all be happening so they told us to be ready for anything and at anytime. I really wanted to see Kaeua and her family before I left Bairiki. Kaeua was one of the first people that I had witnessed being baptised when I got to Kiribati and I have developed a great love for her and for her family during my time in Bairiki. I knew that if there was one family I wanted to see on my last morning before I left, it would be them. Sister Tutu’ila, Sister Ukenio (who is waiting for her visa to serve in the New Zealand Wellington Mission) and I all went to their house that morning and ended up having breakfast with them. It was a great way to say “see you later” and meant so much to me. I love this family so much.
So leaving Bairiki literally broke my heart. I was so depressed haha. Really, I was so sad. I thought that I would at least be able to spend Christmas there. I had even prayed, asking God if I could stay in Bairiki for Christmas. Bairiki is my first love. Being in Teaoraereke was a struggle. I just kept thinking about all of my families and friends that I had made in Bairiki and found myself wishing to be back there. However I knew that I needed to accept that Teaoraereke is where the Lord wanted me and so I tried to push away those thoughts. On Christmas Eve a miracle happened, well it was a miracle to me anyway. We happened to see Taubo and Kiribwa in our area. They were visiting family in the area. They told us that their family would be getting together that night to celebrate Christmas. We (Sisters Heni, Beria, Boss and I – Heni and Boss are now companions) didn’t have a dinner appointment and so we asked if we could have dinner with them. Later on that night, we went to their house and spent Christmas Eve with them. My heart felt so full of gratitude that Heavenly Father would bless me to have been able to see one of my investigators from Bairiki and to be able to spend Christmas Eve with them! We had rice, fish and chicken. We ate in a house that was made out of wood and pieces of metal. There were no decorations or lights or a Christmas tree. There weren’t any presents. Rain was falling and people gathered at the Catholic Church next door (literally like 2 metres away). But spending Christmas Eve with that family and in that way was one of the best experiences of my mission thus far. In the humblest of circumstances is sometimes where we are able to feel the greatest abundance of the Spirit. What was revealed me to that night was what truly mattered most – family!
This photo was taken on Christmas morning! It’s me trying to use the phone at Teaoraereke which didn’t actually work. But I did get to call my family using phones at Eita. Some missionaries were able to Skype their families which was fun because we’d then Skype-bomb their calls. Their families were so lovely though and always wanted to see us. Not sure how the missionaries felt though hahaha. Being away from family is hard period. But being away from family and friends especially at Christmas so TOUGH! But I am so grateful that I was able to talk with my family through a telephone call.
On the way to our Christmas lunch! All of the missionaries serving in Kiribati were brought in to Tarawa, which is the main island, for the Mission Tour with President Haleck. It was so awesome being able to see everyone again! Missionaries are sent to so many different outer islands and only ever come back to the main island if they are transferring or for medical reasons. It was definitely a highlight being able to see them all again!
This is Violet! The Olsons (who are currently serving as the Self-Reliance missionaries here in Kiribati and who also work closely with Renee Solomon and Dean Westerlund #ShoutOuts) children came to visit them for Christmas and this is their daughter. She’s the cutest little girl and has a real sassy attitude. Kevin, the Olsons’ son, is a dentist so while he was here he volunteered at the local hospital. I was able to accompany one of the sister missionaries there and it was a real eye opening experience. Let’s just say, you don’t to get sick and have to go there.
One of the greatest blessings from these past few weeks was being able to see Sister Baldwin again! She was transferred to Christmas Island a few months ago and is going to finish her mission there so we didn’t think that we would be able to see each other again. But as soon as we did, we stuck to each other like glue. Every opportunity we could, we would be together. I love her so much. She is definitely one of the greatest friends I’ve made since being on my mission. When I first came to Kiribati she was one of the STL’s and always gave me much needed encouragement and love. She’s almost finished and I’m about to die from missing her so much. She’s definitely a kindred spirit!
Introducing… Sister Moungatonga! So I gave birth a few Fridays ago. I didn’t know that I was training Sister Moungatonga until a few days after Transfers were announced. Sister Mavae told me and I was so surprised and so happy. I know Sister Moungatonga from the YSA in New Zealand. I met her a couple of years ago while we were both studying and attending Institute in Auckland City.
So for New Years Eve President Haleck and President Larkin along with all of the missionaries were invited to President Taneti Mamau’s (who is the president of Kiribati) house in celebration of the Mission Tour. Stupidly, I forgot to bring the camera battery for my DSLR and almost cried because of all the events I wanted to take photos at, it was this one. But luckily for us Elder Berends let us take a few photos on one of his cameras.
