Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 8, 2014, Friday was Gospel Day


Chamings and I had a good week.  We had a couple get married on Saturday in the church building. It was really simple and short, but they seemed to enjoy it.  We even got Enos to kiss Bira on the cheek afterward.  So we counted that as a success. 

Friday was Gospel day, which celebrates the day the first christian missionaries came to the marshall islands in 1857 (I think that's the year).  After church yesterday most people went off to other churches because more exciting things (like singing and dancing) were happening there.  Ha.  Not such a good day for trying to get people to come to church.

They finally filled most of the potholes in the Ajeltake road this week.  Normally they just fill them with sand, which does nothing, but this time they used cement.  They're learning!

We're heading out to Laura for P day today and we're going to drive a big van with all the sisters.  

I'm sorry, I think this is going to be a really short email this week.  I hope the pictures make up for it.

We have a big iakwe-iakwe in Ajeltake on Friday for the Robisons that are leaving too.  We're going to learn how to make marshallese woven plates (for food). 

Love you all.  Tootles, 

Sister Butler

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014, I'll see most of you soon!


We've had a busy week.  We had two boys, Ben and Ken, get baptized on Saturday.  Their mom got baptized back in August and their dad has been a member for a long time.  They're funny kids.  When Ben gets nervous he scratches his head and so when he had to stand up and bear his testimony he had his hand on his head the whole time.  Neitaak and Johnny sat behind me and they were cracking up laughing.  

We had a branch fireside last night that we missionaries put together.  We were basically getting everything ready for it this last week.  The RS stake president came and spoke about studying the scriptures and that was really good.  She's a good speaker.  One of the counselors in the stake presidency came and spoke about family home evening.  I think that's the talk that everyone really listened to.  It was really good.  All of the young women sang a musical number that we had taught them and then we missionaries also sang.  Afterward everyone hung out outside and socialized and we ate cake and koolaid.  Luckily there was enough cake for everyone.  We got a whole lot of people to come which was good. 

On Wednesday night I had dinner at the mission home with the Weirs and some of the other missionaries that are going home in december.  Only some were there because about half are off island.  The idea of being "off island" is so funny.  We had originally asked the other counselor in the stake presidency to speak at the fireside, but Saturday night we found out he was off island so we called the other and asked him to speak.  Being off island isn't just like being in another state...you can't just go back whenever you want.  You've got to wait for a boat or airplane.  Sometimes people go to other islands and say they'll be back in a few weeks and it turns into a few months. Anyway, dinner at the Weir's house was nice.  We ate really yummy homemade pizza and we watched a conference talk by Elder Holland and sat and talked.  And we ate banana splits. 

It's Sister Chaming's birthday so we might go get lunch somewhere.  Our car is getting worked on (it says it's empty even when we have a full tank of gas) so we get to drive a big 12 person van today.  That should be fun.

Okay, that's it for this week.  I'll see most of you soon!

Sister Ellen Butler

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014, Maybe We'll Eat Shark for Thanksgiving

Greetings from Ajeltake, 

We had a good week.  We had Zone Conference on Wednesday, and that was really good.  An area 70 (that's in the 8th quorum of the 70?) from Tonga/New Zealand came and spoke a little.  It threw me off a little though because he really spoke like a New Zealander...which seems weird for an area 70.  It wasn't as good as when Elder Hamula came though.  The APs asked me and Sister Chamings to do a musical number right before it started so we sang something we had sung for a baptism.  

On Thursday we did an exchange with the Long Island sisters.  Exchanges are really pointless.  I went to Long Island for the day and it was fine.  I'm glad I work in Ajeltake.  Long Island just seems kind of boring to me.  

We had an investigator named Joann get baptized on Saturday.  Her husband is less active and he didn't end up coming to the baptism, even though he said he would.  She was kind of upset about that and we were annoyed too.  But we did have an investigator come to church on Sunday that's never come before.  Normally her husband says she can't come to church, but yesterday she got all ready and we went and picked her and her two kids up for church.  

Sister Weir came out to Ajeltake and worked with us on Friday, which was fun.  She and President Weir are in Ebeye for the weekend and they get back tomorrow, and then sometime this week I get to eat my final dinner at the mission home before I go home.  After this week they'll be in Kiribati until after I leave.  

I don't think we're doing anything for Thanksgiving, but that's okay.  I'm trying to see if someone will catch us a shark or a turtle so I can eat some of that before I leave.  Maybe we'll eat shark for Thanksgiving. 

Our car says it's empty even though it's full of gas.  We were wondering why we ran out of gas so quickly this week.  We went to fill it up and after they put a little bit they said it was full.  

We're trying to teach the YW a hymn for the fireside this Sunday.  We just put them into two groups and taught them soprano and alto.  Especially since they have no idea how to read music. We tried singing it for them and then had them try to copy us, which worked out well.

I think that's all from this week.  Stay warm and toasty!

Sister Butler

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014, A Bubu taught Us How to Make Marshallese Earrings


Before coming to email today Sister Chamings and I went to Lomajurok and a bubu there taught us how to make Marshallese earrings.  We now know how to make a few different types, so I'm going to try to see if i can get some kimej (the long, thin, dried coconut leaves) so I can bring them back and dye them and make earrings with them.

We missionaries in Ajeltake (Me, Chamings, and the ZLs) are planning a branch fireside for the end of this month.  We invited some people from the stake that know how to speak well to come and speak at it.  It took forever to contact them because the phone numbers didn't work, and no one has addresses.  Hopefully it'll be good. 

We had an investigator named Lusiana get baptized on Saturday.  She's in her late 40s.  Her daughter came to the baptism which was nice.  We also had a couple of women get interviewed on Saturday but neither of them showed up at church yesterday, so we'll see what happens with them.  

We watched a session of general conference in church yesterday.  The translation isn't bad, but the people that read and record it are most likely RMs that served in Oklahoma and never really learned how to speak Marshallese.  Their pronunciation was so bad.  But they had a Marshallese woman read for one of them and you could tell that everyone in the chapel was listening because they could actually understand what was being said.  I guess they translate the talks here in Majuro in the translation office (it's above the mission office) but then they record the talks in Utah, which is a bad idea. 

We have zone conference on Wednesday and an area 70 will be there.  I don't know who it is though.  
Everyday this week Sister Chamings and I have gotten up at 6:30 am (like good missionaries should...haha) and we've driven to the chapel to play two on two basketball with the elders.  I don't think I'm getting any better at basketball, but it's fun and it helps us wake up in the mornings.  
I leave Majuro in exactly one month from today!  I hope you are all staying warm.  Tootles, 

Sister Ellen Butler

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014, Marshallese Dresses Aren't Really Supposed to Be Atractive


This week has been a good one.  It's still nice and warm here, although I think we're in the rainy season again.  Rain is good because it fills up our pontoons and we don't have to worry about running out.  I've heard rain water is a bit slicker and slimier than other sorts of water.  I also think it tastes pretty bland.  

We had the primary program in the branch yesterday.  They sang primary songs in Marshallese and English.  The investigators that came to church all liked the program.  They want their kids to come so they can learn it too.

