Thursday, August 26, 2010

July 31-Aug 24 2010

July 31 - August 24, 2010

Wow, this blog could take forever because of all our traveling! We are still in Tarawa, but things are winding down and we are leaving tomorrow. We left Majuro on Saturday, July 31st. We flew to Kwajalein with our two AP’s Elder Lasky and Elder Nawahine. They came with us because they stayed and trained the Missionaries after we left. This is where the American Military base is, and is the place that we hoped we could use our military ID to get on base and shop at the BX. Apparently that will not happen because your ID has to be from that base, they will not honor ours. In a couple of weeks when Tom and Elder Hamula go they may be able to get a visitors pass. They had us line up our luggage and then brought in a police dog to sniff it for drugs. For all of you smarty’s who think I carry around a pharmacy, my luggage passed inspection! We then went through security and entered another room where Elder Edwards and Elder Gardner met us. It’s wonderful how the missionaries stand out in their white shirts and ties. We met them and decided that we should have lunch. We had a hamburger and fries which was great! Then when we came out of the Airport we were greeted by some members who put leis around our necks, the women gave me two beautiful head leis. Then we went to the building to catch the Ferry over to Ebeye where another member gave me another very beautiful head lei. The Ferry took about 20 minutes. We were greeted by Brother and Sister Mills who are a senior couple and Sister Ruiz and Sister Hansen. They welcomed us and then helped us take our luggage to the hotel. Ebeye is small and no one in the mission drives a car there. This was the hotel that Brother and Sister Davidson (CES Missionaries) had stayed at the week before. She had called me to give me a heads up on the condition of the room and told us to take toilet paper because they didn’t have any in the room. She also mentioned they had had a visitor too and I knew she was referring to-you guessed a cat rat! She said she had told the owner that they needed to fill in a couple of holes. Then she said you will know if they did because they had put a brick in front of a hole where it had come in. We walked in and that was the first thing I looked for and the brick was still there! Whenever we were in the room I kept my eye on that brick to be sure it did not move! The first night we saw one of those giant cock roaches that we had been told about! We tried to kill it but we were not quick enough! I think he exited through the air conditioner. We left our luggage and then headed to the church to meet some members. When we got close we could hear them singing. As we rounded the corner they were all lined up on the sidewalk to greet us. They continued singing as we hugged and shook their hands. One lady gave me a shell bracelet and another gave Tom a beautiful shell necklace. What beautiful and loving people they were and so humble. We went inside the church and introduced ourselves to those who were there. That night they had a Priesthood meeting which both of us spoke at. It is the first Priesthood meeting that I have attended let alone spoke at! The next day was fast Sunday. We went to both wards and heard testimonies from these wonderful people. The Mill’s fed us and were so gracious. We spoke at a fireside that evening with an interpreter which isn’t as easy to do. The Mills are such a vital part of the branches there and you could see how much the people love them. They are so helpful to the four Elders (Elders Edwards, Gardner, Parco and Asiake)and two Sisters (Sisters Ruiz & Hansen) serving there, as well as doing many other callings and training for the members.
On Monday, unfortunately, because of airline schedules, we had to leave our honeymoon suite and head to Hawaii! We stayed at the Ala Moana Hotel, which was next to a big Mall and right there in Honolulu. We went over to the Mall to eat. A young man stopped us to shake our hand and said that he had served a Mission and that he noticed us because of our tags. Another couple stopped and talked to us who were members. We then went to the food court and sat next to a man who was also a member! We also had a dole whip, it was delicious! Remember those?
We then flew to Kiritimati (Christmas) Island. We were greeted at the airport by the Moser’s, (senior couple) and Elder Bush, Elder Alberts, and Sister Kamouti and Sister Richard. Let me tell you the airports over here in the Marshall Islands are something to behold! They really have no system-it always seems to be mass confusion and slow, slow, slow! We were each given a beautiful head lei and then were taken in the mission van to our Hotel. As we were driving down the street we saw a man lying on the side of the street with his hands tied behind his back! Apparently if a person is drunk and is disturbing the peace they do this until they dry out! They said usually they tie them to a tree! We were taken to a place called the Villages which caters to men who come on fishing trips. This is a typical boat they use in the lagoon, kind of an outrigger type boat with a motor. It is one of the premier spots in the world for the type of fishing that they do there. We paid $120.00 a day for this suite! It was clean but nothing to write home about! It had a very beautiful view of the ocean. Every day when we came back to our room they had fresh towels which were shaped into different animals like the cruise ship people do. We ate breakfast there every day which was normal American food. We trained on Thursday and