Greetings!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.
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.
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