Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving on Ebeye

Marshall Islands Majuro Mission
Back: Wilson, Prisbrey, Ben (Benevidez), Jolley, Watkins
Front: Robert, Golea, Whitney, Mahit

With love, from Elder and Sister Becker!
Our amazing Missionaries of Ebeye enjoying Thanksgiving Day at our apartment.
Sister Whitney, Sister Mahit, Elder Golea
typical scene - shoes at the door
Elder Prisbrey (District Leader), Elder Wilson, Elder Robert (local missionary)
Elder Golea and Sister Whitney, making words

Elder Ben, Elder Jolley, Elder Watkins

Sharing testimonies on gratitude.

We asked everyone to share a little bit about what they had to be grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day.  We heard some amazingly strong testimonies from these young representatives of the Lord.  I heard many words of how grateful they are that they are on this small island of Ebeye (including me), and the lessons they are learning from the sweet humble people of this land.  They bore such strong testimonies of how they have come closer to Christ and have gained stronger testimonies of the Gospel.  It was gratifying to hear of their thankfulness for the love and support they receive from loved ones at home and far away.  I told them that it is my hope that somehow Elder Becker and I can help fill in that gap as we act as their "parents" while they are so far away from family and loved ones.  We consider all of these young missionaries like our children and want to do everything we can to support them as they labor so diligently.  I do think the best missionaries, the cream of the crop, have been sent to the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission!  They are A.MAZ.ING!
We had some of the usual fixings, turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, carrot sticks and green peppers. We also had instant sweet potatoes (I wouldn't recommend doing that again, but we had to try!), brownies and a pumpkin dessert.  I missed having regular pumpkin pie, so I am going to search around for a pie tin for next time (Christmas).  Nothing beats good old pumpkin pie!
Time for the food!
Chowing down

Sister Mahit helping with the clean-up.
And I finally get to eat!  At least they left me plenty before they went back for seconds!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Baptisms in the lagoon

Our mission here in the Marshall Islands is basically one thing: service. That little word has a lot of meaning and has many hats for us to wear.  Our official calling says we are serving as "Member and Leader Support" missionaries.  We are to help and support the members as they fulfill their church callings.  Our other big calling is to be the support for the eight young missionaries who serve on this island.  We have six elders and two sisters who are serving faithfully on Ebeye.  Their mission is to invite people to come unto Christ as ordained representatives of Jesus Christ.  And that means that they are busy, busy, busy teaching, converting, and baptizing the people here in the Marshall Islands.  

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins...... And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.", St. Mark 1:4-5,9,

As we read in the New Testament, just as in the days of old, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we believe we must be baptized by immersion.  This is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior.  In a similar way, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ.

In the past six weeks since we have been in the Marshall Islands we have witnessed weekly baptisms. On Ebeye they have no font, so we all walk down to the water and they are baptized in the lagoon side of the atoll.  Each week as I see this it reminds me of Jesus being baptized in the river Jordan.  I will NEVER get tired of this scene....

In front of the church before the baptism, with Elder Duford (left) and Elder Wilson (right)

inside the church building

at the church for opening exercises

Leaving the church we walk past the school and a few homes

and we are still walking

and winding through the narrow alleyway between the houses.....

and here we are at the lagoon site

some of the beautiful women

Crowding around to watch; to the right is Sister Whitney

I will never get tired of this scene down by the waters.  The baptisms take place on the lagoon side of the atoll as the waves on the ocean side would be too rough for baptisms.  This also makes it an incredible and picturesque scene as the sun sets behind them.

young boy getting ready for baptism
walking into the water

being baptized in the lagoon

entering the waters of baptism as the sun sets 

President Seremai and us with a couple that was just baptized. 
One of the families showered them with strings of candy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Eating Adventures

