Sunday, December 4, 2011

Missionary work and building up the church in general

Ok first, I got the first package you sent forever ago. Elda Albrek, the senior missionary in Santo found it in quarantine haha. Enjoying the protein bars. Anyways here I go. It'll be random and out of order again. So the other day we were making our forever long walk back from Kuition. We were walking on the road when we saw a mama with his small boy. I saw the boys face when he saw us. His eyes got huge, without wasting a second he screamed and ran away crying. I saw him running away up and down 3 hills. That was his reaction to white people haha. We weren't doing anything scary just walking haha. I think we were the first white people he had seen. And now we'll go to when I got scared. On this same walk back from Kuition it was very dark towards the last leg of the walk. We were walking and talking when in the middle of the road I saw something peculiar. I froze. I asked "do you see that?" I stared for a while and stopped in my tracks. I was legitimitely scared. Then I realized it was a truck parked in the road and the lights were from the reflectors. I was scared of a truck. There's 2 trucks on this island. I'm becoming "manbush". Also, one day Elda Bacon and I went down to Lemanman to find the guy who could come and witness Tabi and Elisabeths' marriage and come with the license. He was there for the big lavet. The prime minister of Vanuatu was here giving a speech. After he was finished he came over to us to meet and and we talked for a bit. I got a photo with him but I forgot to bring my camera again. After he and all the chiefs went up to a stage for their feast. We got invited to eat with them. So good! We also saw some water music. It's one of their custom dances where they basically use the ocean as the drum and make really cool sound effects like dolphins. So then the marriage. Tabi is our neighbor and good friend. His wife Elisabeth is great and is an investigator of ours. President Mahit, the district president in Luganville was supposed to come and perform the marriage for them. . After they ended up going to find an anglican preist to do it. I felt pretty apostate sitting up on the stage with them during it. The preist wore a kkk looking thing and preached and yelled a lot. But at least they're married now. That day was pretty frustrating. I would describe it as someone poking you in the face repeatedly every ten seconds. Just one day though. So we found a man that the missionaries had taught before named Moken. He is so awesome he wants to get baptised so bad. He just needs to get married first. His wife Lydia said she wants to have us come and teach her first and she'll decide on getting married and baptised at the same time. She is so awesome. Last time we went to their house Lydia wasn't there. Moken was talking about how they're so happy now and he says he keeps finding her reading the Book of Mormon. Great couple. Refreshingly educated. Their boy is the best. His name is Limon. Whenever we're about to leave he'll say I love you in english haha. Also we found a guy named Joe. He's really humble and ready to learn. We've taught him a few times and last time we went he told us everything he had read in the Book of Mormon and told the story of it knowing the names and teachings and everything. So refreshing. It's hard to find people that can read. Moken was really glad when he found out we were teaching him because he said that he and Joe had made a pact a few years back that they were going to meet with the missionaries. We were definitely led to him. Also, Jeremy, our albino friend is progressing like crazy. If we don't miss our flight again he'll be getting baptised the day after we get back. He and dustin, a 14 year old boy. They're both so great and will be going to youth conference now. We met this awesome couple. Meri and Jon. They are so kind to us. Whenever we go down we'll drop by their house in route to the end of Kuition. When we head back at the end of the day they'll have a super good meal prepared. They gave me their WWII relic to use. It was a US Navy fork from when the US was stationed here. They love the US army here. All the older guys talk about being scared of the big planes because they hadn't seen one before. The other day we realised it was thanksgiving. We were planning on asking the Zone Leaders in Santo to send us some meat on the flight coming to Gaua that day. They were lazy. But at Meri and Jon's house they ended up making us a super good meal WITH MEAT! So work down in Kuition is great! It's super far away but there are a ton of people ready and who want to join the church. The only problem is they're too far away to come to church. We've been working with this a lot. There's a member here, Filip. He should be the leader here in the future. He's working so hard with us, finding people and using his power as chief to find land for the church. We got approval to go down and teach a sunday school every other sunday. If and when the attendance gets large we can start sacrament meeting and sometime get the land and chapel. It's a long way to walk but they're amazing here. So many said they were wating for us to come or to come back. We've been working a lot with the district and Elda Albrek to get this moving. Lots of time, thought, and prayer. Also good news, our unit here in Gaua got approved to become a Branch! We'll see what happens because to be a branch president you have to be married. Charles isn't. Stevan would be the one to take his place. Charles is a great guy. We're assisting him in his work  ,Inviting all the youth back to church, seeing all the less actives and working with the ground the church has already bought down by the airport for the building of a real chapel. President Mahit is planning to come but Elda Albrek had him wait till we got back so we can show him everything thats going on. Ok so a miracle has happened. I love vegetables. They're like candy to me. We're just going to peoples houses all the time and they fill us up with "island kakae". Pineapples, watermelon, bell peppers, onions, green onions, taro, manyoak, yam, kumala, passionfruit, snake bean, so good. We have a watermelon garden. It's right next to where we sit in front of the house and eat watermelon and throw the seeds. Thats how rich the ground is, if you just throw seeds they'll grow. As far as our people we're teaching we are so set. When I first came I was pretty concerned, very little. We have so much now. Somewhere around 65. It's raining a lot so the roads are just giant puddles of water and deep quicksand-like mud. I had my first fall. I slipped and got pretty dirty. Also I stepped in a giant cow turd because they always tie up their cows close to the road. It was fresh and I almost slipped because of it haha. We're also working with Jansen still. He's so awesome, we need him for the work to progress. He sold his land to the church for the chapel but no one had done anything. We taught an old guy named steven, he's from one of the islands in the south, futuna. He is interesting. He knows the Book of Mormon super well but won't come to church. He was paralyzed for 2 years. We taught him and his 2 granddaughters who are SDA. At the end of the lesson, steven said "you're going to leave your church and go get baptised with them" pretty bold haha. Also we made passionfruit juice. So good! Also we made spaghetti! We found some real pasta noodles and tomato paste. Added water to the past with onions and garlic, very good. We've also been making fried rice when we can find eggs. Also fries! We get kumala (a sweet potato) and deep fry them in oil and put salt, They're like fries but a little sweet too... They're  way good. Also kava is the worst thing ever. It's the biggest stumbling block in this work and in their society. We're teaching a man named Josef who lives with and married one of Jansens' daughters. It's going really well, he has the coolest dreds, he looks like a rasta. I could talk about it all day but work is going really good. Plenty to do. VERY involved with missionary work and just building up the church in general. In gaua it's very cut off from anything, even missionary news. Apparently some bickering and stuff is going on with the other missionaries and other small problems. Elda Bacon and I are away from it and got extended some more time again. They were talking about transfers and the senior zone leader told me the   mission president said, they need to stay. Anyways very random, hope you get anything out of it haha. Not enough time to word it well or work on english. And by the way about the Christmas call. It won't be skype. We'll be calling on our own phone because we'll be in Gaua. No skype but that does mean we get to talk longer. Anyways gotta go, off to play basketball for the first time in a long time.

