Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tsunami Warnings, Drought Worries, and Lizards

Sunrise over the ocean by my house  Taken with my new camera  (I am so excited about it)
Last Wednesday, I walked into the mission office after having been out on a medical visit and they told me that the Marshall Islands was under a Tsunami watch and warning.  I think watch is more serious, but we were under both for a while.  We also got a warning call from the US embassy informing us.  It was decided to call the missionaries and have them stay away from the ocean side of the atoll until more clarification could be made.  The waves about 4 of them, so I later read in the paper, were scheduled to hit at 4:23 pm.  Most people here don't worry too much about tsunamis.  I guess they say that a tsunami would not roll onto the atolls like it would onto an island  because the reef is there and on the ocean side of the reef it is very very deep...several hundred feet.  When the tsunami hit the reef it supposedly would block the tsunami and send it in another direction or upward.  I have heard both.  I don't know for sure if the atoll nations have ever been actually hit by tsunamis or not but I think that as narrow of a piece of land that we are on, the water would go completely over the land into the lagoon, wiping out the whole place, if that ever did happen.  That's just how it seems, since the land in many here where I live, is only about a hundred yards wide.   I am sure that the safest place here would be in a tall building.  I now live on the 3rd floor of an apartment building and so that's where I ended up watching the ocean from my front balcony.  Luckily it didn't hit us, but there were some people killed and villages destroyed in the Solomon Islands.  If it had become something more of a threat, the plan is to get all the missionaries up to the second floor of the mission office, which is among the highest places around, except for my apartment building which is 3 stories high.
Another view
Majuro is having a drought.  January was supposed to be the end of the rainy season.  It wasn't too rainy, but it was kind of windy.  It was very pleasant to be out at 6:30 am running and to have the wind blowing.  It cooled things down a lot.  The lack of rain, however has been bad for the water supplies on the island.  There are lots of ways that water is collected.  For most homes, they have a pontoon outside their house that rain water collects on the roof and goes into.  This is usually good for the water supplies for that household.  Some people may also buy bottled water for regular use.  For public use and as a water supply for the atoll, there is a big water collection system under the airport runway that collects needed rainwater for use here in Majuro.  In our apartment complex they have a collection tank...a big cement covered area that the water collects in and then is recycled into our apartments.  All the missionaries use a  special water purification system developed by mission medical for the use of missionaries world wide.  It is great.   It makes the rainwater safe to drink. We also have water bottles that can purify any type of water, except salt water.  I bought mine at the MTC.  Here at the apartment, when the water supply gets low, they have a water desalinization  station that is right in our complex.  If the water in the tank gets low, the desalinization station starts making lots of noise and we know they are starting to desalinate the ocean water for our water at the apartment.  Its been really working a lot lately. It really tastes kind of yukky though.  I think it still seems salty.  I have been buying some bottled water for a few weeks since we have been having the drought.   We are hoping and praying the atoll will get more rain so that we can not be in a drought.  Some of the missionaries have run out of water in their pontoons and so wee have to buy some water for them to use.  It either is delivered in a truck to their pontoon or we will buy them bottled water.

Lizard by the Rita Sister's house
We have a new missionary house in Rita, a little village in the urban side of Majuro.  The sister missionaries live there.  There are lots of kids in the area and one of the houses has a big pet lizard.  They say there are lots of them on one of the atolls.  They aren't wild here thank goodness

The lizard has an interesting skin pattern.  You can't see it in the picture, but its kind of spotted.  I love to go and talk to the kids in the area.  They are fun and they let me take their picture with the lizard.  They have a little rope round the lizard's neck, I guess to try and keep track of him.

Sister Wayas and I went out to Ajeltake last Saturday for a service project.  After we went looking for shells on the beach and I found this log to take  a nap on.
Me on the log at Laura beach
Some of the sisters and Sister Wayas
Sister Wayas and I
Sister Zedikiah and Sister Wayas
For the service project, we weeded an area of ground.  They are going to put in some planters.  These are some of the sisters along with Sister Wayas.  Sister Zedikiah, the wife of the Stake President cooked us chicken on the grill while we worked.  The sisters are all very friendly and nice.  They attend the Ajeltake Branch.
The sun rise looking the other way

I have been keeping really busy with lots of projects.  My mission president from Connecticut (first one) Van Johnson from California has been a CEO for a big health care company in California.  Anyway, he is helping us to get a container full of medical equipment for the hospital here.  The humanitarian missionaries Elder and Sister Woods are helping arrange for the church humanitarian dept to help with the cost of shipping the container here.  It is so exciting for the people of the Marshall Islands.  There have been a big group of Flying Doctors from the United States.  They fly around at their own expense to help 3rd world countries with health care.  They have been here for two weeks and have seen patients and helped train doctors.  Its great.

Sister Woods, Sister Hillbourne, and me after a run  Sister Woods and I run just about every morning.
I am going to get to go to Kiribati after all.  I won't be staying for several months like I was scheduled to do, but I will be going down in mid April to work with the new nurse who is arriving here in March.  She will actually come here to Majuro for a few weeks and stay with me and then I will be joining her in Kiribati for a week or so.  I will be traveling on OUR airlines, based out of Naurau but will come back by way of Fiji and Hawaii.  I may have to see a Dentist in Hawaii because I have a loose crown I think.  Here the dentistry is pretty much just pull it out so I will be glad for that opportunity.

We said goodbye to two great missionaries:  Elder Jensen and Elder Emmett
 Its like Hawaii used to be when everyone would go to the airport to say good-bye.  Everyone comes and gives little gifts or Marshellese necklaces.  Many people take big coolers of fish when they leave so you see lots of coolers going through for luggage after they have dumped them all out and inspected them.
Sister Tebwani at my old apartment She is from Kiribati

Some cute kids in the Uliga area of Majuro

Senior missionaries and Sister Shaw in the middle going to  lunch for her birthday

I was able to move to an new apartment last week.  The reason I love it is that I can look at the waves and the ocean from my front porch.  I have a balcony on the back that is nice, but there are just lots of coconut trees so I can't see the ocean.  Here are some pictures

View from my bedroom window

My kitchen dining room area

View from my front porch.  They are building another apartment there that might block my view when its up.

View from my living room onto my back balcony

I will definitely get more pictures.  Its a really nice apartment and I am thrilled about it.  They still have to fix a few things though.  That's one thing about here...nobody does any maintenance so everything falls apart.  (seriously).  Anyway, I love it also because I am in the same building as the other senior missionaries and I like that.
I taught a staying healthy/first aide class for the YM and YW in my ward.
I made some of my fake blood and wounds
Some of the YM washing and putting on band aides
One of the young women leaders with her son
Me, teaching the class  I taught them hand washing and basic health such as drinking good water, keeping and eating good food.  The Marshall Islands have the highest rate oftype 2 Diabetes Mellitus of all the Pacific Nations.  We also are among a few nations in the world that still have Leprosy.