Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Arriving in the Marshall Islands

 Sept 27, 2012

Elder Aaron, Sister Mahit and me in Hawaii.  Lei given to me by friend Pauline Lua
Iakwe or Yokwe are they sometimes spell it                 

I am here in the Marshall Islands and loving it.  It's a beautiful, but very poor country and the people are friendly and very poor but beautiful and smiling.  I remember when Matt described Puerto Rico as like a dirty Hawaii. In some ways it is like Hawaii was in the early 60s when we lived there...but not the trash. Well, that's like it is here.  Its got beautiful palm trees, banana trees, flowers and tropical greenery much like Hawaii does, but there is garbage and trash all over as well as broken down things all over the place.  The houses are very small and humble and there is usually a big plastic barrel under the side of the roof to catch the rain water to use for drinking, bathing, and cooking.  The place I live is a little apartment complex with a police room and a little store right at the front.  There is an embassy from China and Japan right here in the complex and our Mission president lives right at the end with a beautiful view of the ocean.  I stayed at the mission home with them for about 4 days until the missionaries left (mission nurse and husband)  Their plane was delayed because the planes couldn't get refueled here for about 4 days so they just didn't land.  Now I am at my own apartment and it is a two bedroom apartment and just great for me.  (spare room come and visit)  The food in the stores I am told often comes from Hawaii by way of Guam or from the Philippines.  Much of it is outdated before it even arrives here.  The selection is not too good but there are things like canned goods, toilet paper, cereal, detergent and even ice cream.  Its about 4 times as expensive as in the US.  Like a 1/2 gallon or those cartons that are a little bit smaller are like $13.00.  We have to get our milk in the irradiated boxes that just come on the shelf.  I have only dared to try it on cereal.  Its surprising that they do have some things though. The people I don't think can afford to go to the store to buy a lot.  They live on fish and rice mostly.   I went to a store here and there was a lot of stuff from China or Phillippines etc. and  some of it is is obviously stuff that was old off the shelves in the USA but has been sent here to be sold.  Like there is this clothes store that sells clothes from the 60s.  Like polyester pantsuits and stuff that hasn't been worn for many years. And they aren't cheap either. Its way too hot to wear that kind of stuff here. Besides that the women all wear  guam dresses, or mumu like attire.  The men are short and many of them sit hunched on their legs on the street smoking or  doing nothing it seems.  They wear T-shirt and pants.  I guess that unemployment is very high here, which of course is part of the reason for the poverty. The children are darling and smiling.  If I go walking or running especially like at 6:30 or 7:00 am there are many of them dressed and ready for school.  They wear a specific color of uniform representing their school.  At the elementary school here in Long Island, the children dress in green.  Green T-shirts for the boys and Green Jumpers for the girls.  They all wear flip flops and have beautiful smiles and will stop to talk.  Three young boys introduced themselves to me yesterday and told me their names and asked me questions.  Its very crowded here.  There are people everywhere and you aren't sure where they all come from since it is narrow, but they are all out on the streets early.

  sign at the Marshall Islands Airport

The Atoll itself is about 30 miles long.  I have been to both ends.  There is one road that goes from end to end and in places there have been causeways built to connect pieces of smaller islands.  I am told the Japanese did a lot of this when they occupied it in WWII.  The shops and small little mun wiias or little grocery stores are really run down and even the bigger stores are in old run down looking buildings.  I went to get my drivers license today and the government buildings were really nice looking on the outside but in the inside they ceilings were leaking and there was broken things and mold everywhere.  I thought it was sad.  I am told that the money doesn't get spent where it should and as a result the buildings go unkept and the people remain in poverty.

Elder Aaron, Sister Mahit and I with President and Sister Shaw
  Where I live in Long Island it is pretty narrow on the atoll.  I can see the ocean and the lagoon.  I live in a little apartment complex.  Its not gated or anything but in it are embassy's from Japan and China, the mission office, the mission home and maybe 50 or so nice apartments. I think I already mentioned that.   There is a track that goes around the whole thing and of course I was thrilled.  There is another senior sister (She and her husband do CES/humanitarian) that likes to run so we have run a few days and walked a few days and sometimes when I am by myself I do the track.  IF you run on the road you have to carry a rock in case the dogs come after you.  Not too far from me...maybe 2 blocks away is the US Embassy and our LDS ward church is right across the street.  IT is the Long Island Ward.  I will be attending that ward while I am here.  Each of the seniors is given a different ward or two to attend.  The Senior men go to Bishopric Meetings and help with the leadership.  I am supposed to attend Ward Council and help with Primary, RS and YW.  I attended last Sunday and my Bishop is Bishop Enos.  He seems very friendly.  Church is all done in Marshallese.  For those of use who still haven't quite mastered it, we can wear a headset and one of the Elders will interpret for us.  In RS and Primary I am not sure I will have that available.  I am studying and learning Marshallese, but they speak it so fast and its so hard to understand them.  I won't give up though.  I can bear my testimony and say a prayer if I refer to my notes.  I can greet people and carry on a simple conversation, but it is very slow compared to their fast talk.  The Elders and Sisters speak it really well though and most of them never did get any training in the MTC.  They only started the Marshallese training  at the MTC in July of this year.  When you go to the other half of our mission in Karibati they speak a totally different language Karibati so now, when the missionaries get their calls it will specify which side of the mission they will be going to and they will go to the MTC and train in that language.  I did get to study by Skype for about 5 weeks with a trainer from the MTC and then for the two weeks I was there, I also got to go each evening and study.  I have some study books too, although some of them are just being written.  Here at the mission office they have a little section that does translation.  I understand that the D&C is being translated into Marshallese as well as conference talks which will come out .  We don't get to listen to conference (except if we listened online) until they come out in a couple of weeks with the translations.  The missionaries all get together and listen to them at the mission home.  We are planning dinners to feed the missionaries when they  come for that.

