Monday, August 26, 2013

August 25, 2013, I Bought My First Guam Dress!


This week was a lot better.  I'm slowly starting to understand a little more and get to know my way around Laura.  I'm also learning more names and getting to know the members.  I made a big list of things to write about today, so hopefully I'll get to write about all of them.

Ellen and her first companion in the mission field, Sister Ieie from Kiribati

Last Monday ended up being a pretty good day.  We went to a member's house for FHE and the two elders in Laura were invited too.  We had a short lesson, played a game, and then they fed us dinner.  We had pork (which was really good), rice (of course), and boiled breadfruit.  The breadfruit was disgusting.  Breadfruit is "ma" but it sounds like "me."  I've heard that me chips (similar to potato chips) are a much better way of eating breadfruit instead of boiling it.  It was slimy and dense.  Not my favorite.  But we also had ni!  Ni is the green coconut that you poke a hole in and drink the coconut water from.  It was so good.  Once you're done drinking you can also break it open and scrape out the really soft meat.  It was good, but not as good as the water.

Here's Ellen eating the food she just described

Shopping was an adventure last P day.  We went to Payless, which is the grocery store owned by americans where all of the food is western family.  Some of the produce is grown in laura and is sold there.  I bought apples, oranges, sweet and regular potatoes, cottage cheese (it was a little weird, but ok), applesauce, whole wheat bread (surprisingly good), jam, and some pretty bad ultra-pasteurized milk.  I've discovered I can get down a glass of milk if I make it into chocolate milk, so I've been doing that.  It tastes like bad canned milk.  They don't really keep it cold either.  The milk is just sitting out in boxes in the store.

Ellen with Caroline

I also bought my first guam dress!  Oh man, they are hideous.  They're made of a stretchy polyester fabric and they have short sleeves and are knee length.  I wear mine to bed and it's pretty comfortable.  Most of them are really bright colors and have awful patterns.  Mine is a little more conservative, but it's still pretty bad.  I'm going to try to upload photos in a few.  Hopefully it'll work today!

Ellen in her Guam dress
I ate hermit crabs this week!  They were pretty good.  After you pull the meat out of the shell you just have to make sure you pull off all of the gross, brown mucus, but then they're pretty tasty.  The great thing is that then you have a shell to clean your fingers off with.
I haven't gotten sick yet!  And I eat and drink at the member's houses.  They all only drink the collected rain water, so it's really okay. 

We get 75 cent ice cream cones at the little "mon wia" (stores) that are all over laura.  The ice cream is so good, but maybe that's just because it's wicked hot.  I've only worn my crocs and I see why they said to bring them.  It rains all of the time and our feet get so dirty from the mud and sand and also from going in the houses, so the crocs wash off easily.  And they're slip on, which is important because we're always going into houses.

I have mixed feelings about the rain.  It's great because it fills up our water tank, but it also attracts the cockroaches.  We had a couple in our bathroom and Ieie says they climb up the drain!  I don't know if that's true.  I got really disgusted with the bathroom (especially the shower) on Friday and Sister Ieie wasn't feeling very good, so I made an executive decision that we were going to delay going out so I could clean the shower.  I sacrificed my toothbrush (don't worry, I have more) and went to town with a bottle of soft scrub and bleach for about 2.5 hours while I listening to Polly.  I have before and after pictures.  Most of the black mold is gone!  It looks so much better.  I think everything I have ever cleaned and scrubbed before has prepared me for cleaning that shower.  I'm now not afraid to shower, so that's good.  I've also gotten into a really good shower schedule now, so that's exciting.

Her shower before cleaning and after cleaning

Oh, more about the rain.  I also don't like it because when it rains it's Marshallese culture for everyone to go inside and sleep, so it's impossible to find anyone to teach.  It seems like it would be a great time to find people because they're all home, but they only want to sleep.  The power goes out sometimes when it rains and on Thursday we didn't have power most of the day, which also meant that we didn't have water because we have a pump that runs on electricity to bring the water in the house.  We couldn't cook anything and there's nothing really to buy in the little stores other than oil and crackers and such, so we both took naps.  Sister Ieie gets sick when she's out in the rain, so I don't really know what we're supposed to do.  I don't mind getting wet, but it seems pointless to go out if no one's there. Maybe that's also what they do in Kiribati. 

