Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013, Sister Samuel, Food, and a Funeral


It sounds like ya'll have had an exciting week.  That's exciting you're having a boy, Kate and Mike.  I kind of wanted a niece, but I will also accept a nephew.  As Annie said, and I fully agree, we women are really getting outnumbered.  We've got to do something about this.  I don't think I can help though.  Haha.

This week was so great.  I love my companion Sister Samuel.  She is so silly and we laugh all the time, cook, listen to music, and clean together.  And we have a lot of fun teaching together.  She's helped me so much with learning how to just teach simple lessons, and now I'm excited to go out every day because I know I can say things.  I still have a lot of Marshallese to learn, but I can really say what I want to for the most part.  I may not be able to say it quite how I want to, but I'm able to figure out a way to explain it.  Also, since Sister Samuel's only been out for 4 months I can understand her and she speaks slowly, which is really helpful.  I'm able to understand more of what the Marshallese people say too.

Ellen and Sister Samuel

This week has also been fun because we've walked everywhere.  Sister Samuel is learning how to ride the bicycle and she's doing really well.  Every morning she goes out and practices in front of the house.  It's been tiring walking all of Laura, but it's fun because we can talk as we walk and we have more opportunities to talk to those on the street.  It takes longer to get from one lesson to another, but we had more lessons this week that I ever did with Sister Ieie and we worked really hard.  We had to go down to Jeirok (the neighborhood at the Arrak end of Laura.  The neighborhoods are Lomar (where we live), Iolep, Lobat, and Jeirok) and it was a long walk so we took a taxi.  The taxis just show up occaisionally and we got into a van that was just full of people.  Most of them were going into town (2 dollars one way) and we didn't know what to say to get the taxi to I said "Jolok bod. Ijo, ijo!" (Sorry.  Here, here!) when we got to the house.  It was so funny.  I don't think they were expecting us to get out of the van in Laura and not continue on to town.  I'm a fan of 50 cent taxis.  It was so much better than walking.

Ellen at Sunset on 9/30/13

There was a funeral behind our house this week.  And I mean it was about 20 ft behind our house.  The Marshallese people don't bury their dead in the ground.  They make these concrete boxes and stick the coffin inside of that.  It takes them a couple of days for a few guys to mix up the concrete and make the box, and then paint it white.  Then the actual funeral lasts a couple of days and everyone just sits around eating and not doing much else.  At some point they put the coffin inside one end of the box and then they put concrete over the end and some boards against it.  There are still some sticks propping it up, so it looks like if one was to kick over the stick, the coffin would slide out.  We can see it from our bedroom window.  The main part of the funeral happened on Friday and we stayed inside for a long time that day because a lot of people came and parked their cars on our grass and set up chairs.  We were basically in the middle of a funeral and we felt really bad if we left our house in the middle of all of them to go out to work.  I didn't think they would mind as much, but Sister Samuel felt pretty uncomfortable about the whole thing and it really scares her how they don't bury the we're now sleeping on the couches in the living room.  I'm completely fine with that though because we're much closer to our AC unit.

One of the Laura elders said something to me this week, which is completely true.  Laura is the bible belt of the Marshall Islands.  That's why the work is so hard here.  There are so many churches in Laura:  Seventh day, Salvation Army, Protestant, Assembly of God, Jehovah's Witness, Catholic, Full Gospel, Pukut nan Jisos (It's like seek Jesus or something like that...), Baptist, etc.  I know I'm forgetting some.  The Salvation Army ones really dislike us.  So it's fun.  

One morning we were making pumpkin bread (we finally finished our pumpkin yesterday, which was sad) and we ran out of flour.  We walked to a little mon wia (a little shop) and they didn't have flour, so we walked to another one.  They only had a 20 pound bag of flour, so we bought it and we walked about a mile carrying it.  We were both in guam dresses (which are really house dresses) and we just laughed the whole way home as we took turns carrying the bag.  I'm pretty sure people were laughing at us too.  It's nice to have plenty of flour now though.