Lagoon side by where I live

We have about 40 missionaries on our half of the mission.  The other side in Kirabati has about 40 also.  On both sides they are going to be increasing in number, I understand.  We have 7 wards and branches on this 30 mile strip of land .  Its amazing, but it is very populated and the people live close together.  We have missionaries serving in 13 different locations here.  The work is going well.  In addition we have missionaries on several outer islands.  Ebeye, is where Frank and Annette Mills served, for those who know them.  It is a 1 mile island about 500 yards wide or so of the Kwajelein Atoll.  I guess when they were going to bomb the Bikini Atoll years ago, they took people off that atoll and put them on Ebeye.  Its very populated.  We have three branches there and there is a lot of poverty.  We have a senior couple and 4 elders and 2 sisters who serve there.  To get to the US base from Ebeye they travel by ferry to the other side of the lagoon.  Some of the people work at the base, but since Ebeye is so crowded there aren't a lot of jobs there either.  Then we have Elders (no sisters are allowed to serve ) on three outer islands.  They are getting ready to open up another island too.  These missionaries go there for 6 months or so.  There is only radio contact on one of them and so we send a little first aid kit that has antibiotics, medicine for parasites and first aid supplies.They are supposed to radio to me and let me know if they need to start using the antiobiotics.  Sometimes they run out of food and the natives feed them rice and fish an elder told me.   We have one that radioed to me that he had blood in his stool.  He is taking a medicine for parasites, but he will be coming home tonight via Air Marshall, a local Marshallese airlines which runs sometimes and sometimes does not.  This Elder has been there for 6 months and its time for him to return anyway.  I am waiting to evaluate his health status when he gets here. Right now  I am E-mailing from the mission office, since my home doesn't yet have internet that works.  I wish it would hurry but it might be a few weeks.  At least I know I can come in here and E-mail and Skype if I want so I will... plan on it.

From the Mission President's home Ocean Side

Ocean Side at low tide

From the ocean side by my apartment

Oh gosh there is so much to say.  I have already had several medical calls.  Some vomiting and diarrhea, probably caused from bad water and food.  The missionaries are supposed to be very careful and not drink any water except in their apartments that have filtered/purified water or from bottles.  I have a water bottle that I got in the MTC that filters everything...even muddy gutter water.  IT doesn't filter sea water though.  The problem here is they let the sewer out into the ocean and lagoon.  In the populated areas of the atoll I guess its really bad. I understand though that the senior missionaries can snorkel and swim on some of the outer islets that don't have people on them.  I Guess the senior missionaries will occasionally take a trip out there by boat or can walk on the reef to a few of the islets. So far we have been really busy though so I doubt we get to do it too often, but I am excited to be able to do that.  The ocean is beautiful.


A little house by the church
.  The nurse that was here before me was a PA before she came and was really comfortable prescribing anatibiotics without a doctor .  We have protocols that I can use to prescribe antibiotics and I am learning to do that.  I can call or E-mail my AMA in New Zealand and there is also a local Phillippino Doctor who can give me orders for Elders to have lab tests etc. so I am not alone.  Its very interesting.  IF you need any kind of medical care here it costs you $20.00 for anything...from a CT scan to surgery.  The missionaries can get these done, but the hospital is very scary looking....very crowded and doesn't look as clean as you would like to see a hospital look.  Missionary medical would prefer to send them to Hawaii for care if it is needed.  For emergencies, they can do surgeries and handle emergencies..  Many of our Elders and Sisters are from the south pacific islands.  I came over form the MTC with  a beautiful young sister from Vanuatu and the Elder is from Karabati.  Another Elder here is from the tiny island of Niue and several are from New Zealand, Figi, and Hawaii.  There are some from USA. 

From the Lagoon side

Thee are many big ships that come into the lagoon

Well, I have said a lot, but I will have a lot more to say.  I will also post a few pictures.  You can also go to my blog in a few days and I will have it updated with more pictures:   I love it here and am happy to be serving my Heavenly Father here in the Marshall Islands.  I miss you all and love you. I hope to be able to skype this weekend (from the mission office)

Love, Sister Judi Bulkley

PS  Jason what happened with my home?  Luke and Traci, how is Maddox doing?  I love and miss you all.

PSS  Do you remember the Wayas Family that lived behind us in Hawaii when we lived in Goo's house.  Well the older boy Richard is married to a haole lady and they are one of the office couples here in our mission.  Its so fun to see him after all these years.

The baptism of a 14 year old boy I attended

My dear friend Pauline Lua   She came to our hotel when we were in Hawaii and made me a lei and sang us a few songs

Me, Sister Mahit, Pauline by our hotel in Honolulu

No comments: