Monday, July 29, 2013

Catchin Me Some Crabcakes

Well hello week 2 in Tahiti! Woo!
This is where I study, almost every day.
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Thankfully my cell phone taught me how to type without looking back in the day, so I managed to change my keyboard to English and off we go!
This week has been incredible. So, so, so amazing. Most of the week I just wanted to punch a brick wall because I can't explain my thoughts to anyone. BUT. I've finally gotten to the point where I can understand everyone else. Phew. That is a major relief. On to Learning how to speak... Fingers crossed for me!
I feel like a marriage counselor. I'm probably not a very good one either... Because I have to counsel in French. *sigh* Every single day I'm talking with couples who are engaged, going to be engaged, need to be married before they get baptised. The whole nine yards. Here in Tahiti people don't get married. It's very expensive, and they just don't see the need for it. That's when we step in. We are planning 3 weddings for this month, and hopefully 2 more for September. I say hopefully because one of the couples are a bit stubborn. We are working on it.
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I found us 3 new investigators this week. I feel pretty legit. One is named Yves. He's around 25 and works at the fruit stand where I like to buy my mangos if I've eaten all the ones the members have given me. We talked to him twice, and the third time he invited us to his house, we taught the Restoration, and he invited us back. So far so good! My next two investigators are my favorite... If I'm allowed to have favorites... We are teaching a girl who's my age, and I (after months and months of lessons) committed her to a baptismal date. #awesome. Anyway, there were two little kids watching our lesson and I told them they could come sit and listen with us. They did, and the next lesson we taught the plan of salvations, they came back and remembered every single thing we had taught the day before. The boy, Manuarii (yes, the name of my investigator in the MTC) even remembered the song number we had sang the lesson before and the words to the song. He's 9. Really though, they are incredible. We're talking with their parents this week to get permission slips signed, and after we'll teach them more. I'm pretty excited, the girl we are teaching is their Aunt, and she said we shouldn't have any problems, but, sooner rather than later is the best. I'm excited. The boy's sister is named Ranitea, she's 8 and is the cutest thing ever.
Each Monday we have family home evening with a mixed member, amis, nonmember family. I love them all. I think that's the theme for this week. I love everyone here. Anyway, the little girl, she's 9, I can't remember her name for the life of me, but she's exactly like McCall. In every single, crazy way. It's slightly odd. They would be best friends. The taller girl in the picture with me is her, and her little cousin is the other girl. The cousin is 6.
Ignore my face...
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Names. I can't remember them for the life of me. I just need to sit down with a page of names and attempt to remember all of them. They're crazy polynesian names, but they're so pretty.
The cat is doing well. I found out her name is Panache.
Oh, I forgot to mention last week, the second day here I had 96 mosquito bites on my feet and legs. The picture is from a few days later but... you get the just of how I'm feeling. The worst is, right now, I have 4 huge bites on the bottom of my feet. Each time I take a step i'm like, yep, there's a bite right there. blast.
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Food stories of the week:
I ate raw fish. And I didn't like it. One bit.
I cooked myself fish. (Yes Marnine, I used your seasoning, I'll get a picture next week). I had no idea what I was doing. Sœur Li doesn't cook, so she didn't know what she was doing either, so I just went with it. Anyway, I only got a picture of one of the combinations I made, It's some sort of fish (I watched the cut out the liver and heart and other things. The fish was bigger than an 8 year old child,) The members cut it up, threw a giant chunk into a sack for me, and then cut the rest up. Fresh from the sea. I threw it in with citron (it's a lime/lemon heaven) and soy sauce, Pepper of course and cooked it. Yes. I could eat it every day.
I think those are all the crazy food stories of the week...
I am teaching everyone you could possibly think of.
I'm teaching a deaf man. Yes. Hello sign language. Thank you Avery for teaching me how to finger spell.
I'm teaching a homosexual man. I thought he was a woman for the first week.... But he's very nice. Probably one of the nicest people I've ever met.
I'm teaching 5 people Under the age of 16.
A grandma who is 80 plus and only speaks Tahitian
and a large handful of adults.
Really. Name a problem, and I've taught it, in french (or Tahitian).
"Service" Project of the week:
This is the coolest thing ever.
We had 2 dinner appointments cancel this week. (aka no food) So instead we went and did TUPA. That's tahitian for, "Sticking your hands in strange holes on the beach and catching crabs, to eat, maybe, if you like crab"  Really though, I had so much fun. It's slightly creepy. You're on a pitch black beach with your nifty headlamp trying to find critters that will pinch you with very, very strong claws, I did it though! Sœur Li and Sœur Jennings (the ward missionary) was very impressed with me. I caught 4 of the 20. A few days later, after you feed them special flowers and coconut, the member we gave them to cooked them for us. I ate it. I didn't like it. I'll leave the raw fish and crab for everyone else. :)
This week's service is "Rent a Sister Taylor" No joke. The Sisters in our ward found out I can cook and bake, so they have me on a Schedule... Every Pday and a few other days, I go to a members house and teach them how to make what they want me to make. Today is pumpkin bread, next week is Oreo cheesecake.  The problem? They don't really have a lot of spices... So, if you want to send me some cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, it'd be appreciated. ;)
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Miracle of the week:
We found 6 new people to teach. That hasn't been done in this sector in a single week for a very, very long time. We had a ward fast for the missionary work last week, and we challenged all the ward leaders to pray at 6:40 for missionary work, and we have 1 new bapteme date, and 6 new investigators. Prayer works. :)
Here's to another week of adventures!
Sœur Taylor
Tahiti Papeete Mission
Soeur Taylor, Morgan
B.P. 93
Papeete, Tahiti
French Polynesia.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sheep Heart Anyone?

