Saturday, December 29, 2012

The week between Christmas & New Years

Our missionaries have been working on cleanup projects all week long except for Christmas day.

Christmas Eve we had a family home evening with the couples.  We sang and had a white elephant gift exchange.  We ended up with a pudding mix and a piece of coral.  On Christmas day we got up early and went for a walk down Vaitele street, which is the street the mission home is on.  There was quite a crowd gathering including several parked cars on the other side of the street.  We thought maybe people were gathering for a church service but it turned out they were waiting for the Apia Bottling Company to open.  Christmas was definitely different in Samoa.  We had brunch with the senior couples in the morning and then had 2 of the single sisters that are serving in the temple over for dinner in the afternoon.  They are both from Australia and each had served as a proselyting missionary in Samoa previously.

Elder & Sister Partridge, Sister Moaga & Sister Tavete
Christmas Day 2012 in Samoa

Wednesday the temple opened for the first time since cyclone.  The attendance was down a bit which is understandable.  The new missionaries and some of the not so new missionaries attended the 7:30 session.

Thursday, Sister Partridgve & I made a water and mail delivery to the Elders serving on the east end of the island. Some of the cellphone towers have been destroyed on that part of the island resulting in a significant reduction in cell phone service.  Elder Tingey, one of our zone leaders, demonstrated what they have to do to get cell phone service where they live.  For their Christmas calls home, he climbed up on top of the water tanks and his companion climbed a nearby tree.

Elder Tingey finds cell phone service
Saturday we decided to try climbing Mt. Vaea to see how Robert Louis Stevenson's grave was doing.  Most of the big trees had been uprooted.  The bathing pool where Mr. Stevenson's family went to cool off had a large tree in it.  There are some boulders in the river you can walk across.  They were obscured by a large tree.  We decided to wade across the river and try to find our way up the mountain.  We had to give up because there were too many trees blocking our path.  We will try it again in couple of months maybe.  Tusitala is on his own for awhile I am afraid.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

To the Rescue

What is the difference between a cyclone, a hurricane, a typhoon, and a Tsunami?  If a storm is in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific, it would be a hurricane.  A typhoon takes place in Japan, Guam or the Philippines. A cyclone takes place in the South Pacific and is characterized by strong revolving winds and rains, a Tsunami is caused by earthquakes below the ocean and are destructive sea waves.

This week was devoted to rescuing and rebuilding Samoa.  The Mariner’s went to Savaii to take Christmas packages and supplies to the missionaries serving there.  Savaii had very little storm damage and all the missionaries are doing fine.

The Hanson’s also went to some of the missionary areas taking food and water.  Sister Leota had groups of zones that had been hit hardest by the storm come into the mission office to be showered and cleaned up.  She sent them home with food, water, and Christmas packages sent from home.

Elder Partridge and I also went to check on missionaries and take food, water, candles, Christmas packages, and phone batteries.  All of them were in good spirits and said the members were taking good care of them.  A few of them wanted supplies, but they all seemed to have weathered the storm well.  A lot of Upolu is still without power, but it is slowly being restored to all areas of the island. 

We had ten missionaries that finished their missions this week and were able to return to their homes in the United States, Tonga, and Samoa.

Elder and Sister Watson, our area authorities came and toured the island.  In the areas that were hardest hit, members are staying at the churches.  They all had smiles on their faces and were happy to be safe.  Last night Elder and Sister Watson spoke to the senior missionaries about the true meaning of Christmas and thanked us for our service.  We have enjoyed being able to serve the missionaries and members that needed our help.  Several of the senior missionaries have prepared lunch and dinner for the new missionaries that are staying at the MRC. The new missionaries have cheerfully worked this week to help the people in Samoa.  I am sure that this will open up opportunities for teaching and their lives will be blessed for their service. 
Elder Partridge on Banyan Tree
 We have found that the people in Samoa are very resilient.  There was a huge banyan tree that fell over in the mission compound by Pesega College.  They immediately started to cut up the trees that fell, so we decided that we better hurry and get a picture.  As you can see it has very little root, but is very large.  It took three pictures to get the entire tree. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cyclone Pictures

New missionaries cleaning up Upolu
The storm is over in Samoa.  We had 14 new missionaries come from the New Zealand M.T.C.  Today they were put to work helping to clean up Apia.  The Leotas' bought gloves, water bottles, hammers, and the tools that they would need to assist in their clean up.  They came home tired and dirty but very happy to be serving the people in Samoa.  The people here are very impressed to see these young missionaries volunteering to help clean up the city. 
Tree in front yard at beginning of storm             

After the storm was over, same tree
 When the storm started last week, I took a picture of the tree in our front yard being blown by the storm. 
 As you can see by the picture above, the tree was destroyed.
The following pictures were taken when we went to pick up mail at the Fagaali'i airport.

