Sunday, August 30, 2015

Talofa Lava,
Patty and Brent in front of RLS Home
(Before we got our leis)
If you are bored with your life I strongly recommend a mission to cure the doldrums.  I love being busy as the weeks just fly by.  Every day there is something new to learn.  Yesterday I made a cake for some elders.  The recipe called for brown sugar.  I now know that there is a difference between brown sugar and sugar that is brown – that is raw cane sugar.  Oh well, it still tasted great, even if the texture was a little off, and the elders did not seem to mind.
Food Tents with Las Vegas style Buffet

The highlight of our week was a “Garden Party” at the Robert Louis Stevenson home.  Rex Maughan, Jim Winegar and Brother Goodrich, all return missionaries from Samoa, and now philanthropists, hosted the elegant affair.  Invited guests included government dignitaries, ambassadors,  business leaders, prominent citizens, and senior missionaries.  All the guests received a warm welcome with a fresh flower lei, and were treated to wonderful evening of entertainment including a small orchestra, singing, traditional Samoan music and dancing, and a feast fit for royalty, including traditional Samoan dishes, lobster tail, salads, chicken, fish, beef.....A dance floor was set up for after dinner dancing, which I even talked Brent into.  The cool night made the memorable night just perfect!  Tomorrow the senior missionaries have been invited back for a private tour of the home and grounds so will post more pictures next week.

L-R Drs. Larsen and Orchard, Sister & Elder Jacobs,
Elder & Sister Whittle
President and Sister Saunders found out Friday that they were going to Australia today (Sunday) for a week of training.  That leaves Brent and I in the office alone.  Luckily we have some amazing APs, Elder Bate and Elder Tupula so I am not too worried.  We also serve with other amazing seniors who are not in the office but available if we need help.    The Jacobs and Aveis work as auditors, the Gillettes work at the school in the vocational dept., the Whittles work in Self-Reliance, Drs. Larsen and Orchard are the Dentists and Sister Cassita is the nurse.  The Schafermeyers left this week to fill in for the Saunders in American Samoa, and they work with setting up internets in the chapels and teaching members how to use technology.  There are so many ways seniors can be used throughout the world, and what is amazing is that each one of us feel like our assignment is where we are the best suited.

Starting Sept. 5th Samoa is hosting the Pacific Commonwealth Games (a mini-Olympics for youth ages 14-18)  Our campus will be housing hundreds of students.  School is out for the next 3 weeks and classrooms have been turned into dorms with wood partitions and bunk beds.  Everything is getting a new coat of paint, landscape is pruned, people will decorate their houses. it is a BIG deal here.  It is something to look forward to.  

The Lord has blessed us in so many ways. We love serving in the mission field and see the Lord's hand daily in His work. We send our love to all of you - have a good week.  Sister Ellsworth 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

So many beaches - so few weekends...

Talofa! Every Friday night, 6 pm, Brent and I have a date at the Samoan Temple.  I have been attending the temple for 45+ years and have always enjoyed it, but now I finally feel like I am figuring it out.  It is a pleasure to escape from the world for just a few hours and focus on the things the things of eternity.  The temple has truly been a blessing in our lives and the lives of our family. We had a FHE lesson by one of the temple missionaries a couple of weeks ago on symbols in the temple.  She referred to an article “Why This Symbol Appears10,000 Times in the San Diego Temple” that is available on Google. (What did we do before Google???)  I thought it was really interesting and recommend it. 

LDS Samoan Temple
President & Sister Tolman's Farewell Dinner
(Tolmans are 3rd & 4th from Left - front row)
(President and Sister Saunders 2nd row 1st & 2nd from Left)
Last Sunday night we learned that President and Sister Tolman were being released for medical reasons.  We did not realize that President Tolman had been ill for 9 months.  I knew he didn’t feel good but I did not realize how serious it was.  We had a farewell potluck dinner Thursday night with lots of yummy Samoan dishes prepared especially for the Tolmans.  Elder Avei brought his Ukulele and closed the evening with the traditional Samoan farewell song.  Tuesday Tom and Wendy Saunders, a couple serving in American Samoa, arrived and will be serving as interim Mission President.  They are such wonderful people I would be happy if they served until we finished our mission. 

Yesterday (Sat) Brent and I had decided that we should stay home and get some things caught up here.  That was until Sister Jacobs put out an invite to the Black Sands Beach.  Dang it!  So many beaches and so few weekends…The temptation was too great!  We packed a lunch and met the Jacobs, Schafermeyers, Gillettes, Drs. Larsen and Orchard, and Sister Fahrmer and we were off on another great adventure.  Never did I imagine that a mission could be so much fun!  We had this exquisite beach to ourselves.  We snorkeled (Yes, I even snorkeled!) swam, visited, ate, swam some more – it was a most delightful day!  All I can say is that I must have been pretty good in the pre-existence to land here J  To top off a perfect day we all met at my favorite restaurant and had a farewell dinner for the Stonehockers who will be leaving this next week.

