Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lae and Ujae Island #1 - preparing for the trip

Yes, we are still alive and well here on Ebeye!  And busy as ever.  There are so many things I want to write about, but I thought it best to start by documenting our trip to Lae and Ujae Island on May 23- 27, 2014. That's five days of adventure!   There are so many pictures and details to share with you, so thought it best to break it down in sections.  It's been about three weeks since we returned (how time flies!), and we are still talking about our trip.  Hopefully, the pictures have preserved some of the detail that we so soon forget, but even with pictures it is hard to relay the sights, smells, sounds, and feel of the entire experience.  In one word: INCREDIBLE! And a-once-in-a-lifetime-experienceOk, I guess that's not one word, but then again, one word cannot really describe this experience.

This trip to Lae Island has pretty much been in the works ever since Elder Becker's first trip to Lae back in October 2013, right after our arrival in the Marshall Islands.  We had barely set foot on Ebeye Island when Pres.Weir asked Elder Becker if he would like to go on a four-day-five-hour boat trip to see the members in the Lae Atoll.  Elder Becker gladly joined the entourage and had an amazing and memorable experience as the leaders in the Kwajalein District taught and trained the members of the church on Lae Island.  The five hour boat ride, however, turned into nine hours, but that didn't seem like too much of a deterrent.  Elder Becker just took lots of Dramamine and slept through most of it!

This time the trip to Lae Island was going to include ME!  Yippy Skippy!  I wanted to go this time and I was so looking forward to it.  After all, the men can't have all the "fun"!  I had to stay back last time to set up and clean the new apartment, but I wasn't about to be left behind this time.  No way!  But, I knew this time it would be different.  Sister Weir and I were going to fly in the plane and meet the rest of the group as they arrived in the boat.  Easy, peasy.  No boat ride for us women! No sirree!   BIG CHANGE OF PLANS........ 1.)  The small plane was (and still is) down for repairs for Air Marshall ("Air Maybe" as we call it) and no planes were flying to Lae, and 2.) Pres. and Sister Weir had to cancel out at the last minute.  But, the show must go on and we continued preparations, by packing and gathering supplies.

We live close to the middle in the Kwajalein Atoll where Ebeye Island is on the southeast portion of the atoll.  Our boat was to leave Ebeye and travel 100 miles west to Lae Atoll; then 2 days later travel 30 miles northwest to Ujae Atoll.  Each atoll has limited entrances deep enough for the boats to enter the lagoon in the atoll, which adds to the travel time and distance.
This trip was two-fold.  1.) Conduct leadership training with the members and leaders of the church on Lae Island, and 2.) Open up Ujae Island to missionaries.  Ujae Atoll is another five-hour boat ride past Lae Atoll.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints missionaries have never set foot on this island.  The Ujae Atoll has about 600 people on it and it has only one small Protestant church which serves about 30 people.  Ujae has about twice as many people as Lae, and people have been waiting for the missionaries to come.

Some of the Elders waiting to visit Iroij Mike Kabua

Before we left for Lae, the leaders of the church in the Kwajalein District had to get permission from the Iroij (King) to place missionaries on the island.  Mike Kabua, the King, lives on the island just north of Ebeye.  The meeting was arranged and about 14 members of the District Presidency, High Council, and Elder Becker went bearing gifts.  It is customary to take gifts to the King when making such transactions, so they went bearing gifts carried on their right shoulder (another part of the custom).  These gifts consisted of rice, flour, ramen noodles, and soda pop.  They had an audience with the King. Business was discussed, smiles and handshakes were exchanged, and permission was granted.  Easy enough!  All that pomp and circumstance and we were set to open up a new island with missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We felt like true pioneers.

This fishing boat (the large one) was our means of transportation for about 30 people and all our food and supplies for Lae and Ujae.

I had to buy a hat (which I found on Kwaj) for the sun and wind, and also obtained an ample supply of Dramamine!

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