Saturday, May 26, 2012

Elder Watson & Fire Dancers

Elder Watson and his wife are in Samoa on a mission tour.   They spoke to the missionaries in our area on Monday.  Elder Watson spoke on Preach My Gospel.  He said that too many people are leaving the church in our families and also new converts.  The object of Preach My Gospel is to convert the missionary so that when they go home from their mission they will be faithful and have strong testimonies.  Sister Watson also spoke to us on the Articles of Faith.  She counseled the missionaries to memorize the articles of faith and to use them in their teaching.

We enjoyed going to a dinner with all the missionary couples and the Watson's that evening at Scalleni's which is a restaurant that has Italian food.  The menu we were offered wasn't Italian, but the food was very good.  We ordered rib eye steak which was actually quite pink inside, but it was very tasty.  The entree was a lamb salad which was actually some small pieces of lamb cut up on a bed of mashed potatoes with a pea sauce.  The dessert was either cheese cake or strawberry breaded dessert.  It was all very good.

We love our drives around the island.  Here are some pictures of our beautiful island.

Institute building

Ocean shot

Coconut trees and bread fruit
Elder Partridge and I took a missionary to the airport Monday evening.  He was waiting on a Visa to Australia.  We took him to the airport at 11:30 p.m. and took his picture and sent him on his way.  He is from Samoa and was serving here temporarily until he got his Visa.  He hugged us both and seemed happy to be able to go to Australia.

President Leota was on tour with the Watson's this week.  They went to Savaii and Pago, which is American Samoa.  He was speaking to the missionaries and speaking in stake conferences.  They are still here and will be leaving on Tuesday.  So Elder Partridge and I did what we could to help out while they were gone.

We had new missionaries come from the states yesterday.  We were invited to a dinner with them on Saturday for lunch.  We oriented them on the mission office in the afternoon.  Their is actually a missionary that knows Bob's brother Paul his name is Elder Saleapaga.  We love meeting the new missionaries, they have such great spirits and are so anxious to serve the Lord.

Last night we went with some missionary couples out to dinner at Coconuts.  I had Chicken Parmesan and Bob had tuna.  They had a show afterwards including a fire dance at a resort by the ocean.  It was a really nice show.  We are surprised that we have already been on our mission for three months.  The time has really been going quickly.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


This week we sent a group of 16 missionaries home which included 1 couple.  12 returned to the United States, 1 to Australia and the remaining returned home to Savaii, the largest of the Samoan islands.  It was my honor to drive the 3 that were going home to Savaii to the wharf so they could catch the ferry to return home on Thursday morning.

Of course with that may missionaries returning home we had transfers this week.  I'm getting a little better about handling the logistics.  We had to fly 8 missionaries from American Samoa to Western Samoa, 4 that were returning home and 4 that were being transferred.   The plane only holds 15 so you have to reserve ahead if you want to get a large party on the same flight.  Funny, the 4 that were going home made their flight. The 4 that were being transferred missed their's.  Said they got busy telling people good bye and lost track of the time.  But everyone is now in their new areas and so life is back to normal.

NUS Fale

Saturday Kathy and I took a rather long drive around the island.  We started by driving by the National University of Samoa (NUS).  One of our senior couples teaches institute there.  We went out to dinner with them on Friday night for pizza and they showed us the campus afterwards.  It was dark by the time we finished dinner so we went back on Saturday. This is a picture of their Fale, which is a Samoan meeting place.  There is a Fale in each village where the village elders meet to decide what to do. One of the concerns in Samoa is the Maitai form of government.  It is felt by some that the Maitai traditions are holding Samoa back.  A large government conference was recently held in this fale to discuss the future of Samoa.  Elder Hamula, the President of the Pacific area was one of the speakers.  I don't know if anything was decided at the conference.

Falefa Falls
After our visit to NUS we continued around the island. We stopped and took a picture of this waterfall.  It's called Falefa falls. If you go across the bridge you can walk down some steps to view the falls for 5 tala.  We stopped once before and since I didn't have 5 tala and the kid was charging the money didn't have change we didn't do it. I still didn't have 5 tala in change so I took this picture from the road. I'm not sure about the economics of tourism here. People sit at various "tourist" spots around the island and try to collect money.

10 Tala Beach
We stopped on the other side of the island and Kathy went wading.  It was a beautiful area.  I was going to go wading too but then the Maitai sent one of the village boys to collect 10 tala from us.  Since we didn't plan to stay I gave him 5 tala and we continued on our journey around the island. It's interesting the waves break out on the reefs so the water right be the beach is very calm.  There are few places where there is no reef and the waves come all the way into the beach.

I was impressed President Uchtdorf's talk at the April Priesthood session and used this as a spiritual thought for our meeting on Friday:

We must not allow the doctrines of the priesthood to lie dormant in our hearts and unapplied in our lives. If there is a marriage or family in need of rescue—perhaps even our own—let’s not just wait and see. Rather, let us thank God for the plan of happiness that includes faith, repentance, forgiveness, and new beginnings. Applying priesthood doctrine will qualify us as husbands, as fathers, as sons who understand the why of the priesthood and its power to recapture and secure the beauty and holiness of eternal families.

