Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where In The World Are We?

Get out your maps. We spent several days this past week in Yap. If you ask a travel agent where Yap is you probably will not get an answer. If you ask a serious diver where Yap is most likely they will be able to tell you. Yap is one of the smaller islands in the Micronesia Guam Mission but it is one of the prettiest too. Of course I have been saying that about most of the islands that we have visited.

We arrived at about 10:00pm and after going through immigration two young ladies presented us with the leis you see. Thank goodness they were wearing multiple leis of varying sizes since underneath the leis they wore nothing else. Yap is the only island that still has some very traditional residents. You can be walking down the street and see bare chested women of various ages. There are only a small number who continue this practice but it is pretty certain that you will see several throughout the day - just ask Elder Clarke. He seems to have seen a lot more than I did. Because it is a cultural thing, you tend to get used to it quickly and do not really notice it so much after a while. At least that is what the missionaries say.

We decided that we were up for adventure on this trip and so we booked a room at the Pathways Hotel. It is a series of thatched roof cottages on the side of a hill. There are wooden paths that lead from one to another.

Our room was at the top of the hill and Wayne informed me that it was 65 steps to get there. There was air conditioning but since the room was not sealed real good it was still quite humid in the room.

We had a really nice balcony on the front and the view was fantastic. It was just a shame that we did not have more time to enjoy it. We arrived late at night, left at 8am the next morning and did not get back until late that night. The morning we left it was raining heavily but we were able to enjoy the sound of the rain on the roof.

This is Elder and Sister Shepherd. They are from Canada and know Erynn Nelson from when she was young. The Shepherds are the reason we stayed at the Pathways. They had gone there for there anniversary and posted it on their blog. We thought it looked really neat and since our anniversary was the week after our trip we decided that we would count that as our anniversary trip. It was quite an adventure and I know a few of my friends that I would not recommend it to.

While Elder Shepherd attended a computer class at the local college, Sister Shepherd took us on a great sight seeing trip. Yap is well known (for those who know where Yap is) for its stone money. Most of the stones come from Palau and the value of the money was determined by where it came from and the difficulty of getting it to Yap. As you can see, they are not easily moved. I believe that while ownership can change the stones actually remain in the same place. The stones along the pathway are in what is referred to as a stone bank. There are several areas like this on the island.

You can see that some of the stones are really quite large while others are smaller. The larger size does not necessarily mean it is worth more. Again, it is the location where the stone came from and how difficult it was to get it to Yap.

I threw this in just because I was amazed at the apartment that one set of Elders were living in. This if the view from their living room. The apartment was huge and they have a balcony on two sides which gives them a beautiful ocean view. Believe it or not, the rent here is only about $600 a month.

The chapel is very nice and even has landscaping around it. We were able to attend an afternoon Seminary class with about 7 or 8 students. The kids were somewhat quiet but when they were doing Scripture Mastery before class they were really into it. You can find that competitive nature no matter where in the world you go.

Anyone interested in a nice little houseboat?

Another thing that Yap is known for is its stone paths. I believe these are quite old and they connect the villages to each other. There are many of them throughout the island. They seemed to be very well maintained and if it was not so humid it would have been a really nice walk. There were coconut palms and mango trees all along the way and some really pretty flowering shrubs and trees.

This is a community meeting house. These can be found in the middle of the villages and are used for gathering for special events. We looked very carefully at the roof and were very impressed with the workmanship. You can see the stone money around the perimeter.

The road signs were really cute. At least they have signs. Many places you go in the area do not have anything to show you where you are.

Every once in a while we would see these small cemetery plots. They are usually very colorful.

You cannot really tell what the objects on these graves are but they are all beer bottles turned upside down. We figured these people still have friends who like to have an occasional drink with them.

Elder Shepherd just started taking roads to see where they would lead. We ended up in an area with a beautiful sandy beach and a small grouping of buildings. It turned out that the area was a dive area and had a small "resort". We ate lunch in this restaurant called the MoonRize Cafe. It was run by a Filipino and his wife. We asked why she was in Yap and she said her husband came to work. She had been there for 3 years and hopes to go back home soon. She did not appear to really like it in Yap.

Farther down the beach we found several houses like this up on stilts. They looked like they would be fun little beach houses.

After all the sightseeing, the Shepherds fixed us a great meal. Elder Shepherd is shredding coconut the local way. He is sitting on a little stool that has a metal piece at the end that you scrape the coconut on. He made coconut shrimp with it and Sister Shepherd made tuna sushi. Before anyone can ask, yes I ate it. The sushi was not made with raw fish and it was doctored up enough that you did not taste the fish.

This last bit should have been up with the Pathways pictures but I am afraid to move it - the first time I tried I lost the video.

Check back in another day or so and I should have the second half of the trip posted.


Jonathan said...

We know about Yap - the first thing we saw the other week at the National History Museum was a huge stone from Yap- Thomas liked it.

Lynn said...

Dallen said in the Philippines the women breastfeed openly. It was hard for him to get used to, especially being the youngest in the family but he said after a while you just hardly notice.

Wish I could have done that. It seems emotionally healthier than hiding away to nurse the baby, or half-smothering it with blankets!

lori said...

I hope you don't mind, I blog-stalked my way through Karyn's blog to find yours. Wow! What beautiful and humble places you have been to. Dylan and I have always talked about going on a mission . . . after reading your blog it actually makes me excited to plan for that! You two look great!

kim said...

That is such a beautiful place! What great adventures you are having!

janaya said...

hey clarke's! :) i'm janaya used-to-be sheppard -- elder and sister sheppard's daughter. how fun to read all about your adventures with my parents! they don't have a terrific internet connection in yap (as they probably mentioned) so pictures of them are few and far between. thanks for sharing!

Leigh said...

It was such fun to have you here in Yap with us. The Pathways is definately not the Hilton, but you have to admit, it is unlike any hotel you've ever stayed in!!

I have to say, it is a little weird reading about yourself on someone else's blog, but have to thank you for doing so! And for posting some great pictures. As Janaya stated, it is tough for us to post a lot of pictures due to the slow and expensive internet access we get here.

I will post a link to our blog here, so others who are interested in seeing more of Yap can do so. We are at: