Wednesday, March 21, 2012


MISSIONARIES ARE TAUGHT the importance of physical as well as spiritual exercise each day.  Spiritual exercise starts each morning with individual and companion study, prayer, reading the scriptures and listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  Physical exercise takes on many different activities such as soccer, volley ball, walking, LOL, service and many others. 

This week our Elders have been especially good in helping Elder Mitchell with his little projects at night after proselyting all day.  The cover for our outdoor baptismal font has been ready to cave in since we arrived here.  The Church has purchased property across the road to build a new District Center complete with a new baptismal font, district offices, classrooms, chapel, etc., but the wheels turn slowly here in the South Pacific.  The purchase was complete on November 30th last year and we are still waiting for the architect to arrive to start the design.  We are concerned that the millennium may get here before the building is completed or maybe even before the construction starts!!  Well, maybe we can finish it during the 1000 years. 

Elder Mitchell directs his craftsmen as they reinforce the broken font cover.

Skills were learned and talents honed as the Elders used power tools they had only dreamed of.

Since we arrived here in September we have had many very heavy rains.  Because we live about 15 feet below the road we get flooded during every one of these storms. 
Well, this doesn't set well with Elder Mitchell so he decided to buy sand bags to divert the floods back into the street and away from our house and the chapel.
Here he and the office girl at the cement company load the Land Cruiser with sand bags.  Too bad the picture doesn't show the 6 inches of water they were standing in.
This office girl might have been small in stature, but she was strong!
When we got home Sister Mitchell and the Security guard helped place the bags outside the gate.
All was well for about a week until the locals decided to break the bags and scatter the sand.
Well, this didn't set well with Elder Mitchell.  So.....we bought new bags and a bag of cement to mix with the sand and some water and re-bagged it.

The Elders help mix the concrete, sand and water and refill the bags.  They then  placed the concrete sandbags to divert the floods.

Now Elder Mitchell lays in bed at night with a little grin, listening to hear someone attempt to kick open the sand bags. LOL

We really appreciate these hard working Elders and all they have done this week.
Elder Mitchell has had a little problem with his back lately and could not have
done this work without the help of the Elders.

Every Zone deserves to have an outing once in a while.  Monday after our morning walk we begged the Elders to show us a monument that was built to commemorate the final battle of the US Marines against the Japanese here on Guadalcanal.  Three of our Elders are from Honiara and were ready and willing to serve as our guides.  The others were just as willing to participate.  So at 7 am we started out.  This monument is off the beaten path and not easy to find.

The Elders were  having just a little bit of fun!

By the way the inscription on the monument says that a US Army driver in a Marine tank took out the last pill boxes to win the final battle near here.

While here an old lady approached Sister Mitchell and in very heavy pidgin asked her to pay a hundred dollars because she was viewing the monument.  Astutely, Sister Mitchell replied, "me no savvy" which means in English, "I don't understand" and sent her to the Elders.  The Elders knowing what was going on (its called the white price) told the woman to get lost.

Elder Mitchell has a problem if he doesn't get to go to the end of the road and Sister Mitchell and the Elders continued to cooperate.

The Solmon Sea, the Lunga river and Henderson field (the airport) are behind this fun loving group.
This is one of the hills where the Japanese set up their heavy artillery to shell the airport during the battles.
After the final battles the Americans placed a flag here.

Finally at the end of the jeep road we arrived at the upper Lunga river.

Skipping rocks like any group of boys

Rock climbing was attempted

What a fun two hours we enjoyed!

On the way home Elder and Sister Mitchell stopped at Honiara Hot Bread and treated everyone to cream buns.  YUM!

 Just wanted to show you this sign.  We've seen it in China town for six months now and Elder Mitchell just chuckles every time we pass it.

Sister Mitchell returning to the Land Cruiser after orienting the new Primary President in White River Branch.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


THE SOLOMON ISLANDS WERE DEDICATED for the preaching of the gospel and missionary work on Tuesday March 10, 1987 by Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He was accompanied by his wife and Elder and Sister John Sonnenburg of the Pacific Area Presidency.  They went to Henderson Field at 5:15 in the morning and in the area of the four monuments, dedicated the Solomon Islands for the preaching of the Gospel.

We arrived at the Memorial Garden at Henderson Field at 6:15 am with four of our Elders.  Sister Mitchell and Elders Maesi, Tauira, Asuafi, and Ifuna'au standing next to one of the WWII monuments honoring those who gave their lives for the freedom of the Solomon Islands, prior to the service.  The Elders helped us set up the sound system and clean up the rubbish as we waited for the members to arrive by bus. The service started at 7 am sharp.  Wonder who made sure that happened?  No "Island Time" when President Mitchell conducts.