I found a Marshallese dress last week.  I can't decide if it's ugly or cute.  I think it looks like a halloween dress because it's black and orange (but sister Chamings says it doesn't look like Halloween, but then again she didn't know what Halloween really was) but I like it because it's a little more fitted and less of a pillowcase style, as most Marshallese dresses are.  I also had some blue fabric that I gave to a bubu (grandma) in the branch to make me a dress, and she gave it back to me after two days.  I wore it to church yesterday.  It's a bit loose, but that's the style I guess.  Marshallese dresses aren't really supposed to be attractive.  I guess the plus side is that you can eat a lot and no one will ever know.

We started studying with the woman who's house we cleaned two weeks ago.  She's never studied with missionaries before, which is kind of odd for here, and so it's fun answering her questions.  

What else?  This is the transfer of eating grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, but I think I've already said that.  

We're starting to practice beat!  The dances are very simple, but it always turns out to be a lot of fun.

We're starting to get tired of eating our big bag of tuna pieces.  We need some more ideas for how to cook it.  (Annie, Leanbu...think of ideas)


Sister Butler

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014, You and Sister Chamings Will Be Working Together Just Like Alma 17:23


This last week was pretty good.  I feel like one day I want to stay in the islands forever and then the next day I just want it to be Christmas and be home.  I guess that's how it's supposed to go the last 6 weeks.  

Halloween was fun.  After seminary we had a little party with the seminary kids and then we drove some of the YSAs up to Laura for a YSA party.  We did a bunch of group relay races and some of them were pretty funny.  In one of the games everyone had their own toothpick they had to hold with their teeth and then the first person in the line got a life saver candy and had to pass it to the next person using only the toothpick.  It was so funny to watch.  Especially in Marshallese culture where people are very shy and would never show physical affection in public.  Sister Chamings and I got the leftover apples from bobbing for apples, which was also a plus. 

It seemed like no one wanted to study this week, probably because there were a couple of funerals and those things take all week and the whole extended families are involved and since everyone's related, everyone is busy.  But we had a nice experience on Thursday.  We met a woman named Julita that agreed to study with us.  We went over to her house on Wednesday to see if she was available and when we got there she was sick and lying on the floor in the back room.  The house was a mess and we wanted to clean but we didn't really have anything to clean with.  We went back the next morning and cleaned her whole house for her.  Luckily we took Shimiko with us and she knew what things we could throw away and she helped a lot.  We were there for about 2 hours and the house was so clean when we left.  Some of the neighbor kids came over and they helped clean too. We're going to go back maybe tomorrow and see if she's better and wants to study.

I asked President Weir in an email last week if I could stay with Sister Chamings until the end of my mission and he replied with "You and Sister Chamings will be working together just like Alma 17:23"  haha.  The embarrassing thing is how long it took us to find a Book of Mormon in the senior couple's apartment we're in right now.  

We got some really great Book of Mormon story books with pictures in Marshallese for kids in families we're studying with.  We're going to try to get a lot more from the office today to give to people because we think it would help the adults to just begin to understand some of the stories from the book of mormon.  

One of our investigators told us that someone told her the Book of Mormon is bad because they refer to Noah as a king in it and not a prophet.  Sister Chamings and I looked at each other, laughed a little, and then explained that king Noah and the prophet Noah were very different people.  I never thought I'd hear that one.

I'm going to try to find myself a nice Marshallese dress today.  Wish me luck.  Most of them aren't that attractive.  


Sister Butler

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014,

Greetings from Ajeltake

Sister Chamings and I had such a good week.  Sister Chamings did get strep throat and we were inside for a couple of days, but somehow we still got a lot done.  On Saturday we had a baptism.  Our investigator named Hersey (think of the chocolate) got baptized.  She's 15 and her parents go to a protestant church and they weren't so happy about her getting baptized at first, but they've slowly warmed up to us.  On Thursday morning we went over to their house and did yard work with Hersey's mom.  We raked up breadfruit leaves and collected fallen coconuts.  Do you know that noni stuff that people drink that is supposed to make you really healthy?  Well, those trees are everywhere and the fruit falls off when it gets overripe and it smells disgusting.  The Marshallese call it "nin." Anyway, we raked up those too.  It was good to work with her and also get to talk to her some about the church.  She said that her brother is a member and he wants her to go to church.  Hersey's parents were going to come to the baptism but they didn't end up coming.  The baptism was really nice though and we actually only started 15 minutes late, which is unheard of here.  I think we won some brownie points from the branch president that wants things to actually start on time.

The craziest thing that happened this week is that a couple we've been teaching got married. Normally it takes a couple of months to get a couple married, and the date usually gets pushed back a few times.  Well, we talked to them on Monday evening about marriage and asked them to set a date before we met again.  We studied on Wednesday and they informed us that they would be getting married on Sunday.  We were so surprised.  We had heard from the second counselor in the branch presidency that there was going to be a wedding on Sunday, but we didn't know who....Danny and Mato live in Lomajurok, the place where a whole bunch of recent converts live.  Anyway, it was pretty funny because we figured out that almost everyone knew they would be getting married before we knew about it.  The wedding was in one of the member's houses in Lomajurok and we had flashlights hanging from the ceiling so we could have light (because no one has electricity there). After the wedding we ate pork and rice.  Danny had killed the pig earlier in the day.  It was dang good.  

Sister Chamings and I sang at the baptism and then the next day right before church the branch president asked us to sing again in sacrament meeting.  It went okay, I guess but we started a little low.  Luckily I can sing a little low, and I'm glad I was able to hit the notes and that they weren't too low.  

What else is new?  Oh, we tried some of our tuna we bought last week.  I just rubbed a little salt and curry powder on the fish and fried it in a little oil.  It was really pretty good.  We were surprised.  We think we might eat the rest of the fish that way.  We're pretty sure it was a 10 lb. bag of tuna.  for $5.  

Okay, I think that's about it.  Stay warm.

Sister Butler

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 20, 2014, Small Meat

I am finally feeling better and up and working again. The medicine seemed to help a lot and I'm happy to not be stuck in the house everyday.  It's so nice to go out working with Sister Chamings everyday.  Sister Chamings got her RMI driver's license and she's getting pretty good at driving on the right side of the street.  I love not having to drive all the time and she really enjoys driving, so it's a good mix.  I've discovered I really don't enjoy driving.  It's not hard but it's just not that fun.  I knew it all along.

Sister Chamings is great. She's really good at planning and since English is her first language we can plan and discuss things easily together.  We work smarter and don't overly exhaust ourselves.  She also is really good with making plenty of time for meals in our schedule, so we're happier and don't feel as rushed.  We've been cooking a lot more and we've had spaghetti and mashed potatoes and lentil soup (Sister Chaming's favorite....she requested it again this week) and tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and other yummy things this week.  Sister Chamings is really funny and her humor reminds me a bit of my friend Ingrid sometimes.  I've learned a lot more about Australia too.  I hope I work with her until the end of my mission.  I should be able to work with her until the end if I stay in Ajeltake, because I know she's going to be in Ajeltake for a long time.  I think I'll stay.  I hope so.

Everything is going well with our investigators.  We're mostly just trying to get people married right now. Most all of the couples are excited and happy to get married, they just need to feel some sort of urgency to actually do it.  So, we try to set marriage dates with them so they can do the necessary preparations.  There's a couple that's been trying to get married for a number of weeks now and one of them doesn't want food at the wedding and the other one does, and so I said to the one that doesn't want food at the wedding, "well, I know you know that food isn't important but if so-and-so wants food then you guys should probably make food...it's his wedding too." Hopefully they can make a decision and move forward.

