|Parade of Countries|
Another crazy week in Paradise! It has been so exciting having the Commonwealth games here in Apia. We attended the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremonies, and were so impressed that we went back for the real McCoy. It was as close to an Olympic opening ceremony as we will probably ever get to attend. There were teams here from 63 countries all over the world including India, Pakistan, Ghana, South Africa, England, Canada, Belize, Namibia…..and a few countries or territories that I am embarrassed to admit (as a past World History teacher) that I had never heard of. Beside the parade of countries there was a choir of hundreds, over a thousand dancers, acrobats, fireworks, and traditional Samoan firedancers.
|Arrival of Samoa's Head of State - "His Highmess"|
|Arriving Missionaries from the States|
(Samoan, New Zealand & Australia had not yet arrived)
Unfortunately, because it was also transfer week we did not have time to attend any of the competitions. We welcomed 19 new missionaries to the field on Monday, put them through some basic training, set them up with their new companions on Wed. and shipped them out to their assignments. I am amazed at their courage to be willing to testify of Jesus Christ in a language they barely speak. To trade in their comfortable living conditions in the states for what pretty much amounts to a two year scout outing. We had five young sisters on this intake. I thought about the Young Women’s camps and how they are great training for a mission. One of the new elders called the office to tell us their hot water was not working. Duh! There is NO hot water!
On Thursday and Friday we said goodbye to 18 amazing missionaries. We had the privilege of attending their last testimony meeting in the mission field. The trials and challenges these young missionaries face and overcome in the field, change them from kids to mature young men and women who have incredible testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every one of them bore strong testimonies of the Book of Mormon and of the life changing experience their mission had been. Every one of them left the island totally fluent in the Samoan language! It is a great blessing to have an association with them. They are going to be missed!
|Survivor Samoa Island|
Saturday the Jacobs called and wanted to know if we were up to visiting “Survivor Beach.” This is a private beach, owned by some church members, where the TV show “Survivor Samoa” was filmed. They got permission to go from the owners, so how could we turn down that adventure? After an hours drive through villages, palm plantations and spectacular scenery, we arrived at the gate. We drove on through on a very rough road through the jungle for about 15 minutes, parked the cars at the end of the road and hiked through the jungle for another 15 minutes to the beach. Besides a wild boar and mosquitoes we didn’t see another living creature (except birds). The beach was beautiful with sand the color and texture of baby powder and coconut palm trees 100+ feet tall. It rained off and on, and the surf was choppy but we stilled enjoyed a swim in the beautiful aqua marine water. However, after being there for a few hours, I was glad I didn’t have to stay and survive off the land for 30 days. I was happy to hike back to the car and drive home to a nice hot shower (Senior missionaries get hot water J) and a nice, clean, comfy bed.
This next week our new mission president, Arthur Hannemann and his wife, arrive from Honolulu, Hawaii. I am sure they will be wonderful to work with but we are sure going to miss President and Sister Saunders. It would be hard to find two nicer people on the whole planet. We have been out two months and this will be our 3rd Mission President. I think that might be a record!
Our love and thoughts have been especially with the LaPratt family this week, but we send our love to all of you! Tofa - Sister Ellsworth (AKA Mom, Grams, Patty)