Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Afalua and I food shopping for the mission
Talofa Lava and Merry Christmas to our Family and Friends,  We have loved talking to most of our kids and grand kids today, even though it is hard to see them and have to say goodbye again. I understand there is snow in Utah, and chilly in Nevada.  Here in Samoa we have had the hottest days since we have been here.  If you are outside for even a few minutes the sweat just starts to pour off of you because the humidity and heat are both extremely high.  It gives a whole new dimension to baking cookies to give to the missionaries for Christmas, as I dread turning on the oven!  However, the Mom instinct kicks in and urges me on; they are really going to like homemade cookies and they deserve them.
Constructing nativity costumes out of items purchased
at the 2nd hand stores in Apia
 The last couple of weeks have been hectic with preparations for Christmas and a 4 day trip to American Samoa with the Callahans.  We loved having the chance to visit the Schaefermeyers who are currently serving there.  They were great hosts and tour guides, making sure we saw the main attractions on the island of Tutuila.  To get there you fly in this little 15 passenger plane that has no air conditioning.  If you are claustrophobic this ride is not an option.  You have to get weighed before you get on the plane, and your seat is assigned according to how much you weigh.   Our other adventures included seeing the flying foxes (fruit bats) hanging from the trees, hiking up a mountain (again a very sweaty thing to do) to see a WWII gunnery post, eating lunch     at the Growling Rocks, a dip in the ocean in the rain, shopping at an American store similar to Costco, and drooling our ways through the aisles as we passed by foods we used to enjoy in the states, visiting "Charlie the Tuna" at the StarKist Plant, attending a Zone Conference, visiting with missionaries, and driving from one end of the island to the other.  It is a beautiful island with soaring mountains clothed in green, that shoot almost straight up. In the evenings we enjoyed learning a new game "Pounce", playing 5 Crowns, and going to the theater to see "Star Wars." I think we laughed more than is legal, and it was a much needed break from the stress of the office.   Life is sometimes tough when you are a senior missionary!
Elder Callahan getting on the plane at Apia

Arriving home on Monday evening we hit the ground running.  There were cookies to bake and decorate, gift bags to stuff, dinner for almost 100 people to organize (the main dish was catered), Christmas to put together for a family who had nothing, concert and nativity every night until Christmas....This on top of the regular duties that needed to be completed like food shopping for the mission and office work. However, it was not as stressful as Christmas at home - actually it was a wonderful Christmas!

Christmas Eve here was on Thursday.  Our missionaries had been practicing songs for the community Nights of Christmas that went for 7 nights.  All 7 nights we had the live nativity going. I was glad that President Hannemann settled for a Ewe and her lamb, and bagged the cow, donkey and pigs.  During the nights performances people of all ages would come to have their picture taken with the nativity.  It was a huge hit!   This activity was at the main government building, sponsored by the government and every night included songs of the Savior and Christmas.  Not a single person raised their voice in protest that their tax dollars were being used for religious purposes.  Today this activity could never take place in most of the USA without someone protesting about their rights.  It made me sad to realize what we have lost in the name of political correctness.

Thanks to my family, every missionary got a new pair of socks in their gift bag.  
Live Nativity with Missionaries

Christmas Eve day our Elders were treated to a delicious dinner of Teriyaki Chicken, rice, fruit salad and a huge array of cookies and desserts provided by the Senior Missionaries.  That night they gave an amazing concert of songs about the Savior.  At the end of the program a heavily tattooed Santa arrived in a fire engine, to sirens, singing and confetti being blasted out of large tubes. Such a perfect day!

Afalua is the Primary president in her ward.  She told me about a family in her ward who has eight children and lives under a tarp.  After clearing it with the Bishop, the seniors pulled together and bought food and toys for this family.  Even though the family is so poor and has nothing, the kids were happy, and the mother was gracious.  They were so excited when we arrived .  I can't even imagine how you raise a family in
these circumstances.  The ward had recently helped them get a tin roof and mats for the floor so they were feeling very blessed!                                          
A family of 10 live in this small Fale.  It was a pleasure
to give them a little Christmas.

Christmas was spent with the other seniors.  We started with a late breakfast of waffles, bacon, fresh pineapple and eggs.  After visiting we went home, (I watched "ELF") rested and came back at 5 pm for finger foods and games.  This is being sent today in the hopes that you all had a wonderful Christmas and let us all pray for a peaceful New Year.  My Scripture for the week is one of my favorites from the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

Love, Patty
Missionaries Enjoying their Christmas Eve Dinner

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Mermaid  Lagoon" so named by Elder McBride who swam here
as a missionary 50 years ago.
 To Our Dear Family and Friends,
Talofa Lava from Samoa.  Living here we are removed to a large extent from the happenings in the states and the rest of the world.  It is almost like living in a bubble, which has been a nice change for me since when I am home I never miss watching and reading the news.  However, I have become aware of a troubling trend through social media, that has even made its way to the islands, and that is the hate language against Muslims. Some of the posts sound more like Nazi Germany than the freedom loving people we are.  Be reminded that the very first right in the Bill of Rights, even before the freedom of speech or press is the freedom of religion.  In defense of my Muslim friends, I just want everyone to know where I stand. I am including a recent statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints concerning religious freedom that I support 100%:
"SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns. However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom. The following statements by Joseph Smith from 1841 and 1843 are consistent with the Church’s position today: 
If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a "Mormon," I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.

