Sunday, August 21, 2016

Saet Siwi...!


Saet Siwi is a crazy place.  I've only been there for three days.  My flight to Tanna was on Thursday afternoon, and was in Saet Siwi that evening. We don't have any investigators right now, in what was one of the highest baptizing areas in the mission.  Everyone we can find are longtime members and recent converts.  We've taught five children between 8-10 years old who were all baptized two or three weeks ago.  Walking in the area is crazy.  There's some pictures of a mountain range behind the volcano that I'm sending.  That's Saet Siwi.  It's always raining there, and we sweep up huge piles of volcanic ash from our floor every morning and evening.  It's also cold there.  I wake up freezing every morning, and I'm loving the change.  I started my mission near the end of summer, and haven't left it since, so the chill is feeling great.

My companion's name is Elda Rillang from the Marshall Islands.  He's 22 and going home in December.  I'll either be in Saet Siwi a really short time, or a really LONG time.

I won't be in Saet Siwi at all this week, because we're all going up to Vila for zone conference.  We'll be coming back to Tanna next Sunday.  That's kind of silly, because I was just there for an entire week waiting for my flight, but I like the civilzation.  When I'm in Vila I can almost pretend I'm in a first world country.  Haha.

Elder Van Wagenen

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Hey, there's been a bit of a change over here, again.

There was another emergency transfer, and I'm not in Malekula.  I've been in Vila for the last few days, since Friday, with the housing maintenance Elders, waiting for a plane to go back to Tanna.  I've been transferred to Saet Siwi, Tanna.  I should already be there, but the flight was cancelled, and there won't be another flight until Tuesday, at least.  My new companion is Elder Rillang, from the Marshall Islands.  He's already there, and I haven't met him yet.  President told me it's just a temporary fix, and that I won't be there very long.  The next transfer is in four weeks, and I might leave then.  Anyway, these next couple weeks will be a little crazy.  Saet Siwi doesn't always have a chance to get to Lenekel every pday, so I don't really know what's going to happen.

Elder Van Wagenen.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rano Custom History

This week has been a slow one, but we went to the small island Rano again this week, and one of our investigators gave us a tour of the island historical sites while we were waiting for a boat to come.  He showed us some of the places for custom dances, and even what used to be a table for cannibalism.

Anyway, we also got some new investigators, and I should have more baptismal photos next week, or the week after!

Elda Van Wagenen

Monday, August 1, 2016

Transfer Call?!

Sorry I couldn't email again yesterday, there was another public holiday...

I'm still here in Malekula.  The last week was pretty boring.  The week of Independence was not good for missionary work, and most of the time we weren't able to do anything.

Anyway, the transfer call came today.  There's been a slight twist.  Elder Sate is being transferred to Tanna, he leaves tomorrow, and the Malekula district is dropping down to a single companionship of three elders: me, Elder Crowell, and Elder Sevao.  We have permission to proselyte anywhere in Malekula.  I'm companions with the missionary I trained with the entire of the second biggest island in Vanuatu as my area.  All this will be in motion tomorrow, when Elder Sate leaves.

Elda Van Wagenen

Monday, July 25, 2016

Another Week

Well, this week has been pretty slow, as far as missionary work goes.  Everyone has been preparing for the celebration at the end of this week, and no one has been home.  We still taught 8 lessons and have 2 new investigators.

On another note, there's two more Elders on Malekula now.  It's only until Thursday, then they go to Santo.  They used to be on Ambae, but the island ran out of water again, and president closed down the area.  I doubt he'll try and open it any time soon, after this.

There was a public holiday yesterday, and everything was closed, so we couldn't email until today.

Anyway, that's about all for this week.

Elder Van Wagenen

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Malekula Bakegen

I'm still chilling in Malekula.  This week has been pretty slow again.  The trip to Santo threw off all our momentum here, and we've spent the whole week trying to get it back.  Out of the 32 lessons we tried to teach we only got 9.  But anyway, Vanuatu's Independence Day is coming up and everyone is busy getting ready for it in two weeks.  We probably won't get much done for the next month.

