We were lucky enough to hear from Elder Payne two times this week!
He surprised us with a call on Sunday December 21. Jeff called Curtis' cell phone and we almost didn't answer because we didn't recognize the number that was displayed in Caller-ID. Luckily Curtis decided to answer. Jeff simply said, "Hey".... long pause ... "This is Jeff". Curtis was very surprised and felt bad he didn't recognize the voice. He had to hang up so we could call him back because the missionaries can't pay for the international call. We called right back and scheduled the official Christmas call (and chatted for a few minutes). We learned that he had just arrived back in Chuuk the night before and hadn't really been able to see anybody or do anything.
The scheduled call was for Christmas Eve, 7pm Mountain time in the U.S. Noon on Christmas Day in Chuuk. We decided to completely skip trying to Skype since it didn't work so well last Mother's Day.
Skipping ahead to the Christmas Eve call!
The phone call was excellent. The only technical difficulty was the slight delay which meant we had to repeat questions a few times.
Jeffery is on the island of Weno serving Mechitiw area. He began his mission on Weno and was very excited to be back there. His companion is Elder Klevin (don't know about the spelling yet - we didn't ask) from Utah (somewhere, Jeff couldn't remember what city). He will miss the air conditioning and luxuries in Guam, but isn't worried at all about getting by in Chuuk.
We asked about his apartment and living conditions. His apartment is okay, there isn't a microwave, but they do have a refrigerator. The refrigerator doesn't have a working freezer. They have an electric stove that works when there is electricity. He is back to taking 'bucket showers' since there isn't running water for a shower. His bed is a table without a mat. We offered to send a sleeping pad which he declined. He says they are available if he wants one. This is the same kid that used to sleep on picnic tables when camping. He's okay on a hard flat surface for sleeping.
For Christmas he was going to go visit some families that had invited the Elders over. They got permission to watch the movie 'Polar Express'. He had already opened the Christmas packages we sent. He liked the Slinky and socks. He said that before leaving Guam he decided to buy extra socks. Then got the socks we sent and received more socks from a family in Guam! He has plenty of socks now! He enjoyed the home made cookies. Dodie wrapped them up in little bundles and packed tightly in a plastic bowl. That kept them from getting dry and/or crushed during shipping.
To end the call Jeffery bore his testimony in Chuukese. It was awesome! We could feel his love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He spoke of the prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Gospel. We heard about how the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. We know that he loves serving God's children in the Micronesia Guam Mission.
Ending the call was a little emotional. We all got to say how much we love Jeffery and how proud we are of the man he has become.
What an awesome Christmas!