—Joseph Smith, 1843
Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, that the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopals, Universalists, Unitarians, Mohammedans [Muslims], and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges in this city ...

—Ordinance in Relation to Religious Societies, City of Nauvoo, [Illinois] headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, March 1, 1841"
 Yesterday we escaped the world and visited a beach recently rediscovered by the McBrides and dubbed "Mermaid Lagoon."  Snorkeling here was like being in an aquarium, and you will be excited to know that I found Nemo!

While we were there, some kids on summer break joined us.  One of the boys, about 10 yrs. old, climbed up a huge coconut palm and pulled down fresh coconuts for us.  The coconut milk is delicious and very refreshing.

This next Thursday we will be traveling to American Samoa to visit the Schaefermeyers and to pick up supplies for our missionary stockings.  We will be returning next Monday. This week is going to be very busy as we prepare for Christmas. Last Friday President Hannemann informed us that the mission is putting on a live nativity for 8 nights, beginning on the 17th.  (It would have been nice to know this a couple of months ago!) Since we will be gone from the 17th - 21st, everything needs to be ready before we leave.  I delegated costumes to 3 sisters, and the President delegated the stable and animals to others.   Besides Mary and Joseph he wants 3 shepherds, 3 Magi and live animals.  Since pigs and mangy dogs are the only animals that are plentiful around here, I am not sure how that is going to work - it might be the first nativity in history to feature pigs dressed up like sheep.
Deacons taking the sacrament to a shut-in in Savaii
I love the picture to the left.  These two 12-yr old boys walk over a mile, one way, every Sunday to take the sacrament to a brother who is too old to get to church.  You see them walking in their jackets, under the sun, taking their assignment very seriously. It makes me embarrassed to think about how I grumbled to myself sometimes, when I had to take our sons around in an air-conditioned car to collect fast offerings.

Brent has stayed up until 2-3 am for several days last week, reading "The Great and the Terrible."   I am half way through book 5 of 6.  Again, this series grabs you and takes you on a crazy ride that will give you plenty to think about.  You can see how fragile our freedoms and lifestyles are, and how quickly our lives can be drastically changed.

I started the Book of Mormon again this week, as this book is the anchor to my testimony.  The title page in part identifies that the purpose of the book is  " the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations..."  I never tire learning from this book, which I consider to be a gift from God to all mankind.  My scripture for the week is from 1 Nephi 10:19 "For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in to to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round."

Alofa atu, Patty

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Ants Go Marching...

Brother and Sister Tuivaitai with Coral

7 of the 11 Elders who returned home
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Greetings from the beautiful island of Samoa.  The trees and flowers are  in full bloom, occasional cool breezes blow in off the Pacific, and even though it doesn't feel like Christmas, all the stores are decked out with Christmas decorations.  Since there are no pine trees here all of the Christmas trees  are  artificial trees, mostly in  horrid metallic colors.  When I go to the market Christmas music is blaring, and toy vendors have set up shop in every spare space.  Not exactly what I need to get me in the Christmas Spirit.  I need to find some CDs with Christmas music to play in the office, that might help do the trick.

This past week the Pesega College (High School) had their graduation.  My dear friend, Afalua, celebrated the graduation of her youngest daughter, Coral.  That means school is out for summer break until the middle of Feb.  This week, while we were out shopping, Afalua wanted to stop and get an ice cream.  She told me she had a favorite place that I had never heard of, so with her directions we arrived at the  "Oh-La-La" ice cream parlor and enjoyed an ice cream cone, the first since I arrived.  After dinner, that same night, Brent said he had a surprise for me.  We got in the car and guess where he took me?  You're right! "Oh-La-La's" ice cream.  He had discovered it on his own.  I had a good laugh, but not a second ice cream.  

My favorite "Christmas Tree"
 This past week we somehow got through transfers with no planning meeting or schedule, just a fly by the seat of our pants affair.  Luckily we only had seven new missionaries arrive, which made things a little less complicated than when they come in by 18-20 at a time.  I am trying very hard to adjust to the new president's way of doing things, but for someone who likes organization as much as I do it has been a real test!

Another test this week has been these itty bitty ants that seem to be everywhere.  If we leave any food out on the counter we have swarms of them.  I bought a box of cereal ($25 Tala or about $10 Dollars) and when I got it out of the cupboard it was literally covered with ants, inside and out.  The new box of pancake mix was also covered.  I went ballistic, smashing them with my hands. I poured the cereal and pancake mix into a large bowls and killed as many as I could, put the contents back in plastic bags and put them in the freezer.  I figured if they floated to the top when I was eating I would just scoop them out, and the pancakes would just have to have a little added protein.   Such is life in the tropics.

