Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunday in Thol

With it being so very hot here, and humid as well, we find it difficult to believe that Christmas even happens here...but lights are up around the island and some of the stores (close to 50 of them ...which is another story) have Christmas decorations and gift items to purchase. One store even has a Christmas greeting banner painted on the outside wall ...the full length of the building. What they are going to do with it after the New Year will be interesting to see...maybe they will paint over it again and do a Valentine's or Easter is an interesting place.

As for the 'store story'...there are some main stores in the town of Colonia and then there are little "corner stores" all over the island and it is important to remember that the island is only 15 miles long. Most of the stores have no signage so unless you know where they are you would not likely find them. Many of the residents of the island who live outside of town do not have cars and having the little stores in their neighborhoods is helpful. As a result every village has one! ...and now that we know what they look like we are noticing them more often. They mostly carry the same things with the occasional unique offerings...we have our favourites already and know where to go for specific things. Leigh has been doing some repairs to the furniture in the apartment ..younger missionaries lived here before we did...and one of the local hardware stores has become Leigh's favourite. There is an employee at the hardware store...a nice young fellow...who has adopted Leigh and takes care of him whenever he goes there.
Right now the stores are getting ready to clear out a lot of their stock so there are quite a few good deals. We were told that their stocks normally get pretty low between shipments (every 2-3 weeks or so) so we were encouraged to get some storage on hand and now, apparently, is the time to do that. Before Christmas the stores are well stocked in readiness for the season...with a greater variety than we are being spoiled. Once the new year comes the stocks dwindle and we could discover the shortages that we have been preparing for. So, for now we will enjoy the plenty...such as it is!

We attended the smaller Thol Branch recently and found a few faithful souls waiting for the others to arrive (13 people...including us and two young Elders) sweet sister was quietly reading her Yapese scriptures and one of the young boys was somewhere else in the small open air chapel singing hymns to his heart's content. I think it was the sweetest prelude music I have ever heard! It was testimony meeting and nearly everyone bore their testimony...most in the Yapese language or one of the Outer Island we could only understand the spirit of what they were saying. They have one young woman attending, Francy, who is one of our seminary students, and she takes care of the music. That means she is responsible for choosing the hymns and finding them on the portable keyboard they use for the music and everyone just starts singing when the music starts. She and I are going to be doing a class next Sunday during Sunday School time...for the whole branch...about conducting the singing...that way she will have trained people to assist her. We are both looking forward to it.

Thol Chapel

The Relief Society President was away, so Relief Society (the church's organization for women) started out very quiet as the few sisters present sat on the floor in the Relief Society room (the locals are actually quite comfortable sitting on the floor and do so in their own homes.) waiting for some instruction. The one and only counselor was present so with some encouragement she started the meeting with a song and prayer. Then she looked at me and asked me to teach. I was kind of expecting that, but still silently prayed for direction. I had with me a map of Yap and a map of my birthplace; Malcolm Island, which is about the same size as Yap. I laid both maps out on the floor and for the next few minutes we discovered we had quite a few things in was delightful! Then recalling an insight recorded in my study journal from a few days before, I taught a lesson about sustaining the root structure of our spiritual trees...planted when each of us were baptized...and nourished so our branches would flourish and blossom while the fruit grows sweet. The counselor, Sister Francesca, is the oldest sister on Yap, both in age and length of membership...she joined the church in 1987. She became the stalwart example of a strong spiritual tree...firmly rooted and sustained. It was an amazing experience to listen, as the lesson progressed, to Francy translating the lesson into an Outer Island language to clarify things for her mother while Sister Martina translated into Yapese for her mother and another sister. I was thrilled to see understanding in their eyes and heads nodding in agreement. I believe the lesson was an opportunity for the Lord to recognize sweet Sister Francesca for her long term diligence and enduring faithfulness, meanwhile the rest of us had understood each other and were edified and rejoiced together.

Sister Francesca

Sister Francesca who had been driven to church has difficulty walking long distances so we gave her a ride home...actually, we only got her somewhat closer to her home, as the roadway to her home had turned to mud and water filled potholes...our car would not have made it! She hugged me and then stood in the roadway until we had turned around and then waved us off.

Fruit trees across road from Chapel

After the meetings we hung around outside for a bit, enjoying each other's company. The Branch president, President Ravino, explained a bit about the fruit bearing trees on the property and the roadway. Each tree and large plant that bears fruit on the island belongs to someone...and no one takes from trees that belong to someone else. The church property and the roadway have trees that belong to the orange tree, papaya tree, passion fruit tree, banana tree and several others I can't recall.

Volcanic Ash Road to Chapel

Sister Francesca, Elder Abubo, Elder Sorenson, Sam and fruit

The boy in the blue shirt in a previous picture climbed up the orange tree to get us a few oranges and they picked up the ripe passion fruit from the ground for us and the Elders. President Ravino also cut down a bunch of bananas that he would take to a family in need. It was a delightful day!

Myself, Francy, Sister Martina and Sam

1 comment:

  1. This might be a little off topic but I was wondering if you found Cassy Sulog yet? I know that she is on Yap. She has a really cool conversion story, you should ask her about it. :) She also works for the church as a translator.