Hello week one! Okay, my typing is awful on French keyboards. Ignore all my lovely mistakes.
 My week has been crazy. I cant believe im actually here first of all. How was your first week? I ate  more strange things than I expected, Sheep heart is delicious, I never ever thought I would say those words,  I scaled my first fish,  I ate fish...  I didnt gag, so I consider it an achievement,  i smelled fafaroo but the family decided to let it rot for another week before we eat it, ah,,,
My companion is amazing, she scares me,  But she is really an angel and very very patient and a great teacher,  I am thankful to have her,
My house is epic! Mwahaha, i was going to send you pictures but i totally forgot my cqmera cord, next week;  we have grapefruit and coconut at our house and members keep giving me delicious fruits to eat,  i have a bunch of bananas hanging from our garage beaucoup of mango and papaya,  Breadfruit, nono, and star apples are next on the list de manger,  Oh and there is a cat, I couldnt be happier,
The French is coming little by little. The first day teaching, was awful. I didnt understand anything they were saying. Sœur Li would look at me when it was time to share my testimony. Thats it. But last night One of our investigators, shes 15 and lives with the ward mission leader and i had a great conversation. I love that girl, she is incredible, and would be baptised if she werent waiting for her boyfriend to turn 18 in december and be able to confirm her a member. Sigh... We are working on that...
i learned the words for slippery, wrist, and break very well this week: i was trying to ask how to say road, slipped, fell on my wrist and broke the glass on my Watch,  sigh,,, it still works, all is well
Tahiti is intense, Really.  WHen you think of Tahiti you think of the beaches and water. That is not Tahiti. Tahiti is third world. The area I am in is about 30 km outside of Papeete. People live in shacks made of plywood and tin roof. Our house is the nicest place I have seen. It is crazy, but I am loving it.  Im thankful I have tons of tee shirts. I already stand out a lot, and my clothes even as simple as they are; are ridiculiously nice here. You feel pretty guilty walking into someones home and eating ribs, and hamburgers, and drinking soda and knowing this is the only time the family would eat this food. Its humbling and amazing. I couldnt have been called to a better mission. That is for sure.
Sœur Taylor

Tahiti Papeete Mission
Soeur Taylor, Morgan
B.P. 93
Papeete, Tahiti
French Polynesia.

