Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Afalua and I food shopping for the mission
Talofa Lava and Merry Christmas to our Family and Friends,  We have loved talking to most of our kids and grand kids today, even though it is hard to see them and have to say goodbye again. I understand there is snow in Utah, and chilly in Nevada.  Here in Samoa we have had the hottest days since we have been here.  If you are outside for even a few minutes the sweat just starts to pour off of you because the humidity and heat are both extremely high.  It gives a whole new dimension to baking cookies to give to the missionaries for Christmas, as I dread turning on the oven!  However, the Mom instinct kicks in and urges me on; they are really going to like homemade cookies and they deserve them.
Constructing nativity costumes out of items purchased
at the 2nd hand stores in Apia
 The last couple of weeks have been hectic with preparations for Christmas and a 4 day trip to American Samoa with the Callahans.  We loved having the chance to visit the Schaefermeyers who are currently serving there.  They were great hosts and tour guides, making sure we saw the main attractions on the island of Tutuila.  To get there you fly in this little 15 passenger plane that has no air conditioning.  If you are claustrophobic this ride is not an option.  You have to get weighed before you get on the plane, and your seat is assigned according to how much you weigh.   Our other adventures included seeing the flying foxes (fruit bats) hanging from the trees, hiking up a mountain (again a very sweaty thing to do) to see a WWII gunnery post, eating lunch     at the Growling Rocks, a dip in the ocean in the rain, shopping at an American store similar to Costco, and drooling our ways through the aisles as we passed by foods we used to enjoy in the states, visiting "Charlie the Tuna" at the StarKist Plant, attending a Zone Conference, visiting with missionaries, and driving from one end of the island to the other.  It is a beautiful island with soaring mountains clothed in green, that shoot almost straight up. In the evenings we enjoyed learning a new game "Pounce", playing 5 Crowns, and going to the theater to see "Star Wars." I think we laughed more than is legal, and it was a much needed break from the stress of the office.   Life is sometimes tough when you are a senior missionary!
Elder Callahan getting on the plane at Apia

Arriving home on Monday evening we hit the ground running.  There were cookies to bake and decorate, gift bags to stuff, dinner for almost 100 people to organize (the main dish was catered), Christmas to put together for a family who had nothing, concert and nativity every night until Christmas....This on top of the regular duties that needed to be completed like food shopping for the mission and office work. However, it was not as stressful as Christmas at home - actually it was a wonderful Christmas!

Christmas Eve here was on Thursday.  Our missionaries had been practicing songs for the community Nights of Christmas that went for 7 nights.  All 7 nights we had the live nativity going. I was glad that President Hannemann settled for a Ewe and her lamb, and bagged the cow, donkey and pigs.  During the nights performances people of all ages would come to have their picture taken with the nativity.  It was a huge hit!   This activity was at the main government building, sponsored by the government and every night included songs of the Savior and Christmas.  Not a single person raised their voice in protest that their tax dollars were being used for religious purposes.  Today this activity could never take place in most of the USA without someone protesting about their rights.  It made me sad to realize what we have lost in the name of political correctness.

Thanks to my family, every missionary got a new pair of socks in their gift bag.  
Live Nativity with Missionaries

Christmas Eve day our Elders were treated to a delicious dinner of Teriyaki Chicken, rice, fruit salad and a huge array of cookies and desserts provided by the Senior Missionaries.  That night they gave an amazing concert of songs about the Savior.  At the end of the program a heavily tattooed Santa arrived in a fire engine, to sirens, singing and confetti being blasted out of large tubes. Such a perfect day!

Afalua is the Primary president in her ward.  She told me about a family in her ward who has eight children and lives under a tarp.  After clearing it with the Bishop, the seniors pulled together and bought food and toys for this family.  Even though the family is so poor and has nothing, the kids were happy, and the mother was gracious.  They were so excited when we arrived .  I can't even imagine how you raise a family in
these circumstances.  The ward had recently helped them get a tin roof and mats for the floor so they were feeling very blessed!                                          
A family of 10 live in this small Fale.  It was a pleasure
to give them a little Christmas.

Christmas was spent with the other seniors.  We started with a late breakfast of waffles, bacon, fresh pineapple and eggs.  After visiting we went home, (I watched "ELF") rested and came back at 5 pm for finger foods and games.  This is being sent today in the hopes that you all had a wonderful Christmas and let us all pray for a peaceful New Year.  My Scripture for the week is one of my favorites from the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

Love, Patty
Missionaries Enjoying their Christmas Eve Dinner


  1. Everything sounds amazing (except maybe the sweating). Thinking of you both and wishing you a merry Christmas and happy new year!!

  2. How wonderful! Merry Christmas! We will surely miss you at the Ellsworth Family Soup Christmas Party!:)

  3. Merry CHRISTmas sweet Patty. The wonderful memories that we build at such times are the only thing we really get to take with us at death. GOD bless you and keep you safe.