Sunday, February 24, 2013

Doers of the Work


We have been so impressed with all the missionaries in the Vanuatu, Port Vila Mission.  I'm sure they are exactly like all the missionaries in the other 404 missions throughout the world.   Our mission President, who now is 65 years old, has always dedicated his time and energy to helping others know of Jesus Christ.  He talks of things that matter most, he does not waste time, he works from early in the mornings til late at night, day in and day out.  Eight months ago, this mission was created.  In that time, there has been enormous improvements.  Today, there is a clear boundary between what local members are expected to do, and what the mission personel are do to.  Members, with their own money,  do much more to get ready to go on missions and prepare themselves to be able to go to the temple.  Members know that it is they that must learn to teach others, and it is they that must become the leaders of this church, not missionaries who come and go.  For the first time, there are disciplinary councils that enforce the Lord's commandments, even though there are some differences between local customs, like getting married and living the word of wisdom.  Pres. Brewer has met with the main chief of Santo, and explained the Lords way of living, verses some of their customs. 

Sister Chynoweth - Office

We now have 10 senior couples serving in the Vanuatu, Port Vila Mission.  Some in New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, and here in Port Vila take care of all the office work.  This work includes not only paying bills and getting funds to missionaries, but it includes getting visa approvals for every person coming into this country and every future missionary going out of this country.  They also purchase air plane tickets for missionaries going from Island to Island.  Transfer days, in the office is a very difficult time.  They pay and control telephones for each missionary companionship, which is not easy, when you have missionaries that must follow mission rules with respect to talking to each other and family members.  The office couple assists missionaries to complete new membership records for each person that is baptized.

                                                                 Elder Chynoweth - Office

There are two couples that work with membership leader support.  One couple works mostly with the Young Single Adults throughout this District and other couple works with supporting the branch presidencies and auxillary leaders.  Each senior couple, has been assigned to attend one of the six branchs in the Port Vila area.  In the near future, two senior couples will be invited to serve on the outer Islands. 

                                                     Elder and Sister Jolley - MLS

Some of the most enjoyable missionary work, is done through education and humanitarian assistance.  We have two senior couples, one on Santo, and the other here in Port Vila that work with education.  The church policy is to encourage members to get as much education as possible.  In Vanuatu, children go to school through the sixth grade, after which they must pay their own tuition to continue through high school.  The church has a program, that allows the member to have their tuition paid, if they are attending and involved in the branch and seminary programs.  The perpetual education funds are now available, together with grants that allow qualified members to continue their education in universities and trade schools.  Senior couples teach each person what they must do to qualify and request funds, that will be paid directly to the school they will be attending.

Elder and Sister Hinton - Humanitarian

Humanitarian missionaries work out of their own apartment here in Port Vila.  They look for and obtain approval to install large water tanks in communities on the outer Islands.  They work with members and non members to insure the community has the knowledge to maintain the new water systems.  Local people assist to construct, and pay for transportation of the water tanks.  These missionaries also supply hundreds of wheel chairs to needy people, through the local hospitals and health clinics.  They supply paper and equipment to local schools. 

Elder and Sister Larsen - PEF

Finally, the Auditing couples, teach branch members how to account for the Lords funds, by working with each Branch President, his clerk, and District President.  They work out of their appartment in Port Vila, and travel to every Island in the mission, on a regular basis.

Sister Wallace- Nurse
Of course, my favorite missionary is the mission nurse, Sister Wallace, who is my eternal sweetheart.  She receives phone calls from sick missionaries, at all times of the day and night, and offers solutions ranging from going to the hospital, a clinic, or simply a kind word from their mission mother. 
These missionaries are all doers of the Work of the Lord.  The fact that they are here, is a testiment of their faith and works.  They not only have left their family and home, they continue to leave the comfort of their apartment, evey day, just like the mission President, to do the Lord's work, some for 18 months, others for 23 months.  In the process, their marriages are celestialized, and they get to better understand the Lord, as they see and feel His guidance on a regular basis.  It is a pleasure to work and learn from each one of them.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Celebrating The Holidays

As we race through our day to day schedules, how often do we slow down and ask ourselfs, Why?  Why are we here, right now?  What is the most important thing we can be doing with our talents?  Where are we going? 

From Dec. 5th  to the 7th, I got the opportunity to live on the outer Island of Tanna.   My assignment in our mission field is to upgrade the apartments of our missionaries.  So while we were working on a home in Whitegrass, a truck with about 10 men pulled up into our yard.  They were introduced as members of our church, who preform as warriors to show their father's customs to the tourists.  They all walked a short distance away and changed into their warrior outfits with dark painted faces.  After a few minutes, a loud noise from a sea shell sounded and all heck broke lose.  The warriors made very scary, loud noises, ran with spears, drums, and hammers around the tourists. 