Good Bye Good 'Ol U.S.A

Why Hello friends, family, strangers! Welcome to the last email Soeur Taylor sends in the United States. Yes, you are quite cool to be reading this.
Holy goodness, the last week in the MTC is strange. It's stressful, quick, slow, calming, exciting, nerve wracking, and exhausting. All at the same time. We just barely had our last class of the day in the MTC. That is the strangest experience ever. Maybe for English missionaries, who are only here 12 days, it's different. For us, we've been with Frere Asay and Frere Coulson for the past 11 weeks. It's weird to say goodbye. Half of you wants to cry, the other half doesn't even care because we're so stressed about packing, and then the other half (my math skills are nonexistant here :P) is ready to get on my tropical island. We have one more day. It's going to be weird, good, and every single emotion you can feel.
The MTC is hard. I'm going to say that straight up.  You are exhausted, you are fustrated, and you may not be fed the food you wish you were being fed. But the great thing is, for every bad or hard thing, there are double the good things. It's really important to look for the good things. Frere Asay told us this week, for every good thing we sacrafice, we will be blessed double-fold. Elder Hansen asked him if he had double the ties now, he does. That's a real example for you right there. ;) But it's true.
So, these two (three) lovely people are huge blessings in my MTC life. I didn't know any of them before I came here, but they definetly helped me through my weeks here.
Sister Shields is seriously my angel from heaven. If any of you future missionaries are reading this, she is the lovely lady waiting outside for you after you get your offically missionary name tag. I'd host every week, and we just became friends. Her husband served in Tahiti, and that just made me even more excited to go. Tell her Ia Ora Na for me when you see her!
The other lovely picture is my now, good friend Elder Rogers. He's heading to Japan. He's my stalker. Not really, I'd just joke about it because we always ran into each other on campus. And, come on, when you see the same person multiple times a day you have to be friends. So, we're friends! Really, come to the MTC open to meeting new people. Come wanting to make new friends, come wanting to love and talk to people, no matter who they are, and you are going to have the time of your life.
The moral of this story? We are given people to help us.  Maybe it's an incredible sister who bakes you treats every week. Maybe it's a goofball Elder who can make you laugh when you're having a really hard day. It's going to be that moment when your investigators, when your friends, when you family, pray for the first time. It's going to be that moment you, as a missionary, walk into a lesson and your investigator says he read 5 chapters in the Book of Mormon, when he usually reads 3 verses. And after he tells you that, he says he wants to be baptized. It's going to be getting a letter from your friends. It's going to be making a new missionary friend.  It is going to be the people. Focus on the good in people and you will never have a bad day. I promise.
I love you all.
See you soon!
Soeur Taylor

Tahiti Papeete Mission
Soeur Taylor, Morgan
B.P. 93
Papeete, Tahiti
French Polynesia.


