Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Written July 19, received July 26 Independance Day

Sorry, the internet died last week, here is my mass email that I wrote then.

On July 12th, 36 years ago Kiribati received its independence from
England and became a democratic country. So now every year they have a
huge celebration and a government holiday for the whole week. Luckily
for us, the 12th was Sunday, so they shifted the majority of the
celebration to Monday, so everyone could go to church (not joking,
Church is important here). So I got to take part in all of the
festivities on P-Day. Since we are religious leaders Elder Smith and I
were invited to watch the festivities under a nice tent and then go to
a party thrown by the government. The day started off with the 'March'
basically a parade. All of the schools on the island made homemade
uniforms and stood in a big field and marched in front of the special
guests and the chief policeman. It was a competition as well to see
which primary school marched in step the best and performed the best.
They all marched then stopped in front of our tent and danced or sang
as a group then marched back to their place in the line. It was really
fun to watch. Unfortunately no one threw candy. But we found out that
there are special hats made out of coconut fronds that we gathered as
many as we could. Mine is turning into a classy brown bowler hat.

After there was the championships to see which town on the island had
the best team in Volley Ball, Soccer, and ‘wrestling’ (te bo mwaane).
I don’t usually get excited about sports, but since it was the first
I’ve seen in a while I was having a great time. I especially enjoyed
the wrestling because the man that took 2nd (he was so close to
winning, but there was a bad call by the reff) was baptized the
Saturday before. I would’ve watched the soccer, but it was at the same
time as the party that we were invited to, and we felt that since we
are the only representatives this church has, we should make a good
showing. In this type of party they serve food (kinda like a pot luck,
so there was lots) and then there is a maroro where people are invited
to stand and offer a few thoughts. Going off of people’s advice Elder
Smith gave our speech. He used lots of fancy old language, then we
sang ‘I’ll go where you want me to go’ on the spot, and he closed by
thanking every one and praising the country. Right after he spoke a
really old man stood up who we found out afterwards was the first
president of Kiribati. Yep, going to fancy parties and speaking with
the president. Unfortunately we didn’t find out that he was the
president until after he had already left the island. The rest of the
week we tried to get as many lessons as we could, but the majority of
the population left their homes to stay in the central town with all
of the main activities. So we couldn’t get many of our times with

The Saturday before we threw a picnic for all members of the church
and their friends. At this picnic we had food, volleyball, games,
Elder Smith and I did some traditional dancing, but the very best part
was the baptism. 4 people were baptized that we have been working with
for a long time. Takeiti is a  lady who I call grandma
(I’ve got lots), then Koonono and his Wife Marina, and Monika a
high school student. I’m not supposed to pick favorites, but I was
super happy to see Koonono baptized, his mom is the one that has a
child in Utah that we helped her get contact with. He was too shy to
come to church for ages, but after a lot of personal help and many
changes in his marriage and family life that come from obeying church
principals he was baptized and is now ready to receive the priesthood.
The changes in his life were almost unbelievable, but with the Lords
work anything is possible. He is now much quicker to smile and I take
that as one small sign of the help of the Holy Ghost in his life. I
love this work and I love being able to be a tool for change in the
lives of so many people. Have a great week!
Elder Morley

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