Thursday, April 26, 2012

FHE and Mission Presidents Seminar

We had Family Home Evening with all the couples this week.  I was able to sing for this with two other sisters and Elder Preece who used to sing in the Tabernace Choir.  We sang "Christ of the Islands, Lord of the Sea".  We got several compliments so I guess it went well.  Elder Zwich was there for our family home evening and he and his wife spoke to us.  She spoke of when they were called to preside over the mission in Chile as a mission president and his wife.  They had one day of training and took the former mission president to the airport.  When they got home, they had a call from one of their missionaries.  He said, "You don't know me, but I'm one of your missionaries.  I was doing a baptism interview at the chapel and some terrorists came in.  They asked me to remove all my clothes in front of the seminary students that were there and they sat my clothes on fire and set the chapel on fire.  I am standing at the phone booth in a trench coat, what do I do now?"  Sister Zwich stood there with her three small children and said, "I'm out of here".  Her eight year old son turned to her and said "Jesus will help you."  She said that they have done some very hard things, but she testified that the Lord is always there to help.
Misisonaries that sung at the Mission President's seminar

Pineapple growing in our front yard

Farewell to Elder Funaki (next to me)
We had the Pacific Area Mission Presidents Seminar this week, so the President has been gone. They are having it in town at a luxury motel called Aggie Greys. A group of missionaries from the area including us went and sang to them yesterday. It was a fun experience. I will enclose a photo of some of the missionaries.

We are getting more acquainted with some of the missionary couples. Tonight we are going out to dinner with the Harker’s and The Roth’s. The Roth’s are actually a dental volunteer couple. They clean  peoples teeth pulling them and fixing cavities for free. This is a service the church provides for the people in Samoa. Bob is going to get his teeth cleaned next week and I need to get in too. They do everything for free even for the senior couples. Dentist have sent them free supplies for free to set up their dental practice. We had a couple from Payson that served here before them, but they were called as missionaries. I guess there was a change so they are now called volunteers.

 We are going to go to Savaii with our ward tomorrow. So, this should be an interesting experience. We go there on a ferry and will have lunch there and then come back. It’s always fun to do something different.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Singing in Samoa

Samoans love to sing. They only have one dynamic; LOUD. Last Sunday night we participated in an Easter Concert presented by our ward and one other ward in the Pesega Stake.  Interestingly we sang in English which was disappointing to me since we practiced a rousing rendition of "The Spirit of God" in Samoan but didn't sing it..  We closed our portion of the program with a rousing rendition of "How Great Thou Art" which would have put any large Baptist congregation to shame.  The Samoan Hymn book which is, called "Vi'iga", has a fair number of hymns translated in to Samoan and sung to familiar melodies. There are also some unique Samoan "Vi'igas" which are also sung to familiar melodies. One example is number 201, " Lo Matou Atua e, Matou te Fa'afetai" which is sung to the tune of "My Country Tis of Thee".  The translation is Our Lord, We Thank ye".  Or Number 37, "Lo'u Nu'u Sauniatu e!" which is sung to the tune of the old Christmas favorite  "O Christmas Tree".  It has nothing to do with Christmas.  It is about a village established in the crater of an extinct volcano called "Sauniatu". The early Saints who established Sauniatu had a vision about the importance of this place in the Samoan history of the Church. They knew they needed a place where they could prepare and build strength. In 1904, when they established Sauniatu, they had been expelled from their villages, persecuted, and unfairly taxed for being Mormons.

On Tuesday we had the pleasure of hearing from Elder Hamula, who is the president of the South Pacific Area.  He talked about the importance of being "watchful" and "observant" of all of the commandments.  Taking part of his message from Judges 6-8 where the Lord tells Gideon to reduce his army to those that were "watchful" and "observant".  We sang our mission song which is also found in the Samoan Hymn book.  The melody is familiar but I can't quite place it. Our missionaries sing it with great zeal.  It's called  "O Lo'o Fai Nei le Taua".  The translation is "We are Engaged in the Great Battle for Jesus".

The first few days of this week my So'a (Companion) was Elder Funaki, our assistant who went home very early this morning.  We were discussing what the mission song sounds like in English and I told him it sounds better in Samoan which gave him a good laugh.  I will really miss him. This is a picture of us taking our customary rest period in the Presidents office.

Elders Funaki and Partridge after a long drive to the wharf.
An interesting obervation on music and language; while singing Hymns on Easter I realized the word "Al-le-lu-ia" is prounouced exactly the same in Samoan and English.  Some how that seems appropriate.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Birthday Pictures

Happy Birthday from the zone leaders & Elder Hanson

Elder Partridge & Elder Rodgers after a big day at the office

Friday, April 13, 2012

Birthday, Anniversary, and Conference

Well we celebrated our 33rd anniversay this week and Bob's -- birthday.  He doesn't like me to reveal how old he is, but he is my age now.  We got a package from our daughter Heather with cool things like an apple corer, wheat thins, spray cheese, and muffin mixes.  I ordered Bob a haircutter from Wal-Mart and both of these packages showed up on his birthday.  We also got a nice anniversay card from our daughter Heather and Bob got a Birthday card with coloring from Rebecca.  She is a budding artist. 

