Thursday, July 30, 2009

James is 8!

Wednesday was James' birthday. Hard to believe he's 8 already. The early day was uneventful. The kids did their school work and Conn went out with his mom to try applying for jobs. They got back just before school started at 4 in the afternoon. When the kids all sat down, one of the students came in carrying a cake and the kids all celebrated James' birthday with him. They sang to him, we had cake, and James and Tanielu did their Kiribati dances for the schoolkids. It was a fun time and something special for James. After school, we made spaghetti for dinner. James was so glad to see this much loved, and much missed, dinner. We found dry pasta at a local store and another American gave us the sauce (thanks Diane!). There was plenty for everyone to try it, and the boys each had seconds. There was even enough for lunch yesterday! Then we had ice cream and the rest of the cake for dessert. Aunty Laae gave James a toy truck and a box of plastic insects from Melesiata. We're still waiting for the package from Grandma in NC.
Happy Birthday, James!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Help, "Timmy's" in the well!

So, on Tuesday, we went to our first real Scout meeting. They meet at the local school in the afternoons. this week we just played some getting to know you games. The kids are pretty excited about it. The leaders are going to get their planning book in English for me so I can see how their scheme follows ours and to see how I can help them lead in English so the children can practice more.
Tuesday evening, we had some friends over for dinner. On our way here, we met a couple of girls from England. They are medical students doing an elective course here observing in the hospital. Well, they're leaving today, so we had them over for dinner before they left. It was a really good dinner: boiled breadfruit, tuna fried and in tomato soup with noodles and vegetables, rice. The girls brought bananas cooked in kamaimai (coconut syrup) for dessert. We taught them canasta after the kids went to bed. Then we took them home. Conn and I stayed and talked for a while at their house, then headed back to our house. It was good to make that connection for all of us.
Wednesday was also eventful. It was getting close to school time in the afternoon when the sky got very dark. We thought it was going to rain so we hurried out to bring in our clothes (again), but we heard others talk about the eclipse. We couldn't see it clearly because there was a big cloud in the way, but it was cool how the sky got dark, then light again. We knew it wasn't just because of the cloud because the blue parts of the sky got dark too. It was a great teaching moment as I explained it to the kids in the moment. I've never experienced an eclipse before.
While we were out there, the kids were playing around and we headed back to the house to bring in those clothes. Mama was still out in the yard with the kids when we heard "help, he's fallen!" and we heard James calling for help. My worst nightmare about being here had happened. Luckily, it happened the best way it could. James had tripped while he was playing, and fell into a nearby well. He hit his head on the way down, but that made him go feet first. Also, the well was not very deep so he could stand in the bottom. One of the bigger boys was able to help him out pretty quickly and Conn ran to get him from him. He had a big gash on the back of his head behind his ear so we washed it out and Conn took him to the hospital to get stitches. He was being such a brave, big boy about it, hardly crying and really just taking care of business-like. After they left, Tanielu fell apart a bit because he was worried about James and he had to stay here with me for our school. Conn and James were only gone for about an hour before they were back, and James was playing with the kids and joining in like nothing had happened. We dressed it and cleaned it out this morning and got a good picture of it. We'll post it as soon as we can. He has 3 stitches. The gash resembled Tanielu's when he had his "hole in the head" on his forehead a couple of years ago. James says it doesn't really hurt and he's being a trooper about keeping the bandage around his head to hold the gauze on so it stays clean. We're getting good use out of our first aid kit, that's for sure. Between keeping Neosporin on all the boo-boos and using the tylenol for the kids' little fevers, I just wish Parker would keep a band aid on his sores so he'll leave them alone. For those who heard about Tanielu's sores on his face, they're getting better with the daily Neosporin. I think it was impetego, but isn't spreading any more and no one else has gotten it.
It's time now to join the family for our fish and rice lunch. Looking forward to hearing your comments.
God Bless, Jennifer

