We arrived in Apia, Samoa on Tuesday night and spent Wednesday getting our driver's licenses, opening a bank account, unpacking, grocery shopping and collapsing. We were issued a cute blue Hyundai SUV with the steering wheel on the right side of the car. Samoa recently changed the side of the road you drive on (you now drive on the left) and it is a little hard to get used to, especially when the arrows on the road are saying you are going the wrong way. I guess they haven't had a chance to paint over the old paint. We both have trouble when it comes time to signal as invariably the window washers go on instead of the turn signal. Grocery shopping has turned into an adventure as many of the things we usually buy are not available. People go to 3-4 stores to shop to try and get the things they need. There is nothing that even closely resembles the supermarkets we are used to. Their money, the Tala, is a little less than half of the US dollar so when you go shopping and the can of vegetables says $5.90 it's really only about $2.75. Food is very expensive. The local population have plantations so do not buy that much at the grocery. Brent and I could lose weight if other senior couples didn't keep inviting us to go to dinner with them. We've had some amazing fish and chips and tuna steak!
Their are several other couples serving here in the mission, but they still need more.(hint-hint) We have already made many new friends and were excited that at least one couple loved to play 5 Crowns. We will be getting together for FHE and other special occassions. We were invited to go snorkling today but had to take a rain check as we had to clean out the closets and get the apt. organized. However, this afternoon we went with the couple who we are replacing and they drove us around town and showed us good places to eat, where to buy household goods, and then inland to see Papapapaita falls. The countryside is beautiful and lush, a different kind of beauty than we are used to in Las Vegas.
I am going to try to load some photos of our apt. It has a living room/kitchen, a bath and one bedroom. It is plenty big and had more than enough storage. We will be very comfortable during our stay here. We are steps away from the temple and the mission office. The complex is large and includes the mission offices, mission housing, the temple and housing for the temple workers, the Pesenga School and housing for the teachers, and many open spaces for rugby and soccer. My favorite part of the day is my early morning walks where I enjoy the sounds of roosters and birds and watching the sun come up. It is cool and peaceful. I had worried about the humidity but it really has not been uncomfortable. Our apt is air-conditioned as is the office and the cars. The mornings and evenings are cool and delightful to be out in.
Thursday and Friday we spent the days learning our many responsibilities - right now it is a little overwhelming but I feel confident that with the Jackson's great training that we will be alright. They will be returning to their home in Provo, Utah on the 31st of July. It has been a lot of fun to start meeting the missionaries as they come into the office. Many of the elders here are from Samoa or at least from the Pacific Islands. We are looking forward to welcoming the Elders and Sisters we met at the MTC. Tomorrow we will be attending a Samoan Ward as they don't have anyone to play the music for Primary. I am more than happy to help.
My new word for the day is Pili, aka Gecko lizards. They are pretty cute as long as they are not sharing my bed. Well, Brent is ready to go to dinner so will close for now. Tofa. Sent with love, Sister Patty Ellsworth