Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hello and Goodbye

Missionaries going home 

 We had a group of missionaries leaving on the 24th of this month.  They were all going to the states except one that went to American Samoa.  We love seeing the missionaries before they go home.  They are all so full of the spirit and gratitude for the opportunity to serve a mission.  We had two sets of parents come to Samoa to pick up their sons.  Elder Priday and Elder Tingey are going to take their parents to Savaii and to visit some of the members that they were able to influence while on their missions.  This was kind of a leap of faith for the parents to come after the cyclone and with another one threatening.  We are happy to report that the other cyclone didn't come near Samoa and that all the missionaries are doing well. 

Elder and Sister Johnson
Elder and Sister Partridge

 We have a couple that will be taking our place named Elder and Sister Johnson.  They serve as the auditors in Samoa and have taken on an additional responsibility of the office so that we can go home.  There aren't many couples applying for missions right now, so tell your friends to sign up and the Lord will bless them in their service. 

Couples outing

We have enjoyed serving in the mission office and being acquainted with your fine young sons.  This has brought great joy into our lives.  We still have a few more years to work, so my husband has a job in Sierra Vista, Arizona at Fort Huachuca as a senior systems analyst.  I haven't worked for several years because I was a stay at home mom.  So, the office has been a really fun experience for me.  It has been a delight working with you as parents and being a part of your children's lives.  We will miss working in the office and appreciate all you have done to make this such an enjoyable experience. 

We had an excursion with some of the seniors on Saturday to Vavau and an area call the trenches.  Pockets of water have formed in various areas including a private swimming area.  Those who are brave swim through a cave to the ocean from the swimming area.  We are told it is an area of about 12 feet.  We didn't try the cave, but enjoyed the swimming hole and ocean.  At Vavau we snorkeled.  The area we started in was quite shallow, but on the other side there were some deep areas.  It was fun to watch the fist swim around the coral.  I was following a yellow fish that got quite nervous.  We saw some dark blue fish, yellow striped, slim and elongated.  When  we got back in the car to come home it started to rain.  We were blessed with a beautiful day to swim. 

One of the fun things about serving a mission has been becoming acquainted with the other couples that serve here.  We have couples serving in the temple, membership support, teach the teachers,seminary and Institute, Perpetual Education, Medical, Auditing, Dental, Public affairs, and office.  We have 32 senior missionaries serving in Samoa.

This will be our last blog as we are returning home.  We wish you the best and thank you for being part of our lives.

Elder and Sister Partridge

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rainy days and rainy nights and rainy days...

It's the rainy season in Samoa.  It has rained most of the last week.  Since we are avid walkers this crimped our style a bit.  Last Saturday night we decided we were going to brave it.  We discovered that we can walk around the courtyard of the school and not get wet.  As far as I know there is no such thing as an interior hallway in a school or church in Samoa.  All classrooms in the school and all rooms in the chapel have windows on both sides for ventilation purposes.  The walkway on each side of the classrooms at the school is covered.  So we found a place to walk without getting soaking wet. 

Towards the end of the week it would stop raining for an hour here and there.  On Thursday night the clouds broke a bit and we enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the temple.  By the time we ran back to our Fale to get our cameras it was too late to get back to the temple so I took this picture with a less impressive foreground and edited the foreground out of the picture.

It was a pretty quiet week in the mission. President Leota likes to bring the zones into the mission home for zone conferences and then have them attend the Temple after their training.  They brought in 10 zones this week from Savaii and Upolu and held 2 sessions per day.  Some of the smaller zones were combined.  President & Sister Leota and the assistants left Friday to fly to Tutuila to hold conferences for the zones there.   They will return on Monday to hold conferences on Monday and Tuesday for the remaining zones on Upolu and Savaii.  The missionaries love the training and go back to their areas spiritually energized and ready to carry out the work we are involved in.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mini Transfer


