Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 2015

May began with a District Conference.  This means that members from all over Chuuk meet together for learning and instructions.  Our mission president and his wife came from Guam.  Here we are with the flower head bands that were presented to us by some of the members.  My muumuu was also a gift from a patient. The women here dress in lovely muumuus.  Sometimes they wear the characteristic Chuukese skirts.  I will show some of them below.

The women had a special meeting while the men were having leadership training.  The babies were good, but tired by the end of the meeting.

Many of the people arrived by boat from other islands.

Some came by "taxi" (flat bed truck).  Here are some of our branch members loading up to go home.

It always makes me feel good to see many people here attending church on Sundays and most of the stores are closed, like the one below.

Clair has had several opportunities to assist with medical problems outside of the time in the hospital clinic.  Here are a couple of them:

They don't have playgrounds here, but the trees that fell in the typhoon are good to climb on!

Here is the group of Primary children I work with each Sunday and one of their leaders.  There are a lot of children who live near the church and many of them attend church without their parents.  They are very sweet and eager to learn.  Many don't attend school so it is a real learning experience for them.

Below is a picture of a mountain called "The Octopus" because of it's shape.  Below it is a flame tree.  Right now the flame trees are in bloom and are quite beautiful with their red flowers.  The foliage on the mountain is much more sparse than it was before the typhoon.

We had a concern that another typhoon was coming.  We had wind and rain which caused waves on the lagoon--something we don't usually see.  Chuuk has a lagoon surrounded by a coral reef that keeps out most of the waves and tidal changes.  Fortunately the typhoon passed us by this time.

It was birthday time--two senior missionaries had birthdays so we celebrated.  We also welcomed another senior couple to Chuuk.  He is a judge and will help the courts here for a short period of time.  There has never been more than one senior couple in Chuuk before, so we feel blessed to have so many friends.

We participated in a Walk-A-Thon to raise disaster relief funds.  We walked 3 1/2 miles in 35 (Clair) or 36 (Annette) minutes.  It was a cloudy morning so not too hot, but with the humidity we were soaked by the end.  

We were awarded T-shirts for being in the top ten in the over 60 age group.

Later that day we attended an activity at the branch where we attend Church (Mechitiw Branch).  The women cleaned inside the buildings and the men worked on cleaning up outside.  I washed the walls in the chapel with these two cute helpers who worked non-stop.

Here is our branch president and some of the workers:

One of the missionaries working in Mechitiw with a machete.  They actually use machetes to cut some of the branches of the trees.

They also used a chain saw.  The young men like to do hard work and use dangerous tools!

Several young people helped get water for cleaning from the nearby stream.

Here are two helpers bringing us water to clean with.

They used parts of the tree to construct a nice bench in the shade just outside the chapel.  Clair is sitting on the new bench.  Later they extended it so it is longer now.  

Some of the women cooked chicken (which they called "soup") and rice for everyone to have for lunch.

It was a fun activity and we got a lot done.  But the biggest surprise for me was when I arrived at church the next day to see they had also painted inside the chapel.  It looked really beautiful and clean.

Below are some of the skirts that Chuuk is famous for. There are two main types--those with a patchwork of different colors and pieces, always with some kind of fringe on the bottom--and those with appliqued flowers and lots of decorative stitching.  I wonder if these would catch on in the U.S.? 

Another thing that is very typical here in Chuuk is Spam.  It comes in all flavors.  It is not very healthy but since people don't have refrigeration, they can eat a can of spam with their rice.

We do occasionally take a break and have some fun here.  We like to go snorkeling and looking at the many types of seaweed and coral here.  There are also lots of interesting and brightly colored fish.  Here are some shells that I found while snorkeling.  The big one had something alive in it which I was told I should eat!

The sea and the clouds provide beautiful views especially on sunny days.  

We mustn't forget why we came.  We have an important message to share that will affect people's lives for eternity.  Here is a picture of a card that someone made showing some of our missionaries enthusiastic in their great cause.

We love these missionaries.  We love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We rejoice when we see how much it helps others.  We see evidence every day of the Lord's hand in this work and his many blessings to us here.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Romanum (Island of Chuuk) after Typhoon Maysak

April 14, 2015

President  Walter from Romanum came with his boat to take us to Romanum to visit shut-ins again.  The boat ride was really nice.  The water was smooth and I enjoyed looking at the beautiful clouds and didn’t even feel like I had to hang on for dear life.  I imagined that someday I will think back on this experience and actually miss Chuuk.  

When we got there he had a young man climb a coconut tree and get us some coconuts which he opened.  He asked me if I  brought my straw, because I have been bringing one to keep from spilling coconut water all down my shirt.  I must be getting a reputation with those straws!

We climbed the mountain behind the church and began visiting homes.  The devastation was really sobering.  There were trees down all over the place.  They had cut through the downed trees so the path could be used—at least where we went—but it was sad to see.  It was extremely hot partly because there was not much shade. 

When we reached the top of the mountain there was a beautiful open field with yellow flowers.

Many homes were damaged or destroyed.  Here is one that had several trees fall on it.

Following President Walter through the brush.

This little boy is learning to use a machete.  Look what his toys are:  (a piece of cardboard and a broken knife)

We saw a woman that had surgery on her foot and hasn’t walked since.  Now her legs are unable to straighten.  We encouraged her to work to straighten her legs and begin to walk again.  It will take work and pain, but it may be possible to walk again.

On we go through the woods.

The branch president introduced us to his mother:

These young people were cooking over a fire in their makeshift outdoor kitchen.  Close by was a woman living in a tent (a temporary shelter).

Next we saw a woman who was extremely thin, lying on the floor of a house (they all sleep on the floor here).  She had a fever and was extremely weak and had been sick several weeks.  She was in her 70’s.  They wanted to know if they should take her to the hospital.  Clair examined her and told them she would probably die if they didn’t take her to the hospital and she might die if they did.  There was nothing more that could be done outside the hospital.   We later learned that she died a few days later.

Our next stop was to see a man who had COPD from years of smoking.   He stopped 2 years ago, but could hardly talk without gasping for air.  There are no portable oxygen tanks here.  We recommended an inhaler which would help, if he can get one. 

It was laundry day at this house we passed.  The woman in the rear was boiling water over an outdoor fire on a day that was so hot we were dripping sweat.  Even Clair’s pants were soaked.  It is hotter without the shade the trees used to provide.

Here is another family gathered around a cooking fire.

Next we came to the Branch President’s house.  He told us he had been fortunate—a tree fell on his house, but it kept the roof from flying off!

This girl was drying fish on the roof her father caught when it started to rain.  It poored rain.  She is bringing the fish inside.  If they dry it and salt it it can last up to 3 weeks.  There is no refrigeration on most of these islands (or electricity).

Here is another young man that we have been helping with his health problems.  His mother is a Relief Society President and has 17 children!

I am sorry I can't get the next picture to display right side up.  It is not uncommon in Chuuk to see children playing in their “birthday suit” or playing with machetes.

The women in the background are doing laundry while the children are taking "showers."

We were really impressed with the branch president.  He is also a tribal chief (there are two tribes on Romanum) so he has many responsibilities.  As he guided us around the island you could tell he loved the people he serves and they respected him.  In spite of their difficulties, he laughs often.  Below is his new adopted daughter.

We love the people of Chuuk.  It is clear that they love their children.  They have little in the way of material things, but they understand the importance of family.  And they have faith in God and speak of it often.