Elda Sias

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9th,2011- Faith is the Power, Obedience the price, Love is the Motive, Spirit the Key, Christ is the Reason...

Ok. Here I go again with a random listed in my daily planner letter. But first off thank you so much for the letters! I smile so big when ever I get to read them and laugh out loud like a "krange man". Ok ,I'll answer some questions I saw in your letters. First, I don't use sunscreen that much, just a base haha. I use it on some days when I go to kuition (explain later) because it's a super long walk in the sun. Also, yes ,I rock the sulu from time to time. The unit leader here, Charles, gave it to me, it's nice and breezy. I charge my ipod whenever paul saaky uses his generator haha. And Elder Gashler! I met and got to know him reasonably well. You should know this mission isn't very big and it's easy to know everyone, especially in Vanuatu. I think there's around 36 now, so you get to know and befriend all of them. When I was in Fiji before I got here the missionaries in Fiji were talking about how Vanuatu is cool because of the small numbers and unity. I can't believe your posing for ensign! haha I must see this asap. Ok letter time. So first off I'll say from the last letter I wrote until now I've experienced the worst time of my mission with the greatest time. First we'll get the bad over with. So I can't remember if I mentioned Kolombas. We had some great lessons with him and we were helping him to prepare to be baptised. His wife is the most stubborn lady in the world. We came and shared a great message with him about cleansing yourself through repentance before baptism. The spirit was so strong, I cried a little. But then D+C 40:2 explains what happened next clearly. First his wife, Anna came out and was SO mad! At him and at us. She could barely even breathe and she didn't blink. She said he'd been baptised already and that he's already repented before. Kolombas stormed off and I talked with Anna. I was able to help her calm down and I was trying to help her out and we were making some progress but then, Kolombas came back. He came back and started destroying their house. After  this he beat Anna in front of us. Elda Bacon and I were shocked beyond belief. Unfortunately Elda Bacon wasn't able to speak the language yet so it was on me. I straightaway reprimanded him and tried to help them but it was a bad scene. All the people who lived around came and watched. We've continued to try to help him, he's a good man but he's not there yet. After, later that night we got a call from the Zone Leaders saying that Elda Potrie, (best friend with my companion) was hit by a car in Luganville. All time low. It was hard not to get very down. Luckily it turns out after being out for a good while he's fine except for extremely sore and some bruises and scabs. But I did gain something out of the hardship. I had been praying that I could grow in my faith and I didn't want to be affected by anything. I got my answer in this one very bad day. I was very sad but I knew our fasting would help Elda Potrie. Faith is so important. In our mission motto it says: Faith is the power, Obedience the price, Love is the motive, Spirit is the key, Christ is the reason. I think about that a lot. Faith is the power. After that it gets much better and climaxes. Sorry, it'll be random and non chronological. So on a P day Elda Bacon and I went down to Gudfala Stoa (Good store) to buy some soap to wash our clothes. When we got there and bought our stuff we met a man named Winston. He said he's been wanting to hear the message of the missionaries. He then showed us the road to his house and met his family. I know without a doubt we were led here. He and his wife are elect. We went and shared the message of the restoration with them and it went so well. They recognized us as servants of the lord. Last week we went again to share the plan of salvation. He and his wife are the greatest. They both expressed how glad they were that we were coming and sharing these true messages to bless them. They said they knew every bit of it was true. They even recognized blessings that came after our first lesson. Winston said that he and his wife would argue a lot. Ever since we had came they hadn't once and everythings great. They said they would never pray before. He said now,"now we're praying as a family and at meals." They are so prepared. Also, at the last conference President Klingler talked about DO'S and BE'S. The church did a study to see if any DO'S such as going to mutual or getting duty to god led to any BE'S such as an active member. They found that DO'S are good but they didn't necessarily always lead to BE'S. The best DO'S they found are the ones when no ones around and it's not an outward observance such as personal prayer, and personal study and the scriptures and reflecting. There is so much truth in that.  This would be my advice to sierra in these years and you too mom and dad.
 Also, as far as the rat, haven't won yet. It's still up there. We found a cat and put him in the roof but he kept going out. Even when one our friends, Tabi Zock kept throwing it up there repeatedly. We named it Eski after the brand of cordial juice here. Then we let it sleep in the house one night because the rat comes down on the floor in the night. All I got out of it was a failure ,cat snuggling while I slept. Also Elda Fulla gave us Kool Aid! Probably the best thing I've ever tasted. We got red and blue. Send lots in the next package. We also got creative. We tried making spaghetti. We found some pasta noodles, not just ramen-like ones. After some not tomato sauce like prego a sauce kind of like ketchup. After as far as meat it's either tuna or corned meat. We went with corned meat. It looked good. It wasn't good. Also it's watermelon time here in Gaua. We've been buying them like nobodys business. The other day Jansen (Don't know if I've talked about him already) gave us some huge colorful fish. We found a lemon tree and we stoned a bunch of them down to season the fish, so good! So as far as eating meat here, no gat. I think I've eaten meat 3 times with fish occasionaly. It's common when someone feeds us (which is rarely) they'll say "sorry there's no meat in it". The other day we contacted an old man on the road named Juda, an awesome friendly guy. Before we could go find his house we ended up leaving one appointment and following Elda Bacon's false impression? and getting lost. But we ended up in Juda's garden and he was there. We drank coconuts and we ended up teaching him there. Great lesson and he understood very well. Also another cool thing happened. On a P day Elda Bacon dropped his planner and a man named Jeremy found it and he came to return it to us. He's so awesome. He's an albino from Mere Lava. He's come to church every time since we first taught him and apparently he went to seminary yesterday! Also I learned a new area. My first companion didn't show it to me because it's far away and he was lazy haha. Elda Fotukava, one of the Zone leaders served here so he showed it to me. Such an awesome place it's called Kuition. Very far away but the people are so so kind. Everyone investigator and recent convert that we went back to was so glad to see the missionaries again. James said he'd been holding his tithing until we came back. We went yesterday and we got crafty. We went to Gudfala store first and bought 6 Fanta's. On the route to this area there are 4 rivers you wade through. One is a big one so it has a bridge. We buried the Fanta's in the river after making a big stone holder felt them. I felt like Moroni. Came back and they were colder than room temperature! YES! One of the recent converts here is Filip with his wife Delma. Filip is a chief of Lembot. He is legendary. When he was first taught he said 4 times in the 1st lesson I won't be baptised. At the end of the lesson he said yes. After just the first lesson he became a missionary and shared what he heard with a nearby village. He's an awesome member now. We're working with him to start a new unit down in his area because it's so far away. At this conference a seventy is coming, don't know who, and we'll be giving a presentation of Gaua. I've got all the information to present this for a new unit. In front of a seventy, yikes! Also I gave a talk the other week about family. I read out of the Family: Proclamation. (translated because I couldn't find one in bislama to read out of) and when I talked about you guys I cried. Miss you all. Also on a funny note I delivered the sad news of Michael Jackson's death to Gaua. They didn't know! They have some T shirts of him and listen to him but had no idea haha. But I am glad to report I am having a blast. Elda Bacon is the bomb. It's not like some where it's putting up with them but I have one of my friends who happens to be my companion. We have a blast and were very unified. The spirit is undoubtedly with us. I feel like I'm growing so much and learning tons. I have a favorite scripture as of now Alma 29:9 It's in my head a lot. It's so important to be humble. Especially on a mission. If you're humble you'll continue to grow. The second you stop being humble you stop progressing. I am seeing answered prayers so often here. It's unmistakable. Anyways ,hope you don't fall asleep reading this novel, maybe divide it into chapters on the blog haha. Anyways love you all SO very much and I pray for you often. Take a hug out of storage again.