Friday in the cultural hall which has fans and windows for air. Every day between 12:00 to 6:00pm the power is out. They had a generator to use but only used it when they had to because gas is so expensive. The Moser’s were wonderful and fed us twice a day. Sister Moser is a super cook. She makes all of her own bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and tortillas. The Moser’s have a little cinder block home and the Sisters have a cinder block home right by them. The Elders live behind them in a fairly big Kia which is a native house all made from the coconut tree. The first night there we had a party with all of the existing Branch Presidency and a unit Presidency. They all bring food in plastic Tupperware with lids. We were supposed to start at 6:00 and we probably started at 8:00 or after! They always have a cake cutting before the dinner starts which they had us do. We simply cut into the cake and then the party can start. They did have us and the Moser’s go first but they did not make us eat while they waited thankfully! From the time we got there Tom had interviews with the men who were going to be the new Christmas Branch Presidency and the new Banana Branch Presidency. Saturday was such a fun day. They held a bush beach party! It was to start at 10:00 A.M. which of course in Island time meant two to three hours later. They had purchased a lot of fish (350) to fry on the grill complete with heads and tails! We saw many eat them raw like it was candy! We made sure that ours were very well cooked! Some of the women made mats for the program that was going to take place. When they have these parties they also have to rent trucks with open beds so that all of the people can be picked up. Very few people have cars. They planned this party for us which was incredible. They had different groups dance and three solo dances by girls. It was so great and then they had to embarrass the Moser’s and us by making us dance! They had a good laugh! These people are so care free and loving, because they know what really matters. Everyone on that Island walks barefooted everywhere they go. They have very tough feet! When you go into a home if you are wearing shoes you are expected to take them off at the door. This is how it is throughout the islands. We all received another head lei during the program. They then asked us to say something. We went to the middle of the circle to speak. We found out afterwards that that is a no no! Elder Alberts kindly told us afterward that we should have stayed where we were in the circle so that all could see our faces. On Sunday, we went to both wards. Tom had the two Branch Presidencies to be sustained and set apart. The settings apart were wonderful and very emotional. The Banana branchhad been a unit meeting in a small one room school. Now they are a Branch they can look for a place to build a chapel. We also went to an event where it was celebrating Youth day. They had the different church’s youth groups march around and then compete in some games. The Minister of Christmas Island was there who we met. They had food again set out for all of the guests. The youth from our church had black and white on and looked very sharp. The Moser’s then took us to see where the members live, and their “shopping Mall,” and the local hospital, which you wouldn’t take your dog to! There was a man who was staying where we were named Carlton. We became acquainted with him there. We were told by others that he has been coming there off and on for eight years to bring Doctor’s and supplies for the people. He is very well off and has chosen to help others less fortunate which is so admirable. He had brought a Diabetic Doctor and her daughter this trip to educate the people about diabetes and to bring some medications that can be used. Many people here in the Islands have Diabetes. They don’t really treat it here they tend to just cut off their legs when it gets too bad! The next time he comes here he is going to bring a Ophthalmologist with him. He shared with us that his real name is Joseph Smith! He is not a member of our church, but with a name like that he should be! We also ate breakfast with some fisherman from Australia; Tom gave them a pass along card. We took the Moser’s and the fulltime Missionaries to eat at our hotel that evening. We trained all day Tuesday with the Missionaries. Tuesday evening we had another pot luck party for the New Branch Presidencies at the home of Nitiniwa one of the new Branch Presidents. It was outside and again started on Island time! We had another cake to cut and got our food first again. Tom and I were given a lava lava and I was given a traditional Kiribati blouse. They make these blouses themselves with all the smocking and crocheted flowers and collars. Sesenga, Nitiniwa’s wife, made Sister Moser and me matching blouses. They just keep giving and giving and most have so little money. The next morning we heard a knock on our door and Sesenga gave me another top she made and a skirt! She said it was for me to wear that day as we were leaving Christmas Island. Other people had asked the Moser’s to stop by their home on our way to the Airport. I was given another blouse and we were given two hats made from the coconut leaf and a necklace made of shells. Here we just met these people a week earlier and they treated us as though we had been friends forever! We learned so much from them in the short time we were there. Again you could see the love and respect the people there had for the Moser’s. They are continually multi-tasking for the people and the missionaries serving there.

