Saturday, December 3, 2011


Friday Morning before everyone arrived at the airport Peter Rimou, the Fauabu Malaita Branch President, came to me and asked if President Misitana had recieved his Celebrants License yet so he could marry an investigator couple who had come to the conference.  We ran President Misitana down to the government office and the license was not yet ready, but they said it had been approved so he could go ahead and perform marriages immediately.  On the way home I trained him as to how to perform the marriage and then spent 30 minutes going over the details in the handbook with him.  A few minutes later Cheryle and I heard loud clapping downstairs so we knew he had completed his first marriage ceremony.  The couple were baptised a few minutes later with 5 others from Malaita.  With the new baptisms the Branch now has 31 members, and 30 including some investigators had come to the Conference from Malaita.

After the whirlwind of preparations, Elder Hamula, President of the Pacific Area of the Church, Sister Hamula, Elder Vinson of the Seventy, President and Sister Fata, and President Rome 1st counselor in the Mission Presidency arrived Friday November 25th at 2 PM.  We picked them up at Henderson Airport and took them to their hotels downtown.  Because of the demonstrations last week, private security was contracted to follow them wherever they went. 

Cheryle went home with the young Elders to finish preparing for the dinner to be held at 6 PM this evening and I stayed to see that the media conference went as planned.

Elder Hamula and Elder Vinson arrived at the Media Conference at 3PM.  The three newspapers, the radio station and the television station had all confirmed that they would be there.  The only problem was no one showed up.  So Elder Hamula and Elder Vinson began to ask me all about the Solomon Islands.  The people, leaders of  Church and Nation, political situation, stability of the government, our safety as missionaries, the Church members, potential for the Church in the future, etc., etc.  For an hour and a half we talked an I gave them answers and information gathered from my limited experience of just under 2 months in the Solomons.  It was a great time to be with them and visit about the great place in which we have been blessed to serve the Lord.

By 6 PM Cheryle had everything ready for the dinner with Elder and Sister Hamula, Elder Vinson, President and Sister Fata, President Rome, Cheryle and I and the Opinion Leaders we had invited.

Cheryle set the table in an Island theme for 14 and then reset it for 12 as 2 called to say they could not come.  She had bought the material you see for the table cloth and then hemmed the ends by hand.  She placed a beautiful flower called a french penny by each plate and we were ready for the guests.

The  Hamulas, Elder Vinson, the Fatas, and Pres. Rome arrived.  Two of the Opinion Leaders had committed to attend the dinner with their partners, but they didn't show up.  It is very common here for someone to say yes to you because they are so humble and they don't want to disappoint you.  However actually doing what they say is more difficult for them and it's easy for them to make excuses if you confront them about it later.

Elder Hamula understands the "Island Mentality".  He has been the Pacific Area President for three years even though this is his first visit to the Solomon Islands.  He was very gracious to us as we apologised for the "no shows" and we had a great dinner as we visited with them.

Cheryle had performed a miracle in the kitchen with apricot chicken breasts, vegetables, mashed potatoes, (mashed with a table fork and whipped by hand with a wire whip) and her famous home made rolls.  All cooked to perfection in her 24 inch gas oven.  If that wasn't good enough, she made her famous chocolate cake for desert and served it with vanilla ice cream.  Amazing!!

After the guests had all left we called the Missionaries to come up and eat the food that was left over.  And of course they did a super job of eating every last crumb!  The good elders that they all are, including the APs, helped wash the dishes until they were all clean.

It was Friday here, but Thursday, Thanksgiving Day at home, and we could not have felt more blessed.  As some of you will understand, this meal at our table with the Elder Hamula, the Pacific Area President, Sister Hamula, Elder Vinson of the Seventy, Pres. and Sister Fata, our Mission President and his wife, and Pres. Rome, counselor in the Mission Presidency, is a fulfillment of promises made to a 7 year old boy by his Patriarch-Grandfather Fredrick E. Mitchell.

President Fata, Elder Mitchell, Elder Hamula, the Pacific Area President,  Elder Vinson of the Seventy

Sister Fata, Sister Hamula, Sister Mitchell
After dinner and a great evening we were blessed to get these pictures of our leaders and guests.

Saturday morning all of the members were at the sea side at AE-Oval in Ranandi to welcome the visiting authorities and to perform for them.

The panpipe group Wasiwasiwasiniiau from Maliata
The panpipe band Wasiwasiwasiniiau were hired to entertain during the celebration.  Many of the members are related to these performers but none of the performers are members of the Church..... Yet.  All of there instruments are made from bamboo.  They were very talented and entertaining as they played their instruments and danced their native dances.

Panpipe Dancers

Elder Vi nson, Elder Hamula, and Sister Hamula enjoying the performers

President Misitana, President Fata, Sister Fata and Sister Mitchell

The members from the four branches have been preparing native dances for months and were excited to join in performing for Elder Hamula and the other leaders.