It has been a quiet week as far as my nursing duties go.  We did find out that the two doctors we have mainly been going to have not been to a real medical school. Apparently that is not a requirement to open an office here. I made a deal with the McBrides; they cover everything that has to do with bodily fluids and I'll cover the rest."  That worked fine until an elder came in with his ears plugged with wax, and we couldn't agree on what category that fell under.

Brent and I have both been reading Chris Stewart's "The Great and the Terrible" series.  I had never heard of it, but all six volumes were in our bookcase.  We both would recommend these books, as they give you a lot to think about.  Especially about the power of Satan and how he tries to work in our lives.  It is definitely not scripture but is worthwhile.

My scripture for the week is from Alma 42:15: " And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also." 

 I am so thankful that God recognizes that we are not perfect, that we make mistakes, that being here on earth is a learning experience, and that if repent and take advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ we can live with him again.  That is really the greatest gift of the Christmas Season.  I send my love and best wishes as we all enter this busy time of year, that we might remember the reason we are celebrating.
Tofa, Patty

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brent counting out missionaries monthly allowance
Tolofa Lava Family and Friends,
Between Thanksgiving, Zone Conferences and our first cyclone of the season, we have had a pretty full week.  This was my first Thanksgiving away from family, but luckily we were so busy I didn't have too much time to  feel sorry for myself.  Elder Haleck, from the week for a mission tour so the president was gone for almost the entire week. (Due to the area presidency, was visiting the mission this storm he is still gone - stuck in American Samoa.) The big chore in the office was making sure all 167 missionaries got their monthly allowance of $130 Tala (Less then $60).  Brent always gets pretty stressed over this, as he is still dealing with a lot of money, and he does not like to be one penny off.

Sisters Satieu and Callahan stuffing turkeys
Sitting Down for Thanksgiving Dinner - 2015
Even though we are in Samoa,Turkey was a must for Thanksgiving!(Even at $200 Tala /ea) Luckily Bob Lorentz convinced me that we would need two, as there was not a single bite left off of either 24 lb bird at the end of the dinner.  I'm not sure if there is even enough meat left on the bones to make soup.  Sister Satieu, from New Zealand, had never cooked a Turkey before, but did a great job helping to prepare and stuff both Turkeys.  Callahans came in from Savaii, and between the three of us we managed to prepare, stuff and get the birds in the oven on time. (I sure missed my sister Shauna, who has helped with getting the Turkey ready for years!)   Everyone had signed up to bring something, and I started to panic when the couple who had signed up for pie, showed up with one pumpkin pie, and the couple who signed up for potatoes, showed up with a small pan.  I made a mad rush to one store to buy potatoes and carrots, and another where we buy brown sugar, all in pouring rain.  Brent stayed at the apt. and made a large dish of candied carrots (Which were a big hit) and I came back to the mission home and started peeling/cooking 4 bags of  potatoes.  I then went home and made pumpkin cake.  It was good that I did as 26 adults and 15 missionaries showed up for dinner. As it turned out we had a lot of food, but at Thanksgiving you just have to have enough potatoes and gravy! This was also the first Thanksgiving with zero leftovers.

A Few of the Missionaries Enjoying Thanksgiving
At home, after Thanksgiving, we always play the Ricky-Ticky Bear Cup Game.  It was a smashing success with the seniors and missionaries.  Since the seniors had done all the cooking and preparations, the missionaries offered to clean up.  (I think they wanted to pick over whatever was left).  While they cleaned some of the seniors played Right, Left, Center with a bag of candy the Callahans had brought.  It was a fun way to end a very busy day.

Friday started with an internet message of an approaching cyclone - category one.  It has been raining for almost a week solid, so I could not imagine there could be more rain - but believe me- there is more rain than you can imagine that comes with tropical storms!  The ward Christmas Party on the beach was cancelled because of the storm, and it was too stormy to be out, so I threw a senior Cyclone Party together.
Nativity made by Sister Hunt
The sisters were invited to our house for a craft activity and the men went to the Lorentz home to watch guy movies.  We had planned to all go out to dinner, but by 5 pm the storm was really raging and so that was cancelled. Everyone just hunkered down at their own homes to ride out the winds and torrential rains.   According to the global meteorologists, we are in an El Nino year, so they are predicting more and stronger storms than average through next April.  After seeing a category one, I am definitely not interested in seeing a category 3!

With Thanksgiving over, that means Christmas is right around the corner.  I think my only decoration will be a small nativity I purchased from a sister in the ward.  December is going to be a busy month with the missionaries involved in community service projects, and musical programs.  I don't think I will miss the stress of shopping and wrapping.  Hopefully I can enjoy a simple Christmas.  My scripture for the week is Psalms 69:30 "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving." We all have so much to be thankful for!  My greatest blessings are my family and friends, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the understanding I have of Heavenly Father's plan for each of us.  Love and Best Wishes!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Elders Masaga, Mikkelson, Wilson and Anderson.
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
This is going to have to be a short post as it has taken me over an hour trying to load a couple of pictures.  Again I am at the office as our internet is not working at home.  This afternoon at Relief Society sisters were talking about the attacks in Paris.  What attacks in Paris???  I know all about the cheating scandal in the world of Cricket, but had to come to the office to learn about Paris.  Very Sad!