Brother John Kwanafia bearing his testimony during the service.

The priesthood brethren singing Ye Elders of Israel

Sisters singing As Sisters in Zion

Primary children singing I am a Child of God, or
Mi Pikinini blong God.

President Mitchell spoke of the future of the Church in the Solomon Islands.  He promised those in attendance that they would see great growth in the Church and look back to this time with gratitude that they were here on this historic day to celebrate the first 25 years of the gospel in the Solomon Islands.

The spirit was strong during the meeting.  All were grateful for the blessings the gospel has brought into their lives. The meeting concluded at 8 am and the buses arrived to take the members back home.

We wrote two separate articles on the Celebration, one for the Solomon Star and another for the Island Sun newspaper.  They both ran the articles on Tuesday.  The Solomon Star even ran the pictures in color.  The two articles follow.



Members of the Honiara Solomon Islands District of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered early Saturday morning at Henderson Field.  They met together in the Memorial Gardens to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Solomon Islands for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The Solomon Islands were dedicated on Tuesday, March 10, 1987, by Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He was accompanied by his wife and Elder and Sister John Sonnenburg of the Pacific Area Presidency.   They went to Henderson Field at 5:15 in the morning and in the area of the four monuments, dedicated the Solomon Islands for the preaching of the Gospel.

As part of the celebration, some, who were the first to be baptized into the Church in the Solomon Islands, bore testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and his Gospel.  Those who spoke were; Grace Ifuna’au, John Kwanafia, Nesta Sade, and Matthew Sauseru.  Hymns were sung, prayers were offered and all were uplifted by the Spirit as they celebrated this important event in Church history.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown to include a District and 4 Branches in the Solomon Islands.  The four Congregations are;  White River with Aaron Teikanoa serving as Branch President, Burns Creek with Dickson Koke serving as Branch President, Honiara with Michael Mani  serving as Branch President, and Fauabu, Malaita, with Peter Rimou serving as Branch President there. 

Eddie Misi was the first to join the Church in Honiara and was baptized in 1995.  He also served as the first Branch President.  Today more than 500 Solomon Islanders claim membership in the Church.  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live in nearly every nation of the world and number over 15 million.  

President Matthew Sauseru Speaking Saturday Morning

Early Saturday morning, members of the Honiara Solomon Islands District of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered in the Memorial Gardens at Henderson Field.  They came to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Solomon Islands for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated the Solomon Islands for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1987.  He was accompanied by his wife and Elder and Sister John Sonnenburg of the Pacific Area Presidency.  The dedication took place at Henderson Field in the area of the Four Monuments early on the morning of March 10th.

During the Saturday morning meeting, Grace Ifuna’au, John Kwanafia, and Nesta Sade, some of the first people to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honiara, bore testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Matthew Sauseru Counselor in the District Presidency, Aaron Teikanoa, Dickson Koke, and Michael Mani, all Branch Presidents, also spoke during the meeting.  As part of this important event, hymns were sung, and prayers were offered.  

The Church has continued to grow steadily in the Solomon Islands through the past 25 years.    The Honiara Solomon Islands District and the Fauabu Malaita Branch were both organized in 2011.  Peter Rimou currently serves as Branch President of the Fauabu Branch.  The District consists of Honiara, White River, Burns Creek and Fauabu Malaita Branches.  Today more than 500 Solomon Islanders claim membership in the Church.  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live in nearly every nation of the world and number over 15 million.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


As we received our mission call to Papua New Guinea we were told that American missionaries were not allowed there because of safety issues.  We were saddened to think that we would never be able to see the country where our mission headquarters were.  We have been excited from the start to serve in the Solomon Islands and feel it is a great privilege to be on a mission here.  It was such a blessing for us to be able to go to Port Moresby in December to be with all of the other missionaries of the mission.  Now a double bonus, to return for District Presidents training and Coordinating Council Meeting with Elder Vinson of the Seventy in February.

 Elder and Sister White at Papua New Guinea "mission Central"
where they run the day to day operations of the mission.  Very little is accomplished without them being involved. 
They have extended their 18 month mission and will actually be serving for 26 months in order to help the new President for the first
few months after he and his wife arrive in July 2012.

This mission would not run without this great couple.
They are amazing people and we feel privileged to know them and have learned so much from them.

