Thursday, January 3, 2013

Meri Kirimaj


Meri Kirimaj from the Marshall Islands
Meri Kirimaj
Me at the Mission Home
The week of Christmas was very busy.  We had 11 new missionaries join us on the 20th of Dec.  That meant getting ready to give them a short course on staying healthy in the Marshall Islands.  They are a great bunch of missionaries.  All but two of them are from the United States.  One is from New Zealand and the other is from Austrailia.  On Dec 24th, the mission had a big dinner for all the missionaries serving on Majuro and the outer islands.  Everyone on our side of the mission came back for Christmas except for those serving on Ebeye.  They have 4 Elders and 2 Sisters and a senior couple serving there. (That is where the Mills served)  We had a great dinner and then played a tie/earring exchange game and then watched The Forgotten Carols.  It was a fun day.  I went home and spent Christmas Eve at my apartment.  I read the Christmas Story in Luke and wrote an E-mail to my kids to tell them how much I loved and missed them.  The next morning, I woke up at 7 am when these little boys were knocking on my door.  They always come to sell me sea shells or Marshellese handicrafts or coconuts.  I had told them to come on Christmas that I had a little gift for them.They were so excited to get the gifts that my wonderful Children had sent to give to them.  It was probably their only gift in most cases.
Some of my favorite little children.  I gave them a little Christmas gift thanks to my kids who sent little gifts for them
These kids were knocking on my door at 7 am on Christmas morning
I don't think that many of the children get Christmas presents.  They loved the little gifts given to them

The Christmas parade that went around the atoll on the Saturday before Christmas
More little boys who loved the gifts and candy

There were probably 20 decorated trucks
Trucks decorated with palm leaves

There weren't too many Christmas decorations but you saw a few.  We decorated the mission office and had lights out with a sign that said Christ is the Reason for the Season. Some of the stores had a few decorations up.  One of the biggest stores on the atoll had a big Christmas sale.  They were giving 20% off so we all went. It is a food store that also has a bunch of everything in it.   This big day of the sale,  Santa had dropped in and was all ready to see children. He was in a separate room that was off to the side of the store and very hot.  I poked my head in to see how many children were in there and there was Santa asleep and not a soul was in there.  I think the Marshallese culture hasn't done a lot with Santa in the past.  Most of the people probably don't even go to the store much .Anyway,  I am sure that as the Marshall Islands  gets more commercial, Santa will get a few more visitors.  Many of the people kind of live off the land eating breadfruit, fish, pandana, coconut.and rice.  If they do go to the store,  they will go to these little Mon Wiias that are like little neighborhood shacks  that have a few canned goods, rice and a few things that the people like to buy if they need things.  Most of them make really good donuts.
Elders lined up to eat our good dinner of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes etc.
The cute sisters at the dinner
The Senior Sister missionaries who prepared the food
Elder and Sister Hillbourne from New Zealand.  They leave the first of January
Elder Kaka (from Laie) and Elder Watson

We have been getting together as Senior missionaries for dinner a lot.  Once a month we have a FHE with soup and dessert and scripture reading.  Other times we get together to watch a good DVD.  We enjoy getting together.  The Hillbournes have been here for 2 years.  They have been in charge of the Physical Maintance of all of the church buildings in the Marshall Islands.  He recently traveled by boat to a little atoll known as Lae and refurbrished the little missionary house that is there.  We just sent two Elders back there.  They were there a few years ago, but were taken off when their house began to leak and have trouble.  It took a while to be able to get it fixed.  There are only about 450 people on the little atoll.  But, we have a little church building with a missionary house behind it.  Elder Kaka (picture on the left) is one of the Elders who will be reopening the Atoll of Lae.

Christmas Day was fun.  So many people had sent greetings and packages and it was really fun to read and open the packages.  Thanks to all of you for being such a great support.  Later in the morning I went to some of the senior missionaries houses for breakfast and then we all went to the Biit.  My next entry is about the Biit.

The Sisters at dinner.  All of them got stockings

My wonderful family also sent stockings to many of the missionaries.  Some of our Elders and Sisters are from the islands and don't get packages from their families.  They got together and decided to do this kind thing for many of  missionaries. 
Elder Aaron from Kiribati and Elder Vaaulu from Samoa

Elder Seru from Fiji and Elder Peck from the Utah I think

Elder Benevides from New Zealand and Elder Singadrodro from Fiji at a baptism
A view of the chapel in Ajeltake
I feel bad that I didn't get a picture of all the stockings before I gave them out.  I gave them to all of the sisters and several of the Elders.  They loved and appreciated this gift.  Thank you to my family.

We had a baptism the Saturday before Christmas.  What a wonderful white Christmas.  Elder Benevides and Elder Singa as we call him go to my ward along with a set of sister missionaries and the APs.  We have had a lot of baptisms the past few months.  The work is really going forward.  I think around Christmas there is a lot going on so it slows down just a little. 

I spent most of Christmas Day at the church for the Biit.  It went from 9am and I understand it ended at about 12:30 am.  That evening the Elder and Sister Barlow invited me to have Christmas dinner with them.  They are a wonderful senior couple from Payson.  They love to snorkel and in fact have snorkeled all over the world.  I enjoyed the special dinner with them. 
The ocean at low tide by across from the Ajeltake Chapel
Boats on the lagoon

At this Christmas time, I want to thank my Heavenly Father for the opportunity I have to serve as a missionary for Him.  He has blessed me greatly and for that I am truly grateful.  Most importantly he has blessed me with a wonderful family, with good health and strength and the ability to carry on.   I know He is there to hear and answer our prayers.  I know He knows us each individually by name and understands our struggles and our joys.  I am grateful at this time for my Savior Jesus Christ and for His atonement for me. I am grateful for His birth over 2000 years ago and as I celebrate Christmas today, I know that He is in charge.  His work will go forth until it has spread over the earth.  I am happy to be a part of that great work.

The weather here in the Marshall Islands is great.  It is hot and humid.  We never need a jacket or sweater...not even at night.  Sometimes it rains and when it does, it pours.  The ocean and lagoon are very beautiful and I love to just watch the boats, which I find very fascinating.

Same place during the day

My wonderful friend Rena.  She is in my ward and works at the mission office

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