We had Stake conference yesterday.  When we got there we wondered why there were so few people in the stake center and we then realized they had split the conference into two sessions because we could barely fit last time.  So we only had conference with the west side, so Laura, Ajeltake, and Long Island.  It was much nicer with fewer people...but it was still Stake conference.  So long.  It was nice to see people from Laura there.

We had a fun adventure in town today.  We had heard that there's a place where you can get a good sized bag of cut up tuna chunks for 5 dollars.  We kind of knew where the place was, but not exactly. We went into one building that was a fish company and luckily Sister Chamings knew the guy that worked at the front desk.  He was just getting off work and so he walked us over to the place....well, we ended up kind of near a warehouse by a fishing dock where I'm pretty sure no americans (or women) ever go to buy fish.  I think they wondered how we knew about the place.  They call the bags "small meat" and I don't think they really advertise it.  Anyway, luckily we knew Marshallese and so we weren't just dumb Americans/Australians and we walked away with a nice bag of "big eye" tuna. We're going to divide it up into smaller bags when we get home. But for now it's in a fridge, don't worry.

Sister Butler

October 13, 2014, Parasites and Chickens and Bears, Oh My

Holy P cow, I finally have a little time to email.  We were in the ER from noon until 8 pm. Shoot me now. Most of the time I just got an IV, which was great (I'm serious), to hydrate me. Dr. Ackley is great. He said that I shouldn't worry that I feel like I'm sick and that I'm going to get stuck on this island...he's a good doctor, he studied at "top medical schools in the US" and that the help I'll get is no different than if I was in the US. He's pretty sure I have an amoeba (well, lots of them I guess) because he says there are three things that cause diarrhea here: viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Anyway my symptoms all lead to the last ones. I also have some new pills he gave me that I'll be taking for the next 5 days.

The hospital was freezing and they didn't have any blankets but finally someone found me a sheet I could wrap up in. I took Sister Chamings with me (my new comp) and she kept me sane the whole time. She's got a great Australian accent (born and grew up in Adelaide and then moved to Cairns) and she sang me songs and told me stories, and we played games. At one point I was afraid they were going to kick us out for being loud...that would have been nice because we were so cold. The nurse came with us too. It's 9:20 pm and we're in Long Island at one of the senior couple's apartments.  We're going to either sleep here or go over to the sisters' apartment next door and sleep there. We still have to do our laundry and shopping since nothing got done today. Don't worry about me!  I'm feeling loads better. IVs are great things.

Love you.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 6, 2014, I Only Have 10 Weeks Left

Greetings from Ajeltake,

Transfers are this Wednesday and my new companion will be Sister Chamings. She's short, white, and from Australia. My first non-islander companion, which will be new. She's been out on the mission for about a year now. I'm excited to work with her. Changes are always good. Hopefully she drives so we can share that responsibility.

I only have 10 weeks left.  I think I'm getting ready to come back.  Maybe that's because we're hanging out with Sister Crane and Sister Tofa today and they leave on Wednesday.  Sister Samuel left yesterday. We went to the airport to say goodbye to her before church.

I've been so tired recently. I stayed home one day while Sister Notise and Shimiko worked and then I worked the next day, and then I stayed home the next day...I took a big nap on Saturday before the baptism and that helped a lot. I never really felt that bad, I just need to take a little time to rest and not work myself too hard.

Lunch on Friday: Canned tuna, rice, and coconut
On Saturday evening Seiko got baptized. It was a really nice evening. I always enjoy baptisms because as frustrating as the work can be at times (or as tired as I am of companions) the baptisms are always nice and we feel like we're actually doing something.

At the baptism
Yesterday we did a split with a couple of the YW and then we went down to Lomajurok to meet up with the others.  We found them down on the beach by the lagoon and we hung out there for a while.  It's always low tide at night so we hung out and played the ukulele and pretended to dance Marshallese dances and drank coconuts.  The moon was full but the clouds were partially covering it so everything kind of glowed.  The evenings here are the best.

Chilling on the beach
Thanks for the package, mom and dad.  The dried fruit and nuts have been great.  I also got the photos.  I'm going to make copies and keep those ones safe.

Okay, that's about it.  Love you all.  Tootles.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014, I'm Getting So White


I don't have much to say this week. Everything is going well. I've had a sore throat and neck and back this week, but I think I'm getting better. I think the sore neck and back is from driving the stupid car.

Driving is so overrated. Ugh. I don't like it very much. It's tiring. I'm getting so white too, since the trees block a lot of the sun in Ajeltake and we're not out walking as much. I want to get tan again. I'm going to see if Notise can get her driver's license this week so she can help with the driving. Maybe I'm also just getting sick of driving down the same road every single day. It is beautiful though.

My front yard in Ajeltake
Our investigator that was supposed to get married this last week still hasn't got married. We'll see when that happens.  She really wants to get baptized so she's just waiting on this.  We have a baptism this Saturday. A girl named Seiko is getting baptized. She's 17 and her older brother and younger sister are both members. They live in a little village called "Lomajurok" and last year when I worked in Ajeltake, there were only 3 young men there that were members. Now almost all of them are members. The second counselor in the branch presidency lives there and we're there every day to study with people. It's cool to see how much the area has changed since last year. A couple of the women there are making me earrings and a bag.  It's really close to the airport so whenever a plane flies over to land it's so incredibly loud because the plane comes down so low.

Sunset in Ajeltake
It rained a lot this week. Our pontoon was overflowing one night when it rained, so we went outside and took showers under the spout. It was so cold but nice. Whenever it rains a lot people will run and shampoo their hair so they can shower in the rain. It saves water and it's fun.

It looks like I'm leaving the RMI on Dec. 17th flying first to Hawaii, then Chicago (is there a Potbelly sandwich place in O'hare airport??), then to Hartford. I arrive on the 18th...although that's after two december 17ths...

We did some splits with some of the young women this week. I always leave Notise with one of the YW in Lomajurok because there are a lot of people for them to see there...and they can walk to the next town/village where there are a lot of people to study with there too. I then take the car, and we drive to Woja (which is near Laura) and work there. I usually tell Notise that we'll be back at a certain hour to pick them up, but we never really set up a place to meet. It's not that hard to find people if there's only one road. It did take us a little while to find them last night though. If they see the car they'll wave the cell phone so we see them and pull over to pick them up.  It's so dark at night because there aren't very many lights.

There are birds in those baskets!
I'm getting excited to come home. Everything is going well. Working with Sister Notise is going well. I think I get along well with the samoan sisters. Okay, that's it for this week.  Love you all. Tootles.

September 22, 2014, We Made Them Pizza--They Gave Us Lobster


I had a good week in Ajeltake.  We moved back into the sisters' old house, the one that Sandy and Banny rent to the church.  Sandy and all their kids got baptized in January (a week after I left for Ebeye) and then Banny (pronounced like "bonny") got baptized in March. Sandy is now the RS pres and Banny is in the branch presidency.  We're happy to be back in the house. It's so nice and big. I think it's about 6 times bigger than the tiny chapel house we were living in before.  We have a real kitchen now.  The only hard thing about living there is that we have to keep the mission rules (they can't come into our house) but we also have to respect manit (or culture) which is that what's theirs is ours, and vice versa.  We're pretty clear with them that they can't come into our house, but to make that okay we make them food, and then they give us food, and then we give them more food, etc. We made them a pizza and then they gave us a lobster, and then we gave them some cake and they gave us fish...