We had a fun time this week going through the area book.  For those of you that don't know, there's a book for each area that contains teaching records for everyone that missionaries have ever taught in the area...supposedly.  They're always a joke though, because no one ever really updates them.  We went through and threw away ones that were pointless (since no one has addresses here, it's really impossible to try to contact someone that was once taught before).  Some of them even said "they moved to an outer island, so we stopped teaching them" so we threw those ones away.  Some of the short descriptions of the investigators on the teaching records were so funny.  There was one elder that always wrote hilarious things on the teaching records, so we went through and read all of the things he had written.  It was a productive evening.

We got so much food last night from members.  6 ni (green coconuts for drinking), a bag of bananas, two containers of taro and waini slices (brown coconut), a bag of yu (the baby coconut that starts forming inside the brown coconuts when they get old), a two leaf-fulls of pwido.  Pwido is mashed up breadfruit that's stuck in plastic bags and buried and left to ferment for a month, and then it's mashed more, wrapped up and tied in breadfruit leaves, and roasted over a fire.  It's pretty nasty.  Actually I had some one that was good, but most of it isn't my favorite.

 Food they received this week

Ellen holding pwido and ni

Alje's baptism fell through on Saturday.  It's okay though, since she wasn't ready.  We tried to visit her a lot this week, but she lives so far away in Jeirok and without bikes we just didn't have time to visit her everyday.  She just didn't show up for the baptism, although she was supposed to come with a member that's her friend.  We went off looking for her, but she wasn't home.  

Sister Samuel is so funny.  I love hearing her stories about Vanuatu and her little branch there.  She says it's beautiful and there are rivers all over in Vanuatu.  She says it's much, much prettier and greener there.  It gets cold there too.  We've already decided I'm going to go visit her sometime.  She thinks the Kiribati and Tongan people are crazy.  It's so funny getting to know all of the islanders.  They're all so different.  I think my favorite Sister Samuel moment is when she sings Celine Dion.

We had three investigators come to church on Sunday.  Three.  Holy cow.  It was exciting.  And they actually stayed for more than just sacrament meeting.  3rd hour was kind of a joke though because it was the fifth sunday so we were combined and no one knew what was going on.  We had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation and at the end, the Barlows (senior missionary couple) basically had to correct much of what was said.  Sister Samuel was translating for the Barlows while the elders were off having a meeting with the ward mission leader during church....which doesn't really make since.  Well, we have sunday school in the shade of a coconut tree, so nothing really makes sense here. 

I'll send photos soon.  I love and miss you all.  I'm doing well and am really starting to enjoy being here.  I'm finally comfortable here.  well, much more comfortable than uncomfortable.


Sister Butler

September 22, 2013, So Happy for a New Companion


This week had some ups and downs, which is pretty normal.  The weekend was pretty bad since my companion spent most of the time we really didn't work very much.  Or she just got mad at me when I tried to plan for a fireside that we had last night.  We hadn't really prepared very much for it, and we had to be there in about 1 hour, so I asked her to help me translate my part into Marshallese.  I ended up figuring it out on my own because she insisted that she take another shower...but it would have been nice to get her help to make sure I was saying things correctly.

Sis. Ieie, me, and Bertina (one of carolynn's daughters)

Anyway, I'm glad she's gone.  Her flight leaves for Hawaii this evening but she left Laura last night and she's in Long Island for the day.  The APs drove Sister Samuel, my new companion, over and they all stayed for the fireside and then took Sister Ieie back with them to Long Island.  Sister Samuel is really great.  She's from Vanuatu and she's really small and short.  She speaks French, Tout, Bislama, and English.  "Tout" is what she called "my language" I think it's a language that only some people in Vanuatu speak.  She also says she speaks some of her sister in law's language, but she doesn't know what it's called.  Sister Samuel has only been here for 4 months, so her Marshallese isn't great, but her accent is really good and she knows enough to teach and be just fine.  It's so nice having her as a companion because she knows we need to learn together and she's willing to help and explain things.

Sister Ieie left about half of her stuff and so the house is a mess.  We spent some time this morning throwing away old clothing, books, and papers.

