Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 29, 2014 I Only Had 5 or 10 Lice


Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, cards, and packages.  I really liked the cards from the siblings and from the parentals (and nankai).  They both have dogs on them, which wasn't too surprising.  One is definitely a dachshund, but I'm not sure about the other.  He looks like a small furry thing.  He's possibly a long-haired dachshund, but I can only see his front half so I'm not sure how long he is.  I also don't think his nose is long enough.  Thanks for the powdered milk and dried fruit, leans.

Mom asked me a bunch of questions in her email, so I'll try to answer those.

1.   Does each island have a "big cheese" politician like the one that you described? Or is there only one for the whole country?

Good question.  I have no idea.  I've been trying to figure it out myself.  There are some big cheeses that actually do stuff with the government, but I think most are just figureheads.  I know the princess of the ratak chain (or the ralik, can't remember which one) used have a seat in the government, but now she's just emeritus princess or something.  Some of the big cheeses just own a lot of land (like a whole island) but other people still have individual ownership of pieces of the land.  I'm not really sure.  And literally everyone is related to each other, so it gets pretty confusing at times.  Extended families live together in a house and each individual family unit has a room with a lock on it.  So hallways are kind of like alleyways.  Someone was telling me that their aunt is the real, old owner of the land where the airport is in kwajalein so she has permission to go to kwajalein sometimes.  Those that are actually from kwajalein don't have to pay when they go to the health clinic on ebeye, and those that aren't have to pay 5 dollars.  I don't think this answered your question, but it's all I know.

2.  Are there different growing seasons for certain fruits and vegetables or do they just keep planting year round?

There are no specific growing seasons, they just keep planting things year round.  At least that's what they did in Laura.  The breadfruit would all get ripe at a certain time in laura and so there was always so much breadfruit and they'd prepare it to put down in pits in the ground to store.  Nothing is grown on Ebeye except for a handful of coconut trees and also a couple of papaya.  I've heard that they grow everything on Cosrae-- bananas, watermelon, papaya, cucumbers.  Mmm.

3.  Did you feel that earthquake that I told you about? You never said anything from my question in my last letter (or the one before).

Nope, I didn't feel an earthquake.  The Solomon Islands are a long ways away.

4.  When big ships come with food do they only stop at Kwajalein or do they stop there and at Ebeye?

They stop at Kwajalein and Ebeye, so kwajalein gets the same produce we get.

5.  Do you still have lice?

Nope.  I only had 5 or 10 and I got them all out with our handy dandy lice comb.

6.  What will you miss the most about life there when you leave?

I will miss speaking in Marshallese everyday.  I'll also miss the fish and sashimi.  I'll miss how nice people are.  No one is ever angry or stressed or worried.  People work to make enough money to eat (and to buy an ipad, so they can document everything on facebook haha) and then if they have rice and chicken, a place to sleep, and a ukulele or mp3 player and speaker, they're pretty much happy.  I'll miss people singing all the time.  It's really normal to see kids walking down the street singing together.  No one is shy to sing.  I'll also miss the ocean and the view of the lagoon from our apartment window.

7.  Besides other island nations, where are most of the missionaries from?

The missionaries are from Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Pohnpei, Kiribati, and the USA.  So really just the islands and the US.

8.  Are you getting any new senior missionaries?

I'm not sure.  I think they're trying to get a senior CES couple for just ebeye.

9.  Will the Beckers spend their whole mission on Ebeye?

Possibly.  They're not sure, but I think they want to.  They're for sure going to Lae in May for a week (we're hoping to go with them!) and they'll teach temple prep out there.

10.  What do the Young Women like to do when they meet during the week?

The YW usually practice to sing in Sacrament meeting on Sunday, or they practice beat/dances together. 
Hopefully that answers the questions.  My birthday was good.  We didn't really do anything special.  I guess in the evening we went over to the Becker's and played the new game that Annie and Travis sent me (Spot it) and Sister Becker made some amazing caramel popcorn.  That was really nice.  Sundays are kind of long and tiring though because we go to 6 hrs of church (3 sacrament mtgs and 3 sunday school classes), so we were pretty tired.  The big ship came to deliver goods, and so we went down to the dock Sunday morning to take some photos.  A few of the workers way up on the boat waved to us, so we waved to them, and then they asked if we were taking their pictures?  It was really weird.  We just tried to ignore them because they were yelling stuff and we didn't know what they were saying.  They were way up above the two "L"s on the boat.