Elda Sias

Sunday, October 30, 2011

And here's what it's all about.....

Baptism last Saturday with new companion, Elda Bacon from Idaho
Marieta, Joji and Felix

And on to Gaua, pronounced "Gow-uh"

Jansen arrives at the "airport in Gaua"

His new home and friends...
From left to right, returned missionary Danson, sometimes companion Charles and soon to be married Tabi

The outhouse


Jansen "rockin the sulu," gifted to him by Charles...

Jansen learning to use the bow and arrow with church in background

Jansen in the kitchen, laundry preparing the staples ( corned meat, noodles and rice)

The inside of the outhouse with books- used as toilet paper

Farewell to the old.....

Farewell with Waet + Marta, Sean Claude in Turtle Bay

Fareewell dinner with Rachel and Marta

Food was scarce....

Memory of a few of Jansen's feliine friends in Fanafo

"Nani" or goat in Bislama.  Jansen and his companion used to wave and talk to him every day....


Bus, another island friend, who likes to eat ties...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

News from Gaua!


Ok so I just read the beastly amount of letters in my inbox, took forever but it was a blast. Smiled really big and cried a little. Dick is in a much better place and I will miss him a lot. Ok, so as far as my letter it will be very jumbled and sometimes not in chronological order because I've just been writing down random things when they happen in my planner. Ok we'll start with day 1. Out of santo in the smallest plane ever to banks. First landed in Torres and Mota Lava, then to Gaua. The landing in Gaua was pretty epic. The runway is a grass field and it had just rained. We came in on one side of the runway and ended up on the other side nearly into the bush haha. There to greet me was my companion, Elda Namariel from Tanna.His mind had already returned to his house, haha. After 2 weeks with him I was with Charles, a returned missionary who served in Fiji and Vanuatu and is now our Unit President (bishop) and a very close friend of mine. The church is pretty awesome here .It's a nakamal or a small meeting space for chiefs. The house is....... good. Very basic. It's basically cement walling with wallpaper thrown on the floor ,haha. After a unsuccesful battle with massive spiders, milipats (massive centipedes), mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, and worms we finally spent hours DEEP cleaning the place and sealing the open windows with mosquito net that we cut. All that's left is the stupid rat in the ceiling. We tried a trap but it didn't work. Next, natuarally I found a cat and threw it up in the ceiling crawlspace where it's living, VICTORY! But all that aside, I promise it's safe and I won't get any diseases ,haha. So as far as bathing its pretty sweet. Fill up a bucket of water, grab a cup and go! We've also just bathed purely in large rain storms.It's kinda like a shower right? Ok, here's where it gets out of order ,please pardon. So here the main social gathering is the airport. Planes come monday, wednesday, and friday and on all of these days it's packed with all the 'manbus' (bush men women and children) coming to watch the planes land and go. One time a plane was taking off and this dog chased it barking the whole way and the plane had to turn around and start again. The owner of the dog was so mad that he threw a huge piece of wood in his direction.We laughed so hard, haha. Also ,you're allowed to bring chickens on the plane. They bring them in rice bags and thier heads stick out the top all the time, haha. Ah yes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR MOM AND SIERRA (for next month)...... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU. And sorry for all the withdrawals, I'm trying my best to budget but stuff keeps coming up. I will be withdrawing again, hope it's alright. Next month Tabi and Elizabet are finally getting married and we've been asked to contribute a 18 kilo pack rice. Also, I got to give my first baby blessing. Bartholomew (if thats how you spell it) Clement Asao.It was really awesome, besides when he farted really big during the blessing when I was holding him. Also one week was pretty slowed by another celebration, Torba day. There were over 20 soccer teams competing for the prize. At the time, my companion Charles was on a team so I ended up watching the whole tournament. Charles' team asked me to bless them to be able to perform ,haha. I just prayed that they could avoid injury and brought it back to the savior. Also another good friend of ours here, JANSEN! same spelling! He's so awesome, he always catches fish for us. Unfortunately, he's somewhat less active. Before we went to visit him I said a silent prayer in my head asking for what he needed. After Moroni 7:47-8 came to my head we  went and talked about charity and the pure love of christ. I shared you experience mom, of how you prayed to be able to see everyone as a child of god. The spirit was so strong. He teared up a little and after our message he said I know I have to come back to church. He came the next sunday :) After Elda Bacon and I went back and shared