There and back again – Journey to Lae Atoll

Sorry guys I thought this was already published last year! But found it in my Drafts so thought it would be good for you all to read about last years outer island trip.

Lae Atoll

Lae Atoll

Almost 100 miles from Ebeye is another atoll with approximately 200 residents living there. This atoll has not access to it but by boat and every once in a while a plane lands there if they have the fuel to mow the landing strip down. Remember this is the tropics and it rains and things grow at an alarming rate so its often that the plan does not land do to not having fuel for the mower. We loaded up rice, clothing, food items of all types, medical supplies along with a team of 8 from YWAM Ships Kona and their belongings! By the time we were loaded we were cramped and somewhat uncomfortable in the tight quarters. We motored out of the atoll around 1430 (230pm) and the ocean was calm and there was NO WIND…So much for sailing to outer islands. So we motored the 100 miles to the entrance to this atoll. The entrance is a knocked down coral reef that has a narrow channel that you point thru and pray that the motor does not cut out!

The sail there

Once inside the atoll we made our way across its lagoon to the anchorage next to where the team would be living on shore for the next 8 days. Once we got the dingy off the deck and the engine installed we motored to shore where many of the Islanders had lined up to great us with song and shell lays. Then we had about an hour of formal exchanges of gratitude for there housing the team and the wonderful reception and reminding them we were there to help. Many of the locals adults and kids hanged just outside of the meeting area listening and watching but to shy to come and say hello. After unloading all the supplies and materials both for the locals and the team, we all were ready for a nap in the 85 degree every hour of the day heat! Of course they kept a endless supply of coconuts full of refreshing coconut water near by so we would never feel thirsty. Of course after drinking these wonderful coconuts we would gorge ourselves on the white meat inside of them that is soft and pleasantly not like what we are all used to finding at the stores back home!

The things we did while there

The schedule that the team decided on would include doing a VBS day with the kids, night bible studies, wound care clinics (2 days worth in fact), home visits, and a practical works project. Many hours of sitting around with 20+ kids sitting on you and playing around you while they played ukuleles and sang both american worship songs and Marshallese songs. I am not able to say I was an involved with much of this as I would have liked to but as I was getting over a virus pronounced chicken-goon-ya. It is said to be a lot like Dengy fever but it also can kick up again time and time again for up to a year later. This I have found true as since all this has gone on I have had it kick up twice, with fevers and aches so bad it feel like I’m in a wine press. Even as i type I am getting over 24 hrs of fever and pain. Anyway the time there was amazing even as we unloaded all the stuff to give to them all I could think was it was not much for 200+ people. That I was wishing that we had more for them! We even depleted much of our own food stores just to give to them! Made me feel small that I had felt uncomfortable with the little we had on the boat and yet was wishing that I had more. Lesson learned. Be more uncomfortable to make more comfort for others.

I had at one point made friends with a gentleman named David a local fisherman that was Mormon due to his wife family being raised that way. He later excepted Jesus as his Savior praise the Lord, we pray that he will be able to share Jesus love with his wife who was away with there 1 year old that was having eye problems! In talking to him I once mentioned that I wish we had more food for them, and his response was that it was a lot, that I should not feel that way and that in fact they were running out of rice and other food and what we brought was going to make a difference, as there local breadfruit plan had dropped the one time a year fruit early due to the over abundant rain and heat this year. This made it hard for them as they even bury some of the breadfruit in hopes of keeping some of it for future meals. The island has no electricity you see so there is no refrigeration to keep things fresh! All meals are cooked over some sort of open flame and most include fish caught from the lagoon that day. How easy we have it back in america! So spoiled and rotten we are!These people were a lot healthier than those that we have been working with in Ebeye who eat junk food which is available at every street corner along with cigarettes. Since they don’t have these items at Lae atoll they are healthier.  After creating many friendships and learning of more needs that we did not know of and how we might get supplies to them when we cannot get there we said our good byes and loaded the boat up with coconuts and bananas that they gave us in saying thanks fall we had done we set sail.

The trip back to Ebeye

The return trip was quite different as when we left the atoll we had all our sails up but the wind was light around 8 knots. Finishing my watch and knowing that the next day was going to be a long one I crawled into bed and got some shut eye. About three hours later I awoke to the boat pitching and rolling pretty good (and katie telling me to take a look) so I did and the seas had built to around 10 feet and the wind had picked up to around 15-20 knots, Anderson and Lukas were on watch and it was beginning to rain rather heavy. I put on my rain gear and took over. Not 30 minutes later the seas had built to around 15 to 20 feet and the winds were topping around 30 knots. With only the head sail and the main I proceeded toward the entrance to Kwajalein Atoll. I knew if I reduced sail that it would take us even longer to get out of the rough seas so decided not to reef instead powered thru the seas and made great time toward the entrance. It was not until we were several hundred yards away that we could see the buoys/channel markers which at this point the seas were so mixed that it was crazy but controlled. As soon as we got thru the channel the seas reduced to a couple of feet and the winds subsided behind the atoll islands to around the teens in knots. We were thru!

After dropping the team off at Ebeye Kate and I decided rather than riding out the storm with an onshore swell and wind to run across the atoll and anchor up close to an Island called Carlos for short and use the sheltered area to hang out at until the storm subsided.  Four days later we sailed back to Ebeye and anchored offshore. With all of my experiences I can say that this last storm was as intense and the storm that took the Hawaii Aloha in Hawaii this last winter. We all learned something from this and one of the other things that I felt after we anchored and went ashore to get some local produce (living off cans and rice and some fish we caught- gets kinda old – sometimes a good salad is really needed) while walking to the store I mentioned to Kate “How nice it feels to be home”. Yes it is our home right now… until God says otherwise.

We look forward to the next outer Island trip. Knowing that I am going to be ok with being uncomfortable in taking more supplies to the people that have nothing. We were so blessed to have many of you send medications and clothing….Thank you so much……it does make a big difference!! Many of the local churches donated supplies and food as well…we feel so blessed to have so many that are partners with us in this task Gods has us on!

The smiles and warm expressions even though most of the time we cannot talk due to a language barrier will out weigh the un-comfort. So until next time I will keep seeking the next Island that need the help the most.

Cloud Nine & the Sudernos

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