Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tarawa/Beru--Week 2

Welcome To Beru!

Population: around 1,500 people

Size: Let's just say small

Language: Kiribati but they have a way of singing it instead of just talking, it's dope! haha Guess what kind of accent I am going to have since this is where I'll learn most of my language?

Heat: 5 or more degrees hotter than Tarawa, hasn't rained for the last two weeks apparently

Food: Fish and rice, no more variety like I got in Tarawa

My opinion: I LOVE it. It is incredibly beautiful. The heat doesn't bother me. The people are amazing and I think the singing aspect of speaking only makes Kiribati sound even better! Apparently we teach about 30-40 lessons per week here on average and I plan to work hard so we'll see, but it might even increase over time with Elder Klatt and I.

By the way Elder Klatt is dope. He's super cool and I can already tell we are going to get along great. All he wants to do is work and help people as much as he can before he dies. I think I can help with that!

Alright so let's talk about the last week:

We played the Kiribati national basketball team the P-day I missed my flight and straight up destroyed them. Let's just say Kiribati should stick to te Bouti Boro (soccer) haha but it was super fun. I spent that day and the next with this really cool Elder named Elder Smith
and his companion Elder Tapu'osi.

Wednesday I got tossed over to Elder Vaai's companion while he was in Tarawa since he just left to his island. Elder Ma'ora is from Tonga and is incredibly fluent in Kiribati but he speaks with a Tongan accent if that makes sense? Haha he's super chill except he kinda used study time to listen to rap and work out and so I got 4 hours everyday to myself to study. It was great.

We taught like crazy again and I can now participate pretty well in gospel discussions and I do alright in other areas as well. In fact, more than once we have gone almost all the way through a lesson or meal and then I'd struggle with something and the person would be shocked to find out I came just a couple weeks earlier. Haha I didn't believe them, but let's just say hard work courage and studies pay off.

Fun experiences?: Yesterday I went to the nurse because I couldn't feel the right side of my right foot. Turns out I got bit by something huge that kinda paralazyed my foot. I've been taking some pills to see if we can't fix that.  Hahah turned out to be a tender mercy because
then I couldn't feel the pain of sitting cross legged in that foot anymore! Soo nice! I think my tolerance for pain has shot wayy up at this point not my ability to sit cross legged for hours at a time. Love it.

Next one: Right before I saw the nurse I counted my mosquito bites and I got 93. I just got bit by another one so I guess I'm at 94...6 more till I get triple digits. haha That'll shut future children complaining about mosquito bites right up. But seriously is it bad that I have
been trying to get bit more so I can hit 100? Well as long as I don't get sick and die right?

Third: went on my first transfer...me and Elder Tapu'osi (who came in the intake before me and can speak only slightly better than me) We got to spend a day together and we taught 6 lessons and found 3 new investigors for him and Elder Smith. Haha that day was fun. Although we may or may not have accidentally taught some false doctrine here or
there. We're still not sure...but it was a good day for growth fo sho!

Last one: I tried both crab and raw fish in the same night.  Crab is literally amazing. Like wow. Raw fish on the other hand tastes good but smells like...well raw fish or something like vinegar gone wrong. Then we finished with hot chocolate...I didn't even care if we were drinking it in 100 degree weather it was soo good haha, although I sweated quite a bit...

My weight is now at 162ish I think so only 10 pounds less than when I came, not bad haha.

But seriously I love it her. I love picturing how a baptism can change these happy but clearly worn out people into something else. You can almost always tell right away when someone is an active member because legit they have a different light in their eyes and I want to see it in everyone. I know it because it is the same light in my eyes and it makes the worst situations seem like pieces of cake. Te Kimwareirei (joy) is what we are promising this people and it is real. Missionaries here get into routines with their lessons and I hate it when I see that because there is so much more to teaching these people. I don't want to teach people lessons so they can be ready for baptism. I want to change their lives. And you don't get that if you don't have the spirit.