Ieie, Kaka, Jimma Jolet, Bertina, and me
Jimma Jolet works as a policeman across the street from his house

One night this week Sister Ieie and I ate dinner with a family from Kiribati.  It was the best dinner I've had here.  We had yellowtail 3 ways, rice, bok choy (these are the people with the big garden), and jekamai.  Do you remember jekaro?  Jekaro is the coconut sap collected from the trees and jekamai is boiled down jekaro.  It gets to be a thick brown, sweet syrup, and then you dilute it with water to make a refreshing drink.  I like it a lot more than jekaro.  It has a slightly burnt taste.  It's really good.  They gave us a water bottle full of the concentrated stuff, so we've been drinking it a lot this week.  So, the fish:  one typed was fried, but only cooked halfway (which was intentional).  It was really tasty because it was really soft but still fried.  We had two types of sashimi.  The sashimi here is always in a sauce.  The first type was yellowtail in jekaro with little hot peppers.  I liked the spice, but jekaro isn't my favorite.  The second type was my favorite.  It consisted of coconut cream, curry powder, and lime juice.  Oh it was so good.  They make the coconut cream by chopping a waini (brown coconut) in half and scraping out the meat.  They then mix a little water with the waini and squeeze out all of the cream.  Sometimes they'll put it in a wet cloth to squeeze it out.  They usually filter it to make sure there aren't pieces of the shell in the cream.  They scrape out the meat using a piece of metal.  A lot of people have a little bench with a flat piece of metal sticking off one end, so they straddle the bench and scrape out half a coconut at a time using the metal bar.  I'll have to take a picture of it sometime.  The kiribati woman is going to make me a kiribati style shirt, so I need to get some fabric in town today.

Coconut Crab
I think I'm adjusting to the heat.  I've been getting really cold in our house.  What is 24 degrees Celsius?  When our AC is set to that I get really cold.  And most people (those that have the bishop's/clerk's office) is set much lower than that.  I think I've been here a while now that when I see someone's house I think to myself, "dang, that house is so nice," as opposed to when I saw it the first week I was afraid I'd get 4 diseases from just stepping inside.  
I made pizza this week!  That was fun.  It was only cheese pizza though because I forgot to get other things for it...and because a can of olives was so expensive.  
I got the package last monday!  Thank you!  I loved all of the balloon notes and the star charts (I have yet to use those because it's been so cloudy recently) and the treats.  The chocolate all survived.  As Sister Crane said, when she saw my package, "Aw, they love you.  The sent you photos and chocolate.  Wait...they sent you bob's mill?  They really love you."  So yes, thank you for the bran too.  The photos of Eliot and Linus are very cute.  

 The best garden on the island. This family from Kiribati gave Ellen some bok choy.

Ellen was excited to see such nice chickens in these pens
One day we went out and did service for a less active family.  They had a big field that needed to be weeded, and the weeds were about 4 feet high.  It was mid day, so it was blasted hot, and the four of us (the Laura elders came too) weeded for about an hour and half.  We used machetes, since that's what everyone uses here, so that was lots of fun.  I really need to try to find some work gloves in town because I always get blisters.  

Janet and Ellen after weeding

Bubu Jolet weaving baskets/ trays for the pacific forum
One thing I hate about the Marshallese translation of the book of mormon is that it's awful.  That's a good thing to hate, right?  Basically Marshallese doesn't have passive voice, and the whole book of mormon is in passive there are issues.  The translation is really bad because they basically just translated it word for word so much of it doesn't make sense in Marshallese.  A lot of Marshallese sentence structure is similar to english, so some of it makes sense, but whenever we find a verse we want to share we have to go read it and make sure it makes sense in the translation.  I wonder how many of the members have actually read the whole book.  I don't know if I'd have the patience to do that if I was Marshallese.  It must be pretty frustrating.  A lot of them have scriptures in english since some understand english, and so they get more out of the scriptures by reading them in english.
We had a RS picnic on Saturday.  It was supposed to start at 9 am, so of course it started at 2 pm.  There was so much food.  They had a huge plastic bucket full of raw chicken and it took them a couple of hours to grill it all.  Of course there were hot dogs (they're so gross), rice, breadfruit, pumpkin, and bananas.  

This is the kind of water tank that Ellen has for fresh water.
It catches rain water off of the roofs.
Alje is getting baptized this Saturday, so we're excited for that.  She lied and told us she was 25, but we just figured out that she's actually 32 (we were filling out her baptismal form).  I can't figure out how old people are here.  Everyone looks so young.  She's doing really well because she has a friend that's a member.  The focus of our fireside was about teaching members to do home teaching and visiting teaching, how to fellowship, and how to invite others to come to church.  We're hoping that people in the ward will start actually talking to investigators and welcoming them.

