Before we left to come home, we had several going-away parties. The senior couples got together for a dinner at a restaurant attached to a hotel called "Mary's."
Sister Talataina was from Samoa, where she had been over church translation. Her husband had been the stake president, but died suddenly a year before she came. Sister May Ucunibaravi was a retired school teacher from Fiji. Her husband had died 24 years earlier, and she had raised all 6 of their children to be active in the church. It turned out that each had also been a teacher and mentor for some of our young missionaries that happened to be in our mission. There are no coincidences.
The saints in the branches we worked in had some going away parties for us, too. The Service Center and Moroni ward put together a program and feast, complete with dancing and singing.
|Sister Ataaki (Buota), Reba (aid from Bikinebeu), 2 teachers (from Eita wards), making garlands|
|Elder and Sister Edwards were also about to leave, and Raffi (Rafael) had come from the Marshall Islands to help out at the Service Center in their maintenance logistics. He was originally from the Phillipines and was amazing in his productivity.|
|No party is complete without singing and dancing. L to R Sis. Ataaki, Bebai, Taraia, Turian, Betira|
"Leaving Kiribati is harder than leaving home. When we left home, we knew we would return and see our friends and family again. We probably will never be able to return to Kiribati."
Below, Judy participated with the Temwaiku sisters in a sitting dance. The ocean is right in back of the chapel, for a beautiful setting.
The second video is our senior sisters doing a little dance on the program. They were a hit.
|Buota had a nice spread for us, with eggs, fish, taro, bread fruit, pandanas, lobster, cake, etc.|
|Sister Tenoa, one of our missionaries who had completed her mission in Kiribati and was marrying Sam Itbeta from Buota.|
|Sam and Sis. Tenoa, who will be married in December in the Fiji Temple, both returned missionaries and great young people.|
|In back, Ukenio and Elder Ataata (Vanuatu). Front: Beebe, Judy, Val, Elder Ulutui (Samoa)|
|Young Women presidency in Buota from left, counselor, Kamumuna, counselor|
|One of the oldest members in Kiribati, and always smiling. She joined the Church when in high school.|