Islanders in Birmingham?

Hello:

This week was great!! We are trying to start a Pohnpeian group! Recently we have been working a lot in a suburb of Birmingham called Tarrant. Tarrant is located right next to the airport and so the housing there isn’t the greatest in the world and is fairly low cost. Because of that we find a lot of people from other countries who have come here looking for a less expensive place to live. One of the groups of people that missionaries have met while working in Tarrant and that we have come to know well has been people from the island of Pohnpei. Pohnpei is an island in Micronesia and there is a notable amount of people from that island living in Tarrant. The way that missionaries first met Pohnpeians living in Tarrant was about a year ago and it is a pretty cool story. There was a return- missionary who served his mission in Pohnpei and last summer was in Birmingham doing “summer sales” for a security system company. One day, when he was driving down a street in Birmingham, he saw a man walking on the sidewalk that looked like a guy he taught on his mission! He pulled over and talked to him and it really was the guy he taught! From there, he went and met all the other Pohnpeians in the area and told the missionaries about them. Several of them were members (that the missionaries didn’t know about) and since that time, a few more have been baptized. By talking with Pohnpeian people here in Tarrant, it seems that the church has had a lot of success back home on the island. We deduced that from the fact that almost everyone here from Pohnpei knows about the Mormon Church and the Mormon missionaries.

Since I have returned to Birmingham, we have worked a lot with these people and gotten to know them very well. In getting to know them, we’ve thought to ourselves: there is nothing really set up for Pohnpeians here in Birmingham where they can all meet, speak in their own language, enjoy their own culture and worship Heavenly Father. With that thought came another: we should start a Pohnpeian group! There are approximately 15 members already living in the area and with the creation of a group, we would hope that number would increase by a lot. It isn’t going to be easy getting this group started though because a majority of the members are currently less active and they don’t have a ride from Tarrant to our church in Center Point about 15 minutes away. We need to find a solution to that problem and then work on setting up a Sunday school class and finding a teacher. We are going to work hard to make it happen!

I read a great quote by Spencer W. Kimball the other day. It says, “”Many challenges face all of us as we fellowship and teach the gospel to the cultural and minority groups living in our midst . . . When special attention of some kind is not provided for these people, we lose them.” So we are going to try and help them the best we can! I love and miss everybody back home and hope you have a great week.

Love,

Elder Neser

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