|Previous: Fifth Semester, Getting Ready for the Islands||Table of Contents|
Now we thik we know how Karel and Bobbie got to the islands without getting married. But let's go ahead and get a glimpse of how things went in the islands.
Orson Hyde University campus is nestled against the foothills of a very long mountain range. It is a part of small city that sits between a lake and the mountains.
There is a large city about an hour to the north, which has a major airport. It was this airport at which they said goodbye to their families and left in the company of the MacVitties, after completing their preparations at the university.
During the trip, Bobbie did not pay much attention to the men giving her the eye. She noticed some of them, but she didn't pay much attention.
In the passenger cabin after one layover, she said, "Karel?"
"Have you noticed the guys looking at me?"
Karel replied, "Have you noticed me noticing some of the women around? Sometimes a guy gets distracted."
"Are you trying to make me jealous?"
"Maybe, but I was really just thinking that beauty draws the eye. You distract me, too, you know."
Brother and Sister MacVittie studiously ignored this conversation. Their son smirked quietly to himself.
"Telling me I'm beautiful again."
"Just telling it like it is."
"Heh. Thanks. Well, anyway, guys used to hit on me a lot."
"You've mentioned that before."
"Now it seems like I can mostly ignore them before they get that far."
"That's a good thing."
"I'm sure part of that is because I'm with you and don't seem unattached."
Karel cleared his throat.
"And I've gotten into the habit of dressing down a bit."
"When you doll yourself up, you're just gilding the lily."
"Give me a break."
Sister MacVittie leaned across her husband's lap and said, "He's just telling you the truth."
Bobbie looked at the back of the seat in front of her. "I know I am cursed with good looks. But that's actually kind of what I'm trying to talk with Karel about."
"I guess I'll keep my nose out of things."
Professor MacVittie thought it was the better part of valor to stay out of things, too.
But Bobbie was no longer just talking to Karel. "Something's changed inside me. I used to be like a deer caught in a car's headlights when guys looked at me. Now it doesn't mean that much to me. And I think that means guys mostly don't feel as motivated to hit on me."
Karel said, "Mostly. But I've warned a few off, so far."
"And you've missed a couple."
"Yeah. but I'm trying."
"It's okay. I was able to warn those guys off, myself. And I don't feel upset about it any more."
Professor MacVittie finally spoke up here. "That's an important thing. I hadn't realized you were struggling so much with that."
"Guys are generally more civilized at Orson Hyde University."
"Not all that civilized. I think I have said some things I have to apologize for."
"No, you've never offended me."
"I'm glad of that."
Sister MacVittie asked her husband, under her breath, "Pray tell, what is it you think you might have to apologize for?"
He replied, as quietly, "Complimenting her on her looks without thinking how she would take it."
"Oh, that's all." She squeezed his hand.
At the last layover before they reached the main island, they met the first counselor to the President of the District of the Church which nominally included the islands to which they were going.
"I have been authorized to form a traveling branch of the Islands, and to call the two of you to preside over the Island Traveling Branch, Karel as the branch president, and Bobbie as the Relief Society president. Do the two of you accept these callings?"
"Yeah. Uhm, Yes."
"This means you are authorized to hold your meetings and so forth."
"Your branch is a dependent branch, so you will need to coordinate some things with the parent branch, district, and mission presidencies, as described in the handbooks."
He gave them addresses and long distance phone numbers to contact them by.
"Your own home teachers and visiting teachers are assigned out of the parent branch until and unless better arrangements can be made. They happen to be your parent branch second counselor and his wife."
Visiting teachers are assigned from the Relief Society, and home teachers are sent from the priesthood quorums. In the less fully organized branches and wards, sometimes they have couples assigned to do both at once. It wasn't official policy at the time of this story, but it is sort of semi-official now.
"I don't expect that they will actually be able to come visit you here in the islands, but you can keep contact by mail. And they have told me that, if there is an emergency, you can call them collect."
"If we can get to a phone." Karel commented.
"Radio can be patched in. And you will be in their prayers."
"That will be helpful." Bobbie nodded, swallowing suddenly.
"Since this is the district, the mission president has authorized me to authorize the two of you to perform baptismal interviews. The district president has authorized you to perform all non-temple ordinances, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Karel presiding and Bobbie assisting, as necessary, as explained in the manuals."
Wait a minute, you say?
Okay, I have a small confession. This is not just a slightly alternate history, this is a different planet. Lots of parallels that I have taken the liberty of translating to artifacts of your own world's history.
"Mormon", for instance. Their Church is one with a similar history to the Mormons of (ahem) our world, and they believe in a Savior/Messiah with a name cognate of "Jesus" ("God is help") and a title cognate of "Christ" ("Annointed One").
