Friday, November 27, 2009

US Thanksgiving in Yap

Humbling experiences today. We thought we were going to be joining the younger missionaries and a member family to share a "Thanksgiving" spaghetti dinner that the missionaries were preparing. On arrival we discovered that they had already eaten their own dinners and then had each contributed the materials for creating a Spaghetti with Spam dinner, and some Corn Bread, and a few deserts for a needy family on the Island. We were each given assignments in the preparation of the meal and it was packed up in tin-foil containers to keep it hot while we travelled.

It took about an hour or so to prepare the dinner, so it was dark and well past 7:30PM when we left to deliver it. Winona & I followed the other missionaries to the southern tip of the Island where they pulled out a few flashlights and we began a trek in total blackness into the thick foliage. After about 100 feet, we came upon a family with 5 kids (the youngest of which was 6 months old) all sitting on a smooth wooden platform ... probably 16 feet square, and raised a few inches above the ground with flat rocks placed as necessary to level it. There were no walls, but a steel roof was held up by 8 poles... one at each of the four corners and another about half way between the corner poles. It looked precarious. I leaned against one of the poles for support as I watched the scene unfold and could tell that the structure was actually remarkably solid. A couple of Kerosene lamps sitting on the platform provided a dim light by which we could all see each other. In the distance and to my right and closer to the actual "house" I could see an open fire which was obviously used as the kitchen, and then a thatch-roofed hut which I presume was the sleeping area. The kids all seemed happy and well behaved. The dinner trays (wrapped in tin foil) that the missionaries had provided were placed on the platform and left for after our departure. Introductions and greetings were exchanged, and we played briefly with two brand new kittens who were trying desperately to get to the Spaghetti. The baby was awake and played happily in its mother's arms. Mother protected her baby very carefully.

Sister Pikula later confirmed that this was pretty typical living quarters for the Yapese. This family was particularly poor, but their home was typical. It was an eye opener. The Elders frequently (usually) teach in outdoor "rooms" deep in the jungles just like this one. There is nothing at the street to indicate the presence of a home. Just a narrow path winding its way into the forest. When approaching the home they let out a Hoo Hoo sound and the family either welcomes them in, or tells whoever is approaching to go away!

We returned briefly to the Zone Leaders apartment and enjoyed Elder Walpole's Apple Crisp and Ice Cream and some Root Beer. It was a great Thanksgiving! Certainly our most memorable.


  1. Hi guys - I think I just figured out how to post a comment. Hope it works. We are really enjoying reading about your experiences. I check your blog everyday to see if there is anything new on it. I phoned Carolyn a few minutes ago and read her all your 'stories'. Keep them coming - we love hearing from you. Makes us feel a little closer. Love Ruth

  2. I miss tracting in the jungle. I was surprised at first how many people lived in the deep jungle, and also by how big some of the houses were down some of the small trails. When the wind changes and the storms start Yap can be a pretty fun place to be. Don't be afraid to try the local food, and don't ask what it is untill after you decide that you like it.

  3. I love reading your stories, sounds like a beautiful place. Hope you get use to the heat soon :-) Happy New Year & take care.