I straight love it here and I cannot wait till I can be fluent in the language and I cannot wait to show these people the miracles this gospel brings.

Love natimi (ya boii),

Elda Betingirr ae karimwi ma te karimoa (Elder Pettingill the Younger)

P.S. Hey so I've been trying to send pictures for the last little bit but they are too big and none will send...there was one of a sweet Kiribati planner cover that a lady made for me says "PETTINGZOO" on it and then one of the amazing tan/sun burn line I have already and then a couple of Beru...sorry idk if there's anything I can do but I have to go now.

From Daniel's mom:  Here is a link to Elder's Klatt's mission blog letters.  The top two letters are from when he first arrived in Beru and give some more details about what it's like there. 

Also, here are a couple of pictures from Elder Klatt's blog to give an idea of the mosquito bites.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beru--Week 1 (still on Tarawa)

What's up y'all?

First off I need to start out by explaining that I have not left for Beru yet...my flight got pushed off until today and then when we went this morning they had too much weight on the plane so I got the boot which sucked. Oh and by the way there is only one flight a week because Beru is so far out so I just might not make it until next Monday...Good thing I know the Lord knows what he is doing haha

My companion situation for the last week has been a trio, Elder Loe from Utah been out same out amount of time as Jacob, a native Elder named Iotebwa (Joseph in English) and me.  Let's just say my Kiribati has skyrocked this past week..why? I'll tell you.

Tuesday morning the day after I got here we woke up, did our studies and then after companionship study Elder Loe was like "Here's how it is going to go for all of our lessons from now on, Iotebwa will do the initial talking and ask them who they want to open with a prayer (which was always me because I'm new..), then [Elder Loe] will ask them about previous commitments and introduce the lesson and then you Elder Pettingill, you get to teach." and then laughed and said "How's your Kiribati by the way?"  We taught 30 lessons, not including dinners, this week all of them in the cross legged position. But hey I found out that when I'm having a hard time if I just picture Dad's face if he were in the same position as I am, I can just laugh it off and work through the pain/inability to speak the darn language.

Haha and then Sunday rolls around and I'm just like sweet just a few more lessons and church and I'll be on my way to Beru and   Nope.    The Bishop asked me to give a talk in Sacrament meeting. Straight up Other Side of Heaven.  So I gave a quick introduction (My name is Elder Pettingill, I'm from Beru I love eating the bocaboca [Beru is famous for eating mud aka bocaboca] and that's my mom over there Elder Loe and my Dad Elder Iotebwa) and they're all laughing and then I'm like hey might as well keep having fun while I'm up here. So I started my talk with "Ti riai n nakon te roki ni katoabong bukina bwa e bon te tua mei te Atua."  - We must go to the toilet everyday because it is a commandment from God. 
Hahaha I got all kinds of looks from that one.

But seriously I love it here even though it is really hard. But I could go on all day telling you funny stories about the toilets, the kids, my companions but I think I'll save some for later. Just know this the Lord gives us weaknesses that we may be humble and when we are humble he will make weak things become strong unto us.  He is on our side and he wants us to be spiritually in a position that we can help these people who struggle with so much.

When I see how the gospel can change all of these people I have no problem teaching every lesson, saying every prayer, drinking water that makes me wanna puke, eating food that has been giving me the number 3 all week long despite the pills, sitting cross-legged for hours on end with sand eating away at my skin, heat like the hottest and muggiest I've ever felt all day everyday, and language that some can't even pick up after a year of being out.  Yeah all of that is nothing. and I mean it nothing, when I see how the gospel can help these people.

The amount of faith asked for from Lord is not much, only a mustard seed. Please don't come up short because then we can't see the miracles God is just itching to perform.

I love you all bunches or heaps as the Auzzies say haha.