Friday, July 17, 2009


We're really enjoying reading your comments. I'll try to answer questions when I can. Please keep in touch!
The Hercules airplane we visited was like being in a military plane. Not the cushy seats like on commercial airplanes. One of the crew said it could hold up to 90 passengers, but this flight had 14 politicians and 16 crew. We took some pictures, so when I can get them up, you'll see what we mean.
Church is the only thing, Lynne, that starts on time around here. 10am sharp. If you're late, just sneak in the back and pick up with the others. School might start on time, but not always. Even teachers are late for school sometimes. One time, Mama was 20 minutes late for school. Conn took over and started them on some games to keep them busy while we waited for her. That was when we first got here.
We're getting more and more settled. The kids have made friends to play with between the school kids who speak English and the neighborhood kids who don't. The only thing is the food. If the kids say they're hungry, we don't really have snack food for them. We just have to wait until the next meal. We're working on variety and satisfaction.
Not much has been going on. We're hanging out and enjoying our free time. There hasn't been school this week for Independence so the kids have been out playing a lot. We've had our school though, so still something to do.
Conn applied for a job as driver/messenger for UNICEF. It's a fixed term appointment, but not sure how long the term is. We're hoping he'll get that job and save the money from it and just live off the money I make. Please keep him in your prayers. He's very qualified for the job. We just hope they see it that way. We'll probably find out in a few weeks since they're sending all the applications to Fiji for deciding.
Looking forward to hearing your comments. God Bless! Jennifer

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Visiting the Hercules

by James
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
We went to the airport to see the Hercules (Royal New Zealand Air Force). We saw the sink, oven and coffee pot. We saw the pilot's seat and co-pilot's seat. Both of their steering wheels turn the same way so they can't turn different ways. I got to wear one of their life vests. It was heavy! There was a safety radio inside it. Then we got off the plane and went home. I was glad we visited the Hercules Air Force plane.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Independence Day!

Well, Kiribati has been an independent nation for 30 years now. Since the 12th was on Sunday, they celebrated on Monday. We went to Bairiki for the parade and saw the Scouts, schools, and even the little pre-schoolers. Then we had a snack of bananas in the car while it rained. The timing was perfect that the rain took only just as long as we did to eat. Then we got back out and went back to the stadium. We had lunch, which the boys gobbled up (fish, chicken, sausage, rice with ketchup, cabbage). We started with one plate that they shared, and had to get another. Then we went over to see the ferris wheel and rides. The boys saw other Scout friends and were welcomed into their group immediately. We got tickets for the boys to ride the ferris wheel with their Scout friends and we watched. They really get that wheel going fast. The boys looked like they had a lot of fun on it. James looked a little unsure at first, but he had his hands in the air before long. After that, we went looking for ice cream. The boys were still hungry and wanted more lunch, so we got another plate which they finished. We wondered if these really are our kids with them eating so much! On our way back to the car, we stopped to inquire about putting our pictures on a cd and in this process, Tanielu got lost. He didn't see that we stopped and he kept going. He realized he wasn't with us when he got to the banana stand. He knew we were going back to the car and thought we were ahead of him, so he went back to the car. When we were done at the photo shop, we were looking for him and couldn't find him anywhere. I stayed where I was, Conn looked one way towards the car and other friends looked the other way we came from. Conn came back with him crying from the car. We were glad he was ok, but stressed the importance of him staying with us and looking up and being aware when he walks around. Then we headed home.
When we got home, we rested, bathed, and got our dinner ready. That evening we went to dinner with the Scouts because it was the last night the Australians were here. The 8:00 dinner opened at 10. While we were waiting, the kids played and adults talked. It was a late night. We walked home and went straight to bed.

Sunday - church and Temwaiku

Sunday we finally made it to church. We went to Temwaiku where Conn's family #2 lives. Church was good. Three children were baptized. Different from ours where we make a huge deal out of it. Here it was very simple and quick. No big deal. Parker went to Sunday School with Roine (his new friend from family #2 - she's about 10 years old). After church I asked Tanielu if he wanted to go to Sunday School next week and he said he didn't. We went around the meet the kids coming out to get Parker and when Tanielu saw all the kids, I asked him again if he wanted to go to Sunday School next week and his face brightened and he nodded yes. After church we walked back to the family's house and rested there for the whole afternoon. We napped, the kids played, we ate. Tanielu and James learned to draw water from the well. We all stayed well from the food this time. The wind is really good there and no mosquitoes, so it's quite nice to be there. There's just a lot of flies. We're going to try to spend every Sunday there.

Saturday with the Scouts

Saturday was the kids' day to work with the Scouts. Conn, James, and Tanielu went early to meet the Scouts to work on cleaning up part of the roadside, then have lunch, and practice for the Independence march. I was to go to the library with the school, then meet them at the park for the lunch. Such is life in Kiribati that things didn't quite work out that way. The Scouts didn't actually leave for the clean up until around 11 so they were very late for picnic time. I rode with Mama and Laae, so luckily I wasn't sitting at the park with Parker and our pot of rice waiting for them. Even more so, they changed their minds and didn't even come to the park! They went back to the maneaba and had lunch there before practicing for the march. I rode around with Mama and Laae while they checked prices and began the shopping for Melesiata's birthday party. (That will be Aug. 5) It was very hot and tiring. Not pleasant at all. We met back at home after dark, in time to eat and get to bed.