That sentence deserved to be written in all caps. Being "grandparents" of the MTC is fun, but being the "dork dots/freshman" in Tahiti is going to be even better. This is officially my last p-day in the MTC. I'll be able to send an email on Saturday, but that's not an "offical" p-day. :) We have our travel plans. We have our visas. We are more than ready to leave our lovely hamster cage. I am ready to go talk to people. This week has been a blur.  A literal blur. I feel like I was sitting here on the computer yesterday telling you in 14 days i'm heading to Tahiti. Now there's 7. :)
Monday morning is when we are leaving. Really though, I'd call it Sunday night. We will wake our little sleepy bodies up at 2:45am, shower, make sure we packed everything, and head to the MTC travel office before 3:30am.  At 3:30 we will be taken in a lovely greyhound bus to the SLC airport. We'll probably get lost, punch in the wrong confirmation numbers on the kiosk, someones suitcase is going to be overweight and we'll scramble to put their stuff into everyone elses, we'll check our bags, and wait for our flights to leave at 7:10am.
We'll hope on our airplane and fly to the lovely city of Los Angeles. We will get very, very lost in that airport (so we have been told), check in and wait.  Our layover lasts a good 6 hours. We land at 8:10 am, and we will board our flight to Tahiti around 1:30, but it takes off at 2:20. If anyone's heading to Tahiti next Wednesday, grab that flight! I have 14 very good friends who will be eager to share a special message with you. During our layover I'll call home, I'll sleep, and I'll go contacting. 6 hours is a nice chunk of time to "use every effectively", aka, 6 hours is a nice chunk of time to kill. :) What happens after we board the plane is still a nice big blur to me. We'll sleep (hopefully) for our 8 hour flight, we will walk off the plane, head into baggage claim, and be greeted by hoards of missionaries giving us heis. (hei= the tahitian shell necklace, known in Hawaii as "lei")  BUT: BIG NEWS. BRACE YOURSELF.  We will be arriving in Tahiti, (not only will I be the youngest sister in the Mission, we're the first wave of 19 year olds) but we will be arriving during a very large mission conference. Why a mission conference? Let me tell you! Our little mission, Tahiti, Papeete, is opening new islands! Bam. There are enough sisters now to open new islands for sisters, there are enough elders to open new islands for them. French Polynesia here we come! I am so excited. Send me to the sketchiest place you can find. :)  (As long as I get mail.)
All was well in headquarters this week. (That's what we named our classroom, it sounds much cooler.) One of our teachers, Frere Asay, was telling us stories about Tahiti. I was always curious to know if any missionaries had illegal pets. Like a certain uncle of mine who had a monkey... ;) Well, Frere Asay had a "pet" chicken. I use the term pet loosely because he didn't name the chicken.  There are a ton of chickens in Tahiti, and at one of his homes there was an extreme number of chicken. One of these feathered creatures was better than the other ones. Him and his companion started feeding it, and eventually they got to the point where they would pet the chicken goodbye before they left the house. They would even give the chicken Jehovah's Witness literature to read at night, and they'd come home in the morning and the chicken would still be sitting there, reading away. I'm going to find me a "pet."
In Headquarters, Elder Hansen and Elder Ball had a "Tahitian Insult War." They would just yell at each other random words they pointed to in the dictionary. Don't worry, we stopped when it got really heated. Elder Hansen ended the war with "Well, you're a Hinano! You flower of the Pandanus Tree!" Good times...
Happy belated Fourth of July! The fourth in the MTC is awesome! We had a special devotional that night. During the devotional we had a speaker, and then we watched 17 miracles. Ah. Movies. I love them. Afterwards we went outside, threw our blankets on the grass, listened to some Carly Ray Jeppsen and Kelly Clarkston, and watched the fireworks. All was well.
Well, I'm headed off to Tahiti on Monday! The last time I'll get Dear Elders is Friday night, I won't get anything you send to me after noon on Friday. They just go in the trash. :( If you have this urge (which, I know most of you have) to write me a lovely note and send it all the way to Tahiti here is the address:
Tahiti Papeete Mission
Soeur Taylor, Morgan
B.P. 93
Papeete, Tahiti
French Polynesia.
If you send your letter today, I should get it a nice week after I arrive. :) The average time for me to receive letters is roughly 3 weeks. Unless I'm on a sketchy island... Then there's a possibility I never get your letter. Packages normally take 2 months, and Frere Coulson just had very bad experiences with the Mail. I should get every package you send. :)
Our devotional and Mission Conference yesterday was incredible.
I took 3 pages (with very tiny handwriting) of notes during mission conference. Here are some of my thoughts:
It's important we create a standard for our lives -- things we refuse to settle on, and refuse to do anything less than. I was talking with a good friend of mine about mediocrity. We are not a people of mediocrity. We are not here to live mediocre lives, but we have to set a standard to live up to so we don't fall into that trap. Because I'm heading to Tahiti, I wrote a few standards for my mission. I am going to pray on my knees morning and night. I am going to smile at everyone. I will never be afraid to speak to someone, and I'm going to talk to every one. I am going to be positive, funny, and love everything and everyone I meet. I'll even love the rotten fish and cockroaches. Every single companion will be my best friend. I can promise that your attitude about your companion will affect  how much you enjoy being around them. I won't be afraid to voice my concerns. I will be bold in all that I do. I will not be mediocre. I'm going to strive to be the best. :)
In our Devotional we had Sister Susan Easton Black speak to us. She was the first female religion teacher at BYU who just retired. She was so fun and so cute! Anyway, she had us change the words in "I Am of Child of God." Back when she was young the chorus said, "Teach me all that I must know to live with Him again" then it was changed to "Teach me all that I must do to live with Him again." But she had us sing it like, "Teach me all that I must BE to live with him again."  I am is a conjugation of "to be" (etre, for my french speakers out there), it encompasses a knowledge and a doing.  Our religion is a life style. It's not something we do once a week on Sunday. It's not something we just know about.  It is who we are. I like that. :)
7 more days.  Have fun with your summer! Eat snow cones for me, go hiking, watch the stars, climb trees, jump into lakes, just make this summer one you will never forget. This is the ONLY summer of 2013 you're going to have. Make it count. I love you, I miss you all and I'd love to eat a snow cone with you, but I'm having too much fun here to leave.  I love you! 
Tahiti here I come!
Soeur Taylor