We left on Wednesday and it was an emotional parting. We wish we could go there more often than we will be able to because of the expense and duration of the travel. Next we went to Tarawa; to get there we had to stop overnight in Fiji. We got there late and left early in the morning to fly to Tarawa. We arrived on Thursday. We stayed in housing that they have on the campus of the church school called Moroni High School. In the back of our Apartment was the ocean. It was beautiful to look at and so cool to hear the tide come in the evening and in the morning. We have forty four Missionaries in the Gilbert Islands. Some are serving on outer Islands who we did not get to meet. We went to meet the different Districts and to get acquainted. This Island is not as advanced as Majuro where we live. The road is terrible and the drivers are crazy-notice we said the road! Even our zone leaders driving scared us! They said they felt the same way when they first got there. We were invited to dinner the first night there by the Phippen’s who are a senior couple. All of the other senior couples serving there were all invited. So we met the Corry’s, the Pulsipher’s who are CES Missionaries and the Steeds who are the medical couple for that Island. They were all great and fun to be with. We trained for the first two days there. We were invited to each of the senior couples place for dinner. That was great to have some individual time to get to know them. We were invited to a movie they had which was the cute movie “UP”. Saturday we were able to see three boys get baptized in the Lagoon side of the island. What a spiritual feast. After they were baptized we went back to the church and each of the boys bore their Testimonies. On Sunday, we were asked to speak at the Sacrament meeting of the English speaking ward on campus. It was good to be able to speak without an interpreter and to be able to understand Sunday School and Relief Society. We met more of the missionaries on Sunday. What great Elders and Sisters we have in our Mission, who seem to look out for one another and really care. One Elder had a parasite on his leg which had become badly infected and it looked horrible! It had been getting better but then it started to flare up, so the Steeds were taking good care of him. He was to every meeting we had and never complained even though I’m sure he wasn’t that comfortable. Then another Elder had eaten some shell fish and broke out in a rash which eventually covered his entire body. On Monday, I was not feeling so good so I laid low while Tom talked to those he needed to in the service office. He then went to dinner with all of the couples at a Hotel. The next day we had another training day with all of the District and Zone leaders. We spoke at the prayer meeting at the Service Center. The rest of the day Tom addressed the concerns of some of the couples and gave Temple recommends. We really did not have the chance to associate with other members as we went to the English Ward. The English ward did have a lot of the students who attend the school there who either know English or are learning it. It is quite an honor to be accepted to this school. Some students are from Christmas Island and only see their families during their summer breaks. They wear uniforms which are blue and white. The age group at Moroni High is from thirteen to eighteen. They have competitive sports also. Soccer is big everywhere. They also have track, tennis, and basketball. The Islanders all love to sing and they have beautiful voices. We had the opportunity to call all of our children and talk as long as we wanted! The Mission couples have a thing called Magic Jack which is free after you have initially paid $60.00 for the program. How great it was to talk to all of you including all of the grandkids. It made us a little homesick but we are so grateful they let us use it, because we can’t get that phone program in Majuro. You are all the best!
After a full week it was time to leave to return eventually back to Majuro via Fiji and Hawaii. The place we stayed in Fiji was really cool. The grounds were beautifully decorated and there was a fun atmosphere. We were able to take a day tour to some spots there. One was an orchid garden; another was to a village that is the oldest village in Fiji. We thought it would have grass shacks, and would be primitive but it was not. Everywhere you go they are selling their handicrafts. Some of the jewelry I’m sure was from China! I restrained myself which was tough but I made it through. We did buy a wooden Gecko there which is fun. The Geckos are everywhere over here so we thought it would be a fun remembrance. Then we went to a lookout spot which was very beautiful where the Queen Rosie has a house. We went downtown where they have a lot of souvenir shops which felt like we were in Tijuana. Everyone trying to get you in their store. Of course we had to find a McDonalds because we have been in withdrawal! Unfortunately the hamburger they used was not the same but the fries were wonderful! This is an Indian (country) church in Fiji, about 35% of the population of Fiji is from India. We were here for two days and then it was time to go to Hawaii.

