Wednesday, December 30, 2015

West Stake R/S Christmas Party

These R/S parties are the greatest.  The sisters love to get up and dance and are completely uninhibited.  They learn dances, coordinate their costumes, and just have a ball.
This is one of the sister missionaries dancing with her ward relief society.  This is Betio 3rd ward.

Yet another ward led by a recently returned missionary who served here in her own stake.  Her home ward is Betio 1st and she was serving in Teaoraereke 1st (same stake) when we arrived in Tarawa.  How would some of you home towners like to serve in the Davis Co. North Mission?

This group is Teaoraereke 2nd ward.  We lived in this ward until a couple of weeks ago.  They are joined by Sis Waldron in the movie clip below. 

Sis Waldron is seated among the sisters of 2nd ward, all attending the stake function.  They do love her.

This is Teaoraereke 1st ward.  They brought dinner and ate together in the mwaniebwa after the program.

I was sitting there enjoying watching everything, including Sis Waldron, when Sister Olson turned to me and asked, "Aren't you photographing your wife?"  I hurried and grabbed the camera out and started filming the dance but was only able to catch the last few seconds.

Merry Christmas from Tarawa

Published here is a collection of pictures representing our activities of Christmas 2015 on Tarawa.  The people don't celebrate as much like we do (presents and all) but instead celebrate more the spirit and real meaning of Christmas.  It is refreshing--no commercializing.
There are trees here that grow these piney looking needles.  You'd swear they were Ponderosa, but they are merely branches not the whole tree.  We used our fun, homemade decorations from last year.  Sis Waldron rigged up four water bottles, tied them together and wrapped them with some fabric to form the tree stand.  Filled with water, each bottle had one branch and it balanced up nicely.  She wrapped it with some fun local fabric.

On the Wednesday prior to Christmas we spent the evening assembling Christmas packages for all the missionaries.  The packages consisted of all the Yule Season candies we could bring on the plane with us when we came plus whatever candy we could find here that seemed Christmassy.  After the candy, we filled them with popcorn.  Guaranteed to send the average missionary off the wall in a sugar high for hours.  

On Christmas Eve we all went to Teaoraereke for a huge baptism.  Two families and several others were baptized including 11 souls.

The font at the stake center being on the fritz, we retired to the beach and proceeded to baptize them in the ocean.  The surf was quite high and baptizing the little ones was challenging.  This is Takaria, one of our good friends here, baptizing his daughter.

This is a view from back a little so you can see the beach area where the baptisms were performed.

Christmas Day saw all the missionaries gathered at the mwaniebwa on the campus.  The seniors had prepared a good old summer picnic type meal for the kids.  Hamburgers with all the trimmings including:  Sis Waldron's homemade buns, Heinz ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions, cabbage (lettuce cannot be had here), tomatoes, potato chips (Aussie), Oreo cookies (plus our homemade and decorated ones) and cold slough. 

The American Elders thought they'd died and gone to heaven.  The local missionaries even enjoyed the fare.

Shown here are a few of the leftover gingerbread cookies.  With 30 odd missionaries, we made four dozen plus brownies and the Oreos.

Currently there are only two American sisters here in Kiribati.  Sisters Baldwin and Eubanks are both from Cache Valley (I think), at least Sis Baldwin is.  They are good hardworking missionaries and despite the conditions, roll with the punches and proselyte with the best of them.

Pictured here are all the sisters on Tarawa.  Represented here, besides the two from Utah, are sisters from PPNG, Tonga, Hawaii, Kiribati, Micronesia and Fiji.  

A larger contingent of US Elders are represented here.  There are not quite half of the Elders who hail from islands of the Pacific.  These two pictures do not, unfortunately, represent the elders and sisters who serve on the outer islands; too far to come in for Christmas.  Our mission covers a geographic area about the size of the continental US, but the total land mass could fit into Weber County...twice.

Here we see the stalwart senior missionary contingent on the island, including President Weir.  Oh, I forgot, Sister Aldredge, the mission nurse was ill today and couldn't make the party.  After the lunch, we set up a makeshift theater in the choir room to which the missionaries assembled and watched Freetown, a terrific movie about some Saints in a revolution torn country in Africa.
On Saturday, their P-day, the missionaries all made arrangements to get somewhere so they could contact their families, one of the two times a year they are allowed to "call" home.  We had four come to our apartment and interestingly, thought the lines were full, the connections were quite good.  The kids in our apartment all made contact and had great conversations with their families.  One of our little gals was Skyping with her family in Herriman, Utah.  I was surprised because though she is Samoan, her family was in Utah.   
It was a great week and a Merry Christmas.  We enjoyed losing ourselves in the service to the young missionaries.  They work so hard here, have so little and are so appreciative of everything we do for them.  They are chipper and positive and wouldn't trade their missions here for the world.  We love them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Temwiku Branch Relief Society craft fair

When we got there, the R/S was having fun and games out on the mwaniebwa.  This sign was hung on the door into the chapel with balloons.  It was really cute.

I guess they were having a biggest loser program in the branch because this chalk board was hanging right next to the sign with everyone's weight and gain/loss recorded on the side.  There was a bathroom scale under the table on which the board was sitting.  This is in kilograms so just to give you a frame of reference; 90 kilos is roughly 200 lbs.  How many of these folks are at, near or over the 90 mark?  Because of the heavy consumption of rice, overweight is a big problem here and, more importantly, it is a precursor to diabetes.  We love that they are aware of this and trying to make some inroads in the branch.

