Saturday, October 27, 2012

Temple Service

This week we had a very busy day at the temple on Tuesday.  We had a large group of patrons show up for the 4:30 sesssion, so they were carried over to the 5:45 session.  So, we consequently also had a large 5:45 session.  Every locker on the women's side was taken and some of the sisters had to double up.  The Samoan people are very patient, they just went and waited in the foyer for the next session.  We often have wards come and stay in patron housing.  They stay all week and do as many sessions as they can. They can do two sessions in the morning and two more in the evening, since the temple is closed after the 10:00 a.m. session until the 4:30 p.m. session.  It's always wonderful to be in the temple.
Apia Samoa Temple

I often thing about the parable of the rich man that had a man named Lazarus at his gates begging for food.  The rich man did nothing to relieve him, but the dogs licked the sores on his feet.  When the rich man died he went to hell and he looked up and saw Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham.  He called out and asked Abraham to have Lazarus come and serve him.  He was told no, this man had a tough life and now he was bing blessed.  I often think of the Samoan people and how they have so little, but are very faithful.  I know that they are very loved by the Lord.

spring flowers
We went to the Upolu FS Zone this week for their zone meeting.  Elder Taue and Elder Lesa are the zone leaders and their entire zone is Samoan.  They had us each share a few things.  I talked about anchors in their lives such as the scriptures, their testimonies, the way the dress, the mission rules, and their missionary name tag.  I talked about how these anchors help them to stay true and not drift out to sea.  Bob talked to them about President Packer's talk from conference.  He said that they are the light to the people they are teaching.  We took them some Oreo's for after their meeting, which they enjoyed.  It is the rainy season in Samoa now.  Leaves have fallen from the trees and we are seeing beautiful spring flowers everywhere. 

Elder Taue, Elder Lesa, Elder Tamai, Elder Ale, Elder Fuimaono, Elder Sitivi


Saturday, October 20, 2012

White Sunday - The next generation

Last week was White Sunday in Samoa, a day special to children.  Since we viewed General Conference last Sunday we had our White Sunday program in church today.  It was the primary program.  How appropriate.  The children did a wonderful job giving their speaking parts and singing their songs, some in Samoan and some in English. They like to sing a verse in English and then the next verse in Samoan.

Last Monday was a holiday since it was White Sunday.  Everything was closed as it was on the day after Mother's day and the day after Father's day.  I needed some things for the mission so I took a ride downtown to see if anything was open. Nothing was open.  There was a large cruise ship in port and hundreds of tourists wandering around town looking for something to do.  I was wondering is there was a correlation problem between the cruise line and the chamber of commerce but evidently the passengers knew that nothing would be open.  They did pull up anchor and set sail about 5:00 pm which is much earlier than usual for cruise ships.  They usually leave around 10:00 pm.

It was a very quiet week since President Leota and his Assistants when to Savaii on Wednesday to conduct training and do interviews.  Sister Leota and Pearl left on Friday to join them for a stake conference this weekend.

On Thursday we decided to visit the Apia West zone meeting.  It was a good experience as always. The missionaries are working on their communication skills and so lesson was on the "parroting" technique where you repeat what the investigator says to make sure you understand what they are saying.  I remember learning this in a class I took at BYU many years ago from Steve Covey.  We were practicing in class and after one student paraphrased back to him what he had said to see  if they understood he said, "Yeah...What's wrong with the way I have been saying it."
The Apia West Zone - Elder's Amituana'i, Lui, Sisters Faumui, Tapumanaia, Elders Huber & Mu

Saturday we hiked up Mt. Vaea to see Robert Louis Stevenson's grave.  We try to go every other week.  I'm not sure if we will do it during the rainy season.  With the help of my GPS unit I made this map on Google Earth to show how we go.  The direct route takes us about 20-25 minutes and is fairly steep in some places.  The longer route is the path the Samoans built during the night so they could carry Robert Louis Stevenson's casket up to it's final resting place. We came down that way once just for fun and so I could map it on Google Earth.
After our hike Sister Partridge went over to a Relief Society crafts day at the Stake Center. They were demonstrating things you can make from a coconut.
Then Saturday night we went over to the south side of the island for dinner with some friends, Elder & Sister Harker, who will be going home next month.  They put on a show of traditional Samoan singing and dancing after dinner.  The highlight is the fire dance. The girl on top looks like she couldn't be more than 11 years old.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Joy in the Journey

