Saturday, September 29, 2012

Armies of Helaman

There is a favorite primary song that says, "We are as the armies of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth.  We will be the Lord's missionaries to bring the world his truth".  I couldn't help but think of this song as we had 23 new missionaries arrive from the New Zealand M.T.C.  Most of them were Samoan natives who are Nephites according to our temple counselor President President Ho Ching. 

In Alma 63:5 It says And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.  And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children''

We have also been told that the many chickens that are in Samoa actually came from South America.  There have been studies done to determine their origin.

It was a pleasure orienting these new missionaries and feeling of their spirits.  They have strong desires to serve their Heavenly Father and have been taught to keep the commandments of God.

The mission home was a very busy place with 23 new missionaries plus their trainers and zone leaders.  Afulua was busy cooking three meals a day to satisfy their appetites.  They also had the opportunity of going to the Apia Samoa Temple on the 7:30 a.m. session.  Our session rooms only accommodate 48 people, so they went very early so that they would be insured a seat on the session.

President Leota and the assistants oriented them and their trainers at the church across the street from the temple.  Their companions came to pick them up on Thursday and they were off to their new areas, some of them going to Savaii, some to Upolu and others to Pago.

Elder Partridge and I were very busy preparing all the paperwork for the new missionaries.  He has to plan the travel back and forth for all the missionaries including the ones coming from Savaii and Pago to pick up missionaries.  I was busy sending letters to their parents with pictures so that they would know they arrived safely.

It will be interesting to see the effect of having this army of missionaries to preach the gospel in our mission. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"As a Hen gathers her chickens under her wings"

Having been raised in the suburbs, I had never seen this before although I have read about it 3rd Nephi many times. Our lesson in Sunday School this morning was on 3 Nephi 8-11. 

5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.
6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.
--3 Nephi 10:5-6
Over the last couple of months we have seen hens, in the compound, gather their young chickens under her wings.  We have also seen the figurative gathering of the children of our Heavenly Father to the safety of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On our session Tuesday night we witnessed another couple from our ward go through the temple for their own endowments and then be sealed for time and all eternity.  This is the 4th couple from our ward this year to be sealed.  I noticed that the couple that were sealed 3 weeks ago were on the session and one of the couples that was sealed a couple of months ago were on the session.  It is a testimony to me to see the growth and the strength of the Church here in Samoa. 
This week we will welcome 23 new missionaries to the mission. 19 of them are from Samoa. 
Thursday we attended the Saleilua zone meeting on the south side of the island.  Despite getting a late start we did make it to the meeting on time. It is wonderful to see missionaries teaching each other the concepts that will help them to be successful in taking the gospel message to the people they serve. The chapel is right by the water so we got a very scenic setting for our traditional picture of the zone after the meeting.
The Upolu Saleilua Zone
It is spring time in Samoa.  We have seen some very beautiful flowers around the island.  Here is a picture Sister Partridge took near on the zone meetings we visited.
Spring flowers
Wednesday night we took our Family History Class to the computer lab at school to start working on new family search. We had about 50 of the youth from our ward there.  It was a good start but we ran into difficulties getting them signed in.  We found out you need parental permission to sign up for an LDS account. The program wanted the email address for the parents. Most of the parents in Samoa don't have email addresses or Internet access. So the bishop and I decided we would fall back and regroup. We will try it again in 2 weeks after we get the technical difficulties resolved. The youth are excited to start working on their family history. Most of the family history information in Samoa is memorized so it will be good to get this information recorded in new family search so that will be preserved for future generations.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Amazing Coconut

This week we had a family home evening with the other seniors and learned about the many uses for the coconut milk, coconut shell, coconut outter shell and even the leaves of the coconut. The people ue the inside of the coconut for pulesami and coconut drinks.  They use the outside shell to make the talking stick for the Matai and use it for kindling for their umu. (which is a pit made for cooking their dinners)  They use the coconut leaves to make baskets, bowls, fans, and brooms.  They also use the leaves on their roofs as shingles.  The vein of the coconut leaves is very stiff and they use it to tie the leaves down on their roofs and to make a very stiff broom that is quite effective. 

Mat made from dried coconut palms

Talking stick (on shoulder) made from outter coconut fibers

Fan made from dried coconut palms

visor, headbands, and helicopter made from coconut palms

Sister Osborne & Pearl Leota learning to make baskets

roof of fale made from coconut palms

The basket also makes a good hat

broom made from coconut spine

bowl made from coconut palms
They served a drink made from coconut milk with tapioca pudding. It's amazing how they use their resources to make their life's better. 

