Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014, I Ate Dog...It's Tasty Stuff


How is summer going?  Is it hot there in Utah?  It's hot here but it's not really much different than the rainy season.  It's just hot year round.  Thursday marks my one year on the mission, meaning I have less than 6 months to go.  It's crazy how fast the time has gone.  

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that I ate dog.  It was pretty good.  It tastes kind of like beef and lamb.  It's tasty stuff.  Our fridge hasn't been working, so I gave the leftovers to the elders and they were quite pleased.  I don't know who's dog it was, but someone gave it to the bishop's family and they cooked it. Mmmm.  

On Thursday we did an exchange with the sister training leaders. I stayed in Jenrok and worked with a sister from Tonga.  I usually dislike exchanges because the sister training leaders just watch your every move and see how you do you feel like you're being watched and judged for 24 hours, but it actually went well. It was nice to be able to teach with a companion instead of only me teaching, which is going on right now because I'm training.  The sister told me I'll most likely be staying in Jenrok and training the new Fijian sister that comes in July, but transfers always change so we'll see what happens.  The power was out all day for half the island, which always happens on Thursdays, and it was so hot that day.    

We have very few investigators right now so we're trying to spend a lot of time finding...which we both struggle with.  We've been visiting members in the ward and teaching them a short lesson about families and missionary work.  We then give them a few pass along cards with the Laie Hawaii temple on them to give to their friends. It's perfect that the cards have the Laie temple on them because so many people here have been to hawaii at one point and have either seen or heard about the temple (although most Marshallese stay in Honolulu on the other side of the island when they go).  We explained that it's hard to transition to talking about the gospel with their friends but that if they talk about their families it becomes a lot easier.  And all of those that have gone to the temple from here went to Hawaii, so it's really nice the cards have that picture on them.  Hopefully it'll encourage members to share more. 

We spend a few evenings a week at the Kiribati family's house.  They always make us food and we sing together and bwebwenato (talk, converse).  I always talk a lot with the woman that's married to the Indian/Fijian guy.  She's always direct and straightforward when she speaks and it's so nice to have real conversations with her.  She reminds me a lot of Annie.  She gets annoyed with how slow and badly we sing at church, and she gets annoyed when everyone wants her to be at every single church activity and event.  So many of the people are so fake when they speak and just put up with everything annoying, and she doesn't and it's really nice.  It's nice to hear someone complain, as weird as that sounds.  

I don't have anything exciting to tell.  Eating dog was definitely the highlight of the week.  


Sister Ellen Butler

June 23, 2014, They Said to Put Coconut Oil On It...Their Answer For Everything

It's been a good week.  I think I'm finally starting to feel more comfortable in Majuro and Jenrok.  This island is just too westernized.  I guess it does have its perks (like yogurt and...yep, that's about it).  I'm enjoying working with Sister Boutu because she never gets upset about anything and she's learning really quickly too.  I think she'll be leaving Jenrok in a couple of weeks (I guess it's already time for transfers again) and I don't know who I'll be working with.  I think there's only one new sister coming in July (from Fiji) and I've heard I might train her...but those things always change. 
We've taken taxis a few times this last week and it's weird.  It's only when we're in Uliga and we need to get to Rita to the church building.  It's a little bit of a walk, and it's so hot so sometimes a 75 cent taxi ride is worth it.  Sometimes it's 50 cents...I think it changes every day. 
We're teaching a girl that lives in Rita-- she wanted to study with sisters-- that's part Marshallese but she doesn't know any Marshallese because she grew up in the US.  It's weird teaching in English, but it's fun because she actually listens, understands, and responds to our questions.  Marshallese people are so shy and they barely talk in lessons, even when we really try to get them to open up.  It's always a struggle to see if they really understand.  It's so much easier to teach when the person responds.  It's also fun because we get an RM to help teach the lessons and we teach outside in the evenings...which is just the best time to be outside.  Think about having summer evenings for a year straight.  It's pretty nice.  I wish we only worked in the evenings anyway, because no one wants to study in the afternoon when it's hot.  Afternoon is the time for sleeping here.
Happy birthday to Leans and Eliot!  Are 4 year olds supposed to be more behaved than 3 year olds?  Hopefully.   
I think I'm starting to get a boil on my elbow because it's really warm and hurts.  I asked a Marshallese person what to do, and they said to put coconut oil on it...their answer for everything.  I talked to a senior missionary and she said to put a hot washcloth on it a few times a day to get the gunk to come to the surface and form a boil. One of the sisters has four huge boils right now...I don't want that to happen to me.  I've heard they hurt like the devil too.
I cleaned our kitchen this week.  I put the microwave in the other bedroom because we never use it and it's just a place for cockroaches to hide.  There are still bugs but it's a lot better.  In the process of cleaning I found a blender so I'm going to get some tasty bananas and yogurt and make some smoothies this week.
On Saturday two 16 yr old girls got baptized.  They mostly studied with the sisters before I came to Jenrok.  They're both part member families, which is good.  I don't like when missionaries teach teenagers that aren't part member families because the kids aren't going to have support if they get baptized.  The rita chapel has a baptismal font and that is just weird.  Not half as exciting as baptisms in the iar (lagoon).
I don't know what else there is to tell.  We're trying to find new investigators because we don't have that many that want to study, and some have gone to outer islands for the summer.  The members are nice, and the bishop has asked us that we have FHEs with all the members because very few do it here-- which is weird because in all the other wards/branches I've worked in they love doing FHE.  The bishop asked us to fellowship an old jimma (grandpa) and bubu (grandma) and we try to go over to their house often.  The bubu leads the music at church and it's so off beat it's funny.  The jimma is from Cosrae and he's lived on almost every island in the Pacific at some point.  He speaks Kiribati with Boutu sometimes and then he only prays in Cosrae...whatever language they speak there.  He's sick and doesn't come to church.  We asked him what we could do to help and he said he wants a big ship so he can go back to Cosrae. That's not really funny in English but it's funny in Marshallese somehow.  I think I'm going to come back and think everything's funny. Marshallese people will laugh at anything.