Some of the members decided to 'turn our hair', and we decided to let them.  Well, that's about all for this last week, altough we found some old baptismal records that are unrecorded that we're taking care of.  That's what happens when there's area that have been closed for almost a year that are included in my area.  That's about it though.

Elder Van Wagenen

Monday, July 11, 2016

Another Week

Hey, we went to Santo again last week.  We left on Wednesday and came back Sunday, and the training we went to was only one day.  We were stuck in Santo for the whole week because that was the only time flights went to and from Malekula.  Half the week we followed the zone leaders, and the other half we stayed in a missionary house in a closed area, so there was no work to do.  It was pretty boring.  We didn't get any teaching done in our own area, because we had no appointments set, because we've been gone.  I didn't get a chance to email yesterday, because the internet wasn't working.  it still isn't.  I'm in  a school emailing, and I can't send any pictures.  and it's a lot cheaper to come here, so we may just choose the school more often.

Elder Van Wagenen

Sunday, July 3, 2016


We had a successful yet exhausting week.  We got a lot of work done, taught a bunch of lessons, and we went to another small island, Uripiv.  Uripiv doesn't have anyone that we think can actually progress, so I don't think we'll be going back very often, but it was a very cool experience just the same.  We mostly worked in Wala this week, but we've done a lot of lessons, and we did get a new investigator in one of our other areas.

We've got a special training in Santo this week, so we're leaving Wednesday morning to go to Santo, and we'll come back on Sunday. The whole week will be spent in Santo in meetings, I think, so this next week will be pretty boring.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


The ocean around Vanuatu is bright blue, no matter how close you get to the water. 
 I don't really have any words to describe it.

A Sea Cucumber

This has been a bit of a crazy week.  I conducted my first district meeting, which was actually fairly easy.  We did get to go to one of the islands this week, small island Rano.  The other two islands were small island Wala and Urapiv.  We have two areas on the mainland called Wala and Rano, so everyone calls the island part 'small island'.  I don't really have much to say about the week itself, but it was just a cool week.

Elda Van Wagenen

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Elder Crowell my new companion

The transfer call came a day early, on Friday instead of Saturday.  I've been transferred to Litzlitz, another area in Malekula.  One of the other areas, Lowni is closed so there are only two areas, with four missionaries on the island and in the district.  I'm the district leader.  My area's going to be great.  We have three small islands we will be boating to as a part of the area we work in.  My companion's name is Elder Crowell.  He's from Washington state, and he goes home in two transfers, so I'll probably be his companion until he leaves.  He was an AP for 7 months.  I think it'll be interesting to see what happens for the next couple weeks.  It'll be different having an American companion for an extended time.  I'm really excited.

Elder Van Wagenen

PS 'Football' is the largest sport in the world here. (Soccer)  I think it's even bigger here than American football back home.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Coconut crabs, my house, and transfers at the end of the week

These coconut crabs were in a restaurant, and yes you eat them, but you have to be careful with the claws, because I hear they can snap coconuts in half. We eat lots of coconuts.

Hey, I just emailed a few days ago, and not much has really happened since then.  Elder Ngatehau will be leaving to go home in two days, and the transfer is at the end of this week, so then everyone will be moving around.  This transfer will be pretty big, I think, because everyone in Malekula has been there for a while.

Here's some pictures of the house I'm living in.  I don't really know what else to say.  I'll probably have a lot more next week!

Elder Van Wagenen

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Zone Conference

I just got back from zone conference, and I've really enjoyed it.  We've had to split this week's pday, because Monday and Tuesday were the days of conference, and pday has been split on Wednesday/ Thursday.  We flew back Wednesday, yesterday.  Conference was great, and we learned a lot.  The focus was on what Elder pearson talked to us about, and much of it was on how teaching was only part of a visit, and helping investigators make a commitment was more important, and that the mission really wanted to focus on companion unity.

Conference was a lot of fun, and I learned some things that will really help me as I teach.

Elda Van

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Return to Malekula‏

The moon and palm trees in Malekula

 I was out taking pictures from a good dozen different places for over half an hour getting that moon shot.  We have nothing to do after dark, because everyone goes to sleep with the sun.  We ourselves are usually in bed by 8:00 because of that. The sun goes down around 5:30, and is dark around 6:00!




