Friday, October 30, 2009

Historic Shells...

My shell collection from the beach with the WWII wreck of a PT boat near the airport, and from Laura Beach.It is next to my bed with my alarm clock - I took a picture of it because it is illegal to bring coral 'off island' and some of these I won't see again when I go home - but they greet me every morning 'on island.'

Elder Woodland and Elder Gilbert found some 50 caliper WWII shells for me at an investigator's home over by Rita, or maybe it was Uliga. I had heard that they had found some, and wondered if maybe they could look for some for my Dad. He didn't fight on Majuro, which was the first Pacific theater WWII battle with the Japanese after Pearl Harbor, but he did use them later on other islands. They were proud to find them for you , Dad!

Third Week 'On Island'

The Hewstones, a senior couple from Australia, have a unique mission assignment: they are over all the buildings on island, and have rebuilt the missionary apartment behind the church - termites had nearly collapsed the roof.
Elder Hewstone is a carpenter and not only helped to build and do the finish work for the Sydney Australia Temple, he and his wife were the president and matron of that Temple. We have a sealer on island. All we need is a temple.
Elder Hewstone is a cancer survivor of 20 years. They are my nextdoor neighbors in apartment 12, and I have spent many lovely evenings with them

Our apartment building at sunrise - I came out to run and ran back in to get the camera to capture the prettiest time of day.

My apartment #13 and the car I drive around.
The highest point on the island is an overpass where there is a break in the atoll, and the lagoon and the sea connect. Elder Lytle always says, "Plug your ears - they might pop with the altitude change."

The sisters in the office and I went on a shopping trip to Payless when we heard there were eyelet skirts from Nordstom's for $5! I found a green skirt to match the blouse Raelene picked out for me (also $5) - white skirt in front of the mission office; green skirt in front of the Long Island Chapel where I go to church. There are five buildings on the island and another one planned, as well as expanding a current one. The missionaries are finding those whom the Lord is preparing. I'm trying to keep them healthy so they can.

This morning Sister Lytle helped me color my hair - how did we do, Vernice?

It's P-day, Saturday October 31st, and I'll be going over to the church in a few hours to work with Laurie, my new found Farnsworth 3rd cousin, and teach the Laurels and Priests 2 new songs in English for their Stake Conference Choir - we're teaching "I'll Follow Him in Faith" and "Scripture Power." Our Long Island Ward kids loved Scripture Power last week at rehearsal. The Marshallese have so much music in their souls!

Friday, October 23, 2009

On October 17th, we senior missionaries took the mission van and headed for our P-day to Laura Beach, 20 miles away to the end of the atoll. We took a potluck picnic lunch and found the only sandy beach on Majuro atoll. The Elders set up chairs, and Elder Haddock and Elder Ahlstrom found us, like Sister Bell joked, just about lunchtime. They actually had an appointment and left just as we were ready to eat, but we told them to come back for leftovers - they did, at 3:00.

Here are the pictures that still don't do the beauty of the place justice. We looked for shells and found wonderful, exotic shells on the ocean side. High tide came in after lunch and we found many more new and different ones the second time down the beach.

A family was out fishing for their dinner with high tide.

Lots of new shells, pristine water, and great sand! THIS is a mission?

Two great men...

Elder Bradshaw is the newest returning Elder from Lae, an island in our mission with only 200 people on it - President Tibon, the current and first Stake president of the Marshall Islands Stake (the Stake was created this year in June), was the first missionary to Lae 20 years ago. He says that repeles (white people) have a tough time on Lae and the other outer islands - Elder Bradshaw lost 15 pounds in 2 1/2 months.

Elder Bradshaw's quick turnaround

The Farewell lunch for Elder Bradshaw was hosted by the Lytles - I will be moving into their apartment when they leave in 5 weeks. That may be the first time that I have a rough spot - they have been my mentors and my friends, my teachers and my laughing buddies. What will we ALL do when they leave? Elder Lytle says, "We will all be leaving, so teach them what you know."

These three UN workers had been in Majuro for just one week, and were very happy to be leaving this place - they were taken by the "great young men- who are you?"asked the worker from India. She could not believe that these fine young men were volunteering and paying their own way to serve the people of the island for 2 years! One week had been plenty for her. Elder Bradshaw will represent the Church well on his return trip home.
These fine Elders came to the Majuro airport to see Elder Bradshaw off - he was having to leave 2 1/2 weeks early after returning from Lae, an outer island in primitive conditions, because of an infected leg. He is from Manderfield, just over the Beaver Mountain from Kraig and Collette. He has relatives buried in Circleville - I sure hope that one day soon we can visit with Elder Bradshaw and his family - he is such a fine young Elder and a person of great character. We all felt the great strength of his testimony, even though he is soft-spoken. Komol tata, Elder.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The First Week!

I'm finally here in Majuro!

The day before I was supposed to fly out with Elder Stoker my recent root canal was acting up. My dentist sent me to an endodontist, and the next day Elder Stoker flew to Hawaii and then on to Majuro by himself while I was having oral surgery. I was a diligent, obedient patient, and three days later I had the stitches out and was cleared for take-off outside the US on the NEXT Tuesday.

The blessing was seeing Corinne and Jeremy's family one last time and spending Conference with family.

Kyle took me to the airport, and 6 1/2 hours later I touched down in Hawaii - my traveling companions were Sister Kafusi, who will dance at the Polynesian Cultural Center, and Elder Henry from the Marshall Islands serving a mission in Hawaii, plus about 8 other elders going to Hawaii.

I stayed with the Miles, a senior couple, for the night, and then took off by myself to Majuro the next day.

Sister Smith and 2 senior couples, the Lytles and the Bells, met me at the airport - I have never been so happy to see anyone as I was to see them - I was alone in the back of the 1950's-reminscent airport for a half hour open to the elements in a light rain, waiting for my luggage and customs, until I was shown to the front of the airport where they were.

They whisked me off to the Mission Office and the president, to my new apartment that they had stocked with sheets, dishes, and towels, then off to lunch at the Marshall Islands Resort Restaurant and macademia nut-encrusted tuna with veggies and rice.

This whole week has seemed like a year as I have settled into my job - Elder Lytle says that before I came, hardly any missionaries were calling in sick - now the phone is ringing every day. We've been to a baptism, a wonderful church service on Sunday, a YW picnic where I got a close-up look at the lagoon and the ocean, we've been taken to lunch by the deputy minister of the US Embassy, we attended a great humanitarian donation of books and sports equipment and tools to the high school by US Eagle Scouts (orchestrated by the Bells). The high school kids are terrific - they are so well-mannered and genuine. Sister Lytle says that the people and the buildings and the culture remind her of the 1950's - I believe she is correct. But the ocean is timeless...