Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Eve with the Missionaries

We enjoyed a fun evening with the Ebeye Missionaries on Christmas Eve.  Since we would all be celebrating Christmas Day at the church we fixed a yummy dinner for them the night before at our apartment .  We started out the evening with a devotional and we all shared some thoughts on the Savior and his birth.  How grateful we all are for all he did for us.  We decided that the best present we could give back to Him was to serve him and to be the best missionaries we can be. We then played a short game of charades (very comical!), followed by a white elephant tie and earring exchange.  There were some lovely ties exchanged!  The sisters (all 3 of us) exchanged earrings, but Sister Whitney ended up choosing a tie.  So, Elder Becker, being quick on his feet, chose some  earrings (after losing his tie to another Elder) and gave them to me on Christmas morning. Lovely! He always thinks he can get away with presents like that!  Ha, ha, doesn't work! For dinner we had a baked potatoes with ham, broccoli, cheese, chili, fruit salad, cole slaw, and rolls.  For dessert we gorged ourselves on cookies and ice cream.  We ended the night with a game of  Ticket To Ride (only 5 can play), and the rest of us watched the movie "The Polar Express". I always love that movie.  We have a wonderful group of missionaries here on this little island, and it was fun hanging out with them. They are a hard working group of young men and women, and they deserved to have a night of fun and relaxation.

Eating Christmas Eve dinner

Visiting and eating
Elders Benevides, Walden and Watkins after devouring the food.

Sister Mahit and Sister Whitney relaxing
Wilson and Golea checking out the latest Church News

Hanging out and having fun!

White Elephant tie and earring exchange

Yum, ice cream and cookies!

Elder Becker teaching the Elders how to play his favorite game, Ticket to Ride

The game is on with Prisbrey, Watkins, Walden, Benevides, Wilson
Dessert time!

Watching "The Polar Express" with Mahit, Whitney, Robert and Golea

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

There IS Beauty All Around

After we received our mission call to the Marshall Islands, we spent considerable time researching the area on the Internet.  The ONE place that concerned us as we dug deeper and deeper was Ebeye Island.  We read MANY unsavory comments about the island. That it is the slum of the Pacific.  How there were no trees, no flowers, nothing except people and row upon row of lean-to structures that housed 14,000 people.  We also saw pictures of children playing in the dump, with comments that said "that's where the children have to play as they have no where else to go!" Yikes, what were we getting ourselves into?  In our mind we had created the worst-cast scenario of what the island was going to be like.  I thought, how can they send us here, where there is NOTHING?  NOTHING!  How will we ever survive?  Where will we live?  Boy, were we surprised when the ferry approached the island. We could see trees! Coconut trees swaying in the wind! And trees with flowering buds!  What a pleasant sight that was!  I will admit this island is not exactly what you would think of when you picture a Pacific Island in your mind.  But it has become beautiful to us. WE LOVE IT HERE!  There is plenty of beauty to be found on this island.  The people are actually the most beautiful aspect of this island.  You will not find a more friendly, humble, giving group of people anywhere.  We have felt nothing but love ever since we set foot on this island.  But, before I posted some of the images of the less than perfect parts of the island, I first wanted to implant into your minds of some of the beauty that can be found here.  Some of the flowers here are as pretty (hah, I used another word) as any you will find anywhere.  The trees are also interesting with their leaves and visible root systems.  I also love to watch the tall palm trees blowing in the winds.  The flora here is evidence of our Heavenly Father's hand in the creation of so many plants and flowers that beautify this earth.  Proof to me that no matter where you go, you can find beauty on this earth.  I have to admit, maybe I have become numb to some of the less savory bits on this island because I often don't even notice the bad.  When we walk around the island my eyes are focused on finding the beauty.  That small flower that covers the old fence, the little flower next to the ocean, or a spot of greenery amongst the brown huts.  These are some of the tender mercies that help me LOVE this island.  Next to the people, the flowers are what I love most about this island. Oh, and maybe the ocean waves and the sea shells, too.  See, this island has so much to give if we will just look for it! 

Adorned with some of the beautiful flowers and leaves from Ebeye (inside the church chapel)

The view from the ferry upon arrival - yes, Ebeye does have trees!

Beautiful greenery protecting an old home (yes, it is occupied)

A most interesting evergreen tree next to the grocery store

Pandanus tree with most interesting fruit (no never tasted it yet)

Interesting roots on the Pandanus tree

Coconut trees and bushes hidden inside the gate

One of the nicest homes (and probably the biggest) on the island.  Most homes have gravel or sand surrounding their space.  This home is nicely landscaped and maintained, and fenced (a rarity). 

beautiful yellow flower hiding along the rooftops and antennas


God's creations and beauty can be found in the unlikeliest of places on this small island.  Tucked down alleyways, behind fences, along the ocean.  You can find beauty if you just look for it.