They explained to the tourists several old customs, like how they circumsized the boys at age three, with a bamboo stick, by holding the youth and all the villagers shouting so the mothers could not hear the cries of her boy. 

They danced and talked about how they select a spouse as the young women become of age, the young girl goes to a lake to swim, then the woman of the village protect her as she goes back to the village, and the men try to kidnap her. If one of the young men puts a feather in the young girls hair, it means they will marry some day.

As I was watching everything from back stage, It occured to me, that the warriors all knew exactly where they came from, why they are here, and know where they are going after this life.  They all have a strong testimony of God, and His Son Jesus Christ.  So...after the party was over, I walked up to the tourists, who were thinking how advanced they were with respect to the natives. The tourists had alot of money and technology, lived in big homes, drove cars and were convinced they were superior to the warriors. I told them that all but one of the performers were LDS, and knew more than all of them combined.  The tourist's eyes opened wide and their mouth dropped a bit .  I explained that as members, they had strong testimonies of their Father in Heaven and knew exactly how to get back to heaven.  Elder Maukura, standing next to me, just said it is true.  One man from France, with eyes still wide open, said over and over, it is true, it is true.

We all have much to learn from simple people, who live off the land, just like it was in Eden, and have their priorities in order.  It is a challenge to be in the world, but not be so worldly.  I hope we can all have a great Christmas, knowing why Christ came, and what we should be doing about it.   I love you all.

Friday, October 12, 2012

First 100 days in Vanuatu

THE FIRST 100 DAYS........

This is our new neighborhood.  This picture was taken next to our home.  Vanuatu is everything you would think a South Pacific Island should be.  You can drive around the perimeter of this Island in just over two hours.

Home sweet home. Our home is across the street from our Mission President's home, in a very safe neighborhood.

There are 30 branches in our mission, seven of them on our Island.  This Branch house is Mele, the Branch which we get to attend each week. 
Since the Mele meeting house is so small, the Priesthood, YM, YW meet under the trees.  It is interesting when it rains.
We live in the big city of Port Vila, a city much like any in the USA in 1950, but on the other Islands of our mission, like Tanna, shown here, it is very primitive. This is our chaple.  Up to 300 saints meet here on Sundays.  Last Saturday, five people were baptized in this area.  The outer Islands have much more baptisms than Port Vila.
This is part of the Primary at Saet Siwi, one of our six Branches on Tanna.  We have 101 young missionaries, of which 30 serve in very primitive areas.  They have no power, no running water, and eat off the land.  On this Island, 8 missionaries are Sisters.  All of the missionaries on the outer Islands are my heroes.  I would love to trade them places.
At WhiteGrass, this is where the Sisters shower.  They catch the water from their rain gutters, and with a bucket and a cup they stand on mud inside this plastic shower stall.  Their toilet is so bad, I didn't dare show it, thinking maybe one of their parents might see it also.
It really takes about 100 days for our minds to realize that we are really here, and not in Kansas any longer.  Mary's responsiblity to take care of the health issues of the missionaries is very difficult for her.  She has risen to the challenge and has been of unmeasurable help to many missionaries.  Some missionaries have had TB, Malaria, broken bones, and many have had stomach and muscle problems.  She has prepared a first aid kit, to be in each apartment. Together with medications for each missionary to avoid some of the local problems.   Mary works very close with a Dr. Anderson, from St. George, Ut. who is serving in New Zealand. In the USA, missionaries are screened very closely for medical problems, but the missionaries from the South Pacfic Islands, come with many problems, and then are thrown in very primitive areas, will all kinds of diseases lurking about.  There are alot of mental issues with missionaries trying to live together,when they are from different cultures.  A huge challenge Mary has is the difficulty in communicating with people, that only speak French, Bislama and very little english.  It is one thing to say hello to someone, it is another to talk technical issues with them.
On a similiar calling, my assignment is to bring each missionary apartment up to minimum standards and take care of the seventeen cars in Vanuatu.  Currently, we are building water towers next to each apartment, so that the sisters can take a shower indoors, and have a real time toilet, similiar to those in camp grounds.  We are installing solar power in every apartment, with up to four lights and a battery charger for their cell phones.  We are now moving some of our trucks from Port Vila to the outer Islands.  This will mean that Mary and I will be walking and using the bus system. 
In summary, we are so blessed to have been called to this mission.  There is an enormous demand for senior couples.  We love the other senior couples who also serve here. We currently have six couples, but will get four more by next January.  They run the office, pay the bills, get people to the temple, complete paper work, that allows missionaries to get pass ports, work permits, flights, they teach seminary, operate the perpetual education fund, and assist to get local missionaries papers completed. Our mission President Brewer, together with his Assistants and Zone Leaders all do an excellent job of keeping all 116 of us on track.  We love it here and look forward to the next chapter in this glorious opportunity.  My dad fought here in the South Pacfic, but it is so much nicer for us, being here under peacefull times and being able to share the gospel with wonderful people.