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. 

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