Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Week of Talofas and Tofas (Hellos & Goodbyes)

Brother Avei, Dr Larsen & Afalua making Palasam

Dear Family and Friends,
Talofo to the Hannemanns
& Love and Tofa to the Saunders

This has been a week of Talofas and Tofas (Hellos and Goodbyes).  We said goodbye to President Thomas Saunders and his wife Wendy,from near Calgary, Canada and hello to our new mission president Arthur Hannemann and his wife Peggy from Honolulu, Hawaii.  The Saunders were so awesome and so easy to love and to work with, we were a little apprehensive about who might show up.  However, the Hannemanns are also wonderful people, they have strong testimonies of the gospel and a real zeal for missionary work.  Best of all they own restaurants and love to cook!  Sister Hannemann has already treated us to her famous banana bread.

The day that the Saunders had gone to the airport to pick up the Hannemanns was the same time we got word of the earthquake in Chile and a possible tsunami headed our way.  I was very happy to say goodbye to that threat and am even more determined to help with an emergency action plan.  I have felt prompted several times since we arrived that there needs to be some kind of monthly drill for missionaries, but with the changes taking place in the office it hasn’t been a priority.  It is now a priority on my list.  Most of these kids come from the states and have never experienced a typhoon let alone a tsunami!  Most of them live in small villages with different circumstances, and they get moved around the islands.  One cookie cutter plan, like the one in place right now, is not sufficient. The key is working with the locals, as they know what to do in their particular area.

We also had an encounter with a large dog this week.  Dogs are a huge problem in some parts of the islands as they are not neutered, and roam around in packs.  Dog bites are a common problem.  We were driving home late one night from the airport (We had just picked up Brother and  Sister  Matagni) when one of these dogs ran right in front of the car.  If we were Samoan we would have just hit it, and kept going, but we’re not.  Brent instinctively slammed on the brakes, but was not able to avoid hitting it.  Unfortunately, the car behind us was following too close and rear-ended our car. So talofa and tofa to the dog and talofa to the repair shop.  I was just grateful no one was hurt, except the dog.

Afalua shredding coconut to make coconut creme - Yum!
Saturday we had a going away party for our two dentists who have been serving here for three months.  They wanted to cook fish for everyone so we never turn down an opportunity for good food.  Brother Avei, a Samoan, also showed us how to make traditional pasami with coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves, then banana leaves and then breadfruit leaves, and then cooked.  It is an acquired taste that I am actually starting to acquire.

Dr. Larsen (Price, Utah) and Dr. Orchard (Bountiful, Utah) are both widowers.  Every morning, starting at about 4:30 am, people start lining up in front of their office.  They have provided a great service to the people here who cannot afford to go to the dentist.  They work miracles with the most basic equipment and not always the supplies they need. (They have been ordered….but this is Samoa!)  Problems that would be referred to oral surgeons in the states, are handled with a prayer, pleading with Heavenly Father to help them pull a decayed tooth buried in the bone.  I never knew being a dentist could be such a spiritual experience.  

White people here are called “Palagies” (pronounced Pa-long-ies),  I think it means that we look like snowflakes.  (Like a Samoan knows what a snowflake looks like!) Anyway, mothers tell their children that if they are not good the Palagies will eat them.  That does not help a bit when a little kid gets a toothache and they go to the dentist , already a scary event, and who walks in but a Palagie!  Both doctors have great stories about how they have to show love to the children before they can work on them.

Feasting - Samoan Style
Dr. Larsen makes saddles as a hobby when he is home.  Several years ago he made one for President George W. Bush and was able to present it to him in the Oval office.  He also took in a Book of Mormon with his testimony written inside the cover, and challenged the President to read it and pray to ask if it was true.  The President obviously has not read the book, but maybe one day he will pick it up.  I've read it many times and testify that it is the word of God. 

Dr. Orchard practiced dentistry in Salt Lake City on the 4th floor of the Medical Arts Building, the same floor my dad’s office was on for 30 years.  He actually had bought his practice from Dr. LeCavalier, my dentist when I was a kid.  We had a great time talking about the Salt Lake of yesterday.  It is with great admiration and love that we bid these two brothers tofa.

Also a loving tofa to my dear friend Karen LaPratt.  She fought an amazing battle against cancer with such courage and spunk.  The world has lost a truly wonderful lady and heaven was just made a better place.
Tofa and love to you all!  Have a wonderful week – Patty (Sister Ellsworth)

ps: I don't know what's wrong with these pictures!  They refuse to go where I want them.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a feast in more ways than one. Thank you for sharing your journey.