Monday, July 30, 2012

Back in Tutuila

There have been some challenges this week and some good things.  We welcomed 3 new couples to the mission, the Spencers, the Budgetts and the Jordans.  We were responsible for picking up the Jordan's since President Leota and the assistants were in Savaii.  I checked the Internet at midnight and found out their plane was arriving in 7 minutes. So we picked up Sister Leota and Elder and Sister Harker and off we went. Fortunately, it takes awhile to clear customs and so they only had to wait 15 or 20 minutes for us.

Saturday morning we went to the temple with the Jordan's and Harker's and Sister Leota. Saturday night we went to a welcome dinner. Sunday morning we got on the airplane and flew with the Jordan's to Tutuila to show them around and help them get settled since they are assigned to serve here.  We arrived on Saturday afternoon. So we ended up having 2 Saturday nights this week, 1 Sunday night and no Monday night since we leave tomorrow afternoon, Monday, and arrive home on Tuesday afternoon.

Today we went to Church in the International ward. Elder Halleck and his wife were there.  He is a native of American Samoa and has a home here.  They have been here all month since July is the month the General Authorities take their vacations.
I didn't  break it

This afternoon we took a ride down to the east end of the island so we could see the island of Aunu'u which is where missionaries first landed in 1888 and officially began preaching the gospel in Samoa. There are missionaries currently serving on Aunu'u.
The island of Aunu'u

There is another island about 80 miles east of where we were called Manu'a.  In the early 1900's, a local missionary named Opapo Fonoimoana visited Manu'a with 2 missionaries from America.  The king of the island told his people that if anyone helped the missionaries or listened to them they would be stoned. So the missionaries lived in holes on the beach and took turns arranging leaves on top of the others to protect them from mosquito's.  The one arranging the leaves did the best they could to cover himself but usually ended up with several mosquito bites during the night. They lived off of coconuts they found on the beach. One day they awoke to the smell of freshly baked bread that had been left in a basket near their holes. They were most grateful for this food. Later on the elderly widow who left them the bread, gave them additional food and told them if  she died because she helped them she didn't care. Eventually the missionaries gave up and prepared to leave the island. Opapo and his companion, Elisala, spoke directly to the king, warning him that he and his people would feel the wrath and power of God if they did not repent. As they left the village to board the long boat to leave Opapo paused and dusted off his feet  as a witness against the people of  the island. A couple of weeks later a devastating hurricane  struck  the island, killing many, destroying all of the above ground crops, and leveling every house except one--the fale  in which lived the elderly widow who had helped the missionaries.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pigs and Samoan smiles

Little Samoan girls spying on zone meeting
 This week Elder Partridge and I visited The Upolu South Zone for their zone meeting.  We followed the zone leaders to pick up all the elders in their zone and then to the church building.  The churches here are all surrounded by a fence because there is a problem with people stealing from the church buildings.  The zone leaders didn't have the right key and all the leaders that had a key were at the temple.  So we ended up going to a different building.  The Relief Society was having a meeting and some of them brought their children.  While we were having our meeting two cute little girls kept peeking in and gigling.  They consented to let me take their picture. 

We traveled on a rainy day and their were big rain puddles on the road and in people's front yards. 

pigs playing infront yard in rain
Pigs on the farms aren't locked up here.  They wander around like dogs in the states.  I had to get a pictures of the pigs playing in their front yard as evidence.  One of the elders in our mission sent a picture of him holding a baby pig next to his face.  They are really quite cute when they are little which gave me  new understanding of the movie Charlotte's Web. Chickens aren't locked up here either. We have a rooster that wakes us up every morning and eats bugs from our front and back lawns.  

We have been on our mission for five months now.  This week  three new senior couples are coming to our mission.  Elder Partridge
and I will be going to Pago next week to show
church building
the Jordans' around.  They are from West Valley City, Utah. While there we can load up on
American food, which will be nice.   The meat in Samoa isn't very good, it is quite tough and they don't sell very many convenience foods.  Last time we went to American Samoa we brought home some cheddar cheese since the cheese here is all yellow, some canned chicken and yeast.  We usually have to go to three different stores plus the market to find the food we need to cook with.

Favorite hideaway
We love working in the temple and driving around the island.  It is beautiful in Samoa and the people here are very humble.  You can really see why Heavenly Father loves the people that are on the islands.  This last picture is of our favorite place to drive on Saturday.  It is very peaceful driving along the ocean and as you can see, it is very beautiful.

Our mission has just finished reading the Book of Mormon looking for scriptures on faith.  We begin our new Book of Mormon program in August looking for repentance and baptism.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Percy Rivers - First Stake President in Samoa

This past week we attended the North Zone meeting on Thursday.  The zone is made up of 7 missionaries from Samoa and 3 from the United States.  When I was asked to speak I felt impressed to share with them the story of Percy Rivers who was first president of the Apia Samoa Stake, createed 50 years ago.