Sis Waldron was invited to address the group and spoke briefly about self-reliance.  She indicated the table on which the crafts were displayed and told them that this is indicative of the talent in their branch and their culture.  They should start small businesses to market these skills and generate income for their families.  We met the R/S President last week and she invited us to this fair.  We were glad to come to see their cultural arts talents and even brought the other sr. missionaries.

Some of the sisters and their children in attendance.

Another shot of Sis Waldron with the cute sign in the rear and the crafts table immediately behind her.

Sis Waldron is haggling over a remnant piece (rag) rug on which the lady used a plastic rice bag for the backing.  Pretty ingenious. They think Sis Waldron is wierd because she always haggles up.  It is now in the kitchen in front of the sink.

Christmas parties in Teaoraereke 2nd and Moroni wards

Elder Waldron leading the Y/M in a chorus of  Angels We Have Heard on High and Jingle Bells.  The pic includes our missionaries, Elders Whitehead and Aliksa, and Bureieta, the Y/M president.

The R/S was on hand to deliver a local favorite.

The YSA did the Christmas play.

Pretty sure this is Mary on the donkey with Joseph. By the way, the donkey just got his mission call to PPNG and Mary is going to the Phillippines.   All the above pics were at the Teaoraereke 2nd ward party.  

Moroni Ward's party was equally fun and we were invited because we are soon moving to the campus.
Sister Solomone is telling the meaning of the Christmas tree and ornaments.  Brother Tune is the tree.  He's a good sport.  Having served as a bishop and stake president before the stake was divided, he is now the manager of the service center.  He is widely and well known by all on the island and even among the heads of state.  When he talks, everyone listens.  The kids are enjoying putting the ornaments on his fingers, ears, etc.

The Bishop, er ah, Santa is giving out some Christmas presents to the primary children in attendance.

Sis Anetta, who is the school nurse besides the R/S president, is collecting a gift for her child from Santa.

I think he has just promised Elder Waldron his favorite Christmas surprise.

Brother and Sister Cross are icons on the island.  He, from Australia, married a local and has lived here ever since.  A contractor by trade, he built most of the original Moroni High and several of the chapels.  Retired now, they live in Bikenibeu but attend the Moroni Ward (the only English speaking ward on the island).

We have moved to the Moroni High School Campus in Eita.

Here I am standing in front of our new apartment.  Notice we have our own garbage can (which they come and empty weekly), you can see one of our two AC units on the wall, and a solar water heater on the roof which delivers water as hot as you can stand it.

This is the view from the front door out to the street about 75 yards away.  On the right is the end of the rows of classrooms on campus and on the left is the outdoor basketball court.  There are basketball and tennis courts as well as a soccer field all on the left.

We have an ocean view out the back door.  There is a narrow covered patio we use to hang clothes.  The beach is just beyond the fence.
To our right is the other of the apartments (we are the end apartment) and, ours being a duplex, our neighbors are Elder and Sis Sumner from Uintah/So Ogden.  The furthest apartments down the line are close enough to the beach that when it is high tide and the surf is busy, it splashes up against their doors and windows.

The little walled off areas are the washrooms.  These washers are uptown, baby!  If done properly they fill the drum with water, wash, rinse and spin dry with one setting.  The capacity is a little larger, too, so we do less loads than before.  Clothes washing is a pretty speedy process now especially with hanging lines under cover to protect from frequent rains.

Sis Waldron standing at the fence with the beach and ocean in the background.

The narrow backyard looking the other way toward the school's Mwaniebwa.  It is like the cultural hall we had at the West Stake Center but about half the size.  

Sister Waldron in the kitchen.  One sink and very little counter top space but lots of nice cabinets for storage.

The bedroom is about the same as the old apartment but not divided in half for a spare bedroom, so much larger.

Actual closets on either side of the bathroom door.

We finally now have actual chests of drawers.  This apartment is much nicer from an asthetics stand point--tile floors, nice paint, vaulted ceilings, but we had gotten used to the old place and were quite comfortable there,  We were sorry to leave.  We didn't even mind that there was no hot water.  It is never below 80 degrees here; how cold do you think the water can get?  We had a tea kettle to heat water for the dishes.  This, however, is quite commodious and we are very comfortable here.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Water filtration system for Red Beach Elementary

This building is the "cafeteria" for Red Beach Elementary.  In a previous project the water catchment tanks and rain guttering were donated and installed, one of which is the large tank on the right.  Left of the large tank is an elevated tank which will supply the filtration system.  They use an electric pump to fill the upper tank and the system is gravity fed from there.  The water is piped in through the wall above the window just behind the scaffold.
We have positioned the filter at the corner of the two exterior walls to protect the device from damage and we're bolting it to the wall to make it secure.  My trusty assistant is the school maintenance man.
The maintenance guy and Peter, the Country Welfare Manager, are cutting some PVC to connect the filter to the tank.
From here we must install the intake, discharge, back flush and bleeder valves to make it operational.   To the discharge valve we must also pipe the water to a tap.  Explaining this was tricky but they understood enough English it went ok.
Here is the finished unit, all decked out and ready to go.  Notice the tap on the right and the hose for back flush on the floor.  
This is one of the classrooms the SeaBees worked on.  They painted the outside and placed this divider so they can teach two classes in here.  Bare bones is the word here.
On the other side of the divider.
Another classroom
One of the older classroom buildings.
This is the restroom facility.  We have offered to build them another, similar but better designed to their needs.  This one is pretty sad.  There are just under 1000 kids in this school.  They send most (those who live closer) home to use the bathroom.  There is just no money in the budget for maintenance so when something breaks down, it just sits.  The guy helping us was a volunteer.