This week we said good-bye to Elders Masaga and Anderson.  They are opening up the island of Manua for missionaries.  Elder Anderson's great-great-great grandfather was one of the first Mormon missionaries in Samoa and Manua was the first place he landed back in
Front of Flea Market
the 1800's.  The Andersonfamily is very excited about this assignment.

This weekend we took it easy.  We cleaned the apt., did grocery shopping (did I mention how I will never take super markets for granted again) and went to the flea market.  This place is huge with well over 100 stalls where they pretty much all sell the same things.  We went looking for things to send the grandkids for Christmas. (Hope they like things made out of coconut shells.)  What is really amazing about this place is that everything is taken down every night and then put back up the next morning.
Bell Tower - Road  #3
 Another thing that is crazy about Samoa is there are no addresses.  Very few streets, even in Apia, have street signs.  To solve this problem the senior missionaries have designated streets by stop lights running east past the temple.  That makes "First Street" the one you turn on to go to the open air produce market, or the Chinese Food Restaurant.  You will know you are on "Road #3" by the clock tower.  This is the road you want if you want to find Ace Hardware, the pharmacy or Lucky's Food Mart. (The best place to buy meat).  Road #4 is where you will turn right to go to the hospital and the best Pizza Place in town.  Road #5 goes up over the mountain.  On the way you will pass the Robert Louis Stevenson Plantation.  This system actually works very well, unless you want to go West from the temple, then you are on your own.

Well, our nurse that started last Monday lasted two hours.  That's how long it took her to realize that it was not a paid position, except for blessings.  We had told her that when she came in, but somehow the message was not communicated so she understood.  She stayed long enough to give the sister missionary her Hep A shot, and bandage a sore toe, and she was gone. That means I am once again the nurse.  Last week, after sitting in a very hot doctors office for an hour with two elders, and a trip to the hospital for a blood test, I thought these two elder would appreciate lunch at McDonalds.  (You can not even imagine how good a Big Mac tastes!)  We didn't have time to go in and eat so we went through the drive through with strict instructions not to tell any of the other missionaries (Especially Anai and Galvez who had begged to go the week before.)  As we pulled up to our apt. where we were going to go in and eat, who was standing there?  Yup!  You guessed it.  Galvez has to go in for another lab test this week, so it looks like another trip to McDonald's is in my near future.

The Scripture that comes to mind this evening is John 14:27 -"
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  Unfortunately, the world we live in is in chaos in many places.  I am grateful for the peace in my life that I feel when I follow the Savior.  One of my favorite primary songs says: "Keep the commandments...In this there is safety and peace."  I know from experience that this is true.
May the Lord Bless You With Peace and Keep you Safe all through this next week.
Love, Patty

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Giant Clams!

Dear Family and Friends,
Talofa Lava.  That is the Samoan greeting similar to "Aloha" in Hawaii.  Good News!  We got an R.N. to come into the office on a part-time basis starting tomorrow.  She was the school nurse here at Pesega for 15 yrs. and just retired from working at the local hospital.  It will be so nice to be relieved of nursing duty that I am really not cut out for.  That means I won't have to give Sister Asiata her Hep A injection.  (That was not going to happen anyway, even though Dr. Olsen assured me that I could do it if needed.)   Last Thursday afternoon Sis. Hannemann (President's wife) came into the office in a panic.  She had she learned that one of our missionaries was suppose to go to the hospital every 28 days for some kind of injection. Apparently he had had rheumatic fever as a child and had taken them for years before his mission.  Since they were going off island, could I please take him to the hospital the next day for this shot.   The nurse, that left last month, had never followed up on getting him the injections.  He told me that he had been so worried because he had not had an injection since May and he was scared he was going to die.  The Elder is from Savaii (another island in Samoa)  and had never been to the hospital in Upolu.  So, let me get this straight: "I am taking you to a hospital where you have never been before, to get a shot that you don't know the name of, that you have no prescription for, and you might die if you don't get it???"  When we finally found the right clinic, there was a male nurse I had met at the bank a few days ago.  He is a return missionary who went to El Salvador.  He took the Elder right in, ahead of everyone else, and five minutes later the Elder came out happy; he had gotten his shot.  I count that as a tender mercy from the Lord.
The McBrides at Aggie Greys

Last Monday for FHE the McBrides presented a slide show from Saudi Arabia and Oman.  Before coming to Samoa they had lived in Saudi Arabia for five years, working with a multi-national team on securing the oil refineries from terrorist attacks.  While there they took two trips, following a possible trail used by Lehi's family in the Book of Mormon.  It was a fascinating presentation with pictures of what some people believe are the Valley and Mountain of Laman and Lemuel, and also the land Bountiful where there was an ancient ship building industry.

