Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving Thanks

I was thinking about our blessings today as we attended church in a building that didn’t have air-conditioning.  How many times have I complained because I was too cold in our nice air- conditioned building in the states.  As I think about our lovely home in Mesa Arizona and then drive by the Fale’s that the people live in here with no air conditioning, I again contemplate why I am not more grateful.  Then as we drive in our nice air-conditioned car, I see people walking in flip flops wherever they go and riding in crowded buses with no air conditioning and see their happy spirits.  I wonder what is it that make these people so happy.  Even though they have humble circumstances, most all of them will greet you with a smile and be more than happy to be acknowledged by us as missionaries.  They faithfully attend their churches on Sunday closing up the shops for most of the day.  They love the Lord and are a kind and gentle people. It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to rub shoulders with the people in Samoa.

High Priority
We have had a good week in the Samoa Apia Mission.  We have been very busy this week creating missionary files, arranging travel and shipping boxes for the missionaries.  My husband had so many boxes in front of his desk to mail that I had to take a picture.  We are starting to get Christmas packages in for the missionaries.  My husband went to the airport several time to pick up the packages and they weren’t there even though the couple serving in Pago said that the packages were sent.  We finally figured out that it was because so many people were traveling to Pago because of graduation from High School.  They weigh all the people first, then luggage, freight is sent last.  Many Samoan’s are very heavy so this accounts for the wait.
We worked in the temple on Tuesday night and we had a  large group of members come from Pago.  A couple received their endowments and were later sealed to their little family.  I went in the area where the children were waiting and had a very enjoyable time talking with the children.  The older two children were nine and ten.  The girl who was nine said, "Your eyes must be really fun to color, my Dad has light brown eyes and my mother has dark brown eyes."  This made me smile.  I talked with them about writing down what it was like being in the temple and told them about my baptism and that I had to be baptized twice because my toe stuck up.  The little girl asked what a toe was.  They were so cute.  Finally the little boy asked me how old I was.  When I told him, he said "You aren't THAT old!"  It was  pretty funny.  I then got to help them go to the seaing room where they met up with their parents and all the ward members.  I told them to look at the pictures of Jesus.  It was a very special evening.

Elder Fitisemanu, Elder Kokkola, Elder Vaeagi, Elder Ieremia, Elder
Leamanaia, Elder Kinnison, Elder Mackey, Elder Too-
faalogo, Elder Ormsby, Front: Elder Tafitit, Sister Losi, Sister Tapusoa, Elder Solo
We went to a zone meeting in the Apia Zone this week.  This is a large zone with 13 missionaries.  We always have an enjoyable time seeing the missionaries.  Elder Ormsby and Elder Tafiti are the zone leaders and are doing an excellent job serving the missionaries in their zone.  Afterwards they had song practice.  We are going to be having Christmas Zone Meetings in December so the missionaries are practicing songs and skits for that.  We will have the opportunity of participating in the Savaii Zone Meeting as well as Upolu. 

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Samoa, but the senior couples are going to have a dinner on Monday.  We look forward to a nice evening with them. We went over to the Hanson’s home for birthday cake last night.  There were several couples that came and we had a nice visit. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mr. Burger doesn't serve Hamburgers

One of the food items I have not had since being in Samoa is a hamburger.  Of course I didn't eat a lot of hamburgers when I was home.  I usually only ate my own barbecued hamburgers which start out with Costco sirloin patties or an occasional hamburger at Fuddruckers.  I have contemplated eating a hamburger in Samoa and thought maybe I might try one at Mr. Burger's, a new restaurant I watched take shape during my trips up and down Vaitele road.  I happened to mention that Mr. Burger's was now open to the Assistants on our way to the airport this week.  They informed me that they went there and found out they don't serve hamburgers.  Saved me a trip.

This week was fairly busy as we trained the 11 new missionaries that arrived on Friday night and finally got the last 5 sent to their areas in Savaii on Wednesday afternoon.  We also held Zone Leader Council on Wednesday morning.  There were a lot of new faces sitting around the table.  One of the joys of working in the mission office is observing young missionaries step up into zone leader and trainer positions.  In my mind zone leaders and trainers are equally important positions with trainers being slightly more important since they have the opportunity of influences a string of missionaries for good.  A good trainer will prepare the missionary they are training to also be a good trainer.  The influence carrys from generation to generation of trainers and new missionaries.

