Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beru-Week 11

First off, happy two months in Beru to me haha and I'm actually hitting my 4th month in the mission Dad! hahaha Weird to think I only get 5 more of these although it may feel short at the same time these past 4 months feel like my life, the whole things very kamangongo (confusing I think is the best translation?) Gotta love it though!

I got two more packages and they were filled with crackers (enough to last a lifetime haha thanks mom!) and dried fruit and oatmeal, already ate almost a whole bag of the dried fruit and nuts, kinda got myself sick a little bit so that will be slowing down but it was soo worth it.  Oh and the chocolate milk? I had to mix one little bottle with two cups of water for it not too be to rich for me haha so we'll
see how cinnamon rolls go if I ever get any  ;) But seriously thank you!!

This last week was a werid one. Went by soo quickly. Had soo many good experiences and then a few that just made me so sad concerning  just the church in general here. I got some very sweet comfort through revelation though and then the missionary standards from the President that let me know that we are doing a great job.   Also I read in Jesus the Christ about one of Jesus' parables - how all we can do is plant the seed and then till and water the ground every now and then but we have to trust its growth up to God.  Very helfpul.

On a brighter note: One funny thing this week this week was that this guy Takaio who sent in his papers to serve a mission, I decided that he should follow us one day for a bit for mission prep and Elder Matiare liked the idea so much that, after the first day with us, he has asked him everyday if he is free and most of the time he is. So in the past five days he has proselyted with us for 4 of them! haha different in Kiribati ehh?

Also got some real intense biking in this past week (haha shortcuts ;) which was wayy fun, I wanted to take a video on my camera for when I send my SD card home but my Sd card hasn't been working lately, says "Problem with card!" everytime I turn my camera on and asks me if the sd chamber is locked. Any advice?  I learned yesterday that I can send letters home to you guys for just 60 cents so I've been considering writing one and putting the SD card inside. What are your thoughts? I wanted to back it up before I sent it so it wouldn't be the end of the world if it got lost cause I don't know how reliable it is...

Hmm anything else? I love you all so much and I'm glad life is fun for use (you all, Australian) back home because it certainly is out here! Especially with my hair that is just getting bigger and bigger hahaha!

Anyways love you all!

Elder Pettingill (the younger)


Who are you teaching? We have 14 investigators. We'll see this next which of them will be progressing, we had to start all over since when Klatt left we ran out of investigators (all baptized). 

Do people have jobs there? People fish, some people work for the counselor (not an actual person basically the government here) and they collect bin (coconut) and then give them to little stores for stuff and the stores sell the bin to Tarawa for more stuff and money etc  Also some people who know how make the outsides for their cheap smokes.

Do the kids go to school? Yes there's two Primaries (elementary) one JSS (basically middle school but a couple more grades)  Rongorongo (High school, a  lot don't make it here cause they quit earlier or get expelled for drinking or being stupid.)

How are the crocks? Crocks are awesome, I'm glad they were a little bigger because the sun shrunk them right to my feet.

Is there a grocery store to buy food?  Do you have a enough money? Little stores, we buy noodles and crackers in bulk and then they sell some different meats as well. Plenty of money, trust me. Plenty.
A picture I found on the internet of a typical Kiribati store on the outer islands

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Hahah glad things are picking up for y'all back home cause we're wayy happier when we're me I know haha This past week flew by like no other. I judge weeks by emails home and it seems like just yesterday that I emailed all of you!

Some quick noteable experiences (I wanted to say highlights but as you'll see that word just doesn't work here).  I ran over a kid, I woke up with a rat on my face, started dating an old lady, burned all the hair off my arm, ah and an entire unit forgot I just got here because my language is good, and had one of the happiest weeks of my mission. I think I could probably just leave it at that but I think I'll explain a little bit.

So the thing is here kids will all be in a huge group playing in the street and then they'll part when people need to go through. Except for the missionaries they don't part. They run full sprint at us trying to give us high fives, especially me cause I'm white (actually more brown/tan and I can say that pretty confidently now.)  I, of course, have mastered riding no hands through the pack so I can give high fives on both sides...well on Wednesday a little kid decided to wait until the last possible second and then dart in front of me and just stand there to greet me and hence got hit, big time. Wasn't injured but he got a nice scare being pushed by my tire till I could stop and of course his Dad having seen this grabs him and gives the crying kid a couple wacks with a stick for being stupid. The whole thing has me scratching me my head.

