I am just having a blast on Easter Island! This letter is going to be very short because we went on a big tour of the island today and got back late. So here are some highlights … I was called as second counselor in the Branch Presidency! We met a guy that studied and graduated from BYU Hawaii and now is a famous singer in the Islands. His name is “Hamuana”. His music is on ITunes.
We also had another really cool experience. We met a Southern Baptist tourist on Friday. He saw us and yelled: “Elders!” So we rode over to him. He said that he knew the missionaries and knows our religion. He said he was here on vacation and he was really nice person. So my companion told him that he should read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true. He said that he has read the Book of Mormon but then he said: “what you guys are doing is great but in your religious beliefs you guys are a little misled.” We then shared our testimonies with him and then he left.
On Sunday after church, we were sitting and talking with the members and we saw this same guy walking up to the church. So we ran out to say hi to him. He greeted us and told us that he wanted to talk. So we went into the church and sat down and started talking. He asked us how we were and then he said: “I came to tell you guys I am sorry for what I said the other day.” I was a little shocked. He also said: “after I said that to you it bothered me and it has bothered me for these past two days.” He said that he didn’t mean it and thought we were doing great things. We were shocked. Then he left. It was a very interesting experience. He must have really been bothered to take time out of his day to walk all the way to the church and find us to say he was sorry, not to mention that he probably paid a whole lot of money to be there and was only going to be there for a couple of days. I really believe that it was the spirit bothering him.
The gospel really is true. I am doing great and having a blast. It has rained a lot this week but it is always sunny too. I will have more stories next week.
Those Moia statues are huge!
That’s how you say “hello” in Rapa Nui. “Pe he korua?” That’s how you say: “how are you guys doing?” The Rapa Nui language is crazy different and kind of hard to learn but we are trying. Everyone speaks Spanish here but some people don’t speak very well so we are trying to learn Rapa Nui as well. We have learned how to greet people and other simple phrases. We have asked a member to translate our testimonies into Rapa Nui. Then we are going to memorize them and it is going to be awesome!!
So here are some interesting things about the island. It is very rural here. What I mean by that is that most of the roads are made of dirt and nobody has an address. It is hard to figure out where people live because they have to explain their house location with landmarks instead of a number and street. When there are street names, they are tough to learn because they are long and hard to pronounce. It is interesting and fun to take on this challenge. One cool thing is that all of the people here know each other and most everyone is somehow related. There are only a few last names on the island. Some of them are Paoa, Tuki, Huki, Pakarati, Rapu, Ika, Pate. Also, most of the people have first names that come from the Bible because the Catholic church came to the island a long time ago and converted everyone. There are sooooooooooooooooo many Marias. For example, many women are named Maria and then they all have the same last name so identifying someone can become very confusing! It is actually funny!
The weather is very tropical. It will rain for about 10 to 15 minutes then it will stop and be sunny again. It is never cold. It reminds me a lot of home, which is awesome! It is very relaxed and everyone is very nice. So everyone is willing to talk with us. We actually teach a lot of lessons every week. We have a lot of investigators. The hard part is that there are basically no members. Sunday was a very interesting but very cool experience. There are three members that are active. During our meeting on Sunday, two more members showed up that are less active. So we had a grand total of about 10 people in church including the missionaries. It was very different. I felt the spirit so strongly in the meeting though. There is one active priesthood holder so he and I blessed the sacrament. The faith of these few members is so strong. Since the branch is so small here, they have to work so hard to help the work progress. It is such a testimony though to the truthfulness of this church. We really do preach the restored gospel to the “ends of the earth.” It is also a testimony that God loves all of his children. He remembers those people who are on the islands of the sea. This has been an amazing experience here.
I’ve had a few funny experiences here as you can imagine. With such a change in culture, I have seen more crazy things. One thing is that marijuana is basically legal here. We knocked on a man’s door and he came out with a plate of marijuana and as we contacted him he was rolling up a cigarette and finally at the end he offered us some. Don’t worry! We declined. It was pretty funny though. Most people grow it in their front yards. So this is pretty different from the norm.
We had a lesson with this really awesome investigator family that we have. When we got to their home, we went in and sat down at their table. I sat down and realized that there was a huge pig leg just sitting on the table right in front of me. It was in some kind of stand with a knife next to it. I asked the investigator why they had a big pig leg on their table. He said that it had been cooked and set out to dry to eat. So it was basically like beef jerky but a big pig leg and they just leave it on their table for a week or two and if you are hungry you can just cut a little piece off and eat it. We didn’t try any. I don’t know how safe it would be to eat a pig leg that had been sitting on someone’s table for a week collecting dust and drying out! They are a great family though and are interested in the gospel. Hopefully, we can help them get baptized.
Teaching here is very cool because in a day we can teach lessons in three different languages. One day, we taught this man who speaks in English, then we taught a few lessons in Spanish. Then at night we brought the one priesthood holder member with us to a lesson and he helped us teach a woman in Rapa Nui. He talked most of the time but we said some things and the lesson went great. It is great to have him with us because he can always explain things to people if they don’t understand it in Spanish. It is always crazy hearing Rapa Nui spoken by the natives. It is very different than any language I am used to.
There are tons of tourists here always. We have met many people that have come here and married a native of Rapa Nui or Easter Islander or they became because of a boyfriend or girlfriend. We have one family that we are teaching and the mom is Rapa Nui and the dad is Rapa Nui and part Chilean. Then they have a son that speaks Spanish and Rapa Nui and he is dating this girl that came here from the Czech Republic on vacation once and then she decided to stay with this guy. She doesn’t speak Spanish very well but she speaks English. So in those lessons, three languages are spoken. It is so crazy! My mind can’t handle it sometimes, Ha! Ha!
My companion and I are working our tails off because the church is not very big here and a lot of work needs to be done. It has been an awesome experience. I am usually dead tired at the end of the day. We have bikes so we are flying around on those during the day. I have some cool pictures of the Moai! We are going to go climb a volcano today!
Finally, I know that God loves us that that this is his church and the only way to have true happiness in this life is through this restored gospel. I know that this gospel is for all people and cultures. That’s a little bit of my week!