Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas on Tarawa

We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas holiday season here on Tarawa.  We attended parties with everyone from heads of state to local ward members, Christmas Choir programs to local cultural dance events, Sr Missionary treats to feeding the young and hungry (spelled Elders and Sisters).  It was all fun and contributed greatly to our Christmas Spirit though all the time missing loved ones at home.  Here is a selection to give you some flavor of our efforts. 
Sis Waldron took a few water bottles and worked up some robes for them to create this nativity scene.  All scraps and remnants, she managed to capture the personalities of the characters fairly accurately.
This represents the Maji.  The turban and tunic were curtains last year.  The robe managed to match perfectly.  Looks quite regal, doesn't he? 
There are no pine trees here but this one grows on the island and we cut a few suckers from some growing on the causeway.  They kind of have a piney appearance--long needles.  I cut them up flat on their ends and anchored them to the bottom of the mop bucket.  We put a little water in the bucket to preserve the needles if possible.  We don't know these plants so we'll try and see if this works. 
 It stood up ok and I'm putting the lights on here.  We'll see the finished product below.  It is only a branch (no trunk) so it is flimsy and wants to lean.  
With some of the left over branches and a piece of fencing wire, Sis Waldron created this wreath for the door to our apartment.  Again, a piece of remnant fabric made a nice bow to complete the decoration of our door. 
See it here in perspective with the front of our house.  Note the green bushes and palms in the background.  Yes, this is the tropics.  No white Christmas here. 
This is the tree finished and lit up and taken in the dark.  It cast some interesting shadows and made a fun atmosphere in the living room. 
Here it is in the light so you can see it in all its glory.  Looks every bit the Christmas tree it was intended to be.  Brave little soul. 
Sister Waldron relaxes in front of the, ahem, hearth where stockings are hung with care.
The valence above the front room window is our signature piece.  It will have some fun pattern representing whatever holiday we are celebrating.  Give Sis Waldron a sewing machine and a bunch of scraps and there is nothing she cannot do!! 
Here are some of the homemade ornaments hanging on the tree.  The angel is from doilies we scrounged from the bread saucers at the restaurant in Fiji.  The fan is the wrapper from the butter (aluminum) purchased at the grocery store.  The star is local handicraft and the balls are from Fiji. 
The chain is from potato chip and candy bar wrappers (aluminum again).  Sis Waldron cut them up with her fabric wheel and we "tediously" no, lovingly glued all the links together.   
Of course, we had to have a star at the top and the streams of glory below it are, you guessed it, cut up foil wrapping material.   
On Christmas Eve, Sis Waldron baked and decorated these Christmas Tree sugar cookies.  They were as good as the ones we decorate at home.  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from
The Waldrons on Tarawa

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Waldrons encounter Fiji

The first week of December saw us in Fiji for a three day workshop on Welfare/Humanitarian Services in the Pacific Area.  This included representatives from PPNG, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, NZ, Kiribati, and Australia.  We discussed Diabetes, Tsunamis, Nutrition, Sanitation and what we could do to prevent/combat/recover/prepare for all these rising problems in the area.  It was a wonderful experience that included discussion with Hans Sorenson, the Area Welfare Manager, Elder Adolf Johansson, the Area Seventy, and Brent Buckner the District Temporal Affairs Officer.  It was held at the Raffles Hotel, adjacent to the Nadi International Airport in Nadi, Fiji.
This is the restaurant (in the Raffles Hotel) where we took most of our meals.  Though covered, it is open air and was like dining outdoors every meal.  Mina birds were flying in and out all the time and there was a Lothario who serenaded us every night playing cowboy songs on his guitar.  You can just make out Sis Waldron in the rear, in front of the bar with the bartender.  All the hospitality staff were as friendly and accommodating as can be.  One bellhop even greeted us and remembered we'd been there four months ago.  The meals were great and our room was tremendous--much better than the last time (real economy class).   We enjoyed the patio to the back yard which was beautifully landscaped.  It had a nice AC unit (mandatory) which kept us quite comfortable.  The shower had hot water (haven't had that in four months) and the TV had a whopping four channels one of which was the movie channel.

This was the swimming pool and really fun.  At about 30 yards, it was nice to have a straight line for lap swimming that was virtually uninterrupted.  See here, it's empty.  We rarely had to share it with anyone.  To the left is a water slide and to the rear is the gym, which we used several times in the week.  I took this from the back of the bar, seen in the previous picture.