Hopefully I'll be in Beru when I email you all next but for now 
Tarawa will just have to do!
Elder Pettingill (The Younger)

One more story:  

Kids here are straight like monkeys and they have this game where they all do handstands and then they fight each other with their feet trying to knock each other over. You'd think I'd have an advantage when I play because I'm way bigger but that just means they have prime access to the kill shot if you know what I mean. Plus I can hardly ever stay up long enough to compete. Although one time I did stay up longer than one of the kids...my companion pushed him over for me hahah

From Daniel's mom:  No pictures this week. If you want to see more about what it's like there, check out this blog which tells about a couple traveling with their boat all over Micronesia and Melanesia and has lots of pictures.  Scroll down to the pictures of locals and you can read about how it's a cultural tradition that everyone sit cross legged, as Daniel describes above.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Safely arrived in Kiribati

Hey I'm here in Kiribati!

I am going to be headed to Beru and guess what? Elder Klatt is going to be my trainer!  I think I'll head out on Wednesday or something. I'm not entirely sure, but I can already tell I am going to love it and am so excited! Everyone here is awesome. Fun fact: there is only one set of zone leaders for the entire Kiribati side of the mission and outer islands (like mine) aren't even part of districts so that's interesting. Yeah it'll be Elder Klatt and I pretty much untill we come back so I'm kinda just plunging in.  

Elder Vaai is also going to a different outer island but it is the biggest (land wise) in all of Kiribati so not really much of an outer island is what they said. Then the other two elders are going to different islands which are considered part of Tarawa.  Sister Pasina is going to stay here in Tarawa.

Anyways I'm going to play basketball with the zone leaders!

I love you all!
Elder Pettingill

PS: I should have email on my island

Here are some pictures from the airplane landing in Tarawa (the main island of Kiribati)

Friday, July 11, 2014

MTC-Week 6

Mauri Au Utu!

Am I ready to leave? Easiest answer of my life YES! I have hundreds of stories for y'all about how bitter sweet the MTC has been for me (wayy more on the sweet side by the way I've loved here to be sure) but I think the few that I share should be enough haha.

So you know how I entered the MTC three days after my birthday? You remember that right haha? Well one of the Elders in my district turned 18 a week before me and came right after graduating high school or a month later anyway. Well one day he and I were talking as we were doing district study instead of companionship study. In other words, he and I were studying while our companions threw skittles over one of the little overheads at the MTC and tried to catch them in their mouths.  ANYWAYS we were outside and all of a sudden it came to me that...wait for it..we're both going to be 19 when we get home from our missions!! Hahah how's that for an age change? Everyone will be like so when are you putting your papers in and I'll be like "I hit up the mish actually." We ended up telling everyone we met that we were going to be 19 when we got home and one girl either yelled back "You're my C.O.W.!" (Crush of the week) or "Holy Cow".  We're not really sure which, but I'm putting my money on the first one ;)

Funny story about gum: Right after I told you to send me gum I realized that we aren't allowed to chew gum in public as missionaries or at all in the MTC. HAhah so thank you so much for all of the gum, but its probably going end up being a bribe to little kiribati kids to answer my questions in lessons! Which is still helpful! But really thank you and everyone who has sent me stuff it really means a lot, and I try and always respond to letters with another letter. If I haven't, let me know and I would love to write one!

Okay Spiritual moment:
You know how Elder Andersen came and spoke at the devotional on Tuesday? Well It was seriously one of the best experiences for me at the MTC and I have had some an amazing experiences so that is really saying something. Mom you were so lucky to have him as your mission president. One of the things he talked about is how the feelings of the Holy Ghost bring about a desire to do whatever it is the Lord asks of you and let me tell you that is so true. I never have a moment when I am not at least trying or think or wanting for me and others to do what is right. Another thing he discussed is "How sweet the day will be when..." I took off the last part so it can apply to anything. He said when you don't think you can go any farther just think of how sweet the day will be when... and it will give you strength and determination to continue to press on. Trst me, I have already used and learned to love that saying, and also another saying "How much do I love MY God." Both of these have been so inspirational in my life and have helped me to work much harder than I should have been able to.    

