Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 28, 2014, I'm Going To Miss These Sorts of Evenings


This last week was pretty eventful.  The best part is that we were able to move into the elders' old apartment.  After the first five minutes of being there I thought it was a bad idea because of how dirty it was.  We ended up throwing away boxes and bags of stuff elders had left in the apartment.  It was gross.  But now that it's all nice and clean, it really is a much nicer apartment.  I think the highlight is the shower head.  I think I missed real showers.  And the water is warm.  It's really nice.
Okay, that's not completely true.  The best part was being able to go on a exchange with Sister Tafili.  It was the best day I've had since being back on Majuro.  We had so much fun and got a lot of good work done too.  It was great teaching lessons with was just like the good, old days in Ebeye.  She's always so happy and optimistic about the work, and she knows Marshallese and it was just really refreshing.  It doesn't matter how hot it is outside when we work together.  She was with me when we moved into the new apartment, and she helped me clean the place out and throw away all the stuff. 
I finally feel like we have some good people to teach.  One is a woman named Cindy and she genuinely wants to study and know if the church is true.  She's really good at english and she asks questions.  You know you've found someone that wants to study when before you can ask to set up a time to come back, they suggest times for the next two lessons.  She's great.  We're also studying with a man that the elders studied with before.  He's SDA and has a lot of questions, especially about unclean and clean foods.  The elders taught him all the lessons so now we're just trying to tie up loose ends, answer his questions, and get him to come to church.
I found a store that a Chinese woman owns that sells buns with red bean paste in them.  Mmm.  It's become my afternoon snack when we're out. 
I think working with Sister Tafili helped me be less stressed.  It's just hard having a companion that doesn't understand English very well and doesn't really talk much.
The power always seems to be off every Thursday on this island.  Normally it's back on by 5 pm, but they announced on the radio that it wouldn't be back on until Friday.  We ate our dinner, sashimi and rice (cooked on a tiny propane stove), by candle light at the Kiribati family's house.  We stuffed ourselves with raw fish and then lay down and listened to the rain hit the metal roof.  I'm going to miss these sorts of evenings.
Another evening when we stopped at the Reiher's house (the kiribati family...they've got german blood in them, hence the last name) I sat and watched a rat run into the bathroom.  Sister Boutu came by to use the bathroom and I informed her that it was currently occupied but that in a few minutes he'd probably be done using the bathroom.  She didn't seem to mind, and she was happy to use the bathroom with no light. 
I love you all.  Tootles,
Sister Ellen

July 21, 2014, There Are No Longer Elders in Jenrok

Greetings from a 30-mile-long strip of land in the north pacific,
Brrrsky, I am cold.  We got caught in the rain on the way to NTA (national telecommunications authority) and so we stopped at the "kiribati family's" house to dry off.  The rain started coming down in buckets so we changed into guam dresses and helped keep the water out of their house.  I guess it's more like an entry way to their's hard to explain.  They only have the nice, clean part of the roof connected to the pontoon to get water, but another part of the drain spout was open so we put a bucket under to collect the water, and dumped it about every 10 seconds after it got full.  We also swept the water away and put sand to keep the water from coming in.  And then we did laundry in the rain, so we were soaking wet.  It was so fun to play in the rain.  Then we ate lunch and when the rain stopped we walked over to NTA in rita.  NTA is supposed to open at 1 pm but the workers hadn't yet arrived at 1:45 so we decided to just come to the NTA in Delap.  It's more expensive (I don't know why they would have different rates) but at least we have a time to email today.  We're not allowed to email at CMI (College of the Marshall Islands) anymore because the elders were being loud and obnoxious in the library.  Imagine that.
Supposedly the "microsports" are happening in Pohnpei right now.  It's like the Olympics for Micronesia....I have no idea what events they compete in or how good anyone is at sports.  As far as I've seen, no one here really knows how to play sports.  The guys seem to be pretty good at basketball, but that's probably because that's all they do everyday. 
Some exciting things are happening tomorrow:  First off, we get to move into the elders' old apartment because there are no longer elders in Jenrok.  Their apartment is supposedly way nicer than ours.  Their water isn't ever turned off and their bathroom is bigger than a closet.  Also, Sister Tafili came back from Ebeye last week and we're doing an exchange tomorrow in Jenrok!  I'm so excited to work with her again, even if it's only for one day.  I've been kind of stressed recently while working with Sister Boutu.  I basically have to do everything because she's so new and doesn't know marshallese very well yet.  She really seems to understand the grammar, but she doesn't want to speak much.  It's been hard because I can't just give her the things I don't know how to do or explain.  To help with this we just take members to all the lessons...but then sometimes I don't understand anything either and we just sit there and the member teaches the whole lesson.  It's kind of sad because I've been out a year, but I think it's more than people could speak up or more clearly and then I'd understand.  Anyway, I'm really excited to work with Tafili for a day and to get some help from her in my area.
This last week the elders introduced us to all of their investigators they're giving us, so we worked with them a lot.  It was good but a bit overwhelming.  We had a "kajemlok" or a going away dinner/ party with the kiribati family for the elders on friday night.  We had fried fish and chicken, sashimi, and rice, and then the elders made a pizza and we made a double recipe pumpkin pie in a 9x13 dish.  It was an odd mixture of food, but really good.
It was really windy and rained on Sunday during church.  After church the Bishop's family went home to find part of their roof missing.  We went over and helped sweep water out of the house and place buckets to try to collect some water as the men worked on nailing a couple more sheets of "tin"...just that corrugated sheet metal everyone uses for roofs here.  It's always really loud in houses when it rains on the tin roof!  I guess we've swept a lot of water out of houses this week.
Supposedly a few of the elders went out to Laura this morning to try to run from Laura to Rita, or one end of the island to the other.  It's about 30 miles long, so I think they're crazy.  I kind of want to get a few people together and bike it one p day.  I think that sounds a bit more reasonable that running 30 miles. 

