Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Marshall Islands Paradise

Sunset at Laura Beach   This is one of the only sandy beaches here.  Most of them are full of coral

 A few weeks ago, the senior missionaries went on a fun outing to Laura Beach.  First we went snorkeling when it was pretty low tide.  We went on the other side of the reef.  I had heard people tell me that there was a big drop off of several hundred feet at the end of the reef.  It was interesting to see in person what its really like.  First you have to get over the waves that are breaking.  We went to a place where they were very small.  Its very shallow up to that point.  When you get on the other side of the reef, there is a gradual sloping for 20-30 feet.  Its about 10-20 feet deep at this point  You can see the most fantastic fish, coral, and all kinds of ocean life.  Its very colorful and beautiful.  Then as you gradually slant downward  it becomes black and you can see that it does drop off very drastically.  I didn't even want to go over there by the drop off.  It was kind of spooky.  I really enjoyed the snorkeling and all of us had a wonderful time.  The only problem was it was hard to come in because we had gone to a place that was totally all coral so climbing out was hard especially with our fins on.  When you took them off it was really pokey coral and it was too shallow to swim.  We made it out though.    Later in the day we had a wonderful Bar B Q , looked for shells and took pictures of the sunset.   It was a good P Day for sure. Laura is at the very end of the Atoll in an area where there is a little more land. I have heard that the people of Taiwan helped to bring some good soil to Laura so that they could start to grow  vegetables in gardens and  papaya and  other fruits.  Its the only place on the atoll where you can really find many fresh fruits and vegetables being grown.   The  Marshall Islands are coral atolls and so it is not like a typical island with normal soil and a lot of natural growing plants

Elder Wayas climbing the coconut tree (He used to be our neighbor in Hawaii)

We loved watching the Sunset

Sister Woods, Sister Barlow, Me, Sister Wayas. 

Sunset at Laura Beach

For the Relief Society Birthday, the Stake Relief Society had a fireside.  Several people spoke, including me.  They had wanted to get Sister Shaw to speak and the Stake Relief Society President came over to the mission office one Saturday morning looking for Sister Shaw.  I was there because I had just had a flat tire and was going to get the APs who were in the office to help me with it.  President and Sister Shaw were in Kiribati and so the Stake Relief Society President said since I was there, she felt inspired to ask me to speak.  She wanted me to speak about the history of Relief Society.   I hope I gave a good talk.  I also was able to bear my testimony in Marshallese.  I had to have a translator for the rest of my talk.  All of the Senior Missionaries were given Wots or the flower head piece.  

Sister Barlow, me, Sister Wayas, Sister Woods at the RS birthday fireside

Big cake for RS birthday fireside.  Sister Anion, Sister Mahit, Me, Sister Barlow, Sister Beal, and Sister Jorlang

      Sister Beal is the Stake RS President and Sister Anion and Sister Jorlang are her counselors

I mentioned in an earlier post that we are working with my former mission president, Van Johnson and a company out of California to get a container full of medical equipment shipped to the hospital here.  To help with the efforts we were given permission to take some pictures at the hospital of some of the equipment that they need to be posted on a website so donations can be made.  We are working with the people at the hospital as well as with the group from California.  I am kind of coordinating the actual project, but the humanitarian missionaries are working to get a donation from the church to help with the shipping costs.    Here are just a few of the pictures we took:

Gourneys with broken side rails

Scale to weigh babies notice bathroom scale
Broken side rails on bed

The front of the hospital  

The hospital is actually fairly new but they don't keep it up.  It was built by Japan for the Marshall Islands.  There is a lot of maintenance that is needed and it just doesn't look clean inside.  I think they have some Doctors that are very competent though.  We are excited to be helping with this project and I know it will greatly benefit the people here.  Hopefully the equipment  will be ready to be ready to be shipped this summer sometime.

I got a chance to teach a keeping healthy/basic first aid class to one of the Relief Societies.  Here are a few pictures.  A young girl died recently from choking on Majuro.  Everyone was anxious to learn what to do for someone who is choking.  I taught them how to do back blows and abdominal thrusts and  I had them practice on each other.   I also taught the basics of staying healthy. 

I am demonstrating how to put someone in the recovery position

Showing how to control severe bleeding
Impaled object
I am in charge of doing apartment checks each month for the Elders and Sisters here in Majuro (about 17 companionships)  For the month of March here are our winners:

Sister Hogg(Idaho) and Sister Lewis(Marshall Islands)
These Sister live on the Lagoon and have a beautiful view of the atoll (You can see across to the other side)  There are many boats and ships that come into the lagoon.  They serve in an area called Rita.  The Elders below live in Aarak which is a little area by Laura in the rural part of the atoll. 
Elder Watkins (Arizona) and Elder Ingalls (Minnesota)

Elder Foot (Idaho) showing me how he gets big cocroaches with his dart blow gun
 The missionary apartments are I guess typical for missionary apartments.  We have tried to make sure they are not unsafe or unhealthy.  We had some on an outer island that we had to move because they had big rats in them that were nipping their feet at night (like the movie The Other Side of Heaven)  We also give an award to the apartments that get the most points.  The prize is usually a bowl of fresh fruit because that is like gold around here.  All the misisonaries are supposed to be using permethrin which helps to eliminate mosquitos and definitely helps with the cockroaches.  All missionary apartments also have a wonderful water filtration system that can make the worst water pure and drinkable.  We are all very grateful for that.

