Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 13, 2013, How to Maintain a Water Tank

Greetings family and friends,

We had a crazy week in Laura.  We went to two funerals, had some adventures with our water tank, and took a lot of ice cream breaks.

Some crazy marshallese kids.
One day they had four of them on the bike.
The one at the back in Elijah and he's 12.
We've been teaching him and his older brother.
Their mom is a member.

We have a water tank (I think they call them pontoons?) that catches rain water from the roof.  I thought that was our only water source, so I didn't really worry about it very much. Well, one the of the senior missionaries asked me if we've been filling up our tank once a week, and I thought he was joking at first.  Most of our water is rainwater, but we're also supposed to top it off with other water every week.  Sister Ieie failed to tell me that, and we never filled it up while she was here. There's basically a pipe that sticks out of the ground and the water is only turned on from town for a few hours on Monday.  We have a key for the spigot and a hose (I was wondering what the house in our house was for) to fill up the tank.  Well, last Monday we hooked up the hose and turned on the water to fill up the tank and we heard the pump turn on, meaning we were taking water from our tank and then putting it back in again (basically wasting electricity). A neighbor came over and told us we needed to unplug our water pump, so we unlocked a box on the outside of the house where the electricity is to unplug the pump.  We weren't sure what we were doing, and we didn't feel comfortable unlocking it because these are the neighbors that used to use our electricity, so now we have a lock on the box.  We turned off the electricity, but the water from Laura wasn't turned on and she said we needed to call the Laura water people to get it turned on.  Anyway, we ended up giving the key for the water her because we had to go into town.  Later that night when we got back we walked over to our neighbor's house, to find that the woman we gave the key to doesn't live there.  So then we had to go find her in Laura so we could turn our water pump back on so we could have water again in our house.  She said the water had eventually turned on and that she filled up our tank for us.  The Marshallese people are so friendly.  We also met a less active man in the process, so that was good.  He said he just got back from Hawaii a few months ago and that he got baptized while he was at BYU-H. We forgot to check how much water is in the tank today, but it rained a lot this weekend so I think we'll be fine.

The ceiling in the bathroom and laundry room is dripping when it rains...another thing we need to get fixed.  We got our AC fixed this week!  It's been dripping about 2 buckets of water everyday, so it's nice to not have to dump out the bucket everyday.

We have zone meeting once a month.  We normally have it in Ajeltake, but we had it in Long Island this week.  My zone consists of the Laura/Arrak/Ajeltake district and the Long Island district. We had a potluck lunch afterward, which was really fun. We either have district or zone meeting every Wednesday, and we always end up hanging out for a while and so we get out to work late those days. It's a nice break though. And we always stop for ice cream on Wednesdays.

We went to two funerals this week.  Well, more like parts of two funerals.  Funerals here last about a week and a half.  The first part involves making the concrete box.  They spread white rocks all around where they're going to make the box and then a couple of guys mix up concrete and make a concrete box with cinderblocks and cement.  It usually takes them 3 days or so to make it.  They then paint it white.  Then for about a week or so different churches schedule time to come and have their own services.  The family's house is open and the casket is just inside in the main room, and people go inside, have their service, and then sit outside on the grass eating gross soup and koolaid.  Once all of the churches have come through, they have the kallib.  I was confused because "jikin kallib" means garden, and "jikin" means place, so I thought that "kallib" meant growth or plants or something like that.  I learned that kallib means "to bury", and so cemeteries and gardens are both jikin kallib because you bury seeds, people, etc.  After the kallib there's a "kajemlokin" which means to close, and it's a big party where everyone sits around and eats food provided by the family.  The family also gives out bags of laundry soap.  I'm not sure why, but they do that at every funeral.  I don't know how they have the money to make all the food and to give out that much laundry soap