When we went home for lunch, Elder Hanson brought the zone leaders to our apartment to sing Happy Birthday to him.  They brought along Elder Hanson's ukuele.  So, of course we had to take pictures. 

That evening we went to our ward choir practice and then out to dinner at Kokobananas.  It was a very nice dinner.

Today we got up early so we could watch conference at the Pesega Stake Center.  The sessions were at 6:00 and 9:00 a.m.  We have grown to appreciate these early meeting times because we don't have air conditioning in our chapels.  We have ceiling fans and window slats that we open to let in air.  Conference was wonderful the second time and we are looking forward to listening to it again on our MP3 players as well.  After conference we stayed for ward choir pratice.  The man who plays for the choir is actually from another ward and teaches at the church school.  He is very talented.  There are very few people that can play the piano in our ward, so we are grateful for his musical talents.  We stayed and practiced till after 12:00 and we were very hot.  I need to keep reminding myself that most of the Samoan people do not have nice homes and air conditioners.  They bring homemade fans with them at church and will fan the missionaries.  They are very respectful and kind to the missionaries. 

We love working in Samoa and love the people here. 

We had 14new missionaries come this week and 12 of them are from Samoa.  Many of the Samoan's have a hard time getting Visa's, so they serve in their own country.  It was a busy time because we had all the new trainers coming to the mission offices and also the missionaries that were being transfered.  Bob handles the travel for all the missionaries and our mission covers three islands.  So, he had a lot of work to do getting missionaries in and out for the transfers.  We both went ot the airport along with the assistants and the Leota's to greet the missionaries.  The most fun part of our mission is interacting with the missionaries.  They are wonderful.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter in Samoa

We've had a busy week. The BYU Global channel is an over the air channel in Samoa amazingly enough.  So we watched conference in our living room. The only problem is that after living in Arizona for the last 15 years we aren't used to changing our clocks. We got up at 4:00 am Sunday morning to watch the first session of conference which started at 5:00 am local time. So we laughed, had our showers and got ready for church and enjoyed the Saturday morning session of conference. Our ward meets at 7:30 am so we finished conference just in time to make Fast & Testimony Meeting. We decided to go home and watch the Saturday afternoon session of conference after our Fast & Testimony meeting instead of staying for Sunday School and Priesthood. We watched the Sunday morning session Monday morning at 5:00 am but didn't get to watch the Sunday afternoon session since we had to be at work in the mission offices at 8:00 am.  I downloaded and watched Priesthood Conference on my Android Tablet. It was wonderful. Our stake in Samoa has chosen to watch Conference next weekend since this week is Easter. They will do a Saturday & Sunday schedule similar to what is done in the United States.

This week was Zone Leader Council where all the Zone Leaders get together to be counciled by the Mission President and his assistants and the office staff. I have been a little concerned about the lack of obedience by some of our Elders & Sisters so I tied some thoughts into my presentation which .  I was reading in Helaman chapter 10 and was inspired to share verses 4 & 5 with the Zone Leaders and asked them to share it with those they serve. It seemed to be well received.

During Zone Leader Conference a man appeared at the Mission Home and wanted to talk about some issues with his son who is serving on Tutuila (American Samoa).  The man lives on Savaii which is the larger of the two main islands that make up Samoa. As we discussed his concerns I realized he is the father of one of our BYU football players. I was able to share with him some things since I had visited with his son when he arrived in Samoa. Not because he was a BYU football player but because he is big and kind of quiet like me. And I know a little bit about BYU football. I asked him, "Do you know what the football coach at BYU is most proud of?" He said "No".  I said, "It's not winning bowl games, conference championships or having winning seasons. He is most proud of a board outside his office at BYU that shows the pictures of all the football players, including your son, that are serving missions." The father was dutifully impressed. One of his other concerns was that he hadn't received a letter from his son. There are no street addresses in Samoa so mail is hard to deliver. In fact the post office doesn't deliver mail.  While I was working in the office later in the afternoon I felt prompted to write to the Elder and tell him of my experience and suggest that he write a letter to his father and so I did.  I told the Elder he could do what other Missionaries do that are serving from Samoa. They can address their letters to the mission home with the name of their parents and their ward on the envelope. We give the letter to the Zone Leaders that cover that ward and they deliver it to the missionaries in the area who deliver it to the parents.

Easter in Samoa is celebrated for 4 days. The Friday before Easter and the Monday following Easter are National holidays. Most everything is closed including the Church Service Center and Distribution Center. It's kind of nice. There are no Good Friday sales and no Easter sales. The people spend the time with their families. President Leota said we could take Friday afternoon off. So as obedient missionaries we did. It was a beautiful day so we drove towards the East end of the island. The tide was out a little so we found a nice sandy spot across the street from the Upolu North Stake Center. So we parked and waded in the ocean. The temperature is about the same as our swimming pool in Arizona in August. We enjoyed sitting on the rocks and watching the waves.

I guess I need to buy a Samoa shirt
In the evening we went to Choir Practice in our ward. They are singing several songs in English and the "The Spirit of God" in Samoan.  Which translated is "O le Agaga o le Atua".  After Choir Practice we went out to dinner with our senior couple district to celebrate Easter.

Today is the day they announce the transfers. We are reasonably certain we are not being transferred.  We will be getting a new assistant though since Elder Funaki is going home in 2 weeks.

Elder Funaki
Assistant to the President