dirty water

Elder Partridge by beach

Elder Partridge and I have been very busy this week with paperwork.  I finished up the newsletter and got it printed and then worked on the end of month reports.  I send all the baptism reports to all the stake presidents which include all the totals for each month.  I also send them a copy of the newsletter.  I then had lots of position change letters to do because we had transfers.  The position change letters include letters to the missionary and his parents informing them of their responsibilities.  Elder Partridge has been busy working with immigration on getting Visas for the group that will be coming to our mission  the end of January.  He was also busy getting tickets for missionaries traveling to American Samoa and arranging documents for Samoan’s traveling there.
               I was excited to get to work in the temple again this week.  Since Christmas and New Year’s was on Tuesday, I haven’t been able to work for three weeks.  The temple was quiet this week with not many patrons, but it was still nice to be back.
               We went to the baptism of a new convert that we were able to help a bit with.  We talked to her several months ago about the temple and its importance.  She had lots of non members there who even helped her sing a song for part of the program. It was a very nice service and she will be a nice addition to the ward.  The members brought refreshments, so we had a little social afterwards.
               We had two new missionaries come to our mission this week and had a mini transfer.  They are waiting for Visa’s to go to Australia missions.  Elder Partridge and I took a missionary to the airport that was traveling to the New Zealand MTC.  He will be coming back to our mission for awhile until he gets his Visa.  He was a very nice young man with wonderful people skills.  He had lived in Utah, New Mexico and American Samoa.  It will be nice to have him come back to our mission.
               We are experiencing the rainy season in Samoa.  Yesterday it rained so much, that we didn’t want to venture out very much.  This doesn’t stop the Samoan’s.   We had a group of Samoans cleaning President Leota’s roof in the rain.  They were others walking along the streets and playing sports in the rain. One of the results we have found from the cyclone is the water near the beach is often dirty from all the run off.  It is sad seeing so many of the trees destroyed, but it is also wonderful to see people come to Samoa just to help out for a few weeks.  Missionaries who serve here love the people and often come back to help out during trying times.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Upolu Zone Conference

President Leota wanted to have the Upolu Christmas Conference before transfers, so we all worked to have it on the 31st of December.  My husband and I picked up hamburger patties, buns, and ketchup and Afulua put together the other food to make this day a success.

They had their devotional first where President and Leota talked to the missionaries.  We then went into the skit portion of the program.  The couples serving in Upolu were of course expected to put together a skit.  We came up with the idea of singing 12 days of Christmas with props.  Sister Gertsch worked on changing the words and we had fun putting on our skit in front of the missionary.  Elder Partridge and I of course had Partridge.  We couldn't decide whether to do a Partridge in a palm tree or a Partridge on a par three.  So, we had fun doing them both which ended up getting a cheer from the missionaires every time.  Some of the other items used  were pigs squeaking, geekos hiding, taxis honking, guards waving and various other things unique to Samoa.

The missionaries really enjoyed having hamburgers from America (frozen patties).  Several of the couples had cooked them ahead of time because the kitchen natural gas was gone.  We had pineapple, egg foo yong, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickled beets on our hamburgers. We also had chips (which were from here and not very good) and various soft drinks. 

After we all ate, we cleaned up and did the games.  We didn't stay for the games but were told that the missionaries had a good time.  Elder and Sister Hanson were on hand in case there was any medical emergencies. 

That evening we had a couples New Years Eve party.  We have a couple from Layton, Utah that serve as vocational missionaries.  They are going to Fiji for their next assignment.  So we had a going away party complete with pizza.  We had sort of a roast and spoke of their fine qualities and sang the Samoan Farewell Song.  They left yesterday morning for their new assignment.  They are serving for 23 months and will spend five to six months in an area. 

The next day we had transfers, which ran rather smoothly.  Elder Partridge was busy arranging travel for those traveling to and from American Samoa and I was busy typing the position change letters.  Most of the missionaries that were transferred are in their respective areas not except a few that need to wait  on Visas to go to American Samoa.

On the weekend we traveled to the North Stake center and waded in the water at the beach.  It has been a busy and eventful week.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The week between Christmas & New Years

Our missionaries have been working on cleanup projects all week long except for Christmas day.

Christmas Eve we had a family home evening with the couples.  We sang and had a white elephant gift exchange.  We ended up with a pudding mix and a piece of coral.  On Christmas day we got up early and went for a walk down Vaitele street, which is the street the mission home is on.  There was quite a crowd gathering including several parked cars on the other side of the street.  We thought maybe people were gathering for a church service but it turned out they were waiting for the Apia Bottling Company to open.  Christmas was definitely different in Samoa.  We had brunch with the senior couples in the morning and then had 2 of the single sisters that are serving in the temple over for dinner in the afternoon.  They are both from Australia and each had served as a proselyting missionary in Samoa previously.