Alma Misitana

Fauabu, Malaita Sisters

Anne Misitana

Honiara Sisters

Fiona Sauseru and Margaret Rimou

Burns Creek Sisters

Honiara Youth

White River Youth

Solomon Sea just outside the pavilion

Sister Mitchell and some dufus at the cultural celebration

A great meal was prepared by the Sisters of the District.  Lots of meat and native dishes for the 400 people that attended.  Elder and Sister Hamula and Elder Vinson were especially pleased with the celebration Saturday morning.  Everyone had a good time.

At about 1:30 PM Elder Hamula, Elder Vinson and President Fata started to interview brethren as they prepared to call a District President.  They used our living room to do this as Cheryle and I mingled with the members and missionaries.

At 3 PM Sister Hamula, Sister Fata and Cheryle invited the women leaders into our living room for leadership training.  Elder Hamula, Elder Vinson, Pres. Fata, and Pres Rome took the priesthood leaders into the Chapel to train them.  These were great meetings and Cheryle and I thoroughly enjoyed them. 

About 5:30 PM someone asked Cheryle and I to go upstairs to our living room because Elder Hamula wanted to visit with us.  We looked at each other and thought, what's up, but went up the stairs without a worry.  The visits and meetings with the Brethren had been a joy and the training was wonderful.  Elder Hamula, Elder Vinson and President Fata were there.  Elder Hamula told us that though they thought they knew what they would do when they came here, the Lord had directed them strongly and independently to do something very unusual that is just not normally done, and that was to call me, a Senior Missionary, to be the District President.  He explained that he did not know how long the call would be for but that my first job would be to train a man who could replace me as soon as possible.

Through prayer, counselors were determined, cleared and scheduled for early morning interviews so the reorganization could take place at the 9 AM session of District Conference Sunday morning.  Conference was great with the primary children singing I Am A Child of God in pidgin.  They were great, the testimonies and talks by the brethren were great with 261 members in attendance.

November 27, 2011 is a historic day in the Solomon Islands with the fourth Branch of the Church created and the Honiara Solomon Island District organized by Elder Hamula and Elder Vinson.

Many of the members who attended the first District Conference in the Solomon Islands

Sunday evening President and Sister Fata invited us to dinner at the Honiara Hotel with Elder and Sister Hamula, Elder Vinson and President Rome and the mission APs.  Unfortunately we left our camera home.  As we finished dinner we became aware that Gordon Lilo, the new Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands was also at the restaurant.  Elder Hamula mentioned that it would be really nice if we could meet him.  So I walked over to his security guards and explained who Elder Hamula was and asked it he could just shake hands and greet the Prime Minister.  He told me I would have to ask the PM's secretary and that he would send him out.  The secretary agreed and invited us over where I introduced Elder and Sister Hamula, Elder Vinson, and President and Sister Fata and President Rome to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister was very cordial and Elder Hamula told him we would help him with anything he needed from us, explaining our humanitarian work here.  The Prime Minister told us to feel free to move our missionaries throughout the Solomon Islands as we desired.  Mr. Lilo was very pleased and went on to say that cooperation between the government and churches was necessary to lift the people.  Elder Hamula told him that Cheryle and I were the Church contacts here in the Solomons and the Prime Minister told us to contact his secretary for an appointment next week and he would be pleased to meet with us.

What an exciting experience, after all of the no shows, then an unplanned opportunity to meet and speak with the Prime Minister.  The Lord had a hand in this and Elder Hamula and the other brethren could not have been more pleased.

Monday morning, prior to taking everyone to the airport, we drove up to the American World War II Memorial. 

Elder and Sister Hamula

Elder Vinson, Sister and Elder Hamula, Sister and President Fata, President Rome

Sister Hamula, Cheryle and Sister Fata

Elder Vinson, Pres. Misitana, Pres. Rome, Elder & Sister Mitchell, Sister and Elder Hamula, Sister and Pres. Fata

Zone Leader Elder Tamihana and his companion Elder Bourne
our New Zealand sons 

Elder Hamula asked us if there had ever been an Apostle in the Solomon Islands.  We told him that Elder Faust and Elder Sonnenberg had dedicated the Solomon Islands on March 10, 1987 at 5:15AM at the four monuments at Henderson Airport.  He wanted to see the place so while we waited for their flight, Elder Hamula walked with Cheryle and I over to the Memorial Gardens where the four monuments are located.

Elder Hamula, Cheryle and I at the four monuments

Elder Hamula
Elder Mitchell

Elder Hamula and Ken at the Four Monuments

We were blessed to spend about 20 quiet minutes in the memorial gardens at the four monuments with Elder Hamula. 

We plan to hold a testimony meeting as a District here at 5:15 AM on March 10, 2012 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Dedication of the Solomon Islands for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder and Sister Hamula and Elder Vinson with all of the
Solomon Island Elders at the airport 
President and Sister Fata saying goodbye to their missionaries.
Note the smiles and love in their eyes for our Mission President and Sister Fata

Elder Vinson could not get a flight out of Honiara, so he stayed another day.  He accepted an invitation to Family Home Evening at our home with the Elders.  I was a great night as he taught us about Joshua and Caleb from the Old Testament and explained the power and spirit of these two great men.  We took him to the airport Tuesday morning and wished him well as he left the Islands for his home in Australia.

Our little Christmas tree in the Solomons

1 comment:

sadimae said...

wow, what an exciting weekend.