Friday, March 28, 2014

Kwajalein Ferry

On a weekly basis we take the Kwajalein -Ebeye Ferry.  We either go to the Kwajalein Army Base for the day, when we have been sponsored by a Kwajalein resident, or we will go over for lunch and eat  in the ferry terminal.  The ferry schedule varies depending on the day of the week, but it basically runs from morning to night.  Since we are in the Eastern Hemisphere our clocks are set a day ahead (18 hours ahead of the Mountain Time Zone).  The work week schedule on the base is Tuesday through Saturday to coincide with the Monday through Friday military work schedule in the USA.  As a result the weekend on Ebeye for most people is Sunday, Monday.  After WWII ended the Marshallese people living on Kwajalein were moved to Ebeye Island.  The people who live on Ebeye and work on Kwajalein are not allowed to spend the night on Kwajalein so they ride the ferry that is provided by the US Army.  There are two to three ferry boats, but during the middle of the day only one is running.  The exception to this is during work days in the early mornings and late afternoons when two boats are running continuously to ferry the workers from Ebeye to Kwajalein.

Waiting for the new missionaries at the dock with Sister Becker, Sister Butler and Sister Tafili.  The missionaries fly into Kwajalein since there is no room for an airport on Ebeye.

Sister Becker enjoying the ferry ride back to Ebeye.  She is standing on the upper deck on the starboard side.  Kwajalein Island is in the foreground and Little Bustard Island is in the background.

The Ebeye Dock before the new roof construction.  Kajur Power is the building in the background.  We buy our power here and then take the twenty digit number and put it into the meter located inside the apartment.  If the meter ever gets to zero the power goes off.

Ebeye dock where passengers are boarding the ferry.

Ferry docked on Ebeye Island.

Sister Becker standing next to the Kwajalein Ebeye Ferry.

Ferry leaving Ebeye and heading to Kwajalein.

Ferry arriving at the Ebeye dock.
View of Ebeye from the top deck of the ferry.

Sister Becker preparing to leave the ferry.

The ferry ride itself takes about 15 to 20 minutes and it is very relaxing and enjoyable.  There is no fee to ride the ferry and no tickets are required. There are two levels on the ferry.  The lower deck which is enclosed has seating for about 125 passengers and the upper deck which is open has room for a bout 25 passengers.  Marshallese workers that carry a C-Badge (work badge) have priority if the boat happens to fill up.  Sister Becker prefers to ride in the lower deck to get out of the sun, inclement weather, or to avoid the spray from the bow of the ship.  As for me, I love riding on the upper deck so that I can look at the islands that are located between Ebeye and Kwajalein.  There are two very small islands located between Ebeye and Kwajalein called Big Bustard and Little Bustard.  There are very few people that live on each of those islands and there is no electricity.  While riding the ferry I look in the water for sea life.  I have seen quite a bit of sea life when looking off the bow of the ship including sharks, stingrays, sea turtles and a large number of fish.  I do take my chances on the upper deck as I have gotten wet on a number of occasions.  In fact a couple of weeks ago the sea was really rough with four to five foot swells and the ocean spray from the bow of the boat had me drenched from head to foot within five minutes.  It was nice and warm and I loved it the entire time, but Sister Becker did not because I then chose to go down below.  I sat next to her and got her wet from the water dripping off of me.  Oops!

Big Bustard Island is the first island one passes when riding the ferry to Kwajalein.  Notice the outhouse on the coral to the left of the island.

Little Bustard Island is the second island one passes when riding the ferry to Kwajalein.

Big Bustard Island (left) and Little Bustard Island (right)   People do live on the two islands.  One can actually walk to these islands from Ebeye at various times during the month when the tide is very low.

Arriving at the Kwajalein dock

The Kwajalein terminal straight ahead

People filing off the ferry at Kwajalein

Elder Becker at the Kwajalein dock

Freighter on Kwajalein that is bringing fresh produce and other supplies.  The same freighter was on Ebeye the previous day delivering much needed supplies.

A shark between the ferry and the dock on Kwajalein.  Do not fall in the water when getting off the ferry!

The Kwajalein Terminal has a very nice enclosed seating area with a fast-food restaurant called the American Eatery.  They serve a variety of food including burgers, fries, sandwiches, deep fried chicken, and a few other items.  We will quite often order the chicken and bring most of it home to have for another meal later.

The Kwajalein Branch children singing songs to us when we were stuck in the terminal.  We were supposed to get on the island to watch their program for Sacrament meeting that day, but for some reason security didn't allow us on base, so they came and sang to us.  Sweet angels from Heaven!

Elder Becker standing in front of the ferry terminal on Kwajalein Army Base.  This picture is taken on the base itself after one has gone through security.

Leaving Kwaj under a beautiful sunset. 

The dock on Ebeye, where people wait for the ferry, used to have a roof at one time, but over time it gradually decayed.  Most people find shade or cover from the elements by waiting under the awnings at the Triple J Store or by the Kajur Power Office.  They began work on a new cover for the dock about a month ago and who knows when it will be finished. 

Groundbreaking ceremony for the dock roof construction.

Work in progress at the dock.

Construction sign at the Ebeye dock. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

1st Birthday Party/Kemmem for Viliame

THE big celebration and major milestone in a child's life in the islands is when they reach their first birthday.  When a child is born here, and in most of the Pacific Islands, there is very little fanfare.  They are born and then they are blessed.  But once they live through that first year of life, then that is the time of real celebration! Big time!  I have to think this celebration was created generations ago stemming from the low mortality birth rate, especially in the islands.  Years ago the odds of a baby surviving were not very good, so once they made it through their first twelve months, then life was a little more certain on this earth and it was now time to celebrate.  The proud parents, William and Mela Ninjine , good friends of ours (and the cutest couple ever), invited us to their son's first Birthday Party, or Kemmem.  And what a celebration it was!  The only thing I can think of equivalent to this celebration in the United States is a wedding reception.  Invitations go out to all family and friends, a room is reserved, food is prepared, cakes baked, musicians lined up, and prizes and decorations purchased for all the party goers. There were also t-shirts, from Hawaii, for the party goers. This party was held in the restaurant attached to the Ebeye Hotel (the only Hotel on the island).  And most importantly a huge poster is created memorializing the birthday boy - Viliame (like William with a V) Anthony Ninjine.
Viliame's poster and decorated cakes

The honored family, Mela, William, and Viliame Ninjine, with our friend Samson Thomas.  The Ninjine family had matching clothing made for this special occasion
Mike with Mela and Viliame
Lisa with Mela and cute little Viliame

Party goers waiting for the party to begin.  Candy and prizes decorate each table and helium balloons float all about the restaurant.

President Thomas at the mic and getting ready for the music.

Room filled mostly with women and children at the tables and on the floor

And more people.....

Our sweet sister missionaries, Sister Butler (left) and Sister Tafili (right), with Sister Thomas (center) enjoying the meal served to all.  Dinner consisted mainly of rice, noodles, steak, chicken, potato salad, rolls, bread fruit, soda and bottled water.

We were in the small back room (that was air conditioned!) with a few of our dear friends, Pres. Thomas, Branch Pres, Anjain, District Pres. Seremai, and more prizes and candy on the table.

Our beautiful servers, Sister Loeak (left) and another sister.

Mike with the birthday boy

Enjoying a "grandma moment" with Viliame

Mike and Akino Smith (he baked and decorated the cakes where he works on Kwaj army base!)

Mike goofing off with Samson Thomas - comparing their skin tones! Which one is darker??