Two of our investigators got interviewed last Saturday in preparation to get baptized this Saturday, but I don't know if it's going to happen.  They're both supposed to get married (to different people, not to each other) this week but I think it's going to be pushed back a week.  
We're teaching a really nice woman that we met in the hospital (when we took Neitab there to get the sea urchin spikes out of her foot).  She had studied with elders before.  We've had a couple of nice lessons with her and they're always nice because we sit on a little plywood platform and can see the lagoon from her house.  I love lessons outside bc it's so nice and breezy.  She's really honest with us and really wants to come to church and know if these things are true.

I'm trying to think if there's anything else to tell.  Things are good.  I'm in NTA with three Samoans right now (oh, we got a new Samoan elder straight from the MTC) and they're all speaking in Samoan to each other.  oh!  I remember something else.  The women from Kwaj gave me and Sister Tafili each a bag of toiletries.  We got them last night.  It was so nice.  I got a toothbrush, toothpaste, fancy victoria's secret body wash, chapstick, mini first aid kit, deodorant, tissues, hand wipes, etc.  They are so nice.  I bet when they came over for the lice comb event they noticed how bad we smelled.  Haha.

Meagan and Thomas, I got your package!  Thanks for the photos, letters, and earrings.  

Love you all,
Sister Ellen Butler

April 22, 2014 Is Princess Diana Your Friend?


I'm hoping to have a nice, relaxing P day today since last P day was a bit crazy.  After emailing we headed down to Peace Park, which is a park at the south part of the island.  That's where we made the bwiro.  NTA is actually right next to peace park, so we just had to walk around the Iroij's house (not in front, or they will send their demons after you) to get to the park.  It was really low tide so we wanted to try to walk to the next island south.  We got going and we thought we were making good progress but then we looked back and we had only gone 20 yards or so.  Neitab was with us and that kind of slowed us down.  I realized I haven't talked about Neitab yet.  Neitab is a short Marshallese girl that works with us almost everyday.  She got baptized last year and she's working on her mission papers.  She is always laughing and making jokes.  She's crazy.  She's my age, but everyone thinks she's 16 or 17.  She tries to help in the lessons but she usually just shares the same testimony every time.  She's really funny.  The best part is that she knows everyone on the island so when we get referrals she knows where to take us.

Anyway, walking on the coral was fun.  Some of it would break when we stepped on it, but there's so much coral and we saw other people walking out on it so we didn't think it was that big of a deal.  We were out walking and we saw the Beckers walking in the park down to the beach.  They were the ones that had told us it was really low tide, and we both happened to meet up there at the same time.  We decided we weren't going to get to the next island in time so the Beckers took us over to the oceanside and we got to see some really cool deep pools in the coral and rock.  When it's high tide you can't even tell that the pools are there.  They said the pools were made by the Japanese in WWII and that they dynamited out parts of the rock to make the pools.  It was really cool to walk up to one and look down into the deep water.  We saw a few fish but the water was a little choppy so it wasn't too clear.  I don't know what the pools were used for...maybe to bathe?  But bathing in salt water is nasty.  As we walked there were a lot of sea urchins so we had to be careful to not step on any....and then of course Neitab stepped on one.  She had a whole bunch of black spikes in her foot.  We had to take her to the health clinic in the hospital to get them it was a fun P day.

We watched the Saturday sessions of general conference on Wednesday at the Becker's apartment.  We had a really yummy lunch too, which was nice.  I like Eyring's talk a lot.  I don't remember a whole lot from it right now.  We're watching the rest of conference tomorrow.

