It was such a stormy day that I worried we would not make it to the island. Our travel to Pisar island took much longer than usual because of the big waves and strong wind. Our principal Hattie Ifa, six of our teachers and local school staff, and myself as boat operator, were sailing to the island for ourThanksgiving retreat. With much prayer, we arrived safely. Soon after, I trolled around the small island, catching some fresh tuna, a good size turkey, and other local food. That evening, we enjoyed our Thanksgiving party and the beginning of our holiday season.
Separated by water, we depend on smooth sailing to visit the brethren on other Chuukese islands.So early the next morning, at one end of the island, I prayed that God would provide cooperative weather for our return to Weno. Our trip took about two hours and again the Lord brought us across the waters safely. After dropping my crew at the school on Weno, I continued on that day to Paata. I truly thank God because the weather was so calm and I was able to reach Paata Church in time to conduct a funeral service for our mother, Tosie Nieru. She passed away just prior to our trip to Pisar island. If the weather had not subsided, I would have had a hard time managing these two important events.
When I arrived, the people on Paata were waiting for me so the funeral service could proceed. I preached about what happens when a person dies and that there is hope beyond the grave. The message related to our present time and thatJesus is coming soon to take His righteous people to the beautiful mansions He has prepared. At the appeal near the end of the service, most people in attendance gave their heart to God. I thank God for using me on these special occasions to encourage our brethren.
As we prepared to end the year in December, we held our communion service which was attended by so many church members and visitors. The message pointed to the life of Jesus; from the wise men - the Magi – sincerely seeking the new born King, up to His death when He was 33 years old. The blessing of the Sabbath continued into the afternoon with our hospital ministry. The Dorcas ministry gave packets of food and other items to the patients. We sang Chuukese religious songs and offered short messages to the sick people and nurses. We visited the inmates at the state police station and the Weno municipal prison with sacks of rice, cases of ramen noodles, and chicken. We had the opportunities to bring gifts to nearby children, as well as food to some sick people in the community and even the mentally-ill men beside the road. Thank God for using His people in Chuuk to bless others during the Christmas season.
Our prayers were answered, as we received financial support from friends and family to hold our year-end SDA retreat on Eoan island. We were then able to provide four boats for the members from Weno and Paata churches to travel to Mid-way beach. God provided enough food for everyone that came, including more than 30children, 20 youth, and 45 men and women.
Although there were heavy rains and big waves just days before our retreat, the weather calmed when we began our travel to the island. The island name “Eoan” means a piece of coral on a hook. It comes from an old legend that the five children of Marop caught the island while fishing and they pulled it up on their hook. Today, the coral is visible from the sea shore to the lower part of the mountain. Though we know it is just a fable, God truly created this beauty out of love for His children!
Because most of the area is still in its natural state, we set up two flush toilets, a meeting tent, and used three local houses for our stay during our retreat as shelter from the rain and heat. The tide became so high that at one point it reached our restrooms near the beach, so we put new ones further inland. We bought one small generator for light during our night meetings. About half of the island, including the mountain, is owned by the Ifa family, so we already have the rights to build here. Our prayer and our plan is to build strong permanent structures so this island can serve as a campsite retreat for our churches and schools.
We welcomed the first Sabbath of 2021 with singing praise songs and sharing God’s word. The service reminded us of the journey made by the Israelites, as Moses led them through the Red Sea on their way to the promised land. Our own journey continues towards the promised land that Jesus has prepared for us. Indeed,Jesus is coming soon to take us to the beautiful mansion that will never be rusted or destroyed. We will not experience sadness, sickness, sorrow, nor death.
That Sunday morning, gathered on the beach facing East, we raised our voices in prayer to our Heavenly Father asking for His peace, blessing, and protection as we prepared to go our separate ways. With many joyful tears over God’s leading in the past, we asked God our Father to be with our journey through this new year. Let God's people everywhere remember that our journey is very short. Unite our hearts in prayers for our families, love ones, those whom we labored for, and those we can reach out to share the love of Jesus. When Jesus returns, may we all be ready to greet Him as He gathers His children to take them home.