Monday, November 30, 2009

Yokwe - it means hello, love, and Yokwe Yokwe - goodbye...

When missionaries have finished their service, the Marshallese members host a Yokwe Yokwe, a feast and a time of love to shower upon the ones leaving and upon anyone else who gets to join in their precious tradition. First they gather...

Then it's time to eat, and these Young Adults know how to put out a spread of the most delicious food!

The Elders always manage to find us about dinner time (they deserve every meal they are ever served!)..

Then the entertainment begins, with every ward in the stake represented.

The Young Adults gathered in front of Elder and Sister Lytle to sing to them, being led by one of their own. The music is powerful and sublime.

While still singing and making amazing music a capella, the Marshallese form a line.

The beloved honored guests are given gifts...

...and hugs.

Then everyone wants pictures with the honored guests.

This young adult exemplifies how they all feel about the Lytles - it's worth a thousand words.

A day at the office...

The two Elders (counselors to the President) in the office - between the two of them, planes fly with our missionaries in them, boats float, and wires get wiggled so that our internet works.)
The three sisters in the office - we do various and sundry things for the Elders and Sisters - clerical, medical, and mothering (Elder Haddock needed some mending on a favorite pair of pants).

Our assistants to the President, dancing for joy, that Sister Lytle masterminded the cleaning of the back storage room. It's actually big enough in which to ballroom dance - we had no idea!

On November 19th we celebrated Elder Bell's and Conrad's birthday, with a turkey dinner complete with all the fixings - Sister Bell cooked the turkey in my apartment because the power was out in Rita where they live. We had dinner hosted by the Bells in the Lytle's apartment. The next morning we were all in the office working when the power went out. We all looked at each other, knowing our computer work was done for a few hours. Because we had just had Thanksgiving dinner the night before, it was time to put up the Christmas tree! - on November 20th. We still had Thanksgiving to put on for the Elders and Sisters, but our bellies and hearts were full. JoJo did the tedious task of putting on the lights...we all blessed her after trying to push the task on to each other. We're old enough as senior missionaries to know better than to voulnteer for THAT task. It takes young hands and an artistic mind. Thanks, JoJo!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rita Primary Children

One Saturday I was asked to teach a Christmas Primary song to the Rita Ward primary.
The inspiration came to use Amelia's and Laurie's baby dolls that we make in Alpine, Utah on Wednesday Humanitarian Night. None of these children has ever seen a baby doll. I explained that Jesus came as a baby, just like they did. And he grew up, just like they are. And some of them have been baptized, just like He was. There was only one thing they can't do like Jesus - He suffered for all of our hurts and sins and pains so that we could go back to Heavenly Father if we would repent - we can't do that for ourselves. He was the first to be resurrected, and because He did, we will be resurrected after we die, and we will live again. He wants us to be just like Him.
We celebrate His birth at Christmas. I told them to take their babies home to remind them that Jesus was a baby, just like they were, and he grew up. The baby can remind you that we can be just like Him if we repent and keep His commandments.
What they taught me as I taught them is something hard to describe - I will always remember their eager faces, beautiful voices and quick, intelligent learning in a language that is not their own. Mostly I will remember what the Spirit helped me feel - how much the Lord loves them. I will never be the same, I hope, after this chance to serve in the Marshall Islands.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How does one begin a jam-packed two weeks?!?

One begins the biggest two weeks of the year by tripping over a speed bump while beginning a run and landing squarely on the right knee - the Bells and Lytle's lovingly made me stay down all day and took care of me with the newest DVD's of conference and soup and homemade bread. (Nov. 2, 2009)

Parker and Shawnee and the Smith's came in on Nov. 3rd from Hawaii and we took them to lunch at a Chinese Restaurant - Shawnee and Sister Smith did their best to not get freaked out by the fish with the fins and eyeballs still intact.

Elder Bell anticipating Eneko (Nov. 6th), a day that he and his 'beautiful and fetching wife' planned for Parker and Shawnee's visit.

Our captain and crew dropping us off,,

From the boat we loaded ourselves and our lunch onto a barge and pulled ourselves in.

I made it to Eneko! there was no way that I was staying home!!

Sister Smith and the President with their treasure of coral from the ocean side of the atoll

Sister Lytle and Sister Bell relaxing and reading.

The Hewstones, the Smiths, and the Bells after our fantastic picnic lunch of beef and pulled pork barbecued sandwiched and all the trimmings made by Sister Bell

After shell collecting, the Pres. made me sit down and rest my knee in the chair. The chair bucked me off, and President Smith took all my shells down to the lagoon and washed the sand all off. What a president...

One of the few times someone wasn't in this chair on the lagoon side - come to think of it, maybe Conrad was enjoying the view....

Sister Bell and Sister Lytle navigating the distance between the lagoon side and the ocean side of Eneko atoll.

