Thursday, December 29, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Last Goodbye at the Mission Home - How blessed we
were to serve with these wonderful people!

 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
    This will be my last blog for Ellsworths in Paradise, as we have returned home after a restful 10 day trip through New Zealand.  Our amazing family had our home cleaned and put back together, with Christmas lights up, homemade cookies on the counter, Christmas music playing and a yummy dinner prepared.  Annie and Chad moved into Amy and Chad's pool house so the house has been relatively quiet.  They will never know how much we appreciate their hard work and support!
California Redwoods in Rotorua, NZ
      The dramatic change from hot and humid to  cold and dry, left me with a terrible cold/flu that I am just barely getting over. (I generously shared it with Brent, and he is just starting to feel miserable.)  I dont' think I've been warm since we got home.  A trip up north to see Shane's family is temporarily on hold until it warms up.
       Life has pretty much been a whirlwind since returning home, as we needed to buy a car, sign up for Medicare, get our phone service, TV service, computers, etc. hooked back up, all in the middle of Christmas activities with the family. I have felt disconnected with our dear friends in Samoa, as I had little time or energy to check FB or write letters.  Our son Jason, and his family left this afternoon so I finally have a little time before my sister arrives on Friday to get this blog done.

Peti, Patty, Myra, Brent in Auckland
      Just a quick note on our trip to New Zealand.  Our  dear
friends, Peti and Myra Satiu, were wonderful hosts at the beginning and end of  this adventure.  We left most of our luggage at their home in Auckland so we would not have to drag it around with us.  We stayed with them our last night, went to church with them, where we were asked to bear our testimonies in Sacrament Mtg.,  and then spent the rest of the day trying to get all of our bags under the weight limit.  We appreciate the delicious meals, the tour of Auckland, their great hospitality and willingness to dispose of all our excess!  We were so grateful for their help at the airport as we were getting ready to fly home.  It was quite an ordeal trying to check our extra bags.

Brent at a thermal pool
For the next eight days we traveled through both the North and South Islands of this beautiful country.  Some of the highlights were the geothermal parks with bubbling mud pots, multi-colored pools and geysers, the California Redwoods, Milford Sound Cruise, "Lord of the Rings" country and the spectacular scenery.  My favorites were the Pukekura Gardens in New Plymouth and the Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton where we strolled through the most amazing flowers I have ever seen.  

Brent, Patty Tracee & Lee Soti
   Tracee and Lee Soti, friends of the Goodmans, who we met in Samoa, graciously offered to host us in their beautiful Cambridge home for two nights.  We had a lot of fun playing games, and they treated us to a delicious dinner of NZ lamb. Reconnecting with friends was the best!  We took a morning to attend the                                                                                 Hamilton Temple and then completed  
                                                                        the journey back at the Satius. 

    It is like being in a time warp coming home.  In some ways it feels like we never left, but then we pinch ourselves and  remember the incredible experience we  had in Samoa. In no way did we anticipate that a mission could be so fun or so much work.  Because we were always so busy the time flew by.  It was a privilege to work with the young elders and sisters who had been called to serve there.  They will always hold a dear place in my heart.  Neither were we expecting that a mission would be a place to make so many wonderful new friends.  We are planning a cruise together in the summer of 2018, and also get togethers as time and distance allows.  
Milford Sound Cruise
    Brent and I made a commitment to each other when we were dating in 1970, that one day we would serve a mission together.  Now that we know how great it is, we won't shut the door on future possibilities to serve again.  (Don't tell the kids!)  However, our priority right now is to renew relationships with our 16 grandchildren, and support them as they move through their teen years, which seem to be so much more treacherous than when we were that age.     With the craziness the last 1 1/2 weeks, my scripture study time has been reduced.  However, this morning while I was reading I found the perfect scripture to end this blog with.  It is in Romans 12:9-18 and gave me more than enough to think about as we start the new year:
  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;  11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;  12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;  13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.  14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.  15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.  17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.  18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  
I will close this blog with my own testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe The Book of Mormon is the word of God and testifies of Jesus Christ and his mission to be the Savior of the World. It has been a great honor to be a representative of the Savior and His Church for the last 18 months.  I have a great love of this Gospel and the work that missionaries all over the world are involved in.  The Gospel has blessed me with an inner peace.  It is my hope that in some way those of you reading this who are not members of the church, will be touched to find the truth for yourself.  Thank you for taking the time for me  to share a small part of this amazing journey.
Alofa Tele, Patty

