Monday, October 28, 2013

Life on Ebeye

A whole new world has awakened for me here on this little island in the pacific.  Life here is basic, simple and laid-back. And the people here are all so nice, beautiful, happy, AND short like me!  When we got our mission call to serve here, we really didn't have any idea what we were heading into.  I only know that our calling was inspired and that our Heavenly Father placed us here for a reason.  What that is I do not know, whether it is for someone here, or if it is for my own growth and to learn what humility is.  I pray fervently every night that I might be of service to these sweet people and that I might know how best to serve them.  President Monson gave a wonderful talk in conference and talked about how we can all grow from our trials and life experiences. He said, that as we learn and grow we will become stronger to face the trials that are placed before us. Not only to persevere and endure, but to become spiritually stronger as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. I hope I not only persevere and endure, but can become spiritually stronger in the process.

Moving on....... We flew from Majuro to Kwajalein, which is the army base.  President and Sister  Weir and a couple of missionaries going back to Lae Island also accompanied us.   There we were met by a member whose husband is the Doctor on the base, Kathy Skinner. We also met another couple the Soks as we were loading up our luggage. Yay, American people we can get to know!  We took advantage of the food on base and had a nice Subway sandwich before loading onto the ferry for Ebeye.  Ebeye is a tiny island that services Kwajalein.  Actually it is full of the island people that were kicked off the base and told they couldn't live there any more.  Makes one not so proud to be an American when you find out things like that.  So, they all live crowded on this tiny island no larger than a mile.  10,000 people live here, of which about 1,500 of them work at the base.  Some of the  others work locally at the small shops, what few there are, and the rest are supported by those few that do work.  The main roads are paved with sidewalks, but to get to most of the homes you have to wind through narrow alley ways to reach the homes.  The surface there is either gravel or dirt.  Once in a while someone actually has concrete.  Most are tiny homes, with barely any furniture, if any at all.  Most of them sit on the floor, and expect you to sit on the floor with them, too. That concrete is hard!  The majority of the homes have no plumbing, or just a hose, so I guess my apartment is a palace!  Can't post any pics yet, but Check out Facebook.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


What a whirlwind it has been. When we landed, we were met by all the Majuro Senior Missionaries.  They were such a welcome sight! Two of the couples, the Johnson's and the Gardners, got here just this past month and are over education and the perpetual education fund, so we weren't the only newbies. We all went out to lunch together, as is their tradition at the Tide Table restaurant, where I had the yummiest fish and chips! The fish was so good and flakey, the fries good, and a yummy coleslaw with pineapple.  Plenty to eat on Majuro! I guess they want to plump us up before we head off to Ebeye!

The missionaries drove us around the whole island in their van to give us a glimpse of the place.  Palm trees, coconut trees, banana trees, pandanna trees line the roads and the shore.  Unfortunately the water is polluted and littered here. Looks great from a distance, though. There are tiny huts and houses everywhere in between the trees. Kids running around all hours of the day, and wild dogs. The dogs are the scary as they are wild and feral.  We were warned to carry a rock or a stick when we walked around to scare them away. One morning when we walked towards town about four of them came running around us and scared me to death.  Fortunately something distracted them at the last minute.

We are staying in the beautiful mission home for five days until we can fly out to Ebeye. We had a two day zone conference in the home and we watched General Conference from a recording.  There were about 54 of us missionaries there to soak up the messages of the prophet and apostles of the Lord.  What a grand two days.  We also fed lunch to all those hungry missionaries, and boy can they eat!  Especially the sisters!

President and Sister Weir are wonderful people. They have welcomed us into their home and have taken care of us despite their hectic schedules.  They have been flying ALL over the mission for the past three months, barely landing before they take off again.  The senior missionaries have been great to us to, giving us instructions of what we will have to do on Ebeye. We got trained on how to install and change the water filters for all the missionary apartments, medical issues, financial (monthly missionary funds and phone cards, and other expenses), church records, and lots more.

The internet here is not letting me upload photos, so I will do that later.  Might have to post them on Facebook for now, as it is letting me do it there. Good old Facebook!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

We finally made it!

We left Utah on Tuesday, Oct 15th headed for the Marshall Islands via Honolulu.  We spent the night in Hawaii, and then boarded the plane early the next morning.  About an hour and a half into our flight, the pilot told us some kind of indicator light was on in the cockpit and the plane had to turn around and go back to Hawaii.  Bummer!  Apparently it's something that has to be reset before the plane can take off again, and they don't have that ability in the Majuro airport.  So..... United put us up for the night in the Pacific Beach Hotel right down on Waikiki Beach!  We had a relaxing day walking along the beach, eating, and wandering around the shops.  Unfortunately, our luggage was already maxed out weight wise, so we couldn't really do any shopping.  But we had fun looking.  We ended up being "stranded" in Honolulu for TWO days.  What a shame.  If we would have known that the first night we could've scheduled some fun activity/tour, but we had to keep checking with the airport as they kept changing our flight.  Oh, well, I know no one is going to feel sorry for us. How lucky can you get?  It did seem weird walking around Honolulu in shorts with our name tags on. 