Elder Jim looked so handsome that I just had to share this photo! I was so proud of my little Micronesian brother. Elder Jim has come so far and I’m just the proudest big sister. It was actually so funny because one of the elders had cut his hair for the event and had given him a few designs on the back of his head so he tried using his sunglasses to cover them throughout the night. I kept trying to tell him that he should just take them off and that no one even cared. I think he kept them on until it got dark enough.
And that’s a wrap guys! As you can see Sister Lee’s social skills are still thriving.
Let’s face it, we mostly just love seeing photos right!? So here they are..
Elder Hoskins let me cut his hair! Haha It’s the second time I’ve cut hair and I did a better job than the first (shout out to Elder Berends for being my first victim). The great thing about serving here is that the elders get so desperate for a hair cut that they seem to ask me to cut their hair hahaha.
So one day as we were biking to one of our lessons we saw a dead pig on the beach. We felt sorry for it and pulled it in from the water and left it on the beach. Then on the way home we thought it was sad that Stewart (that’s the name that we gave him) was lying there getting fried under the Kiribati sun, so we dragged him back out into the ocean haha. When I say “we” I really just mean “me”. Tutu was taking pictures and just watching.
We visited our number one helper, Kaeua and her family. While we were there she was having a bath in the ocean and was playing on this log thing. I told her to jump off it a few times so I could get a good photo and she obliged. I just remember how nice it was to be with her and her family that afternoon, talking with them and catching up. Sometimes we just need a little rest every now and then and we need to be in the moment! I’m never ever going to be here again having this very experience so it’s moments like these that help me to remember to treasure my time.
At the end of our Saturday we set off to try and set appointments and visit a few people that we had missed. We happened to stop by Taubo and Kiribwa’s house and saw her and her sister washing clothes. They looked exhausted so we offered our services. It was the best. I’m useless and they kept laughing at how uesless I was (probably cause I had just finished bragging about how good I was – all for laughs of course) but it felt good just to really try to help. We love Kiribwa and were so happy to help her.
Teabwaabwa’s daughter came back off her mission last week (served in the Philippines Cayaun Mission). Nei Ane had asked us to dance. Sister Tutu killed it with her Tongan and Samoan dances. She’s so good. I watched her with so much pride and did the cheeehooo for her, cos you know how I’m secretly Tongan? Kiribwa had sewn these beautiful dresses for us for the occasion! We even showered before we went haha.
Another funny story! At the back of Taubo and Kiribwa’s house live these wee little piggies. I told Imwakurite (their daughter) to catch one so I could take a photo with it. She started running after them and I tried to help to but they’re so fast. Anyways, so these other little kids started helping us. One of them ended up catching one and then it started crying (the piglet) and the mumma pig started chasing us. We ran and started laughing. Luckily for us the pig was tied up haha. The whole time Sister Tutu’ila kept going on about how it was animal cruelty. Long story short, my little friend gave me the pig to hold and we took the photo. Shout out to my friends pictured here! All cred to them for the capturing of the piglet. Disclaimer: No animals were harmed in the capturing of this photo.
Ok so Elder Emor (who is from Micronesia) found this crab at the chapel the other day and picks it up and jumps in the van. A few hours later he loses it in the van and we all think that it fell out but aren’t really sure. A few days later we’re all in the van and all of a sudden one of the sisters scream and everyone is jumping over everyone, trying to escape. Haha we found the crab again. It had miraculously survived that whole time. Elder Emor picks up the crab (and looks at it like it’s his child) and then starts playing with it. All of a sudden he breaks off the pincer and everyone’s like “nooo don’t do it!” Two minutes later I noticed that he didn’t have the crab in his hand anymore and I asked him where it was. He started smiling like the little evil man he is and laughs. Then I was like oi he dropped the crab. Nek minnit, the crab is running all over the van and everyone’s screaming. I ended up picking it up and giving it back to Elder Emor. The rest of the elders were dying laughing. It was so hilarious. Then, yes there’s more, Elder Emor puts it in this empty paint tin he found at the elders’ house and leaves it in the car while we all go to lunch. We came back only to find that the crab had died. These missionaries are cray!
So this photo is when Sister Heni and I were trying to unpick Sister Beria’s dress because this lady had taken it in but it was too small. This was about 5 minutes before the Zone Leaders showed up to take us to District Meeting haha. We got the skills to pay the bills.
My name is Simone Scout Lee and you’re reading my blog! I promise it’ll be a collection of thoughts, feelings, memories and photos about my journey to serve as a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I have been called to serve in the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission – Kiribati speaking and I report to the Provo Missionary Training Centre on Tuesday May 10 2016. Follow along as I experience the most life changing 18 months of my life!