another message. (I'll get to him) We talked about repentance and the power of forgiveness. We shared the story of Alma the younger with him. As I was relating the story I really began to cry. Forgiveness is such an amazing feeling. Since then he's been giving us lots of deep doctrine questions that take time to find but are really enlightening and fun to find. Last time we went we just chatted and as we were leaving he asked, "Elda Sia , can I ask you something?" I said yes. He said "we've been wondering, are you related to George Bush? You look so much like him" haha Also I tried octopus for my first time in laplap way good! Also here they have turtle! Its actually really good!They chase it in a boat until it gets tired and when it comes up for air they jump on it haha. There isn't a thing I won't eat ,haha, especially if it's meat. Ok, Elda Bacon. "Pikinini blong mi." A tradition here is when you train someone he's your boy. Elda Bacon is so awesome! He's from Idaho Falls, Idaho. We get along gloriously. It's not just a putting up with each other, but it's a genuine friendship. Even more importantly he's a hard worker. The work is really going ahead with us two. Our studies and planning are so great. We've planned for certain lessons for 2 hours a few times, haha. One time we were joking around about how I was a seer and revalator because of my name badge, Elda Sia. He then proceeded to stop on the road (luckily just us 2) and say a prayer aloud thanking for my wisdom and the privelege to be with me. I was blown away , a little over board ,haha. One time in our companionship study we came to the section, "how to begin teaching" we were being sarcastic to each other and it was his turn to teach in role play so I gave him the topic of Kolob. hahaha It was so funny "our message we have for you today is very complex and I'm not sure I grasp it fully myself". So last saturday we had 3 baptisms. Marieta, Joji, and Felix. We held the baptism in the ocean next to the chapel. Great day. So our house is in a small area owned by and eccentric man named Paul Saaky. He's so funny. He always yells to us at all times of the day because of the big open windows. The Saaky family is so awesome. There's a boy here named "Fanson" but we just barely found out his name is VINCENT but pronounded in french. He's always comes and hangs out with us. I asked him what do you look forward to or what do you want to accomplish in life? "I want to be a missionary" he is sooo awesome and really knowlegable in the scriptures for a 12 year old. So when we get back we're going to be way busy. First we have an area 6 hours away walking that we'll go to and sleep at a members house. After we'll go to all those who have been waiting for us and teach for a week or so. Oh yeah, and by the way, we are in charge of 2 islands haha. Gaua and Mere Lava. We'll also be going there. For some reason the missionaries haven't been there in a long time so it'll be good to get over there and help out. There is a missionary house there but it isn't finished . I think it's just a floor. We get to take a very small boat, YES! The owners name is Kamwell. He's the owner of the small store we get all our food at. He likes us a lot so he gave us an amazing price to go. His wife always runs to the garden to grab tomatoes or kumala for us when we come. Golden family, we're going to begin teaching them soon. Ok, Kolombus. He's a man who's been taught for a decent amount of time. We had taught him before but didn't seem to get to him. Elda Bacon and I went back and planned to talk about the plan of salvation. I felt prompted other wise. I skipped to "Kolombus, what do you think your purpose in life is?" He said to live a life good enough for God and then he said, but I don't know how to be saved. After we talked about baptism as a necessary ordinance. At the end of the lesson he said he wanted to be baptised. So aweosome. Later that night Charles told us he drinks kava and smokes. We adjusted and prepared a lesson to help him grasp this big choice and really change. We sat down with him and I asked, "Kolombus, why do you want to be baptised?" he said "because I want to give up kava and smoking and let go of worldy things and all the hardships that come with it. I didn't even ask for those! This was after fervent prayer by the 2 of us the night before and that morning. Heavenly Father truly had prepared him. So for the time being it pretty interesting teaching by myself. Elda Bacon isn't quite there yet ,so it's definitely new, but it is helping me. So this time has been hard and very rewarding at the same time. I am learning so much and learning how to love others more. Anyways my fingers hurt .Love you all so much and I pray for you often!

Elda Sia

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's a small world...

Vince and Michelle,

I listen in on the LDSMMPacific group. I'm excited to see your post today! Our son, Jacob is in the Fiji Suva mission, speaking Fijian. He's been out just over a year, and has been in Suva, along with a few small towns (Kuku and Sigatoka) on the main Island of Fiji. 