Conn's birthday

Last Friday was Conn's birthday. He is now 33! On Thursday night, I went out with Mama, Toamwane and Laae to shop for his present. We got a few things that he mentioned wanting while we've been here: a tablecloth, a pitcher to make our drinks in, and a pair of plastic flip flops. We were also planning to get chicken, fish, vegetables, and a cake for his birthday dinner, but that fell through. While we were out, we heard on the radio that a daughter of Mama's cousin died that day. She had a heart attack and died suddenly while teaching her class that day. This means that Mama had to give some money to the funeral botaki and couldn't buy the food that she had planned to. It apparently also meant that we couldn't even have a dinner for him. On Friday, Conn and I and the kids hung out at the house while Mama, Laae, Toamwane, and Melesiata went to their church. It looks like Fridays are our day to hang at the house by ourselves, or go wherever on our own. They basically spend the day at the missionary's house. They got back rather late, then Mama and Laae went to the funeral gathering. So, there was minimal celebration for Conn. Good thing it was his birthday and not one of the kids! He would be the least bothered. Anyway, we did get to give him his present Saturday morning and he enjoyed that. He also got to eat the raw fish that Laae prepared and he also enjoyed that.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tanielu lost a tooth

You may see this on America's Funniest Videos, but I figured I'll tell you about it first. Tanielu had a wiggly tooth that he's really been working on today. Tonight he felt that it was loose enough to come out. Conn tied a string to the tooth, and the other end to the Lightning McQueen car that goes by itself. Tanielu started the car and waited, but the first couple of times nothing happened. He tried another time and was surprised that it worked! He's quite pleased with himself. We don't do Tooth Fairy, but he is getting to be a big boy now! Congratulations, Tanielu!

Found the Scouts in Kiribati

Yesterday, as we travelled the island to Bairiki, we saw the Cub Scouts along the side of the road! On our way back we stopped and asked the leaders (a couple of them Australian) about how we can join them. They invited us to a meeting that night to welcome the Australian that had just arrived that day and we would meet the leaders then. We were very excited to get involved so quickly. We left Parker home with Grandmama and we headed over to the maneaba for the meeting. Of course, we are in Kiribati so even though we arrived 15 minutes after the time they told us, we were still the first to arrive, and the keeper of the maneaba didn't know about the meeting. Luckily, as we turned to go ask others, the two Australians showed up in their scout uniforms. So, we sat by the lagoon and talked while we contemplated Kiribati time keeping and learned about Scouting in Australia and America. We also watched an amazing moonrise and a lightning show. Others began arriving shortly after and our 6:30 meeting finally began around 9:00. We met all the leaders of Cubs, Scouts, and Venturers from the island, and enjoyed a good dinner. The leaders entertained us while we ate, then the boys did their Kiribati dances and told a couple of jokes while they ate. There will be a clean-up and bar-b-que on Saturday that we can join in. Their regular meetings will resume when school starts back after the Independence. We look forward to the boys making more friends and working on their Scout requirements. The Kiribati also have a cool flag patch that says Kiribati Scouts that they wear on their uniforms. I'm going to see about getting a couple for the boys.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Internet is back on!