P day ends in just a few hours so I'm not sure how much longer I'll be online.  I'm excited to move tomorrow! 
I hope you're all doing well.  Tootles,

July 14, 2014, We Can Get a Big Bag of Tuna for 5 Bucks

We had a pretty good week.  It's been raining almost day and so it's been blasted humid.  It's nice when it's cloudy and windy though.  Yesterday was really nice outside.  I like working a whole lot better when we're not dripping with sweat. 
Sister Boutu was sick for a couple of days this week so I got to write letters, make smoothies, and update my journal because I got really behind while I was in Ebeye.  I'm now writing in the journal that you sent me for Christmas, Annie!  thanks. 
I've told you a bit about the Kiribati family we visit a lot.  Well, because one of them married an Indian guy we have the best dinners: dal, sashimi, and rice.  They made lentils a couple times last week and it's surprisingly good with sashimi.  We've also been eating a lot of tuna and rice this week.  We only get the fish from Kiribati people because they really know how to clean fish well.  Marshallese people for the most part aren't very careful with cleaning fish.  Sometimes they just leave all the stomach and innards and cook them whole.  It's gross.  We found we can get a big bag of tuna for about 5 bucks, so we're going to get one and freeze it and pull out fish when we need some.
Sister Boutu has been really good about reading the Book of Mormon in Marshallese.  I think I started it while I was in the MTC but stopped.  Well, I think I want to try to read it but most of the words I'll learn are old Marshallese words that no one uses anymore.  The most annoying thing is that the spelling isn't uniform.  "jerkakpeje" means "resurrection" and on one page I saw it spelled "jerkakbeje" and "jerkabiji."  It's fine because I knew what it was saying, but it sure is confusing when starting to learn Marshallese.  Also, you know when you're looking for a scripture and you know it's at the bottom of the page on the right hand side but you don't know where exactly it is?  The problem is now I know picture them where they are in the Marshallese Book of Mormon but I forget where they are in the English version.  Does that make sense?
One of our progressing investigators has been gone for a couple of weeks.  She was supposed to get interviewed and baptized so she was really close to being ready.  Well, she showed up at church yesterday out of the blue and asked when we could study this week!  So it looks like things are okay!  We're excited because she's really ready to get baptized.
We also found out this week that the elders in Jenrok are both getting transferred away and that they aren't going to send any elders to the area.  So it's going to be just sisters in Jenrok.  The elders told the bishop yesterday and everyone's wondering why we won't have elders in the ward, especially since other wards have two sets of elders. I think it's because jenrok is just a tiny area so it's fine for just one set of missionaries. We'll be getting the elders' investigators this week so we'll probably go with them to their lessons and get to know them to make the transition. It's good for us because we need more people to study with. 
We're getting lunch with all the sisters on the island today, which should be fun.  We've got FHE with the kiribati family tonight and one of our investigators is coming over with her two kids.  One of her kids is named Nipai (as in Nephi).  That's about it.  I didn't take any pictures this week because I kept forgetting to charge my camera.
Sister Ellen

July 7, 2014, All We Ate For a Few Days This Week Was Sashimi and Rice

Greetings from Jenrok,

It's been a pretty good week.  The work is fun and exciting when we have progressing investigators, but barely any of them are progressing right now so it's a little hard.  We have one investigator that we teach in English and she didn't show up to her lesson Thursday and so she didn't get interviewed Saturday, but I'm sure she's just busy.

Ebeye was just fun because it was so fast paced and we always had so many people to study with.  It's just slower here, but so much  faster than other places in the world.  We do a lot of teaching and not as much 'finding.'  But we need to do finding because our investigators don't really want to study.

I tried some frozen sand worms from Kiribati this week.  Sister Boutu got them from the Kiribati family in our ward.  They taste kind of like dried fish, which isn't really the best.  All we ate for a few days this week was sashimi and rice.  We can get a pretty big chunk of sashimi with a little salt, lime, and shoyu on it for 50 cents at a little shop.  I think I'm going to eat raw fish every day until I leave because I'm not going to be able to get nice, fresh fish.  I also had some good octopus this week.  It wasn't very chewy and it had a good flavor.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this week.  We have "combined P day" today meaning all the missionaries on the island come together to play sports/hang out.  It'll be nice to see the sisters from the other zone.  Sister Tafili is coming back from Ebeye this week and Sister Crane is flying out, so I'm excited to see her before she leaves.

I'm starting to work on getting Christmas gifts for everyone.  Marshallese make various handicrafts from pandanas and coconut leaves and they call them "amimono."  I'm slowly starting to collect some earrings and flowers as gifts.  I also want to try to get a couple of mats and bags. I'll email more if I think of anything else to tell from this week.  Sister Boutu and I will both be staying in Jenrok for this next transfer. 

Sister Ellen Butler