We’re on Majuro!

And life is good. God is good. We left Hawaii about 7:30 a.m. Aug. 1, flew for 5 hours, and landed in Majuro at about 10:30 a.m. Aug. 2. Who knew? Actually, I knew, but it’s still pretty freaky to cross the international date line.

Maritha’s family met us in force. They were in the tiny airport waiting – about ten people (Mom, dad, grandpa, two brothers, aunt, and several cousins) – with flower wreaths and hats for us. We were given the Island welcome in spades. I wish I could send pictures, but internet here is terrifically slow. Basically, because of the isolation, the whole island is on dialup, and all trying to use it at the same time.

Anyway, it was a great welcome, and then they met us at the hotel. The island is actually about 30 miles long, and usually about two blocks wide (apologies for misinformation I gave out to you in ignorance before we arrived). It curves around the south and east sides of a lagoon. The north and west sides are bordered by scattered islands and reef. Everything is measured by mile markers. For example, our hotel is at mile three. The airport is at mile ten. It’s beautiful – palms and lush tropical vegitation everywhere. The surf on the ocean side crashing constantly. The blue-green lagoon gently laps the other. It’s also terrible. The poverty is obvious and oppressive everywhere one looks. Groups of teenage boys crowded on the backs of pickups travel up and down the island’s one road. Tiny, brightly ciolored homes in various states of decay line the road, the ocean and lagoon sparkling in the background.

Maritha’s family’s home is in pretty good shape. They sort of live in family groups. There are several sinder block buildings together where an assortment of family members cluster. Many people are just sort of in and out and about all of the time. Children are everywhere. I saw one pair of little boys today playing with a Rubbermaid container. The smaller boy sat in it. The older boy pushed it down the road. We also went to Maritha’s fathers family compound today to see her other grandpa. It was sort of away from the main part of town, almost country. the houses were spread out more, and there were coconut, breadfruit, and “pup” trees all over. The high point was when Eddie, Maritha’s dad, climbed a coconut tree and harvested about twenty-five nuts for us – dropping them on the ground. Edison, Maritha’s brother, then broke them open on a rusty spike in the yard and we all drank our fill of coconut milk. It was quite lovely. I was thinking that we were squandering their coconut crop until Eddie told me that there would be another crop ready in about a week on the same tree.

With so much fruit around, one can hardly go hungry on this island. Being poor here doesn’t really mean the same thing it means in the U.S., I guess. The people here are friendly, smile a lot (beautiful smiles), and seem happy, at least on the surface. They share everything. We gave Edison a Twins t-shirt yesterday. Today, Jendrik (Maritha’s grandfather) was wearing it.

Anyway, I’m rambling incoherently. Things are going well. Maritha is enjoying seeing her family, and they are also giving her some space, which she needs to process things. She remembers less than she expected, I think. But the longer we’re here, the more is coming back to her.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we’re having a family party at Jendrik’s. Sunday, we’ll go to church and then swim out on the wilder, western end of the island. Monday and Tuesday, who knows!

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.


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