In January, we went up to the Marshall Islands to visit the Mission Home. This was our first trip off the Islands of Kiribati. The plane ride takes less than an hour. It was so funny because they served us lunch on the plane. It was SO good. When the plane landed in Majuro, Marshall Islands, we knew we were in a different world. They didn't have to clear the people and dogs off the runway, there was curb and gutter on the roadway and no potholes. Elder and Sister Barlow met us and took us right to the grocery store. This is one section of the produce. There are more fruits and vegetables in one section than there are in the whole country of Kiribati.
I took this picture, because we hadn't seen a head of lettuce for our entire mission.
This is their deli section. Compare that to the deli section in Kiribati...well you can't.
Sister Shaw said there were so many cabinets that she would loose food all the time.
President and Sister Shaw were in Kiribati while were were visiting, so we had the whole house to ourselves. We felt like royalty.
This is the mission office.
We came back to Kiribati the long way, traveling through Hawaii and Fiji then back to Tarawa. Elder Armstrong had some health issues and was completing his mission in Hawaii. We were so excited to see him and see that he was in good health.
Here we are in front of the Honolulu Tabernacle. It is a beautiful mid-century building. We went to church and froze. First time with a/c in sacrament meeting.
Sister Bonnemort sitting on her favorite chair on the porch of the Moana Hotel on Waikiki.
Sister Cassita, (the new nurse) arrived just 3 days before we departed Tarawa. She is from Sandy Utah. She previously was serving on Cape Verde which is off the coast of Africa. She made the transfer to Tarawa, which is halfway around the world. We were excited to show her around the island (which takes about 45 minutes). We know she will grow to love the people of these islands and the missionaries.
The was our last party. We were the honored guests of course, as was Sister Cassita. If I had to count the parties we had attended it would be over 50. They don't need much of an excuse to party. This is their "movie night", "out to dinner", "TV", "web surfing", "texting", "Facebook", "twitter". We will miss their wonderful voices, their talented dancing, and all the fun they can have with so little.
We couldn't depart without sharing a pictures of all the food that our family and friends sent. A special thanks to Grammy who sent us a least 2-4 boxes a month. These pics are of the food we left for Elder and Sister Bush who moved into our flat. We would have survived without the American food, but it would have been a tough year and a half.
Departure day. Finally we were going to get on that plane. We had been to the airport for one reason or another about once or twice a month. Every time that Air Pacific plane would take off, I would get a little sad. Above is Elder Mickelsen, one of our zone leaders. We sure will miss him
Elder Foust, another of our zone leaders. He is from California.
Elder and Sister Bush from Sugar City Idaho. They were our life preserver when they came in May last year. They have 4 daughters, so working with these young men was a new experience for them.
Elder and Sister Youngberg from Idaho. They are on a Welfare mission, working on gardens, showing Kiribati how to grow fresh vegetables.
This is Elder Kidder. He is making the trip home with us today. He is from Indiana.
Elder Paora from New Zealand
Elder Thomas from Sidney Australia
Elders Brown, Kidder who are making the trek home to the USA with us
This is Elder Ulitui from Tonga. Notice his front teeth. He came on his mission missing his two front teeth. He wanted so bad to get some new teeth. We just didn't have the facilities here to help him out. Well, Dr. Chisolm from Monroe Utah comes each year to volunteer at Moroni High. He sees all the students and the missionaries. He made a deal with the dental clinic at the hospital. He would leave them all his supplies if they would make Elder Ulitui some teeth. A few weeks later, he showed up with this great big smile.
This project (working restrooms as the airport) was started by the Edler and Sister Ogborn more than a year ago. The Ogborns work tirelessly to get this up and running. It just didn't happen while they were here. When the Youngbergs came I told him that I wanted to be able to use the restroom on our departure day. Elder Youngberg said that it would be working for sure. That gave him 6 months to get it going. Well as you can see, he opened the gate just for us. Now mind you, the water wasn't working the day we were there, but he assured us that everything else was set to go.
This is Brother Tune. He is a true Kiribati. He was born and raised on these islands, he and Mae, his wife also raised 6 children here. Sister Bonnemort spoke about him during here farewell talk not knowing that he would be our neighbor and our Stake President. He loves these islands and the people. He wants something better for his family and all the island people. He is involved in all aspects of life here and everyone know him. We will miss him and Mae
This was our final Zone Conference. The outer island missionaries (18) were not present.
This is our BIRD! We finally got to get onboard. But wait, the plane had mechanical problems....it finally left 3 hours late. Sister Bonnemort sat on the tarmac for those 3 hours. She wasn't about to go inside the building.
WE MADE IT!!!!!
Notice Sister Bonnemort in the same clothes as she left 24 hours before. She had saved a fancy dress to arrive in, but somehow it didn't make it into her luggage. She wasn't too happy about showing up in the same outfit she had worn in Tarawa for 1 1/2 years. Somehow the family didn't quite care.
Family is everything, I know that is cliche, but it just is.
13. And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work that they had undertaken.
16. Therefore, this was the cause for which the sons of Mosiah had undertaken the work, that perhaps they might bring them unto repentance; that perhaps they might bring them to know the plan of redemption.
Yes we did depart from our family, and we supposed that there was a great work. I came to understand our purpose and know that without the service of the nurses, doctors and medical professionals throughout the world, the work would not go forth.
The work in Kiribati was challenging. But it was most rewarding as well. We will never forget the people we met, and those missionaries we served with. It was a lift changing experience and one that I will never forget. I can finally say after 57 years, "well, while I was on my mission...."
The gospel is true, it is our Savior's church, he loves all of us. I loved being a missionary for him.