Sunday, October 21, 2012

Boats on the reef

The road that goes around the atoll goes through very beautiful places like this in Ajeltake
Iawake from the Marshall Islands

Yesterday some of the senior missionaries went on a P Day activity to see two boats that are abandoned that became stuck on the reef in the Lagoon.  We drove to a beautiful spot on the atoll known as Aljetake.  This is a strip of land about 15 miles long and is very narrow.  It is probably not any more than 100 yards wide.  On one side  is the ocean and on the other side is the lagoon.  There are little houses dispersed in the middle of beautiful palm trees, and lush vegetation.  Some of the homes are large and beautiful, like the one belonging to the former president of the RMI.  Others are just small little shacks.  The first boat we attempted to walk to, looked about 1/4 mile off shore and with it being low tide, we figured we could walk out with no trouble.  The problem was that the reef didn't go right out to the boat.  It was very patchy so as we got out there, we found the water was getting deeper and deeper.  We pursued it a bit, but finally decided to turn back.  The boat looked like it had been there for quite a while from what we could see.  It must have become stuck during the low tide and then be unable to get off the reef.  As we were walking out,  the water was as warm as a bathtub and there were lots of sea creatures such as sea cucumbers and little shells that moved.  It was very fun and interesting, even though we didn't make it all the way out.    After, we walked over to the ocean side and spent some time looking at the reef, the waves, and the little sea creatures. There is really no beach...just reef.   The waves breaking on the outside of the reef were big.  You can tell that there is a big drop off at the end of the reef.  Some say it is 100-200 feet and then it very quickly gets much deeper than that.  They say that is why a tsunami doesn't roll up onto the atoll like it would onto an island.  It kind of bumps up against the coral and that causes it to turn.
By my house.  Ocean side

Sister Woods, Me and Sister Hillborne

Sister Wayas, Sister Woods, Elder Woods and I going out to the boat stuck on the reef

On the ocean side at low tide

The second boat we saw, we could actually walk out to.  It looked like it had been there for quite a while.  There were plants growing on the deck and it was very old and rusty.  We tried to think of stories of what had happened to this boat and what kind it was.  It almost looked like the ropes had broken and maybe it had broken its moorings and floated away and got stuck. 

Sister Wayas on the boat
Me on the side of the boat

We also saw some very old rusted wreckage on the shore of the lagoon that one of the senior elders said looked like it might be from a WWII boat that soldiers came to shore on.

Our whole group

When we went to look at the second boat, we had to go across some people's land.  They were very nice.  It was kind of a typical scene.  Chickens running all over.  Children playing in a hammock and under the big banyan-type tree on the lagoon, open fires burning likely in preparation of food, women raking the ground to clean and make it nice, men sitting around, a dog running around, and an above grave right by the small little humble home.  It was obviously an extended family.  One of the men said his had died last week.  She was only 35.  They decorate caskets and keep them on their property. Most of the homes out on this side of the atoll have above ground caskets in their yard.

World War II Wreckage

I decided that these abandoned boats can give us some analogies to life. First of all, there are times in our lives when we all may get "stuck on the reef " in our testimonies or other aspects of our lives.  We all need each other's help  to get through life and so we must go to the rescue of those we love and help them get off the reef and back into the main channel.  Also we must realize that others are there to help us when we need them.  Sometimes we refuse the help of those who love us.  God is there to help us also as we need His help to get back to doing what we know we should.  Abandonment is not an option.

Kids at the church.  I gave them a cupcake and they loved posing for this picture

The little missionary house by the church.  There are three of them

Some of my grandchildren asked me about the animals on the atoll.  I was told that the pig is the largest animal in the Marshall Islands.  You can see some of them running around.  I was driving and saw one and tried to get a picture, but he was pretty fast.  The islanders use pork when there is a real celebration.  Our stake president lives on the beautiful side of the atoll and has some pigs.  He roasted one for the girls at girl's camp last summer.  Most of the regular people don't have pigs, but the rich and the irooj (landowners) do.  You can also see them in pens.  The next largest animal is the dog.  They are all over the place and kind of mangie.  When we go running they sometimes come after us.  The next animal is the cat, which there aren't tons of , but I have see a few.  Then there is the chicken.  There are tons of chickens just running loose all over the place. I am not sure how they tell which chicken belongs to them.  Maybe they just belong to everybody and when you want one you just go pick one out?  The next animal in size  would be the Pacific Rat, which people say is very large.  We thought we saw one running around on the coral yesterday.  Then there are the little bugs and of course Cockroaches, which are plentiful.  Of course there are also fish of every kind.  The Marshall Islands is a shark refuge and I understand you can't legally kill sharks here.  There are many out there I am told.  There are also whales, dolphins that we can sometimes see from our beach and all kinds of sea life.

