The Mystery of the Missing School Furniture and Books

What started as a regular shipment of donated school supplies from New Zealand to the Marshall Islands turned into a delightful, unexpected outcome

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Over the last few weeks, humanitarian missionaries, Craig and Nancy Preston, have been working with Furniture for Schools Charitable Trust (FFS), LDS Charities and the Marshall Islands Ministry of Education to bring pre-loved desks, chairs and books from New Zealand to local schools.

In an unexpected turn of events, “It came to our attention that some small chairs and tables were delivered to a school that was not on our list,” said Elder Preston. “We decided to go see why and where the furniture was delivered.”

It was discovered that the head of Ministry of Education Procurement had made the delivery to the small, tucked-away school - the Majuro Deaf Education Center for Blind and Deaf children who were in desperate need of school furniture.

“We were greeted with broad smiles, bows and handshakes,” Elder Preston said. “No words were spoken except by the secretary as she was the only one who could hear and speak. We were grateful that a good man with a kind heart knew about and helped this very important special needs classroom.”     


The donated equipment consisted largely of second hand desks, chairs and donated library books from donor schools throughout New Zealand.

John McLean, trustee for FFS commenting on the shipment to Majuro, Marshall Islands, said, “We are proud of this work as it brings tangible improvement to the classroom environment and the quest for English.”

He added, “English paves the way to assimilation into any economy and allows youngsters to one day put back into their country’s economy with useful skills, useful trades, commerce and economic development.”

Prior to the shipment the Prestons, serving a full time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visited some of the schools in the area to assess their needs and get a wish list from the principals.

On November 27, the container was delivered to the campus of the Marshall Islands High School and Middle School where an opening ceremony was conducted featuring a short address by the Minister of Education.


Furniture was then allocated according to the Preston's initial needs assessment to Marshall Islands High School, Marshall Islands Middle School, Raiok, Woja and Ajeltake Elementary Schools.

Thankfully, surprisingly, the Prestons say, some of the donated furniture was also delivered to the Majuro Deaf Education Center as well.

“We’re in this together,” Elder Preston said. "We work to find out where the needs are, and what we in partnership with others can do to make a positive difference. We’re so grateful that our friend in the Ministry of Education stepped in to help us reach even more children in need.”

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