Friday, June 20, 2014

Lae and Ujae Island #2 - the boat ride

May 23, 2014 Friday
Here it is! Our means of transportation for our 9 hour trip to Lae! Inside seating was for only the captain and his crew of two.  There is a smaller-than-an airline bathroom through the door on the left. And, yes, before the nine hours was up I did have to cave in and use the facilities.
All ready to go!  With my hat, water bottle, sunscreen, sea sickness bracelets (on my wrists), and pillow encased in plastic.

Friday morning dawned early for us in anticipation of our boat trip to see the beautiful people of the Lae and Ujae Islands.  Our party consisted of Elder Becker and me, the Kwajalein District Presidency, members of the District High Council, two church facilities people, three young missionaries, and a few others (including one small child and a nursing baby!) to bring the total to 29 people.  We had one elder missionary on board that was to switch places with an elder now serving on Lae.  We also had two sister missionaries with us, Sister Butler and Sister Tafili.  After weeks and weeks of asking, reasoning and perhaps nagging, Pres. Weir finally relented to let them go if they worked real hard.  The idea had been bounced around of whether or not it would be feasible to put sister missionaries on an island, and we thought this would be the perfect test!  Needless to say, they were more than ecstatic to go!  And I was delighted to have them as my female companions.  I just love our sisters! 

Me with Sister Butler and Sister Tafili at the dock waiting and ready to load the boat.
The first line of order was to get the boat loaded with all of our belongings and supplies.  The bulk of the goods had been loaded onto the boat the night before.  Our boat is basically a fishing boat, so it has several deep holds that were easily filled up with supplies for the island people.  We had thousands of pounds of rice, flour, and other food, as well as church materials, repair supplies, chairs, clothing and other household items.  The list could go on and on.  We took a large supply of food items to the people on Lae, but we also had to take enough food to feed our crew for five days. There were boxes and coolers placed in every corner and aisle on the boat. And the men so kindly covered the front of the boat with a tarp to help protect us from the elements.

Tying down the tarp on the boat.  It is under this tarp, out of the sun, that many of us stayed for nearly the full nine hours!  Believe me, it was a life saver!
 We said a prayer and our good byes.  Many friends, family, and church members were there to see us off.  We started loading the boat at about 6am that morning and were ready to push off at 8am!  I.was .amazed!  First time we have ever done anything ahead of schedule here!  We generally run on what we call "island time".

Leaving the dock at Ebeye.  Good-bye and farewell for five days!

My little spot on the boat was right up front with my back to the cabin.  There were no chairs for seating, so I had my plastic-encased pillow to sit on, with the wall for my back support.  I had a pretty sweet spot as I could still catch fresh air from the outside, and I was shaded most of the time by the tarp.  I also loaded up on Dramamine so I wouldn't get sea sick.  That worked like a charm along with my motion sickness bracelets!

Relaxing and reading on my iPad which was encased in a ziplock bag to keep dry.  The rest of me certainly was not keeping dry, especially my wind-blown hair.  I can't complain as it actually helped to keep cool.
We headed across the atoll, past Carlos Island, where it is deep enough for boats to safely leave the Kwajalein Atoll.  After about one hour we could see nothing but water, water, and more water.  We were in the middle of the ocean! And we never once saw another boat.  At first it was kind of an unsettling thought, but then I assured myself that I was surrounded with some of the most faithful people in the district, prayers were being said on our behalf, and the captain had a radio!

Ok, time to relax. We are going to be here for a long time.  What does one do on a boat like this for nine hours you ask?  Let's see:  Read (when the boat's not rocking too bad). Sleep (or just sit there in a daze). Sing. Gaze at the water.  Sleep. Read.  Stretch.  Eat.  Play a game.  Fish.  Look for flying fish (yes, Elder Becker did see some).  Read.  Stretch.  Sleep.  Look for land.   I think that's about it.  The loud sound of the boat and the waves made it too loud to carry on much of a conversation, but the Sister's and I did have fun singing hymns and we did play a guessing game.  Some people slept most of the time away, but I'm not prone to sleeping when traveling, even with Dramamine, so I just sat there in a vegetative state for awhile when I couldn't read!  ha, ha.  Lots of time for thinking and self introspection.
My view from where I sat.  I think everyone was sleeping at this point except for me and the little boy!