Our mission, like all missions, is in desperate need of couple missionaries.

One couple has been here for 9 years, 3 as mission president, and in other mission capacities since.

Some of the health issues that the 6 couples in our mission deal with are incomprehensible to us.
These health issues include knee replacement, open heart surgery, advanced diabetes with the possible loss of a foot, multiple bouts with cancer, severe osteoporosis which requires a trip home every couple of months for special treatments, and artery of the heart blockage.  These are only the ones we know about.

They also deal with the normal problems of aged parents, separation from family and grandchildren.
Each couple is such an inspiration to us and we almost feel guilty with our good health and super supportive family.

Flag ceremony at the mission home in Papua New Guinea.
The American flag was flown as an act or respect to us.

Missionaries at the mission home stand at attention and sing with passion, the Papua New Guinea national anthem.  It was very moving for us.

Elder White and Elder Mitchell traveled out into the country to pick up some missionaries.  We traveled until we came to this washed out bridge and waited for the elders to come from the other direction.

Yes they are using shipping containers filled with gravel to stabilize the approach to the bridge.  Not a bad idea.

This bridge is about 125 yards long.  Here, our Security force of Elders who traveled with us, pose at the washed out section of the bridge.  In Papua New Guinea whenever we travel, we always take at least 2 extra Land Cruisers with 4 Elders in each one and travel in a convoy with lights on and pedal to the metal, just for safety. 

The bridge is vintage WWII and is in remarkably good condition except where the high water washed out the supports on one end.  The structure is aluminum and all connections are made to pin, bolt or clamp together.  It was originally built by the Seabees.  These were put together fast under difficult combat conditions to move military equipment across rivers as the army advanced against the Japanese.
In Paupa New Guinea and the Solomon Islands these bridges are still serving the needs of the people. 

While the bridge is out the locals have enjoyed a windfall by filling motor boats with desperate travelers who pay $5 kena each plus extra for their luggage to get across the river to catch a PMV (public motor vehicle), or open truck, with 40 people and everything else you can imagine to continue their journey.

Local children swim in the muddy water at the edge of the river to cool off.  Bathing suits are optional.

This woman is headed to the markets that have sprung up near the damaged bridge with her produce to sell to the waiting travelers.  The bags are strapped over her head to carry the weight.  This is the common way to carry burdens, but it must be hard on the neck.

An ant hill we spotted on the way back to Port Moresby.  It is about 2 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall.  We didn't get out to see the ants, but we are sure they must be enormous.

While Elder White took Elder Mitchell out in the country, Sister White and Sister Mitchell also traveled out to remote Chapels to teach the sisters literacy classes.

Elder and Sister White with Sister and Elder Mitchell back at the mission home.

When we flew into Paupa New Guinea our plane was about 30 minutes early and no one was there to pick us up.  We tried to call the mission home, but our cell phone doesn't work in PNG and airport security would not let us back into the terminal to make a call so we waited for about 45 minutes until the Whites came to rescue us.

It seems every time we fly into the Solomons there is no one to meet us at the airport here either.  This time our plane from PNG was delayed an hour and when our Zone Leaders came to pick us up at the scheduled time they were told that the plane was not coming in until Sunday, so they drove back home.
Here we wait with our three Solomon Island Elders for the ZL's to return. We are looking sad because we have been stranded at the airport AGAIN!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Two more missionaries leave from the Solomon Islands making a total of six serving missions now.

Denise Rimou and Leonard Haora at the airport as they prepare to board their plane for Port Moresby to be interviewed and set apart by Pres. Fata for their missions. 
We think the skinny guy behind them is a Solomon Stripling Warior.

Denise is from the Burns Creek Branch and will serve in Vanuatu and Leonard is the first Missionary to leave from the White River Branch and he will serve in Papua New Guinea.

Leonard Haora and his family say good bye as he departs from the Solomon Islands.

Denise and her family as she leaves for Vanuatu.

Leonard leaves his humble home in White River.

He is carrying his shoes in one hand and his suitcase in the other as he walks through the mud towards our land cruiser For the ride to the airport.

The missionary work continues to go forward here in the Solomons 

Elder Borne and Elder Yama with Sister Rose Warakohia at the baptismal font prior to her baptism.  She is an amazing person with an extremely strong testimony.  She was baptised just 10 days after learning of the Church.

A week later she and her husband Jimmy were back on their way home to remote Southern Malaita.  Jimmy also gained a testimony of the Gospel but was not baptised because he is struggling with a word of wisdom issue.