The waves on the ocean side of Eneko were 8-10 footers, but the camera can't capture what we experienced - no beach on this side, only coral.

Approaching one of the lagoon atolls on our way home - I thank Heavenly Father every day in my heart for Dr. Hoopes, that I can see.

My shell collection from Eneko...does it remind you, Mom and Dad, of the shell collection Santa brought me when I was 8 years old? Boy, did HE start something!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A jam-pack two weeks!!!!

Elder Woodland on the day he 'died', 11 November 2009. When the Elders come, they are 'born.' Elder Woodland left 2 days before Zone Conference. Zone Conference is a major event, which was shared with an historic first Stake Conference and a visit from our Area Medical authority and his wife, the Fullers.

Elder Lytle's last testimony at a Zone Conference. Sister Lytle's last testimony at a Zone Conference. Elder Lytle says they are almost 'dead'. I think we're all going to die when they leave.

Parker and Shawnee, the Smith's younger children, who came to visit for 10 days - everyone loved them! (Taken from my place at the organ)

All the Senior sisters with our $5 Payless Nordstrom skirts!

All the sister with flowers in their hair being upstaged by our President with no hair.

Sister Smith after the official Zone picture - everyone wants to see the goofy picture...

November 14-15, 2009: the first Stake Conference of the Marshall Islands Majuro Stake, newly created in June 2009, was a time of great celebration and an outpouring of the Spirit. To hear everyone sing "The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning" is something I will remember forever.

Sister Cummings and Sister Kitiona with some of the beautiful arrangements made by the RS

The RS Presidents of the different wards had made ut, or flower crowns, for all the Ri-pellee sisters and Elders, and even some for our visiting doctor and his wife from New Zealand!

Saturday, before the Adult Session of conference, the Stake Primary President taught her first training session in the new Marshall Islands Majuro Stake Training Meeting. Laurie and I had trained she and her counselor the week before, and Mary had the two of us come and teach the new Primary song for 2010. She handled EVERYTHING else for Sharing Time wonderfully! We were so happy for her!

What will we all do when Elder and Sister Lytle actually leave for home? They spoke in the Youth Fireside the afternoon of Stake Conference, and they packed the house.

My dear friend, Sister Lytle!

A jam-packed two weeks!!!!!

Here's the best for last - our Area Medical Authority based in New Zealand, Dr. Fuller, came with his wonderful wife for a 5 day stay in Majuro. He came the weekend of Zone Conference, so all the missionaries in Majuro benefitted immensely from his classes on prevention of disease in tropical climates. He and his wife are remarkable teachers - so fun, bringing dynamite self-made videos from their years as AMA in the Philippines in 2005. He is an ER doctor, and we even had some missionaries obligingly tear up their knees
in a p-day rugby game so he could teach their nurse.
Dr. Fuller saw about 12 missionaries while he was here - we had 12 delighted missionaries as he diagnosed and treated and gave advice. We all loved him and his great wife.

These 4 little children are the reason the Fuller's and I came back from our morning trip to Laura Beach with so many shells - they saw what we were finding and ran around, bringing us 4 times the amount of shells in 1/4 the time. As we got in the car, the little boy in the red shirt said "See ya, Babe." Other than that, he speaks very little English.

We came back from Laura Beach and processed Sister Fuller's shells in my sink - soaking in clorox is a must or the aroma of the sea would fill their airplane cabin. Come to think of it, she said, then I could have a seat all to myself, with no one around.....hmmmm....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Our Long Island Church House

Wonderful Sister DeBrum, the Long Island Ward Relief Society president - she can do it all - conduct the meeting, teach Relief Society, speak in church, and fish with goggles and fins to catch the family's dinner.

In between classes, if the room isn't vacant, the women sit on the floor waiting for their rooms - the termite damage to the beautiful wood made Elder Hewstone have to tear off all the molding on the walls - another project in the works for him to replace it all. But he built a temple - we can't wait to see how his finish work is.

Our beautiful chapel - notice the fans on the ceiling - Laurie has to really anchor the pages down or the music blows away or the wind from the fans turns the pages....

Here's Johnny, the 18 year old remarkable young man who directs the choir after I teach them the music. Someday his story will be known - I predict he will make a big difference in his world, wherever he is.

Some of the YM/YW in the youth choir that practices afer block time. The one Rebelee (white person) is Gary Patterson, Laurie's (my third cousin) husband.

Elder Mackey teaching a Marshallese class for his district in the Relief Society Room - everyone wants to hold classes in the Relief Society Room because is has an independent air conditioner!

The last view as we leave the church - the lagoon just off the parking lot. President and Sister Smith graciously posed before a baptism one evening - now if I could figure out how to email it to her....the land in the distance are the smaller atolls across the lagoon. Someday the Bells will take us there...