We finally flew out Friday morning, which changed to Saturday as we crossed the International Dateline before landing.  The Marshall Islands are one day ahead, less six hours.  As we stepped off the plane we felt the heavy humidity and the tropical temperature of the islands.  Here begins our adventure!

view from the window

first sighting of the Majuro atoll

Majuro, Marshall Islands

rainy landing!

Majuro airport, with our shell necklaces

Welcome to the Marshall Islands!

Airport farewell

Oct 15, 2013, Tuesday, was the last day to say goodbye to our family for the next 23 months before heading off to serve the people of the Marshall Islands.  It has been a heart-wrenching two weeks saying goodbye to all those we hold near and dear to us.  If we EVER leave for an extended period of time again, I want to say goodbye to everyone at the same time.  It was too hard dragging out the good byes, and then turning around and doing it all over, and over, and over again.  I think I got all my tears out by the time we said farewell at the Salt Lake City airport.

Unloading the suitcases

my missionary tag in Marshallese

last shot with the Utah grandkids

My sweet daughters!

the airport send off!

More family time!

Oct 13, 2013
The day before we headed out we had one last day to spend with the Utah grandkids.  We wanted it to be a special day, focused on the grandkids so we could have some special memories.  The morning was spent with Lydia, Oliver, Gavin and Evelyn.  Then in the afternoon Luca and Hannah joined in the fun.  Of course, the parents were there, too.

The fun started at Scheel's store where they have a ferris wheel, putting green, shooting range, play area and some fun photo areas.  Then it was back to the house where I showed the kids how to blow bubbles with straws and dish soap.  After that it was pumpkin carving time.  We ended the night with some fun family games - beach ball volleyball, freeze dancing, fruit basket upset, and a few others.  We had a fun day filled with laughter and love. 

Oliver, Grandpa and Lydia on the ferris wheel

Golf lessons


Tiff and Evelyn in the play area

scaring us at Reams

bubble creations

pumpkin carving fun!

Dancing fun

Family time

After we finished up our Missionary Training in Provo, we had a few fun days playing with family in Utah.  This would be our last chance to hang out with some of the kids, grandkids, and some of the extended family.   We finished up our training Friday, Oct. 11, but we would not board the plane for the Marshall Islands until Tuesday morning, Oct 15.  We had a grand time soaking up all the time we had left.

Saturday started with a fun time at the pumpkin patch.

Hannah and Nick looking at the pumpkins

Oliver found a big white one!

Climbing on the haystack pyramid

Matt, Tabitha, Evelyn and Grandpa

King of the mountain?

Digging for treasures in the corn
Then we made homemade root beer at Tabitha's house!

  Tiffany even came down Sunday night in time to see some of the extended family as we were gathered at Marianne's house (my sister) in Provo.  We had a packed crowd as my sisters, Diane and Marianne, were there, as well as assorted nieces and nephews and cousins - and LOTS of little kids.  Thanks, again, Marianne for letting us invade your home. It was a FUN night!  A big surprise of the night was when Stan, Vickie, and John Taylor dropped by.  Stan was the former mission president in Boise many years ago and lived just two doors down from us in Boise.  It was great to see them. I should have taken more pictures that night, but I was too busy visiting!
Us with John, Stan and Vickie Taylor

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

MTC time!

I'm a little behind on my posts, so let me start with the MTC experience.  On Oct 7th, we entered the Provo, UT Missionary Training Center (MTC).  And what a week we had.  We reported on that Monday morning, ready to go (after a sleepless night) and hit the ground running.  We had classes and instructions ALL day long, and were spiritually fed.  We studied out of the Preach My Gospel book, and had an amazing experience.  We met in the Chapel just north of the main MTC compound, where we met in a large group in the chapel, and then met in classrooms with our "Districts".  Our morning teacher was a cute and bubbly teacher, Sister Brown, and in the afternoon we had a nice young man, Brother Pearson (sorry, didn't manage to get a picture of him).  Our District was made up of four couples.  Elder and Sister Kennington (our district leader) were from Ontario, OR and are heading to Chile to work with the Perpetual Education Fund.  Then there were the Gysler's from Switzerland heading to Lebanon to do Humanitarian work, speaking French.  Sister Gysler's English was not very good, so she had a German interpreter all week.  Then there were the Robertson's from Pocatello/Blackfoot/St. George who are headed to Salem, OR doing Member Leader Support (MLS).  After one short week, it was amazingly hard to say goodbye to all our new-found friends.  I think there were about 100+ of us Senior Missionaries.  I think we grew so close so fast because we were baring our souls, our testimonies, and sharing intimate stories with one another all week.  It was an amazing experience!  You should try it!

Here we are at the Provo MTC right after we got our official badges!

In front of the "famous" map, pointing to the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission

Our District, Robertson's, us, Kennington's, Gysler's, and our instructor Sister Brown