Sunset by my house ocean side

 In case you think that all we do is play, I better add some baptism pictures.  I attended a baptism last night in our ward of three people (all teenagers)  There were also baptisms in at least 3 other wards on the atoll.  The missionaries baptize a lot here.  I read in an article that the LDS church is about the fastest growing church here on Majuro.  I played the piano for the baptism and for the sister missionaries who sang a song.  I have also been playing for primary while they practice for their program coming up in about a month.  They practice each Saturday.  Nobody gets there until about half hour after start time, but then a bunch of people show up.  The children are so adorable.  They sing so cute in English and their smiles just melt you.  I love to talk to them and ask them their names.  The mission president is only here about 40% of the time.  The rest of the time they spend in Kiribati, Katimati (Christmas Island), and Ebeye and traveling.  Its hard for them because in order for them to get to Kiribati or Katimati, they have to travel to Hawaii first and then to Fiji when they are going to Kiribati.  They have about 40 missionaries on the other half of the mission.  Here we have about 40 also, which includes three outer islands, and Ebeye, a very populated islet in the Kwajalein atoll.  We have three branches there.  There is an American military base across the lagoon from Ebeye and we have a branch there too.Kwajalein is the largest atoll in the Marshall Islands.


Kids playing by the lagoon

Just a few more comments.  There are 64 islets in the Majuro atoll.  We walked over to five a week or two ago during low tide.  The population of this whole atoll, including the little islets is about 19,664.  The land altogether makes about 3.75 square miles.  There are  about 113.92 square miles in the lagoon inside the Majuro Atoll. All in all, the Marshall Islands consist of 24 atolls and 5 islands. Making up each of the atolls are many small islets and islands.  Many of the atolls/islands are populated.  Some only have a few families and others have several hundred people.  Several are uninhabited.  Altogether there are about 1,150 islets and islands that form the different atolls and islands of the Marshall Islands.

me by the ocean side of the atoll
Chickens running around.  Can you see them?
I think I took this because there was a pig running around????
Elder and Sister Woods and Sister Hillborne

Today in church, we got to watch Sunday general conference.  It was really unique.  The CDs had arrived with the conference in Marshallese.  They had a big projector and were able to broadcast the whole thing in Marshallese.  They had a little TV in the primary room for anyone who wanted to watch it in English.  After the first session, they had prepared a little lunch for everyone.  It was really neat.  Each person and child had a big plate of rice and grilled chicken, vegetables, salad and drink.  Each plate was individually wrapped in foil and a grocery bag tied around it.  It was very cool.  Our Marshallese Bishopric is awesome.  They seem to be very hardworking, educated men.  You can tell the second generation men...some educated and some returned missionaries.  They really stand out in this community.  The mission is also having conference on Wed and Thurs of this week.  We will be watching the whole thing in English.  The senior missionaries are going to provide meals for both days.  It will be at the mission home.  I just want to end with my testimony of the gospel.   The gospel of Jesus Christ is going forth to the whole world.  I know the work is true and I am very humbled to be a small part of helping it to go forth.

Kids playing on the lagoon side
Sister Mahit and Sister Roota with those they taught
Elder Jensen in his baptismal lava lava along with the three who were baptised


Alonna Randall said...

This is fabulous, Judi! I loved reading your blog and seeing the awesome pictures! You look great! I'm so proud of you! Thanks for sharing with all of us! Love you! A

kellieanne said...

My very good friend (more like a sister) Lanette Lagerstrom facebooked me she met you while watching Conference on DVD while she was over there for work. She and I go way back! College roommates! Love her tons!

Hope all is well!

lori said...

Great blog Sister Bulkley! I enjoy reading your emails, and the interesting experiences you are having. Bless you for your service!