A baptism at the lagoon
Okay, I think that's all for now.  I'm so happy to have a new companion.  Things are already so much better.  I miss you all.  Thanks for your emails!  I'm sorry I don't have time to reply to all of them.

Sister Butler

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 15, 2013 1 Month in Majuro


This week has been....interesting.  It didn't start out great, but it ended well.  (Editor's note: there is a paragraph here that I've removed about her companion relationship.)

I've been here for one month now.  Holy cow.  Happy anniversary, Annie and Travis!  I realized that yesterday...except it's really today for you.  

Last P day my district went out to eat at a fancy restaurant (fancy for the marshall islands) and I splurged and got a hamburger and a slice of banana cream pie.  It was a great decision.  It was so nice to eat real, good food. The banana cream pie was so good because the bananas were of course real and delicious.

Ellen and her friend, Neine

Annie and Kate, I didn't get the package last week, but I should for sure get it this week. :)

Oh, I finally found a type of breadfruit that I like.  It's called Kwanjen me, and it's breadfruit that is roasted on hot coals and then the black skin is scraped off.  One then pulls off a chunk of it and dips it in oil and salt.  Of course it's the best way to eat's roasted and has oil on it.  Boiling breadfruit instead of roasting it is like boiling eggplant instead of roasting it:  just plain stupid and the waste of a perfectly good vegetable. 

 Someone gave Ellen a pumpkin this week! She asked for pumpkin recipes.

On Thursday sister Ieie and I went on an exchange, which was really fun.  The zone leaders came and picked us up in Laura wednesday evening and then drove us to Long island, and then sister Tofa came back with me to Laura.  It was fun to work with someone else for a day.  Sister Tofa has been here for 3 or 4 months and she's really fun.  Her Marshallese isn't great though, so it forced me to talk more and of course I realized I can say a lot more than I think I can.  It was also really fun to drive to long island and back two nights in a row and spend some time with our zone leaders, who are much nicer than the awkward Laura elders.  

I got my hair braided by a Marshallese woman this week, and she put a lot of coconut oil in it.  It was kind of gross and it didn't wash out very easily, but I'm sure it was good for my hair.  

The power was off in Laura Sunday morning and so the ceiling fans weren't running.  It was miserably hot.  

We had a good experience with Alje this week.  She's probably our investigator that's doing the best.  She had a baptismal date, but we needed her to get married to her boyfriend that she lives with.  Well, this week he left her and went back to his ex-wife in Rita and so she stayed around at his house for a couple of days and then went back to her mom's house in Arrak.  We found out what happened on Thursday when Sister Tofa was out in Laura with me, and Alje was just crying and crying during our lesson.  When Ieie came back to Laura we heard Alje had left.  We got permission from our DL to go to Arrak to find her, and we eventually found her.  She was so happy to see us and before we could ask her if she wanted to continue studying with us, she asked when we could study next.  We went the next evening and we had a really great lesson with her.  We read ether 12:27 with her, and as she read it she got a big smile on her face and she said she knew it was true because she has so many weaknesses and the problem with her ex, and she knew she could get better and stronger.  She said she wants to keep her same baptismal date, which is good because our DL said we could only keep studying with her (because she lives so far out of our area) if we could tell she's actually going to keep progressing.  So that was really great.  And she came to church on sunday, which I think is the first time we've had an investigator come to church.  Laura is a really difficult companion misses Delap (town) so much because she says the work actually progresses there.  

Sister Jolet and Sister Binejal in their matching dresses after church

Sometimes I come across some really funny things in english.  We were sitting talking to our investigator Janet the other day, and she had a partially cut up magazine in english that she was trying to read.  I took a look at it, and it was a Clemson Football magazine from '94.  I wonder what pointless books and magazines have been sent here over the years.

It rains almost everyday here and last night we got soaked coming home.  We decided to wash our hair under the gutter spout so I ran in and grabbed shampoo and conditioner.  It was really fun.  Afterward, we went in and threw our clothes in the spinner for 2 minutes.  I love our washing machine and spinner.  It's so useful.

We have zone p day today, meaning we're playing sports with the zone in long island after shopping, which should be fun.  It's so nice to see other people during the week.