Jacobs Farewell Party - Aggie Greys
This week we said good-bye to the Jacobs.  They were the previous Senior Zone Leaders, and had met all of the Senior couples as we came in, and oriented us to life in Samoa.  They were a great sounding board for us as we struggled through all the changes at the beginning of our mission.  We are all going to miss them!  Most of the Seniors met at the Sheraton's Aggie Gray Hotel outside of town for a farewell dinner on Friday night.  It was such a delightful evening with wonderful friends and an exquisite setting. I brought my Dad's harmonica with me to Samoa, determined to learn to play it. (My Dad was a great harmonica player!)  I try to practice every morning, but even though I am not even close to what Dad could do, my first "public" performance was "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."

Giant Clam Bay - Yes - it is this beautiful!
These trees are actually fence posts that have grown into trees.
The barbed wired goes right through the middle of them.
The Schaefermeyers had come over for the farewell dinner from American Samoa, and so another beach day was planned for them on Sat.  This time we went to a bay where there is a protected area for giant clams.  They were about 2 feet long with scalloped edges and in a variety of colors.  Driving in to the beach area we passed fence posts that had grown into trees.  It is pretty weird.  Everything you stick in the ground here grows, including fence posts.  Also, we are in the season for flowering trees, and we passed some gorgeous trees that have burst into blossoms.  Just when we think it can't get prettier - Voila - flowers everywhere!

Elder Lata with the Branch President & Family
On our way home we stopped at a small LDS Chapel, which is really only a fale.  This small branch has grown to 135 people who regularly attend Sabbath services.  They have to set up chairs outside to accommodate everyone.  Elder and Sister Lata are a senior welfare douple who have worked very closely with this branch.

The Primary Program was today in Sacrament meeting, what beautiful, precious children!  The message was that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  My scripture for the week is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  What a wonderful message to end this blog post on.  Have a great week!

Love, Patty

Sunset at Aggie Greys

Flowering Tree on Campus

Saturday, October 31, 2015

L-R: Elder Wilson, Elder Cutler, Elder Mikkelson and  me,
enjoying Sat. morning breakfast
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
I am at the office this afternoon because I had a hard time deciding which pictures of fish I wanted to include. (Brent took a lot of pictures!)  Yesterday morning we fed the missionaries and then went down to the wharf to the large fish market.  The boats come in and dump their haul early every morning. The variety, patterns, and colors are amazing!  I hope that everything they bring in is used for something.  I would not have the faintest idea what to do with most of what we saw.   I remember reading about the problem of over fishing our oceans, and when you see the literally thousands of fish and critters brought into this one wharf every day, and sold so cheaply, it makes you wonder if anyone is paying attention to supply and demand.  I came
 to this market with Afalua earlier in the week
Colorful fish at the wharf marketweek and bought a tuna fillet
Thousands of fish are lined up on huge metal/tile  tables -
with not an ice cube in sight.  People stand over them and
fan off the flies.
 and bought a large fresh tuna fillet for $15 WST (about $6.50 USA).  It was definitely enough for two meals.  I cooked it in coconut milk with onions.  It was good, but would have been better if I hadn't cooked it so long.

When we returned from the market we discovered the power was out, which meant no air conditioning.  We have been spoiled, and so suffer when the luxury of cool air is not available.  The power goes out regularly on Sat. for some reason, so we are learning to live with it.  It was with great relief we packed a lunch and left around 12 noon with the other seniors for one last day at the beach with the Jacobs before they head back to California.  Again, this was a new beach for us so a new place to explore.  The snorkeling was like being in an aquarium with small brightly colored fish darting in and out of the coral.  Brent likes to go way out, but I am not comfortable enough in the ocean to get to far from shore.  At this beach you did not have to go far at all to see beautiful fish.  I'm amazed I get in the water at all after seeing all the things that live in there with claws, teeth and stingers!

The Jacobs warned us about posting too many beach pictures on our blog.  They said it gives people the impression that all we are doing is playing.  That could not be further from the truth.  I am still playing nurse.  This week we
More sea creatures - Anyone hungry?
 had a dog bite (Not serious), another Dengue Fever, colds and Plantar Warts.  Last Monday I took five missionaries into the doctors.  I sat in the exam room while the missionaries came in one at a time.  The doctor did not wear gloves, wash her hands, or change the bed linen the whole time I was there!  Not even after seeing the Sister who she diagnosed with body lice! (I went straight home and scrubbed every inch of me in the shower.)  As I was leaving she was turning the same linen sheet to the other side, to ready for the next patient. Welcome to Samoa.  

On our Saturday (Halloween) I left about dawn
Tuna of all sizes - it is the one fish we buy
 for my walk.  In the early light I was treated to seeing two large fruit bats and a cat.  For several days now I have loved seeing Venus, Jupiter and Mars in the eastern sky.  Last Monday we had a full moon.  Walking home from FHE we saw a spectacular moon halo.  I looked it up on the internet and it said it was an optical phenomenon.  The halo is always 22 degrees away from the moon (Whatever that means?) The halo is caused by the light reflecting off of ice crystals.  Look it up on Google under moon halo.  It was huge and spectacular!

