Sunday, August 7, 2016


Around 2pm on Monday, August 1st, Elder Darnel Apelu, Elder Dallin Pili, Elder Hunter Wilson, and Elder Siotame Uluave left the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah and climbed aboard the UTA Frontrunner headed for the Salt Lake City International Airport for a LONG trip to Papua New Guinea Lae. 

Me and Elder Apelu
 Once they arrived at the SLC airport and disembarked from the Frontrunner, many members of their different families were there to greet them and give them last minute instructions, pick up unneeded items to save space in their luggage and drop off anything else needed. Heading to what is considered the "most dangerous mission" or "one of the most dangerous missions" (and a couple of the mom's with some major health concerns) it is understandable that they came to say one final goodbye.
Elder Pili and his mom, Lani

After checking their bags all the way through to Brisbane Australia (because there was no baggage agreement with the other airlines that went all the way to Lae), the Elders boarded American Airlines flight to the Los Angeles (LAX) airport for a simple three hour layover. However, nothing is ever that simple. I was ecstatic to see a picture of our adorable Elders seated on the American Airlines flight posted on the private group of Missionary Mama's on Facebook page.   For whatever reason, the Quantas flight from LAX to Brisbane, Australia was delayed by nearly three hours. Luckily the Elders had a Tracfone that their parents sent them so they were able to call home and talk with their families while they waited. Finally at 2:30 am, the Elders settled in for a nearly fourteen hour flight. Their itinerary stated that they would have almost a four hour layover in Australia which would give them plenty of time to gather their bags and check into Virgin Australia for their connecting flight to Port Morseby, Papua New Guinea. With their flight now delayed by three hours, making their connecting flight seemed nearly impossible. Back in the US the Elders families were watching the flight and were aware of the situation and pleading with the LORD that the Elders would make it. 
FINALLY in Brisbane, the Elders had to wait for the Quantas to bring them their bags because they didn't have a Visa to enter Australia. After receiving their bags, they rushed to the Virgin Australia counter and the flight was already boarding for Port Morseby. By blessings from GOD, the young men were able to check in and board because the Virgin Australia flight to POM was delayed by forty minutes. 
Three and half hours later, the flight landed in Port Morseby, Papua New Guinea and were welcomed by some members of the church from Port Moresby. With a two and half-hour layover until they flew to Lae (their final destination) on Air Niugini, the boys had time to check in throw customs, etc... Again, nothing is ever that simple, and what was to be only a 2. 5 hour layover turned into so much more because their connecting flight was delayed by 4 hours. We were so grateful for the sweet members (and other missionaries) from Port Moresby that waited with them (and paid their baggage fees). What a blessing from Heaven they were to our Elders. 

The plane they were to take was a jet plane but was having mechanical issues so they were switched to a propeller plane. The original itinerary showed the Elders arriving at their final destination at 4:55pm (local time). Because of the dangers of PNG the Elders are supposed to be home and in their locked down compounds at 5pm. That was now not going to be even close to possible.

Elder Apelu & President Fehoko
Back at the Lae compound, the Elders had prepared a welcome Umu (underground oven) and a Welcome Party was waiting at the airport in Lae.

Elder Apelu praying over his breakfast

Once the Elders disembarked from the airplane, went through customs and gathered their baggage, they headed back to the secure compound. guns to their heads.   The next morning the mission let the Elders call home to their mothers to let them know they had arrived safely.

That Wednesday evening (morning for me) the Mission President's wife, Sister Fehoko, sent me a message and told me they were safe and that they would call the following morning (that would be Wednesday afternoon for me and Thursday morning for them).

Darnel and his Trainer 
Elder Apelu and his Trainer
When they awoke on Thursday, they had breakfast at a restaurant with the Mission President, his wife and some Elders and then called us.  Elder Apelu told me hot it was over there. He said they all (the new Elders) were most likely going to be assigned in the Lae area for the next 6 months because they are going to try and increase the membership there so they can finally form a Stake in the Lae area. Following our phone call they had missionary orientation where they were assigned their Trainer (new companion) and then off to their new areas.

The Umu the Elders prepared they ate the next day

The New Elders with Pres & Sister Fehoko and some Elders

President & Sister Fehoko with the New Elders and some other missionaries

Preparing for Orientation
Sister Fehoko kindly emailed me some pictures of Elder Apelu and his new companion (but I didn't get his name). I know he is from Samoa.

Now we wait to actually hear from him. I will update you soon!

Enjoy some extra pictures from the airport and their arrival in Lae!


Last minute instructions (a.k.a advice) to Elder Apelu for his long flight)

Erin Apelu  & Lani Pili with the 4 US Elders heading to Lae, PNG

Elder Uluave with his Aunt and Uncle at the SLC Airport

The PNG Elders at the SLC airport

Elder Pili with his mom, Lani

Elder Pili with his dad

Elder Apelu saying goodbye to his mama for 2 years

Elder Apelu waving goodbye to everyone at the SLC Airport

Elder Hunter Wilson walking to the TSA 

Elder Dallin Pili saying goodbye to his mom, Lani

Elder Pili walking to the TSA

Elder Hunter Wilson excited about the homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
I made them to enjoy on their long flight

Some of the Pili family with Elder Pili 

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