I made chocolate chip cookies this week for some of our investigators and less actives...and holy cow, I need to stop.  The people go a little crazy because that recipe we have is so good.  I think I need a bad chocolate chip cookie recipe so that people don't keep asking me to make them cookies.  I'm pretty sure all we're going to do is eat this week because we have a million going away parties for sister Ieie this week.  

Bubu Jableke (left), and Tomiko (top middle) and some other ladies from he ward

I love having green coconuts to drink.  We got a whole box of them from a family this week, so it's been nice to drink them whenever.  I'm getting better at using my thumb to poke a hole in the coconut.  

I miss you all.  Thanks for the letters and emails!  

Sister Butler

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013, Roscoe and Donuts


This week went by so quickly.  I think I'm finally starting to feel comfortable here (to answer your question, dad), except for the language.  But that's okay.  I know it'll come eventually.  I'm way too hard on myself, as usual, and I know I understand much more than I did when I first came.  This language is just blasted annoying because no one really knows how to teach it, and everyone disagrees about the grammar.  I have to write down words and phrases if I even want to try to remember them (and writing them down helps me learn the grammar too), but when I asked someone how to spell something they say to just sound it out.  When I check in a dictionary later though, I've forgotten about 3 or 4 letters that I just couldn't distinguish when I had heard the word.  A lot of letters at the end of words are silent too, so "bwid" and "bwil" both sound like "bwi-", except the mouth is shaped slightly differently when the word ends because the person is getting ready to say the "d" or "l" but stops right before. But that changes the sound.  Does that make sense?  We can't always tell the difference between the two, but the Marshallese people can, so I try to repeat what they're saying but it's different.  Does that make any sense?

Most disgusting thing I ate this week:  gummy bears covered in koolaid powder (and there must have been a little water mixed in too to get the stuff to stick).  I don't know why they're obsessed with koolaid, but it's gross. Luckily I had a water bottle with me so I could dilute the powder in my mouth and then eat the bear.

Speaking of bears, I got your bear postcard, LATE.  Thanks!  I think this is the third bear postcard I've gotten from the michigan folk, so everyone things I really like bears...which isn't a lie.

Most delicious thing I ate last week (I forgot to write about it): jekaro.  I have no idea how to spell it.  It's coconut juice that comes directly from the tree.  Supposedly one has to climb the tree every day and slice off a little bit of the skin of a stem (frond?) to get the juice.  I don't know if one collects a little juice every day or if it's collected all at once at some point, but one has to be diligent about doing it every day (which I've heard some missionaries use this as a teaching example.  They also use the example of steps cut into the trunk of the coconut tree to talk about faith, repentance, baptism, etc).

Most delicious thing I ate this week:  marshallese donuts.  Mmm, they're so good.  Carolynn made them for us. They're just spherical donuts fried in hot oil, but they're so good.  She gave us a lot to take with us, but they're weren't as good cold.

Annie, I thought of something you might like to try.  When we ate dinner at the Weir's house back the first day I was here, we had ketchup with curry powder in it.  It was really good on hotdogs.  It seems like something you would like.  I'm not sure how much curry powder to put in, but I'm sure you could try it.

There have been a fair number of ripelle this week since the forum has been going on.  Not as many come out to Laura, but a whole lot of them came out for some sort of performance at Laura beach.  A lot of the women in town had been practicing traditional dances and they all made flower tiaras to wear.

Well, in case any of you were wondering, Roscoe has been reincarnated in the Marshall Islands.  The Jolet family got a new puppy and I asked them his name and I guess they hadn't chosen one yet...and then they asked about my dogs and I told them about Roscoe, and then they named him Roscoe after the dear old pup. Isn't he cute?  He's so small and warm.

What do you do when you're trying to kill a cockroach and he runs down the drain in the kitchen sink?  Cover both drains, boil a pot of water, pour half down one drain and half down the other.  Hopefully we got him.  

Last week was like christmas!  Holy cow.  I got 6 pieces of mail.  I got a postcard from you mom, from the Anne Frank house.  I think it must have gotten to the MTC and although they say they don't forward mail on to missionaries, they obviously do because a yellow sticker with my address here was put over the MTC address. It's crazy that it actually got here.  I got both of your letters, Sara Jane.  I wrote you back a really long letter that I'll mail off today.  I'm not sure how many stamps I'm going to need, because there are a lot of pages.  I also got the dear elder (I agree, it is a stupid name, Annie) with letters from mom, dad, and emack (thanks!).  And I got LATE's letter, which was really funny.  I want to eat a hungry heifer.  That sounds so good.  

