Monday, August 25, 2014

Coming Home

On June 20, 2014 Eric came home to Mesa, Arizona having served an honorable mission.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Elder Telona

Elder Telona, a fellow missionary from Hawaii serving on Chuuk, is very talented:

Work Continues on Guam

Training meetings in February: 

Eric and Elder Johnson teaching in Leadership Council

More Baptisms in February 2014

Eric loved teaching on Guam in February:

Elder Johnson, Brother Adam Phillimon, Elder Gubler, Eric

Elder Johnson, Brother D'firstson Fiti, Eric

We received this letter from Eric:  

It all began when a Sr Couple, The MacCabes, asked us for some help on a potential investigator. The MacCabes are the Military Liaisons for the Micronesia Guam Mission. They had been working on the Anderson Air Force base. They told us there was a family that had accepted an opportunity for the Missionaries to be able to come and visit with them. 
First time I have gone on the Air Force base, I am excited to meet the family, The wife has been a member all her life and they have 2 beautiful children. My companion Elder Eyre and I are stoked to be able to teach an "American" family, We arrive, they welcome us in with hospitality. After a quick introduction we ask if we could open our discussion in a simple word of prayer. After the opening prayer I asked my first question that was the beginning of an amazing transformation...

"Brother Weingartner", starting confidently, "How big of a role does God play in your life?". His response was one that I had never heard in my entire experience as a missionary out on these islands... "Well, actually I don't believe in God."

After picking myself off the floor and scrambling in my mind as to what to say, I tried to follow the Spirit as best as possible. After several weeks later, and lessons within these weeks, I could start to see his heart soften and his (spiritual) eyes open. He started praying and seeing/feeling/hearing/experiencing "coincidences" almost on a daily basis. 

After a long time of fasting praying and hours spent studying specific lessons and scriptures, Brother Weingartner finally accepted to be baptized. Here are some pictures of his baptism. His wife and his 10th wedding anniversary will be on September 1st 2015. This is the date in which they plan on being sealed together in the Hawaii Temple. 

I have been so blessed to see this amazing miracle in my life. Here are some pictures of that beautiful day.

Island of Stone Money: Yap

Just hours after he baptizing a new member, Eric boarded a plane with his companion to visit the missionaries on the island of Yap.

File:Flag of Yap.svg  Flag of Yap

Brief History

Yap is an island in the Caroline Islands of the Western Pacific ocean. The land is mostly rolling hills densely vegetated. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore.  Colonia is the capital of the State of Yap which includes Yap proper and the fourteen outer islands (mostly atolls) reaching to the east and south for some 800 km (500 mi), namely Eauripik, Elato, Fais, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimarao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai atolls, as well as the island of Satawa. Historically a tributary system existed between the outer islands and Yap proper. This probably related to the need for goods from the high islands, including food, as well as wood for construction of seagoing vessels. 2000 population was 11,241 in both Colonia and ten other municipalities. The first recorded sighting of Yap by Europeans came during the Spanish expedition in 1528.

Yap is known for its stone money, known as Rai: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of calcite up to 12 ft in diameter (most are much smaller). 

Many of the stones were brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most came in ancient times from Palau. Their value is based on both the stone's size and its history. Historically the Yapese valued the disks because the material looks like quartz, and these were the shiniest objects around. Eventually the stones became legal tender and were even mandatory in some payments. As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed. The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. Their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) make them very difficult to move around. Although today the US dollar   is the currency used for everyday transactions in Yap, the stone disks are still used for more traditional or ceremonial exchange. The stone disks may change ownership during marriages, transfers of land title, or as compensation for damages suffered by an aggrieved party.

The people speak Yapese, an Oceanic language. The Book of Mormon has been translated into Yapese.
Footnote: the traditional dress for the women has different modesty standards that what Americans are used to - not wrong, just different. On Yap the women are topless, but are very careful to cover their thighs, an area of the body that is considered vulgar to be shown in public. Often the skirts reach down to their ankles. As a missionary this is somewhat AWKWARD, beginning when you get off the plane at the Yap Airport and a topless lady puts a lei around your neck. Not really what a young man expects when he goes on a mission.

However, Eric said the people there are very friendly and kind. He said when you walk around to different villages you must carry some leaves to establish that you come in peace. If you come empty handed, it indicates you have no purpose for your visit and therefore are looking to cause trouble. When the missionaries were walking around the villages to teach people, he learned that you must make a certain call to get permission to walk onto someone's property. Eric and the other missionaries are mindful to always show respect to the different peoples they teach and come in contact with. What a wonderful experience.