Wednesday we bid farewell to Elder and Sister Harker.  They completed their mission and are heading back to Canada after a short visit to New Zealand.  Monday night we had a farewell dinner to honor them and took this group picture of the Senior Missionaries. 

We also got to do some real missionary  work on Wednesday night.  We have started attending the English speaking ward in addition to the Samoan ward we have been attending.  The ward mission leader asked for people to work with investigators so we volunteered. We met with a woman named Tara on Wednesday night and showed her around the temple grounds and answered some her questions about the temple.  We enjoyed it and she seemed to enjoy also. We saw her at church today and things are going well for her.

Saturday we went for a walk with some of the other senior missionaries to high ground so we would know where to go is a Tsunami ever hits Samoa.  The villages all extend up to the mountains so the local people head to the higher ground in their village. We are members of a village so we had to find high ground on public property.  Elder Hanson, our emergency preparedness expert, located a spot on a sports complex which is near enough we can walk to it.  We are following up with a family home evening in December to learn more about it.

We also took a ride to O le Pupu-Pue National Park on the south side of the island.  There is a Canopy Tree walk we have been interested in taking for sometime. But the gate is always locked and it's 4 km to the walk and since we had already walked about 10 km during the morning we decided to postpone.  Besides it had been raining a lot and we forgot our walking shoes.  We did take a short hike to Togitogiga falls, which is a beautiful water fall located in the park.
We haven't been able to attend a zone meeting for awhile do to office commitments. We are hoping to attend one this week.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rainbows and Missionaries

Rainbow on Vaitele Street
 We are always amazed at the beautiful sky in Samoa.  We are in the rainy season now which means it usually rains at least once a day. Sometimes it rains all day.  This means that we have lots of humidity.  The plus side is I don't ever have to use lotion.  The down side is that my hair is always curly or frizzy.  I started to wear my hair in a french braid or with a large clip once in awhile and have received tons of compliments.  Samoan women mostly wear their hair in a pony tail braid or a clip and many of them have very long hair. 

New Missionaries
On Friday evening we went to the aiport to meet the new intake of missionaries.  Their flight came in at 1:00 a.m.  President and Sister Leota had been to New Zealand for a mission president's seminar and they all came in on the same flight.  We enjoyed driving President Leota's car to the airport and meeting the new missionaries.  They came from the Provo M.T.C. and even though they were very tired, they were enthusiastic about being missionaries in Samoa.  This will be the last day that they wear their suit coats until when they go home in two years.  It was very warm at 1:00 in the morning and they were very happy to take their coats off.

Elder and Sister Fife, Elder and Sister Partride, Elder and
Sister Harker, Elder Gertsch (his wife took the picture)
Elder and Sister Roth, Elder and
Sister Osborne
We have a missionary couple (Harkers) that will be going home next week to Canada.  We had a couples party on Saturday to wish them well and enjoy the movie Charly.  Some of them had never seen the movie and didn't realize it was a sad movie.  Sister Harker had movies, spices, games and card making supplies to give away to the other senior missionaries.  We all enjoyed the movie and good company.

Next week will be very busy because we have new missionaries, training for the trainers, and Z.L.C.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween in Samoa

We traveled thousands of miles to a tropical island thinking we would get away from the pagan US holiday of Halloween.  Two wards in our stake asked if they could bring their children around to our houses so they could trick or treat.  I asked them why they wanted to corrupt their children by having them participate in this pagan american custom.  Their answer was one word, "CANDY".  It actually turned out quite well. We got together with some of the senior missionaries for a Halloween party and the children from the 2 wards came by the party to collect their treats.  The only casualties were a couple of the senior brethren coming down with a bad case of food poisoning which they blamed on the pizza.  Sister Partridge and I survived admirably. 

The next day, Thursday we said goodbye to some of our Elders who were returning home.  I might be the 2nd tallest one in the mission now since Elder Liebregts was one of the Elders that went home.  We are pictured here. The tallest is Elder Feagai who is 6'9".  We were hoping to get a photo of the 3 of us but the timing didn't work out. Elder Liebregts is from Upolu.

We also said goodbye to Elder Bonar, who is went home to Utah. Elder Bonar has been a zone leader on the South East side of the island since we have been here and was a very dedicated missionary.

This next week will be very quiet.  President & Sister Leota are going to New Zealand for the Pacific area Mission Presidents seminar.  I joking tell them, "So you are going to New Zealand to play with your mission president friends?"  They roll their eyes at me.  The assistants are going to American Samoa for the week to split with missionaries there.  So they've left the office to us.