Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 30, 2013, Skyping Home, Beat, and Getting a Sunburn on Christmas


I had a pretty fun week with Christmas and skyping home. It was nice to see everyone. Eliot is talking lots and Linus is big. Nankai looks about the same. He didn't seem very interested in talking, but that's okay. I got to see the snow in Utah, which was pretty exciting.

I got a box Annie and Kate sent. Sister Samuel says thank you for the stocking and sweater. The sweater looks really good on her. Sister Moea'i also says thanks for the stocking.

Sister Tofa (from NZ), me, and Sister Anitoni (Tonga)
outside of the stake center before beat on Christmas morning
On Christmas eve all of the missionaries met at the mission home for lunch. We also did an earring exchange for the sisters and the elders did a tie exchange. I got some big black and white Marshallese flower earrings that I'm wearing in some of the photos from Christmas.

We watched miracle on 34th street, which was actually kind of funny in parts. Or maybe I just haven't watched movies in a long time so any seem funny. The Uliga sisters (sister Tofa and Anitoni) slept over on Christmas eve because we had to sew all of the sisters' lavalavas for the missionary beat. There were only ten lavalavas to sew, but it took a long time. Luckily sister Tofa brought over some Tim Tams and other Australian snacks. It's a good thing we've got Australians and New Zealanders that get packages from home.

Ulinga Ward Beat
We spent all of Christmas at the stake center in Long Island. We started out by watching the Christmas devotional, which they had already translated into Marshallese so I didn't understand a thing.

Beat then started about 11. Each ward got an hour to perform and everyone wore matching dresses. It was actually kind of nice because then you could pick out who goes to which ward. But man, the dresses were all ugly as sin. The missionaries went second and the dance was a lot of fun. We sisters first did our dance (some samoan dance) and then we sat down and the elders did theirs. The elders' dance was funny and everyone really loved it. I guess there's a youtube video of it, but Idk how clear it is. The women running around were spraying perfume on us. Some of it got in my mouth and it was nasty, so I think there's one part where I'm coughing and dying.

Most of the sisters after the Missionary Beat
Ajeltake Branch walking in for our Beat
We took a lunch break and every ward had a tent set up with buckets full of rice, hotdogs, chicken, etc. Annie was wondering how the marshallese feel about non-red koolaid. I actually had orange koolaid a few times in Laura (maybe it's just a laura thing?) and I think I once had green at a funeral (I remember not being able to figure out what flavor it was...probably for the best). But red is the most common.

Ajeltake Beat
Beat lasted the rest of the day. Ajeltake was scheduled to go last at 7 pm. We started at 8:15, which actually isn't bad. I swear jenrok ward took 2 hours. We were pretty tired at that point. Ajeltake's beat was the best, by far. The songs we sang were great. A jimma (grandpa) in our ward wrote them and we've still been singing them all week. Jao, a recent convert, wrote the song for the dance and also came up with the dance. Our dance was lots of fun and everyone was energetic and yelling. Sister Moea'i and I danced in the guys' line, which was way better than the girls' line and it was so much fun. Everyone laughed at the elders in our line because they made up lots of dance moves. Beat was definitely an experience. It was exhausting but fun.

The missionary photo board at the Mission Home
Thanks for all of the photos you send, Annie. I love seeing Linus and Eliot. I especially like the ones in Chicago.

A really cool oven a member built
I'm not sure what's happening for new years yet. I've heard the branch is having a "block party" (they're all about block parties here for new years...I doubt they even know what a "block" is) at the church building, but it's not yet clear. Supposedly our budget is gone because of beat, but we're thinking about just playing some volleyball and basketball, and getting someone to bring music. I've heard everyone is hungover on the 1st and that it's impossible to get any work done, so we might have another P day mid-week.

Did you realize that the Marshall islands is one of the first countries to experience 2014? The international date line is just east of us here.
Coral and Chacos

Walking out on coral at low tide
Sunset at low tide
I miss you. Thanks for the emails and letters. Pretty soon I can say I'll be home this year! I hope you're all enjoying the snow. I got a sunburn on Christmas.

Sister Ellen Butler

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