The wedding that was supposed to happen on Saturday got moved to this Wednesday.  We're excited for that.  We're also studying with their two kids, but I don't think they'll be ready to get baptized when the parents get baptized.

We'll see. Shimiko's been teaching us some Marshallese songs this week. I feel like I don't know any other than hymns (and I swear we sing the same 10 hymns over and over again).  The Marshallese hymn book only has about 40 hymns in it.  It can get really boring. We learned a goodbye song and a song about moms.

Seminary is going well but it's annoying because it takes up good proselyting time.  So many people want to study in the early evening and then we can't study when it gets too late because only some people have electricity so it's dark at night. I don't know if anything else is new.

Sister Notise is good. She's pretty quiet. I always want to discuss things and make plans together for the day but I think her favorite phrase is "am bebe" which means "your choice" which gets really annoying. Some days she talks more though.

I filled out my travel departure form today since I go home in about 90 days.  I also had a dream this last week that Pres. Weir sent me to Mili (one of the outer islands) to work with Shimiko for the last few months of my mission. Shimiko's from Mili and she said it's beautiful. There are orange and mango trees there.  Why don't we have those on Majuro?

 Okay, I love you all.  Tootles.

September 15, 2014, Thursday Night is "Rescue"


I'm going to write a short email today because I don't have much to say. We have a wedding planned this Saturday for a couple of our investigators.  That should be good.  We've got to make a couple of cakes, but they'll be simple.  They're getting married in their house so the whole thing should be really short.

Sister Notise and I switch off teaching seminary a few days a week.  I teach Tuesdays and Thursdays. Ajeltake Branch has two seminary classes because there are a lot of youth, and we take the 14 and 15 year-olds.  They're studying from D&C this year, and it's fun to prepare for the lessons.  The CES missionary couple that leads Seminary and Institute on the island only want us teaching in English. About half of the kids get it, and the other half struggle. Sometimes if they don't understand something, I'll explain it in Marshallese but we're not supposed to, which I think is silly. Reading Joseph Smith History with them was a pain because the English in it is not what they're used to.

The Ajeltake elders have a van that can fit 12 people, so the elders and sisters are basically the Ajeltake taxi service for seminary, institute, and church.  Normally missionaries aren't allowed to drive other people, unless it's a member going to a lesson with us, but we got permission to pick up people, because if we weren't there to drive people, no one would come to things at the church.

Every Thursday night we have branch activity called "rescue."  I guess they've started doing it in the islands in the Pacific, but I'm not sure where else.  Basically we meet up at the church and divide into groups and go out and visit the less-actives.  We see if they need anything and we ask why they haven't come to church, and we invite them to come on Sunday.  Usually people don't come because they've been offended by someone at church.  I saw a lot of less active members at church yesterday, which was good.

Normally transfers happen every 6 weeks, but they decided to have a "mini-transfer" in the middle of this transfer to get ready for the next one?  If that even makes sense.  Luckily Notise and I are both staying in Ajeltake and we're also moving into the big, nice house this Wednesday.  Sister Moea'i and Seegmiller are both going off to Ebeye this week and they'll probably come back to Majuro right before we leave in December.  Four sisters go home in about 3 weeks (Sister Crane, Samuel, Tofa, and Anitoni) and we don't get any more sisters until November or December, so they're closing down areas for sisters.

I hope you all are staying warm and happy.


Sister Ellen Butler

September 8, 2014, My Driver's License Looks Fake--It's Got a Coconut Tree On It

Greetings from Ajeltake,

I finally got my Marshall Islands drivers license last week.  We drove into town on Tuesday with the zone leaders (the west side zone leaders are the elders that work in Ajeltake) and when we got to the police station, they told us to come back at 1 PM. So we went and got lunch while we waited. The whole process took way too long and I don't think we got back to Ajeltake until almost 4pm, so just in time to pick up kids for seminary. My drivers license looks pretty fake.  It's got a coconut tree on it.

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that we got a new branch presidency yesterday, because our old branch president moved to Delap (town).  Our new branch president is...Elder Robison, a ripelle (American) that's one of the senior missionaries.  He and Sister Robison were assigned to work in the Ajeltake branch.  We were all surprised and at first I wasn't sure how the Marshallese people would react to having a white guy as their branch president, but now I think it'll actually be good.  Ajeltake is still a branch, and it's the only branch on the island, so we're trying to make it into a ward.  Elder Robison is going to help and teach the leaders.  His two counselors both got baptized this year and they don't really know what they're doing yet.  So I think it's going to be good.  The Robisons are only here until December, so he'll be the branch president for just a short time.  I think the elders and sisters will be able to work more closely with him, since he knows what to do as a branch president.

I emailed president weir today and asked if I can stay in Ajeltake for the rest of my mission. Hopefully he says yes! We ate some good food this week.  mostly rice and fish, but that's always good.  Johnty, Neitaak's husband, is really good at fishing so we've requested to eat turtle and shark in the next few weeks.  And dog, but you don't need to go fishing for that.  I'm planning on making some pumpkin bread and banana bread this week, if I can get a pumpkin and a bunch of bananas.  I like working on the green side of the island.  

We got permission to switch houses with the elders again (it's a long story) but we're not sure what we want to do.  The other house is really big and nice, and has a super nice kitchen.  But the little house has hot water.  Hot showers have been really nice.

Driving down the Ajeltake road is fun.  You have to dodge coconuts, potholes, and dogs.  Some of the dogs are so stupid and love to chase cars. They crouch down and right when you drive past they start running and barking at the tires.  I'm so worried I'm going to hit one.  They're so stupid.  I haven't had too much of a problem with the pigs. They stay to the sides of the streets.  The chickens are pretty speedy and careful to get off the road. I've definitely run over some crabs and a mouse or two.  

We're studying with a woman named Charlene, and the elders are studying with her husband.  They have plans to get married within the next two weeks and then get baptized.  We weren't sure if he'd be ready to get baptized when she would, because we knew he smoked, but the elders told us that Charlene gave him a pamphlet about the Word of Wisdom and he read it and kajju (straightaway) threw away smoking.  Pretty cool.  We're excited to have them get baptized on the same day.  It's pretty normal to have the elders study with the men, and the sisters with the women, but I've also studied with men.  Men that actually want to study are always very respectful and we usually make fun of each other and they always make us yummy food.  

We see the elders a lot in Ajeltake, since there's only one road.  It's nice that we have a shared area. It's normal to drive past them as we're going to different lessons, or to have them drive behind us at night with their brights on just to annoy us.  They made fun of me a lot when I was driving pretty slowly at first, but now we can keep up with them.  I can now also officially pass other cars, although it's not my favorite thing to do.  

Okay, I think that's it. Love you all. Tootles,

Sister Butler

September 1, 2014, Happy to Be Back in Ajeltake


Ajeltake is so beautiful. I'm so happy to be back. It's about 11 miles of coconut, banana, breadfruit, and pandanus trees.

