Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 27, 2014, We Just Got Back From Lae...I Think I've Found Paradise


We just got back from Lae about 2 hours ago.  Holy P cow.  I think I've found paradise.  It was so beautiful.  The atoll is so small that you can see all of the islands when you stand on the lagoon side.  There was a beautiful sunset one night.  I'll have to send photos next week. 

The boat ride was fine on the way there, but coming back the waves were bigger and the front of the boat kept bouncing up because we didn't have as much weight as before (we took a whole bunch of rice and supplies to the people on Lae since they've been low on food because a boat hasn't come in a long time).  I've discovered I get a little sea sick, but not as badly as most of the people on the boat did.  Luckily I slept on the floor of the boat coming back today but I got soaked from water splashing.  I don't think I want to go on any more 9 hour boat rides again.

The members in Lae were so nice.  They greeted us when we got there with flower necklaces and crowns and then we had a feast in the chapel which is just a 100 yards or so from the beach (on the lagoon side).  We ate fish, sea clams, kwanjen ma (smoked breadfruit), and a whole bunch of other yummy Marshallese food.  I'll tell you more about the trip tomorrow or next week.  Tafili and I might run down to NTA tomorrow and email for a little bit even though it isn't our P day. 

I just found out this evening that I'm leaving Ebeye next Wednesday.  I'm sad but I knew it was going to happen soon.  I'm mostly sad to leave the members.  I think our investigators are tired of seeing my face.  But!  Kamina and Mickey, the ones that got married a couple of weekends ago, are getting baptized this Saturday! We arranged everything so they could get interviewed while we were gone and we found out that they're ready for this Saturday.  I'm excited to see them get baptized before I go.



Editorial comment: The senior missionary couple on Ebeye, the Beckers, that Ellen writes about, wrote a three part segment on the trip to Lae in their blog. There are some nice pictures of Sister Butler on their blog. You can find their accounts here: Lae Part 1Lae Part 2Lae Part 3

May 20, 2014, Kamina and Mickey Got Married!

I got feeling better on Wednesday or Thursday last week.  The good thing is that I didn't have to take any antibiotics!  A lot of the time Sister Tafili stayed home with me (because we had issues trying to find people to work with her and stay with me) but one day she went out and taught some lessons with the Beckers.  They were able to meet with a few people and one of them speaks English fluently so they were able to help teach in that lesson.  In the other lessons the Beckers were able to bear their testimonies in Marshallese!  We're happy we've been able to teach them some Marshallese.
I tried to email some photos but I'm not able to upload them on this computer today.  Sorry!  Maybe next week it'll work.
The best thing that happened this week is that Kamina and Mickey got married.  We've been studying with them for a couple of months.  Their 16 yr old daughter is a member.  The dad was a bit nervous to get married and he pushed the date back once, but holy cow, he was the one that was really happy at the wedding.  We had it at the Stephens' house, some members that live right next door to them, and it was a tight squeeze to get everyone inside their house/room.  We only had the Stephens, the Beckers, the branch president and his counselor, Kamina, Mickey, and Sister Tafili and I, but we were all squished in their tiny house.  The actual marriage was super short but then we had a BBQ afterward!  Sister Tafili and I had gone over to their house in the afternoon to help make food.  We were instructed to make a green salad with imitation crab sticks and mayo...and they were showing me how to cut up vegetables.  I was so surprised to see that many vegetables.  holy cow. And that they thought I didn't know how to cut up vegetables.  Anyway, we also ate rice, bbq chicken, sashimi, and potato salad.  It was yummy.  Sister Becker made a cake, and she decorated it really nicely with their names and stuff, so that was really cute.  It was really nice.  Kamina and Mickey are both really shy so they didn't talk much, but Kamina, the dad, was just smiling the whole time.  The fun thing is that we now have to take their marriage certificate to some government building and get it approved and stamped and such...I guess they do it opposite here than in the US where you go get the marriage license first.  It'll be fun finding the right office and making sure it's done correctly. 

Sister Becker cut my hair this week!  She took off maybe 4 inches of hair and it makes my hair look so much better and feel nicer.  I'm trying to convince Sister Tafili to get her hair cut today too, but we'll see.  We're going to go hang out with the Beckers this afternoon and probably play board games, as we always do.  We wish we had fun things to do on p days, but there's no point in being outside because there's nothing to do and it's just hot.  We're outside everyday and it's nice to be inside for a break.  We're going to have to reschedule our trip to guegeegue too.
I won't be online to email next week.  Sorry this email is kind of short.  Most of the week was boring because I was sick.  Thanks for the emails and letters.  I miss you all.

Sister Butler

May 13, 2014, There Are Some Beautiful Sunsets Here


I'm not going to email for very long today because I'm sick.  I just got sick last night and I feel gross.  I have a low fever around 100 so I'm okay, I just wish it would go away.  I took some benadryl last night to make me sleep and that worked well.  We were supposed to bike to guegeegue today and I'm sad we have to push that off a week.  The Beckers are a little tired from their trip to kwaj yesterday though, so I think they're okay with us pushing it back.  

It was so nice to skype with the family on Sunday.  I'm sad it went by so quickly.  The little ones are so big now! It's crazy to think that I'll be home in a little over 7 months.  The time goes so quickly.  

The work has been really frustrating recently because no one wants to study with us.  Everyone is either gone or makes excuses.  Or they're crazy and not really there 100% mentally and don't understand what we're saying.  I think we're just exhausted and stressed right now, and I think that's why I got sick.  It's so hard to find a good balance of not working too hard that you get sick but still working hard enough that you don't feel guilty about not working.  

Some facts about Ebeye that I shared with some family members when I skyped:  The land area of Ebeye is 80 acres and there are more than 15,000 people living here.  Supposedly 50% of the population is under the age of 18, which is not hard to believe because there are kids and babies running in the streets all the time.  

We went to Kwaj on Friday night just to get dinner at the checkpoint there.  We saw a huge stingray when we were up on top of the ferry!  It was nice to be on kwaj for a little bit.  We realized how nice and quiet it is there. We sat and looked through the fence to the real kwaj (that we can't get onto) and the streets were so clean and everything was so nice and quiet.  It felt like a real summer evening.  I'm tired of the constant noise of the streets here in Ebeye and the kids running up to us and hanging on our arms and asking us for food or a quarter or such.  

There are some beautiful sunsets here.  Holy P cow.  The sky just seems so much bigger when you're on a tiny island in the pacific and nothing is there to block the view of the sunset.  The sunsets don't last very long and so we rush to the dock sometimes to just watch and take pictures.  

Sorry I don't have much to say today.  I love and miss you all, 

Sister Ellen Butler

May 6, 2014, I Did Not Sign Up to Be a Marriage Counselor

Dear family and friends,

This week flew by.  It's already May!  How did that happen?  We had a really good week.

A number of our investigators are pretty much ready to get baptized but they either need to get married or make their significant others move out.  Some of them have been interviewed and now we're just waiting for them to make decisions...and some of them want us to talk to their boyfriends for them and I'm like, no way, I did not sign up to be a marriage counselor.  We are studying with a couple who's daughter is a member and they're going to get married on the 16th.  The dad gets so nervous in the lessons and he's hesitant to get married and then the mom keeps pushing him to set a date...and then he laughs and makes silly faces and we all die laughing.  He bore his testimony at the end of a lesson the other day and it was really great to hear him talk about the things he knows to be true.  We told them we'd make a cake for the wedding, so hopefully they'll stick to the 16th.

I met a famous author/journalist this week.  Our district (the missionaries...not the Ebeye district) was in the chapel for district meeting on Wednesday and the Beckers went outside to meet some people that they knew were coming over from Kwaj to see the church building and ask some questions about the church here.  A few people came in and a guy introduced himself as an author from the UK but he lives in NYC and he's writing a book about the new pacific and he had some questions about how the church is doing here.  He talked a little about how the LDS church is growing so much in the Pacific and wanted to know how it's doing in Ebeye.  Anyway, I don't think he said his name when we met him but later that evening we were looking at his website with the Beckers at their apartment and I noticed who he is and a bunch of the books he's written.  His name is Simon Winchester and he wrote The Professor and the Madman along with a bunch of other books, but that was the first one I recognized.  It'll be interesting to read the book he's working on right now.  I think he said it'll come out next year.

It poured one day this last week and we got stuck under the eaves of a house waiting for the rain to stop.  A whole bunch of women starting playing music and then they danced in the street in the rain.  They also had a race down the street.  the people are so happy when it rains.  We see a lot of people go put shampoo in their hair so they can wash their hair in the rain.

We rearranged our furniture in our apartment!  Our beds are now in the big main room instead of stuffed in the tiny bedroom.  We also were able to clean up and sweep and mop the whole place, so now if we see any mouse droppings we know they're from new mice and not our old furry friends.

Holy cow, did any of you watch the rockets vs. blazers game where the blazers won with a 3 pointer in the last 0.9 seconds?  We just happened to be a member's house for the last 10 minutes of the game (whenever they showed it here..) and so we got to eat hotdogs and watch basketball.  I'm glad we stopped in to say hi. 
Speaking of basketball, the elders bought sister Tafili a new basketball because they lost her old one.  This one is way nicer too.  We've been playing in the morning again at the church building.  
We're going to make cookies today (we found chocolate chips in a chinese store!) and probably hang out with the Beckers.

Sister Ellen Butler