As I was listening to Elder Uctdorf's talk about having joy in the journey, I couldn't help thinking of the many times I have thought when something is over I will be happy.  I remember when we had a busy family with six children, I thought when my last child was out of diapers I was going to celebrate.  When that day came, I didn't celebrate because part of me was sad that I didn't have any more babies.  I remember when we had a young family, I thought that when they were older life would be better.  Now they are raised, I wish that we could have them back again.  I was thinking about conferences in the past when all the little children would have their coloring pages from Primary and we would all sit around the television and watch conference.  When our children got a little older they would play with legos or puzzles while we watched conference.  As teenagers, they would each grab a comfortable chair and sometimes fall asleep.  A couple of years ago Megan and I made cinnamon rolls for conference.  All these experiences created memories for us to reflect on.  The important thing is that we were all there and enjoying the words of our prophets and apostles.  Now our children are spread out living in Idaho, Arizona, Texas, Washington, and California.  How wonderful it would be to have all of them together again to listen to conference. 

We have had a good week.  On Tuesday we worked in the temple.  The session was small this week, but the Samoan people are all so friendly and so appreciative of being in the temple.  Elder Partridge and I always have the duty of escorting the four blind Samoan's from the veil to the Celestial Room.  This is always a choice experience.  Many of the Samoan's will shake our hands before entering the Celestial Room.  They are a lovely people.

South Zone

We went to a zone meeting in the South zone this week.  Elder Kepu and Elder Stevens are fairly young zone leaders, but they do a good job guiding the missionaries in their zone.  President Leota has been speaking to the missionaries about the importance of staying with their companion.  Elder Partridge and I took a turn speaking to the missionaries about this important topic.  Elder and Sister Mariner also came to this zone and brought cookies.  They had no trouble at all putting them away.

Spring Flowers

We had President Leota over for dinner on Saturday night because his wife is out of town.  We fixed chicken enchilladas which he had never tasted before, but loved.  He is a wonderful president and so kind to everyone.

I have really enjoyed seeing all the spring flowers and buds on the trees that are now coming to life.  We are seeing many varieties that we haven't seen before.

Spring Buds

One thing interesting about confence in Samoa is that our church building doesn't have air conditioning.  They have window slats that we open up for air and ceiling fans.  Of course everyone brings their Samoan fans too in case it gets too hot.  On Saturday, we had two birds that were flying from window to window and sat on top of the pews in the choir loft.  I'm sure they were wondering why so many of us were gathered on this occasion.  There is much joy in the journey.  We love working with the Leota's and the missionaries.  This is truly a wonderful opportunity to labor in such a beautiful land and with such lovely people. 

It's Spring in Samoa

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's hard to believe it's October already

This week we completed our transfer by sending 5 missionaries over to Tutuila.  The US government has tightened the restrictions on sending missionaries that are non US citizens.  They wanted 3 weeks to do the paperwork.  We managed to complete it in just under 2 weeks.  Here is a picture of the happy missionaries after their arrival in Pago Pago along with Elder and Sister Jordan, the senior couple that is assigned there. They served in Samoa with other missionaries while they were waiting for permits.
Elder Jordan, Sister Jordan, Elder Jackson, Sister Faiupu, Elder Hansen, Sister Feleti Elder Ah Wong
Elders Jackson & Ah Wong are from New Zealand, Sister Feleti is from Tonga and Sister Faiupu is from Samoa.  Elder Hansen is from Massachusetts and was only delayed because he had to wait for his companion to be cleared to travel.

We enjoyed part of the first session of General Conference this morning. We weren't certain we would be able to watch but when we checked last night we found that the BYU channel was working and BYU was playing Utah State.  The picture wasn't very good but the sound came through fine.  They announced the score was 3-0 when I turned on so I thought maybe they were playing baseball but then BYU scored a touchdown to make it 6-3.  We got home from church in time to see most of the Saturday afternoon session.  Next Saturday and Sunday we will see all of conference over at our Stake Center. The Women's meeting will be shown tonight and Priesthood meeting will be shown next Sunday night.

We celebrated a birthday this week for Sister Partridge.  We worked in the temple on her birthday so we went out to dinner on Wednesday to celebrate to Scallinis. 

Saturday our new Area Medical Advisor, Dr. Andersen and his wife, arrived to tour the mission.  We had dinner with them Saturday night. They gave us some interesting insights into some of the medical challenges the missionaries around the world face as they serve the Lord.