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Monday, March 24, 2014

Not much happened this week.

24 March 2014 Tiapa Paea, Tahiti

Well not much happened this week, except the transfers and everything. So many people are moving around. President opened up lots of new islands in the Tuamotus and he opened Hive Oa again in the Marquises. Elder Lovelock is heading to Hiva Oa so that was pretty exciting! I'll stay here where I am and be the District Leader and I'm training an "Elder Smith". That’s all I know for now. I’ll meet him after midi on Tuesday. In my District there will be 4/5 companionships of sisters training. I’m bracing myself for whatever will be the result of that. Maybe that’s why I was put here to keep a level head! So all in all, in our Zone we will have 6 new missionaries. I think that’s more than any other Zone.

There is a lot of sadness in this area. Lots of drinking and drugs. I don’t think there is exactly more than Raiatea, but because I’m in such a small area I know about it all. And for all the people that say marijuana doesn’t do anything to your brain, they are wrong. When you smoke and drink too much you become crazy. Literally. I can’t tell you how many people have fallen into JUST marijuana here and are now completely useless. It’s like they have been lobotomized and then given the mind of a child. It’s very sad to see. We need to be grateful everyday for the lives we live. We have more blessings and more safety than we even realize.

The language is still coming along. I switched all my studies/ reading to Tahitian a few weeks ago. I’m a few chapters into second Nephi, but its slow going with Isaiah. Most of the words were invented to translate Isaiah. I also got a super awesome compliment the other day from a member from Huahine. We were in the Faatamaaraa (missionary meal) and he told me he already knew where I had served the first time I talked with him because of my ACCENT. HA! Best compliment on mission so far. He said that there is an accent from Raromatai. Oh man did that give me motivation to keep plugging along in Tahitian. 

This Sunday I was able to follow the discussion for the most part in Priesthood meeting, and I even added to it, several times. I thought that was a pretty big milestone :) So things are going well in that respect. I have lots of help, in the morning when I read the Buka a Moromona, the words that I translate are used throughout the day, no matter how random. I translated Sheep (mamoe) and sheppard ( Tiai) the other day and someone used those to words, in a conversation that wasn’t even about the gospel. It’s nice to know that someone is there helping you learn the language quicker! I hope Elder Smith is ready to speak lots of Tahitian!

I just think the hardest thing will be finding ways to fill the day up; lots of member visits maybe xD

I’m sorry to hear about Brother Kie, but I’m sure he was in a lot of pain, and he’s probably having an amazing time with all the people he did temple work for. "How great your joy will be with the souls you have saved" or something like that. I just realized you and Daddy have hit that point in your life where people start dying. But don’t worry; there is literally no reason to fear death. In fact, I think it will probably be like coming up out of water after holding your breath for a long time. Pure relief.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Grandfather's Passing

18 March 2014, Tiapa Paea, Tahiti

Firstly, I’d like to offer my condolences for the death of Morfar (ed. note: Morfar is Norwegian for mother's - mor, father - far). However, I have to be honest, when I heard that he was in assisted living, I told myself "aita haere tera" (no go that), I thought he was gonna pull the plug himself and it looks like he did.

I have absolutely no doubt that he is happier on the other side, no doubts at all. He wasn't exactly happy to be here. He loved his family, but I think it would have been too much for him to watch the country go down the tube. By now he’s met ALL the ancestors that he is endlessly talking about, and he’s been reunited with Mormor (ed. note: mother's mother).

Plus, he will now be able to understand the importance of what all his grandchildren are doing in random places in the world (ed. note: 3 grandchildren; one in Norway, a cousin, Nathan Sperry, one in Tokyo, his sister Kirstin and one in Tahiti). Don't worry about him, he wouldn't want you to, I've received my confirmation that he is happy, and doing better than ever. :] So don’t stress, know that it’s not a long time and we will all see him again, and now his temple work can progress!!!

President Sinjoux called me with the news. I don’t know, it’s funny but I was actually expecting it that day, there seemed to be some kind of somberness in the day. Then when I saw that President Sinjoux was calling, I was like, “Morfar died.” He was a great Grandfather, a little odd but I could tell he really loved and was proud of us all in his own way. 

We had a zone activity on Monday. That’s why I didn't write.

My companion is getting transferred next week. Bummer! We don’t know where he is going yet. Oh, and I’m training here and will be the district leader here too. The District Leader here is over all the sisters’ areas, and if I need anything else done I go to the Zone leaders, who I live with, so that makes things easy.

