After 29 Days….

I’m such a SLUG about posting anything (as if anyone had noticed, ha ha). But today I’m going to post a few pictures. Miscellaneous for sure. Random. This South Pacific trip was SO wonderful! Such a beautiful part of this amazing earth. I’m still in awe of the size and beauty of the Pacific Ocean, and I have to mention again that it’s larger than ALL the land mass COMBINED!! It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to Antarctica in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east. It covers almost HALF of the earth’s water surface! And one-third of it’s total surface!! It contains the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 35,797 feet (Mt Everest is 29,029 feet high). We had TEN sea days, when all we could see in any direction was this beautiful “deep blue sea” (sometimes the color looked almost black or dark purple).

Now just some random pictures of people and places along the way. Again, we were in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands (Rarotonga), Bora-Bora, Mo’orea, Tahiti, then 5 sea days to Hawaii (Oahu and Maui), and then 5 sea days to San Diego.

We loved seeing chapels and Temples in the places we visited.

We didn’t get another one of MEE being terrified, but I add the picture from last year (on a Gondola ride HIGH above the jungle in Australia) just as a reminder of my morbid fear of heights….

And then the ever-popular picture of me and Leanne in our life jackets in Antarctica in 2014:

And we had to have a re-enactment (of course!!!)

Then a picture I think I already posted of us in Hawaii with my wonderful niece Wendy

It was truly “the trip of a lifetime,” and I feel so thankful to have been able to do this. The ship is still moving for me (this happens every single time I go out on the sea)… it affects my balance for quite a while after I’m off the ship (really a weird feeling!!!).  But OH… well worth it. What an incredible journey!!!

 

MAUI – WHALES

I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything. I guess there wasn’t too much to tell about our 5 sea days. But it’s been so amazing to look out as far as you can see, and it’s still the Pacific Ocean (larger than ALL the land masses joined together!). Great to see the moon rise, and some sun rises. We slept, we ate (and ate and ate), and the six of us found a great place to sit and play games (I brought “Bananagram,” and others had difference games). It was such fun being together. And the lectures by Michael Wilcox have been fantastic. We laughed so hard during his lecture on Mark Twain! Some of our group left yesterday, including our dear friends Tyna and Jeff Bean. They flew home around noon, and Michael and others later in the day. More are flying from here (Maui) later today. And the rest of us will have another 5 sea days on our way to San Diego!

Yesterday we were on OAHU. So beautiful!! The mountains fascinate me! A long but good day. Leanne and I rented a car (we’d seen the local sites several times, so we didn’t join the group for Pearl Harbor, the PCC, and other stops) and drove to the Laie Temple and enjoyed the noon session.

And then we drove to visit my niece Wendy, who lives in Kailua. She and her daughter Elysia treated us to a delightful lunch on their porch, and we had a great visit. I ate a whole papaya (with lime juice) – I have been SO disappointed that the only place I’d had papaya so far was in Samoa; can’t figure out why they don’t have it on the ship!). It was great having time with them! (I’m going to try to post some pictures).

Today: MAUI. This is one island I’ve never been to. It’s beautiful. We have seen several WHALES! Frolicking! Such fun!!! One breeched and others just splashed around. Nice being on shore and seeing a marvelous banyan tree (like a group of trees) and lots of tourist attractions (shops and such-like).

And now back on the boat. I’m continuing to have a LOT of fun using some Tagalog with the workers from the Philippines, and Bahasa with those from Indonesia. Pretty unusual to have an old woman speaking their language and singing some songs. HA HA.

We’ve all been doing a lot of reading. Leanne and I are reading one together of a Vietnamese family who escaped on a boat in around 1979 and ended up in Arkansas. Very well written, and we’ve learned a lot about what so many of those “boat people” went through. I loved it that our taxi driver (to the Hertz place yesterday) was from Vietnam. I’ve read 3 other books (we share with each other).

It turns out that with Michael gone I was asked to give some talks. I gave a short message in our church meeting this recent Sunday, and I have 3 more opportunities before we get to San Diego. So I’d better spend some time preparing. Thanks for the notes and comments – I’m sorry I’m not responding, and not posting very much. Oh well. Thanks for “tuning in.” I hope you all had a nice Valentine’s Day. We were each (the women) given a long-stemmed rose. Leanne and I gave ours to some who didn’t get one (can you say “allergies” ?).  (I’m having a problem with the internet… it might be a while before I can post this).

 

BORA BORA

Incredible! A fantastic day! We went out on small “outrigger canoes” in groups of around 10 with native fellows as our guides, and we had a BLAST! We were “up and out” for around 6 hours, got off the boat three times – first for stingrays (and I kissed one! REALLY! And oh how I hope someone got a picture!!!). Next for little sharks (they only looked about 4-5 feet long and had the most exotic fins (if that’s what they’re called)—they looked hand-painted. And then we went towards the atoll which surrounds Bora Bora and folks did a whole lot of snorkeling. I “went under” a few times, and it really is “a whole new world.” What a great day! This place is SO beautiful! We had lots of rain – some lightning and thunder – and we all got SOAKED…again and again… but we sure had fun doing so. I wish I could send pictures! I will eventually. I’m not sure how well my camera’s working – everything got SO WET! It’s now Tuesday 07 February, I think (I’m so mixed up!). We did laundry last night and this morning (for the first time… so we had a LOT). Feels good to have everything clean. We’re at Mo’orea, French Polynesia today. Then it looks like 2 days in and near Papeete (French Polynesia). Then our 5 sea days as we head for HONOLULU. We’re having a great time. Eating plenty (yep… our clothes are a bit “tighter”). Sleeping well at night. NO nausea at all (and the seas have been a bit “choppy” at times). I still can hardly believe I’m seeing all these amazing places, meeting such kind and happy people, and having such unique experiences.  I’m sending lots of love!!  MEE

SOUTH PACIFIC-02 Feb2017

GOOD MORNING! It’s a beautiful day on the ship (finally – we got on board yesterday, and it feels great… we’ve had some pretty HOT and HUMID days “on shore.”).

