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!