I have been thinking this week what a blessing
Matareva Beach on the SW side of Upolu
 it is that there are so many things that are
predictable in our lives.  It gives me a sense of security knowing the sun will always rise and the moon and planets follow set orbits.  My scripture for the week is D&C 88:42. "And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons;
 43 And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets."  
Ellsworths, Jacobs, Whittles, Gillettes
and Lorentzs
I have noticed since living here that the moon is different . In the Southern Hemisphere the moon is opposite than the way you see it in the North.  (I checked it out on Google to make sure I wasn't imaging things.)

This week is full of activities as we welcome the Schaefermeyers home for a visit from American Samoa, and say good-bye to the Jacobs.  The office should be fairly quiet, barring an outbreak of the plague, and hopefully I can get caught up in submitting the baptism forms.  We have made wonderful friends here, but have not forgotten the family and friends at home that we dearly love and miss.  Get up early one morning and take a look in the pre-dawn hours at the planets and moon, and know that I am looking at the same planets and moon and thinking about you.  I send my love a best wishes for a wonderful week.  God Bless!  Patty

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Talofa Lava,
Today marks the 4th anniversary of my dear Mother's death.  I talk to her often on my early morning walks under the stars, and feel her love and support.  She is my guardian angel.  She always wanted to serve a mission, so I tell her that this one is for her.  I was so blessed to have a Mother who taught me by example how to serve.  I miss her everyday!

This past week was transfers, which we barely survived.  There is a lot to be said for making a plan and sticking to it.  Elder Bate, the only AP who has been with us since the beginning went home.  He is such a remarkable young man and I am going to miss him.  You can see that Brent is still smiling.  This picture must have been taken before his new computer had a "Catastrophic Incident".  (That's what the IT man called it.)  He lost a lot of the work he had done on programs since we got here.  He had been assured that there was a back-up server.  Well - Surprise!!!  Brent now has to reconstruct much of what he lost.  However, he did go and buy a back-up gadget so there should not be any more surprises.
 The beginning of the week was so crazy and chaotic that I did not get a picture of the new missionaries from the Provo and New Zealand MTCs.  Added to transfers &  my regular duties I have been taking care of sick missionaries.  Thank goodness our new Dentist, Bob Lorentz, and his wife Janis, arrived this week.  Bob was a medic in the military and is very willing to help out.  Today he lanced a boil, and he comes over everyday to check on the missionaries who are staying at the mission office because they are ill. I just got a number of a local doctor from New Zealand who is supposed to be very good, and tomorrow, first on the list is to take 4 missionaries to see her.  One elder has a strange rash, one is having trouble breathing, and two sisters who are having female problems.  President and Sister Hannemann have been in American Samoa since early Sat. and are not returning until tomorrow evening.

 Yesterday we took a much needed break and went with the seniors on an outing to the Papase'ea Sliding Rocks.  The sign at the top reads "Take a stroll down the stairs".  I ask you, does this look like strolling to you??? Some of the stairs were 6" high, but then there were the ones at the bottom that were 18" high.  Brent can hardly move today and I'm pretty sure I'll be sore tomorrow.  On the way down these stairs, I put my camera in the front of my swim suit so I could hold on with both hands.  Unfortunately, I forgot it was there and jumped into the pool at the bottom.  After swimming for several minutes I realized my mistake.  Luckily the chip was OK so we didn't lose any pictures, but I'm afraid my camera is ruined.  It is sitting here on the desk in a bag of rice.

The water was cool and refreshing, and we enjoyed the morning surrounded by beautiful rain forests and wonderful friends.

For my weekly scripture, I chose another favorite from 2 Nephi 31:20.  "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, and a love of God and of all men,  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold,  thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
Much of this week could be classified under "enduring".  Our days have stretched out to 12+ hours of work with very few breaks.  I continue to be grateful that we have the strength and health to fulfill our responsibilities.  Even though we are not directly involved in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we put our all into supporting the young missionaries who are.  Their days are also long and hard.  So, why do we do this?  Because we know the happiness and peace that has come into our lives as a result of  living the gospel. And we know that there are many people out there who want to know who they really are; we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father.  Understanding the atonement of Jesus Christ lifts burdens and brings joy into the lives of people.  I am eternally grateful for the knowledge I have of the Savior's atonement, and for this opportunity to help and share the message with others.

God Bless You and Keep you this week as you fulfill your own responsibilities.

Tofa, Patty

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Talofa Lava,
It's hard to know where to start this post this week.  I haven't posted about the drama with our mission nurse, who finally had a mental breakdown and was sent home a couple of weeks ago.  The bottom line to this episode is that we not longer have a mission nurse.  This past week the Hannemanns have been in Savaii, so voila, guess who's the new nurse.  I think I have ringworm down, a pretty common ailment here with the humidty.  I also treated a cold, a stomachache and an Elder who cut his foot.  I have 24/7 access to a doctor in New Zealand by phone and the phone numbers of local doctors.  Today a sister called with symptoms of Dengue Fever.  I called the doctor and he told me what to do.  I will check to see how she's doing tomorrow.  My Mom would be so proud of me.  

