Saturday, March 31, 2012

Welcome to Papapapaitai Falls

Even people who know Samoan have a hard time pronouncing the name of this water fall.  You pronounce it Papa-Papa-ee-tie. According to one of the assistants in the Mission Home. You pronounce it Papa-Pa-Pie-Tawi according to the Samoan Visitors authority.  The first pronounciation makes more sense because it means "Great inland water".

When you live on an island you have three choices for a Saturday afternoon drive. You can drive around to the west end of the island. You can drive towards the east end of the island. Or you can find one of 2 or 3 cross island roads. We took one of the cross island roads and came across this water fall. This water fall can be quite spectacular after a rain storm, which we had Saturday morning.  We didn't go all the way across to the south side of the island but here's the view from where we decided to turn around. I haven't mastered landscape photography with my iPhone yet.

There weren't many entries in my "Price is Right" game 2 weeks ago but the winner was Heather with 50% correct answers.  She wins a weeks supply of Samoan Bananas. The pineapple was 7 Tala, the tomatoes were 6 Tala, lettuce was 4 Tala and the bananas were 3 Tala.  Pineapples are out of season right now and so they are more expensive. I'm told when Pineapple season starts in June we will be able to purchase large Pineapples for 2 Tala or .89 USD.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chocolate Chips and the temple

We have attending the temple in Samoa.  The first week we went to the temple we went with our Samoan Ward and used head phones for the temple session.  This past week we were asked to help with sealings.  The Samoan Temple is built with extra large seats in the session rooms to accomodate the larger Samoans.  I was worried when we went last week because a heavier lady sat by me, but since the chairs are roomier I hardly even knew that she was sitting next to me.  I was the last person to go through the veil because I was sitting in the very back and needed to have English.  The Samoan people are wonderful.  The ladies will come up to the sisters and kiss her on the cheek as a greeting.  It has taken me awhile to get used to this new custom.  After doing sealings last Thursday, the sealer told us that he wanted to shake all of hands before we left.  The sisters in the session kissed each other's cheeks.  Even the altar in the Samoan Temple is built larger with more leg room to kneel and extra padding. 

Mega Church
In Samoa the people are very religious and there are mega churches all over the place.  they pay up to 60% of their salaries to build these churches all over the island. 

We have enjoyed taking drives to the ocean on our weekend.  This week some Elders and Sisters came to the temple.  The missionaries aren't allowed to go to the temple unless they are coming with a new convert to do baptisms for the dead.  They are allowed to stay overnight at the mission home and then need to get immediately to their areas after the session is over.  This week the assistants and President Leota were in American Samoa, so we were asked to drive the sisters to the wharf so that they could go to Savaii another island in Samoa.  It was a pleasure to drive them there and we had beautiful scenery along the way. 

Some of the simple pleasures we enjoy are chocolate chip cookies.  Our daughter, Heather, sent us some chocolate chips which aren't available here.  We have really enjoyed being able to bake some cookies.  We are able to get some American food at some of the markets, but the chocolate chips that they sell here are very small.  So every weekend I bake some cookies to last for the week.

We are going to go out to dinner tonight with another couple in our mission at Cocobananas.  We are excited to get to know some of the other couples that are serving here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Today we stopped at Farmer Joe's (not like in the states) on the way to McDonald's to get us some juice, since they haven't had juice the past two weeks. Bob ordered us some egg McMuffin's at McDonald's and they said they were all out of breakfast food.  This was at 8:00 a.m.  So we walked down to the beach and drank our juice and then stopped at some stores on the way home.  

We took a drive to the West side of the Island where they have the Ferry to Savaii.  It was very beautiful and it was nice to get away from the office.  Bob and I work Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 at the mission office.  It is cool though because we get to rub shoulders with the Leota's and the missionaries.  We love the A.P.'s they are really good missionaries.  Elder Bailey has been here too because he has been ill.

Our mission sponsored a defensive driving class this week at the church across from the mission home.  They had all of the couples go to this.  It was a pretty basic course where they discussed the signs on the roads.  Afterwards they gave us a test.  They went through another paper with us and we could copy the answers from a booklet they handed out. In the afternoon they had Bob take a drive with the instructor because I forgot to bring my license.  
We have been out to dinner twice this week.  On Friday we went ot an Italian Restaurant with eight couples that are serving missions here.  They are all about ten years older than us and have served several missions.  They have many interesting stories to tell.  Afterwards we went to scoops for ice cream.  Little children would come up to us begging for us to buy things from them.  Wherever we go people are selling things such as fans, q-tips, fruit and vegetables from their gardens, and lobster.  They wave fans to keep the flies off.  Most of the people here are farmers or fishermen.  Only about 15% of the people have a college education. 