First Branch Conference held in Fauabu, Malaita
Branch of the Church

Peter Rimou, Branch President of the Fauabu Branch Staged an impressive
entry of 14 investigators who marched in together to begin the
Conference on Saturday afternoon the 18th of February.
I guess a little showmanship never hurt anyone.
These men are the elders of Kwaifala village which is 11 kilometers farther down the road from
Fauabu.  They want to be taught the gospel and have come to the conference to investigate
the Church.

Our planned Priesthood Leadership training meeting ended up with 22 in attendance.  While we were happy to welcome 14 male investigators it was not what we had asked for or expected and  required a bit of a change in our plans.  So Elder Mitchell, assisted by President Sauseru, taught a lesson on the restoration  instead of the training they had prepared to give.  We'll train the priesthood next time.

Sister Mitchell provides training for the sisters in the bush chapel.
Very few of these sisters were leaders because the Branch
auxiliaries are still being organized, but nearly all of them
are baptised members.

Headroom was a little short for the priesthood brethren as they met under the Elders house.

The conference was very successful with 74 attending Sacrament Meeting on Sunday.  Pretty good attendance for a little Branch of 30 baptised members.  They have the most complete leadership in the district with a full Branch Presidency with a Clerk, and also an Elders Quorum President.  They are a little short on axillary organisation with the Relief Society presidency the only leaders called to date in any axillary.

Humanitarian projects wrap up in Fauabu Malaita

8:30 AM Monday the 13th of February 2012 and we are ready to start our final presentation on Dental Hygiene at Kware School just like we had scheduled with the principle.  Only no one is at the School but Elder and Sister Mitchell, President Sauseru, the Elders and a few members from 2 kilometers down the road at Fauabu.
About 9:30 the students started to arrive followed by a few teachers and then the principle, Moven Kutai.
About 9:45 we started our presentation with Deven, the Elders President using the school bull horn to instruct the 500 students assembled by class on the playing field below.  He gave an amazing presentation to the students.

Elder Haromera and Elder Pukari  shaking hands with the students after the other members had presented each child with their own toothbrush, tooth paste and cup.

Sister Mitchell with her pikinini girl friends
at Kware School

Elder Mitchell with Moven Kutai, Principal of Kware School, smiling after another rewarding Humanitarian project.


A little fun with the students.  It seems they had never seen a fist bump, but they understood  thumbs up.  A great way to finish the Dental Hygiene humanitarian project here at Kware School in Malaita.  482 dental kits given out to appreciative young students who will hopefully do their part to protect and preserve their teeth throughout their lives.

We had just enough time to hurry over to the Clinic at Fauabu to put some last minute touches on the Urgent Care Clinic to finish off the Humanitarian project there before rushing to Auki to catch our boat home.

Elder Mitchell measures louver glass for the lab at Fauabu Clinic.

                               Elder Haromera scribes the louver as President Sauseru looks on.
It was soon apparent that Elder Haromera had done this before and we
were grateful for his expertise.

Elder Pukari, Elder Haromera and Elder Mitchell install the last piece of louver glass in the lab at Fauabu Clinic to complete this Humanitarian project.
Barnabus Iro, the 2nd Counselor in the Fauabu Branch Presidency, works in his refurbished lab studying a slide through the microscope.  Note his source of light on the new counter top.  Modern microscope and 1800's technology kerosene lantern providing lighting.  When there are no funds for fuel to power the generator, you use what you have for light.
 Patients and families waiting to be seen by the one doctor on duty

Beautiful new door in the exam room                                 

                                                                                               View from outside the clinic              

Antique operating table in the refurbished clinic 

More outside views of the completed project

Sister Mitchell

This has been a very successful humanitarian project in every aspect.  The local people have been deeply involved from beginning to end so they have ownership in the Clinic.  Anglicans and Mormons worked together and became not only good friends but brothers and sisters as we all donned Mormon Helping Hands Vests and went to work to transform this urgent care facility at Fauabu.  We can only hope that future humanitarian projects that we undertake will be as rewarding as this one has been.

On the way back to Auki to catch the Discovery 360 for our trip home we stopped to look at this grove of teak trees.  These are raised like crops in Malaita, planted, grown, and then harvested 7 or 8 years later and then planted again.

Again we leave Auki, Malaita in the dust as we head for home and Honiara.

Our ship captain for the Discovery 360 is very professional and skilled in his profession.  Here he is kicking back as he guides our ship home.  If you look closely you will notice that in the Solomon Islands foot wear is always optional even for professionals.