Sunday, August 31, 2014

Finally, Tarawa

This is the front door to our apartment.  There is kind of a patio around this and the side in the back ground.  It is surrounded by bread fruit and coconut trees.  Our neighbor has already treated us to coconut meat and milk fresh from the trees.  Some of our neighbors are members but we don't see them in church because the Mission President assigned us to a different ward.  We live in the Taoreireke 1st ward but attend the second.  Our ward neighborhood is 1/2 mile up the street.
On our first morning here we were welcomed with a devotional and a breakfast.  They even made us crowns/leighs of fresh flowers.  We are on the front porch of the Service Center.
This is a little better picture of the SC from the front.  It is a nice building that houses about a dozen church employees that manage the administrative affairs (finance, facilities, motorpool, etc.) of the church in this part of the mission.  They have loaned us an office until ours is done.

A picture from the road looking up the "street" which is a gross exageration of the term here.  Where there is foliage, it is dense.

We passed some children swinging on a rope from this tree.  When the tide is in, they can swing out into the ocean.

On evening we were having a farewell party for the mission nurse, Sister Cassita, and who should show up and even sang some fun songs?  The past president of the republic, President Tito.  Though not a member of the Church some of his family is and some of the songs he sang were hymns.  He will be a good friend to the Church.

Another picture of the foliage you see from the road.  We'll stop here for now, having trouble with the internet which is more the case than not.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Waldrons reach New Zealand

We landed at the airport in New Zealand at about 5:00 am and were greeted (after an hour in customs and emmigration) by Elder and Sister Reynolds.  They picked us up and drove us to our hotel in Taka Puna where the area office is also located.

When we arrived at the hotel room, Sister Waldron threw open the blinds and a beautiful rainbow greeted us.  The rainbow ended at the true pot of gold.

This is a picture from our hotel window of the area headquarters building.  It is just beyond the parking lot and on the right hand side.  Notice the speck on the white wall in front.  It has the offices of the area presidency and all the operational managers (finance, facilities management, legal, public affairs, welfare/self reliance, etc.)  The lake in the background, if I remember correctly, is the mouth of a volcano but filled with water now.

Pictured with us are Elder and Sister Reynolds.  He is the secretary to the area presidency.  He is also involved with the welfare and self reliance activities.  They were our hosts and could not have been more hospitable. 

We are standing in front of the area headquarters.  In the picture two frames above this, you can just make out this sign (a little speck) on the front of the building.  It is winter here and because we didn't pack any warm clothing (weight limitations) we had to borrow a couple of coats from the Reynolds in order to brave the out doors and not freeze.  Just the two block walk from the hotel to here was bone chilling.  Still, not a winter in the Utah sense unless you are from St. George.

This is a picture from the area office taken back to the Spencer on Byron, our hotel.  Our room was a corner room with a balcony, the highest one.  We had a pleasant stay there.  Very comfortable with a great complimentary breakfast.  Dinner was another story.  A bowl of soup was $15 but was delicious none the less.

This one is a view of the pool from our room.  I though I could just about hit it but Sister Waldron forbade.  I went the easy way, through the gym, and swam a quarter mile or so one afternoon.  It was chilly at best.  Great lap pool, though.

Taka Puna beach on Saturday morning.  It was a beautiful "winter" day and the place was full of walkers with kids and dogs, sail boats, swimmers (brrr.), and kayaks.

Sister Waldron with her sister, Tina, on the beach under one of the enormous, Swiss Family Robinson trees there.  Living in Wellington, she was able to join us for the day for a little site seeing and reconnecting.
When we left NZ we were greeted by the same beautiful rainbow as when we arrived.  This is taken from the Area Doctor's office on Friday evening.  Sister Waldron wanted him to check her ears and I needed his final blessing to depart for Tarawa in spite of my painful hip.  Needless to say, on with the show.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

MTC for Welfare Services Training

     July 28-31 was our extended training for Welfare/Humanitarian Services.  It was great in that it answered a lot of questions about what we are actually supposed to do on our mission.  Turns out, we are really not supposed to go to the Gilbert Islands to help people--we are supposed to go and partner with existing NGOs, government agencies, programs and resources that are already there doing some kind of humanitarian work.  We can perhaps support financially, organizationally, or logistically those groups already on the ground doing work for the people in the area.  We haven't found out what our "area" is but I'm guessing we'll be more or less confined to Tarawa unless there is something of note happening on another atoll and we can justify/manage travel there to assist.
     We have heard rumblings about a major initiative surrounding the issue of diabetes.  Seems the Pacific Islands are getting some influence from the western culture (the bad stuff, naturally) such as high fructose corn syrup, mono-sodium-glutamates, and all the stuff that makes you fat.  The obesity, because of poor medical support, education, and cultural impediments; is turning to diabetes and is an emerging problem in the Pacific area.  Perhaps we will find government/non-government health agencies with whom we may partner to provide consulting, management, or financial support to stem the tide.
     On another note, for the last two months I've been struggling with a pain in my hip that has radiated down my leg and substantially restricted my activity.  Sometimes I could hardly walk.  Thinking it an injury (pulled muscle or a tendon), I have waited for it to get better on its own--to no avail.  Finally I resorted to a doctor who took some x-rays and said there was nothing wrong with my hip.  We then went to and orthopedist who took some more x-rays (I suppose because the others weren't good enough) and agreed it was not a hip problem per se.  He suggested it might be a spinal problem.  Oh no, we're flying out of here in less than a month.  We went the next day to a PT and a Chiropractor who worked their magic--frankly, I felt better after the chiropracter's adjustment, but still the problem persisted.  While at the MTC I got an appointment with a radiologist who did an MRI and sent it to all concerned and, yep, bulgy discs and pinched nerves. They referred me to a spinal surgeon who sent me to a clinic where they administered an epidural of cortisone in two vertebrae.   This was done on the last day at the MTC in Provo.  Interestingly, the best therapy I've enjoyed is sitting with correct posture (even exaggerated) for several hours a day at the MTC. Hopefully I am ready to fly out of here on Sunday.  Much prayer and the ministrations of many Elders and doctors should do it.