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.