Saturday, February 19, 2011


Spencer was very excited to talk to and see a lot of his family on Christmas Eve. We have since received an e-mail with the following:

After we all talked to our family's on Christmas we ate some taco soup made by the Senior Sisters and watched a movie (The Prince of Egypt). After the movie they announced transfers. Elder Cole (my new companion) was quite excited about going out to Marakei, particularly so, because he has worked in Temaiku for nine months, so now he gets a new area. Outies!!! That's what everyone calls the outer islands. So that was a fun day.

We just found out today that we will be returning to Marakei on Sunday, so we got to email because Elder Cole needed to let his family know he is going to an outer island. I was able to see all the photos and videos on the memory stick, it was very cool to see all those, so Thanks! Thank you John in particular for your advice, I will definitely use it.

I do have a bit of mixed feelings about going back to Marakei, it's a great place and I am excited to go back, but I'm a bit nervous about being the one who is returning and has to know everyone, because I don't know that I do.

I am excited to work with Elder Cole, he's a good missionary who seems to really try to always be obedient, so I think we will work well together, and hopefully he can help me with my language skills. It's kind of funny I think, I have had four companions now, and they have all been from different countries: New Zealand, America, Kiribati, and now Australia.

I hope you are all well. I'm good.

Until next time...Ti a Bo.


Elder Norton

The Surprise Call

We were told that Spencer would not be calling until January. However, on Christmas Eve, Dad answered the phone, and it was SPENCER!! He had tried emailing to tell us he would be calling earlier than expected, but no one checked their email. Luckily, someone was home to get his call. He let us know that he would be calling back in a couple of hours, and if we could get it setup, we could skype. We were really excited to try and skype since that would mean we could see each other. This was our first time trying skype, so we had a few "technical difficulties" at the beginning, but it all worked out and we were able to talk to him for about an hour.

This was a really nice way to do it, because everyone could hear him at the same time. He spoke to us in Kiribati, which was cool. He said Marakei was very beautiful and there is only 4 villages on the island, so there is a lot of great beaches and scenery. He said he has never seen so many shades of blue. The primitive part of it hasn't really bothered him at all. He can only speak about church related things in Kiribati.

He also mentioned that all of the small children point at him, because he is the only white man on the island and call him a silly name (we can't remember...sorry). They have very good tuna on the island and he has even eaten it raw. They have a baptism about every week. He said it was difficult going back to Tarawa and seeing some of the members that have already fallen away. He said that after Marakei, Tarawa seemed very big and full of people.

It was great to talk to him, but hard for everyone to say goodbye.

Letter 11/22/10

Spencer sent a letter right after he arrived on Marakei. Some of it may be things that he told us in his last email but there is a lot that wasn't.

Dear Family,
It has been a crazy couple of weeks, I think I will just pick up were I left off. I mentioned in my last email that Katamwaa & Teerina would be Baptized. That took place last Saturday, I was really happy that i didn't leave until the next morning so I could be there with both of them. I was there when we started teaching them all the way to their baptism. It was really cool to watch their knowledge of the Gospel & their testimonies grow. I was able to do the baptism which I was happy to do. There was no water in the font so we had to do it in the lagoon , the problem was that is wasn't high tide so the water only came up to my knees. We walked out quite aways to try to fine deeper water ,but it didn't get much deeper. Katamwaa was first it took two times to baptize her which wasn't too bad. Then she went to change because there was only one dress so they both used it. After they changed Teerina came out and we tried two times and she didn't go all the way under. Elders Flint & Cole told us to try kneeling, it still took two tries but she finally went all the way under. It was kind of awkward and I felt really bad for them but they both seemed perfectly happy afterwards so it all ended up pretty well.

Another thing we did that was fun, was Elder Flint and I decided to have an early Christmas, since he knew that I would miss all the Christmas stuff they would be doing as a mission. So, on Friday, we didn't have a dinner appt. So we picked up some stuff for dinner when we went out so that I could email and pick up some stuff that I needed. Next to where I emailed from there is a store called I-mart, it's one of the bigger stores and it always has good food stuffs. We found some Tim-tams, which are really good cookies from Australia. I also got an orange, which was the first one I've seen here. They also had Easy Mac, so that was my early Christmas dinner.
Along with some stuff from my Christmas package.

Elder Flint pulled out his mini Christmas tree and decorated it. I then opened the Christmas presents that were in my first package. Thanks to Emily and Matt's Families, John, Paige, Eli, and Mom for the treats. I'm sorry if I should have waited, but I wasn't going to be able to take them with me.

The next morning they took me to the airport, gave me my ticket, and said, go through that door and...good luck! The plane was the smallest I've been on and the flight only took 15 minutes. Then we landed at the "airport" really a tiny block building with no doors. I got off, and gave Elder Sippy his ticket. A few minutes later, he was on the plane and I left alone without a single other white person around, including my companion. It has not been easy, even though my companion speaks English, it was not as good as I was led to believe. We have a hard time understanding each other sometimes, which I'm sure will get better as my Kiribati improves.

Marakei is really pretty, I've seen most of it because when someone comes here. They have to travel around the whole island and visit four statues. I guess if you don't do it first thing, everybody hates you. So, we did it last Monday. It took 3-hours on our bikes to get all the way around the island. By the end, my legs and backside were so sore. I hadn't ridden a bike in years. This statue thing was a bit "weird." You are suppose to talk to the statues and leave each of them a piece of candy. At one of them, the leader, you are supposed to do a dance in front of it. That was all weird, but I guess if you don't do it, no one will listen to you. Marakei is known for holding strong to the old culture, and the round-about is one thing that is really important to them. The church is strong here, it's just a branch, but the members are strong and the members have a nice chapel here. Our house is right behind the chapel on the church grounds. It's not a bad house, the problem is, we have no power. We have solar panels, but our battery won't charge, so we only have lights in the daytime. It's not that bad, I'm just glad I have a flashlight.

I'm not really sure what else to write. I'm doing alright. Thank you all for your support, your example, and especially your prayers. I pray for you all as well, and hope that everyone is doing good. Tia-Bo!


Elder Norton