Friday, February 28, 2014

February 10, 2014, Kwajelein Memorial Day

This week went by quickly.  It feels like Sister Tafili and I have been running around this island all week with no break.  We try to set up teaching appointments so that we start at one end of the island and work towards the other end during the day, but of course not everyone's schedules work like that.  Sometimes we go from the southern part to the northern part and back to the south again.  It's also crazy trying to keep track of 3 branches and everyone's names and what time different branches have mutual and such.  A lot of the people we studying with are teenagers, so we try to get them to go to seminary and mutual.  We're a bit tired.
I got one of the boxes of food, mom and dad.  Thank you so much.  The Beckers picked it up for me at the post office, and they were impressed by how heavy it was and how much food you two stuffed in there.  I've been celebrating by eating muesli every morning for breakfast (I don't think anything has ever tasted as good as muesli) and I've also made split pea soup.  I put onions in the soup and right as I did so I realized we don't normally put onions in (right?) but it was still good.  I'm excited to make chili beans and quinoa (how much water to quinoa?).  I still have to eat white rice and spam and tuna while I'm out because if I refuse food they'll get offended, but having good food at home is really going to help.
I found a bag of spinach in the grocery store, so I've been eating raw fistfuls of the stuff.  So tasty.
Sunday was Kwajalein memorial day.  I guess on Feb 9, 1944 (?) the US came and took Kwajalein from the Japanese who had gotten possession of it during WWII.  They celebrated it yesterday because the 9th was a Sunday.  Everyone wore green T-shirts (color of the kwajalein's flag) and all of the shirts said something about God's hands coming and saving them.  I asked a few people about it, but I couldn't get more information than that.  There wasn't any school yesterday, nor today (it's a day to rest from the celebrations yesterday).  They had a parade but we only saw a little of it, and then everyone went down to Peace Park at the south of the island for activities and races.  I think the celebration here on Ebeye was much bigger than anything they did on Kwajalein. 
I've already told a few of you, but all of us missionaries are heading off to a small island in this atoll for P day today.  Supposedly it only takes 30 minutes to get there by boat, so it can't be too far away.  I think it's on the other side of kwajalein island in kwajalein atoll.  I don't know if that makes sense.  I think it's called Charles or Chales or something of the sort.  We have to make sure to take plenty of food and water, since there's probably nothing on the island.  I think a few people live there.  I don't know what we're going to do for the few hours while we're there.  I'm going to take my camera (in a ziploc bag, of course) so I'll try to take lots of pictures.  I'm excited.  We're leaving in an hour. 
A little bit about marshallese culture/customs:  all of the women and girls wear skirts in public.  I feel a bit uncomfortable if I'm out in public in exercise clothes.  I've asked people if that's acceptable, and they say it is, but I feel weird because everyone else wears skirts.  Most wear two skirts and everyone wears shorts under their skirts.  They are very modest.  They are usually pretty careful to not let those shorts show, so when they go to sit down they pull their skirt tight across the back so that most of the fabric is in the front and then all the fabric sits in their lap.  It's kind of hard to explain.  It's weird, but we start to do it too.  When you walk between two people talking, it's polite to duck down and say "sorry" (in marshallese).  It's so funny that we start to do these things too.  It's not so much that we know we're supposed to do them, but rather that it feels natural to do them.  I don't know if that makes sense.
Funny thing that happened this week:  You know when you sit down and cross your legs and then you have a red mark on your knee where your leg was resting?  Well, someone saw the red mark on my knee and asked me what it was.  They seemed pretty concerned.  I think she thought I got burned or something.  I tried explaining it, but I don't think she understood.  Then a few minutes later she said "It's gone!  Where did it go?"  It was so funny and sad that I couldn't explain it.
There's a new elder here from Samoa.  He doesn't know english very well, so Sister Tafili has been trying to help him learn Marshallese.  He's trying to learn english and marshallese.  I don't know what he'd do without her here, because he doesn't understand very much.  I don't know why Sister Tafili is so good at English.  Her pronunciation is a little funny for some words, but overall she's really good. 
Okay, this was a weird email this week.  I have to leave soon to go get ready.  Sorry I don't have any photos this week.  Love you all,
Sister Ellen Butler

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