For Michelle, your husband was my fellow-shipper and best friend when my family first joined the church in Carpinteria. I actually knew him a little bit from the Presbyterian Community Church there, but when his family joined the church, he "disappeared" for a while. It was funny to see him at the "Mormon" church in Santa Barbara the first time I went, and think, "oh, of course, that's why I haven't seen him a the Community Church for a while!"

Jacob is our youngest. His big brother went to Washington, and I was grateful that we got eased into the "distance" aspect of them being so far away. Fiji still seems so far to me (even though I went to New Zealand on my mission). Vanuatu is pretty remote--even compared to Fiji. Bless you guys for being able to do that with your first.

I like to sail, and one of the sailing magazines I used to get had an article from a couple that visited Vanuatu. They talked about Bislama, and how a lot of it is based in English. One of the funniest Bislamic words they encountered was the word for pianos. Roughly translated it was "a big fellow box, it has teeth, some are white, some are black, you bang on it, it sings".

Fun to see you guys online. Vince has always been one of my heroes. Good luck with whole Vanuatu experience. 

--Dave Duncan

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A few words about Gaua

The letter to follow is the kind response I received after emailing the mission president for details about how we are to continue to stay in touch with Jansen while serving on Gaua. 

Included you will note that mail service will be irregular for Jansen while serving on Gaua with no email access.  It sounds as if he will be in for a zone conference to a more developed area  every 6 weeks at which time he can read emails and access letters so blog posts will be more sporadic during this time.   This said, I know that the emails and letters he receives lift his spirits greatly, so please continue to send them, and just know that it may be a while before they reach him.

Dear Sister Sears;
Your email has been forwarded to the us, the Warners who are the missionary couple in Port Vila,  Vanuatu. Elder Warner serves as 1st counselor to the mission president who resides (when they are not traveling) in Fiji.  We are from Bountiful. Elder Warner and I have been in Vanuatu for a year now and are loving being with these lovely people and the young missionaries. We lived in missionary housing on the Island of Ambae (which is next to Gaua) for 3 months at the first of the mission.  What a choice experience living closer to the “people”.  Scrubbing laundry by hand, reading by candlelight and taking “cup” showers (pour water from a bucket over your head) was like being on a camping trip. We felt spoiled because we had a little gas cooking stove so didn’t have to cook over a fire.  The Elders usually hire a Mama member of the church to do their laundry but I didn’t feel like it was right for me to.   

Elder Sears is a fine young man and you can be proud of him. We love him.  He will have a wonderful experience on Gaua.  His companion is one of the most experienced missionaries who is a district leader and is Ni-Van (Native of Vanuatu)from the island of Tanna, so no worries, he is familiar with living among the people. We love Elder Namariel and he will look after your son well.  He speaks French, English, Bislama and his village as well as other village languages so he is very comfortable with the people.        

We are able to contact the missionaries at most anytime by telephone and they can call us if they need as they carry a mobile phone.  They are also able to keep in contact by phone with their zone leaders in Luganville. The Zone Leaders in Luganville talk via telephone to the Elders in Gaua several times a week getting reports and checking on them. The Zone Leaders also go to Gaua regularly and meet/teach with the Elders on Gaua. There are flights to Gaua twice a week from Luganville. (I can think of a lot of places in the U.S. that don’t have that kind of service.)

Many of the islands have very limited electricity so computers, internet, television – all the things we think are part of life, are not available. Surprisingly every remote corner of every island we have been on, we have seen plenty of mobile phones.  In fact, I had to ask a local young man how to program names on my phone. Phones are also used to take pictures, function as a radio and flashlight. All ways that I’ve never even used mine.  A funny experience: We went to a very remote village on south Ambae and a fierce looking young man, in native war dress, blocked our path to the village.  Soon he reached into his pocket and pulled out his ringing mobile phone telling him the village was ready for us.  He then lead us into the village where the village presented us with a custom welcoming ceremony. He was part of the “show”.  I have never felt my safety threatened on the islands but rather protected by the people.

Many of the missionaries on “outer” islands only get mail every six weeks. Oh, how grateful we are for the U.S. postal system.  Vanuatu mail service is slow, slow everywhere in the country as nothing is automated. We have a church office post office box as there is no mail delivery to homes or businesses.  Elder Warner and I pick up the mail every other day.  We hold all the missionary’s mail  at our apartment until we or another missionary is coming or going to a specific island.  Some of the missionaries prefer to have the mail sent to the island they are serving on but it doesn’t seem to be as reliable and often arrives after they have been transferred.  Sometimes boxes are slow coming because of going through customs, I think.  I don’t know what to tell you about a box sent in July if it was sent to Luganville.

We will be having a Christmas Party/Zone Conference/Fireside in Port Vila early in December.  All the missionaries in Vanuatu will be flying and staying in Port Vila at that time.  It would probably be good to send Christmas packages to the office address here: LDS Missionaries  P.O. Box 1412 Port Vila, Vanuatu (no zip).  The largest flat rate boxes that our family have sent, usually arrive in 2-3 weeks and cost just over $50 to mail.  All U.S. mail for Vanuatu comes to Port Vila first as we have two flights a week from Fiji.  Please do not send jerky because there is a charge by customs when it is listed in a box.  Often the boxes are opened in front of us but not before.  Leaving candy in the original package is a good idea too.  One time someone sent a box with peanut M&M’s put in a ziplock bag and the customs agent was sure he had found drugs but I laughed with him and explained – he was from Ambae and so was I so that helped. 

Skype is a free download and we have it on our laptop. I suspect he will  not be using it since he will stay with some of the other missionaries while in Port Vila.  Christmas is not celebrated in the same way here, usually  just some Christmas music. The missionaries do have a party and a big meal and provide a fireside for the members and investigators. 

