Leaving the Provo MTC May 14, we flew to Hawaii for a day. We just happened to meet our mission president and his wife, Tom & Sharon Shaw who were on the same flights from Honolulu to Christmas Island to Fiji for another overnight stay (about 5 hours sleep), before flying the next morning at 5:00 to Tarawa, arriving at 8:00 a.m. Unfortunately our 2 largest bags didn't arrive with us in Tarawa. We found out in Fiji that there was too much weight on the plane, so they took our bags off in Honolulu, along with bags for 15 other passengers, according to a stewardess. The airline is trying to get our bags to us by Monday by routing them to Los Angeles, Brisbane, Fiji and then Tarawa. Most of our clothes were in those bags, so we stayed in the same clothes for a couple of days until we got some loaners from friends in Tarawa.
Our first look at Tarawa from the air shows the long skinny island with breaks during high tides.
Because we crossed the International Date Line, we arrived Thursday morning. The Pacific has a lot of water!!!!
There are 4 other couples serving on Tarawa. The Bonnemorts provide medical care and office help. The Ogbornes do humanitarian projects and are trying to teach the people to grow gardens, as well as improving water and other projects. The Thornes are a CES couple, helping to train natives to become certified teachers.
This dinner together with the mission president and senior couples happens every couple of months, when President Shaw comes. The senior couples are a great group of people who support and help each other. The Bonnemorts took us shopping to get stocked up on food and get settled in our flat. Elder Bonnemort is a retired IRS agent and Sister Bonnemort is a retired nurse.
Food that we are used to is high priced, but much of what we need is available. We had to wait a couple of days to find a package of ground beef (they call it mince meat), which is about $4/lb. The president bought a gallon pail of ice cream for the group, which cost $16.50.
Banking is different. It took 3 hours of waiting and filling out paperwork to open an account, but we weren't allowed to deposit any money because we had just set up the account. We have to go back Monday to deposit money. They did let us exchange money, so we could buy food.
The people are very nice, attractive and cheerful. We are well and looking forward to getting to work in helping the work. Judy and I were asked to speak in church today. These people really sing. Our ward at home could take a lesson from these young people, who make up most of our ward.