Friday, April 12, 2013

Coming Home

Since the end of January Ken has had recurring kidney stone attacks.  

Over the past 30 years he has had 7 or 8 kidney stones so we were not overly concerned.  However, after 2 months it appeared the stone was not going to pass on it's own.  Our mission nurse in Vanuatu became aware of Ken's condition about 2 weeks ago and suggested the possibility of sending us to New Zealand where good medical treatment is available.  (Solomon Islands nor Vanuatu have the medical expertise or facilities necessary to treat this or most other serious medical problems)

Wednesday, April 4th, we talked on the phone to one of the Senior Missionaries in Vanuatu who had just returned from  New Zealand after being operated on to remove a kidney stone.  He assured us that the medical care he received there was equal to any he had experienced in the US.  With this encouragement, Ken agreed to get some help.

Thursday, the Church Pacific Area Doctor called and talked with Ken.  He was of the opinion that this was serious enough that it needed to be dealt with immediately and indicated that he and President Brewer would decide the course of action.  Late in the afternoon, Pres. Brewer called and informed us that the decision had been made to send us home for treatment as soon as we could book airfare.  He also told us that since we had already served nearly 19 months he was releasing us and considered our mission complete.  He explained that most senior couples serve 18 months.

Friday morning we visited the travel agent to book our airfare home.  Flights to the US are only available on Tuesdays.  We were informed that the flights were fully booked for the next two weeks and there was no way to fly to the US for at least that long.  We drove to the Solomon Airline office and were told the same thing.  Even with a medical emergency they could not help us. 

T. J. and Amanda were still with us for the week to celebrate Ken's 65th birthday.  While we were downtown, T. J. had searched the internet and found seats available Tuesday on the same flight he and Amanda were going home on.  He booked them for us and it all started to sink in.  Another miracle to end our mission.

Thus began the whirlwind of completing our mission.  Tying loose ends, packing, and preparing to go home.  We talked to all of our children by skype to inform them of our early return. 

     Cheryle was sad to say goodbye to her great friend
and Solomon Island walking partner, Judy, after their
last morning walk

Tuesday morning waiting for the plane at the Solomon Island Airport.

What a blessing to have T. J. there to help with the packing, luggage, plane changes, etc., as Ken was really not feeling well.
May, Fiona, Lilian and Eunice waving goodbye
We left the members a letter, but didn't tell them we were leaving.  Some of them found out and came to the airport.  We felt like our hearts would break as we waved goodbye that last time.
How we love our Solomon Island Members!!!
Sad to leave, but excited to see our family again
We didn't think that our family would be at the airport in Salt Lake to meet us because of the short notice.  Unknown to us, meetings were missed, schedules changed, thousands of miles traveled, some in blizzard conditions, miracles happened and lives were spared. 
What a happy surprise!!!!
All of our Children and most of our Grandchildren there to greet us.
We met our youngest grand baby, Grace Anne

Hugs and Kisses, Tears and Laughter all around

Sweet Reunion, Great Family

Now to have Ken's kidney stones removed

Serving the Lord in the Papua New Guinea/Vanuatu missions
has been such a great blessing in our lives. 
Of all the experiences and miracles, our fondest memories
 are of the good, kind, loving, humble people of the
 Solomon Islands.
Our testimonies of the Savior have been strengthened,
our lives have been enriched and changed forever.

We loved serving the Lord
as missionaries for the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Monday, April 8, 2013


April 2nd we were excited to welcome T.J. and Amanda to Honiara.  T.J. has a degree in history and loves it.  We have been saying for the last 18 months that he would love to see all of the WWII history here in the Solomons. 

T and Mandy coming off the plane in Honiara
We loaded them in the Land Cruiser and began their week long tour
(No, T's not driving)

We drove to Selwyn College and showed them our favorite beach



We found a "token" pig
Old broken dugout canoe
We showed them the oil palm plantations
We made sure they tried the native food
Their first taste of fresh coconut milk from a green coconut
Next day:  The WWII open air museum
Cheryle's favorite Solomon Island plant, the shy bush.
When you touch the leaves of this plant they fold against themselves
as though they are shy.
Cheryle giggled every time she found one.
The bird of paradise flower is one of our favorites

Solomon Island laundromat-washer.....
.....and dryer
We never tire of the beautiful sea
We stopped at the almost completed White River chapel.  we are so excited for this little branch to be blessed with this beautiful building.  They have met in an old dirty school house for 3 years.
T chose to visit us this week because it is Ken's 65th birthday.
The celebration began early and lasted 5 days, wow, lots of cake and ice cream.

The first day was with Elder Bacon and Elder Aching.  Elder Aching was leaving the next day
to return home to Samoa for a hernia operation.

To celebrate Ken's birthday, Cheryle booked a day cruise to a private island

The weather was great-a perfect day
First stop, Tulagi, the Colonial Capitol of the Solomons until WWII
T and Amanda climbing out of a WWII Japanese cave
Cheryle and Ken waited outside the cave

A native family returning to their Island after shopping at Tulagi
They raised a sail to help them home
Back on the boat
We arrive at the private island of Mbike
 Leaving the boat, we walked through the beautiful, warm, clear water to the Island. 

Cruise ship that ran aground in about 2000 after hitting a reef
A beautiful sunset at the end of a once in a lifetime experience
The American WWII Memorial
Iron bottom sound in the background
The Solomon Island flag
Shopping at the main market
Happy 65th Birthday
Monday evening we invited all of the Elders over to celebrate Elder Mitchell's birthday.
rear l to r:  Elder Tuisalega, Elder Potrie, Sister Mitchell, Elder Kingstone, Elder Falevai, Elder Iati.
front l to r:  Elder Sione, Elder Thomas, Elder Mitchell, Elder Bacon, Elder Judge.
Signing the Solomon Island
Missionary sheet
A 65th birthday should be a pretty big deal.  This one definitely was, 5 days of celebration!!!!