Matiare likes to make everything into a trash can and so thus there is a lot of trash all over the house and thus a lot of rats. In case you've all forgotten, I have a keen fear that a rat's gunna eat my feet and I've only recently started sleeping with my feet uncovered. Of course a rat found a hole in my mosquito net and climbed on my face for some reason. You could say I woke up with quite a scare in the middle of the night, pitch black and knowing there was a rat somewhere in my bunga (mosquito net).  Didn't lose the soles of my feet though so that's good.

We got new Kiribati song books so I've been handing them out to everyone and writing a little note to each person with my name when I give it to them. Haha I gave one to this one lady named Taouea (T ow way ya) I baptized a couple weeks ago and I wrote "Man Pettingill, Tangirau"  From Pettingill-- my love.  Everyone quickly found out about it and we've been laughing ever since and making jokes.

Burned the trash the other day in our trash can. Turns out it got really hot because when I went to put a piece of metal on it to keep the smoke and flames down, I passed the bottom of my arm over it and instantly every single one of my hairs on the bottom side got singed off. It was a very interesting and weird experience haha.

Went to church the other day and the unit leader said "We've been wondering where you've served before because none of us can remember you telling us?"  Haha I laughed and reminded them that this was my first place and then they were all like "Ohh yeah we remember you just getting here and not knowing too much. Wow you learn quick unlike the other missionaries before"...It felt really good to know that my hard work and straight immersion have really paid off in my language!

This last week I realized that stressing about things like working harder isn't going to change anything and it just builds up and then escapes in a moment of depression.  Well, really focusing on not stressing has helped my positive attitude to have a lot less holes in it, and I really enjoyed this past week and it went by very fast.

Anyways, love you all. Live your best so you can take the best road in all of those available for you that have been prewritten by a loving Heavenly Father, because it leads to so much joy!

Elder Pettingill (the Younger)

P.S. Got two more packages today! haven't opened them yet but they were totally unexpected and very warmly welcomed ;) haha thank you sooo much!

P.S. looks like pictures still don't work


Have you been able to explore the island yet?  we have and I forgot to take pictures because we were tracting/looking for people.  But we found these crazy bush like things and a sweet beach and there is a small island close to Beru that I would like to go one of these days. Oh and we're going to the place where people get the bocaboca this week so I'll let you know about that.

Will you walk or take a boat to the island?  We'd be able to walk out to it. Boats are off limits unless specifically authorized

Does you companion have someone to email or does he just study while you email?  He does. He's great and by the way my times up. We're gunna go head to whatever Matiare leads I guess. haha He's very dominate about Pdays turns out. Im fine, I just want to relax I'm so tired. haha Love you all and see y'all in a week!

Groups of Kiribati kids

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Beru-Week 9

Rain: There really should be a different word for when it rains here especially since the Kiribati word is "Ebwaka te karau" (it falls the make peace) haha because it does pretty much everything but make peace. Especially when a random rainstorm hits at 4 in the morning and it wakes you up and you get to be cold for once haha.  Of course I had to run oustside to make sure we caught the rain for our clean water.  Filled up all 3 of our buckets 2 plus times over. My companion laughed when he saw me come back in drenched and very sandy but I see he had no problem drinking the water!

Mari: cute little girl who just couldn't get the concept of keeping her hands closed when she asked me "enakiia?" (where'd it go?) after switching her marble behind her back haha. She'd pull them out and have her hands open showing me where it was. Very funny

My comp tries to use English words when he can but I'm so used to hearing Kiribati I don't understand him most of the time when he uses it because I'm expecting Kiribati haha!

This last week of complete immersion has been a ton of fun and learning. By learning I mean there have definitely been some tough times for me because i just want to work but Elder Matiare is not always as driven....but I love it out here and the time is definitely speeding up! Can't believe this week 8 here in Kiribati either!