This week we have transfers, that's when we have different people coming and going and it gets pretty crazy. New missionaries arrive from the Provo MTC tomorrow night and the New Zealand MTC missionaries arrive on Tuesday.  After orientation, interviews, pictures and training they are sent on their way on Wed.  Thursday all the missionaries returning home come into the mission home for interviews, pictures and a nice farewell dinner. Elder Cutler made this awesome board that shows all three islands and pictures on sticky tape of every missionary and where they are serving.  It really helps when you are trying to keep track of 165 people all coming and going in different directions.  

I had this preconceived notion that living on an island in the middle of the Pacific that we would be eating fresh fish everyday along with exotic fruits.  Well, as you can see by the picture, the roadside fish stands leave a little to be desired.  Even the big fish markets just have 5 gallon plastic buckets full of fish - the problem being you don't have any idea how long they have been there without refrigeration.   So far we haven't dared chance it.  As far as fruits go, pineapples are coming into season and they are delicious!  Mangoes are also coming into season, but they are not a favorite.  As far as the other fruits go they are exotic but also require an acquired taste.

When we go to the market there are a lot of fruits and vegetables that I have never even seen and wouldn't even have a clue what to do with them.  The ones we have dared to try are slimy inside and not very tasty.  So much for our exotic fish and fruits.
Elder Anderson and Elder Tupuola enjoying a pancake and egg
breakfast on Sat. morning.  I love these Elders!

One of the changes President Hannemann has made is he has called 6 Assistants.  (There are usually two)  All 6, plus one on special assignment, moved into the nurses vacated apt. next door.  He also called 2 Sister Leaders for a total of 9 missionaries at the office.  Today after church none of them had planned for anything to eat. (Sacrament Mtg. was on Self-Reliance :) We took pity on them and told them to come over. Putting together food for 9 missionaries who were unplanned for took a little doing.  President Saunders had left us two boxes of Chef-Boy-R-Dee (sp?) pizzas that we made up. We added to that left over 3 bean salad,  7 cans of tuna  two loaves of bread and candy popcorn left over from Senior  game night at our house.  I don't believe that any of them left hungry.

My little front yard friend.
Another misconception I had before we arrived, was I thought there would be parrots and exotic birds. Wrong!  The most common bird here is  the Myna, similar to the Starling in the States,  They are not native and are now a threat to the native birds. On the bright side there are no pigeons.  This little speckled guy showed up on our front lawn a few weeks ago with his lady friend.  I enjoy watching them dart around the lawn.  Sorry I couldn't get a better picture, but they are too quick!

We are for sure in the wet season.  Samoa has two seasons - wet and dry.  Last week we had huge deluges of rain every day.  Similar to what we get in Las Vegas a couple of time a year during the monsoon season.  I understand that I should expect more of the same through March. It's like breathing pea soup when I walk in the morning, as the air has so much moisture in it. I'm hoping I don't grow webbed feet!

Last week when we had the opportunity to listen to General Conference we were challenged to memorize one scripture a week.  I kind of cheated and chose my favorite scripture for this week which I already had mostly memorized. (I wanted to perfect it)    Isaiah 12:2 -" Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation."  I finished the Book of Mormon along with its commentary.  This book is an additional witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ.  I am now working on finishing "Jesus the Christ" by Talmage.  I love that I have time to read and ponder the scriptures. They have always been a great source of strength to me.

I understand fall has arrived in Las Vegas, that is my favorite time of year.  Enjoy the cool weather and the welcome break from the heat.  Love and God Bless!  Patty

Friday, October 9, 2015

Talofa Lava Family and Friends,

Again we are having internet woes so have come to the office to write this.  I know I sound like a broken record (Grandkids - ask your folks what a broken record is) but life here is just busy with mission work.  Saturday we took a down day, sleeping in, cleaning the house, grocery shopping and then home to nap and read.  That probably sounds boring but it was wonderful!

This weekend is a holiday here in Samoa called "White Sunday," that happens to also stretch into Monday.  It is a day to celebrate children, similar to our Father's and Mother's Day.  Children are given gifts at church, and families prepare the children's favorite foods.  They also get to eat first, which is a treat as usually children are fed after the adults have eaten.

We got some welcome rain this week with some spectacular rainbows.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to capture nature's splendors with a camera from Target. The colors at the end of these rainbows were so vivid, nothing like I have ever seen before.  Many families here depend on rain for food and so prolonged drought  is literally a matter of life and death.

The normal routine for Samoans who live outside of the city is rising early.  Then men and boys go to their "plantations" which may be quite a distance from home.  They work planting, harvesting and clearing land.  It is not uncommon to see several men walking down the road carrying machetes.  The women and girls stay at home.  Girls learn how to weave mats, make clothes, care for young children.  School age kids go to school.  The men come home and often do the cooking in the outdoor kitchens for the large meals. These people are very self-reliant and produce most of what they need.  Usually someone in the extended family works at a regular job for a paycheck so the family can buy items they can't produce.  The day also includes family prayers and Bible reading.  Some villages have rules that govern when families will gather.  Samoan is 99% Christian and every Sunday you see people walking to their different churches, mostly wearing white.  Quite often I see older women wearing hats, it's like being in a time warp back to the 1950's.  One thing I really enjoy is driving through the villages in the late afternoon.  Everyone is out.  Young people are playing rugby or Volleyball, people are strolling down the road, kids are out playing.  Older people gather at the fales and visit.  It's like everyone is on vacation every night.

