Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas on Tarawa

Elder Johnson and Elder Kennedy showing off
 their musical Christmas ties we sent to them. 
Elder Carrington making fun of them
We had a great experience talking with Elder Johnson on Christmas day.  He called us from one of the Senior Missionary's laptops that lives in the Moroni High School campus on Tarawa.  We were able to record the entire call, but it is much too big to post on this site.  Here are some of the details from that call.
Physical and Emotional Health
Elder Johnson is healthy and happy.  With the exception of a few minor cuts that got infected and some issues with his digestion, he is good.  There have been a few times where he was served under-cooked chicken that have made him sick for a couple days, but he has bounced back pretty quickly from that.
Jeff's spirits were pretty high.  There has been a few storms roll in lately that make riding their bikes nearly impossible.  Also when it rains, no one wants to listen to the lessons.  Those are the times that he has been getting the most frustrated and starts to feel down.  Other than that, he and his companions have been very busy and are working hard keeping up with all of their investigators.
We asked Jeff what he and his companion did to keep their spirits up when the rain or other things got them down.  He said that they do a lot of singing, and a lot more praying. 
Elder Johnson's Christmas Experiences
Christmas Breakfast- Pancakes with Nutella and Sausage.  With Elders Kennedy and Kaakau
Jeff made his companions breakfast Christmas morning.  He cooked up some thick pancakes and fries some sausage.  He made enough pancakes that they shared them with their neighbors.  He says they turned out pretty good.

Jeff admitted that he opened up his camera we sent him for Christmas the day he got his package, but saved the other items for Christmas morning.  The camera is already being put to good use since his old one was dropped in the ocean.  The new camera is waterproof and dirt proof.  (Hopefully he won't take that as a challenge!)

Later that day they went to a party with their landlord.  Elder Johnson said that it was a blast.  The music was a little goofy, so Jeff said he had to dance goofy.  Sadly all the camera batteries were dead by that time!

Elder Johnson is in the Tarawa East zone, and they got together with the West zone and played capture the flag.  Then they watched the movie Freetown. 

The day after Christmas Elder Johnson was able to Skype us at home.  They are 17 hours ahead of us on Kiribati, so it was Christmas day in Utah.  After the call home, the missionaries were going to have a big party all day at the Moroni High School. 

Elder Johnson mentioned that this Christmas he was able to focus more on the real meaning of the season.  The birth of our Savior.  It was an amazing experience to celebrate with the incredible people on Tarawa.

Mission President

Elder Johnson really looks up to the mission president, President Weir.  President Weir traveled to Tarawa this past week, so Elder Johnson was able to meet with him a couple times.  Jeff learned that President Weir has a military background and previously worked with black ops.  He related a story that President Weir once met witht a king of a foreign nation and helped him to reorganize his military using napkins to write down the details.  Elder Johnson has a lot of respect for President Weir.


Elder Johnson loves his companions.  He is currently working in a threesome with Elder Kennedy and Elder Kaakau. 

Elder Kennedy came to Kiribati in the group of missionaries right before Elder Johnson's group, about a month or so earlier.  So they are both still pretty green.  Elder Johnson loves Elder Kennedy and says he is a funny guy.  He has a pretty good sense of humor which helps when things get rough

Elder Kaakau is from Kiribati.  He is waiting to come to the US for his mission in New Mexico.  He will be with Elders Johnson and Kennedy until January 12.  It has been good to have Elder Kaakau with them since it has helped them with the language.  Jeff says it is hard to understand him from time to time, but he loves Elder Kaakau and is enjoying working with him.

These elders have been pretty busy lately, teaching about 40-50 lessons per week.  They have gone on a lot of splits with members of the ward.  The only thing that slows them down right now is the weather from time to time.

Elder Johnson mentioned that transfers will be anounced this week, he is hoping to stay with his current area because he loves the people he is working with.  But he said where ever he is sent, he knows that is where he is supposed to be.  We will find out next week if he or his companions are getting transferred.


Elder Johnson has been loving the food on Tarawa, with the exception of the undercooked chicken!  His diet consists mostly of chicken, fish, breakfast crackers and rice.  He has tried Octopus and loved it. 

His little brother wanted to know if he has eaten dog yet, and he has not, but probably only a matter of time.  Our vegetarian daughter said, "Oh! Poor Fluffy!", Jeff responded, they don't name their dogs on Kiribati, except maybe "Dinner".

P-Day Activities

On their preparation day each Monday the first thing they do is race down to the computers.  There are only 4 computers and they race the other missionaries in the area to be the first ones to write home.  They would then go buy a drink or treat called "Thick Shakes", we didn't get the details on what those are. 

Then they would go home to rest and clean the apartment.  (Not sure if he said that just for his mom's sake!)  Then they are off to Moroni High School to play ultimate frisbee, basketball or whatever with the East Zone.  Once a month they combine with the West Zone to play games as well.  Then it is back home and back to work.

Great Christmas
For Amber and I and the kids, this was a great Christmas treat to be able to talk with Jeff.  It was our best Christmas present of the year. We know that Jeff is safe, that he is being watched over.  He is healthy and getting into the work.  It was an incredible thing to see a man on the screen, when he left us still a boy.  Definitely a mom and dad payday!
Our heart goes out to the other missionary moms and dads that have missionaries on the outer islands of Kiribati that did not get a chance to talk to them on Christmas.  Our prayers are with them and their missionaries.
We wanted to include a clip of Jeff bearing his testimony in the Kiribati language.  The quality of the video is not the greatest since I had to reformat it to be small enough to load. 

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