Anyways love y'all and remember "We all have times when we need to know everything will be alright...that is exactly what this gospel gives us!" - Jeffrey R Holland quote in the Liahona.
A picture I found on the internet of a pig being prepared  for a Kiribati meal

Elder Pettingill (the younger)

From the new "unfiltered" email that is now only sent to the boys (fortunately, I know how to log in to Rich's email!)  Elder Klatt left his blow gun and one day during studies a couple of pigs were walking by our house. So we chased after them and shot them a couple times trying to get them for dinner haha. They got away but Elder Matiare and I made a pact if more come we will be eating pig that night.


How is it going with Elder Matiare? Elder Matiare is awesome! He's wayy fun and I really like him!  He's from an island here in Kiribati but grew up on Tarawa attending the Moroni high school after his parents died (moved and lived with his mom's sister and got baptized) two older siblings have served and oldest is married. The one right under him just entered the mission field. Oh and he only has 5-6ish months left so this''ll be his last area before returning to Tarawa to finish his time.

What are some of the cultural differences with your companion?  I get antsy and Matiare likes to have long conversations which is a blessing in so many ways until it comes to staying on time with our's all good though. It's teaching me to be thankful in all sitautions. It's just tough when added on top of everything, but hey, I wouldn't get to come to Kiribati if I couldn't handle it right?  Never realized the power of a promise (the Book of Mormon is full of promises) till now. They keep me going.

So I was wondering more about church there?  Tell us more about how the units run. We teach Sunday School then go ahead with church (Sacrament Meeting). No one has callings except branch presidency but different kids lead the music.  A couple of the units ask people to give talks or me or Elder Matiare will give one. Fast sunday is kaoti kaoua same as here.  The real only different one is Nuka because it's the main one and has the most people (which means 20-25 instead of 15-20) No other meetings after church. 

What are baptims like there? Baptisms are just whoever from that unit shows up and the leader, opening song/prayer and baptism and then after boutaki (meal/get together).

How are you feeling?  What can we pray for? I'm great! There are hard things like always and they are different all the time in their nature, which seems like Heavenly Father's way of well-rounding me. But I'm pushing through it and keeping a thankful heart, and doing what I can really helps. And if you could pray that we'll be able to find and help more people (more investigators) and that we will be able to better use our time wisely from now on.

Here is a link to an Ensign article from 2000 telling more about the church in Kiribati. 

Below are some pictures of Moroni High School where Elder Matiare attended school on Tarawa (the main island.)

basketball courts with school in background
apartments for school employees and missionaries
school basketball team
girls' dorms--there is a cafeteria between the girls' and boys' dorms

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Beru-Week 8

I learned on the internet that the Kiribati region is known
for its pristine coral reefs and giant clams. 
Rich discovered that the clams can grow to over 
4 feet and weigh up to 500 lb.
How about I start with a story?  Saturday morning I was thinking of what I wanted to for my 30 minutes exercise and then I remembered all of the stories I'd heard of different missionaries finding like cinderblocks and stuff and bench pressing that for their workout and then I remembered we have a huge clam shell sitting outside our house and I just knew I was gunna bench it and get a picture of it.  Turns out clam shells that are 4ish feetlong are really heavy but after quite a bit of struggle and Elder Matiare (Ma sa dee)'s help I got it into bench press position and knocked it out a whole 1 repetition for the picture and then gave up. I think I'll stick with push ups and such for awhile.

Second thing: looked in the mirror this week and realized I'm totally hitting mini afro stage if I poof out my hair! You can sure betcha I'll be bragging for ages about how the only time I ever grew an afro was on my mission haha. (There are no haircuts on the outer islands so the missionaries just grow their hair until they come in.)

3rd thing: There's this old lady here who thinks we're her kids and is very free with using her huge stick on us if, actually not if, always when she sees us. Luckily the kids in "her territory" are like body guards and will throw rocks at her now if she sees us and in return we'll give them gum.  Now that I think about it though the whole thing seems very similiar to paying a gang "protection" money.

How's it been living Straight Kiribati?  Well first I'd like to point out how ridiculous my situation is. It just hit me after a question Ashley Mork asked in her email. "How do we know if we are following the path the Lord has for us?"  If there is anyone who has been trying to follow the Lord's path, it has been me. I mean I am an 18 year old skinny imatang (not Kiribati) from America living on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere without a single other person who can speak any real English.  I'd say my choices having either been very right or ridiculously wrong; there is no other explanation for how I could have ended up here.  And based upon this last week with Matiare  I know I am on the right path in the right place.