This is such an exciting, great place and time for young missionaries to be serving.  Please email me anytime with inquiries and we look forward to meeting you when we return to Utah sometime next year.  I’ll take some pictures of your son to share.

Love, Sister Warner

Sister Sears,

My name is President Klingler and I am Elder Sears’ new mission president.  I had a very good interview with him at the beginning of the month.  This was my second interview with him since I started my mission on July 1st.  He is doing very well!  The following is the mailing address you should use to get mail to Elder Sears while he is in Gaua:

c/o Elder Warner
PO Box 1412
Port Vila, Vanuatu

This is the address of our Senior Missionaries in Port Vila.  They will make sure he receives his mail.  This will be the case for Christmas gifts as well.  We will be having our Christmas Zone Conference in Vanuatu the first week of December so he will be in Port Vila for that event and will be able to pick up items that are there at that time that may not have been taken up to him previously.

Elder Sears and his companion have a cell phone.  All mission leaders will be able to contact them and they us at will.  They contact the Zone Leaders once per week (generally on Sunday evening) to report proselyting results for the week.  In addition, they will be visited by the Zone Leaders once every six weeks.  Elder Sears will be coming in for Leadership Training and Zone Conferences.  Between these two meetings, he will be back in either Luganville or Port Vila about every 6 weeks.

You shouldn’t plan on Skype being available.  We do keep close tabs on our missionaries.

Warmest regards,

Kenneth D. Klingler
Fiji Suva Mission President


Sunday, September 11, 2011


Hello family,

So.... My first transfer! I'm headed to Gaua. It's a small island in the Banks Island group. I feel very lucky to be able to go here. Few missionaries get the chance to go. It's just us 2 missionaries. Also this is the place for watermelon and fresh fish. Also the most "bush" of all the places. Absolutely no power or running water, washing clothes by hand. Pretty awesome. I'll be wan "manbus" (man bush) in no time. So as for this week. It was pretty successful. Work is going well in Fanafo and Palon. We set baptismal dates for 9 people this week! 2 families included. To be honest I'm a little sad I won't be able to attend their baptisms but as long as they take this step it's alright. Also this week the Palon branch held a branch activity. It was really fun. We went to the beach and played beach volleyball and roasted all kinds of meats. So this will definitely be a challenge for me.
As for Guau, Elda Fotukava, the zone leader and close friend of mine here LOVES it. It was his first area. He said when he got transferred he didn't want to leave at all. Also one cool thing is there is another close up island called Mere Lava and we can go over whenever we want to sightsee, teach or whatever. Everyone who has served theresays  it's their favorite.
 A mission is so hard and so rewarding. I know I'll have plenty of aid. This will be kind of a baptism by fire type of learning. It'll be hard but I'll learn quickly hopefully. Anyways sorry for the short e mail. I love you all very much and pray for you daily. Thank you so much for all the prayers in my behalf, I know I've been blessed because of them.

Elda Sia

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 4th, 2011

Hey family,

So this week has been pretty interesting. Well, first of all I went to my first Lavet. A Lavet is a custom celebration. This one was for a member who had just acquired his mustache. The custom here is when you start to grow facial hair you can't shave until someone of respect is chosen to shave you for the first time. After the razor is presented to you  you have to right to shave and youre a man ,haha. The other part was the purchasing of a woman. To get married  a man has to have to buy her first. The man and the father shook hands and he presented his big pile of taro, a pig, and his money. After this the woman came out of the fathers house with all her belongings destined to never return to her fathers house under custom. Another custom which is pretty interesting is in the village of Paama. If you get an injury you must hide it. If you don't and one of your uncles comes and sees it he'll destroy your house or things in it. This is out of disappointment and to show he cares a lot about your well being haha. Adding insult to injury. Afterwards we had a feast, It was pretty awesome! The next day we went to Marathai, a small village in Fanafo. When we got there the Chief Mowaes (Or more wise) was there. He came up to me and  it turns out he was a member and he had received the arronic priesthood! He came and listened to our lesson with one of our investigators, Kristof. Afterwards, he pulled me aside and thanked me in behalf of the US army. He asked that I would relay his desire to join them along with his son haha. He liked me a lot haha. Also we met a returned sister missionary at the house market (closest to fast food you'll get) She finished  her mission in 1999 and suprisingly still has herBislama! Also we met a very persistent jehovas witness missionary. That was pretty interesting haha. The biggest 2 religions I've seen are Jehovahs witnesses and SDA. The jehovas witness talked with us a little and went straight to adam and eve. Let's just say he got pretty crossed up in his words. Also this week we committed a boy to baptism. His name is Kenidi and he's about to turn 17. HE  and I hit it off really well and he's asked that I baptise him. I think I might be baptizing a future missionary. So this week was a training meeting with the mission president. He came here to Santo and we all stayed in a hotel close by. Training was really good and I ate fries! At this hotel Elda Potrie and I  met a man from Germany. He opened up a conversation with us. He's done lots of study into religion. We talked for a really long time and he shared how he almost died a few days back. Today we're going back to give him a Book of Mormon, we'll see what happens. I've thought about our discussion with him and I realize a lot of the words weren't mine. The spirit was teaching the both of us. So it looks as if I'll be training somewhere around next week! I'll be taking a new missionary from either the US, Vanuatu, or Papa New Guinea. Also I've been called as Clerk and 2nd counselor in the bishopric haha. I did all the tithing and fast offerings yesterday for the members. Also I was robbed today haha. I had just bought some orange juice here in town and as we were walking a man approached us. Without a word he reached for the juice. Out of instinct I pulled it back a little but he grabbed the plastic it was in and ripped it and ran off with my juice! haha. After I talked to a member and turns out he's mentally ill. After I went back to him again (holding my second bottle of juice of the day) and gave him 500 vatu. We've also started teaching a man named Toka. He's so awesome. He had never gone to church growing up so he has almost no background. We're teaching really basic principles but I can tell he's really liking it.He smiled really big and then after he reached for my juice again haha. So this week has been really good. I'm starting to learn how to teach with the spirit. I've felt it a lot this week. I can't think of a better feeling than sharing a message when you have the spirit. This because it can go straight to their heart. I was reading and i came to Moroni 7:48. I love verse 47 + 48 so much. Verse 48 has really helped me to gain the spirit. When you pray to have Christlike love and your heart is filled with compassion and concern you can really help them.  My heart is filled with gratitude for this great opportunity. This is such a great experience. Thank you so much for all your prayers.