Okay, I think that's it for this week.  I hope you're all doing well.  Go swimming for me!  It's taking all the willpower I have to not go jump in the lagoon and go swimming.  It's so hot.
Sister Ellen Butler

June 16, 2014, Is it Weird That I Like Bucket Showers Better Than Regular Ones?

Greetings from Jenrok,
Happy father's day to Leanbu and happy birthday to Linus on Wednesday!
I think Jenrok is hotter than Ebeye.  I'm not sure.  I don't know if I want to admit it though to the ri-majuro (people of Majuro) because they all think Ebeye is hotter.  There are a lot more dogs too.  But I think I'm starting to like it more.  We've gotten to know a lot more people this week.  The members are great, just like the members in Ebeye.  I think we actually get fed more often here.  Kate, you asked about how often we get fed.  I do think it's a bit crazy to have the ward feed the missionaries every night.  We don't do the calendar sign up thing but if we show up at members' houses at night we usually get fed.  I sometimes feel bad how often we get fed, but they love to do it.  I heard someone explain the culture here the other day, and i like how they explained it.  They said, "You're expected to give everything you have and accept everything you're given."  Kids are always asking us for stuff and we usually give it because it's the culture (except I tell them I can't give them my watch or my nametag...), especially if we're carrying food.  If someone asks you for the food you're carrying you always have to give it.  Then when we're at their houses they feed us and give us things (guam dresses, bags, etc) and we just have to accept it all.
Can we eat turkey necks when I get back?  They're so yummy.  I didn't know how to eat them very well when I first got here, but I soon learned that you eat as much meat off one and then snap it into pieces to get more of the meat off. 
Did I tell you that the ri-majol here wear American clothes?  The culture is so different from Ebeye.  the girls wear shorts and pants a lot.  and on Sundays most of them don't wear Marshallese dresses.  It's weird.
There are quite a few Kiribati in Uliga and Jenrok.  there's a really great Kiribati family that are all members and we go over there a lot for dinner.  The mom knows Kiribati and Marshallese but she only speaks in Kiribati to her daughters, and they in return speak Marshallese to her.  It's so funny to see them interact.  The younger daughter is married to a Marshallese guy and they have a few kids, and the older daughter is married to a Indian guy from Fiji and they have two of the cutest Kiribati/German/Indian kids I have ever seen.  They met at BYU Hawaii where they were both studying Biochemistry.  The wife is fluent in Marshallese and she's teaching her husband.  I think the kids are learning Marshallese and English.  They're one of my favorite families here and whenever we're with them we always have real conversations.  It's so nice.  I've missed that a lot. 
I've been learning a little bit of Kiribati from Sister Boutu.  I didn't realize how similar it is to Marshallese!  Holy cow.  It has a lot of the same words but the pronunciation is much easier.  Most of the APs that have to learn both languages say that Kiribati is easier to learn.  When I was in Lae I asked the Pohnpeian elder there to speak in Pohnpeian and I was also surprised how similar it was.  I now want to learn both Kiribati and Pohnpeian!
Part of Jenrok is called demon town because there are a lot of graves there.  Yep. 
K, I love and miss you all.  I hope you're all doing well.  Tootles.
Sister Ellen Butler

June 9, 2014, I Got to Order My Subway in Marshallese!