Example: two investigators I was unsure about baptizing this last Saturday because of different circumstances. In a way I've kinda had to be senior comp this last week b/c Elder Matiare didn't know anything other than the language and that we eat the bocaboca about Beru. So the decision was up to me and I sure did pray. I realized I just needed to move forward and the Lord would make sure I made the right choices.  Needless to say one of the investigators smoked again two days before the baptism and I just knew he needed more help so we moved the date. Then the other investigator showed so much faith she waited after dark for an hour at a member's house for us because we were late so she wouldn't miss the lesson.

Lesson learned: "Press forward with faith and the Lord thy God will direct you in all things what you should do."

The zone leaders and Elder Wall from our senior couple came out yesterday for branch counsel, which we learned was happening Saturday night right after our baptisms. So we raced and got a car for everybody, saw a couple blatant miracles, and boom everything fell right into place for the next day!

Anyways thank you sooooo much for the packages.  Everything in them is priceless to me and unfortunately I wasn't as good at saving the candy as much and got a little sick from it at one point, but everything else I am going to make last for awhile haha and the apple sauce packets? Oh they take me back to the good old High Adventure days when we ate them everyday until we got so sick we couldn't eat them anymore. And yet the first day when I had a bowl of them with peanut butter in it was like pure heaven. Soo good and filling and the same with everything else. Love it.  Ohhh and also the letters? I got 4 of them and unfortunately, I also was pretty bad at saving those and already read them all!  Thank you very much, they were awesome. Quick couple comments: me and Klatt killed 11 rats in our house with a blow gun Mom so I think you should be able to take care of 1 pretty easily in America, although they're pretty stupid here ;)

Letter from all the kids was awesome haha loved it.

Island paradise? Let's just say that isn't exactly true because although I have the joy of paradise, trust me I worked hard for every bit of that joy.

Yeah but haha long letter for a long but awesome week. Made me wayy thankful for everything I have and have had, especially my family back home who speaks English! Love y'all! Kiribati is coming along great, in fact Matiare couldn't believe I'd only been here in Beru a little over a month!

Elder Pettingill (the younger)

PS a little fun tibit I know you'll appreciate. There are two more intakes coming this year to Kiribati and the second one will be getting here December 21 which means (after a convo with one of the zone leaders yesterday) that probs around that time I'll come back in to Tarawa and thus Christmas promises though we'll see haha ;)

Answers to questions:

How many packages did you get: 3

What do you want for the next packages? More oatmeal, and yeah Pb is always good and yes fruit cups and some trail mix/dried fruit would also be wildly appreciated! and yes there's a stove to cook on and we use kerosene to cook and you can buy it pretty cheaply from different people who sell it around the island. Really enjoyed the spaghetti, also yeah oatmeal for breakfast is great but just snacks for throughout studying and I'm fine with candy. My stomache is more sensitive to it now than ever so just a little is perfect! but like cookies or something like that would be awesome! and yes I would love a general conference issue! I love reading talks. Thank you so much.

How long have you had your new companion? He came on Tuesday!

Friends and family (especially the women) are worried that you are having a hard time. What should I tell them? I'm sorry I don't mean to make you all worried. I really try to edit my emails so I don't send anything too worrisome for you. Besides the whole I only speak Kiribati thing here is a lie. Every personal prayer I say is in English and those are the best conversations I could be having anyways! 

Just tell them that for every hard thing I see twice as many if not more blessings, if not in my life then farshore in others. I mean look at me, I can not only have a solid conversation months before most others can, the sitting doesn't bother me, I actually enjoy sleeping on the ground, huge spiders crawl over my hands when reaching for medicine and I only get slightly shaken, haven't gotten stung by a scorpion even though I slept with one, we've had rainwater to drink consistently, I love all of the people here and the only time things are hard here are when I decide to let them be hard. You're right, I've been prepared for this place wayy wayy before I came here.

