Finding Pohnpeians in unexpected places


This week was great! I have two experiences that I would like to share. The first happened on Thursday of this last week. For a long time, the Pohnpeians we have been working with have been wanting to feed the missionaries. For one reason or another, it just hasn’t worked out and something has always come up. This last week, however, the stars aligned and we set an appointment to go over and have dinner with one of the families. Prior to Thursday, we curiously asked what we were going to eat and they told us they were going to “make” us fish and that it was a Pohnpeian delicacy.

So we went over on Thursday and walked in the living room and mingled with the family while the mother prepared our dinner in the other room. After a short time, she came into the room and said that it was ready and on the table. The rest of the family had already eaten so they were just going to watch us eat. We walked into the other room and I saw the dining room table, my plate, and what was on my plate. It was raw fish!!! I was served the torso of the fish and my companion was given the tail. In Pohnpei, they have a dish they call “Sashimi” where they take a fish, gut it, cut the head off and then throw the fish into a pot of different juices and spices to marinate it. After a few hours they take the fish out of the marinade, put it on a plate and eat it! This is what they made for us. Initially, I was very scared to take my first bite, but, believe it or not, it was actually pretty good! My companion and I even went back for seconds.

The second experience I had this week that I would like to share happened while I was on an exchange in the city of Oxford. A couple of days prior to leaving on this exchange, I was given the number of a few Pohnpeians that lived in Oxford and I was determined to find them while I was there. I called the number before leaving and the whole day I was in Oxford, but I was unable to get in contact with them the whole time! The day began to draw to a close and I was really bummed I wasn’t able to meet up with them and invite them to church services we had started. After store contacting for a little bit, the missionary that I was with said that he had one last person that we could try and see before we went in for the night. This person was a store clerk at CVS that he had run into a few days before. So we went over to CVS, walked in the store and saw that the person he was hoping to talk to wasn’t there. Despite that, this missionary struck up a conversation with another store clerk about toothpaste while hoping to eventually tell her about the Gospel. I somewhat hung back from the conversation and scanned the store for other people. As I was looking, my eyes caught the back of a woman’s head. She and her son were the only other people in the store. She had black hair and it was up in a ponytail and that was all I could see of her. The moment I saw her, a voice that could be nothing else but the Spirit said to me: she is Pohnpeian.

I squinted a little harder because she was all the way across the store and said to myself: No way! There is no way that woman is Pohnpeian. She is probably hispanic. Not believing what this prompting was telling me, I made a beeline to the other side of the store to prove to myself that this lady wasn’t Pohnpeian. I walked up to her and said hello and as I commonly do when approaching Spanish speakers I asked her if she spoke Spanish. She immediately responded that she didn’t and that people ask her that all the time. I felt a really funny feeling in my chest and I asked where she was from. She immediately responded by saying that she was from the South Pacific. I knew right then that she was Pohnpeian. A little more excitedly this time, I asked if she was from Micronesia and she said yes. Then I asked if she was from Pohnpei and she looked at me with surprise and asked: “how in the world do you know about Pohnpei?” And she then said that, yes, she was Pohnpeian.

Immediately, I said “Kasalelie!” (which means hello in Pohnpeian). She then looked at me like she had seen a ghost and I am sure was saying in her head, “what in the world is this 6’4″ white guy doing speaking my language in a CVS Pharmacy in Oxford, Alabama?” We carried on a conversation for a while. We talked about all the people we both knew, the group that we had started and all about the church. We invited her to come with her family and she said that she would! We ran into 2 of the 5 Pohnpeians that live in Oxford at 8:45 at night in a CVS, after having looked for them and called all day to no avail. This was truly nothing short of a miracle.

This last Sunday we had 22 Pohnpeians, 4 missionaries and our ward mission leader all at the group Sacrament meeting. The Sacrament meeting was amazing and we hope to have even more people in the coming weeks! The Spirit of God is alive! It is so amazing to be able to see God’s hand in forwarding the work of salvation. I am so grateful for all of the experiences that I am having. I love and miss everybody back home and hope you have a great week.


Elder Neser

P.S. Thank you to Bishop Turner for coming and taking me out to dinner! That was super fun as well!!


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