 Flowers of all colors - yellow, red, pink, purple and white.  Each unique in it's own way.
the red flowers used on Sister Becker's crown

the white flowers used in Elder Becker's lei - my favorite!

gorgeous pink flowers
my favorite flower, again

dainty red flowers

purple impatiens flowers

Small hibiscus flower hiding along the ravaged coast line grasses

beautiful yellow flowers

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Elder Becker's trip to Lae (one of the outer islands)

On October 25, 2013 I (Elder Becker) left Ebeye Island and took a boat ride to Lae Island.  President Thomas Weir (Mission President of the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission), President Johannes Seremai (President of the Kwajalein Marshall Islands District), and I were accompanied by about 30 other members.  What was supposed to be a six hour boat ride actually took nine hours.  We were supposed to arrive on Lae Island at about 4:00 PM but actually arrived there at about 10:00 PM.  We were met by about 50 church members who greeted us as we walked from the beach up to the chapel.  We were fed a feast of tuna, rice, lobster, breadfruit, coconut milk and much more.  The members were so nice and it was so nice to see them up this late to greet and feed us.  President Weir and I slept in the elder's house with Elders Adam and ElderVano.  President Weir brought an air mattress and slept on it and I chose to sleep on a two-inch pad on the floor.  We all woke up the next morning and visited with a number of the church members throughout the day.  President Weir had to do a number of temple recommend interviews and a number of other district business items.  In the evening we held a fireside in the chapel.  The chapel is just what one would picture on a Pacific Island.  It is built on stilts about three feet off the ground.  It is made completely of wood with  windows on each side.  The chapel is large enough to seat approximately 100 members.  There is lighting in the chapel but no air conditioning.  Needless to say it gets very warm in the chapel but once in awhile you feel a little breeze blow in from outside.  Sunday morning church services started at 10:00.  There are about 90 LDS church members who live on Lae, but at this church meeting we had about 115 people who attended.  This is really amazing when you consider that there are only approximately 300 people living on the entire island.  The highlight of the church services was the Priesthood Meeting.  All of the Priests took a folding chair from the chapel, walked outside to the beach and placed their chair under the palm trees.  It was the most beautiful setting I have ever attended for a church meeting and I'm sure that I will never live to see a more peaceful place.  The spirit was definitely there at this meeting and I continually looked around at the awesome beauty that the Lord had provided for its faithful members on this beautiful island.  We had a final meeting at 4:00 in the afternoon for all adults in the branch.  Once again we set up folding chairs outside under the palm trees.  One thing I did learn on Lae is that you need to be very careful where you sit.  On Saturday while President Weir and I were sitting under some palm trees a couple of coconuts fell from the palm trees.  The church meetings I attended on Lae Island are meetings that I will never forget.  They are etched in my memory for all time.

Elder Becker on the boat leaving for Lae.

Elder Becker, President Weir, and President Seremai

Lae Chapel, Elder's house, and Restroom

Relaxing under the palm trees on Lae Island. 

President Weir and Elder Becker attending Sunday Priesthood Meeting.

After being on Lae for a while I decided to take a tour of the little island.  I started off by walking on the small sandy road.  I ran into a few children playing and they all wanted to shake my hand.  There were a few homes (huts) that one could see along the road hidden back in the palm trees.  A couple of men passed by me on bicycles.  Sister Becker told me to buy a souvenir and I did try, but I found out that there is not a single store on Lae where you can buy anything, not even a Diet Pepsi.  There is no smog on Lae because you will not find a single car.  What little electricity you will find on the island is provided by solar power or generators.  There is also no internet on Lae.  To communicate with the outside world they use radio which was not working while I was there.  After walking the road for about a mile I decided to walk the beach back to the church.  I ran into Modin and Limon Phillip who had ridden on the boat with us to Lae.  Brother Phillip is the district mission leader and they had family on the island that they wanted to visit.  As you can tell by the pictures the beach is more beautiful than words can describe.  I have never been on a more quiet peaceful beach in my entire life.  I was deeply touched by God's Hands in creating such a beautiful and quiet place for me to witness.  I walked for about an hour on the beach and ran into one person.  A young boy, about 10, saw me walking and joined me.  We tried to talk but soon realized that neither one of us could speak the other's language.  We immediately became friends and I took a picture of him and he took a picture of me.  I tried picking up a few shells but they all crawled away when I went to pick them up.  When I did pick them up they crawled out of my hand.  I soon realized that every pretty shell I wanted was also wanted by a hermit crab.  I did manage to find a couple of lovely broken shells that were not occupied. 

President Weir and I woke up at about 3:30 AM on Monday morning unable to sleep.  We quickly dressed, packed our clothes, and grabbed two folding chairs from the chapel and walked down to the beach.  We sat there in the dark enjoying the beauty of the ocean, the stars, and the serenity of everything around us.  We talked about a number of things including our families and work experiences.  We both eventually laid down on the cool sandy beach and fell fast asleep.  At about 6:30 other people started coming down to the beach for preparation of leaving Lae.  Approximately 75 members of the Lae Branch came down to the beach to see us off.  Before leaving we all gathered around and sang, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."  We loaded the boat and left at about 8:00 AM.  Oh one more thing, they tried to load a large live pig on the boat but from what I have been told live pigs are not allowed to be brought to Ebeye.  The return trip on the boat took about nine hours and I took enough Dramamine to help me sleep for five hours.

The only road on Lae.  Notice no cars anywhere.

Gilligan's Island?  No Lae Island.
The little boy I met

The beautiful blue waters of Lae.
Modin & Limon Phillip with Elder Becker

Elder Becker soaking in the beach, sand, and sun on Lae Island.