Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brent counting out missionaries monthly allowance
Tolofa Lava Family and Friends,
Between Thanksgiving, Zone Conferences and our first cyclone of the season, we have had a pretty full week.  This was my first Thanksgiving away from family, but luckily we were so busy I didn't have too much time to  feel sorry for myself.  Elder Haleck, from the week for a mission tour so the president was gone for almost the entire week. (Due to the area presidency, was visiting the mission this storm he is still gone - stuck in American Samoa.) The big chore in the office was making sure all 167 missionaries got their monthly allowance of $130 Tala (Less then $60).  Brent always gets pretty stressed over this, as he is still dealing with a lot of money, and he does not like to be one penny off.

Sisters Satieu and Callahan stuffing turkeys
Sitting Down for Thanksgiving Dinner - 2015
Even though we are in Samoa,Turkey was a must for Thanksgiving!(Even at $200 Tala /ea) Luckily Bob Lorentz convinced me that we would need two, as there was not a single bite left off of either 24 lb bird at the end of the dinner.  I'm not sure if there is even enough meat left on the bones to make soup.  Sister Satieu, from New Zealand, had never cooked a Turkey before, but did a great job helping to prepare and stuff both Turkeys.  Callahans came in from Savaii, and between the three of us we managed to prepare, stuff and get the birds in the oven on time. (I sure missed my sister Shauna, who has helped with getting the Turkey ready for years!)   Everyone had signed up to bring something, and I started to panic when the couple who had signed up for pie, showed up with one pumpkin pie, and the couple who signed up for potatoes, showed up with a small pan.  I made a mad rush to one store to buy potatoes and carrots, and another where we buy brown sugar, all in pouring rain.  Brent stayed at the apt. and made a large dish of candied carrots (Which were a big hit) and I came back to the mission home and started peeling/cooking 4 bags of  potatoes.  I then went home and made pumpkin cake.  It was good that I did as 26 adults and 15 missionaries showed up for dinner. As it turned out we had a lot of food, but at Thanksgiving you just have to have enough potatoes and gravy! This was also the first Thanksgiving with zero leftovers.

A Few of the Missionaries Enjoying Thanksgiving
At home, after Thanksgiving, we always play the Ricky-Ticky Bear Cup Game.  It was a smashing success with the seniors and missionaries.  Since the seniors had done all the cooking and preparations, the missionaries offered to clean up.  (I think they wanted to pick over whatever was left).  While they cleaned some of the seniors played Right, Left, Center with a bag of candy the Callahans had brought.  It was a fun way to end a very busy day.

Friday started with an internet message of an approaching cyclone - category one.  It has been raining for almost a week solid, so I could not imagine there could be more rain - but believe me- there is more rain than you can imagine that comes with tropical storms!  The ward Christmas Party on the beach was cancelled because of the storm, and it was too stormy to be out, so I threw a senior Cyclone Party together.
Nativity made by Sister Hunt
The sisters were invited to our house for a craft activity and the men went to the Lorentz home to watch guy movies.  We had planned to all go out to dinner, but by 5 pm the storm was really raging and so that was cancelled. Everyone just hunkered down at their own homes to ride out the winds and torrential rains.   According to the global meteorologists, we are in an El Nino year, so they are predicting more and stronger storms than average through next April.  After seeing a category one, I am definitely not interested in seeing a category 3!

With Thanksgiving over, that means Christmas is right around the corner.  I think my only decoration will be a small nativity I purchased from a sister in the ward.  December is going to be a busy month with the missionaries involved in community service projects, and musical programs.  I don't think I will miss the stress of shopping and wrapping.  Hopefully I can enjoy a simple Christmas.  My scripture for the week is Psalms 69:30 "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving." We all have so much to be thankful for!  My greatest blessings are my family and friends, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the understanding I have of Heavenly Father's plan for each of us.  Love and Best Wishes!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Elders Masaga, Mikkelson, Wilson and Anderson.
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
This is going to have to be a short post as it has taken me over an hour trying to load a couple of pictures.  Again I am at the office as our internet is not working at home.  This afternoon at Relief Society sisters were talking about the attacks in Paris.  What attacks in Paris???  I know all about the cheating scandal in the world of Cricket, but had to come to the office to learn about Paris.  Very Sad!

This week we said good-bye to Elders Masaga and Anderson.  They are opening up the island of Manua for missionaries.  Elder Anderson's great-great-great grandfather was one of the first Mormon missionaries in Samoa and Manua was the first place he landed back in
Front of Flea Market
the 1800's.  The Andersonfamily is very excited about this assignment.

This weekend we took it easy.  We cleaned the apt., did grocery shopping (did I mention how I will never take super markets for granted again) and went to the flea market.  This place is huge with well over 100 stalls where they pretty much all sell the same things.  We went looking for things to send the grandkids for Christmas. (Hope they like things made out of coconut shells.)  What is really amazing about this place is that everything is taken down every night and then put back up the next morning.
Bell Tower - Road  #3
 Another thing that is crazy about Samoa is there are no addresses.  Very few streets, even in Apia, have street signs.  To solve this problem the senior missionaries have designated streets by stop lights running east past the temple.  That makes "First Street" the one you turn on to go to the open air produce market, or the Chinese Food Restaurant.  You will know you are on "Road #3" by the clock tower.  This is the road you want if you want to find Ace Hardware, the pharmacy or Lucky's Food Mart. (The best place to buy meat).  Road #4 is where you will turn right to go to the hospital and the best Pizza Place in town.  Road #5 goes up over the mountain.  On the way you will pass the Robert Louis Stevenson Plantation.  This system actually works very well, unless you want to go West from the temple, then you are on your own.