The main resort in the area was called Porte Denarau.  It was kind of a Park City on the beach.  They have a town square on the harbor with all kinds of shops; everything from grocery stores to souvenir shops.  This was surrounded by all the big name leisure outfits like Windham, Marriott, etc.  And for entertainment they have tennis, golf, a small amusement park and, of course, the beach.  The harbor has all kinds of boats and tour accommodations one of which we booked. By the way, the fire tree in the background only blooms around Christmas.  They are beautiful and we were lucky to be there when it happened.

What resort is complete without a Hard Rock Cafe.  We couldn't resist the assortment even though, given our current appetites, we could only share one order.  They were understanding and let us have the order and an extra plate.  We ate until our eyeballs nearly fell out.
We couldn't believe we had to fly thousands of miles to go to our first Hard Rock Cafe so we took lots of pictures.

They have lots of fun ships and crusises/tours for people to book.  From sailing the open seas to destination places like the island below.

This is Bounty Island and I think is the property of the tour outfit we booked for Friday.  The main building in the middle is the bar and in front on the deck is a small swimming pool.  On the right is the cafe where there was a fun buffet for our lunch.  In between, in the water, is the trampoline.  Jumping on a trampoline is tricky at best but try it when the thing is shifting under a busy surf.  The little building on the far right is is the equipment shack where we got life jackets, paddles and snorkel equipment, etc.  The little roof you can see left of the bar is the changing/shower room.
We were shuttled out to the Sea View, a boat that looked, above water, like a submarine but never did dive.  Below the water line the hull was a room with seats and windows for viewing the fish, reefs, etc.  It was really fun to see all the fish.  They even chummed the water to bring them in close to the boat for pictures.  The light, especially through the tinted windows underwater, was not conducive to photos but we did get a couple that might capture the scenery.  

I'm no biologist but some of these were cute and up close were quite photogenic.

Here is the reef with lots of fish around, including some sinister looking ones at the top near the surface.  The reef was not colorful like I was hoping.  The only real color was those purple star jobs you see on the bottom.

Just after arrival we got one of the other guests to take our picture with the welcome sign so you would know we were really there.

The buffet was wonderful but some of the entrees were not what you would expect.  Shepherd Pie, toss salad with lettuce--these are not tropical items.

Yes, we both went snorkeling

Sister Waldron went snorkeling for the first while then went back and got a kayak to chase around in.  She, therefore, got sunburned on her thighs while I got sunburned on my back.

This was taken leaving the island by one of the other passengers.  You can see the Bounty "playground" in the background.

Returning to Porte Denarau, the harbor is really fun and you can see the gateway (three stories) leading into the mall area behind all the boats.  What a great day--wish we could have stayed longer.

Thanksgiving on Tarawa 2014

Thanksgiving was a real treat this year, sharing it with loving missionary companions.  These are pictures of the Sr. Missionary Couples on Tarawa enjoying the feast at the Waldron apartment.  All the comforts of home (mostly).
The sisters are crowded into the kitchen with final preparations before presentation on the table.  Pictured left to right are Sisters Wall, Waldron, Sumner, Bogh and Aldredge--all from Utah

This is the table set for the feast including mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries, green bean casserole, watermelon, turkey legs, and homemade rolls.  Notice the lovely table runner handcrafted by Sis Waldron.

Pictured, again from left clockwise are Elders Sumner, Bogh, Wall and Waldron--not pictured.

Can you believe pumpkin pie?!! and even carrot bread pudding with lemon sauce?  Yes, we even managed whipped cream.

Sister Waldron even managed a Thanksgiving themed valence for the occasion.  It even matches her hand made curtains.  This will become our signature holiday decoration.  Watch for the valence on future holidays.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Moroni High Commencement 2014

Graduation of the 2014 class at Moroni High School on Tarawa Island, Kiribati.  There were about 100 seniors graduated and another 30 form seven (kind of a post graduate program like honors classes in American high schools) graduates.  They had their gowns and mortar boards and the whole exercise.  They don't do these in the Pacific so this is somewhat of an anomaly.  The guests were the Ambassadors from Australia and Taiwan, the President and past President of Kiribati and Elder and Sister Allend the Area ITEP Manager.  I'd be curious to know the real feelings of the Pacific area guests about the ceremonies.  Very unique to LDS high schools.
Notice the fun mat on the floor depicting the area and its culture,  

The flags are the country banner on the right and the school banner on the left.