Easter Sunday was a little crazy.  We were supposed to help a woman with her RS lesson and then at the last minute she made us teach the whole thing.  It was a little confusing because she had notes for the lesson and a specific way she wanted it taught, but we didn't understand how she wanted it to be done.  We wished she had just taught it herself.  Sister Tafili and I also struggled because there was a lot of vocab we didn't know.  We were trying to tell the story of the last couple days of Jesus's life and we didn't know how to explain a lot of things.  We then went over to a member's house with a whole bunch of the YW and they fed us bread and hard boiled eggs before we had to be back at the church for new beginnings.  They gave us food and made us eat all of it.  We were stuffed.  New beginnings was really nice and short.

The best question I got this week (from a 10 year old girl):  Is princess Diana your friend?

Saturday we decided we needed a break so we took the ferry to kwaj.  We decided we'd talk to people on the ferry...kind of like bus contacting I guess, but better because the ferry is bigger than a bus.  there was no one on the ferry on the way over, but coming back it was full of people getting off work.  We talked to a couple of people and they wouldn't even respond to us (which is unlike Marshallese people), but then we sat next to a teenage boy and talked to him for a while.  He said he wants to study, so we're going to try to find his house this week.
Some members from Kwaj came over yesterday and gave out 100 lice combs.  They had done a fundraiser to buy the combs and they came over and talked about how to get rid of lice.  We got a comb too!  Which has come into good use...

Okay, I think that's all for this week.  Lesson of the week:  Don't step on sea urchins.

Love you all.  Tootles,

Sister Ellen Butler

April 15, 2014 It's Been Raining Buckets This Week

Greetings from Ebeye!

We got transfer calls this last week, and I am staying in Ebeye for at least one more transfer.  I bet I'll go back to Majuro in June because at that point I will have been in Ebeye for about 5 months.  We'll see.  Sadly two of our favorite elders on Ebeye are getting sent off to outer islands at the end of this week and we'd really prefer that they'd stay.

We went to Kwaj last P day with the Beckers.  We went on the noon ferry and came back around 3 pm.  We got lunch at the "American eatery" at the checkpoint (since we can't go onto the base unless someone sponsors us I can't go because Tafili isn't a US citizen).  We then pulled out Ticket to Ride and played until we had to get back on the ferry.  The ferry ride is so much fun.  The wind is so strong and the waves splash up sometimes onto the top part.  Most people stay down below, but that's boring.  Sister Tafili and Elder Becker saw a turtle on the way back!  I had moved out of the wind for just a minute so I missed it.  I did catch a glimpse of it, but I couldn't see it too clearly.

The Beckers are so funny. We meet with them a few days a week and teach them Marshallese, and then we also drop by most evenings to say hi and eat popcorn with them and tell them about our day.  They kind of remind me of the parentals, so we have a lot of fun together.  They make us laugh a lot.

It's been raining buckets this week.  If we're outside when it rains, we don't worry about it and just try to run from house to house.  If we're inside and it really starts pouring buckets and buckets, we really can't go out because we would be drenched in seconds and it's bad manners to show up at someone's house completely wet.  we have one umbrella, but with the wind and rain, an umbrella wouldn't really do much.  it rained a lot of Friday and it also rained yesterday evening.

A CES missionary couple from Majuro were here for the weekend and on Saturday we were at the church building all day for a big seminary "learn your scripture mastery" event.  We were there from 9 am to 4 pm.  All the missionaries were in different classrooms and the students rotated around in groups.  We had to teach them about two scriptures in 10 minutes.  It was really good to get them familiarized with the references and what the scriptures are talking about, but I think only a few of them have memorized any of the scriptures.  We then had lunch and played games for them to memorize the scriptures.  It was good but tiring and really loud.  I don't know how the CES couple has so much energy to do these things.  They visit Ebeye once every 3 months and basically get seminary back up and going since it usually stops happening after a couple of months.  They had a movie night on Friday for the seminary students, and so we got to go and bring our teenage investigators.  we watched Frozen, which I guess is some new disney movie.  It was kind of cute and mostly just really weird to watch a movie.