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Tale of the Possum

*** inside note, about four years ago we took a two week road trip covering about 16 states including Louisiana which I think is home of bouden balls and the opossum  road kill  - which we think was the mystery meet inside the bouden balls we tasted.  McCall loved opossums and even had a stuffed one as a souvenir from the southern states.  Uncle Jay - who lives in Mississippi- thought that was pretty funny that she would love these rodents.  That is why Morgan referred to McCall when telling this story.  McCall loves this!*** On with the Story.........

I wrote you a story. It's basically for McCall's benefit. I'll send a picture in the letter I'm getting sent this week.

Oh and Chandler, I need Kortnie and Kobe's email. Thanks.


Once upon a time, in a land not too far from where you live, is a magical community.

Within the walls, live three thousand teenagers. Now, these aren't your typical teenagers. They are missionaries. They willingly have class and study for over nine hours a day.  They feast upon mystery meat, green jell-o salad, and spinach, never knowing if that jell-o was made  yesterday, or yesteryear. They march about their acre-sized hamster cage, merrily singing hymns. These teenagers learn dozens of languages within these walls, and all can be found inside the Closet of Strange Languages. Better yet, you can visit the Building of Strange languages and observe students learning Tahitian, French, Mauri, Tonga, Samoan, Croatian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Albanian, Georgian, ASL, Kabuki, Malagasy, Hmong, and various others all within 3 simple floors.

Along with these three thousand missionaries, comes roughly six thousand suitcases. And, in more cases than not, these suitcases exceed the weight limit. Now, what is one to do when your suitcase is too full? The unpacking commences, and when the items causing the suitcase to weigh more than a baby elephant emerge, you are given a choice: to throw away or to give away.
We were taught when we were young to share. Well, in the corners of these missionaries' houses live big red boxes. These big boxes, hastily written in black sharpie, display the words, "FREE BOX."  Now, the free box is a magical thing. Imagine J.K Rowling's brilliant Room of Requirement condensed into a red box, and it magically has items you need appear the next day. Is your classroom wall decor falling apart? Would you like to fix it? Look no further than the Free Box! Hello duct tape!  Did you have a delicious cake sent to you? Would you like to eat that cake with a fork instead of like a dog? FREE BOX! 
Are you consistantly cold in class? Do you feel the need to put on a cozy sweater? Are you lacking a sweater? Well hello 3M basement floor free box.
Imagine a beautiful pillar of light was shining directly upon a gray ball. The ball was lovingly scooped up, the size tag was checked, and a new friendship was formed. This lovely, incredible, sweater, who knows why it was discarded, was an answer to a young girls plea for warmth.
"Maybe it's made of wool, maybe it's cotton, mohair?" The mystery sweater, with it's gorgeous, unfamiliar color, was burning wonder and amazement into the young girl's mind. "What is this delightful thing made of"
She quickly checks the tag.
Possum fur.
Yes. It's a keeper.

A Very Uninteresting Title

14. Days. Left.
I think yesterday I was on this computer telling you I had 21 days left, well, it feels like yesterday.
This week has been good. There's only so much to tell you about the MTC. Today I had cracked wheat with apples and cinnamon for breakfast. I guess that's new. Granted I eat that for breakfast nearly every morning, but I haven't told you! Mwahaha!
I hosted again this Wednesday. That was fun. All my sisters were going Stateside. So, they were all still leaving before me. That's not new. ;) BUT, this Wednesday is the day! It's the official day where the new state-side missionaries are going to leave the same day or AFTER we leave. I mean, we've only waited 10 weeks to be the oldest missionaries on campus.
It's cute to be the grandparents of the MTC. My top two newbie experiences of the week were:
A: I was running in the gym, on the indoor track (it's too hot to run outside! Even though I should be getting used to that...) when two sister started pulling out a yoga mat on the track (that's a no-no, someone would squish them during a race. Yes, a race. The Elders do it.) Being the Good Samaritan I am, and concerned about squishing a future investigator's missionary, I told them there's a yoga platform on the floor below that they could use and not have to worry about the runners. Their response? We'd love to, but we can't. We're in a trio and she wants to run on the track.  Oh cute sisters.  I told them they didn't have to be on the same floor doing the same thing, they could go play volleyball or stretch.
B: I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth with two other sisters. One sister was finished and waiting by the door, while the other one was still brushing her teeth. The one brushing her teeth said, "I'm sorry! I'll hurry so you can get back to the room and change."  Fun fact: When you're on the floor of your residence hall you don't have to be with your companion. It was cute, but I didn't have a chance to say anything. I'm keeping my eye out though.