Elder & Sister Partridge, Sister Moaga & Sister Tavete
Christmas Day 2012 in Samoa

Wednesday the temple opened for the first time since cyclone.  The attendance was down a bit which is understandable.  The new missionaries and some of the not so new missionaries attended the 7:30 session.

Thursday, Sister Partridgve & I made a water and mail delivery to the Elders serving on the east end of the island. Some of the cellphone towers have been destroyed on that part of the island resulting in a significant reduction in cell phone service.  Elder Tingey, one of our zone leaders, demonstrated what they have to do to get cell phone service where they live.  For their Christmas calls home, he climbed up on top of the water tanks and his companion climbed a nearby tree.

Elder Tingey finds cell phone service
Saturday we decided to try climbing Mt. Vaea to see how Robert Louis Stevenson's grave was doing.  Most of the big trees had been uprooted.  The bathing pool where Mr. Stevenson's family went to cool off had a large tree in it.  There are some boulders in the river you can walk across.  They were obscured by a large tree.  We decided to wade across the river and try to find our way up the mountain.  We had to give up because there were too many trees blocking our path.  We will try it again in couple of months maybe.  Tusitala is on his own for awhile I am afraid.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

To the Rescue

What is the difference between a cyclone, a hurricane, a typhoon, and a Tsunami?  If a storm is in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific, it would be a hurricane.  A typhoon takes place in Japan, Guam or the Philippines. A cyclone takes place in the South Pacific and is characterized by strong revolving winds and rains, a Tsunami is caused by earthquakes below the ocean and are destructive sea waves.

This week was devoted to rescuing and rebuilding Samoa.  The Mariner’s went to Savaii to take Christmas packages and supplies to the missionaries serving there.  Savaii had very little storm damage and all the missionaries are doing fine.

The Hanson’s also went to some of the missionary areas taking food and water.  Sister Leota had groups of zones that had been hit hardest by the storm come into the mission office to be showered and cleaned up.  She sent them home with food, water, and Christmas packages sent from home.

Elder Partridge and I also went to check on missionaries and take food, water, candles, Christmas packages, and phone batteries.  All of them were in good spirits and said the members were taking good care of them.  A few of them wanted supplies, but they all seemed to have weathered the storm well.  A lot of Upolu is still without power, but it is slowly being restored to all areas of the island. 

We had ten missionaries that finished their missions this week and were able to return to their homes in the United States, Tonga, and Samoa.

Elder and Sister Watson, our area authorities came and toured the island.  In the areas that were hardest hit, members are staying at the churches.  They all had smiles on their faces and were happy to be safe.  Last night Elder and Sister Watson spoke to the senior missionaries about the true meaning of Christmas and thanked us for our service.  We have enjoyed being able to serve the missionaries and members that needed our help.  Several of the senior missionaries have prepared lunch and dinner for the new missionaries that are staying at the MRC. The new missionaries have cheerfully worked this week to help the people in Samoa.  I am sure that this will open up opportunities for teaching and their lives will be blessed for their service. 
Elder Partridge on Banyan Tree
 We have found that the people in Samoa are very resilient.  There was a huge banyan tree that fell over in the mission compound by Pesega College.  They immediately started to cut up the trees that fell, so we decided that we better hurry and get a picture.  As you can see it has very little root, but is very large.  It took three pictures to get the entire tree. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cyclone Pictures

New missionaries cleaning up Upolu
The storm is over in Samoa.  We had 14 new missionaries come from the New Zealand M.T.C.  Today they were put to work helping to clean up Apia.  The Leotas' bought gloves, water bottles, hammers, and the tools that they would need to assist in their clean up.  They came home tired and dirty but very happy to be serving the people in Samoa.  The people here are very impressed to see these young missionaries volunteering to help clean up the city. 
Tree in front yard at beginning of storm             

After the storm was over, same tree
 When the storm started last week, I took a picture of the tree in our front yard being blown by the storm. 
 As you can see by the picture above, the tree was destroyed.
The following pictures were taken when we went to pick up mail at the Fagaali'i airport.

car destroyed in storm