Sunday, November 17, 2013

North Tarawa

North end of North Tarawa
Students throughout the islands that have never attended Moroni need to take an intake test or an entrance exam. The teachers have been so overwhelmed scoring the end of year exams that Rich and I volunteered to help with the intake test on North Tarawa.  There were four of us who went, Taraia (head secretary), Taua (substitute), Rich and I.  I’m sure they could have done it on their own, but we were grateful for the experience. We were up at 3:30 am and Sister Cassita took us to Brother Tune’s home at 4:00 am.  By 4:30 we were loaded with our buckets, which protected our food and the tests,  

and headed out across the lagoon. It was a full moon and the stars were amazing. There were so many of them.  It was incredible.  The further we go out to sea the stars became brighter and the Milky Way was as bright as I’ve ever seen it. The water was very calm which made an enjoyable ride.  It took us an hour to get to the south end of North Tarawa, where we let Taua and Dad off and then we rode for another hour to the north end of North Tarawa.  Brother Tune dropped Taraia and I close to the chapel and the Elders' flat.  We borrowed the elders’ bicycles and started down the road (they call it the 
bush) to find the Branch President.  

Branch President and wife
We stopped at a couple of small villages for Tairaia to let them know the testing would begin at 9:00. Upon arriving at the Branch President’s home he prepared a moi moto (fresh coconut water) for us and some salt fish.  I’ve learned to really like the coconut, but the salt fish is too much.  They preserve their fish here in salt much like they did in biblical days.  It’s like sucking on a salt cube with a fishy taste. By the time we got back to the chapel, set up for the test and the kids arrived it was 10:00.  It’s an hour timed test and a couple of girls came about a half hour into it.  They were both Form 3 and we had used all of our Form 3 tests.  One girl 

said she just wanted to repeat Form 3 again next year, which I find not unusual for kids to repeat a grade here so Tairaia said we could just get her transcript from her previous school.  The other girl needed to take the test.  As soon as the first group of kids finished the tests we hand copied the test on the back of some application papers so she could take the test.  After the testing was complete the Branch President’s wife prepared rice and fried breadfruit for us.  By that time the tide was back in and President Tune was back to pick us up.  

  Now it is hot, the sun is high in the sky and the sea is very rough. It took us 2 ½ hours to get back including picking up Rich and Taua.  When I put in my application to serve a mission I remember distinctly checking the box stating that I could walk 3-6 miles. Never did I see a box that stated you must be able to ride in a 12 foot wooden fishing boat for 2 ½ hours on rough seas. I held on for dear life and bounced all the way back. We were soaked completely through and my bottom was sore.  Brother Tune doesn’t go into the water without dropping a couple of fishing lines. They don’t use poles; they just hang onto the line with their hands.  Rich was holding his line when he said, I’ve got one.  We slowed down enough to pull in a nice Travoli, a beautiful white fish.  We’ve been told not to eat the fish in the lagoon so Dad just gave it to the Bishop when we returned.   Between us we tested  23  kids today some of whom are not members of the church.  It was a great day and we came home very tired and sunburned, even though we used sunscreen.


1 comment:

  1. Quite an adventure! I think Suk is right with you on not being thrilled about a two hour boat ride in rough seas. I'd be game though !