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Sunday, January 31, 2016


January 31, 2016

Hello everyone!

First of all.... You are reading an email from a missionary who has
been in the field for 6 months. Every day life off this island seems
to get a little more distant. Island fever should kick in within a
couple months from what I've heard :') Also, when everyone says there
was a "worldwide mission broadcast that EVERY MISSIONARY heard", I'm
assuming that doesn't include me right?! I just found out there was
one... Haha maybe next year <3

As for the big news about the transfer.... I have NO news! Elder
Johnson (my new comp.) has safely gotten to Tarawa. At this point the
plan is to charter another flight from Tarawa to here. As for a date
when that will actually happen, we have no clue. In other words, Elder
Musser and I are basically engaged. Next week (if he's not gone), we will
hit 4 months together! I'd say that's a longggg time but you can come
live here if you wanna try it for yourself! Maybe next weekkkk. 

This week we were able to work hard after the disappointing
non-transfer. We were actually able to hit our highest lesson total
since working together <3 We were able to round off the week with a
solid 30 lessons. The hardest part right now is the things we can't
control-- Commandments. "Sorry investigators, I didn't set Heavenly
Fathers commandments. YES investigators, you MUST keep these if you
want to get baptized." Marriages and the Word of Wisdom are keeping us
from about 7 times swimming in the ocean ;/ We will keep working and
doing what we can.... It also shakes you when 2 of your RC's haven't
come to church since the day they were given the HG... 1 of them was
drunk at 5 in the afternoon yesterday when we went to visit him.
Agency is an interesting thing...

Quick humbling story: 
 Teariki (THE MAN-- he hunts sharks etc.) is a member and we had lesson
with his 9 year old son. He told us that he had just quit his job
because he was making $7 a day and he was working 8 hours a day doing
hard physical labor. He thought it wasn't worth his time (I don't
blame him). To make a long story short, the next time we came to
lesson, he had a lunch with a can of pork and spaghetti prepared for
us. The total of those 2 cans put together from the store is $7.30...
Teariki worked an ENTIRE day for 1 of our lunches that he didn't have
to give us.. What more do I need to say?

I hope to hear from all of you next week!

Elder Parrish

P.S. I had dog, turtle, and eel all in the SAME dinner this week.
There's a reason we don't eat dogs in America <3

Friday, January 29, 2016

Maybe Next Week...#groundhogday

January 25, 2015

Hey everyone, 
This is going to be another quick email. Today has been a stressful
and not a super great day. As I stated last week, Elder Musser was
supposed to get transferred this Monday and Elder Johnson was supposed
to come. Sadly, for whatever reason, the ZL's and no one else has
communicated with us for like 2 weeks. Our "phone" doesn't seem to
work and our radio is broken. The internet is pretty useless as well.
We found out through a kid from my intake in Kiritimati that Elder
Johnson hasn't left Kiritimati yet due to a large storm in Hawaii that
cancelled the flight. That's a problem given the fact that he has to
go through Fiji to Tarawa and then hop on a 3rd plane to get here.
There's also a lot of people wanting flights with school for kids
starting up. We have pretty much no details and don't know what's
going on with our own situation. We sat at the airport for hours
waiting for an elder to get off the plane that's currently a 6 hour
plane ride lolz. The hope is that he will be able to get here Friday
at the earliest but we don't know for sure.

All in all, things are going well here! Today definitely reminded me
of my first month in Tarawa. Some things never change <3 Interesting
to be on the other side this time haha. Things with Elder Musser and I
are ending well and we are getting ready for the transfer taking
place. Trying to find the reason for all of this! Hopefully I'll have
more details and time next week.