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Final CountdownChloe

Chloe, Connor and Cade Count down the days
until Nana and Papa are home
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
      It is hard to believe that this will be my last post from the mission office.  I will try to post from NZ next week if we have wi-fi.  What an amazing adventure this has been!  We could have never imagined that a mission could be so much fun, so much learning and so many blessings.  I think we knew it was going to be a lot of work, and it was, but never did we expect to totally fall in love with so many people and with this beautiful country.  
Our Farewell Party 
Elders McBride, Kinghorn and Callahan sporting their new ties
        Thursday night Brent was not feeling well and by Friday he was right in bed with a bad flu bug, I think the same one that hit me a couple of months ago.  We had plans for one more beach day on Sat. but Brent was too sick to get out of bed.  I did some last minute shopping and worked on packing suitcases. The Senior Missionaries gave us a going away party Saturday night, and Brent did get up to go to that, but after church today he went back to bed.  Sister Kalama made me a beautiful floral head wreath from the flowers in her yard.  I felt like a queen wearing it.  The McBrides had the Seniors each submit a page to go in a memory book for us to take home, a gift that will be treasured!  We played 5 Crowns and had delicious turkey soup and homemade rolls.  It was a delightful evening! Brent had made new ties for all of the men.  Several of them showed up in church today wearing them.   
       This has been a week of good-byes as we prepare to leave.  The apartment is pretty well packed with just a few things left to do tomorrow.  After Sacrament Mtg. we were asked to come to the podium.  The congregation stood up and sang "Tofa Mai Feleni" or Goodbye my Friend, to us and a young sister who will be leaving for the mission field this week.
Princess, Nikia, Elder Ellsworth Caylin, Jerry & Owen
                                                                         The hardest part of today was saying good bye to our cute primary class.  We were not too sure about this assignment when it came, but it has been so much fun spending time every week with these cute kids.  Our lessons have been from the New Testament, and I have loved reviewing the stories of Christ and teaching the children the lessons that are embedded in these scriptures.
Looks like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard ......
     For the last couple of weeks I have felt  strong promptings to track down stories of miracles that I have heard occurred here in Samoa.  I have had  amazing experiences as I have  tracked down the people who witnessed these miracles first hand, but was alarmed that none of them had been written down.  The Lord has opened doors as I looked for people who had first hand knowledge of these miracles.   Tomorrow I am going to Savaii to interview a Stake President who had an amazing experience   in 1995.  These are very sacred experiences, and President Joseph, another Stake President, will submit them to Salt Lake for the church record once they are completed.
We will miss the endless beauty of these islands!
      The purpose of this blog originally was to let our family and friends share our mission experience.  Now as I look back on past posts, I can see that it is also a wonderful journal. Spiritual and personal experiences have been  hand written in a book for my posterity.  I have appreciated that many of you have  "Liked" a post or left comments on FB, even though I often did not have enough data time to reply. I am old enough to appreciate what an amazing age of technology we live in that allows us to communicate almost instantly.  One thing I will not miss is the limited access to the internet.  
        I cannot end this blog without bearing testimony of the work we have been involved in over the past 18 months.  We came on this mission because we know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church of our Savior.  It is not a new church invented by Joseph Smith, but rather the ancient church that Christ established, restored in this last dispensation of time to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Christ.  The proof of this truth is not only found in daily miracles throughout the world as our missionaries share their message, but more importantly can be discovered by every individual person if they are willing to take the time to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  I hope if you are reading this, and have not yet found the truth, that you will consider this invitation to listen to the missionaries in your area and to read the Book of Mormon.  I will end this mission blog with the scripture at the end of the Book of Mormon where the prophet Moroni also extends this same invitation: Moroni 10:3-5 
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.  And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Oute Alofa Mo Outou Uma Lava, Patty

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Stop the Clock!