I will be staying in this little neighborhood of a sector and train next week. I’m pretty excited, and at the same time a little nervous just because there is not much to do to fill up the day. If I get some gung-ho elder he might feel like what we are doing is useless, because let me tell you, its nothing like what your expectations in the MTC are like here. But whatever, plenty of opportunities to speak Tahitian here!!!! So I’m content. In fact this teeny tiny sector is like a cultural Tahitian melting pot. There are people from all the islands here. There are people that speak Magarevian, Marquisian, and Puamautu.

My new companion is going to speak lots of Tahitian with me! So that will be good for him, since most trainers here don’t speak Tahitian, to be honest. So he'll have a good foothold on the two languages at the end of this area. I hope he's cool and "flexible.” Elders that are too stiff end up not having a good time here, and the people aren't exactly fond of them as well. And in a sector like this, the only way we get new investigators is through the people. I also have a bad habit of singing Tahitian love songs (maybe it’s a bad habit *cough* cough*), or maybe it’s a good thing he won’t understand what I’m saying at first. ;]

I haven’t quite gotten used to this area yet; I just feel a little like I’m in a hamster cage but that will change once I know the members better.

I have a fear that the roads in my current sector will absolutely destroy my bike. The roads in this sector have a reputation of breaking frames. Yes you read me right, frames. If my bike was having trouble with flat Raiatea, it will not hold up here. I'm using a bike from one of the zone leaders who has a car, but he is being transferred too. I’ll see what I can do to get another one.

Aside from that, there’s not much to report on. Things are going well. The work is the same as ever, but we've got some plans to move it forward. I'm feeling just a little bit of what Kirstin feels right now, except here people are always home so we can do member visits pretty easily. And to organize a family night, it doesn't take much; just tell everyone to be there and whatever you do they love it! So probably not the same atmosphere as Japan!

OK. We have a lesson. I have to go!

Have a good week.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Assignment: Tiapa Paea, Tahiti

10 March 2014 Tiapa Paea, Tahiti 

Well, the transfer finally came. I was ready to go but at the same time not ready. I left Elder Demuynck, hopefully I showed him enough to get him started there. HE's not really a fan of the outer islands. He was on Makaemo before, and he absolutely detested it because everything is so slow in the islands. 
Frere Guillan et moi (mon pere faaamu) at the airport on Raiatea
My New sector, Tiapa, Paea, is really small. It’s the quartier that sits in a little valley. It actually reminds me a lot of Raiatea. It’s not the city, so most of the people are actually from the other islands, but are just living there because they can find work in Tahiti. So, still lots of Tahitian to speak :)

This is the view of the valley from our house. That is looking into the island.
In fact there are lots of people from the Tuamotus, so sometimes I try to understand what they’re saying then I realize I didn’t understand anything because they are speaking Puamotu. Either way the people here still have that islander feel, and they are super nice. So I’m not complaining.

It will be interesting to see what happens this next transfer, in 2 weeks all the new Americans are coming close to 30, and it will interesting to see if Elder Lovelock stays with me or if I get transferred again. Transfers are really weird here, 3 week transfers are not uncommon. The reason I got transferred was because the Elder that replaced me was serving in his own stake. Normally I think I would have stayed with Elder Demuynck until the end of March.
This is my new house. There's no air conditioning, but it doesn't matter too much.
I'm so used to the weather at this point it doesn't really faze me.
Living with the Zone leaders is awesome, but we are always late for things in the morning because there are 4 of us and only one bathroom! So it’s a little bit like home. We have hot water-but I have no idea why anyone would use it!
This is my bedroom. We sleep with everything open like that.
My bed is a looooooot better. I am now not sleeping in a giant hole, my back actually had to get used to a normal mattress again. We sleep with all the windows and doors wide open, so I just pray every night for protection from mosquitoes and miraculously, I haven’t had a single bite during the night yet and I don’t even sleep completely covered. So that’s really nice. Even after it rained they were not coming to bite me at night. What a miracle. Well it’s that or the fact the mosquito bites tend to swell up and disappear really fast for me now. It’s really nice.

I got the package, it was awesome! Thank you so much. The black pair of shoes are really comfortable. And I got the sandals and everything that was on the list. So no worries. 

My bike came as well, but I’m currently using the bike of the other zone leader in the house since it is infinitely better and they have a car. The roads in the qaurtier that we are in are not really roads but more of paths and there are rocks everywhere; large, oddly shaped, in-the-way rocks. It may be the bumpiest excuse for a road I've ever been on. The other Elders bike is light. My bike is heavy, and the difference is enormous. In my old sectuer I always had my bike on the highest gear possible; here it’s always next to the lowest. The roads and the quartier are like a labyrinth. I kind of feel like I’m in a large hamster cage. The first day when I didn't know where we were going, I was amazed how every road seemed to bring us to the same spot :|  .  After 1 day I now know the sectuer, it’s one of the smallest in the mission! Let's see how ill survive.

