Friday, February 28, 2014

February 18, 2014, Trip to Carlos Island


It's been a great week in Ebeye.  I've been looking forward to checking my email all week so I can see pictures of baby William.  He looks like a big, healthy baby.  I can't decide if he looks more like Kate or Mike. 

Ellen on the boat to Carlos Island
The week started with a trip to the island of "Charles."  At least that's what everyone calls it (later we found out it was actually called "Carlos Island").  But if you go to google maps and look at Kwajalein atoll it's the island called "Ennylabegan."  It's across the atoll from Ebeye to the west.  We fit about 15 people into a pretty small motor boat and headed across the lagoon.  It took about 30 minutes to get there.  On the way there I sat down and I felt like I was sitting right there in the ocean with the waves coming near.  I got some cool pictures without getting my camera wet.  Sister Tafili got soaked on the way there because she was sitting at the very back where the waves kept hitting her.

A church on Carlos Island

In front of a WWII Japanese shipwreck
The island was pretty bare.  There were coconut trees and...breadfruit trees.  There are about 60 people that live on the island now.  We went with some members, a young family.  He grew up on the island and he said there were about 400 people on the island before.  The US used to use it for something, but I don't think they use it much anymore.  there's a helicopter landing pad and a few abandoned buildings.  And then there are a few houses.  There are also two huge white golf ball looking things.  I don't know what they are.

Two Samoans hamming it up
The shipwreck
We walked around on the island for a while, but it was pretty boring.  We ended up playing volleyball (my favorite tired of it) for 2 hours and we all got fried.  We ate some breadfruit and drank coconuts.  We made the samoan elder climb the coconut trees to cut them down for us.  And then the Fijian elder husked them for us.  It's good having them around.  Some of the elders tried chasing pigs on the island, which was amusing because the pigs were much smarter than them.  The coolest part was an old abandoned ship from WWII.  Someone said it's a Japanese ship.  It's big and ugly and it looks like it's made out of concrete and rebar.  I'm serious.  I'll email some photos.

What are the white balls?
The boat ride back to Ebeye was pretty cool.  The waves were a lot bigger going back and the boat went much faster, so it was a really bumpy ride.  We definitely got some air going over some of those big waves.  I stood up on the way back and held onto the sort of windshield thing on the boat next to the driver.  We all held on for dear life.  We were all so sunburned that the next day we all tried to avoid the sun because it was so painful.  Everyone's a lot darker now.  I don't know why, but that island sure feels closer to the sun.  It was hot.

We had a really good week with getting to know our investigators better.  So many of them have been really quiet around us so we've been trying to get them to open up.  We're teaching a group of 7 girls that all live in the same house.  They're all from Wotje, which is an outer island.  None of the outer islands have high schools, so when they all either come to Ebeye or Majuro to go to high school.  They live in a house with some recent converts.

We got the YW in branch 3 to set up a family home evening last week and we had a house full of 18 girls.  We had a lesson and played games, and then we all went out to get ice cream cones.  The YW are so willing to help.  It's been great.

Dana and Ceroline
Getting ice cream after Family Home Evening
We had a "new member scripture night" in branch 1 one evening this week.  I love Ebeye because there are always so many activities going on.  This fireside was put on by the gospel principles teacher because she wanted the whole class to get together.  Sister Tafili and I taught a short lesson about reading the scriptures and talked about even though it's really difficult to understand (because the translation is pretty bad) they can still read and get help from older people (that know the old language).  We had a number of our investigators come to that as well.  There are always firesides and meetings and things going on that it's sometimes hard to find a room in the church building to use.  The members are so good at fellowshipping.  We're supposed to take members with us to every lesson if possible, and we have so many people that help.  People just come up to us on the street, introduce themselves as a member of one of the branches, and then tell us when they can come out and help us.  Yesterday a bunch of members went out visiting less actives.  The RMs all get together and go out visiting.  We've been helping the YW start up personal progress, which is really confusing to explain in Marshallese.

We went to 6 hours of church on Sunday, which is tiring but nice because we get to sit and rest a bit.  Two people had seizures during sacrament meeting on Sunday.  It was crazy.  One happened during a branch in the morning and someone stuffed a flip flop in the guy's mouth and then a whole bunch of men crowded around the guy and started rubbing out his muscles.  They laid him on the chairs in the chapel and sacrament meeting kept going on.  The guy either was passed out or asleep (I don't know much about seizures) for the rest of sacrament meeting.  No one seemed too concerned though.  All of the guys sitting around him seemed to know what to do.  Another kid had a seizure before sacrament meeting of another ward.  Crazy. 

I got pizza this week from a member that works in Kwaj.  We also got hamburgers from someone.  They were mediocre but oh so good at the same time.  I don't know where they came from (the elders said members gave them to them to give to us) but I don't mind.  It wasn't rice and chicken, so I was happy. 

It's not supposed to rain very often in Ebeye, but it's been raining a little at least every day this week.  We've appreciated the water.  It's been nice always having water.  A dog followed us around one day to all of our lessons.  He was so friendly and didn't want to leave.  Everyone asked us who's dog he was, but we didn't know. 

I'm trying to think of what else happened this week.  We had 15 investigators come to church on Sunday, which was awesome.  I bought a mumu this week.  I finally found one I sort of like.  The pattern isn't awful.  I thought it was more blue in the store, but I think it looks grey now.  and it doesn't have really puffy sleeves, so I'm excited. 
Time seems to be going so quickly.  I've been in Ebeye for over a month now.  The people here are so friendly. 
Thanks for the letters and emails.  I really appreciate them.  Love you all, 

Sister Ellen Butler 

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