Coconut Trees by beach

village market

Ferry that goes to Savaii

Elder Partridge, The Johnson's, Elder Preece

Italian dinner
We are loving our mission and love having the opportunity to serve in Samoa.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Apia Samoa Stake Celebration

Another great week in Samoa. A nice thing about the weather in Samoa is if you don't like it, wait a couple of hours and it will change. We've had beautiful sunshine in the morning, pouring rain in the afternoon and then pleasant clear skies in the evening, and all different variations.

This week was the 50th anniversary celebration for the Apia stake, the first stake created in Samoa. If Kathy is brave she might post some of the sample videos I took of the dancing. I attached a picture of one of the dance numbers. They probably had 500-600 young people participating. They had programs Tuesday-Thursday night in the gym at the Institute performing some of their native dances and chants. Very rhythmic chants along with stomping and clamping highlighted by a performance by the young men of Haka, which is the dance made famous in the rugby movie Forever Strong. My Tongan AP friend said it originated with the Maori's but is performed on all of the South Sea islands. We went on Wednesday night and at the end they lured all of the Sr. Missionaries up to dance. No pictures will be published. Last night they had a Ball for the older couples and a dance for the young people. We went out for Pizza and then did our shopping. We walked by the Institute where they were having the dance for the young people. It looked like more older people were dancing there. Sunday night they are having a fireside where Elder Watson of the Seventy will be the speaker. They are going to show a documentary on the history of the Apia stake so we are going to attend.

Tuesday night we went to the Temple for the first time since we've been here. We went with the sisters in the ward we are assigned to. It was very enjoyable. We had headphones since it was a Samoan session but we did just fine.  Kathy went over to the church for refreshments afterwards with the Sisters. Our ward is celebrating the Relief Society birthday all week with activities each night. We aren't in the Apia stake so there wasn't a correlation problem. Saturday Kathy went to a barbeque at the church while I worked on our taxes.

Apia market on Saturday morning

This morning we took our traditional walk to McDonalds (2 weeks in a row). Today they had no orange juice or bottled water so we took breakfast to go. We walked up to one of the markets that had refrigerated juice and purchased juice and then ate our breakfast while sitting on a bench along the street. Then we went to the market, see attached picture, it is dark inside so I didn't take a picture inside. But, when I got home I laid out what we purchased on the kitchen table and took a picture. So we are going to learn about Samoan market economics today in the form of playing the home version of the Price is Right. The prices are 3, 4, 6 & 7 tala. The game is to match the price with the item purchased. For bonus points you can guess how much breakfast was. We had 3 Sausage Muffin with Egg. We will leave out the price of the juice this week.

Pineapple, Lettuce, Bananas and Tomatoes from
the Apia Market
Very often during the week I experience tender mercies that help me do my job here at the mission. It will sometimes be an impression coming into my mind. In a recent case it was a piece of paper stapled to a missionaries file that triggered an idea that solved a major issue I was having. It was in the mission nurses file and I asked her about it. She said she had no idea why that paper would have been stapled inside that Elders file. Some would call it coincidences but I know better.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Two Weeks in Samoa

Well, we have been two weeks in Samoa now and we are really growing to love it here.  Everything is so green and beautiful.  The people walk everywhere.  Today Bob and I walked to McDonald's for breakfast, which was a traditional activity when we lived in Mesa.  There were shops along the way where we stopped to see what things they carry.  We have had a little bit of trouble finding the American food that we like.  I cooked some chicken soup last week with chicken breast.  The breast was really stringy and tasteless.  One of the other couples, the Hansen's, have advised us to buy dark meat because it tastes better.  They have been very good to us.  They are here as health missionaries and they are actually from my home town (Payson) living out by West Mountain.  They have missionaries come visit them for various health concerns.  One of the Elders is going to Hawaii to have an operation on his kidneys because they couldn't treat him here.  I guess he wasn't drinking enough water and developed a bad kidney infection.  A couple that was here have had to return home because they were having health problems as well.  We count our blessings that we have had pretty good health thus far.  I have had a sinus infection, but am getting better. 

