Seascape Excursion

Sunshine.  Clear blue waters. Chicken marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar, green peppers and onions roasting over an open fire. Add to this recipe two truck loads of energetic third graders that love their teachers and life and you’ve got a barbecue oceanside to be rivaled. We had plenty of fun this past week when my third grade class headed out to the southern tip of Ebeye for an end of quarter Beach Party to celebrate their hard work this past school year.

We decided to venture out – we being Laura, Miriam (my sweet little third grader) and me – to the edge of the coral where the ocean waves were breaking.  During high tide we would need a boat, but low tide lent itself perfectly for some exploring.

Along the way, we came across some interesting creatures and scenes.  In the distance the ocean breaks over the coral ‘drop’ wall that runs around the island.

One thing I learned was that construction crews, at one time, planted explosives into the coral bed to blow out chunks of rock to be used to build the causeway which now connects Ebeye with Gueggegue island.  In doing this, the explosives left huge open ‘pools’ in the reef that become swimming pools when high tide moves out.  Beautiful and haunting oceanscapes to say the least.

There were dozens of these pools that we found ourselves weaving around as we made our way out to the breaking waves.

We caught all kinds of little sea creatures with our camera lens. But that was about as close as we ventured to some of the strange life we saw crouched in the little coral pools and hiding under rocks.

Completely friendly, this star fish that Miriam is holding is called a Brittle Star.  It’s always a good time for some educational input.

There were sea cucumbers strewn about everywhere, as far as the eye could see. While on our exploratory excursion across the sea bed, we met a friendly local who spoke some broken English.  He was collecting sea cucumbers to cook and sell and asked us a few questions concerning our homeland and visit to the islands. He was dark and thin, cigarette tucked handily behind his right ear. He handled himself like he knew what he was doing out here amidst the exploded coral pits, slug-strewn reef and foreign-to-me world.  One thing’s for sure, the Marshallese know these teeming oceans like Americans know rush hour traffic: what’s hazardous and the best way to avoid it is paramount.

Here’s a fine example of a lovely, yet hazardous Blue Black sea urchin. Poisonous, it’s menacing look prompted us to stay away – except for a quick dip with my camera. It’s spikes are hard as steel and are used to chip away at the coral to make little ‘nests’ for them to hide and stab things…like fish.  It wasn’t going to get any of us that’s for sure!

As far out as I felt comfortable venturing with a little one in tow, I dipped my camera underwater one last time capturing some interesting footage.

We headed back to shore but not without some lasting memories of a stroll across a fantastical seascape.  God certainly made this world and all its inhabitants with such creativity and wonder.  I stand amazed at his ingenious creations.  So detailed, so painstakingly thought over, down to the last whip of color, perfectly placed spike or carefully contoured edge of a leaf.  Absolutely beautiful.  Absolutely God.

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Missions Retreat 2010: Forging Unity through the Power of Diversity (Part Two)

Unity.  Who wants it, right?  People usually don’t want to conform, bring into harmony or agreement, be or become similar to each other because they fear, somehow, they’ll lose a certain amount of control. It’s all about being independent and different from everybody else.  Our focus, it seems, has been on the pursuit of individuality while ignoring the more important matter of being in harmony with one another as Jesus and later Paul urged us to be.

But the unity I’m talking about is not dressing alike with dead, dull personalities and a boring gray uneventful life to live.  There is no greater adventure than knowing God to the fullest extent.  With Him shining through a life, that person becomes exquisitely beautiful, a mystery, uncontainable and unstoppable in the pursuit of godliness and holiness.

One of my favorite pictures. On a whim, someone said “everybody…go point to your country.”  After getting back and putting everything together for these posts I thought, ‘God, you really know how to document a story.’  From Left, Philippines (Michael and Love), America (Trecie and Me), Germany (Malte), Africa (Nyasha), Slovakia (Lenka).  Beautiful isn’t it? I love the diversity.

It’s in unity that our diversity shines the brightest.  There is a specific anointing that God has retained for bringing about unity…not just within one church structure but between denominations. Before my eyes I saw multi-denominations, multi-cultural individuals coming together in unity, only within a 24 hour period, and God impressed upon my heart that our inability to cooperate with one another, failing to forge unity cross-denominationally, has held back a vast majority of blessing and power to the church.  I know some may disagree, “we all are separate because we all have different ways we like to worship God”.  And that has been acceptable, but we are going to strive for the blessing that comes from unity, that reaches to the other side and says, “we welcome you regardless of your individual worship style, as long as you celebrate Christ as your Savior”.  God is big enough to take care of the rest.

Evening Day 1:  Our first stop after the tour was the Marshallese Cultural Center.  Here’s an excerpt from the brochure:

“Recent Archaeological investigations suggest that Kwajalein Atoll has been inhabited for at least 2,000 years.  This has been supported with the discovery of an intact, prehistoric burial on Kwajalein Island.”

Here are some museum showcases that include various articles that were used by the Marshallese.  (You can click on the pictures individually to enlarge them and see the details.)

A model of one of the most important sea vessels in a family’s household, the Outrigger Canoe.

This description gives the viewer an idea of the integral part ‘working together in unity’ plays in being successful and holding any family together, spiritual or natural.  I would encourage you to click on the picture and enlarge it so you can read it as it complements the title acutely.

A front page article about the Strange and Wonderful Marshallese navigation. The canoe is illustrated. The date of the article was the year 1955.

Here is a photo case of pictures taken after the battle for Kwajalein.  Notice also the ominous red mushroom cloud looming in the upper left of the photo, foreshadowing a very horrific period of time to come.  If you can enlarge and magnify the pic, there is an historical document below the photo that tells a brief history during that time.

Ah, time to eat.  It was onward to dinner at Emon Beach where we all gathered to have wonderful fellowship and delicious food.

MaryLou, one of our hostesses and sponsors for the retreat.

We all gathered for a group pic.

Chatting after supper and listening to a Christian band. From left: Lenka, Malte, Treice, Me, John (our regular sponsor who just happened to stop in on the festivities).

The evening came to a close and after walking through the soft sand on the beach, we all headed back to the hotel for some sleep.  The next day would be filled (not necessarily in this order) with shopping, birthdays, breakfast, church and well…you’ll see :)  I’ll pick up part three next week, continuing our journey of unity from a tiny island in the Pacific.