The elders and the sisters switched houses a few weeks ago because there was some problem, so we're living in the tiny chapel house. Meaning a tiny house that's right by the Ajeltake chapel. It's one room, and then a bathroom. We have a bunk bed, fridge, and a tiny kitchen. But it's really not that bad. It's cosy. I do my studies on my bed and Sister Notise sits at a desk right by the bed and that's where we have to sit. We actually have hot water, which is crazy.

We had zone conference last wednesday before our transfer and that was good.  Right after we switched our luggage around from car to car and we drove off to Ajeltake.  Driving is going better. The road in Ajeltake is fun to drive.  you have to maneuver around coconuts and there are lots of potholes and bumps.  You also have to be careful for dogs. There are a few road bumps near the schools.  I think I'm starting to get the hang of it though. The hardest part is remembering where everyone lives.  It just looks like there are trees everywhere and their houses are back in a little ways. I also miss the turnoffs and have to stop and back up, but it's okay because there are very few cars on the road. 

My new companion is Sister Notise. She's from Samoa and she went to school with Sister Tafili. She's good. She works hard but has fun too, which is a nice combination.  She has 10 more months on the mission and her Marshallese is really good.  It's really nice going from a companion where I had to teach 95% of the lessons to teaching very little.  I actually wish she would let me speak more! But it's good.  Maybe I'm just the driver.  We get along well though. The first few days with a new companion are always awkward because you don't know how they do things, but it gets better.  I'm tired of being the boss so I'm trying to make her make a lot of the decisions. It's good.

The beaches are nice in Ajeltake.  We went wading out in the lagoon the other day and the water was so hot.  It was almost burning my feet.  There's a really nice view of the other islands in the atoll from Ajeltake.  It's really paradise here.  Hopefully this is where I'll finish my mission. It's nice to see that the branch has grown.  It's nice I already know most of the people. Hopefully it'll become a ward while I'm here.

There's a YSA in Ajeltake that just got her call to serve in the West Indies, English speaking. Her name is Shimiko and I think I've maybe talked about her before when I worked in Ajeltake. She works with us when she's not busy.  She's great.  Her English is already amazing and she's excited to go.  She doesn't go until December though, so she'll keep working with us and maybe we'll leave around the same time for the US.  

Okay, I think that's it for this week.  I don't think I'll send any pictures this week.  I tried to upload some but it didn't work.  We'll see.

Tootles. Love you all.

 Sister Ellen Butler (or "Bubu" as all the missionaries call me)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 25, 2014, Sometimes I Forget I'm White


It's Monday and I transfer to Ajeltake on Wednesday after a zone conference in Long Island.  So that meansmtomorrow is really my last day in Jenrok.  I don't really want to leave Jenrok.  I always have mixed feelings about transfers.  I am excited to work in Ajeltake though.  And the good thing is that I'll have a car so on P days we'll be able to jambo (I don't know the english equivalent of this word...) wherever we want to on the island.  

The week started out rough because Sister Boutu messed up her foot on P day from kicking a rugby ball.  She could barely walk Monday night and we didn't work Tuesday.  The nurse said that she might be in pain for a couple of weeks, but luckily it turned out to only hurt a couple of days.  

Marshallese culture of the day:  If you have the hiccups you tear a small piece of paper, lick it, and stick it to your forehead.  I taught a couple of women my trick to get rid of hiccups and they were quite impressed.  I don't think the paper on the forehead thing works.

Sometimes I forget I'm white.  The white people on this island are so annoying and embarrassing sometimes.  I forget that I stick out a lot because I don't feel like I stick out anymore now that I know their language and culture....but then sometimes I see white people and I realize how ridiculous they look  and sound when they try to speak marshallese and then I think maybe the marshallese people see me that way at first.  But I think that goes away once we talk.

Driving on Friday with the Johnsons was great.  We drove to the airport and then I drove from there out to ajeltake and Laura.  They made me go down a bumpy dirt road in Ajeltake and then back up to the main road. I'm not very good at backing up, but I can do it if I need too.  Driving was fun.  I think I just needed some confidence.  I drove from Laura back to town, which was good that I got practice driving in town.  So on Wednesday I get a nice, new, fancy car.  The mission just got all new cars, so I'll be driving a really nice car.  I'll have to find out what type it is.

This evening we have a FHE at the mission home for all the sisters.  I think they're trying to build sister unity or something like that, so we're doing a talent show.  Everyone's going to sing or dance so boutu and I are planning on doing something different.  We'll see how it goes.  I'll let you know how it goes next week.  

The woman in the black (that's kind of white) in the picture with the RS sisters is Cindy.  She and her boyfriend both came to church yesterday.  We actually are going to go see her today because she works all the time.  
Love you all.  Tootles, 

Sister Ellen Butler

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 18, 2014, Sister Boutu Requested Pizza, Rice, Sashimi, and Cake


I'm starting my email really late today.  I don't know if I have a whole lot to say from this week.

Yesterday was Sister Boutu's birthday but we decided to celebrate on Saturday.  We got permission to have a few of the other sisters over for lunch.  Sister Boutu requested that we eat pizza, rice, sashimi, and cake, so that's what we ate.  It was good and nice but since all the kiribati sisters were over they spoke in kiribati the whole time and Sister Moea'i and I don't understand them.  

I now know enough Marshallese that most of the words I'm learning now are kind of silly words like: "to remove scales from fish," "sleeptalking," "afraid of ghosts" and "puddles."  

The work is going really well in Jenrok.  We had ten investigators come to church yesterday, which is crazy.  It feels like Ebeye sometimes.  I'm excited to go to Ajeltake though.  The work is good here but I still don't like it as much as Ajeltake.  It just has a different feel to it. I guess it's because I don't like the ward as much, and that makes a big difference.  

We have a plan to drive out to Laura with one of the senior couples this Friday so I can practice driving.  I'm glad I get to practice before I go to Ajeltake...I don't really want to just practice when I get there.  I need to get a license but supposedly I only have to take a written test for it.

We have a FHE planned tonight with the kiribati family, and we're inviting a couple investigators to it.  We're going to make pizza for it.  I think I've made too many pizzas in the last week.  But it's okay because everyone feeds us fish and they occasionally request that we make a pizza or cookies...things that you need an oven for. Everyone is jealous we have an oven.

Sorry my email is short this week.  Love you all.  Tootles, 

Sister Ellen Butler

August 11, 2014, I Have to Learn How to Drive


I had a pretty good week.  Sister Boutu gets sick a lot and so the week was kind of slow.  It also seemed like all of our appointments fell through, but that happens.  I realized I've had over a year of perpetual summer now.  I'm so tired of the heat.  The weirdest part is that one can't tell the passage of time very easily.  It's just always summer. 

Our investigator that's Seventh-day Adventist is still a struggle.  He keeps asking the same questions about eating pig and fish with no scales and going to church on Saturdays and it's just exhausting at this point.  We've answered his questions and now are trying to focus on other things, knowing that he's going to get over these things. But he still keeps bringing them up as if we're going to have a new answer one day.  I wish I could just give him over to the elders!  But we don't have any elders in our ward. 

Transfers are happening at the end of the month and supposedly I'm going back to Ajeltake.  Meaning, I have to learn how to drive.  I think I should be able to do it because there's just one road and the cars are automatic (not that I know how to do that).  Supposedly it's really easy to get a driver's license here.  I need to find someone to teach me.  I'm excited to go back to Ajeltake, but not to drive.  Hopefully it'll be my last area.  I think I'd be okay with "dying" in Ajeltake.  I've missed the west side of the island.  It's so beautiful and I'd get good food too.