I tangaringkami ni kabane! 
 Elder Parrish

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Change is in the Air

January 17, 2016

Hello everyone! This is going to be a quick email <3 We are going to bake cookies in a ground oven right now for Elder Musser's last p-day on Tab North... :') Don't even ask how hard it was to find an egg on this island haha. I hope everyone is doing well. If I haven't heard from you in like 6 months you better get on that for this next week <3
This week was a good weekkkkk. It started off a little bit slowww. We went to the government building to do a marriage for a part member couple that wants to get married before the non-member can get baptized. We waited for 2 hours and got stiffed. Later that day we found out that they moved in with the man's parents who are hardcore Catholic and they can't get married unless it's done by the Catholic Father. I really love it when grown people are scared of their parents :( Dang Catholic's... Bye bye to that baptism for a while :// Just another broken heart it's whateverrr.. This week continued to pick up as it went on. Elder Musser was sick for 1 day throwing up but we worked hard the rest of the week. We continued to bike and work hard and it paid off as we found a couple of new investigators. We have 3 or so baptisms that aren't so far off <3 Dangggg marriages. If you're reading this at home plz get married before you have kids I promise you will understand AFTER you have kids. It feels like I've been back in this area for yearssss. My life in Tab South just a week ago seems pretty distant. 

 This is Elder Musser's last full week on Tab North before Elder Johnson comes this next Monday. I am SUPER pumped for this transfer. 3 and a half months is a long time with a person if you love them... I think I've gained a better perspective on eternity from this last few months :') Elder Musser and I have made it "work" and it will be hard to see him go nonetheless <3 I think it's safe to say he's a little excited too. 
To close:
-We were talking about heart transplants at dinner this week and a lady thought if you got a heart transplant that meant you would love that persons husband. DUDE feelings DON'T COME FROM THE HEART HOLYYYY... ignorance is bliss. This is an everyday occurrence. 
-We started our RC lessons with a guy and he thought that Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost were one person... I'm gonna work on my teaching skills. Another RC didn't know how to pray and hasn't come to church since his baptism 2 weeks ago. Less Active is a disease. I'm scared I'm going to catch it as a missionary. I hope everyone has a great week! 
-Elder Parrish 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Christmas, New Years, Birthday #19 (bam, bam, bam!)

Elder Parrish is back on Tabiteuea North with Elder Musser. We were able to Skype with him on his first P-day back in internet coverage to make up for our missed Christmas Skype. This fell on his 19th birthday for us (although it is a day later in Kiribati). He was full of energy and happy as ever. It was fun to finally hear a little bit about the day to day life on the island that is too hard to portray through an email. Although he misses Tabiteuea South already, we were happy to see him back with internet. Here is his most recent email:

January 10, 2016

HELLO! It's crazy to think that it's been a month since I've heard from everyone let alone seen a computer. This past month that I have spent in Tabiteuea South living with a Kiribati family and companion was the best month of my short 19 (hehe) year-old life <3 I hope EVERYONE had the BESTTT Christmas & New Years
There's only one problem: Trying to catch you guys up on this past month away would be like trying to drink the ocean through a straw. I'm going to give you guys the highlights <3
CHRISTMAS (Fishing): BEST DAY EVERRRRR. I'm not sure it felt really like Christmas or what but it was the bestttt. My Christmas was spent deep sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean. We woke up at 6:30, got ready, and hopped on the boat. Because of the massive parties for every religion working was pretty much impossible. No such thing as fishin' poles here but we had our line rolled up, hooks, and a simple weight. Crabs for bait were caught the night before. We fished and relaxeddddd for like 5 hours. When we got back to the hut there was island music playing and fresh cut papaya, fried breadfruit and moimoto's waiting. The fish we caught went straight to the campfire and was cooked up with a nice sear. Need I say more about the Christmas I spent in Tab South?
NEW YEARS (Crab Hunting): The MOST humble New Year's I have ever spent... Although I would've loved to go to bed at 10:30 that wasn't really an option given the fact I'm living with Kiribati people. We made a mixture of a Kiribati fruit and coconuts. We went around the forest at like 11 and spread it on all these trees to lure out crabs. It struck midnight when I was sitting on the buia in humble prayer. We did a small church thing in our small family. We praised the Lord for the way he kept us in the past year and sang Kiribati songs. We concluded with dinner of crab before passing out before 3. <3
BIRTHDAY: YESTERDAY was my 19th birthday... It was spent back in Tabiteuea North. I had 2 HUGE packages waiting for me when I got back (Thx FAM) <3 I felt so blessed. It was pretty much a normal day. Elder Musser gave me a fan and my b-day dinner consisted of lobster and turtle (that's a delicacy here) <3 The BEST gift I was given was the opportunity to just Skype my fam today where it is my birthday back at home <3
I AM BLESSED <3 The growth in the culture and language that I saw this past month is something I wouldn't trade for the world. The work in Tab South was amazing as well. We were averaging about 40 lessons per week and were working really hard. With a lot of people close to done with lessons a lot of baptisms should be in the near future if they can stay strong in church attendance and keeping the commandments. It was like leaving my area when we hopped on the airplane Saturday afternoon to come back to Tab North... I already miss climbing coconut trees, deep sea fishing, net fishing, cutting karewe </3 