Nanny and her two children at the funeral
On Tuesday we went to a kajemlokin for a woman in Laura and on Saturday we went to a kallib for a woman in Arrak.  The kajemlokin was weird because we didn't really know anyone and people were looking at us like we didn't belong there.  Nanny (member) and Baren (soon to be investigator) invited us, and it was Baren's mom that passed away.  When we got there, we asked people where Nanny was and they asked us "Who is Nanny?"  Clearly they were there just to get food, since Nanny's family were the ones that were hosting the whole thing.  Eventually we found Nanny and she was really nice and made us get in line to get food.  We then took pictures of Nanny and her sons by the grave and we're going to print them out in town today for her.  When we were about to leave everyone got really quiet and then a man started yelling and walked up to the party.  A woman ran up to him and started sobbing and hanging on him, and everyone just stood there watching.  We thought maybe someone had died.  And then a car about 10 ft from us backed up and hit a little kid (the kid was fine, don't worry) and then dad of the little kid picked up the kid and started hitting the car and yelling all the driver.  It was a really intense 2 minutes.  At this point sister Samuel leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Um, let's just sneak out now."  It was pretty funny and crazy.

The kallib in Arrak was for Bubu Kaminaga, a really strong member that had joined the church in 1982.  All six of the Laura and Arrak missionaries were invited (the ones that attend the Laura ward) and we got there before most of the ward members so we sat around outside for a while.  We then went into the house with the members, and we were the last ones to get inside, so all the missionaries were sitting by the open casket (which was pretty uncomfortable).  All the ward members were crying.  Once ward was the last church to come by, so after we were done the bishopric and elders picked up the coffin and walked outside to the grave site.  We stood there for a long time holding all of the elders' bags.  At this point it was dark and family members of the woman were lying, sobbing on the coffin.  The little kids were crazy!  Some of them crawled inside the concrete box!  Finally they closed up the coffin, knocked off the handles and other decorations from the outside of the coffin (maybe they reuse them?  Or maybe it didn't fit in the concrete box??) and they shoved it in.  Concrete was mixed up, and someone grabbed some cinderblocks and they sealed up the box. We were there for about 3 and a half hours total.  We only had about an hour and a half left before we needed to be home, so we all decided to drive to Ajeltake to get ice cream and play cards. When we were there the zone leaders drove past (we were way out of our area) but they're really chill so they stopped and hung out with us for a while, which was fun.  I'll try to send some photos from the funeral.

Other news: I made a big pot of lentil soup this week!  It was nice to eat something other than rice.  Sister Crane is one of the new Sister Training Leaders ("Sister APs" as we call them) and so we'll be able to go on exchanges together sometime!  We're excited for that.  Sister Crane is good friends with one of my friends from Philly, so we're pretty close.  The roosters on this island are so blasted loud.  They always wake me up in the morning.

The electricity situation is always a little sketchy here.  All the time I'll see a meter box (or whatever it's called) and power cords going into a house, but then there's an extension cord going off to another house.  In some places the extension cords go from one house to another one across the street, so the cord is just always there in the street.  A lot of times there are interior electrical boxes on the outsides of houses. There are single light bulbs hanging from wires stretched from a tree to a house. Basically if they're able to get the electricity to work and produce light, it works for them. Some of it is just a little scary.  Every month one of the senior missionaries calls and gives us a number to punch into our electricity box in our house.  It adds on a few hundred kilowatt hours and so we can track how much electricity we're using throughout the month.  One of our neighbors wanted to use our electricity one day, so they gave us a power card with 10 dollars worth of electricity on it.  When we punched it in I think it gave us about 25-30 kilo watt hours.  I'm not sure how much that is.

Hopefully all of my stories made sense.  I feel like I had a hard time explaining them.  That's a pretty crazy story about your foot, Kate.  I hope it gets better soon. And thanks for sending me packages! Hopefully next week I'll get them.  I'm doing well, other than a nasty cold that I got a few weeks ago. I thought it went away but now it's in my chest so I'm going to talk to Sister Bulkley about it today. Sister Samuel was sick this week, so we didn't get quite as much work done as we wanted to. It was a good week though.  We got a less active member and her three kids to come to church with us on Sunday.

I've been in Laura for 2 months now!  Holy cow. I'll most likely be transferred somewhere in November when the new batch of missionaries come. Sister Samuel will probably be training again in Laura.

 A view of the iar from near Arrak

I love and miss you all.  Thanks for your emails and letters,
Sister Ellen Butler

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