All the pandanas fruit is starting to get ripe!  Mmm.  I'm going to see if I can bring some back in my suitcase. Would the TSA people confiscate fruit coming from another country?  We've eaten (except there's a verb just for eating bub) a lot of it this week.  All of it came from the other side of the atoll though.  This side looks a little more like ebeye. That's a good thing about going back to Ajeltake...I'll have lots of bananas and bub and papaya. 

I had some really good fish this week.  It's called rainbow runner.  It's really good raw and fried.  My least favorite fish is canned mackerel.  It's cheap though!  I've heard that you don't want to eat red snapper raw...you can get really sick from it.  

I keep thinking of stories from Lae that I haven't shared yet.  The whole way there, the men sat at the back of the boat and fished for big fish.  If you're trying to catch a tuna you need a really big fish hook.  They let out long fishing cords/lines behind the boat.  They didn't catch anything on the way to Lae, but on the way back from Lae one of the the men caught a big yellowfin tuna.  When they noticed they had caught it they let the driver know so he slowed down the boat and then they pulled it in.  Then they had to finish killing the poor beast, and let's just say it's not very fun to sit on a boat with a big tuna flapping around.  A few minutes later, another guy caught a big mahi mahi.  holy cow, those are pretty fish.  They're really green and have funny shaped heads.  they cut it up and started eating the sashimi.  I really wanted to try some but I was feeling sea sick at that point, and raw fish didn't sound that good. 

Also, flying fish are real and can really fly a long way.  We saw a lot of them when we got close to Lae.  We also saw a dolphin and some other big fish jump out of the water when we were close to entering the lagoon.  It's really good luck to see dolphins...it means they're welcoming the boat into the lagoon.  We were also supposed to throw some food into the water so we'd be protected from the demons, but I don't know if we did. 

Ierutia gave me a tibuta this week, which is a kiribati shirt.  It's so comfortable.  It's really loose so you can eat and eat and it won't show.

Okay, I hope you're all having a good week.  Tootles, 

August 4, 2014, For Skewers We Use the Ribs of Coconut Leaves


Holy P cow.  It's already August.  I think I'm leaving the islands on December 17th.  That's the plan as of right now.  I gain a day coming back so I'll either arrive on the 17th or the 18th.  Not sure.  It depends how long I'm stuck in Hawaii and a million other places along the way.  

Sister Boutu and I had a really great week.  We found more people to study with and most of them are progressing.  Most of them are women who's husbands/boyfriends are less active (either because they haven't gotten married yet or they smoke and drink and chew betelnut-- disgusting stuff).  The women are all really interested and are helping to bring their boyfriends back to the church.  We had a lot of people come to church yesterday, which was really great.  Granted, most of them left after Sacrament Meeting but it's hard to get most of the members to stay for more than that too. 

In the evening we had a Relief Society devotional/fireside.  It was good but way too long.  We had been at the church all day (because we have church at 1 and then we had to prep for the fireside), and so we were starving by evening.  Luckily Lerutia brought us a big bowl of chicken and rice, along with the donuts and soup as refreshments.  They always make donuts and soup or donuts and gravy for refreshments.  The soup is mostly rice, fish, a few carrots and celery, and coconut milk.  it's pretty good, except that there are always a lot of fish bones in it.  When I was in Lae someone made a really yummy corned beef gravy to eat with donuts.  Mmm, so good.  And so full of grease.  

I got the package last Monday.  Thanks!  The chocolate survived, and so did the stuff for making S'mores. Thank you so much.  We made the S'mores at the Kiribati family's house on Thursday night.  We waited until the tide went out and then we made a little fire on the beach using coconut husks and shells.  For skewers we used the ribs of individual coconut leaves.  The smores were yummy.  

I think I told you about the man we're studying with that goes to SDA.  This week we started studying with his wife.  We'll see how things go with them. 
What else...there are so many drunks in Jenrok.  A lot of them supposedly make a drink with water, sugar, and yeast and drink that to get drunk because it's cheaper than alcohol.  All of them want to study with us, or talk to Sister Boutu because she's hot stuff.  All of them call her "likatu in kiribati" meaning "pretty girl of kiribati." There are also a lot of Kiribati in Uliga and Jenrok.  Boutu finds new cousins and aunts all the time that she never even knew existed.  Everyone knows everyone in Micronesia.  

Have you guys seen the "my family" book that the church recently made?  It's to help people fill out a 4 generation pedigree chart.  Family history is near impossible here because there are no records.  But most everyone lives with extended families, so at least 3 generations live together.  We're trying to do FHEs with members and to help them fill out the book.  They should at least be able to get to their grandparents names, and if they live with their parents or grandparents they should be able to go back farther too.  When you meet a Marshallese person you always ask them what islands they're from.  Usually they list off 4 outer islands where each of their grandparents are from.  It's really important to them which island their from.  And there are jokes about each one.  If you're from Jaluit, you talk way too much...etc


Sister Ellen Butler

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 28, 2014, I'm Going To Miss These Sorts of Evenings


This last week was pretty eventful.  The best part is that we were able to move into the elders' old apartment.  After the first five minutes of being there I thought it was a bad idea because of how dirty it was.  We ended up throwing away boxes and bags of stuff elders had left in the apartment.  It was gross.  But now that it's all nice and clean, it really is a much nicer apartment.  I think the highlight is the shower head.  I think I missed real showers.  And the water is warm.  It's really nice.
Okay, that's not completely true.  The best part was being able to go on a exchange with Sister Tafili.  It was the best day I've had since being back on Majuro.  We had so much fun and got a lot of good work done too.  It was great teaching lessons with her...it was just like the good, old days in Ebeye.  She's always so happy and optimistic about the work, and she knows Marshallese and it was just really refreshing.  It doesn't matter how hot it is outside when we work together.  She was with me when we moved into the new apartment, and she helped me clean the place out and throw away all the stuff. 
I finally feel like we have some good people to teach.  One is a woman named Cindy and she genuinely wants to study and know if the church is true.  She's really good at english and she asks questions.  You know you've found someone that wants to study when before you can ask to set up a time to come back, they suggest times for the next two lessons.  She's great.  We're also studying with a man that the elders studied with before.  He's SDA and has a lot of questions, especially about unclean and clean foods.  The elders taught him all the lessons so now we're just trying to tie up loose ends, answer his questions, and get him to come to church.
I found a store that a Chinese woman owns that sells buns with red bean paste in them.  Mmm.  It's become my afternoon snack when we're out. 
I think working with Sister Tafili helped me be less stressed.  It's just hard having a companion that doesn't understand English very well and doesn't really talk much.
The power always seems to be off every Thursday on this island.  Normally it's back on by 5 pm, but they announced on the radio that it wouldn't be back on until Friday.  We ate our dinner, sashimi and rice (cooked on a tiny propane stove), by candle light at the Kiribati family's house.  We stuffed ourselves with raw fish and then lay down and listened to the rain hit the metal roof.  I'm going to miss these sorts of evenings.
Another evening when we stopped at the Reiher's house (the kiribati family...they've got german blood in them, hence the last name) I sat and watched a rat run into the bathroom.  Sister Boutu came by to use the bathroom and I informed her that it was currently occupied but that in a few minutes he'd probably be done using the bathroom.  She didn't seem to mind, and she was happy to use the bathroom with no light. 
I love you all.  Tootles,
Sister Ellen

