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 stop...so 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 happenedand 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 dead...so 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. 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. 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 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 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.