Well, our nurse that started last Monday lasted two hours.  That's how long it took her to realize that it was not a paid position, except for blessings.  We had told her that when she came in, but somehow the message was not communicated so she understood.  She stayed long enough to give the sister missionary her Hep A shot, and bandage a sore toe, and she was gone. That means I am once again the nurse.  Last week, after sitting in a very hot doctors office for an hour with two elders, and a trip to the hospital for a blood test, I thought these two elder would appreciate lunch at McDonalds.  (You can not even imagine how good a Big Mac tastes!)  We didn't have time to go in and eat so we went through the drive through with strict instructions not to tell any of the other missionaries (Especially Anai and Galvez who had begged to go the week before.)  As we pulled up to our apt. where we were going to go in and eat, who was standing there?  Yup!  You guessed it.  Galvez has to go in for another lab test this week, so it looks like another trip to McDonald's is in my near future.

The Scripture that comes to mind this evening is John 14:27 -"
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  Unfortunately, the world we live in is in chaos in many places.  I am grateful for the peace in my life that I feel when I follow the Savior.  One of my favorite primary songs says: "Keep the commandments...In this there is safety and peace."  I know from experience that this is true.
May the Lord Bless You With Peace and Keep you Safe all through this next week.
Love, Patty

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Giant Clams!

Dear Family and Friends,
Talofa Lava.  That is the Samoan greeting similar to "Aloha" in Hawaii.  Good News!  We got an R.N. to come into the office on a part-time basis starting tomorrow.  She was the school nurse here at Pesega for 15 yrs. and just retired from working at the local hospital.  It will be so nice to be relieved of nursing duty that I am really not cut out for.  That means I won't have to give Sister Asiata her Hep A injection.  (That was not going to happen anyway, even though Dr. Olsen assured me that I could do it if needed.)   Last Thursday afternoon Sis. Hannemann (President's wife) came into the office in a panic.  She had she learned that one of our missionaries was suppose to go to the hospital every 28 days for some kind of injection. Apparently he had had rheumatic fever as a child and had taken them for years before his mission.  Since they were going off island, could I please take him to the hospital the next day for this shot.   The nurse, that left last month, had never followed up on getting him the injections.  He told me that he had been so worried because he had not had an injection since May and he was scared he was going to die.  The Elder is from Savaii (another island in Samoa)  and had never been to the hospital in Upolu.  So, let me get this straight: "I am taking you to a hospital where you have never been before, to get a shot that you don't know the name of, that you have no prescription for, and you might die if you don't get it???"  When we finally found the right clinic, there was a male nurse I had met at the bank a few days ago.  He is a return missionary who went to El Salvador.  He took the Elder right in, ahead of everyone else, and five minutes later the Elder came out happy; he had gotten his shot.  I count that as a tender mercy from the Lord.
The McBrides at Aggie Greys

Last Monday for FHE the McBrides presented a slide show from Saudi Arabia and Oman.  Before coming to Samoa they had lived in Saudi Arabia for five years, working with a multi-national team on securing the oil refineries from terrorist attacks.  While there they took two trips, following a possible trail used by Lehi's family in the Book of Mormon.  It was a fascinating presentation with pictures of what some people believe are the Valley and Mountain of Laman and Lemuel, and also the land Bountiful where there was an ancient ship building industry.

Jacobs Farewell Party - Aggie Greys
This week we said good-bye to the Jacobs.  They were the previous Senior Zone Leaders, and had met all of the Senior couples as we came in, and oriented us to life in Samoa.  They were a great sounding board for us as we struggled through all the changes at the beginning of our mission.  We are all going to miss them!  Most of the Seniors met at the Sheraton's Aggie Gray Hotel outside of town for a farewell dinner on Friday night.  It was such a delightful evening with wonderful friends and an exquisite setting. I brought my Dad's harmonica with me to Samoa, determined to learn to play it. (My Dad was a great harmonica player!)  I try to practice every morning, but even though I am not even close to what Dad could do, my first "public" performance was "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."

Giant Clam Bay - Yes - it is this beautiful!
These trees are actually fence posts that have grown into trees.
The barbed wired goes right through the middle of them.
The Schaefermeyers had come over for the farewell dinner from American Samoa, and so another beach day was planned for them on Sat.  This time we went to a bay where there is a protected area for giant clams.  They were about 2 feet long with scalloped edges and in a variety of colors.  Driving in to the beach area we passed fence posts that had grown into trees.  It is pretty weird.  Everything you stick in the ground here grows, including fence posts.  Also, we are in the season for flowering trees, and we passed some gorgeous trees that have burst into blossoms.  Just when we think it can't get prettier - Voila - flowers everywhere!

Elder Lata with the Branch President & Family
On our way home we stopped at a small LDS Chapel, which is really only a fale.  This small branch has grown to 135 people who regularly attend Sabbath services.  They have to set up chairs outside to accommodate everyone.  Elder and Sister Lata are a senior welfare douple who have worked very closely with this branch.

The Primary Program was today in Sacrament meeting, what beautiful, precious children!  The message was that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  My scripture for the week is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  What a wonderful message to end this blog post on.  Have a great week!

Love, Patty

Sunset at Aggie Greys

Flowering Tree on Campus