On that note, in the MTC, on your very first day you get shuffled into a room with 90 other missionaries and teach a lesson. You meet your investigator, some missionaries come in, start teaching the investigator, and half way through the lesson the missionaries stop, and everyone in the room starts teaching. (That may have made no sense at all...) Anyway. Sister Bradshaw and I were chosen to be the missionaries that start teaching the investigator. It was so much fun! But also, very hard and strange in English. I had to remind myself not to start in French or Tahitian. While I've been here at the MTC I have taught a single lesson in the MTC, and that lesson wasn't even supposed to happen (see week 1 email).
Overall, teaching in English made me VERY grateful I'm not teaching in English. Mostly because it is hard. Teaching in English well is harder than learning a new language and attempting to teach in it. To all those missionaries called English speaking, I applaud you. I couldn't do it.
On Sunday, in Relief Society, we had Sherri Dew speak to us. That lady is incredible. She's the President of Desert Book, wrote biographies on President Hinckley and Benson, and is very cool. She spoke a lot about the Priesthood, Priesthood Keys, and how every single member who has gone through the temple is endowed with the  power of God.
Tuesday night Janice Kapp Perry came and spoke to us again. Boy. That was an interesting talk. (It was very good.) She was telling us about how her and her husband met, and the very first words he ever said.  They were in the band together and she was playing the clarinet. One day, he leaned over her and said, "Those lips look like they were made for something better than playing the clarinet."  The moment she said that in the Marriott Center, her husband (reminder! they're in their 80's) jumps out of his chair, runs to Sister Perry, grabs her, and gives her a very long, mushy, mind-scarring, kiss. He got a standing ovation and cheering for that. They're a fun couple.
Sunday night we had Robert P Swensen come speak to us. He has been called to be the President of the Brazil MTC starting in January. His talk was incredible! it was all about the things he has learned by serving and working for the church his whole life.
This is what I think about what he said:
Our life is made up of seasons, right now is our season for our mission. When we get home we'll have another season, but we shouldn't be worried about that season right now. Focus on the season you are in and live within it with absolutely no regrets. Even if we have seasons of trials and things don't seem to be going right it's important to enjoy it because we will never have that experience again in our lives. He also said, don't be sad when your season is ending. We're going to go home and leaving our missions is going to be harder than serving our missions. But enjoy the new season we're going into.

We control our mission, we control our life, we control our attitude. Every single thing that is wrong in your life, or that you feel is wrong, can be fixed by changing your attitude, thinking positively, and not letting the little things or people affect your days.

Most of all, he told us to live one day at a time. It's hard to think about being perfect until we die, but it's easy to think about being the best we can every day. With each day, come a brand new start. It's important to wake up each morning with a clean slate. Don't think about what went wrong yesterday, don't think about what you could have been yesterday, just do better today. Focus on making TODAY the best day of your life.  We had a driver tell us during a doctor's visit, "The best two years of your life should not be your mission, they should be the last two years of your life."  And no, he's not talking about the two years before we die. He's saying, the last two years you have lived should have been the absolute best years you have had until that point, but the next two years should be even better. I think that's a fantastic philosophy to live by.
Fun Fact of the week:
This is for all my Star Wars lovers.
Have you heard of ewocks (I think I spelled that right)? The little bear-like creatures? (I think they're bear like, I don't really know... Sorry Chandler, I know you're ashamed of me right now.)
Anyways, apparently they speak Tahitian. Straight-up.  They say "Chota" a lot (apparently) and that is Tahitian for Sugar. I know, I know. I'll come back and translate all the Ewock-speak for you.

I love you! Have a fantastic week! ONE MORE P-DAY!

Soeur Taylor
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