President Rivers Grand father was from China. He made his living as a sailor during his younger years and one day sailed into Apia harbor.  He fell in love with Samoa so he stayed and purchased land between the Lotopa and Vaimoso villages called Pesega.  It was land that didn't belong to a village so he was not subject to any of the traditions of the villages in Samoa. His name was Ahmu which is the Chinese pronounciation of the Ahur River where he came from.

He married a woman from Samoa and began raising a family.  One day President Rivers father, John, was sent to take the weekly food offering to the pastor of the church they attended.  The pastor kicked the basket of food over and said "This was not enough.  I need food for the whole week." So John picked up the food and took it back to his father and asked him what they should do.  Ahmu said that didn't sound like a man of God and maybe it was time to find another church.  John told his father about 2 mormon elders that were in town looking for people to teach. Ahmu told John to take the wagon to town and bring the 2 elders back so he could hear their message. The family joined the church.

Percy was born in 1911 and married and had 3 children, 2 sons and a daughter. He decided to take his family to New Zealand to seek better opportunities for his family and improved medical care for one of his sons that was not well.  Over the course of 2 years both of his sons passed away and his wife passed away.  He was left as a single parent of his young daughter. He decided they would move to Hawaii to be near some famly members there.  They stopped in Samoa on the way to Hawaii to visit some other family members. Shortly after returning to Samoa he was called to be in the Pesega District Presidency.  So they stayed in Samoa.

 In March 1962 there was a lot of excitement in Samoa as the Apia Stake was created. Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the 12 apostles came to Samoa to create the stake. After interviewing all of the priesthood brethren he felt impressed to call Brother Rivers as stake president. The only problem was it was against Church policy to call somebody to be a stake president who wasn't married. Elder Peterson went ahead and issued the call and told President Rivers he had 6 months to get married.

In April 1962 President Rivers attended General Conference with several other members from Samoa. During his time in Salt Lake City he went to lunch at the home of a returned missionary who had served in Samoa name Helen Shields.  President Rivers was quite taken by Sister Shields and she was on his mind as he began his journey back to Samoa.

While in Los Angeles he called Sister Shields and asked her if she remembered him. She said she did. He asked if she would consider marrying him. She said, "Absolutely not.  I hardly know you." So he flew with his group to Hawaii. While in Hawaii he called Sister Shields again.  Told her his situation and asked if she would marry him. She told him no, she still didn't know him well enough.  He told her about Elder Peterson's requirement that he get married in 6 months.  She agreed to go talk to Elder Peterson.  She decided that since President Rivers came highly recommended from Elder Peterson she would travel to Samoa and get acquainted with President Rivers.

Approximately 6 months later they were married on October 11, 1962.  President Rivers told Helen that as soon as the Lord was done with him in Samoa, they would move to Utah to be close to her family.  He went on to serve 9 years as stake president. He was then ordained as the first patriarch from Polynesia.  He also served as a Regional Representative of the twelve. When the Samoa Temple was built in 1975 he served as a counsellor in the temple president. He then served as a counsellor in the presidency of the MTC in Samoa during the mid 1980's.
Percy Rivers, President of the Apia Samoa Stake

The point I shared with the Elders that are serving from Samoa is that they are the future Percy River's, the future Bishops and Stake Presidents in Samoa.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Temple Workers

Samoa Temple
The good news for this week, is we are working at the temple again. They are now having English Sessions every morning at 6:00 and every evening at 5:45 p.m.  An interesting side note is that our daughter Heather said that Bob's release had just come from the Mesa temple.

They put us right to work.  I worked as a room follower and Bob worked as the officiator at the 5:45 p.m. session on Tuesday. We both had the opportunity of helping with the initiatory even though we hadn't studied it since we left the Mesa Temple.  There was a wonderful spirt in the temple.  The Samoan brothers and sisters were so happy to have our help.  One sister asked if we had been called to a temple mission.  I told her no, that we worked at the mission office during the day.  Bob also worked Wednesday morning and was the officiator again on that sesssion.  This picture was taken at night when we got home from one of our walks.  We thought that is was beautiful to have the moon over the temple. 

We often take drives around the island on our weekend.  This is one picture that I thought was especially pretty.  For the fourth of July we had a barbecue at the mission home and barbecued hot dogs.  The other meat we get here is pretty tough.  We have had Heather send us some canned chicken several times and the ground beef is pretty good.  Everyone brought a side dish and we enjoyed a nice fourth with the couples.  Our mission in Samoa has 19 couples who serve here in various capacities.  We have temple missionaries, seminary and institue teachers, membership support, dentist, office, auditing, and member records.  The dentist who serves here put together a D.V.D. on brushing teeth and we showed it to our ward on Friday.  There are a lot of people in Samoa that have problems with their teeth and our dental couple give their services here for free.  We taught them how to brush their teeth, floss and what they can do if they have infected gums.  Our ward is Samoan, so the DVD was in Samoan.  I had Sister Key, a sister in our ward, translate the things that I told the sisters.  It was a good evening.  The sisters brought several items that they had made out of bananas.  They had everything from banana chips, to banana casserole and of course banana splits and banana pudding.  We love serving in Samoa.