We had a lesson yesterday with a couple of older women we're studying with.  We took a member with us to help in the lesson...and she talked forever.  Holy cow.  We were in their house for 2 hours.  The woman's help was really great and she explained things really well, but she just kept talking and talking.  Of course they are all related since everyone in the marshall islands in related (when you introduce yourself you say who your parents' names are and then everyone says "ohhh,'re in that family...") and so they were talking about how great Likiep is (one of the outer islands they're all from) and how they all need to go spend the summer there.  The women definitely know how to talk here.

We were going to ride out to guegeegue today, but we haven't found bikes yet.  Maybe next week.  If so, I'll probably get on email late next week...but I'm really not sure if we'll go.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this week.  Things are going well.  I'm happy to be staying in Ebeye for now.  We are watching the Saturday sessions of General Conference tomorrow at the Becker's apartment, and then next wednesday we're watching the Sunday sessions.  I'm glad we're splitting it up over two weeks.  It's just way too much to watch in two days.
Love you all,

Sister Ellen Butler

April 8, 2014 I Want to Stay in Ebeye Until December If Possible!

I think I'm staying in Ebeye this next transfer, so I should be here until June at least.  Phew.  I was worried for a while...but I think I'm staying.  I want to stay in Ebeye until December if possible!  I don't think President is going to put sisters on outer islands for a while...but we'll see.

We've had a good week.  Last P day we made bwiro with Rosa Loeak and Mama Katol.  I don't know everyone's first names, but calling them mama or papa shows a lot of respect, so we just call everyone that.  And then we don't need to learn first names.  Sister Becker wrote a blog post about making bwiro so you can check it out there.  I took a whole bunch of photos of the whole process too, but I won't send them because you can see them all there.  The hardest part was the kneading/rolling out the breadfruit.  It's easy to push it forward on the board, but it's hard to bring it back with your hand.  Sister Tafili was really good at it, but maybe that's because she's Samoan.  I finally got the hang of it, but I was pretty slow at it.  It was a nice break and Peace Park is pretty.  There are some cool views of kwaj from the park there at the south part of the island.

I bought two skirts this week.  They're skirts from Pohnpei, or at least they are Pohnpeian style.  (Meagan, you should ask Thomas to make sure I'm right).  I'm wearing the red one in some of the photos.  The other one is dark blue with red flowers.  I really like them.  I think they're much prettier than the marshallese mumus everyone wears.

Today Sister Tafili, the Beckers, and I are going to Kwajalein for lunch.  We can't get onto the base but we can eat lunch at the checkpoint where there's a fancy "American Eatery."  A crappy hamburger sounds kind of good right now.  They're treating us to lunch because we've been teaching them Marshallese a few mornings each week.  We also are going to take ticket to ride with us and put a couple of tables together...haha.  We might be a little crazy, but a ferry ride, lunch, and ticket to ride sounds like a nice P day.

We visited a couple of less active couples yesterday afternoon with the RS president in Branch 1.  We're supposed to do a lot of less active work because this whole island is basically less active, but I find it really hard.  But we're trying to do more of it.  We just feel overwhelmed a lot of the time with the work because we're covering three branches and we have a lot of investigators that only want to study with sisters, so doing LA work on top of trying to see our investigators can be a lot.  We split up our days too.  Monday, Thursday and Saturday we work in the south part of the island, and Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday we work in the north part.
In Marshallese there are 2 different "L"s.  One is described as a hard L and the other is a soft L, whatever the heck that means.  It really is all about where your tongue is placed.  I think I have finally figured out how to say them correctly!

I think that's it for now.  I got a couple of birthday cards in the mail from friends yesterday.  It was so nice.

Love you all,
Sister Ellen Butler 

April 1, 2014 I Learned the Important Distinction Between "Donat" and "Donaj" This Week

I've been trying to come up with a good April fool's joke, but I can't even joke about transfers in case it comes true.  I'm worried either Sister Tafili or I will leave Ebeye around April 24th and neither of us want to go.  I guess four new sisters are coming at the end of April and one of us or both us of will train.  We don't want to.  I either want to stay in Ebeye or go to Lae.  The members in Lae have requested sisters, and president is thinking about sending two.  That would mean no email (maybe mail??) but the island is gorgeous and there are about 400 people and the atoll is shaped like a "C" and supposedly if you see dolphins jump up when the boat enters the lagoon that means you'll go to back Lae again someday....ah.  Anyway.  Wishful thinking.