General conference is always a good time for both hearing and doing. Therefore, let us “be … doers of the word, and not hearers only."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day

spider orchid and candy lei's
Today I had a wonderful day at church for Mother's Day.  Many of the sisters kissed me on the cheek (Samoan custom) and wished me a Happy Mother's Day.  One of the sisters gave me the spider orchid lei that her children had given her for Mother's Day.  She said that she wanted to give it to me because I didn't have family here.  Some of the the other sisters brought me candy lei's.  The bishop spoke to the members about treating their mother's well and the stake president came into Relief Society and wished us a Happy Mother's Day.  Many of the women wear white dresses for Mother's Day.  They are a very kind and loving people.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Samoan Experiences

This week we have had several what I would call Samoan experiences.  On Tuesday our ward had their temple day and three of their ward members were getting their endowments.  So, Bob and I went hoping that we could be on this session and be with our ward members.  When I got in the dressing room there were about ten ladies waiting to get their new name.  When I got dressed I asked the lady in front of me what was going on.  The session was full, they only have 49 seats.  So we all put on our robes and went to the sealing room. When we got into the sealing room, the sealer told us that it was going to be in Samoan.  Bob said it was fine as long as he nodded at us when it was time to say ioe.  Each couple would do one sealing and then we would have one son sealed to us and one daughter an then it was another couples turn.  We did this until all the names were done.  We couldn't understand a word they said, but the spirit was still strong.

On Wednesday evening they had a mother and daughter activity for Mother's Day.  All of us including little girls walked to the temple and then we sat around on the black top and curb and had a little meeting.  We had an opening song by one of the primary children sung in English and then Samoan and then the counselor in the Relief Society bore her testimony.  They had hid items around the grass and behind the bushes.  We were to find them and then bear our testimony about how this reminded us of the temple.  I was paired of with the bishop's neice who was a non member.  Her item was a treasure chest.  I asked her what she would put in the chest.  She said that she would put special items in it and then she would share it with everyone.  This is not what I was thinking she would say.  I told her that she would probably hide it in a drawer and just bring it out to show to special people.  I told her that the temple was like that because we wanted to keep it safe.  I think this went over her head, but the meeting was really nice.  Different items that were talked about was the scriptures, the faith in God Book, a white shirt, a tie, a book on the young men and young women's standards.  When they were done.  We all walked back to the church and sat on the curb and ice cream and cookies. 

Morning shot by wharf

Mother & Daughter activity

Me, Caroline (Relief Society President) baby boy
This morning Bob went to the temple to help with baptisms for the dead for the youth.  One of the members had asked him to print off two family names so that they could take them to the temple.  They had the names done by some of the youth.  At 9:00 they had a Mother's Day breakfast.  They had loud music and wanted us all to share our talents (hula) before we ate our breakfast.  Afterwards we had quite a breakfast feast.  They had three different kinds of scrambled eggs two or three different kinds of large sausage, some pastries, fruit, bread, sandwiches, coconut, and papaya.  The ladies loaded up their plates it was incredible.  In their defense, I think this was probably the big meal of the day for them.  Afterwards they started to dance again.  There was a mother there with her baby boy and I went over and took him and held him.  I danced with him for a little while and then rocked him till he fell asleep.  This made my Mother's Day because I miss my sweet little grandson and granddaughters.

Happy Mother's Day everyone.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Our missionaries are reading the Book of Mormon and looking for references to "Faith".  We are reading along with them. Yesterday I finished the Book of Enos, a book I have always thought of as a great example of mighty prayer and repentance. I was fascinated to find that I had marked more references to "Faith" in that one chapter than any chapter I have read so far.  I will now think of the Book of Enos as an example of faith, mighty prayer and repentance. Not necessarily in that order.

This week we received 3 new missionaries who have been temporarily assigned to our mission because their visas to enter Australia have not been issued. They are missionaries that are from Samoa so they will serve here until they receive their visas.

Yesterday we took a ride down to our favorite beach spot.  There is an island about 150 yards off the coast we have wanted to explore. We started to walk to it a couple of weeks ago because the coral was hard on our feet. We bought flip flops and started off again yesterday. But gave up because our feet slid our on the coral to much.  A couple of times I thought maybe a fish was trying to bite my ankle but then realized it was a pieces of coral flipping up behind me as I walked.

Afulua and her package
The Merrell's, who we replaced as the office couple, sent some packages this week.  The lady who cleans the mission home and does the cooking when we have missionaries in received a package and was delighted. She had me take this picture to send to the Merrells. She is characteristic of the Samoan people and how grateful they are for simple kindness.

I have been teaching a Family History class to the youth of our ward. I passed out pedigree charts and showed them how to fill them out. Next week we are going to the computer lab at the school so they can login to New family search and enter their information. One of the older sisters in the ward came to the class and handed me 2 family group sheets and asked me to check to see if the work had been done. Another sister came up to me in church today and asked if I was gong to teach a class on Sundays so the older members of the ward can participate. I told her I would talk to the bishop.

It is challenging to do Family History work in Samoa because people change their names based on their status in the village. The chief of a village is called the Maitai and some people take on the name of the maitai as part of their name. We have a couple here that works with the ward and stake clerks to clean up the records. They have found that it is easier to find someone in new family search if they just use the first name along with a birth date. It will be interesting to see if we can find some names the youth can take to the temple.