(And the prophet who abridged their new world scripture is named a word that is a pun on "more good" and "eternal love", pointing to having a hope of literally following their savior as they progress from grace to grace.)
And their Jesus teaches of repentance and redemption, of salvation by faith on His name, and the idea that the Creator of their universe is a friend, not an enemy to His children.
And there are a few differences, such as the ones I just mentioned. But maybe it shouldn't be too surprising. Policy should reflect the historical and social context.
"Now, in addition to my calling as first counselor in the district, I am first counselor in the temple presidency for the temple for this district."
"Oh." Bobbie blinked.
"Be happy to have you visit if you decide you have reason to get up that way."
"Understood." Karel nodded.
"I know you've heard it before, but it will be to your own benefit, as well as the benefit of the Church, that you set the best example you can for the people of these islands. You both have been missionaries, and you understand that the happiness of these people is God's only concern."
Bobbie and Karel both agreed.
After more discussion, he sent them on their way, with the blessings of God.
And they flew on to the main island near where they would be doing their research.
"Yo. You must be the professor and family and students."
"Sheldon MacVittie. Would you be Zedidiah?"
"Hi." Zedidiah raised his hand in greeting.
"Good to meet you."
"Yeah. Likewise. Luggage there?" Wycliffe indicated the trunks and other luggage stacked neatly at the edge of the tarmac, where the MacVittie's son was keeping an eye on it.
"That's our stuff," Bobbie confirmed. "Do we have too much?"
"It should fit in one go, right, Zed?"
"Yeah. A little tight, but it'll be okay for a short hop."
Karel started chuckling as Wycliffe examined him and Bobbie.
"Wycliffe, do you mind?" Bobbie was also chuckling.
"Just wondering if I dare make a pass at the prettiest lady I expect to ever see in these islands."
"You just did." Bobbie laughed.
The MacVitties kept a watchful eye, amused, but ready to take action. Karel didn't seem worried.
"Wye, not the paying customers." Zedidiah looked up from the mental calculations he was making about how the luggage might fit in their plane.
"She yours?" Wycliffe asked Karel.
Karel shook his head. "She is her own, but I wouldn't try taking liberties with her."
Wycliffe grinned. "I'm not sure whether I'd be more worried about your response or hers if I did."
Karel and Bobbie both laughed.
"Wye! Knock it off!" Zedidiah stopped his examination of the luggage and came back. "I must apologize for my partner."
"No offense taken," Bobbie was still laughing. "An open pass is a bit refreshing, even if I'm not planning on picking it up. I'll be a bit too busy. Sorry."
"Understood. 'Though I'm not quite sure how you two fit together."
Bobbie and Karel looked at each other, amused, and Wycliffe watched them.
"Leave it alone, Wye, and help me figure the luggage out."
"Yeah. Lemme help you work that out."
And both of them went over to the luggage and started measuring pieces with their hands, talking about where to load them in the plane's cargo area.
"Do you think we can trust them?" Professor MacVittie asked.
"I think so." Bobbie replied.
"He's not entirely harmless," Karel pursed his lips to one side. "But I get the feeling he isn't one to take advantage of people. Just says what he thinks."
"I think I agree," Sister MacVittie said.
Wycliffe went into the building, and Zedidiah returned. "We're pretty share we can take it all in one trip. If not, we have a friend or two who would be willing to fly the rest out with the mail or something. But you'll need a couple of taxis to where you're staying tonight. Wycliffe has gone after them, and for someone to take care of your paperwork."
"You took care of a place for us here?"
"No, the islanders did. We told them about you and they decided where you'll stay. That's the way they work. You can walk there, but the luggage can't, and that's why you'll need the taxis. Ah. Here comes Officer Paalo."
An islander approached them from withing the building. "Hello! Welcome to the islands."
"Officer Paalo can stamp your visas."
After introductions all around, Officer Paalo counted their pieces of luggage without bothering to look inside, scanned quickly over their immunization paperwork, took notes in an official-looking logbook, and gave them visa stamps in their passports.
"Oh. You're not married?" he asked, handing Karel and Bobbie back their passports.
"No, ..." Karel replied.
'No." Bobbie replied with a shake of her head.
"Then I should ask. We were under the impression you two would be staying together. Wycliffe informs us that we may be mistaken."
Karel looked at Bobbie, and she just closed her eyes.
"Uhn, that would not be appropriate," Karel said, reaching out to reassure Bobbie with a pat on her arm.
Bobbie opened her eyes. "Definitely not."
By that time, Wycliffe had returned with not two, but four taxis.
"Change of plans. The bungalow they
"When they found out your students would not be sleeping together, they decided to change your ac
Professor MacVittie introduced himself and gave them contact information for the university and requested to be contacted immediately if anything untoward happened while carrying Karel and Bobbie from island to island.