These young men work at the mission complex keeping up the grounds and cleaning.  Last week they scrubbed the walks around the office on their hands and knees with little scrub brushes for 4 days!  The week before they were up on the roof scrubbing the roof!  When I questioned what I thought was strange, I was told they need to keep busy so they can get the hours they need for pay.  When people have a job here they want to hold on to it. I am just grateful that I have never had to scrub a roof under the very hot Samoan Sun.

I have become quite a rugby fan with the World Cup running this week.  It is a great game to watch, very fast paced and exciting.  I was sad that Samoa lost, but happy that the All Blacks from New Zealand have been winning.  In the morning when I walk the Samoan National Rugby Federation has boys out on the field I walk around running their drills.  That is at 5:45 am in the dark!

I send my love to all of you.  I love looking at FB when I have the chance and the internet is working. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends.  Even though I don't often respond it is nice to see you. Sent with Love, Patty


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,
Waterfall at Sauniatu
Well, it happened this week...hit kind of unexpectedly,,,and was pretty painful!  I was homesick!  A couple from the states was visiting in church last Sunday, and their baby looked so much like our little Cade.  It was also our 3 month mark this past week, so that might have had something to do with it also.  I have thought about how blessed I am to have a home and people that I love and they love me.  I also have a new appreciation for what it must be like for our military men and women who get sent overseas for long deployments, and our young missionaries who have never been away from home.  I've prayed for people around the world who are being held unjustly  against their will, (Just for the record - I am not being held captive.)  It's true that painful experiences are also learning experiences.   They can help us develop empathy and be better able to support others.  I have a new appreciation for the word sacrifice, and have a little bit better understanding of what it means to give everything to the Lord.  In talking to some friends here I was relieved to find out that these emotions are pretty normal and to expect them to ebb periodically throughout the time we are gone.
Elder Anderson's 3rd pair of shoes since he arrived.  New
are on the way, but stuck in American Samoa.

Elder Wilson harvesting coconuts.
Elder Wilson husking the coconuts in our front yard.
Luckily, we are so busy that I do not have a lot of time to dwell on being sad.  President Hannemann has called 4 new assistants, (2 of them sisters) for a total of 6 Assistants to the President.  He is determined to hasten the work here in Samoa, and as a result more work has appeared at my desk.    Brent is about buried, but at least he doesn't have the time or energy to get homesick.  Besides he regular duties he is working on a solution so we can get cargo over from American Samoa.  We were using Polynesian Air, but they just raised their rates to $50,000 US /yr.  Until we find a solution no packages are getting to Apia.  With the holidays just around the corner this has become a priority.

Right outside our door we have papaya trees and a coconut tree brimming with coconuts.  This week Elder Wilson, a local missionary, shinnied (sp?) up the tree and got them down for us.  Elder Bate, a palagi, was not near as successful but made a valiant effort.  Elder Wilson fetched his machete, and bingo, fresh nius for breakfast.  Cut a hole in the top, stick in a straw and YUM!  

Road leading into Sauniatu (once you get to the church]
property the road improves dramatically)
Yesterday afternoon we drove over to Sauniatu (Prepare to Go Forth),  The church purchased 800 acres in this beautiful valley in 1904 as a gathering place for early members who were being persecuted in their local villages.  Even today there are villages where members of the church are persecuted.  One of the elders serving in the mission is from a village in Savaii where Mormons are not allowed.  If you join the church you lose your home, and are forced to move.  He was taught by the missionaries after he graduated from high school and came to Apia for work.  His family has been forced from their home and had to move to another village at a great financial loss.  They are waiting for his return when they plan to have their return missionary son and brother baptize them.    The stories from here are similar to the sacrifices of the pioneers in the states.  To get to Sauniatu you have to turn off the main road and drive on a pretty rough road for about 20 minutes.  There are no buses, except the school bus, that go up there so we gave two very grateful young men a lift up the steep mountain road. In 1921 David O McKay rode a horse up a dirt trail and visited the village. He blessed the people that they would be able to produce the necessities and comforts of life.  He left a blessing of peace that can still be felt today.  It is beautiful and very prosperous. Today there is a church primary school here that about 150 children attend.  Many years ago students built stairs down to a beautiful swimming hole, complete with a waterfall.  Brent enjoyed a swim, but with my bad knee I did not dare traverse the rocks from the end of the stairs to the pool in my flip flops.  Next time I'll wear tennis shoes.  

This morning I was up at 5 to be at the office at 6 to watch conference.  Tomorrow will be the same.  I love General Conference, and it couldn't have come at a better time as I really needed the boost.  I send my love and prayers to all of you. Each of us have challenges in our lives, things we are struggling with, but I know that the Lord loves us and will not leave us alone if we will just trust Him.   Tofa and Love, Patty