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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Quick Update!

January 22, 2017

Quick updateeeeee cuz I'm about to go fishing (hehe);

All is going well out here on Fanning Island. We came back and things were a little slow, but after a few weeks things are definitely starting to pick up. Yesterday we had eight investigators at church--people who I never ever thought would come to church showed faith and came. It's so nice when you see inspired commitments help people come closer to Christ.

Yesterday we held our first gospel principles class in the branch (YAY) and our branch did its first ever rescue (whaaaa!!). The branch isn't perfect, but they definitely try their best and I know that they want the church to grow here on Fanning.

We have some awesome investigators. One is this lady named Tenikoraa who we just started lessons with. She is legitimately a Deacon in the Protestant church.  Although she wants lessons,  she expressed how hard it would be for her to ever leave her church and her calling. We shared the scripture in Acts 4:29 about how we need to do God's will and not men’s will.  It hit her right in the heart. I know that she has many challenges, but we have been having great lessons and I'm really excited to see where it goes.

To be honest, this week I have just been thinking about the gospel and how it changes lives...  It seriously blows my mind. We can lesson with someone for 30 minutes and it can change them so much. We lessoned on the Word of Wisdom with one of our investigators who was NOT progressing and it changed him to the point where he came to branch service on Saturday and then to church yesterday. That "double-edged sword" (Hebrews 12:6) called the word of God has the power to change lives quicker than the sword (Alma 31:5). It's seriously the best part of being a missionary. It's so fun to see the process of conversion from start to finish.

I hope that all is going well at home! I love you guys!

Elder Parrish

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week Two on Fanning Island

January 15, 2017

Thanks for the email! This week on Fanning Island was definitely a lot better than the first few days that I got here. Things aren't perfect yet, but I'm sure that things will continue to get better as we settle in. I really like the members here, but there are some problems in the branch because there is only one place for church and most people don't have transportation. It would be nice if we could hold church in multiple areas or if there were transportation. Getting either of those is a lot harder than you would think, but we will see what we can do.  We are also feeling the effects of having no missionaries here for a month. Most of the investigators that they previously had lost interest or even moved to different places. We found TONS of new investigators this week, but it's too soon to know if they will progress. We should have four baptisms coming up in about the next month, but after that I have no idea.

My companion, Elder Murri, is awesome and I get along with him really well. We finally found some kerosene on the island so that helped us to be able to use our little camping stove.  Now that we are settling in, we are starting to get some more dinner invitations and so we are getting enough to eat.  I'm almost done with the New Testament and then I think that I'm going to try to read the book of Mormon again.

Believe it or not, my birthday was seriously one of the best days ever. There happened to be a ward party on the night of my birthday.  It was planned for the kids, but they kind of surprised me and turned it into a birthday party. There was dancing and speaking--someone even made me a birthday cake. I got TONS of gifts including three of the local-made swords that can only be obtained here on Fanning. They are made of fish bones and stuff. It was an awesome birthday and I was so grateful to all of the members. I wish that I could send pictures, but the internet is terrible here. 
Fanning is interesting because I have found some American candy in the small stores, but I haven't seen any toilet paper on the whole island. We live in the village called Te Reitannano.

I love you and I hope that you guys have a good week! 

Elder Parrish

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hello from Fanning Island!

January 8, 2017

Hello from Fanning Island!

Well, I made it! It was a four-day trip covering thousands of miles, but I'm here on Fanning Island. I feel so far away from home (Tarawa). I can't believe that I will be turning 20 this week--my last birthday in the mission.
Our trip consisted of a one-day stay in Fiji and a one-day stay on Kiritimati Island before a one-hour flight out to Fanning Island. My new companion is Elder Murri who is from Utah (my first Utah companion). He has been out about three months. There are actually four elders on Fanning Island. Elder Tiakia (from New Zealand) and Elder Jim (from Micronesia) are working on the other half of the island. Fanning is one HUGE island and probably about less than half of it is inhabited. There is a HUGE lagoon in the center with several breaks around the island. Our different areas are separated by a break that takes a boat to get across from one side to the other. We hardly see the other Elders. Our area is about an hour bike ride from end to end. If I could guess, I would bet that there are anywhere from 1,000 to1,500 people in our area. It's relatively small.

We work in a branch that has anywhere from about 60 to 80 active members. As with every branch in Kiribati, the branch has many problems. Our living conditions here are okay. We live in a stick house with no running water and no electricity except for solar panels which charge portable lights. We also have an inverter that enables us to charge things with an American cord. In our stick house, we live in the open air and sleep on mats. Our bathroom is a Kiribati bathroom with a solid piece of cement but there is actually a real porcelain toilet seat--believe in or not. I haven't seen any toilet paper anywhere on the island haha.

There are few remains from the NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) when it used to come here about 20 years ago as one of its famous cruise stops. These days, probably only one or two cruise ships come a year. This island is very different from other islands of Kiribati and it is definitely taking some getting used to. Hopefully things will pick up as we get more settled in. Many of the investigators went cold when the elders left the island for a month to attend the conference in Tarawa.  Hopefully, we can change that!
I love you guys and I hope that all is well. We will be together for my 21st next January!