Then Wycliffe and Zedidiah introduced them to Officer Paalo, who stamped their visas as a representative of the government and gave their luggage a cursory check, and took care of other such necessary paperwork.
And Karel and Bobbie went over their schedules with Wycliffe and Zedidiah.
The MacVitties spent a couple of days vacationing while Karel and Bobbie made contacts, learned a little more about the islands, and reviewed their preparations.
Then Zedidiah flew the five of them to their first island, which was close by. Zedidiah and Wycliffe generally flew without co-pilot, saving the weight for cargo.
On the first island, Zedidiah introduced them to Nazoru and his daughter Hanaka, who were fairly comfortable with foreigners and with English, and could serve as intermediaries if necessary.
Nazoru and Hanaka offered to let them both stay in their hut. They were surprised and somewhat amused that they wanted to stay separately.
Ultimately, it was decided that Bobbie would stay with Hanaka and Nazoru, and they found another family for Karel to stay with.
And they found a family for the MacVitties to stay with, as well.
Nazoru and Hanaka introduced them to many of the people on the island, and Karel and Bobbie got to work and met more. At first, they just let the islanders teach them how they lived. Then they started helping out when they could see ways they could help.
They compiled their notes in the evenings, being careful to change names and otherwise keep the private information private. They found it worked best to go over their data with the families they stayed with, for accuracy, and also to assure that the private information was kept anonymous and private.
Again, the MacVitties stayed out of the way, leaving the work to the students. Their job was simply to be there if they needed help. On the other hand, they were also interested in the island life, and spent most of their time learning how the islanders lived. Professor MacVittie took some notes of his own, but refrained from recording details that might be private.
Towards the end of the week, they got together to compare notes. Other than that, they spent as much time working separately as together.
Sometime during the first week, one of the islanders came to Karel looking for medical help. One of the children had cut her leg. They were surprised when he deferred to Bobbie, insisting that he be there even though Bobbie did the actual cleaning and bandaging up.
They asked about the usual procedure, and the islanders explained that the village elders had already prayed over the wound. But they knew that foreigners did some other useful things, so they had asked.
The next time, Bobbie and Karel had the parents come, and let the parents perform their traditional first aid. Bobbie showed them a few more small things they could still do when she and Karel were gone.
Nazoru and Hanaka joined their first Sunday services, watching with interest. Afterwards, they asked Bobbie and Karel about their beliefs. They continued to join the services for the whole month, and continued to ask questions.
Other islanders also visited during the later Sunday services.
After two weeks, Zedidiah came to pick the MacVitties up. They were sad to go. (And the family they had been staying with was sad to see them go so soon.) Professor MacVittie took Bobbie and Karel's initial reports back to the university with him, with some letters home, and to Dan and Kristie and other friends.
During the month on the first island, Bobbie and Karel participated in the birthing of two babies. Again, they let the islanders teach them what they usually did, trying to avoid teaching them things they would not be able to continue after they left.
And then Zedidiah picked them up and flew them to their next island, introducing them to islanders who would help them get started before he left.
And Zedidiah took their reports and other mail with him to send on.
And that was pretty much the way it went on each island.
Except that on the third and fourth islands Wycliffe picked them up. The distances were longer, and Wycliffe had more experience with long distances.
While they were on the second island, they wrote letters to professors they were talking with at Harvard and Berkeley, detailing their work to that point and adjustments they were making to their approaches.
A plane came in after about two weeks, and they sent those letters with the pilot.
On the third island, they got enthusiastic responses from their respective schools, both hinting at the possibility of assistant professorship positions.
On the last island, having become accustomed to their work, they had a little time, maybe once a week, to spend together walking on the beach and talking. Not wanting to tempt each other, they focused on their work and refrained from even holding hands.
"Double and triple checked."
Bobbie and Karel were pushing their luggage out of the hut that served as the airport building on the last island, to the plane waiting on the airstrip.
"I'm gonna miss these islands."
"Me too. In some ways it seems like I've been back on my mission."
"No, not really."
Karel and Bobbie looked at each other. Wycliffe must have missed the meaning that passed without words between them in that look.
"I've been silly."
"No you haven't."
"I wish I could just ask Wycliffe to let us fly back by ourselves. I really want to talk with you all by ourselves."
"Would you be okay navigating over ocean?"
"True. The weather's different, and you have to depend more on instruments."
"And, of course, it's their plane, not ours."
"Do you think those two joke about us?"
"Listening to their chatter on the radio, yeah. Does it matter?"
"Let's get our luggage on the plane."
"Hi, Wycliffe! Good to see you again."
And now we know enough to continue with the story.
|Table of Contents||Next: Bobbie and Karel -- Changing Priorities|
The previous backup for this chapter is here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2016/08/bk-economics-101-novel-ch09-in-islands.html.
(There is no second draft of this chapter yet.)