During the devotional Elder Andersen read some letters to the France mission president after a recent missionary conference he had in Southern France. I wanted to know so badly if he would read from a letter Jacob sent because he wasn't saying the names of the missionaries whose letters he read...after one letter in particular I just felt a feeling of confirmation so strong come upon me and I knew that the letter that was being read was Jacob's. I think it talked about how he had a spiritual experience and it wasn't "weird."  That was amazing for me and from that point on all I wanted to do was go and shake Elder Andersen's hand, but despite all of my efforts I didn't get the chance and I was feeling pretty disappointed afterwards. I knew that there was a reason for it though and I shared that in our after devotional district meeting. After the meeting, the front office called my name and asked me to go to the front desk. I went and you can imagine my surprise and gratitude and awe as I opened a package from Elder Andersen's daughter. That was a miracle to me and I will never forget it. Especially since my teacher promised my companion and I a miracle in our zone if we were obedient. You could say I didn't need the miracle, but it sure was a tender mercy. The whole night was one of peace and of the Spirit and I wish that you all could have been there.

Love, Elder Pettingill
Our District

Saturday, July 5, 2014

MTC Week 5

Alright what to say..?

Haha everytime I have an experience throughout the week I'm like "Oh this'll be great to tell everyone!" and then I write it down somewhere and then never bring my notebook so we'll see what I can remember.

First off yes I received my travel plans and the passport (thanks Mom) and I leave next Saturday almost a full week before Kiribati Missionaries normally leave. I guess we're all ready extra early. ;) Anyways we'll fly down to LA and then after a 6 hour layover we'll take a plane straight to Fiji (first time they've ever done that) which will be a ten hour flight plus the extra 20 something hours of time change so we'll get there Monday. Then in a couple hours we have a flight to Tarawa which is a few hours. Then we'll check in learn all we need to know over skype. Then depending on where we head off to it'll either be a day plane ride or a one to two day boat ride and then we'll be there! Haha apparently we're supposed to memorize the baptismal prayer in Kiribati because we'll probably be asked to baptize someone that Saturday so that's something...

How has it been being a zone leader? Well two Elders nearly got sent home because they got inches away from having a full out fight.  So that's fun haha. Samoans these days am I right? PS why would they do that? Because one of them said the other Elder's first name and the other Elder said looks like we've got some dogs in the MTC, then boom at each others throats...ironically like dogs ;) On top of that we have been asked to settle companionship issues every day, if not twice a day, and let's just say the amount of obedience from each of the missionaries is either perfect or quite far from that haha...I'll tell you what though as hard as it has been I know that trusting in the Lord and doing all you can with faith in Him brings miracles. We are a completely different zone today then we were last friday when me and my companion started taking on the full responsibilities of being zone leaders. It has been beautiful to see.

Funny story for the week: my companion has been complaining all week that he just needs to play some rugby and he'll be good.  So today the teacher who was supervising gym time had a hurt back and so they all took advantage of that and started doing a little rugby in the gym. Elder Vaai is now sporting a solid welt on his cheek that makes him cry involuntarily (imagine my huge companion just pouring tears out of one eye and is unable to stop) and another Elder will now be using crutches for the next week. Man, haha this is an "I told you so" time if there ever was one!

Last thing: I got a new teacher this week because one of our teachers, Sister Clark, can't handle doing both teaching and all of the nursing work and schooling she is doing right now. This new teacher has pretty much pushed us in a way language wise that neither of our other two teachers has done. We have all started learning so much more so much faster, just like when we first entered the MTC. Haha I have been exhausted and have had the headaches all week just like in the beginning though too. Let's just say it's been a busy week!

Anyways I love you all! and I'm always so glad to hear y'all are doing great!
Elder Pettingill (The Younger)

Me and an Elder from Kiribati who is serving in the Philippines! (Notice Daniel's companion in the mirror)
Me and a friend from college who was on my hall. He just left for India