Today for P day we (and Sister Becker, so maybe you can see a blog post about it sometime) are going to Mama Loeak's house and we're going to learn how to make bwido!!!  Bwido is a food make from fermented breadfruit that's stored in a hole in the ground.  It gets really soft and smelly and then you have to rub it/knead it on a piece of--yep, plywood-- until it's really soft.  I'm not exactly sure how to make it, but I will learn today.  I'll be sure to take photos of the whole process.

The Weirs were here again this weekend.  They come to Ebeye once a month for a weekend.  They are always traveling between Kiribati (Tarawa and Christmas Island are the main ones they travel to, but they also go to outers) and Majuro and Ebeye.  Sister Weir went out teaching with us Sunday after our 12 hours of church and she helped a lot in lessons.  Luckily we had one lesson we taught in English, so she really was able to help in that one.

I learned the important distinction between "donat" and "donaj" this week.  Both are donuts, but "donat" is a donut in a spherical shape and "donaj" is a wheel-shaped donut.  The women make donats almost everyday.  They mix up the batter and then drop a clump into a pot of boiling shortening or grease.  The donuts aren't very sweet and they're so good, especially when they're hot.  One of our investigators is going to teach us how to make them tomorrow.

We played ticket to ride last P day with the Beckers.  Mike and Travis will be proud that I won the first game.  We're playing again today, at the request of Sister Tafili (we got her hooked on the game).  I've been playing basketball with her this week, so maybe that means we're working on our "companionship unity" or something like that.

We're teaching a couple who's 16 yr old daughter is a member.  The dad's name is Kamina and the mom's name is Mickey (like the mouse...similar to the ones that scurry around in our bathroom and have gone through 3 boxes of mouse poison and still aren't dead.  Maybe something else is eating the poison?).  We had a lesson with them this week about when Jesus Christ was baptized and about the priesthood and Kamina asked if he needs to get baptized again since he got baptized in SDA.  Sister Tafili asked him where the guy in SDA that baptized him got his authority to baptise and Kamina responded with "Well, he was white!!" and we all just lost it a bit.  If it was anyone else I wouldn't laugh, but somehow it was completely fine...maybe because his wife was also laughing.  As Sister Tafili started to explain, he searched for some other source of the man's authority and he said "Oh, and he came from Guam!"  I think that's when we all really lost it.  Guam is so big compared to the Marshalls, so any white guy from Guam's got to know what he's talking about.  The best part is that his wife kept cracking up later during the lesson and whispering to others "He came from Guam!!"  We were in the home of some members and one helped explain things...and long story short, they want to get baptized.  Their daughter is really excited for them.  It was a really funny and good.

We had a FHE last night with the Jesse family.  Their daughter is serving at Temple Square right now.  I realized as I sat there in the FHE that I understood everything that everyone said.  And I didn't need to translate in my head anymore.  It just makes sense.  It's still really hard to understand church.  I think when people speak into the microphone, it just gets garbed and fuzzy a bit.  It's much easier to listen to someone standing a few feet away.  There are some people I may never understand because they mumble, but at least no one else knows what they're saying either.

Thursday evening we were tired so we walked to the dock to take a break.  We met a guy pulling in his boat and talked to him for a while.  He wanted to study so we set up an appt. for the following day.  We went and met his girlfriend and a whole house of people to study with.  We also found a less active man who told us to come to his house the next day at 2 pm.  We went to his house and found the man's wife (who wants to study) and also a woman we've been trying to find (a church) for a while.  The two women happen to be sisters.  It was cool from talking to one guy how many people we found to teach.

Okay, this email is getting long. Things are going well.  I miss you all,

Sister Ellen Butler