Meeting her family after eight years…

We arrived on Majuro Aug. 2. After landing, we waited about an hour to get processed though customs. During this time, Maritha could see her little brothers through some narrow slats that separated us from the main lobby. It was a long hour. Finally, we came out the customs door towing our obscene baggage and there they were.

About 10-15 people – grandfather, parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins – descended upon us with homemade, fresh flower leis, headbands, and hats. Here’s part of the gang.


Back: Jendrik (grandpa), Maritha, Doji (little brother), Merdik (mom), Eddie (dad), Arum (aunt). Front: Jennifer (cousin), Erickson (cousin), Edison (brother), Ali (cousin).

Here are Maritha and Merdik (and Doji), mother and child.


Kylie was not to be left out, either.


We communicated mostly through hugging and hand shaking. Eddie and Arum spoke good English, and Jendrik communicated pretty well in English, too, but it was still a challenge. Typical Americans, of course, we knew no Marshallese beyond “Yokwe” (hello).

We finally piled into the hotel shuttle. Edison and Erickson came with us. Edison liked my hat, and I gave it to him. He’s a man of few words, and a look that can husk coconuts, but can you see Maritha in those eyes?


After we got settled at the hotel, Jendrik insisted that he buy us dinner at the hotel restaurant. The entire time we were on Majuro, Jendrik was constantly giving and buying us things. He doesn’t have much. Those who have the least, give the most.

After a wonderful lunch, they insisted that we rest and that we’d get together in the morning. The whole week they were very respectful of our, and their, “down” time.

An interesting moment came when they were leaving us. Eddie asked Maritha if she wanted to come with them. We had anticipated that this would happen, but hadn’t really planned our response or discussed it with Maritha. Maritha’s immediate response was that she wanted to stay at the hotel with us. Who knows why she made this bittersweet choice. The question never came up again the whole week.

Of course, we did have a few very welcome visits that evening from Jendrik, and from Eddie and Doji (who was pestering his father to see Maritha all afternoon, said Eddie). We also met Martina Beaman’s (a Marshallese friend living in Bismarck) mother and sisters at the hotel. Jidbun is a cook and Daiana and Herma live with her there.

daiana and fam

The girls hit it off immediately with Daiana and Herma, who took them swimming at sunset in the Majuro Lagoon.


This was beautiful, and also a lesson in culture shock. Maritha, Kylie, and Maia wandered down to the beach past about a block of lagoon front rooms and the restaraunt in their bathing suits (some bikinis) and attracted some serious attention, both from the crowd of little boys and groups of grown men.

After that, they swam Marshallese female style – T-shirts and shorts – which Daiana and Herma demonstrated admirably. Who knew Marshallese culture was so conservative (actually, we did, but I guess we had to experience the staring and giggling before it changed our behavior).


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3 Responses to Meeting her family after eight years…

  1. Majuro Girl says:

    Hola…. Ahhhh this was very very nice!!!! I miss them and wish to go back it was fun…. Ohh and i dont think the eye of my brother edsion is like mine dont think so. Well w.e. who cares w.e…. Ummm ahhh u dont have the other one of my mom and this one dosent really looks like we are alike. When are u gonna upload more up here or is just that? g2g because maia is playing her sax and anyoing!! BYE

  2. Majuro Girl says:

    THANK YOU!!!

  3. mea says:

    sound like you had fun. I have been away from the Islands for 5 years and i sure miss it all. I am currently residing in Korea..workin and going to school simultanously. its hard to embrace a new day without the presence of the island’s love. anyway long story but you have a great one. live to encounter new experience!

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