I hope this explains a little bit! I'm doing GREAT! I hope everyone has a great week <3
-Elder Parrish 
P.S. CHANGE IS IN THE AIR. Elder Musser just got word that he will be transferring from Tab North. His flight is 2 weeks from today. My new companion on Tab North will be Elder Johnson who is coming from Kiritimati.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tabituea South

January 4, 2016

Dear Family and Friends:

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season.  Unfortunately, we did not hear from Elder Parrish over the holiday. He is currently on a companion exchange with one of the two elders from Tabituea South, an island without any internet or telephone.  We did, however, receive an email from Elder Musser, who was Elder Parrish's companion on Tabituea North.  Elder Musser reports that one of our Christmas packages finally arrived and will be waiting for Elder Parrish when he gets back to Tabituea North, which should be in the next few weeks.  We are hoping to receive a make-up Christmas call then.  In the meantime, I found a report on Tabituea South that I found to be very interesting. I thought I would share a few facts about where Elder Parrish is currently serving.

While the church is well established in Tabituea North where Elder Parrish has been serving, the church has only had missionaries on Tabituea South for a little over two months.  When Elder Parrish left for the exchange, it was unclear whether a hut for the missionaries had been completed or whether they would be staying with the only member family on the island.

Tabituea South is about a three hour boat ride from Tabituea North.  Like most of the islands of Kiribati, it is very long and narrow.  While it is 18 miles long, it is only one mile wide at its widest point.  At its narrowest point, it is just 65 feet wide.   It is composed of six small villages.

The population of Tabituea South is currently about 1200 people.  It has been stable for many years, ranging between 1,000 people and 1,400 people from the 1960's to the present.  The population is very young.  Almost 40% of the population is under age 15 and 65% of the population is under the age of 30.  Only 8% of the population is over 60.

Like the rest of the Kiribati islands, Tabituea South is still very much a subsistence economy, based on fishing and seafood collection, subsistence agriculture and making buildings and household items from locally available materials, mainly coconut and panderus.  Only 39% of households on the island receive any money from wages or salaries.  Around half of the households earn money from the sale of fish, crops (mostly dried coconut meat) and/or crafts.  The average household income on the island is just over $1 per day.

The island has poor soil and inconsistent rainfall so growing crops is difficult.  During dry times, water becomes an issue when the freshwater lens sitting atop the seawater is depleted and becomes brackish.  Some residents have to travel almost two miles to obtain fresh water.  Rising sea levels caused by climate change have depleted the fresh water lens and caused severe coastal erosion.

Firewood is still the main fuel, mainly in the form of coconut husk.  Bicycles and motorcycles are the main methods of transportation.  There are only two private cars on the island.  There is one main road that runs the length of the island.  There is a flight between Tabituea South and the main island once a week.  

The percentage of people on Tabituea South who smoke is among the highest in Kiribati.  57% of all adults smoke and 30% regularly drink kava (alcohol made from fermented coconut).  

Hopefully we will hear from Elder Parrish soon and can learn about Tab South firsthand!

Thanks to all for your love, prayers and support!

Jill Parrish