 I stay very busy trying to keep the missionaries healthy.  We had a few colds and coughs and flu type symptoms this month.  As usual, we also had some gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea.  A lot of these problems are caused from drinking unclean water or food that wasn't properly prepared.  Some Elders had a bad reaction to eating some tuna that had been in their refrigerator too long.  They developed an allergic reaction that required some quick benedryl.  We also have had some infections requiring antibiotics.  I have some that I can give to the missionaries when they need it for infections.  We also had some P Day injuries such as a sprained foot and a slight head injury.  I know the Lord is blessing us though because we could have a lot more problems here due to the conditions we live in.  It is very hot here and actually the biggest problem we face is dehydration.  I am continually reminding the missionaries to take purified water with them and to watch what they eat.  Many of the island missionaries love raw fish and missionaries are instructed to not eat it.  Some of the Americans also like to eat raw fish.  Hey I used to like Lomi Lomi Salmon when I lived in Hawaii.  That's raw fish.  But that's one of our rules.  They are also not to eat dog, which is commonly eaten here.  There are a lot of mangy looking dogs running around.  I can't imagine it, but I saw one of the Elders holding a cooked dog leg.  I don't think he was planning to eat it, he just wanted to show everyone.

Sister Huni from Tonga, Sister Hogg from Idaho, Sister Lewis from the Marshall Islands, and Sister Roota from Kiribati
I love all the Elders and Sisters.  They are just amazing.  I admire how they keep such a rigid schedule and are very disciplined in their preparation and study.  They go out in the hot hot sun and the pouring rain.  They are doing a marvelous job of spreading the gospel to the people here in the Marshall Islands.

Elder Peck (Utah) in PDay relay waring a guam dress

 Elder McOmie,(Utah) Elder Fesolai, (New Zealand) Elder Bradshaw(South Jordan).  They are the APs

Elder Watson(Arizona) leaving for home

 Missionary work is going great here in the Marshall Islands  We have many baptisms every week.  I have had the opportunity to go with the sister missionaries that live in my ward to teach a sister from the Soloman Islands who is my neighbor.  She has been to church two  times and is very interested in learning more about the church.  I love this opportunity to bear my testimony..  I love the work

Elder Watkins (Arizona) and Elder Lavalua (New Zealand)

Elder Seru (Fiji) farewell dinner

Sister Woods, Me, Sister Mahit (Vanauatu) and Sister Ie Ie (Kiribati)
 We like to celebrate all the Sister's Birthdays by taking them some cupcakes.  We were celebrating Sister Mahit's 22nd birthday.  She is a beautiful girl.  All the missionaries get a cute birthday card, but we kind of treat the sister missionaries extra special sometimes.

Elder Seru as he leaves to go home to Fiji

We all try to go to the airport to send people off.  Elder Seru had to go home a couple of months early because while on his mission he developed Hyperthyroidism.  He had gone home last summer when he was initially diagnosed  but was able to return.  He did really quite well, but this spring, some problems developed and we  (including him)decided he needed some special care.  He was a wonderful missionary and did a great job.  He was a rugby player before coming on his mission and had long dread locks.  He met a fellow rugby player who was a member of the church and he was baptized and came on a mission exactly a year later.  He has grown about 3-4 inches since being on his mission.  He was the friendliest missionary I have ever seen.  I used to have to take him to the hospital regularly for blood draws and he knew everyone.  If he didn't know them, he would talk to them anyway.

The Children in the Marshall Islands are very special to me.  Here are a few pictures of them
This boy helped us collect shells
Kids playing at the church parking lot

Some kids at the beach

Girls at the beach on International Woman's Day

I still have a bunch of little boys and one little girl that come to my door often and ask for food.  I usually give them a slice of orange and a peanut butter and jelly half sandwich .  They call me BoBo which is Grandma.  They said I am Grandma because of my blonde hair.

Kids jumping off a boat in the lagoon

All the children love to have their picture taken and then they want to see it and they laugh and laugh.

A few weeks ago, they celebrated International Women's Day.  They had food,  dancing and games that were performed by women from different countries.  We went to watch. Here are few pictures:
Japanese women wore their Komonos

At this festival, they had food from many different cultural groups that are represented in the Marshall Islands.  Some of them that participated were:  Fiji, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Federated States of  Micronesia, Soloman Islands, New Zealand, Australia,  USA, and the Marshall Islands.

Women from Taiwan in their native dress.  They did some cool dances
Marshallese girls performed...a rare thing.  They did a stick dance.
Cultural dances done by the Marshallese are fairly rare.  They can only be done with the permission from the Iroj or royalty.  This has not been something that is done much so the people really haven't learned the dances like many other cultures in the Pacific.  It was fun to see them do a Marshallese stick Dance.

I love being a missionary.  I love being a small part of this wonderful work.  We will be getting our first 18 year old Elders and 19 year old Sisters in May.  The gospel is truly being spread to the whole world.  I know the gospel is true.  I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for my wonderful family and friends and for this opportunity that I have to be here as a missionary in the Marshall Islands.