I know I posted a short note on FB (maybe from Samoa?). I now have a package of 1000 minutes for the next almost 3 weeks. I’m using it carefully. Being online is 25 cents per minutes. So I’m writing things “off-line” and then will jump on and get them sent/posted.  (I know, I know… it’s such a brilliant idea). I’m hoping I can post a picture or two eventually … we’ll see (no success on that yet).

My favorite thing so far was Fiji. I love that place! It’s not nearly as hot and humid as Samoa or Tonga … and of course some of that is because I was in the “infinity pool” for 2 ½ hours! I was breathing freely, no sneezing… just a great time. AND: We found our dear friend Liti in the dining room! We made friends with her last year. As we approached her (after she’d had 2 days off!… I was afraid we weren’t going to be able to see her), I smiled and said “Do you remember us??” And we just squealed and hugged, and it was SO GOOD to see her again. She was SO kind to us last year.

We’ve had these amazing blessings with people. We met several returned missionaries in Samoa, and one of them had served in Perth and is acquainted with my companion Jill Bousfield (2nd mission in the Philippines), now Grinceri. Small world! One brother had served in Alaska, and he said it was so COLD, but that he LOVES Alaska! (I’m thinking I may have told you some of these things before… sorry about that. I need to keep track).

An incredibly wonderful young man helped us as we were leaving Samoa! He served in San Francisco and loved his mission so much. And he went out of his way to be kind to us. His name is Benson; he was named after the Prophet when he was born. He wheeled me the rest of the way and we had some good chats. Also met a fellow who served in Manila! And it was fun talking to him (and singing a Tagalog folk song to him).

The place we stayed in Fiji is the same place as a year ago, and it’s incredible! Really wonderful. More great people, too (of course). We ran into some people from Leanne’s ward – they were just finishing the same tour we took last year (Australia and New Zealand, and finishing up in Fiji before flying home).

2 days ago we flew from Fiji to Tonga. I have to say that we were all SO FINISHED with having to have 50 lbs in our big bag and only 15 lbs in our carry-on… but at the same time I have to say we were SO BLESSED, because they didn’t weigh our back packs as part of our carry-on. That would have been disastrous (ha).

It was great to land in Tonga – another place I’ve never been. Very hot, very tropical. Total chaos at the airport. HOT, muggy. But I got another wheelchair, and it turns out that the woman who helped me had served her mission in the PHILIPPINES! (We just kept running across great LDS people; it was great having so much in common). But ALL the people (with very few exceptions) have been so kind, so helpful.  I asked this woman if she remember Staccie West, my good friend (whom I met when I was her nursing instructor at BYU those many years ago). She served a health mission to Tonga. This young woman was SO EXCITED when I mentioned her name! “OH! We LOVE HER!!!” Fun. Such fun.

We had a LONG time in the heat there… we had to pay $16 (and so first had to get money exchanged) in order to get out of the airport and onboard the ship. We got outside… HOT!! And VERY humid. And they had an old school bus for us. No air conditioning. But we had to wait over an hour, because some luggage didn’t arrive (our smallish plane was stuff full, but not all luggage made it), so LOTS of paper work had to be filled out. That was hard. We drove about 3 minutes to the “Scenic Hotel.” All I wanted to do was get inside and go to sleep (ha… quite a wimp I am). We were all HOT and SWEATY. I don’t know if anyone ate dinner – I didn’t even look at it. The report was that it wasn’t too great.

Leanne and I had decided to skip the tour and come to the ship early. It was a fantastic decision (made more so by the reports we had of how HOT the tour was; I’d never have made it). We had a fun taxi driver for the 4 of us (a couple joined us). It turns out our taxi driver is the husband of the desk clerk there in Tonga – and they’re expecting a little girl in 5 months. Leo, our driver (and Leslie) are wonderful. He served in the Philippines! As we drove towards the port, Leo showed and explained lots of things we were seeing. Fascinating. We saw at least 4 LDS chapels; one is a middle school.

We’re on Holland America’s Maasdam, Rm 729. Leanne and I had some lunch yesterday, and then we had our assigned table for dinner with our 4 friends: The Dilworths (from Arkansas) and the Beans (from Vancouver WA). We had a great time. Our servers are from Indonesia,, and that made it extra fun. Our 2 room stewards are also Indonesian. And I’ve run into lots of Filipinos too.

This is MUCH longer than I had imagined… but it’s just fun sharing some of the adventures, and some of the SWEET experiences with people in these “faraway places with strange-sounding names.” Oh, I forgot to say that Leanne got me a little magnet from the Robert Louise Stevenson home in Samoa – you may remember that he retired there.  And I have to say that I get to celebrate my sister Charlotte’s 75th birthday TWICE!… (Groundhog Day). We re-cross the international dateline sometime tonight.

We’re stopped at Vavau today, the on to places like Nieue, Bora-Bora, French Polynesia . . . And we start our fantastic lectures onboard the ship from Mike Wilcox (he’s the reason we chose this particular trip). He’s SO GOOD!!!

I’ll write again when I can.  Thanks for the notes from you. I’m sorry I can’t respond to all of them. I’m thankful for the blessing of being part of this group and having such amazing experiences.  I’m going to try to include a picture or two. We’ll see . . . . (I haven’t had much success with that yet).  With much, much love, MEE

P.S. I haven’t been able to get on the internet, so I have NO idea how long it will be before I can post this. “Stay tuned” (ha ha).