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.
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|
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|
|Elder Vi nson, Elder Hamula, and Sister Hamula enjoying the performers|
|President Misitana, President Fata, Sister Fata and Sister Mitchell|
|Fauabu, Malaita Sisters|
|Fiona Sauseru and Margaret Rimou|
|Burns Creek Sisters|
|White River Youth|
|Solomon Sea just outside the pavilion|
|Sister Mitchell and some dufus at the cultural celebration|
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|
|Elder Hamula, Cheryle and I at the four monuments|
|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.
|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|