We left at night which was the pits because we don’t sleep on the plane. We flew for about one and a half hours to Apia, Samoa. We had to get off the plane and wait for about an hour till we took off again. It took seven hours to get to Hawaii from there but it was the same day because of the dateline! We arrived Hawaiian time at 7:00 in the morning very exhausted. We got to the hotel and slept for about four hours. We then went to the mall to eat and to get haircuts. Tom went to the Barber and I went to a salon. I should have gone to the barber because it was quite expensive in the Salon. We got it cut there because we have heard that you may not get what you really want in Majuro. Well, I now have a short spiky style which at the moment I don’t use a blow dryer or a curling iron! It is a little shorter than I expected, but it’s okay. The next day we went walking along the beach and to eat at Tony Roma’s it was great. We should have brought our swimming suits but didn’t think that we would have time to use them. It was great to unwind and what better place could you have then Hawaii to do that! We left at 10:30 Hawaiian time on Saturday. We then skipped Sunday as it was Monday in Majuro and we arrived at 1:30 A.M. We are home and we survived the big trip. If Elder Cook were to ask us now, how do you travel, as he did when we were called, he might have got a different answer!
We really did enjoy meeting most (some are on outer islands) of our Missionaries. When we have our zone conference we will be able to meet the rest of them because, everyone in an outer island will be coming in. The people are as we were told before we came very genuine and happy. These people emulate the saying “The happiest people in the world don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of what they have.” The children here are adorable and usually very friendly. They love to have their picture taken. We have a strong testimony of this gospel and the great change it can bring to people’s lives. We know that God lives and loves all of us. We also know that Jesus is the Christ and that he atoned for all of us so that we may have the chance to live with him again. We know that the spirit does guide and direct us. We also know that even though we feel so inadequate in our calling that the Lord will and does make up the difference. Our family is so precious to us and we love them with every ounce of our being. We thank you all for your prayers and love. Even though we are still very green we know that this Mission is a call from the Lord, and that we will never be the same for having this opportunity to serve. We pray for you all constantly and we feel so fortunate that we can web cam. You are all the best and we love to hear from you, thank you for your emails. May the Lord watch over you all, Love Mom & Dad / Nana & Papa / President and Sister Shaw


Malia said...

Oh! I so enjoyed reading this post!! All of it sounds so wonderful! Okay, so the cockroaches and rats sound horrible...but the people and customs sound incredible. I'm sure your hair is VERY cute, Sharon. You wear the short-"do" well.

Ann said...

Dear Sister Shaw, thank you so much for having a blog. We were in such hopes that you would. Thanks for your service and loving our missionaries. You are wonderful. Kent and Ann Flint, Elder Flint's parents. :D

Traci said...

I would love to visit these places, but I couldn't be on a plane as much as you have! I don't love flying...
I'm so glad that you have this blog so Spencer and I can keep up with you! What cool experiences you're having!

Jerry & Kristi said...

I really enjoyed the pictures and stories. I have not had the plesure of traveling. It is amazing how much we take for granted. I love the lava lava, I have always wanted one. How is Tom doing with his Diabetic meds, has he had to cut back? I seen thos pics of the fish, YUCKY. I would starve. Thanks for sharing, Hugs to you both! Your in our prayers, Love ya