Mangroves near Solosolo
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Our new favorite Disney Movie
     Love and greetings from the beautiful island of Upolu.  Since our mission is quickly coming to an end, we took advantage of a little free time and drove around the east side of the island yesterday for one last look.  How are we ever going to be able to survive in the desert again after living in this tropical paradise?  Of course, along with all of this lush green landscape comes a lot of rain, which we have had almost everyday.  This past week several thunderstorms have moved through, with booming thunder and crackling lightening.  One morning the flash of light and boom of thunder were almost simultaneous, making me glad that I had already returned from my walk and was safe inside the house.  Rain here means that water tanks get filled, crops get watered and people get to eat, so it is hard to complain.
     The new Disney Movie "Moana" was released here this past week, and several seniors went together opening night.  There were so many things in this film that are familiar to us now, and we loved watching it here in Samoa.  I don't buy a lot of videos, but this is one I am going to have to have.  We have a little girl in our Primary class named Moana, so I told her I was always think of her when I watch the movie.
      On Wednesday we had a party for the children at the Victim Support Shelter.  We played a lot of the same games that we used for our primary kids the week before.  I've learned that if you have balloons you have a party.  After the games and singing, we showed the film "Frozen".  Afalua made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all of them, (a real treat) and we took chips, water and a treat.  I am hoping that these beautiful children, who have all been abused, can somehow find the strength to "Let It Go" so that their past does not define their futures.  It was the last day at the shelter for me and it was so hard to say good bye to the young women I have worked with over the past several months.  There were a lot of tears and hugs, and I will never forget what a great experience it was to serve them.  The good news is that I think that Sister Kinghorn, a new Senior missionary, is going to take over for me when school reopens in January.  She brought in a USB and I have downloaded all of the ESL material I have, and she is coming in next week for training.  
Almost ready for Thanksgiving
Vellingas, Sister Foley, Sister McBride
The Hellesoe Family
      Early Saturday morning I made a quick trip to the airport to pick up Elder and Sister Kalama who arrived from Hawaii to serve as Institute instructors. Saturday afternoon Brent and I took our drive and  Saturday evening we had our Senior Thanksgiving Dinner. Since Thanksgiving is not a holiday here, people had to work.   Sister McBride brined and cooked 3 turkeys and a ham.  Everyone pitched in to pay for them and then we all brought food to share.  There was plenty of food, and enough turkey to make a big pot of soup for another Senior dinner. I will include a picture of the dinner next week, after Elder McBride forwards it.  After dinner those who wanted to joined in one of our family traditions - the "Ricky Ticky Bear" game.  It's always a fun way to end the meal.  Ater the clean-up several people stayed after dinner and we played Canadian Fruit Salad, thanks to the Davis' who can remember the rules.  Boy, I am sure going to miss these wonderful senior missionaries who we have shared such great times with!
     The Hellesoe family invited us to dinner after church today.  We had a lovely visit and delicious food.  Jerry (middle front) is one of our primary kids.  We have attended Pesega 5th Ward for most of the time we have been here because it is an English speaking ward.  We are going to miss these dear ward members and our Primary class.  I talk to Bishop Pauga almost every week while I am working. He is over Facility Management for the mission home and some of the missionary housing.  I have appreciated him putting up with my endless requests.  Sister Pauga is the Primary music leader and is like the Energizer Bunny.  Just watching her makes me tired.  Next week is our last Sunday to attend this ward, and we will definitely miss these people! 
Flowers outside our front door
     My scripture for the week is again one of gratitude and praise, as I think about what an incredible experience this mission has been and what joy it has brought to us.  
D&C 136:28:
 28 If thou art merrypraise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
     With Thanksgiving over, I am sure that Christmas parties and celebrations have already started.  Since we will be returning one week before Christmas, we are looking forward to a pretty low key Christmas with our family.  As I think back on past Christmas' it is not the gifts I remember, but the fun of being with family and friends, playing games, reading the Nativity story on Christmas Eve, and watching the children on Christmas morning. Make a point to watch for those around you who may not have family or friends close by, as I know this time is especially hard for them.  I send our love to all of you and wishes for a Merry Christmas Season.
Oute Alofa Mo Outou Uma Lava, Patty 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