Singing hymns with Sister Butler. Notice all the coolers and boxes everywhere.

Stretching and taking a picture of the back of the boat.  The large red bag was my back rest.

This little boy's mom was sleeping, so he was entertaining himself with a game.

Pres. Seremai and Carl Kilma in the back fishing.  If you look real close, you can see a line out the back on either side of the picture.  They were successful in catching a yellow fin tuna and a Mahi Mahi, both going and coming. YUM!

Gazing at the ocean and sleeping

Singing hymns with the sisters.

Rafe Abaya and Bill Albert in a daze.

Elder Becker stretched out in the front of the boat with his iPad; Sister Butler in the foreground.

And more chillin!

the only life preserver I ever saw!  Hang on Sister Tafili!  Pres Seremai on top.

supplies all along the side of the boat, too

great group of people!

The one thing that finally brought us alive was to be among the first to sight land.  Oh, what a welcome sight that was!  The only problem with that though, is that it still takes a long, long time to get there once land has been sighted. We watched with rapt attention as the little dot on the horizon grew bigger and bigger and turned into an island. I can't describe how happy that made me feel!  I guess that captain really does know what he's doing!   Then, the hard part, we had to pass Lae Island to get inside the atoll through the only entrance deep enough for the boat to pass.  It's hard to finally see land, and then watch it pass by.  Patience, dear girl!

Viewing Lae Atoll with rapt attention.  We actually had to pass Lae Island (the largest island in the atoll - which always has the same name as the atoll), and go past the land, we so longingly had looked for, until we could turn around and enter the atoll through the pass in the coral reef.

Taking down the tarp in preparation of our arrival.
Once inside the atoll they took the tarps off the boat, and we waited for a small boat to ferry us and all our supplies to land.  The water is so shallow, so we dropped anchor a good distance from land out in the lagoon.  And that is where the boat stayed until we left.

Here comes our boat to ferry us to land!

Yay!  Finally on board the small boat!  They wanted the missionaries and the women to be the first ones greeted by the people on Lae.
Oh, what a beautiful sight!  Now that's what I think of when I think of a remote island!  Stunningly beautiful!  And look at that clear water, white sand, and the church building in the background!

Time to get off the boat and meet our welcoming party on the beach!

 Some may say this is a lot of detail for just the boat ride, but I wanted to devote a good amount of time to this because it took so stinking long to get there!  Got that?  Nine hours!  Can you imagine that?  We were on that boat for nine hours, and it didn't take you nine hours to read this!  Ha, ha!  We left at 8 am and arrived on Lae Island at 5pm.  Honestly, I wanted to document our incredible journey, that for me was a journey into the unknown.  

On this trip I was surrounded by so many good people, and I am so grateful to be able to call them friends.  I pray for them daily, and I know they are doing the same for Elder Becker and me.  I couldn't have asked to have traveled with a better group of people.  I love these people with every fiber of my being, and I am grateful to be serving among them in the Marshall Islands.  They were always concerned that I was doing OK or if I needed anything.  Always thinking of others.  I know Our Savior hears and listens to the prayers of these humble people, and I know he is blessing their lives as the gospel is being taught to them in these islands.  My life has been blessed many times over because of these people.  The blessing for me to not be sea sick AT ALL was a miracle and a first in my life.  The blessings just continue.

Next up, Lae blog #3!  Let's see the island and meet the people!  I bet you can't wait!  I can't either.  I can't wait to relive this memory once again.


  1. What an incredible experience! You two are awesome and the Marshall Islands are blessed to have you here serving and loving these wonderful people.

  2. Nagging? Yep, that's our Sister Butler! Your account of the trip brought tears to my eyes. I can never thank you enough for the kind and loving care you took of our daughter while she was on Ebeye. I know that she loves you both. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Wendy! I cherish the time Sister Butler was able to serve on Ebeye and the time we spent together on our trip. She has truly become like a daughter to me. I do love her and hope we will always stay in touch.