Well, I'm in Majuro again.  I wish I could just go back to Ebeye.  I'm working in Jenrok which is near town.  We actually live in Uliga which is nice because we're close to some stores.  We live close to one of the two ATMs on island (better than Ebeye where there weren't any!), an ACE hardware, a post office, and the nicest restaurant on the island where all the foreigners hang out.  But then we walk down the island a little ways and we reach Jenrok.  There's the main road and then a back road splits off and then connects back to the main road less than a mile later.  So it's a tiny area.  Everyone said the houses are close together in Jenrok like Ebeye, and they kind of are, but they houses are much bigger.  I could fit 6 Ebeye houses in a house here.  But there's more breadfruit!  I missed it while I was on Ebeye.  Breadfruit with grated coconut and cooked fish- so delicious. 
My companion is Sister Boutu and she's from Kiribati.  She's really nice and she's good at English and Marshallese.  I was worried when I heard I'd be training a Kiribati sister, but she's great.  She's really good at cleaning too, which is nice.  I know a few members and investigators but we've had a lot going on this week so I still need to meet a lot more people.
We had a zone conference on Friday and Sister and Elder Hamula of the area seventy were in town.  It's was nice to see all the missionaries on the island that I haven't seen for a while, but there are a lot of new elders too.  The zone conference was good but long. 
On Sunday the Jenrok and Rita wards watched general conference together.  I was excited to get to know people but it was hard because there were two wards there together.  It poured and sister Boutu and I got soaked on the way to church (we decided we'll just taxi from now on if it rains) so we were cold the whole time.
Our apartment is ugly as sin.  It has green walls and orange trim.  The bathroom is a tiny shower and a toilet, and then the sink is in one of the bedrooms.  the whole place is just really dark.  The house is a bit cockroach infested but I discovered that 409 spray is pretty effective at killing the young ones.  We cleaned up a lot of the kitchen today and I think I cleaned up a few pounds of cockroach wings and that creepy black powder that cockroaches leave around. 
Leaving Ebeye was sad.  We had lunch with the Beckers on P day and then played ticket to ride with them in the afternoon.  We picked up the new sister from the dock at 3 pm and showed her part of the island.  In the evening the youth had a social night and each branch performed dances.  Then they had a iakwe-iakwe for me and another elder that was leaving Ebeye.  I'll see if I can email some photos from it.  On Wednesday we took the ferry to kwaj and noon and sat around at the checkpoint for a couple of hours before they let me on the base.  Some of our friends came with us so it was nice to say goodbye.  A member from kwaj actually picked me up once I got onto the base and she showed me around the island.  Kwaj is's like america on an island.  She dropped me off at the Subway and I knew the girl working there so I got to order my subway in Marshallese!  I then walked to the airport and waited for the flight.  It's only an hour long flight to Majuro and it's so cool seeing the islands from the air.  It was cool coming back to Majuro but it's just so different from Ebeye.  People dress like Americans here and there are so many more foreigners.  I do like that the food is cheaper though!  I even found some plain yogurt! 
It looks like I'll be emailing every Monday at 10 AM at CMI.  I miss you all.
Sister Ellen Butler 

June 3, 2014, I Had a Few Real Cherry Tomatoes This Week

I hope you had a good birthday, mom.  It sounds like you guys ate some yummy food on your birthday.

I had a few real cherry tomatoes this week.  I about died because they were so amazing.  The district president works at the hospital and there's a bit of land there where they have a garden, so he got the tomatoes from there.  I also ate some grapes too!  Sister Tafili and I were at the grocery store and an old Taiwanese man bought sister tafili $20 worth of fruit (a few oranges, green apples, and a tiny box of grapes).  The grapes were so delicious.  Sis. Tafili blushed and all the workers saw and laughed.  The funniest part is that the man tried speaking to us in broken Marshallese and we did not understand him very well.  I wonder how long he's been here.  A fair number of people never learn Marshallese when they come here.
Kamina and Mickey got baptized on Saturday.  It was a really nice baptism and they were so happy and excited.  The best part was getting to see their daughter, Baby, share her testimony and experience.  We were happy to teach her parents because she's wanted them to get baptized for such a long time. 
Last night Branch 2 had a branch wide FHE as a going away party for me and Elder Finau (an elder that's heading back to Majuro too).  They had a few speakers and we shared a little, and then of course there was dancing and food.  I've realized it's not a Marshallese party unless there's dancing and food.  We've got another FHE planned for tonight and the district is also doing a iakwe-iakwe.  Hopefully we have enough to get everything done! 
I leave tomorrow on the noon ferry to kwajalein.  The Samoan elder I'm going with has to wait at the checkpoint until they bus him over to the airport but I can get on the base earlier if I want to.  I think a member might meet me at the checkpoint and show me around for a bit.  I don't think my flight is until 6 pm but my bags have to be checked by 4:30
I'll be working in Jenrok, which is the second to the last area on the east side of the island.  From west to east the areas are: Laura, Ajeltake, Long Island, Delap, Uliga, Jenrok, and Rita.  I haven't worked on the east side yet so I'm excited to explore there.  I'll be finishing up the training for a kiribati sister that came 6 weeks ago.  Her name is Sister Boutu, pronounced like "bosu" because "t"s in kiribati sound like "s."  Supposedly she doesn't know english, so it should be fun.  I've heard that Jenrok is a really good area so I'm excited. 
I'm trying to think about what else we've done this week.  We've eaten a lot of our meals with members since I'm leaving, which has been awesome.  I'm mostly packed and the CES couple that was here for the weekend took back a lot of my books to majuro because they had an empty suitcase going back so I don't have to worry about the weight of my suitcases. 
I'm sad to leave Ebeye but things are good.  Sorry I don't have much else to say this week.  I miss and love you all.
Sister Ellen Butler