L-R: Patty, Elders Seigafo & Cassinat, Brent
Talofa Family and Friends,
      Transfer week went amazingly smooth, I think we have just about got it down, just in time to leave.  We had a total of 14 missionaries from the Provo and NZ MTCs arrive on Tuesday, with only one bag lost in route, which Fiji air eventually delivered.  They were fed both with Afalua's wonderful cooking and with spiritual direction from President Hannemann.  Wednesday and Thursday we had missionaries going every which way via ferry and vans, with everyone arriving safely at their new destinations.
      With only 2 1/2 weeks to go we have started our good-byes.  Before our mission I would have never said that I was thankful for FB, as I had very little use for it.  Now it is my lifeline to many new friends and missionaries we have met here and who have returned home, as well as to friends and family from home.  As missionaries come into the office we try to get a photo to remember them by.  It's hard not to fall in love with every one of them, when I see how hard they work both in the very hot Samoan sun or trudging through muggy rainy days.  It seems like they are always hungry, and we are more than happy to feed them when we can.
Elder Ete, Brent, Miriama, Patty, Elder Stevenson
            This week has been special as we have had the opportunity to continue to help teach and baptize Miriama Oge.  Brent was over the moon when she asked him to baptize and confirm her.  She was baptized yesterday afternoon, and confirmed this morning. It is a great way to end our mission.  She is yet another person here who will keep a piece of our hearts as we return home to Las Vegas.
Elders Ete, Tua, Mounga, Stevenson & Talatau (L-R) with
their broom in progress
     Friday night we were surprised when 5 hungry Elders showed up for Miriama's baptism interview.  While she was being interviewed, Brent made the other Elders help him strip palm leaves on the front porch so he can make a Samoan broom when he gets home. (No, he is not taking orders!) Meanwhile, I ran to Mr. Chippy's for Fish and Chips for 8.  While I was waiting for my order the cafe's lights went out because they ran out of cash power.  Here in Samoa you have to pay your electricity up front. As soon as your credit is gone your electricity goes off.  I was surprised when business seemed to go on as usual using lights from cell phones and 1 lantern.  I offered to go and pay their cash power, but was told someone had already been called.
Balloon Volleyball with Primary Kids
        Saturday morning we had a party for our Primary kids.  After two hours of musical chairs, jump rope, balloon volleyball, pictionary, Ricky Ticky Bear and stomping balloons out I was exhausted.  (The best part was watching Brent trying to teach the kids how to jump rope!) We had pizza, root beer floats, and cake before sending them home.  We were excited when almost all of our kids came, and even though it was tiring we all had a lot of fun. I wish we would have gotten a picture of all of the kids before the boys left.   We LOVE our primary class!
Sun setting on both Upolu and our mission :(
        I have had several people ask about our ETA in Las Vegas.  We leave Samoa on Dec. 8th and fly to Auckland NZ.  We will be in NZ for 10 days, and return to Las Vegas on Sunday Dec. 18th at about 6:30 pm.  We are hoping that NZ will have stopped rocking and rolling by the time we get there.  The damage done by the 7.9 earthquake this week in some parts of the country made me realize how vulnerable we all are. After arriving home, we are planning on a very low key Christmas and a pretty hectic two weeks to get several things done before the first of the year.  Our home ward has asked us to speak in Sacrament Mtg. on Jan. 8th.  I am not sure what time the meeting is, but will post later.  I am trying to brace for the cold I know that awaits us.
      Happy Thanksgiving to our Family and friends in the states who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week.  We are planning our dinner for Saturday so the temple workers can participate.
     Psalms 92 expresses gratitude and is my scripture for the week.  I am thankful for the incredible opportunity it has been to serve in Samoa for the past 17 months with Brent.  I am also thankful for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that blesses my life everyday.  I am thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for his great atonement, for Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness that makes it possible for families to be together for ever, for the blessings of health and especially for the blessings that have come to me through incredible family and friends.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:  To shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,  Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.  For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.

