Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Other Side of Heaven (the mission) Part I

Senior Sister Missionaries on Majuro saying good-bye as I left for Tarawa
On April 10, 2013, I got on OUR airlines and headed for Tarawa, Kiribati.  It was so interesting to take off from one atoll, fly over several atolls and then to land on another one.

I traveled on OUR Airlines

 Our Airlines flies to Brisbane Australia, Nauru, Tarawa, Fiji, Majuro, and ??  It only flies to Majuro every few weeks and sometimes it cancels on us so you can never be sure if it will fly.  That is why President Shaw usually always flies from Tarawa to Fiji to Hawaii to Majuro and back that way. 

Leaving Majuro

 Majuro is not as wide as Tarawa but they are both around 30 miles long.

Flying over an atoll on the way to Kiribati

Tarawa  (note how greenish blue the lagoon is.  Also notice it is low tide see on the ocean side and the lagoon side
The airport in Tarawa
Elder and Sister Bush and Sister Cassita, (nurse) met me at the airport.  There are no fences on the runway of the airport.and people are always playing, driving, walking and sleeping on the runway.  Before a plane lands, they sound a fire siren so that people will get off of the runway.  Houses are right next to it and people are standing waving as the planes taxi by. There is one  road from one end of the atoll to the other.  It is around 30 miles long (similar to Majuro) but Tarawa is a little wider and has twice as many people that live on it.  The road is very bad...full of potholes, but there is still a lot of traffic that goes by.  Drivers drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side.  As people pass on the road, they honk and drive pretty fast. 

Crowd of people that gather at the airport to see the planes come in

There were a lot of people waiting at the airport for family and friends to come or just coming in to see the planes come in.  The humanitarian missionaries recently were able to build a bathroom at the airport. 

Elder and Sister Bush welcoming me to the Bonriki International Airport
On our way home from the airport, we went past an open market place.  They were selling many coolers full of fish as well as some of their other wares such as bananas, pumpkins, coconuts, breadfruit, and papaya.
A market place where people sell their crops
Lots of  fresh fish at the market place
Kiribati is one of 5 countries that are atoll nations.  It has 32 atolls and 1 island, Banaba, a heavily mined phosphate island.  The country is scattered across 1.35 million square miles in the Pacific Ocean.  The islands lie in three island groups: Gilbert, Phoenix, and Line.  The capital atoll,  Tarawa is in the Gilbert  chain.  Only 21 of the 33 atolls/island is inhabited.  Kiribati has a population of about 108,000 growing by 2.2% each year.  Over one third of the population live on Tarawa.  Christmas Island is located in the Line Chain.  It is spelled Kiritimati .  It is one of the world's largest coral atolls and accounts for nearly half of Kiribati's land area.

A cute little girl at the Market place

More kids at the market

At the market place

The Market Place

In Kiribati, they speak a Micronesian dialect called Gilbertese or Kiribati.  The pronouciation of Kiribati is derived from the local pronunciation of the English word Gilberts.  (Kir-i-bahss)  The Gilbertese alphabet has 13 letters.  The ti sound is a hss sound

The ocean side at low tide
Here on the Atolls they seem to have more extreme tides than they do in Hawaii.  I am not sure why.  The low tide is really low and the high tides are really high. Several times a month, according to the moon, the tides are even more extreme than usual

The Lagoon side at low tide  

The Lagoon is a lot more shallow than the one in Majuro.  This makes it hard for large ships and boats to come into the lagoon.  By Betio there are many boats that have become stuck in the shallow lagoon and have been abandoned.  There are also some US tanks left in the lagoon left over from WWII.

An example of a grass hut that the people live in.  They have built up the ground on the lagoon side and built out on the lagoon

Little Hut that people live in

I read that approximately 70% of the people in Kiribati live in grass huts.  There are also places where the people have built the land up on the lagoon side so that they can put a little hut out similar to this one in the picture.  Many children run around naked.  One of the missionary says its because they don't have clothes to wear.  Many people are barefoot.

The Zone leaders and a brand new Elder that came in
In our mission there are only one set of APs that cover all areas of the mission. They have a big responsibility to keep things running, since President Shaw is traveling so much and sometimes is unavailable.  The APs live in Majuro but sometimes an Elder will come over from Tarawa or the Kiribati side to be an AP for several months.  That is kind of hard for them, because they speak a totally different language in Kiribati.  In Tarawa, the zone leaders are very important because they basically communicate with the APs and are in charge in Tarawa when President Shaw or his counselor who lives in Tarawa are not available. 

Turian Banimone, Bethany Petersen's auntie
A lady who works at the service center in Tarawa

A lady that remembers Aunt Jean and Uncle Mel
A teacher who remembers Aunt Jean and Uncle Mel
Brother Tebwanei, He knows Aunt Jean and Uncle Mel
A former teacher at Moroni HS
Friend of Aunt Jean and Uncle Mel

Sister Cross, Aunt Jean's good friend

Teachers at Moroni HS who remember Aunt Jean and Uncle Mel
President and Sister Tune, He was District President and Uncle Mel was his counselor when he was 29 years old.  He was one of the first members of the church in Tarawa and helped get the missionaries into the country of Kiribati

Moroni HS is a church sponsored school.  This is field day and they all competed in marching and track and field events.  They were divided into teams and each had the name of a prophet like Gordon B Hinckley or Joseph Smith  They had made flags and T-shirts and they cheered their team members on when they competed

All teams lined up for opening ceremonies
Field day marching competition

Employees at the church service center located on Moroni HS campus

Many students come to Moroni HS from outer islands.  They live in dorms located on the campus.  Some of the students are from Tarawa and just come during the day.  It is considered the very best HS in Kiribati by many.  The teachers are Kiribati and get some schooling, but the church has missionaries who come over to train the teachers and help them earn higher degrees.

Marching Competition

Students are supposed to only speak English in their HS classes at Moroni HS.  This helps them to do well as they try to get into colleges.  Some of them get into BYU Hawaii.  They have a college in Kiribati called the College of the South Pacific.  They are encouraged to get some college in their home land first before trying to get into BYU Hawaii. 

A Mariaba located on the Moroni HS Campus.  Mariaba's are  gathering place for people.  Many of the little villages have them and people can gather to visit, talk or have acitivities.  Most of them have thatched roofs .  The Hospital Recovery room is located in one.  Patient's have to have their family come to bring them food and change sheets etc.
Located on the campus is a little headstone without any inscription  Aunt Jean told me that her neighbor in Orem 's father was in Tarawa over 25 years ago on some kind of business and he died.  He was buried on the campus at Moroni HS because if you die thee you have to be buried within 24 hours since there is no embalming there.  They usually busy loved ones in their yard.  (same with Majuro) but this man was not from there and was LDS so they buried him right on the campus

This lady was very anxious to see a picture of the grave so I have taken several for her.  At first I had a hard time finding the grave because it isn't marked, but as I was searching for it a security guard told me right where it was.

Part of the grounds at Moroni HS  The ocean is right behind the fence

Buildings at Moroni HS
Moroni HS
Moroni HS campus

Girl's Dorm
Chapel on Moroni HS Campus
The main street along the atoll in front of MHS
Sister Cassita (New Nurse in Kiribati) and I on the Moroni HS Campus
A little lake by the lagoon with a little house
A little house, typical of what you might see.  Notice a cooking hut in the back

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