Eating and shopping for food has become an adventure for us.  When we first went into our "big" grocery store, we were excited to see several items from home that we were accustomed to.  That is until we checked out the prices!  Yikes!  I will never again complain about the prices back home.  Produce, if they have it is high.  Apples, oranges and cabbage are all about $2.95 lb, You can also get tiny local bananas (sometimes), yellow onions 1.50 lb, and nice Russett potatoes for $1.50 lb.  You get the idea!  The other day we wanted to have some loaded baked potatoes so I bought all the fixings, including cheese.  Pure gold.... 8 oz block of cheese was $6.60.  We will definitely use that sparingly. Of course white rice is plentiful and only $11 for 20 lb. I guess that's why they eat so much of it. 
The other thing we discovered is that they don't seem to care about expiration dates!  We soon discovered if something is on sale, then it's OLD!  Or if it is real EXPENSIVE, they don't put a price on the shelf.  We are slowly learning what to buy and what not to buy.  I love yogurt and cottage cheese, but will have to do without.  Milk comes in quart boxes on the shelf, so that's the only reliable dairy product here, oh, and ice cream.  I was craving cottage cheese the other day and checked the date, 5-31-13!  Hmmm, don't care to know what that was like.   Guess I can do without for 2 years!     Check out some of the items below! 
Froot Loops, $9.35  That I can pass
Saltines?  $8.50, pass on that, too!

sometimes you can find some interesting brands, these are soaps.
One of the smaller stores on the island, with familiar products

This is inside one of the 2 restaurants on the island.  These are some of the missionaries in our district.  We pushed two tables together to seat all of us and it took up about half of the restaurant.  I had a delicious grilled tuna w/ rice dish for $7.75.  I am starting to think it's almost just as cheap to eat out as it is to cook for yourself!

This is a typical shop along the street, run out of a house
One of the smaller stores.

This was the plate of food we got from our District President's house the night we celebrated his son's leaving on a mission to Hawaii, he fed everyone steak, chicken, hot dogs, rice, noodles, salad, and breadfruit soaked in coconut (my favorite)!

And of course, we have managed to make ourselves at home with our favorite snack - popcorn (we are learning how to make it out of our biggest pot).  And to top it off, our favorite game "Ticket To Ride"!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our new home

Here is our humble abode.  We have already moved the furniture (no surprise) and added a few items since these pictures were taken and we purchased a small area rug.  The curtains are sheets we found in the apartment that are strung up by some twine.  I am still searching for some curtain rods, but can't find any, so will probably make do with the twine.  I found a shop that sells fabric, so maybe one of these days when I am feeling creative I will try to make curtains (by hand)!  I am learning fast that you have to make do with what you have, or get creative.

The living room, dining room and kitchen

Another view, with the front door

Our bedroom, and door to the bathroom

The dining room, that's the window that looks out over the store.

The kitchen!

View from the front door

Our little apartment is right in the middle of what you might call "town".  To the left is the dock and the bank, down the intersecting street in one direction is the church, and if you go in the other direction you will find the post office and Hotel Ebeye.  Both large stores are owned by Triple J, as well as the apartments, so they get most of our money!

This is "Main Street", our home is above the Department store on the 2nd floor, last window on the left

This is the view outside our dining room.  This is the large grocery store where we are able to find most of our food. 
Can you spot me?  Those ships are big!
This is how we get anything on the island, besides the ferry.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Greetings in Ebeye

our first glimpse of our new home, Ebeye Island.  It does have trees after all!

Missionaries waiting at the dock for our arrival.

When we arrived in Ebeye some of the church members were waiting for us at the church.  They gave us a royal welcome with song and dance.  Since it was during the middle of the day, not many people were able to come, but those that were there treated us like royalty.  We were deeply touched by their kindness and welcome.  As we walked into the church they were in a semi-circle and were singing.  They put a crown of flowers on my head, and gave Elder Becker a flower lei.  We were then told to go around the room and greet them and give them a hug.  Then, several people talked (in English) and welcomed us to their island. Then they asked us to say a few words.  Such wonderful people and a great way to be welcomed into their world!
Some of the women who greeted us

more of the greeting party

there were even a few men, the tall one just left on a mission to Hawaii!

the short woman had a whistle and kept everyone in sync and on time.

Add caption

the greeting party

the new senior couple on Ebeye!  We felt like royalty!