Sunday, December 6, 2009

Reflections in the wee hours of the AM

It's 4am Sunday morning in Yap. I get up in the wee hours for a couple of reasons... the main reason being that I am awake (duh) and I learned some time ago that I can either toss and turn for the rest of the night, or, I can get up and do something useful during my attacks of insomnia. Generally, I get tired enough to go back to sleep just about the time it is time to get up. Then I go to church... and I have no problem with insomnia anymore! (read into that whatever you like!)

Another reason I get up is because the Internet on the Island works best at this time of the morning. I think every user in Yap shares the same router... the evenings are impossibly slow.

And finally, the plane to Palau takes off from Yap at 4:00am and it is a lot of fun to listen to every dog on Yap howl at the roar overhead. The roar of the jet engines lasts for 30 seconds... the howl of the dogs carries on for 10 minutes as each dog across the island takes its cue from the neighbouring dogs. Then the roosters start to crow. (The roosters here have no sense of time).

I just finished chatting online with my kids. (Its 10AM Saturday for David in Washington State and 1:00 Saturday afternoon for Janaya in Virginia.). Janaya tells me its snowing in Virginia... I have to say, I'm having a hard time realizing that Christmas is only a couple of weeks away. It just doesn't feel like Christmas. Christmas carols don't feel the same with the air conditioning on and the noise of ceiling fans whirring overhead.

Yesterday, as we were bouncing over some gigantic potholes into some of the villages deep in the jungles of northern Yap, it was a surreal experience. The ocean in the distance was a dozen shades ranging from brilliant green to bright blue and white. The jungle had thinned, so the palms, and coconut trees, and lower vegetation looked like they had been planted by a superb gardener. The dirt road was only wide enough for one car and wound its way around the trees and vegetation, and was meant for a vehicle with much better suspension than ours. Torrential rains do amazing things to dirt roads. I turned to Winona and asked "did you ever think in your wildest imagination that we would ever be bouncing along a dirt road in the middle of a tropical jungle in the middle of a little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nothing to worry about except getting a flat?" She had to admit that she had never really imagined that... (read into that what you like, too!)

Realize that this Island is only 15 miles long, and yet there are people who live in the villages on the north end of the Island who have never travelled to the south end. Many have never left their village. Each village has a store. There is no reason to travel to a store in another village! Good point, actually. Those that live in the South of the Island have a different Yapese accent than those that live in the North. (15 miles away). Winona and I can't hear the difference, but those who know the language well can tell what part of the Island you are from by the accent.

Well its almost time to get up, so I'm beginning to get a little sleepy. Merry Christmas to you all... (that seems so weird!) .. I think I'll go stick my head in the freezer.


  1. There was a running joke about my first companion being able to fill enough bottles with sweat during a lesson that if he were famous he would be able to live off the money quite happily just by selling his sweat.

  2. i like these kinds of blog posts. if you're able to keep this up throughout your mission, it will be really easy to make a book of it using like i did for your 60th birthday. so keep it coming! :)

  3. So, Leigh and Winona, if I wanted to send a Christmas card....what address do we use? if you don't want to post it publicly, just email me at - Thanks, love ya. Susan

  4. Elder and Sister Sheppard, I went to your mailbox and found some things you may be interested in...please go to Leigh's private email address as found in Facebook for an explanation of the items in mailbox. I will await further instructions from you. xo Susan

  5. Isn't it great!! Sounds like our roads are similar to yours there. I agree with you that it is hard to think of it being Christmas time with the warmth and beautiful greenery all around us. Zimbabwe is in the rainy season now and everything is green. I don't think we have the humidity that you have though. I'm glad for that.