 The students in white and suits are the form seven graduates who really graduated last year.  They looked wonderful.
This is the Graduation Theme and the speaker is Lita, the Principal.  Elder Allend picked up on the theme with an anecdote of hiking Angel's Landing in Zion's Park.  He alluded nicely to the trail, its dangers, and how the students should focus on where they are going and watch out for the obstacles in their path.  It was inspired!

One of the guests at the banquet, whose total commitment to the evening, made a lovely feast for all.  Actually, it was a tad undercooked, so Sis Waldron took ours home and cooked it up with barbecue sauce and we had pulled pork sandwiches.  

The banquet table was the length of the tennis court.  This shows the back half, most of which was dessert.

This last entree consisted of about twenty fresh lobsters and crabs.  The folks went through those like a tornado.  Nothing left but wreckage.

They had a bunch of the juniors dressed in yellow and black and tasked as ushers/waitresses.  Cute, cute, cute.  Eat your hearts out fellas.   Oh, notice the watermelon on the bottom left--compliments of the Learning Garden.  Dang, I had my eye on that one, too.  

The basketball court was decorated with this stage and the "Iron Rod" pointing to the "Fountain of Living Waters" and next to it the "Christmas Tree of Life."  The graduates changed clothes and reconvened to promenade around the court for pictures.  They are dressed in matching outfits that represented their clubs in the school.  I just put a couple in here so you could see how fun it was.  

This is another group in blue.  The fellow on the left weighed in at about 350 and they just didn't have the yardage (read acreage) to outfit him.  He is a nice enough young fellow but way, way overweight.

This is one of our favorite young ladies.  Teresa graduated form seven and is seen here with the rest of her form seven chums.  She turns 19 on Jan. 27 and is preparing papers for a mission.  A bona fide knockout!!

This is a posed snapshot of Hiba (Hee-bah--their version of Heber).  She (yes, she) is from Ghana, here with her family and attending this "Mormon School."  She wants to go to the Y.  Her parents are here on a humanitarian mission with a Muslim aid program.  We have been invited to work with them on some projects.  I hope we can.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sister Waldron in the "Kitchen."

This past Saturday Sis Waldron conducted a cooking class for a local "school" as a favor to the owner.  We scouted this operation out on referral from the students in one of our classes.  They said, "This school is great!  They teach you housekeeping, hospitality, sanitation and customer service.  The cost is $150 for two weeks, you get a certificate, and the guy finds you a job."  In this environment, that is something.  We drove out and found the guy, the school and kind of hit it off.  He is quite friendly and invited us to come back and cook for his "hospitality" students on Saturday.  We really didn't know what we were getting into but it came out all right and was kind of fun.
When we said we'd bake cookies if he had an oven, he said yes.  This is it.
This is his wife.  She can bake 60 loaves of rolls in this oven in a day.  It is wood frame with a metal lining, has two racks and actually, quite a bit of room.  I'll show you the oven door in a minute.

This is a shot of the pantry.  They call them food safes here and they are meant to keep the critters out of  the open food stuff like flour, rice, etc.

This is the stove top--double burner, no less.  It is also the heat source for the oven.  They just move it over under the oven and light it up when it is time to bake.

These are the kitchen stewards.  They never left the kitchen all morning.  Gave it a real campy atmosphere.

Here is a coffee pot but most importantly it is very handy to the john located just beyond in the background

Complete with cabinets and three (yes 3) sinks.  Did I say this guy was certified?  He got all his training on cruise ships.  So this may be primitive but he kind of knows his stuff.

This is the lemon/lime/orange tree.  He picks the fruit when it is really green so we haven't been able to tell from a truly ripe specimen.

A huge stock of bananas in his tree (he later cut them down and gave them to us).

Here you see the fruit.  See if you can figure out which it is.

As I walked past, I noticed his fuse box.  Well, it is a box (wood) and it does have his fuses in it.

Sister Waldron has begun mixing up the cookie dough.

The students are busily copying the recipes down.

Marie's wife is trying to coax the propane burner under the oven to greater activity.

This shows his daughter opening the oven "door"

Sister Waldron taking a pan of cookies out

Lots of room here for cookie pans.

Here is the cooking/demonstration counter.  It was a bare pine sheet of plywood for a table.  Good thing Sis Waldron brought her plastic rolling pads.  Anyway it was successful.  They loved her while she was showing them how it was done and they thought she was a goddess when they ate the finished goods.

Here is Sister Waldron with the stock of bananas he gave us as we left.  It weighs about 50 lbs.  We'll have to hustle and eat, make banana smoothies and freeze as much as we can for banana bread when they all start to ripen up.