We have some geckos in our house sometimes.  I don't really mind them because they're kind of cute, but they do surprise me sometimes.  We have some cockroach pesticide that we're supposed to dilute and then spray in the corners and closets of the house to keep the cockroaches away.  We did that but we still have some. 

Making banana bread with Sister Ieie

I really like our washing machine.  The spinner is so nice!  It gets a lot more water out of clothes than American washing machines do. 

Annie, will you send me a southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere star map?  You should be able to find some online and print them.  The stars are great when it's not cloudy!  It's so weird to see scorpius high in the sky instead of just barely peaking above the horizon.  The milky way is pretty great. 

We had a zone conference on Wednesday.  There are two zones in Majuro: east and west.  I'm in the west zone.  The areas go (from west to east): Laura, Arrak, Ajeltake, Long Island, Delap, Uliga, and Rita.  The first four are in the west zone.  We met in the Long Island chapel, which is the stake center.  It's a pretty fancy building.  I'm excited for the Laura chapel to be finished.  The mission office is in Long Island and the mission president and senior couples also live there.

Ellen's house

The mosquitos love me.  I use the bug spray sometimes but it makes my skin really warm.  Annie, you could also send me another itch eraser.  I carry one in my bag always. 

I used a bathroom in a member's house the other day, and other than the fact that it smelled like suburban station, it wasn't bad at all.  I think we only stopped there to use the bathroom though, so I think Sister Ieie knows where to go (pun intended). 

Most everyone has a small house and then a separate shack for cooking.  The cooking houses have some posts and a roof and then usually a plywood platform where the moms sit and breastfeed their kids (until they're like 4 or older) and cook over a fire.  They'll make a fire and then put a pot of rice on or a flat griddle for making pancakes.  The dogs and cats and birds will come by to try to snatch a pancake, but the people are so mean to their animals so they don't usually get much to eat.  I saw a chicken hop up onto a griddle and start to roast her toes, so she hurried and jumped off. 

We've gone over to a member's house for language study once, and I think we'll continue to go.  Mama Kattil knows English really well, so we go and sit in her house and she helps me with the language.  Pronunciation is the hardest thing.  Since there's no standard way of spelling anything, I've seen each word spelled at least 5 different ways.  It's impossible to know how a word is pronounced without hearing someone say it.  Luckily all I do is listen to people speak all day, but it's hard to remember how the word was pronounced because there's no logical way to write it. 

All of the customs we learned about in the MTC are wrong.  I see people sit with their feet sticking out pointed towards people all of the time.  Also, we were told we're supposed to ask to sit down in people's houses, but actually if we go in we're supposed to immediately sit down.  It is impolite to refuse food, so at least I learned one thing, but if you're full you just pass your plate to someone and they'll finish it.  I've had some good fish this week.  Mmm.  The people like that I'll eat most anything they give me and they like that I don't use a spoon.  I heard that they'll like me if I try to do everything their way, so that's what I've been doing.  I'm getting better at eating with my hands.  Those sanitizing wipes are great because I just wipe my hands off inside my bag before I eat.  I think it would be rude if they saw me. 

Sometimes my skin stings all over for just a few seconds.  I asked the nurse about it and she doesn't know what it is.  She thinks it's just my body adjusting to the climate, and I think she's right.  It happens when we've been inside our air conditioned apartment and then we go out into the hot humidity.  Or sometimes it happens when we've been riding our bikes and then I get off, which again is a change because when I'm riding there's a nice breeze.  Our shower has either hot or cold water, and nothing in between.  the first few days I'd alternate between the two, but now I just use the cold and I think that's better for my skin. 

We do a lot of work with less actives.  Well, we try.  The bishopric talks a lot and says they'll reach out and help, but they don't, so we end up doing it.  We had a ward council meeting yesterday after church and the bishop got mad at us missionaries for being out late the last sunday.  We were out late because we had a correlation meeting with the ward mission leader.  Amima, an old grandpa in the ward, stood up for us and said that yes, we were out late but that we discussing those that the bishopric do nothing about.  We were all pretty annoyed that the bishop told us this, since it's not his job to tell us that we were out late.  And of course everyone knows everything since the village is so small.  Of course I had no idea what was going on in the meeting, but they told me once we left and everyone was annoyed. 
I think that's all for now.  If I think of other things I'll email them.  I'm going to try to attach photos.  Sorry if my grammar is really jorraan (damaged/ broken)...I'm trying to type quickly.
I love and miss you all.  Thanks for your emails,

Sister Ellen Butler

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