Happy new year!
This week went by really quickly. On Tuesday we had an activity at the church for new years. The CES couple that teaches institute came and we played lots of group games together. The YSAs are all pretty good at english, so all of the games were in english and it was fun to spend time with all of them. Sister Tago, Sister Moeai and I then went home (after going to a shop to get snack food) and stayed up late. The Marshallese have a tradition of going around to houses and caroling after it hits midnight on New Years eve, so we had a number of people come by our house at all hours of the night. After they sing we're supposed to give them food or candy but we ran out of food early. Sister Moeai went to bed soon after midnight, since it's hard enough for her to stay up until 10 pm as it is, but I stayed up until 3 or so and Tago stayed up late because she has a really hard time sleeping. Sister Tago showed me all of her photos from Ebeye. She spent the first 6 months of her mission on Ebeye....and she takes a lot of photos. It seems like a crazy place.
All of the church buildings on the island got ping pong tables, so a good portion of new years day was spent playing table tennis in the chapel. All of our investigators were either in town for the big new years block party or were out drinking, so we didn't get a whole lot done. And I still am terrible at table tennis, but that's not surprising.
Sister Tago got sick this week. The nice thing about working in a trio is you only need to find one member to come stay with the sick one and the other two can go out to work. We had a couple of women come stay with her one day, but we also all stayed home another day when she was pretty sick. I got a lot of things done that day like cleaning the fridge, painting my toenails, writing cards and letters, and making fudge. We had so many sweets in the fridge around christmas time and so I didn't really want to make fudge yet. Dang, I forgot how good fudge is. One day this week I made keema and baking powder biscuits for lunch. It sounds weird but it's actually pretty good. I need to get mom's good recipe for the biscuits though. I just read something off the baking powder can. They didn't rise very much, but they were good right when they came out of the oven.
I tried some Marshallese candies called "ametama" this week. They're made from jekamai, which is the boiled down coconut sap/syrup. Often you'll see glass vodka bottles hanging from coconut trees up near where the fronds connect to the trunk. Either a frond or something else is cut and a bottle is hung from there and collects the coconut sap. It smells like rotten eggs but it tastes pretty good. They usually have to get all the flies and bugs out of it first because they're attracted to the sweet syrup. Sometimes they boiled it down to a thicker brown liquid, which tastes kind of like real maple syrup (which I guess isn't too surprising since it's syrup from a tree) and they dilute it to make a drink. Or they mix it with coconut shreds and roll it into balls for candy. They were pretty good. I had some straight jekamai syrup on fresh bread this week at a member's house. It was good but rich.
Oh, by the way, we drove up to CMI in Arrak today to email so we don't have to pay for email today! woot! There are no longer elders in Arrak so now there's more room at CMI for us to email. We miss them in our district though. Our district is almost all sisters now though, which is pretty funny.
We have P day out in Laura today, so we have to drive to town and go shopping and do laundry there (and get gas) and then come back out to Laura.
The church/mission rents our house in Ajeltake from a family that we study with. They built the house but they live in a trailer directly behind our house. I guess they like the money they get every month. There are about 6 kids (mostly all teenagers) and they and their mom study with us. Their dad has studied with elders before. The whole family treats us like family and we're always in a continuous food giving cycle. We'll give them food, and then they're give us back the plate with food on it the next day. We got a good-sized chunk of raw tuna from them one day. They come to church every sunday (except for the dad) and they're all doing well. We've been trying to do better with teaching them more consistently, because before they always wanted to play games and so we made every lesson a FHE. The mom and three of the kids didn't come to church yesterday, but when we got home they were all outside lying on a jaki (a sort of plastic mat they sometimes call a tatami...not tatami, but whatever) each reading in their own "bok in mormon." We ended up sitting there and talking with them for a long time. Evenings here are so wonderful. Every evening is the perfect summer evening with a sky full of stars, perfect weather, and the waves crashing on the shore just a few meters away. And there are cool outlines of coconut trees and breadfruit trees were you look up. It really is paradise in a way.
There was a really cute, soft puppy at church yesterday. I really think they need to start letting dogs come to church in the US. It really makes everything better, especially on fast sundays.
I come home this year! I've heard there are some elders that are already listening to the song "I'll be home for Christmas." I'm excited for Christmas this year! I've already decided I want lamb saag and creamy peas one night, and falafel, tabouli, fresh pita, and lemon tahini sauce the next day. Sound good? I'll contribute the koolaid and ramen. ugh. so gross.
Stay warm! I miss you all. Tootles.
Sister Ellen Butler