Black Sands  Beach
Today (Sunday) we attended our Samoan ward’s sacrament meeting.  I love to go just to hear their singing!  They definitely know how to praise the Lord through song. I then went to primary and played the piano – the kids are amazing singers too.  I love to hear the 10 year old boys sing – they are the best singers of all!  We then attended the English Ward’s sacrament meeting where the singing is not nearly as good.  We can all learn a lesson from praising the Lord from our Samoan brothers and sisters.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Talofa! Another week gone!  How is that possible?  My favorite part of the day is early morning.  I get up around 5 am, go for a 40 min walk under the stars, and return home just as the sun is starting to rise.  After a shower I settle down with the scriptures and read for about an hour.  I have been reading the Book of Mormon again and everyday feel inspired by what I read.  This book is the reason we left our home and came half way around the world.  It testifies of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.  It tells us what we need to do to return home to our Heavenly Father.  It was written for people in our time, and has deep insights on how to face the challenges in the world today.  Even though it was written a long time ago, the themes of the past keep repeating.  Times change, people don’t. If you have ever wondered where you came from, why you are here, and what happens after you die, read the book. I promise you won't be disappointed! 
 Yesterday we went with a few other senior missionaries on an all-day adventure.  We drove to the South side of the island to the  O le Pupu Pu'e National Park and hiked up a trail through lush rain forest to the MA tree.  This is a massive tree with a fin-like root system.   There are several smaller Ma trees but this one was definitely worth the effort to get there.  The guide book says an easy 15 minute walk through a lush forest on a well maintained trail .  Well, the lush forest part was correct, but it took us a lot longer than 15 minutes and you had to climb over roots, rocks, through mud and moss, all the while battling hordes of mosquitoes.  I understand that horses sweat, men perspire and women glow.  In that case, we must have lit up the southern hemisphere! 

Brent, Sister Schafermeyer, Sister Farhmer, Sister Gillette, Me.
The rest of the men are trying to figure out how to work the camera.

Fungus and moss in the rain forest
 Next we drove down the road about a mile and took another trail to the Togitogiga Waterfall and swimming hole.  Never has cool water felt so refreshing!  Of course Brent and the other men had to swim under the falls, while the women were happy just floating in the pool.

After cooling off we drove a little further around the south end of the island to a beautiful sandy beach.  The men snorkeled and the women again were content to just swim and enjoy the incredibly beautiful clear aqua blue water.  The tide was pretty strong so I will wait until there are a little calmer waters before I attempt to use my new snorkeling gear.

Driving home we stopped to visit a small LDS Chapel on the far east end of the island.  The small building is the chapel.  Some of the meetings are held in the open air fales.  The bishop and clerks office, in the back, were about the size of a shed.
                          We enjoyed visiting with some of the members who were there.

LDS chapel right next to the ocean - what it lacks in size it makes up in the setting.

The next couple of weeks should prove interesting.  We were saddened to hear today that President Tolman and his wife are being released for medical reasons and that a new interim mission president will be here Tuesday.  Since I am the president’s secretary, and am just barely figuring out how things work in the office, it is going to be a bit of a challenge.  We wish the Tolmans the best and look forward to meeting and working with the new president and his wife.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Data Diet Woes

Talofa Lava,
This week we are on a diet, a data diet that is, because we have used up almost all of our internet data for the month.  Thus no pictures. :(  Our internet comes to this island via a fiber optic cable that is laid under the Pacific Ocean.  There are ships that carry up to 2,000 km of cable and some kind of a submarine that digs trenches and buries the cable as the ship unwinds the cable.  It is really pretty amazing.  If you want to know more there is information on Google.  The bottom line for us is that even though we pay about the same we did at home, we have access to very little internet time.

This is a three-day holiday weekend here celebrating Fathers.  Brent was excited that he got two Father Days this year.  I baked him his favorite cake and we went to a ward party last night where we were served a traditional Samoan dinner.  Unfortunately, much of the food like taro and breadfruit are an acquired taste that neither one of us have quite acquired.  However, there was a fish dish made with coconut milk that was very good, as well as the chicken.

There are chickens everywhere around here but often when you go to the store they are out of eggs.  I asked a sister here how is that they run out of eggs.  "Oh, we don't use chickens to make eggs, we use chickens to make more chickens.  We really like chicken!"  So I asked her how did they keep track of whose chicken is whose, as they wander all over the place.  "Oh, you just call them at night.  They recognize your voice if you feed them.  They all just come running home when called."  I also learned that chickens are used for insect control.  So, there you know more about chickens than when you started to read this blog.

Will post a few pictures next week if we have enough data left.  Hope you are all well.  We are having such a good time, but do miss family and friends.  Have a great week.

Tofa and God Bless!