Everything is easier (like in the talk you sent me) when you look at all of the blessings and not at all of the hard things, when you are excited for every day instead of dreading the trials you'll meet, when you know the Lord has promised me health enough to work every single day if I make smart decisions instead of looking at every little infection/scrape I get. Mom, I still haven't reached that point of just breaking down and crying because there has always been something to help me in the times I've felt like it.

Besides I'm getting a nice tan here too ;)

It's nice to hear that the Lord is watching out for you! Yes he is! Haha I love you mom. I'll talk to ya next week!

Monday, September 1, 2014



Hahah so first off, the APs did not come yesterday because the charter plane they would've flown on was broken soo instead it is coming this Tuesday and Klatt will be leaving then and Matiari (Ma sa dee) will be coming in then! The world of just Kirbati is about to begin! I have loved having Klatt as my comp and he works wayy hard and it has been fun. It'll be nice to get a Kirbati comp so I can get the language down as fast as possible.

a loaf of 'mud'
Haha Dad you said it was about 5 months in till you were fluent in Spanish? I think the average here is about 6-8 months till they are confident, but I wouldn't say fluent and that's after living day to day with only Kiribati. Let's just say Spanish is a little easier ;) but no complaints here I love this place!  The food I love. I ate DOG 3 times this week, and one time I got to wash it down with the bocaboca (the mud, theres's a drink and a food. I've only had the drink so far, consists of seaweed, coconut and mudand another time they gave us parts of the stomach mixed with curry, I'd say it tastes most like corn beef but the experience is in no waay the same. ;) And then the fish and rice combo is hard to beat especially when they mix the rice with bin (coconut) and hot water and it tastes like oatmeal. Kangkang (yumyum)

The first 3 packages should come on the plane tomorrow and then after that who knows. ALSO, they are no longer sending packages down from Marshalls to Kiribati or at least in the next week or two they will stop so if you sent packages right away they might get sent down but after that they said you'll have to send them to Kirbati which is pretty expensve. It just got to be too much money sending packages down all the that's a real bummer.

I ride back and forth across an island all day everyday on a bike at the very end of its life (we should get new ones hopefully soon) and then sit cross legged the whole time in the house, then get right back on our bikes and repeat. Then I come home to sleeping on a couple of matts on our very solid yeah I am wayy glad I was in shape and flexible before coming here! I think I'm finally getting used to it all and I can finally sleep on my side without that whole side going numb after awhile haha!

Little kids are the best! If they see us riding our bikes they will all chase after us and try and give us high fives! I've gotten pretty good at riding with no hands so I can give high fives to kids on both sides! Members' little boys will come and jump all over me and the girls will sit on my lap or snuggle up next to me or will try to get me to play jacks with them.

Funny thing about the animals: They are all smaller except for the spiders, the crabs (haven't seen any massive ones but I got a pretty solid one with my bike the other day riding home, and the hermit crabs are all huge here) and the geckos (the ones that come out at night are the same color as toys that will glow in the dark, like the whitish green, wayy sweet). Everything else just doesn't have enough food to get as big as in America.

This week was a really pretty good one. We saw a bunch of miracles, worked pretty hard until Klatt had to set up all of his goodbye parties and stuff. The swelling on my face has gone down a bunch, although everywhere else it's gotten worse haha.  We had four sweet baptisms this week, a husband and wife and then the wife of a member and then the son of two people who can't be baptized quite yet because his old wife (Catholic) won't sign the divorce papers so he can marry his actual wife. Their daughter'll get baptized next week though which will make 3 of there 4 baptism age children baptized. Wayy faithful!

Experience of the week: pulled Elder Klatt on his bike because his tire got bent and he couldn't pedal it by himself...we looked pretty funny going across the island him holding on to a stick and us both just pedaling our hearts out! so tiring especially since he stopped pedaling at one point the jerk!

One more story: spiders average size here is palm sized but one night we were riding home at 7:00 so naturally it is pitch black and I felt something on my ear, look over and a spider who at that moment looked as big as me and probably was just a little smaller than my face was just hitching a ride on my shoulder. That and every single spider since has felt a very quick and precise death 

Love you all! and remember if you feel the spirit you are doing what God wants of you!

Elder Pettingill, (the younger)