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