July 21, 2014, There Are No Longer Elders in Jenrok

Greetings from a 30-mile-long strip of land in the north pacific,
Brrrsky, I am cold.  We got caught in the rain on the way to NTA (national telecommunications authority) and so we stopped at the "kiribati family's" house to dry off.  The rain started coming down in buckets so we changed into guam dresses and helped keep the water out of their house.  I guess it's more like an entry way to their house..it's hard to explain.  They only have the nice, clean part of the roof connected to the pontoon to get water, but another part of the drain spout was open so we put a bucket under to collect the water, and dumped it about every 10 seconds after it got full.  We also swept the water away and put sand to keep the water from coming in.  And then we did laundry in the rain, so we were soaking wet.  It was so fun to play in the rain.  Then we ate lunch and when the rain stopped we walked over to NTA in rita.  NTA is supposed to open at 1 pm but the workers hadn't yet arrived at 1:45 so we decided to just come to the NTA in Delap.  It's more expensive (I don't know why they would have different rates) but at least we have a time to email today.  We're not allowed to email at CMI (College of the Marshall Islands) anymore because the elders were being loud and obnoxious in the library.  Imagine that.
Supposedly the "microsports" are happening in Pohnpei right now.  It's like the Olympics for Micronesia....I have no idea what events they compete in or how good anyone is at sports.  As far as I've seen, no one here really knows how to play sports.  The guys seem to be pretty good at basketball, but that's probably because that's all they do everyday. 
Some exciting things are happening tomorrow:  First off, we get to move into the elders' old apartment because there are no longer elders in Jenrok.  Their apartment is supposedly way nicer than ours.  Their water isn't ever turned off and their bathroom is bigger than a closet.  Also, Sister Tafili came back from Ebeye last week and we're doing an exchange tomorrow in Jenrok!  I'm so excited to work with her again, even if it's only for one day.  I've been kind of stressed recently while working with Sister Boutu.  I basically have to do everything because she's so new and doesn't know marshallese very well yet.  She really seems to understand the grammar, but she doesn't want to speak much.  It's been hard because I can't just give her the things I don't know how to do or explain.  To help with this we just take members to all the lessons...but then sometimes I don't understand anything either and we just sit there and the member teaches the whole lesson.  It's kind of sad because I've been out a year, but I think it's more than people could speak up or more clearly and then I'd understand.  Anyway, I'm really excited to work with Tafili for a day and to get some help from her in my area.
This last week the elders introduced us to all of their investigators they're giving us, so we worked with them a lot.  It was good but a bit overwhelming.  We had a "kajemlok" or a going away dinner/ party with the kiribati family for the elders on friday night.  We had fried fish and chicken, sashimi, and rice, and then the elders made a pizza and we made a double recipe pumpkin pie in a 9x13 dish.  It was an odd mixture of food, but really good.
It was really windy and rained on Sunday during church.  After church the Bishop's family went home to find part of their roof missing.  We went over and helped sweep water out of the house and place buckets to try to collect some water as the men worked on nailing a couple more sheets of "tin"...just that corrugated sheet metal everyone uses for roofs here.  It's always really loud in houses when it rains on the tin roof!  I guess we've swept a lot of water out of houses this week.
Supposedly a few of the elders went out to Laura this morning to try to run from Laura to Rita, or one end of the island to the other.  It's about 30 miles long, so I think they're crazy.  I kind of want to get a few people together and bike it one p day.  I think that sounds a bit more reasonable that running 30 miles. 

P day ends in just a few hours so I'm not sure how much longer I'll be online.  I'm excited to move tomorrow! 
I hope you're all doing well.  Tootles,

July 14, 2014, We Can Get a Big Bag of Tuna for 5 Bucks

We had a pretty good week.  It's been raining almost day and so it's been blasted humid.  It's nice when it's cloudy and windy though.  Yesterday was really nice outside.  I like working a whole lot better when we're not dripping with sweat. 
Sister Boutu was sick for a couple of days this week so I got to write letters, make smoothies, and update my journal because I got really behind while I was in Ebeye.  I'm now writing in the journal that you sent me for Christmas, Annie!  thanks. 
I've told you a bit about the Kiribati family we visit a lot.  Well, because one of them married an Indian guy we have the best dinners: dal, sashimi, and rice.  They made lentils a couple times last week and it's surprisingly good with sashimi.  We've also been eating a lot of tuna and rice this week.  We only get the fish from Kiribati people because they really know how to clean fish well.  Marshallese people for the most part aren't very careful with cleaning fish.  Sometimes they just leave all the stomach and innards and cook them whole.  It's gross.  We found we can get a big bag of tuna for about 5 bucks, so we're going to get one and freeze it and pull out fish when we need some.
Sister Boutu has been really good about reading the Book of Mormon in Marshallese.  I think I started it while I was in the MTC but stopped.  Well, I think I want to try to read it but most of the words I'll learn are old Marshallese words that no one uses anymore.  The most annoying thing is that the spelling isn't uniform.  "jerkakpeje" means "resurrection" and on one page I saw it spelled "jerkakbeje" and "jerkabiji."  It's fine because I knew what it was saying, but it sure is confusing when starting to learn Marshallese.  Also, you know when you're looking for a scripture and you know it's at the bottom of the page on the right hand side but you don't know where exactly it is?  The problem is now I know picture them where they are in the Marshallese Book of Mormon but I forget where they are in the English version.  Does that make sense?
One of our progressing investigators has been gone for a couple of weeks.  She was supposed to get interviewed and baptized so she was really close to being ready.  Well, she showed up at church yesterday out of the blue and asked when we could study this week!  So it looks like things are okay!  We're excited because she's really ready to get baptized.
We also found out this week that the elders in Jenrok are both getting transferred away and that they aren't going to send any elders to the area.  So it's going to be just sisters in Jenrok.  The elders told the bishop yesterday and everyone's wondering why we won't have elders in the ward, especially since other wards have two sets of elders. I think it's because jenrok is just a tiny area so it's fine for just one set of missionaries. We'll be getting the elders' investigators this week so we'll probably go with them to their lessons and get to know them to make the transition. It's good for us because we need more people to study with. 
We're getting lunch with all the sisters on the island today, which should be fun.  We've got FHE with the kiribati family tonight and one of our investigators is coming over with her two kids.  One of her kids is named Nipai (as in Nephi).  That's about it.  I didn't take any pictures this week because I kept forgetting to charge my camera.
Sister Ellen

July 7, 2014, All We Ate For a Few Days This Week Was Sashimi and Rice

Greetings from Jenrok,

It's been a pretty good week.  The work is fun and exciting when we have progressing investigators, but barely any of them are progressing right now so it's a little hard.  We have one investigator that we teach in English and she didn't show up to her lesson Thursday and so she didn't get interviewed Saturday, but I'm sure she's just busy.

Ebeye was just fun because it was so fast paced and we always had so many people to study with.  It's just slower here, but so much  faster than other places in the world.  We do a lot of teaching and not as much 'finding.'  But we need to do finding because our investigators don't really want to study.