Love you all so much,
Elda Sia

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 28th, 20111

Hello family,

    So where do I start? So the other day we were walking out to a distant village. Here in Vanuatu there are over 100 languages so everyone says goodnight to you in their own language. A small boy was bathing under a pipe and he yelled out to me "aeyea". I was walking in front and deep in thought. After he said it again, then a third time. Then he was frustrated. "WAET MAN, AEYEA!" after I realized and laughed a little and responded. The kids here are so awesome. Except for the fact they all know of my fear of spiders. They love to bring the really big green ones and try to put them  on my shoulder. Next area I'll keep this under wraps. So this week young single adults from all the islands were flown in to have a week long conference. Last night was the concluding fireside. We were told the missionaries would  have a part to talk about the restoration. Elder Hilliman played the part of Joseph Smith and my part was the voice of Heavenly Father and the Savior. (I was chosen because of my deep authoritative voice haha). Also, they had a sports competition for soccer and basketball. I played on my area of Palon's team (in white shirt + tie) and we took 1st prize. Next week we'll be going to President Kelly's house to have a big feast to celebrate. So here the missionaries do just about everything because they have units and branches not stakes and wards (meaning the mission runs everything) Yesterday in sacrament meetingfor example we were asked, " Will you bless the sacrament?, will you give a talk? will you teach sunday school? haha so a little about fanafo, one of my 2 areas. It's a custom village. It's not as strict as it was before but before if you walked around it without  pants ( in loin cloths) , they would make you change or leave.  haha. Anyways next week I think I'll brainstorm about what to write before I come because I'm spending lots of time thinking.

Love you all,

Elda Sias

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jansen's safe and sound...

Hello family all is well,
     So yeah I hadn't even heard about the earthquakes until I read your letter. Our phone got a warning to go to high ground for a tsunami but it was later recalled. No damage, same old same old haha. It was great reading your letters! Sounds like your having lots of fun. So over here it's getting better and better. My bislama has grown by leaps and bounds. I have a big desire now to try all new foods. Last night I ate turtle and it was really good. I also made chicken for the first time and plucked the feathers and cleaned it out and everything. Next week president klingler will come to vanuatu again and we'll be in town for a week. Looks like I'll be going to get some chinese.
     So I got my new companion yesterday but I haven't gotten to know him too much yet. He's a ni-van who went to serve in santa rosa california for 7 months and had to come back because of a back problem. He's really funny I think we'll get along well. So as for my 2 areas I love them. I love all the people especially. I've gotten pretty close with a lot of them. I love being out in the bush and I've embraced the lifestyle, hope I don't have to serve in town too much. Everything here is different. One of the biggest obstacles are the customs here. To get married you must literally buy the woman from the parents. It's really expensive so a lot of people just live together.
     I'm really enjoying this great opportunity. To share the restored gospel to a great people. Besides the food the biggest miracle is probably the language. Now I can converse and understand and read totally in bislama. I even think in it now haha. I knew before but my eyes have been opened to a lot of things. It's such a blessing to be able to know all that we know. To have a prophet to lead and guide us, to have the scriptures, to have the chance to talk with the all knowing father, and to have the saviors church on the earth again. We know everything we need to do to go back with our heavenly father, we just need to remember it at all times. I know that my heavenly father is looking out for me and has helped me so much. I read a quote from elder uchtdorf that I liked a lot. "we're incomplete, but he loves us completely, we're inperfect, but he loves us perfectly". Anyways better go, love you all very much.
         Elda Sias
         Jos blong
        Jisas Kraes
Blong ol lata dei sent

Earthquake in Vanuatu

A series of earthquakes struck off the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Sunday, causing minor damage, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. Local tsunami advisories were issued but later lifted, and no tsunami was recorded.
The U.S. Geological Survey said a magnitude-7.1 quake struck at 3:55 a.m. (1655 GMT Saturday) at a depth of 25.2 miles (40.6 kilometers). Its epicenter was 39 miles (63 kilometers) south-southwest of Vanuatu's capital, Port-Vila.
The temblor was followed by several aftershocks, including a magnitude-7.0 quake that struck at 5:19 a.m. (1819 GMT) at a depth of 17.7 miles (28.5 kilometers). Its epicenter was 42 miles (69 kilometers) south-southwest of Port-Vila.
The Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory said it issued four local tsunami advisories that were lifted after about two hours. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning.
Some minor damage was reported in the southern part of the country and in the surrounding areas of Port-Vila, said Esrom Molisa, an official with Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office.
Vanuatu, a chain of 83 islands, lies just over 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) northeast of Sydney. It is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from South America through Alaska and down through the South Pacific.
A magnitude-7.3 quake struck near Vanuatu on Dec. 26, causing a tsunami a few inches high but no damage.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15th 2011

Hello family,
Limited time today, it's another holiday and only the dumb e mail place is open. So news,  next week I'll be getting a new companion. Elda mafi will go serve in Luganville and I'll be with Elder Tokalolo. We'll probably be together for a short time and after, I'll either take Palon or Fanafo as my area and train a new one. All is well here, loved reading your letters. Know that I'm happy and having a great time and learning SO much. Love you all,
Elda Sias