Santo from the airplane

Everything went well in Santo, I'm glad to announce.  It was just a mission tour, and we'll be going back to Santo next week for zone conference, but we're not sure what day.  The visit from Elder Pearson was really good.  He taught a lot about obedience and goal setting, but I'm not sure how well most of the non-English speakers in the zone understood him.  My talk was on 'faith without works is dead, and I tried to keep it as simple as I could, because I wanted to have as many people as possible understand what I was saying.  I did have the talk scripted, but I only vaguely followed it, mostly referring to the overview and scriptures I used.

I don't have many pictures of Santo (only two) because we were in meetings most of the time I was in Santo, but next week I should get more.  There's a lot of undisturbed WWII sites there, and sometime I might get to explore one.

I don't really have a lot of time today, I'm using the more expensive internet cafe so I can coordinate a phone call home, and my companion is waiting for me.  His family doesn't have an email account, so he doesn't email.

Elda Van

Monday, May 23, 2016


Sorry I didn't get a chance to email yesterday, things have been a little hectic.  The internet was down in Malekula.

Well, I'm in Santo for a mission tour.  Elder Pearson of the Area Presidency is coming, and the Malekula district is here for his visit.  This is the first time I've been in Santo, and I like the island.  It's clean, and doesn't have too many people.  It's all pretty nice.  I'm also giving a talk at the mission tour...!  I thought we were coming here for zone conference, but apparently that's in two weeks.  We go back to Malekula on Saturday (Friday your time), then we're just coming back to Santo a week later.  My talk only has to be five minutes, but I didn't know it would be in front of a General Authority, I'll have to go double check my talk and I probably should write it out, instead of just having a couple scriptures written down and winging it (just kidding, but I do need to go over it again)!

This week we were teaching an investigator about faith, and we taught him that in order for faith to work, you needed an action to go with it.  I used an example of prayer.  Faith that prayers are heard by God needs to be backed by actually praying to God.  If you don't pray, but believe God hears prayers, that isn't faith, just belief.  You need to act upon your belief to make it faith.  That was just an example to help him learn what faith is.  I plan on sharing that in my talk, which is on 'faith without works is dead', which is true, because without works, or actions, faith is not faith, only belief.

Elder Van Wagenen

Monday, May 16, 2016

Phone Call

I'm not sure when we'll be able to call.  I had a feeling Skype wouldn't work.  Anyway, zone conference got postponed until sometime in June, because there's a mission tour coming at the end of this month.  The best time for me would be the best time for you, I think.  12:30 PM your time is 6:30 AM my time, so if you call in the afternoon, then I would get it in the morning, and if you called in the evening, it would be the afternoon for me.  I think we could try tomorrow, Monday evening your time, which would be Tuesday afternoon my time.  If you called me at 6:00 PM, that would be noon my time.  I don't know how to call internationally, you may want to google it.  the 678 is Vanuatu's area code.  If somehow it doesn't work, we can try next week.  I'll wait for the call tomorrow, but I'm not overly expectant that it'll work, with this short of a notice, so don't worry to much if you can't, but it would be great if you could.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!

This has been a pretty quiet week, but fairly tiring from all the walking, from Lakatoro to Mae, and I'm pretty tired.  Many of our investigators are good, I can't think of any with specific problems, but they all are progressing slowly.  I've got some pictures now, as well as my current district (but it won't be for long, there's been transfers, and Elders Stone and Meniano are leaving). In that picture, from left to right, are Elders Sate, Edwards, Meniano, me (Van Wagenen), Ngatehau, and Stone.  That's about all I have for this week, though.  The new Elders will be Elder Crowell with Elder Edwards (a former AP), and Elder Sevao with Elder Ngatehau (the one I trained).

Elder Van Wagenen

 The Chapel in Norsup, the closest to where we stay, but it's still a good 45 min walk.  There are two other chapels we attend, Mae and Pinalum. The one in Mae looks the same, but the one in Pinalum is a real chapel.
 These bugs were just a metallic green that I'd never seen on a natural animal before.
 Green oranges at the market
 I bought one of the large ones. They taste good with a slightly sour after taste.

 This boar is in a pen within view of my house.