I'm starting to like the ultra pasteurized milk.  Is that weird?  One box of it is $2.50.  Ugh.  Everything is so expensive.  A bag of chocolate chips is 4 dollars.  The rice and meat are cheap though!  

I'm pretty sure nankai wouldn't survive here.  The dogs are so mean to each other and they always get in fights. Most dogs are missing part of an ear or an eye.  I saw a woman pet a dog yesterday and I thought for a second I was back in the US.  I told Sister Ieie that if the people were nice to their dogs, the dogs would be friendly.  She didn't seem to understand.  I tried to explain that we treat dogs like babies in the US.

The sisters' P day activity in Laura was lots of fun.  We ate lunch and walked along the shore and took lots of photos.  We also celebrated Sister Weir's birthday.  Is it bad that every time I try to type "weir" it comes out as "weird" first?  Sister Bulkley, the nurse, says she also knows Anita and that she lived in Indian Hills for a few years too.  She and Sister Weir knew each other back in the day too.

So I've emailed a photo of a map of Majuro.  Hopefully it'll help you understand a little bit about what the atoll looks like.  The lagoon is the ocean in the middle and the ocean is what surrounds the whole atoll.  Of course the water is all the same.  The lagoon isn't very deep in parts, and I've heard at low tide one can walk from one island to another.  Laura is the widest part of the island, as you can tell from the photo, and when standing on the beach of the lagoon, you can see the 4 islands closest to Laura (small, big, small, big) and then there're a space, and then maybe the next two islands.  And then it gets fuzzy but on the other side you see maybe half of ajeltake, but you can't see Long Island or Delap or Rita from Laura.  Does that make sense?  So I can see maybe roughly half of the atoll.

There's an inclusive "we" and exclusive "we" in marshallese (including or excluding the person you're talking to), so in prayers you use to the exclusive we because you're not asking God to also bless himself.  

Our power goes off maybe once or twice a week.  Sometimes it's for most of the day, which can be annoying. I'm excited to live in town at some point.  They can buy food other days of the week (since they're food to buy in town).  

My new go to dish is fried rice. I just fry some butter, onions, brown rice, shoyu, frozen peas, eggs, and salt and pepper in a frying pan.  

I mostly just sit there during lessons.  I bear my testimony and the end and extend commitments and such, so I feel pretty useless most of the time.  

What are the japanese words for "light" and "to take a shower"?

Okay, I think I'm send this now and see if I've forgotten anything.  I love and miss you all!  Thank you so much for the letters and emails.  I wish I had time to respond to all of them individually.   Annie and Kate, hopefully I'll get your package today!  

-Sister Butler

Sunday, September 1, 2013 Coconut Crab and Sashimi!


This week went by quickly.  I bought some salt and pepper shakers last week, which has improved life greatly.  Sadly the grocery store didn't have any cottage cheese, and of course there isn't any yogurt, so I ate a lot of plain applesauce this week.

I broke two mission rules this week:  eating sashimi and coconut crab.  The sashimi here is weird.  It's good because the pieces of fish are big, but they put it in a weird sauce.  The sauce has lemon juice, shoyu, and coconut oil.  It's pretty tasty and the acidity of the lemon juice kind of cooks the outside of the fish (like ceviche).  Some of the sashimi I had this week was really good, but some of it was hard to chew and the family gave me a whole lot of it...and it hadn't been marinating in the sauce as long as the first stuff, so it was pretty fishy.  It was good though.  I also ate coconut crab this week. Oh, crab is so delicious.  We ate the sashimi and crab at the Jolet's house.  They've been members since the early 80s and they're the pioneers out here in Laura.  They feed us almost every night.  I feel bad taking all of their food, but they love to give it.  We saw Bubu Jolet and Carolynn (her 30-something yr old daughter...I sent a picture of her last week) gathering coconut crabs the other day off the road in kind of a swampy area.  Arije (she's one of our investigators, 27 yrs old, and related to them somehow) was in charge of holding the plastic bag closed to keep the crabs inside.  Anyway, the crab was really tasty.  We're not supposed to eat eat because one elder once ate it and got really sick.  I haven't gotten sick yet and I can tell that the Jolet family prepares food well, so I'm not worrying about it. 
Coconuts fall off the trees all of the time, and I'm learning to always look up before I sit somewhere so I'm not under a tree.  Supposedly they can kill people, so I'm staying away from those.  You can normally hear when the coconut is starting to break off though, so you have enough time to move out of the way.