car destroyed in storm

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Savaii Trip a little late

The bay by our hotel

We promised that we would take pictures of our Savaii trip for our faithful missionary moms and dads. So this email will be mostly pictures. The Savaii trip was a lot of fun. The missionaries were in good spirits and loved getting together for our Christmas Zone Conference. We started with a devotional and then watched a movie that the A.P.'s put together of all the zones singing Christmas songs. We then watched skits, had a wonderful luncheon, and the missionaries played games under the guidance of President Leota. The favorite game was dodge ball.
Sister Hanson, Sister Mariner, Sister Tuivaiti, Sister Partridge
Since the cyclone hit, we wanted to let you know that all of the missionaries are safe.  They are currently serving the people.  Many homes are filled with mud and trees have been destroyed.  They are doing their part to piece together the community.  You can  be proud of your son or daughter for the service that they are giving in Samoa.
Savaii Missionaries and staff

Elder Fisher and Elder Swenson


Elder Stevens with his lunch

More skits

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Cyclone is over and we are well

All missionaries are safe and accounted for.  They were contacted Thursday morning an instructed to either stay inside or go to a place where they would be safe, in most cases the local chapel. Their zone leaders check on them periodically and report back to President Leota.

The Church is working on addressing the needs of the members and the missionaries.

As I was running on Thursday morning, the day the cyclone hit Upolu, I experienced a pretty good headwind as I was running around the track.  At first I thought of it as resistance that added to my workout.  Then the thought occurred to me that if I am experiencing a headwind on one side of the track I must be experiencing a tailwind on the other side.  As I ran around the track I payed more attention and sure enough there was a tailwind on the other side.  We have been on our mission for 10 months now and hadn't payed much attention to the tailwind that blew us along.  Thursday we experienced a headwind.  The headwind is now over and the tailwinds have begun again.

Sorry no pictures.  You may visit Pacific Mormon Newsroom:

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Fagaloa Bay
 This week my husband and I decided to go to a zone meeting in Fagaloa. It is quite a drive there including a steep dirt rode down the hillside into the bay. We weren't quite sure where the chapel was, but turned to the right. It was a beautiful area with only a few homes all around the ocean bay.  We were expecting to run into the church along the main road, but it was actually a dirt road that finally led to the gate of the church yard.

Missionary quarters
We usually see the zone leaders van when we get to the church for zone meetings, but there was no van there and we were a few minutes late. So, my husband decided to knock at the door of the missionary apartment. At first he couldn't get anyone to answer the door and  finally an Elder came to the door in just his underwear. We found that the zone meeting had been cancelled, but it still made us wonder why the missionaries weren't up studying or getting ready to teach.  They have a perfect setting right next to the church with the ocean not far from their view. They also have a basketball stand and volleyball net for exercise. Even though the ride was unfruitful for having a zone meeting, we had a beautiful drive.  We found out later that the zone leaders were at the temple and that was why the zone meeting was cancelled. 


There were some children playing next to the ocean and in the fale's there. 


I thought that it was very amusing that the cows were laying on the beach next to the water.
We are preparing for Christmas in Samoa.  Last Sunday my husband and I got out our Christmas decorations.  We have a small tree that fits on a table.  It is a beautiful little pre-decorated tree.  The lights come on in patterns going from red, to yellow, to green to blue and then all the colors.  We have enjoyed watching this cute little tree.  We watched the First Presidency Devotional last Sunday on BYU TV.  Tonight they are going to be showing in in the Pesega Stake in Samoan and English.  We had stake conference today.  In Samoa you don't see all the commercialization of Christmas.  There are a few shops that have Christmas decorations, but not nearly the hustle and bustle you see in the states.   They have several groups singing Christmas songs and our stake had a Christmas program last Saturday.  I think I'm going to enjoy spending this Christmas in Samoa.  We will miss our family, but it will be nice to have a simple Christmas. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

O Le Pupu-Pu'e National Park Coastal Walk

We started the week with a Thanksgiving dinner for all the seniors in the mission.  This included the counsellors in the temple presidency, those that are serving in the temple, as well as the CES missionaries.  After dinner we walked over to the temple for a group photograph.  We were able to get everyone since Elder & Sister Jordan, who serve in Tutuila were here for CES meetings.

We received 2 new missionaries this week. They will be with us temporarily while they wait for their visas.  They will eventually serve in Australia when their visas arrive.

We have been intrigued with trying this walk along the south side of the island.  The gate is locked due to problems with illegal logging in the National Park.  We finally decided to try it yesterday.  Judging by the height of the grass between the wheel tracks I don't think very many people have driven into the area. In face I'm not sure very many people have been there.  The sign by the road said it was 4 km to the trail.  It seemed more like 4 miles probably because it was very hot and humid.  We did make it though.

The hike along the coast is about 1 km.  The coast on this part of the island is entirely lava.  Some how trees grow out of lava, I'm not sure how. 
The top of the cliff we walked along was about 25 feet above the ocean but the waves crashing against cliff gave us an occasional spray of salt water.

Over the years the waves have created several natural brides and islands in the lava.

We eventually came to a large lava field. It was interesting to see the folds in the lava almost like cake batter.  We tried a few self portraits. Someone had sunk a pillar into the lava which was perfect for setting the camera on.
It was a little tricky setting the camera up, keeping it from blowing over and then scrambling across the lava so I could be a part of the picture.
It was a long walk but we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a wonderful day.