Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 23, 2013, I am Now the Owner of a Hot Pink Mumu

Greetings from the Marshall Islands,

It's been a fun week preparing for Christmas.  It sure doesn't feel like Christmas here since it's warm and I'm on a tropical island surrounded by coconut trees and ocean, but with all the Christmas activities it seems a little more real than before.

Everyone is getting ready for Beat.  For the mormon folks, everyone meets at the Long Island building (the stake center) on Christmas.  I'm pretty sure it's an all day event.  Each ward performs with a dance and songs and such.  Everyone in the ward participates..the kids and adults.  And best of all, we wear matching outfits.  Yep.  Sister Kiki and I just got our dresses yesterday.  The stake president's wife (they live in Ajeltake) bought them for us for Christmas.  Um.  I am now the owner of a hot pink and yellow mumu (how do you spell that?).  yeah, it's pretty ugly.  it's got puffy sleeves and ugly buttons sewn on it.  So bad.  But it's an experience.  We've been having beat practice every night in Ajeltake the last two weeks, and earlier than that, but I wasn't here yet.  The two church vans would go pick up people every evening and drop them off at the church.  They'd set up the keyboard and microphones and one person plays and another sings.  Then a couple of guys have whistles and help teach the dance and lead us into the chapel.  we all line up outside the chapel (the chapel has folding chairs, so we can practice in there when the chairs are all put away) and they lead us and we form rows inside.  We sing a couple of songs in Marshallese, and then we dance around and form rows for the dance. We then dance in rows and that's about it.  We haven't practiced the walk out yet...not sure how to do that. Jao and Carlos, two recent converts, are teaching beat. Jao actually wrote the song and the lyrics. It's a song about fishing and there's a part in the dance where we're pulling nets in from the ocean.

All of the missionaries are also performing a dance. Last year the dance was from Kiribati, but this year the Samoan elders and sisters planned it. The sisters are all wearing matching lavalavas and flowers in our hair.  we perform a dance and then the elders do some crazy Samoan dance with a lot of yelling and jumping around. It's going to be pretty cool. We've got about 40 elders and 10 sisters on Majuro, so there's a lot of us. We're practicing again today. Some of the sisters bought fabric so we've got to hem our lavalavas today too. The fabric is blue, green, and white...a lot better than hot pink.

I've been wearing my chacos everyday now.  I love them.

Random info:  Gas is 5.60 a gallon, and diesel is 5.00.  So crazy.

I am now a pro at backing out cars. I think I've found my calling in life. Such a fun rule.

School was canceled on Friday because we were supposed to get big tidal waves. I don't think it happened. I think they were supposed to be bigger in the northern marshall islands.  We're okay here though. They said something about 20 ft waves. How the heck do you measure a wave?  Where does the bottom of it start?  And are we talking about low tide or high tide? Idk.

I went to my first keemem on Saturday night. A keemem is a big party for a kid's first birthday.  First birthdays are a big deal here. They basically make a whole lot of food (rice, bbq chicken, pork, cooked pumpkin in coconut "frosting," potato salad-- eggs, potatos, mayo, pwido, and koolaid) and everyone is invited. They set up a couple of tents and chairs, and decorate with balloons and coconut fronds. Someone plays the keyboard and someone sings. They started really late (got to love island time. Everything starts 3 hours late here) so we just got our food and left. We felt bad about just coming to get free food (well, that's kind of why we were there anyway) but it was time to go home. A member invited us, so we didn't feel quite as bad. He's an Alap, which is one step down from an Irooj (translates to lord. Basically a big cheese) so we didn't feel too out of place. Of course he treats us like we're big cheeses, and he got us chairs and sent other people to get our take out boxes of food. The people here really respect missionaries.

All of the missionaries did Christmas caroling at K&K last week. K&K is one of the grocery stores here. We stood in front of the store and sang for an hour. We have it again tonight. It's pretty funny because after 15 minutes most of the elders are sick of singing and they don't know all of the songs because they don't sing these hymns on all the islands.

The sister that got hurt is coming back from Fiji this week. I guess she's good enough to come back. I think I'm going back to Laura again for a few weeks before the next transfer, but then I should definitely be in a new place. Supposedly a whole lot of people are moving around this next transfer. I don't really want to go back to Laura, but it'll be okay.

Tomorrow for Christmas Eve we're all meeting at the mission home for lunch and a gift exchange. The elders are supposed to bring a tie, and we're supposed to bring earrings. Yep.

Everything is good here. I'm doing well. It's nice having a car. It's nice having a church building. Oh, on Saturday morning the whole branch met together and we cleaned the church building and grounds around it. I worked on the windows in the chapel. They're those cool windows with the parallel glass panes that all open up and move 90 degrees. With the fans going and the widows open, we get some nice ocean breezes from off the lagoon (which is about 30 ft away).  

Meri Kirimaj nan aolep!

Sister Ellen Butler

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