Upolu East Zone
spring flowers

More flowers
We also went to a zone meeting this week.  We met with the Upolu East Zone and learned how to start teaching a new investigator.  It is now Spring in Samoa and I loved seeing some of the new blossoms that are appearing around the island. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Savaii for real

We finally took a trip to Savaii and went around the island.  We went with Elder & Sister Mariner, who are in charge of housing and vehicles, to deliver mail and Aso Faatau, missionary pay day. It was a wonderful trip. Even though we only needed to visit the zone leaders to distribute the payday money and mail we ended up visiting every missionary fale (house) on the island and seeing the missionaries we have come to love.  Many of the missionaries live in fales on the grounds of a chapel. They are one with enough room to cook, eat, study and sleep along with a bathroom. Sister Partridge enjoyed helping the Mariner's inspect the Fale's and gave advice on cleaning their refrigerators and bathrooms.  Some missionaries live with families in traditional Samoan fales that are open on all sides.  The missionaries have and enclosed area they sleep in which is lockable for security reasons. 

We visited some of the tourist attractions during our travels.  The blow holes are formed out of volcanic rock. During high tide the waves come in under the rock and sea water shoots out of the holes in the rock.  The local Samoans throw coconuts into the holes at just the right time and when the wave comes it shoots the coconut high into the air.  I didn't get a picture of the coconut in the air but you can see the water shooting up like a geyser. You can see the little Samoan man to the right of the blow hole.  He knew just when to throw the coconut in.  Some of the tourists tried it but their timing was off so the coconut disappeared under the lava rock.

Towards the end of the first day we visited the Canopy Walkway. I had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be a swinging bridge which was originally built between 2 Banyan trees. People thought it was too scary so they built a tower partway between the trees and the bridge goes between the tower and a Banyan tree.  It was quite an experience.  At the end of the walkway they have built steps that wind around and around the Banyan tree.  Elder Mariner was first across the bridge and went down to the bottom.  I climbed the stairs and ended up about 50 feet above the bridge. I watched Sister Mariner and Sister Partridge making their way across the bridge singing "I am a Child of God" to take their mind off the height. They climbed up to the top where I was and Sister Mariner took this picture of us. Some former missionaries came to Savaii and built the Canopy Walk so the local people could make some extra money for their village. They come back every 2 years and inspect it and make repairs for them.

We stayed on the west end of the island and then resumed our journey around the north side of the island. The highlight of the day, other than visiting the missionaries was the sea turtles.  I made good friends with this one. He would swim up close so I could pet his head.  They are very tame.  There were 5 or 6 that would swim by to be petted.  The Mariners brought the granddaughters of one of our formal missionary couples over to see the turtles. They actually got in the water and swam with the turtles. We didn't do that for obvious reasons.

On Saturday we made a return visit to Sauniatu,  the village where the early saints on Upolu gathered to avoid persecution.  This time we had the Church Historian for Samoa with us to tell us more of the history of the village. He also works on projects for the Church to help the members achieve self sufficiency.  We stopped at the plantation of one of the members and saw how they are growing bananas, papaya and other local fruits and vegetables on their land which is covered with volcanic rock.  They plant wherever they can find an open spot in the rock.  This is a picture of one of the members of the family.  They make baskets out of coconut leaves to carry their food to market. The goal is for every family to have a decent home, a bathroom and clean water.  They also teach them about growing traditional Samoan plants they can use to feed their families and support themselves. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Choose Ye This Day

There is a prophecy in Josua that says: "Choose Ye This Day Whom Ye Will Serve, As For Me And My House We Will Serve The Lord."


Our sweet Afulua who works for the mission home is a perfect example of this scripture.  She has recently been called as Relief Society President in her ward.  She was very nervous about this calling, but said yes.  She told me that several years ago she prayed to Heavenly Father and told him that if he would find her and her husband a home that she would go to church and serve him.  A month later, her sister died and she and her husband were offered the home.  Ever since then she has accepted church callings and tried her best to serve Heavenly Father.  She is a very sweet humble lady and loves everyone.

Aleisa Zone
 This week we went to the Aleisa Zone for a Zone meeting.  The tall one on the right is Elder Johansen and he is from Payson, Utah.   Elder Ofisa, on the left, and Elder Johansen are new zone leaders. They are doing an exceptional job leading their zone.  We were impressed to watch them work with the other missionaries and to see their love and leadership in action.   They are also doing their best to serve the Lord.

Samoan's singing

On Saturday we drove  by the ocean and stopped by the North Stake Center.  There was a ward meeting there.  Two little boys came down and sat by us.  They sung a Samoan song with gusto.  I asked them if I could take their picture.  The were more than willing to oblige. 

We have noticed that Samoan's favorite activities are singing and dancing.  They sing in church very loud.  Whenever they have an activity, it involves dancing.  When they display their talents, it is always dancing.  Some of them are quite good at dancing while others aren't but it doesn't really matter as long as they participate. Samoan's also are very honest.  When they discribe someone that is obese, they say "She's the big fat one".  They don't worry about offending and mostly no one is offended because it is their culture.  If their small children act up in church, they hit them with their fans, which is accepted.  They are a lovely people that love to serve the Lord.  We have Samoan's clean our mission home every night around 4:00.  They are very happy to have a job and work most willingly to work.