Alofa Tele, Patty


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Talofa Family and Friends,
      Boy, what a crazy week!  I am glad that we are in Samoa and insulated from the majority of chaos that seems to be exploding in cities across the country - at least that is what the media here is portraying.  Election night I was glued to the TV watching Australia and New Zealand News as they reported the results.  It made me realize that the whole world was watching this election. When they signed off I had to come to the office and watch as the drama continued on live streaming.  I watched in complete surprise as the center of the map turned red - even Arkansas!  Even though I am not a Trump lover, I was encouraged by his acceptance speech and at this point I feel hopeful for our country. There definitely needed to be a change - and Hillary was not the person to bring it.
Farmers Festive Reindeers - ugh!
     Here it is the middle of November and most of you are preparing for the holidays.  Except for the very festive reindeer display at Farmers and the Christmas decorations popping up at other stores, I could easily forget that it is almost Christmas.  There are many things I love about Samoa, but I have to say that they have the Ugliest Christmas Trees I have ever seen! (And the reindeer are pretty lame too).  Please, my Samoan friends who read this, don't be offended, don't protest outside the mission's just my very humble opinion.
The Gillettes Ready to Go Home :(
      Friday we borrowed a 15 passenger mission van to take Rusty, Cindy and their visiting family to the airport. I think between them they had 15-20 pieces of luggage, and then when we got to the airport Cindy realized she had left Rusty's carry-on in the back bedroom.  A quick call to a friend and the problem was solved.  The Gillettes have been dear friends, and it was so hard to see them leave.  I'm sure there will be a trip to Idaho in the future to see them again.
     We have loved having Miriama take the missionary discussions in our home.  She is a beautiful, smart young woman who wants to join the church for the right reasons.  She has asked Brent to baptize her next Saturday, which will be a great way to end our mission.
Taumeasina Island Resort - Book Now!
Elder Vahai's carving
  Last week, when we were taking Miriama home, I noticed a sign for a resort that I hadn't heard of before.  We took a detour to explore the new Taumeasina Island Resort, and found a 5 star resort hotel about 15 minutes from our apt.  When we found out that they have a local day pass for $40 WST that includes a $40 voucher for food we knew where we would be spending our next Sat.  Several couples joined us yesterday for a swim in the pools, snorkeling in the ocean (only steps away) and kayaking out to the reef.  Afterwards we enjoyed a leisurely lunch which was delicious!  Brent forgot his camera yesterday, but he did snap a picture on the day of our discovery.
        President and Sister Hannemann were off island all week, so again Brent and I held down the fort.  This upcoming week is our last transfer, and I have the schedule done, so hopefully the President won't change too many things at the last minute.  At FHE last Monday Sister Starke conducted a very interesting activity where people identified their personality type.  I learned that I am mostly West and Brent and President are mostly North.  That means I like things organized and they just push through like bulls in a china closet.  It helped me understand why we knock heads a lot.
     Elder Vahai (Tongan) was Elder Cutler's companion last week, so while Elder Cutler worked on computer tasks, Elder Vahai carved hymn books.  He is an amazing artist! Several missionaries know how to carve the books, but he is the best I have ever seen.  He comes by his talent honestly, as his father carved the King of Tonga's official chair.
     I have loved teaching the New Testament in Primary this year, and am enjoying just reading it through again.  It is like spending time with an old friend.  In reading John this week this scripture stuck out.  The LDS Temples that are now around the entire globe exist to help save the dead who never had a chance to hear and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  These scriptures refer to to this doctrine of saving the dead. John 5:24-29:
 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from
death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
      It is a great blessing to understand the plan that our Heavenly Father had for every person ever born on the earth - a plan that is totally inclusive.  If you want to know more you can always invite the missionaries into your home to share this message.  I send my love to you and look forward to seeing you soon. 
Alofa Tele, Patty