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

more photos

August 8th

Sias family,

Hello! So where do I start? this week has been pretty good. My bislama has gotten so much better. I'm not there yet but I'll get it. I'm now to the point to where I pray, think, and converse in this language. Just a few formalities to fix. It's hard switching back now haha. So this week I ate the best meal ever. In town though. We went to a meeting here in Luganville and after us and all the branch presidents (bishops) went to eat chinese. I was grateful for this. I got a letter from Josh. It was really good, he had some really good insight on teaching a mostly Christian already population. I also got your letter too. That guy is awesome he's playing for the 2 best teams, heavenly fathers team and the detroit tigers haha jk. So I found something awesome in an ensign here. On the last page it had a painting of the draper temple overlooking the valley. I ripped it out and put it up on the wall promptly. I greatly regret not going through the salt lake temple before. Since it's P day I was watching a film about building it. This week my thoughts have been lead to how grateful I am to be on a mission. It really has opened my eyes to everything. Everything makes sense. This makes it much easier to share this message because it's a perfect message and can bless your life immeasurably if you allow it to. Ok advice: if you haven't already, read Jesus the Christ, amazing book. Also, I think back to the sabbath days of before. I was completing one step of a proper sabbath. Go to church. I wasn't making this day any different. This day belongs to heavenly father and is to rest and learn/ think about the savior. A good sabbath day makes for a good week. So business now, unfortunately I need to buy a new camera. The batteries run out fast when used for a camera and it's 880 vatu or $8.80 every time I buy one pair of batteries, I calculated the cost over 2 years and yeah. I ordered one through the mission president and he'll bring it to conference at the end of the month so I will be withdrawing money close to then. Anyways now we will chat, Ale family, love you all very much and thank you for the great letters and prayers on my behalf.

With love,
Elda Sias

PS Elda Waimini said to tell my family hello from him so, hello sias fam

Monday, August 1, 2011

From Pioneer Day to Independence Day Vanuatu Style

Hey family,

Sorry I couldn't write you last week. Or yesterday. The internet was broken. I loved your letters! It made me reflect back on my trek experiences. A few days back it was sunday the 24th. It was childrens day here. (They have it figured out, fathers, mothers, and childrens day) But also none of the members here knew pioneer day, although they do celebrate it in Vila. With all the members we discussed the incredible sacrifice these members made. This was almost everyones first time hearing this. I had the great opportunity to sit down with one of our great investigators and talk in depth about this. In preach my gospel it says you learn while you teach if you have the spirit. As I bore witness of this I felt my gratitude grow for these brave members. So I just got news I'll most likely train in september. Wow haha. I better kick it into high gear. So this week I got lost for the 1st time. In palon all the roads are just paths through the jungle and it's quite hard to find your way at night. We had just made another exchange and we wandered for 2 hours before finding home. Also, I'm very glad celebration is over. It was basically a week long celebration of Vanuatu's independence. Everyone would go down every day all day so needless to say the work suffered a little. Anyways now I'll type the letter I wrote last week it's longer

Elda Sia

One Day in Vanuatu

So much of this letter is in response to Jansen's mom's many questions and request for him to describe a typical day as he knows it in Vanuatu...

Hey family,

Sorry I couldn't write you today but I decided to print out your letters and take time to reply. It's pretty crazy trying to learn this language, but I have recieved A LOT of help. (Thank you for your prayers again) Foodwise it is kindof a miracle huh? The other day I ate cow intestine. I hope I'm maintaning my weight, no way of checking really. Yes I do have a shower and flush toilet, but sometimes we run out of our collected rain water so we have to use the spicket outside. On our P day I go into Luganville and do errands and relax basically. As far as the blog picture no formal ones! Ni-van only haha. After reading everyones letters I'm quite humbled, I'm in no shortage of prayers in my behalf. Dad, your "I feel so alive" was the best. Be grateful you can swim! I decided I'll sing that line every morning as I step into the cold shower. So the average day. I'll get up at 6:30 and go swim (Thats how you say bathe or shower) After is personal study and companionship study, after we head out. We work till about 7 when everyone goes to bed to get up at 5 the next morning to go to the garden. The best part though is the commute. In fanafo it's half "bush" and half dirt road. In Palon it's all cattle coconuts and palm trees mixed with even thicker bush. Most of my time is spent trekking through the jungle. It's very hot and humid so i'm sweaty about 5 minutes after I've left the house in the morning haha. My pants are always rolled up and lately I've been wearing my flip flops I got here in town.
Ok first baptism. I'll start at the beginning of the day. So first thing in the morning, one of the members brought me a brand new pair of crocs. The day before I said his were cool so he went and bought me a pair. After our transport picked us up. (PS all our driving is standing up in the back of the truck bed through bush and dirt roads) We got there and had some time to kill so we went into one store since we were in town and I found gummy bears! next was the baptism. First I baptised a man named Dan and after a woman named Anson. After I kept thinking how awesome it felt to help someone recieve this lifesaving ordinance. After we headed out to go see one of our investigators named cristof. When we arrived, him and his stringband were about to practice for the competition at celebration. It became a performance for us and they even went and changed into their outfits. Him and his family have been taught for a long time but I'm glad to announce that him his wife and 2 of his children will be baptised on the 13th. As far as your question about the poverty here. Yes it is very impovrished but they just live off the land and build everything. They're quite content. Anways Im going to try to send pictures so I better go. Love you all so much and I'm glad to hear your having awesome experiences.

Elda Sia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

 Jansen amidst the pineapples

 Jansen's first baptism....

 Jansen, the intrepid pirate elder?

Images from Luganville

 This is the Church!

Apparently there is only one 1-2 mile long paved road in Santo with the rest being dirt roads, as seen above....

Is this really Jansen, the most spiderphobic kid in the world?