Thanks for
being patient. Please remember this is a third world country and we are beginning to feel the impact of that. We've had power outages a couple of times in the past w]
eek, our internet time ran out and only just got paid for again yesterday (by us), and we are realizing that even though we are from the land of plenty, we are not currently in the land of plenty and things are very limited here, including our money. We are beginning to know what it is like to not have all we want. We are having to tell the kids we can't have things, even fruit, apple juice, milk, ice cream, chicken, because we can't afford it, or because it's not available here. It's very hard for us to disappoint them like this, but also very eye opening for us all. We also feel the impact of little choice of books at the library, little variety of videos, and little choice of toys. Often the kids are bored because there isn't much for them to do here. They really enjoy when the kids come over for school and they can play for a few minutes (sometimes an hour) before school starts.
Saturday we went to a wedding of Kateta and Nick. Kateta is a friend of Conn's from the US who is a Kiribati who went to the US to study. We met her on the plane from LA to Fiji. Nick is an American whose mother is Kiribati and his father is American. We went early and hung out with the family before the ceremony. We had ham and breadfruit soup (finally!) for lunch. The boys really liked that. Then the kids and I went to the ceremony while Conn finished helping prepare the food for the evening. It was a beautiful ceremony and very meaningful. Afterwards, there were refreshments including sandwiches, fruit and cakes. The kids really enjoyed this and filled their bellies. This was dinner for them. After returning to the house, Conn and I took the kids home and put them to bed so we could go back to the party. It was lots of fun with local dancing and singing. We were out pretty late, but it was worth it for our time together. We haven't had a date night in a long time.
Sunday we attempted to go to church, but the rain kept us from getting there in time. We were all ready to leave and would have gotten there in time, then the rain fell hard so we waited instead of getting soaked. When the rain let up, we headed to Conn's family #2 in Temwaiku. We spent the day with them, the kids playing and Conn and I visiting and resting. Again, good food and fun, but Parker and I had allergic rashes after eating the food. Conn said it's from the fish. We just had red rashes and headaches. I took another nap, and felt better. Parker had some Benadryl when we got home. We've both been ok since then.
It's been rainy and "cold" but still humid so only some relief. As long as we get some sun to dry our laundry, I can live with the rain. The breeze from the sea also leaves that salty feeling so baths are still needed morning and night.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ants in Every Corner

Conn has decided that this will be the title of his memoirs. We have to inspect our clothes before we dress, towels before we dry off, dishes before we use it, food before we eat it (Tanielu stopped eating when he saw ants in his rice!), bed before we sleep. Parker even had ants in his diaper without us realizing it, even after inspection.
Mosquitoes are equally bad. There is so much erosion when it rains, there are huge puddles that make wonderful breeding grounds. There are also too many things laying around everywhere to collect water. The lid on the rain tank is also not secure against these little blood suckers. They don't bother me or Tanielu too much, but Conn, James, and especially Parker get it really bad. We've been keeping the Skin-so-Soft Bug Guard on them and mosquito coils burning.
Flies have been ok. We keep the food put away, and there isn't much trash in the house. We're not bothered by them too much.
Haven't seen any other insect pests. Knocking on wood.
The welcome diarrhea has come to the boys. When they have to go, they have to go NOW! Only a couple of accidents so far. Parker had a little vomiting last night and much runny diapers today. Hopefully he'll do better tonight. We've gone through all our diaper covers just today! Gladly we're using cloth, knowing we're not leaving our disposables on this poor, littered island. I'm thankful that Conn doesn't mind washing them out every time. I'm also glad that we don't have to keep pants on Parker over the diaper. We don't go through as many clothes.
We've gone to the library again since James finished his book before we even got home from the library Monday. He found a Winnie the Pooh book. We also went to Betio today and bought some food, and a box to keep our school supplies in.
Starting Tuesday, I've been teaching the younger class of the English school here in the house. Conn's mom (Mama) runs the school and there is a class here in our house, and another at the other end of the island in Betio. Conn's sister, Laae teaches the class in Betio. I will be helping here for this week while the other teacher is out. These are the kids in grades 1-4, about 2 or 3 kids in each grade and they are more beginner than the older kids. We're playing some games and reviewing while I get to know them and find out their levels. It's hardest to get them to understand what I want them to do, and to coordinate my teaching style with the way they are used to being taught. If I keep working with this group, I hope to make some materials to use and individualize a bit more because as a group there are a few who are just copying the others and a few who always jump ahead and don't give the others a chance. James and Tanielu have joined in my group as they are the same age, and can practice these skills as well. They enjoy getting to know the other kids. They each have already found friends, but only get to see them at school time. The kids call me Mrs. Jennifer Apisai because they also call Mama Mrs. Apisai. So, when they arrive they say Good Afternoon Mrs. Apisai and Mrs. Jennifer Apisai. It's kind of cute. Conn plays with Parker during this time, and yesterday also took his neice Melesiata to play with them too. She's loving the new toys we brought. She's a bit under the weather today and slept during class. After class, we have dinner, get the boys' baths and get them ready and into bed. If they are ready early, they can read or watch a video until bedtime or they fall asleep. That doesn't happen often here because we are definitely on "Kiribati time."
I guess we're doing better, although the kids are still looking for food and drink they like. Conn made lemonade, orangeade, and cocolade (with coconut) which they liked. They don't like toddy (the sap from coconut tree) too much, so we're trying to disguise it as cocolade. Parker likes to eat the baby food prepared for Melesiata so we're not too worried about him.