Elder Parrish

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hello from Fanning Island :)

January 2, 2017

    Wow!  I have absolutely no clue where to start. So much has happened this past week. All of the Kiribati-region missionaries came to the main island of Tarawa for Christmas and a conference with Elder Haleck, a visiting General Authority.  90 missionaries on one tiny island made for a crazy week, but it has also been one of the best and most rewarding weeks of my mission. 

    I learned I am getting transferred from being a Zone Leader on Tarawa to an outer island off of Christmas Island called Fanning Island or "Tabuaeran" in Kiribati. Missionaries have only recently been permanently assigned there because its airport was just finished this year. I will be the fourth elder to stay permanently. My companion will be Elder Murri.  He’s from Utah and an Alta High School graduate. He has only been out about three months, but he is the man. I’m super excited.

    Because of the extreme distance from here to Fanning Island (and it’s the only route), I took a three-hour plane ride from Tarawa to Nadi, Fiji today. I am currently staying at a hotel in Fiji (where I had my first hot shower since the MTC) waiting to catch a four-hour red eye flight tomorrow night to Christmas Island before catching a small plane for a one-hour flight to Fanning Island the following day. To give you a little bit of an idea where Fanning is, it is located about 1200 miles directly south of Hawaii. The work is AMAZING and I’m so excited to get there and get to work. There is a strong branch there of 80 members (many of whom came there from other Kiribati islands). We will be living in a stick hut with no running water and nothing but a solar panel for electricity and we will communicate by radio. 

    Leaving Tarawa today was hard, but I was so grateful for members who came to the airport and showered me with gifts before I left. Although leaving was hard, it’s comforting to know that I could get to see Tarawa again before I finish my time.

    This past week was incredibly busy.  We had three marriages and five baptisms in the busiest week of the year. We honestly had the most beautiful baptismal service with great member support.  I was so grateful for the service. We had a family get baptized--Tony and Tiebo were the most beautiful family. The Lord answered my prayer a month ago when I prayed and had faith that we could baptize a family before we left Buota. He led us to them--the most golden family I’ve ever taught. They were taught, married and baptized in less than a month. I am so grateful. We also baptized Taakoa's wife, completing that family. Remember Mikaere, the security guard who we almost dropped? He made such big changes and was baptized. The bigger miracle? His newly married wife, Kamoia, changed her mind and has come to church two weeks in a row and asked when she can be baptized. She used to run away when we would go to their house. Picture how that looked when President Haleck came to church in Buota and saw those beautiful recent converts receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
Elder Haleck of the Seventy visited our mission this past week.  It was so awesome to be so close to him and to interact with him. We met him at the conference and then he came to church in our branch in Buota.  We also had a leadership meeting with him. He is such a humble man. 

    The highlight of last week is when all of the missionaries were invited, along with President Haleck and our mission president, President Larkin, to the home of the President of Kiribati to have dinner with him on New Year’s Eve. We went to his house and watched authentic Kiribati dancing while sitting next to the ocean sipping cold drinks that were being served to us. We all met the President and danced and had a great time eating and enjoying the Kiribati culture. Definitely a first for missionaries in this mission... Our baptisms and that experience made for one of—if not the best—days of my mission. 

    I’m so grateful to be here and to be serving. Change is hard but there is absolutely no growth without change. I know who I am, where I’m from, and where I’m going. I couldn’t ask for much more. I’m so excited for this next and possibly the final chapter in my mission. I love you guys and I hope to hear from you soon! 

    Elder Parrish

Mission Leadership Council following their leadership meeting with President and Sister Haleck.  Zach is in the middle of the back row.  

Zach at the airport in Tarawa waiting for his flight to Fiji.

December 18, 2016

December 18, 2016

Hey guys, this is going to be a wayyy quick update.

Last week wasn't our best week in terms of teaching, but we had three solid baptisms and I'm super grateful for how it all turned out. Takaio is so solid and it was so awesome to see him come into the waters of baptism and to overcome his biggest fears. Toora and Kamwakin were also great and it was just a great baptismal service to see Takoa (our Recent Convert) baptize Toora and bring her unto Christ. This week our branch also had a Christmas party and it was a good opportunity to gather with the members and to eat and to have fun. The end of the year is coming up so quickly but Elder Peeti and I believe that we can make some things happen in the next few weeks.

Tony and Tiebo are still the most golden family that I have taught on my mission. They fasted this past week and have overcome the Word of Wisdom and they came to church again. They are just working on their marriage and they should be set for the 31st of December. We think that we could have a potential of four baptisms on the 31st if all goes well. It would be a great way to end the year. All missionaries in the mission will be coming to Tarawa and it will be great to see some old faces and to have a chance to prepare for President Haleck, a member of the Seventy who is coming on the 30th of this month. All is well and I love you guys! Hit me up with a line! Merry Christmas from the Central Pacific!
         Elder Parrish