I tried some frozen sand worms from Kiribati this week.  Sister Boutu got them from the Kiribati family in our ward.  They taste kind of like dried fish, which isn't really the best.  All we ate for a few days this week was sashimi and rice.  We can get a pretty big chunk of sashimi with a little salt, lime, and shoyu on it for 50 cents at a little shop.  I think I'm going to eat raw fish every day until I leave because I'm not going to be able to get nice, fresh fish.  I also had some good octopus this week.  It wasn't very chewy and it had a good flavor.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this week.  We have "combined P day" today meaning all the missionaries on the island come together to play sports/hang out.  It'll be nice to see the sisters from the other zone.  Sister Tafili is coming back from Ebeye this week and Sister Crane is flying out, so I'm excited to see her before she leaves.

I'm starting to work on getting Christmas gifts for everyone.  Marshallese make various handicrafts from pandanas and coconut leaves and they call them "amimono."  I'm slowly starting to collect some earrings and flowers as gifts.  I also want to try to get a couple of mats and bags. I'll email more if I think of anything else to tell from this week.  Sister Boutu and I will both be staying in Jenrok for this next transfer. 

Sister Ellen Butler

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014, I Ate Dog...It's Tasty Stuff


How is summer going?  Is it hot there in Utah?  It's hot here but it's not really much different than the rainy season.  It's just hot year round.  Thursday marks my one year on the mission, meaning I have less than 6 months to go.  It's crazy how fast the time has gone.  

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that I ate dog.  It was pretty good.  It tastes kind of like beef and lamb.  It's tasty stuff.  Our fridge hasn't been working, so I gave the leftovers to the elders and they were quite pleased.  I don't know who's dog it was, but someone gave it to the bishop's family and they cooked it. Mmmm.  

On Thursday we did an exchange with the sister training leaders. I stayed in Jenrok and worked with a sister from Tonga.  I usually dislike exchanges because the sister training leaders just watch your every move and see how you do everything...so you feel like you're being watched and judged for 24 hours, but it actually went well. It was nice to be able to teach with a companion instead of only me teaching, which is going on right now because I'm training.  The sister told me I'll most likely be staying in Jenrok and training the new Fijian sister that comes in July, but transfers always change so we'll see what happens.  The power was out all day for half the island, which always happens on Thursdays, and it was so hot that day.    

We have very few investigators right now so we're trying to spend a lot of time finding...which we both struggle with.  We've been visiting members in the ward and teaching them a short lesson about families and missionary work.  We then give them a few pass along cards with the Laie Hawaii temple on them to give to their friends. It's perfect that the cards have the Laie temple on them because so many people here have been to hawaii at one point and have either seen or heard about the temple (although most Marshallese stay in Honolulu on the other side of the island when they go).  We explained that it's hard to transition to talking about the gospel with their friends but that if they talk about their families it becomes a lot easier.  And all of those that have gone to the temple from here went to Hawaii, so it's really nice the cards have that picture on them.  Hopefully it'll encourage members to share more. 

We spend a few evenings a week at the Kiribati family's house.  They always make us food and we sing together and bwebwenato (talk, converse).  I always talk a lot with the woman that's married to the Indian/Fijian guy.  She's always direct and straightforward when she speaks and it's so nice to have real conversations with her.  She reminds me a lot of Annie.  She gets annoyed with how slow and badly we sing at church, and she gets annoyed when everyone wants her to be at every single church activity and event.  So many of the people are so fake when they speak and just put up with everything annoying, and she doesn't and it's really nice.  It's nice to hear someone complain, as weird as that sounds.  

I don't have anything exciting to tell.  Eating dog was definitely the highlight of the week.  


Sister Ellen Butler

June 23, 2014, They Said to Put Coconut Oil On It...Their Answer For Everything

It's been a good week.  I think I'm finally starting to feel more comfortable in Majuro and Jenrok.  This island is just too westernized.  I guess it does have its perks (like yogurt and...yep, that's about it).  I'm enjoying working with Sister Boutu because she never gets upset about anything and she's learning really quickly too.  I think she'll be leaving Jenrok in a couple of weeks (I guess it's already time for transfers again) and I don't know who I'll be working with.  I think there's only one new sister coming in July (from Fiji) and I've heard I might train her...but those things always change. 
We've taken taxis a few times this last week and it's weird.  It's only when we're in Uliga and we need to get to Rita to the church building.  It's a little bit of a walk, and it's so hot so sometimes a 75 cent taxi ride is worth it.  Sometimes it's 50 cents...I think it changes every day. 
We're teaching a girl that lives in Rita-- she wanted to study with sisters-- that's part Marshallese but she doesn't know any Marshallese because she grew up in the US.  It's weird teaching in English, but it's fun because she actually listens, understands, and responds to our questions.  Marshallese people are so shy and they barely talk in lessons, even when we really try to get them to open up.  It's always a struggle to see if they really understand.  It's so much easier to teach when the person responds.  It's also fun because we get an RM to help teach the lessons and we teach outside in the evenings...which is just the best time to be outside.  Think about having summer evenings for a year straight.  It's pretty nice.  I wish we only worked in the evenings anyway, because no one wants to study in the afternoon when it's hot.  Afternoon is the time for sleeping here.
Happy birthday to Leans and Eliot!  Are 4 year olds supposed to be more behaved than 3 year olds?  Hopefully.   
I think I'm starting to get a boil on my elbow because it's really warm and hurts.  I asked a Marshallese person what to do, and they said to put coconut oil on it...their answer for everything.  I talked to a senior missionary and she said to put a hot washcloth on it a few times a day to get the gunk to come to the surface and form a boil. One of the sisters has four huge boils right now...I don't want that to happen to me.  I've heard they hurt like the devil too.
I cleaned our kitchen this week.  I put the microwave in the other bedroom because we never use it and it's just a place for cockroaches to hide.  There are still bugs but it's a lot better.  In the process of cleaning I found a blender so I'm going to get some tasty bananas and yogurt and make some smoothies this week.
On Saturday two 16 yr old girls got baptized.  They mostly studied with the sisters before I came to Jenrok.  They're both part member families, which is good.  I don't like when missionaries teach teenagers that aren't part member families because the kids aren't going to have support if they get baptized.  The rita chapel has a baptismal font and that is just weird.  Not half as exciting as baptisms in the iar (lagoon).
I don't know what else there is to tell.  We're trying to find new investigators because we don't have that many that want to study, and some have gone to outer islands for the summer.  The members are nice, and the bishop has asked us that we have FHEs with all the members because very few do it here-- which is weird because in all the other wards/branches I've worked in they love doing FHE.  The bishop asked us to fellowship an old jimma (grandpa) and bubu (grandma) and we try to go over to their house often.  The bubu leads the music at church and it's so off beat it's funny.  The jimma is from Cosrae and he's lived on almost every island in the Pacific at some point.  He speaks Kiribati with Boutu sometimes and then he only prays in Cosrae...whatever language they speak there.  He's sick and doesn't come to church.  We asked him what we could do to help and he said he wants a big ship so he can go back to Cosrae. That's not really funny in English but it's funny in Marshallese somehow.  I think I'm going to come back and think everything's funny. Marshallese people will laugh at anything.

Okay, I think that's it for this week.  I hope you're all doing well.  Go swimming for me!  It's taking all the willpower I have to not go jump in the lagoon and go swimming.  It's so hot.
Sister Ellen Butler