Our bikes are heavy, purple, huffy bikes with those blasted brakes on the pedals.  Ugh, they're so annoying because you can't spin the pedals around backward when you get on the bike to get the pedals at the right place.  They pedal brakes are helpful though because we can hold more while we bike.  I'm learning to bike by the dogs really slowly so they don't run after me, and when they start barking and growling I'm supposed to say "shhhhhh!" and they usually stop.  One day last week all of the dogs in Laura were anxious or something, and a lot of them chased us.

The grocery store has a "red label" section where all of the expired food is on discount.  We usually find the elders there.  There are always a lot of cans of clam chowder they're trying to sell for 49 cents.  Supposedly the soup comes out in the shape of the can.  One elder bought a whole lot of them maybe a month ago, and then he got shipped out to Ebeye, so the elders in his old apartment have a huge stash of the soup and they aren't sure what to do with it.

One of our investigators, Bubu Waleliki, has a garden and she gave us some fresh corn on the cob!  It was so good.  We also met a woman from kiribati and she has a good sized garden and she gave us some bok choy.  I had a can of black beans so I cooked some of those with some bok choy for lunch one day, which was pretty good.  

There was a baptism in the iar (lagoon) on Saturday.  The weather was really nice.  I'll upload a photo from it. 
There are bugs everywhere.  I always have little bugs and ants crawling on me.  We try to keep most everything in the fridge to keep the bugs out, but even then, it doesn't always work.  For example:
Me:  "Sister Ieie, there are bugs in our sugar!!"
Ieie:  "No, there aren't bugs.  Those are ants."
Me:  "Fine, then there are ants in the sugar!"
Ieie:  "It's okay, they're dead"
Me:  "..."

There are even ants in the unopened bags of sugar.  I've gotten over it.  I just don't like the cockroaches.  We have some insect spray we're supposed to dilute and spray in the house, but it doesn't seem to work all that well.  The last sisters to live in the house are all from Kiribati, so they don't really care about the bugs.  The biting ants are also fun and there are flies everywhere.

The big pacific forum started in Majuro on Saturday.  All of the big cheeses from the pacific islands came out so everyone's been cleaning up the island.  It looks pretty good right now.  The people in Laura really care about keeping their yards clean.  They mow the grass/weeds and burn their trash.  We take our trash to a ditch that has some huge coconut branches/fronds covering it, and then someone burns the trash once a week or so.  Sister Ieie and I went out Saturday morning to do service and we worked raking yards and weeding.  I got a bunch of blisters from weeding and I'm trying to not let them pop so they don't get infected.

Sister Weir came out to Laura one afternoon this last week and went teaching with us.  It was a really good day.  Almost all of our investigators were there, which never happens, and they actually seem interested and asked questions.  It was crazy.  Sister Weir says she grew up near rock canyon elementary and she says she knows Mark and Anita.  Her first name is Shelia and she said her maiden name is Hubbard...or something like that.  She's turning 60 this week, if that helps.

Last P day we played basketball with the elders in our district at the Ajeltake church building.  I think there were about 6 elders and then me and sister Ieie.  It was nice to get to know some of the elders and hang out there.  I want to play basketball again today, but we have the sisters' P day activity, so that's probably not going to happen.

Progress is:
A toilet seat and a clean toilet (sorry, no pictures!  I'm sure you're happy about that)
a bottle of drano and bathroom sinks that drain
What do you do when there's a cockroach in the oven?  Turn it on to 400.  Although I have heard that someone once microwaved a cockroach on power level high and after 5 minutes the blasted thing walked out as if nothing had happened.  Hopefully he didn't end up in the cookies I was baking.  I made cocoa cookies for Bubu Jolet and some of our investigators, and they all liked them.

Okay, I think that's all for this week!  I love you,

Sister Butler