Wednesday, January 11, 2012


WE GOT BACK TO HONIARA from Malaita on Sunday night, December 11, 2011 and found an email from President Fata telling us that we would be receiving tickets to fly to Papau New Guinea on Saturday the 17th. 

Elder and Sister White picked us up at the airport and took us to the Mission Home.  They explained that all of the Elders were under lock down for their safety because of political unrest in the country.  It seems that a new Prime Minister had been elected and the old one wouldn't relinquish the position. The 90 young Elders were living at the Mission Home, a compound called Besele, and Gabuto were we were to stay.  These compounds are all protected by 24 hour security guards and fully fenced with chain link and razor wire fences. Elder Hamula, the Area President had called for the lock down and all church travel to PNG had been canceled.

President Fata explained that he didn't ask if we could come because he was pretty sure of the answer and he wanted us to be there with all of the missionaries.

The Elders had been in PNG for two weeks before we got their and had spent their time while locked down practicing for performances that they put on every evening through the holidays.  On Fridays and Saturdays they performed at Vision City, the largest Mall in Port Moresby.  Each performance was filled with music and native dances.  They were always a hit with the crowds.

Elder White and some of the Elders built a stage from bush materials, a stable and nativity scene, and a huge video projection screen in front of the mission home.  Pres. Fata invited a different Ward, Branch, Stake or District to perform at the program every night through the holidays after which the Missionaries performed.  Rain or shine the programs were held every night until Christmas.

Sister Van Duker leads her Branch Choir in Christmas carols.

90 Missionaries sing on the stage in front of the Mission Home which can be seen in the background with the Christmas lights on.

The Elders spent every day practicing and perfecting their native dances from their respective homelands.

President Fata worked with each different group to help them perfect their performances.  He would review each "item" that was to be performed that evening during the afternoon rehearsal and allow them to perform only if they were good enough. 
This is the Samoan group and he wanted them to be especially prepared because he is from Samoa.

More practice, and more practice.

Our New Zealand "son", Elder Tamihana, teaching the Hakka with diagrams on the chalk board in one of the chapels of the Gabutu Stake Center.

Sister Fata playing her ukulele and teaching a Samoan song to some of the Elders with Sister Tao helping.

Our new Solomon Island Zone leader and the only missionary from Tahitii, Elder Tauira, practicing his native dance.  By the time he performed, about 20 elders had been adopted as Tahitians and were dancing with him.

Elder Mitchell with his "apprentices", Elder Fui from Samoa and Elder Gibson from Papua New Guinea drilling a door and installing a lock set.  Actually, Elder Fui supervised a crew of 5 finish carpenters prior to his mission and is an excellent craftsman.

Elder and Sister Mitchell standing on the chapel site where local members hope a temple will some day stand.  The gulf of Papua is in the background.  This is a beautiful site.

Brother and Sister Suapaia a Senior Couple assigned to Daru.  They are from Samoa.  Sister Suapaia was so kind to make a coconut frond fan and give it to Sister Mitchell.

Elder and Sister Te'o from Samoa are the Senior Couple assigned to serve in Rigo.  Elder Mitchell's "brother Chief".  Elder Te'o is a real Tongan Chief even tho he is from Samoa.

An Elder making a costume for the Daru dance.

Sister Mitchell and Elder Parere who used to serve in the Solomons is from Daru.  He is wearing his costume he made from coconut tree fronds.

The two Elders on the right are brothers serving in the mission.  Elders Bourne. 

The Hakka again.  Elder Mitchell said he doesn't know how such nice young men can look and act so mean while performing the Hakka.

The Van Duker family at a Branch Christmas Party.
Sister Van Duker was Gretchen Travis' room mate in Provo.  Who says US people can't live in Papua New Guinea?

The Tongans getting "down" during their performance at the mall.  They even did this in a heavy rain storm in front of the Mission Home on the wet asphalt road!  What sacrifice and dedication!

Sister Te'o, Sister Mitchell, and Sister Fata, trying on the Papau New Guinea Mud Man masks.  Lookin good!!!!

               Elder Tamihana leading the elders in the Hakka at the Vision City Mall.

Elder Palupe and Elder Seumanutafa, the talent behind all of the musical performances.  They both worked so hard to make sure the performances were done professionally.

                                                  Our 2011 Christmas Mission Picture

Elder Vuataki and Elder Schwenke, the AP's, with Elder and Sister Mitchell.  What good, good Elders!

President and Sister Fata and their youngest Son.  He teaches at the New Zealand MTC and helped with training between Christmas and New Years.  What a great young man.

Pres. Fata demonstrating the art of cracking a coconut.  He is very skilled with a bush knife.

Our 8 Solomon Island Elders leaving Papu New Guinea.  Elder Haromera, Elder Pukari, Elder Yama, Elder Bourne, Elder Asuafi, Elder Tago, and Elder Tauria, and Elder Asia in front.

What a great, unexpected, and wonderful experience to be able to be with all of the missionaries in Papua New Guinea for Christmas.  We never dreamed we would have this opportunity.  How blessed we are to be called to serve the Lord in this part of the World!  We really love our Mission!!!

1 comment:

Andrea said...

A very happy hello from sunny AZ! Brenda sent us your blog link and also your email so we are excited to get caught up on all you are doing! Love these pictures! Ahhhh! The life of a missionary! Love it : ) We send our love!