I drove today for the first time, which was a new experience because they drive on the left hand side of the road.  I drove up towards the mountain in a rain storm.  The water was in puddles along the roadside, so I made a bit of a splash on my first drive. The roads are narrow, so I had to slide over when a vehicle was approaching.  We found some Parmesan cheese today, it is fresh instead of the kind we are used to, but I think we will enjoy it.

It is quite an experience to get out among the people.  The Samoan people are good fearing people and the children grow up in a protected envirornmet.  The people build their lives around their religion.  Like for example in our ward we had around 100 people show up for choir practice.  There were about 30 young men that showed up plus the young women and parents.  The choir director drills them for a couple of stanza's and adds notes to accommodate their language.  They sing with gusto and stay quite willingly for choir for over an hour.  This week they had three practices because they are preparing to sing for Easter. 

We love working in the mission office.  It is really neat being able to rub shoulders with President Leota, his wife and the assistants.  There are several senior missionaries serving here with with various responsibilities.  We have the Weber's who are from Elk Ridge.  Their calling here is to treat the dental needs of the community.  We also have CES Missionaries, Humanitarian Aid, Public Relations, Seminary, Member Records, tranportation and housing.  We are in a family home evening group with some of the other couples.  We have been invited to dinner on an average about twice a week.

The sister that takes care of the cleaning and cooking is named Afulua.  I have had a hard time pronouncing her name until she explained she was named after her grandmother that was born by two water falls.  Lua means two.  She has shared some of the things that she has baked for zone conferences and new missionaries with us.  The bananas here are small and come in a big bunch.  They bake them in the oven when they are green or eat them in banana breads or fresh when they are yellow.  She made some banana muffins and cookies that were fabulous.  They don't have margarine here or shortening.  So, we cook with butter and oil.  This is really a fun experience for us, we are learning so much. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Samoan food & the beach

We went to the beach as a group of couples from the mission.  Our hosts who are Samoan brought some Samoan food including a pig.  All the animals in Samoa are skinny including the cows.  Because of the high humidity, there isn't any nutrition in the green shrubs and grass for the animals.  We saw horses walking along the road that you could see their ribs.  The Samoan children are afraid of Americans because we are so white.

Cleaning the Temple

The Temple has been closed this week for cleaning. It has been fun to watch how they clean the outside of the temple. If you zoom in on this picture you can see them cleaning the spire.  This is from right in front of the mission home.  I should have moved closer. :(
The next day they were cleaning the lower part.  It doesn't look quite as treacherous as when they were cleaning the spire but I thought it was still impressive.
This is the view I see when walking to work in the morning. Supposedly we are on daylight saving time.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shopping in the market

It has been a busy week learning our new duties and how to eat. We have been fed dinner several times so that has made it easier. The only 2 meals we fixed for ourselves were spaghetti with no parmeasn cheese :(, and french toast. We have been alternating between cereal and eggs with toast in the mornings and some form of peanut butter or cheese sandwich for lunch. It's kind of fun to be able to walk home for lunch, since we live only about 100 yards from the mission home.

If you look at the attached picture you'll see our house marked with a yellow highlight and circled in blue. It's a duplex. The mission nurse and her husband live in the other unit. The white square like building in the upper left corner is the mission home. And of course you can see the temple in the right corner.

We went shopping today at 4 markets to get what we needed to eat. I will have to send pictures next time. We went to a bulk wholesale place, 2 grocery markets and the open market. It was quite an adventure. This afternoon I have to take the missionaries that are going to American Samoa to the airport and then the Senior Missionaries are going to have dinner at the beach on the south side of the island today. So we will head over there.

We received our first group of new missionaries since we've been here Thursday. They are heading out to their areas today. We have a BYU football player and a BYU-Hawaii basketball player in the group. It was fun orientating them and getting acquainted. We had a dinner for them last night.

 Kathy has had a pretty bad cough and hasn't been feeling well. It turned out that she had a sinus infection. The mission nurse arranged for her a prescription of anti-biotics and now she seems to be getting better.

It is an honor to be part of this great missionary effort. I see our Heavenly Fathers hand in many ways helping with His work.