This is Elder Tahiata on the left and my companion, Elder Lovelock 
Elder Lovelock is Australian, and he arrived in the MTC group before mine. He's awesome and we get along very well. I think he’s from the south of Australia. We are doing more lessons in Tahitian now (because of me ;) ) and the language is progressing well. Hopefully by the 8 month mark in Tahiti, I’ll have it down, “e mea papu”, as they would say. 

This Sunday, I played the piano for sacrament meeting. Wow, that was stressful. I really need to stop playing that tiny excerpt of Chopin that I can play from memory. It makes people think I know how to sight read music. It wasn't terrible however, since I had some time to practice the night before. So that's a first. The chorister told me she was praying to send an elder that could play piano. So she is the reason I'm here! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

I’m getting transferred tomorrow.

3 March 2014 Uturoa, Raiatea


I'm getting transferred tomorrow. I will miss Raiatea, but it gets a little tiring when you teach the same people for half a year with no progression. I’ve left the ward better than when I came, with the spirits help, and I’m going to be on Tahiti. Just outside out of the city – Paea. I guess you can call it the county and the city is Tiapa. My companion is Elder Lovelock an Australian. 

I literally know nothing about the zone, other than it's mostly sisters. There are the zone leaders, the district leaders then it's all companionships of sisters, about 6, I think? So it's a little different than your average mission zone.

Raiatea was awesome, but I'm looking forward to the change. I know I will miss here when I'm there. That's for sure. I think the missionary I'm switching with is currently serving in his home stake. That's the problem. But this transfer is enormous as well. Transfers here are weird. It's not like a normal mission.

Ariipaea et moi
This is my favorite investigator, he's a little bit handicapped and I'm gonna miss him a ton! He's got this weird condition with his skin as well where he can't really sweat. I think I'm the first missionary that's actually taught him and taken him seriously. He has all the 10 commandments memorized and he has memorized "I will go and do the things the Lord commands!" It's great!

Souer Guillan and Elder Purdy
We went on a hike to the 3 waterfalls of Raiatea, there are a lot more but theses are the 3 waterfalls everyone visits. It was a hike really similar to when we go to Letchworth or Stoney Brook.

Bamboo thicket

The jungle is pretty thick. We need bamboo like this in our yard.

 This is a Mapae tree or in Tahitian - tumu mapae

Big waterfall. In Tahitian - he'e pape (slip water)
This is 2. I didn't get to see 3. We didn't have enough time,
but apparently, it is bigger than this one.
In my new assignment I'll be in a house with the zone leaders. It's the 4 of us. Everyone says that's a blast. It's interesting; the general consensus here is the outer islands are awesome, but Tahiti is a little more fun because the work is faster and you get to see all the other elders and live in a house with other people. 

I'm not in the CITY city, just outside in what we would call Tahitian suburbs? We are on bikes . The zone leaders are in a car. 

I can speak in Tahitian now, kind of. It’s good enough that I can basically make it through a lesson, or first contact without getting too lost. I can have conversations with the mamis and papis and teach now. So the Tahitian is good enough that I’ll be able to progress at Tahiti. If you don’t speak any at all, it’s difficult to learn there. But if you already speak a decent amount you can find people that speak and get better. That’s what I plan to do. I kind of feel like a rebel missionary right now, because I’m not exactly on board with the new vision. 

The new missionaries arrive the end of March. I have a feeling I'm going to be there for 3 weeks and then train there.

Cargo ship that sails between Tahiti and Raiatea.
My luggage and bike will go to Tahiti on this.
I'll finally get my package from home when I get to Tahiti, I think.

Elder Demuyck is staying and he doesn't know everything he needs to. He has only been here two weeks and one of those we spent on Tahiti. I wrote everything down on a paper for him: all our investigators, all our contacts, all the numbers and all the families that work with us. The last few days I have been giving him a tour of our sector. 

I'm pretty sure they  have AC in Tahiti. All the houses in Tahiti have AC pretty much. My face is red because we spent a lot of time on our bikes this week and ONE day I forgot to put on sunscreen. GAH! Oh well, the second coming will happen before I can suffer from skin cancer at a good old age. 

It's a bummer I only served with Elder Demuynck a couple weeks. We have almost exactly the same mind set and vision. And almost all the same interests. He will actually come out with me and look at the stars. Last night it was incredible, you could see the arm of the Milky Way galaxy! The camera can't quite capture it though. It's sad. Things like that you can only see to experience it.

Ok, well I have to go! 

Love you all! I'll email you again from Tahiti xD