Wednesday, January 5, 2011

December 2010 memories

Elder Hill's two fine "sons" that he trained - Elder Fu'e (just freshly returned from Lae) and Elder Fa'alogo who returned from Ebon a few months ago.  Elder Hill just came back from the outer island of Jaluit one week before he was to return home after serving 2 great years in the Marshall Islands.
An Advent refreshment table at the Patterson's (Dec. 12th).
Elder Hill lighting the candles on December 19th.
JoJo and I wanted our picture taken - this was the second attempt, because after Elder Fa'alogo took the first one, he very quietly said, "I think we should take another." So we posed for this one above. 
When he handed us the camera back, we asked him why he had to take another.  He didn't answer, so we looked at the first photo:
Oh, my. We burst out laughing.
The last Sunday before Christmas, December 19th, at the Patterson's.

Sister Tuimoala, Sister Shaw, Sister Hansen, Sister Teichert, Sister Sahm anticipating Christmas - the Shaws will be in Kiribati.

Elder Hill will be in Washington with his family for Christmas - you gave a lot of love - take some home with you.

The Jepta practice for the Long Island Primary - Laurie taught them the descant part for "Christmas Bells" - they picked it up SO quickly.
Another rehearsal - all the children did exceptionally well, but my favorites were the two little boys who played the first notes and the last notes:
They played exactly in rhythm and were intent the whole song, starting everyone off and bringing it to a close.

December 24th was a day to practice our mission Jepta dance at the Stake Center, then go over to the Mission Home for dinner, watch the President and Sister Shaw's video of "The Forgotten Carols", have a tie and necklace exchange, and depart back to work with new crockpots, crockpot recipes, leftover rolls and meat, and a bag of treats from the Shaws (who spent Christmas in Kiribati).
I ended up being in charge the whole day (I kept wondering how I was in charge with all the Senior missionaries and Assistants and Zone Leaders around), so there aren't a lot of pictures.  Sister Hewstone and I were in charge of the dinner, I was in charge of the Jepta practice, but I finally got smart and delegated the tie and necklace exchange to the Elders since I had no idea how to play it.
More candid shots after we are all full of good food, a thoughtful video, a promise of good crockpot meals and of talking to our families and of Jepta tomorrow on Christmas Day.
Back out into the bright equatorial sunshine and heat...
Elder Sanchez, Elder Moimoi, Elder Edwards, Elder Fu'e, Elder Bulloch, Elder Taylor

THE BEAT:  JEPTA!  Christmas 2010
Here they come!
Ward by Ward there are dances and songs all day long and into the night...
Here's a sampling:
And so ends Jepta, 2010, at the Majuro Stake Center - the epitome of wholesome family recreational activity - read Hymn # 51, the first three verses, and you will see that the Marshallese have it right...

Amima Alik, a respected priesthood leader in the Marshall Islands.  A great celebration draws to a close.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Susan. Her obituary is a masterpiece - her life a treasure for all who came under her influence.  I will always be grateful to have shared much of what was important to her.  She is my special friend.
My daughter expressed her feelings for Susan - "When Susan left us, she left such a big hole."  I've been contemplating that truth.  Susan filled our lives with so much joy and laughter and love and food and wisdom and dancing and companionship and reverence for the worth of a soul, how can we not help but feel the absence of her presence?

As I look back on the last few days, I was prepared for her passing.  The morning before she passed away,
I was out doing my morning laps.
The flame trees on the island are not blooming yet.  When they do they are dramatically beautiful, with gorgeous large red blossoms that carpet the green.  As I passed by our flame tree here in Lojkar, Long Island on Majuro, nothing appeared different as I passed by it the first time. 
On the second lap, a huge seed pod broke off and crashed to the pavement. While turning my head to look at it, my eye caught something I hadn't seen before:  a single red blossom. 

During that walk there were 7 frigate birds that flew overheard - more than I have seen on any morning workout.
A few butterflies flew in my path a while later in the day.  When all three come in one day (flowers, birds, and butterflies), something special is usually going to happen - Conrad has been very consistent on this mission with his messages.

The next day on January 31st (we live in the future here - it was January 30th back in the States), the red blossom was vivid.  Susan loves red.
17 frigate birds.  Seventeen. Wow - whatever it is, it's going to be important to me and to our family, and Conrad knows what it is.
Later that morning at the office, someone asked me to look up something on email.
The shock of seeing the news of Susan's passing in the subject of a few emails tore at my heart.
No...we had plans when I came home in a few months.
As I left the office a beautiful little black butterfly accompanied me all the way to my apartment.  Thank you, Conrad.  You know how I love her with all my heart.  The tears won't stop.
Later they stopped enough for me to go looking for an apartment to open for a new batch of missionaries.
They stopped long enough for me to talk to Merril when he called.  My prayers will be for Merril and the children and the grandchildren, for her family and for all who love her.  We will all need prayers for the Lord to strengthen us.

That night the Senior couples and I had a New Year's party at the Mission Home.
I stared at the napkin on the table...
A darkhaired dancing angel. 
When Susan emailed me about the return of the cancer 8 months ago, we shot emails back and forth.  Moroni chapter 7 was important to us.
":29 - And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
:30  For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness."

I love you, my precious friend. 
I will try to add to the love and joy in this world that you left for all of us with your goodness, and to which you quite likely can still add.
No one can ever be quite like you.