Saturday, January 30, 2016

Wendy Nielsen, Brent & Gifford Nielsen talking politics
Talofa Family and Friends,
The Nielsens and Patty at Mermaid Beach
     We have had a couple of remarkable weeks as we prepared for, served and recuperated from the Christoffersons and Nielsens visit.  For those of you who are not familiar with the organization of the LDS Church, it is the same as the Church Christ organized when he was on earth. Just like Christ had twelve apostles to help him, we have twelve apostles who serve today, who we believe were called by God.  There is also a prophet on earth today, Thomas S. Monson, who leads the church.  Elder Christofferson is one of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Gifford Nielsen is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.   It was a great honor to be able to meet them and personally serve them for five days.  If any of you are sports fans, you might recognize Elder Nielsen as an All-American Football player from BYU and he also played for the Houston Oilers. Nicer people you will never meet!  When the Nielsens arrived a day earlier than we were told, and President and Sister Hannemann were off island, it fell to us to entertain them.  When they said they would like to go to a beach, we knew just the place.  Several senior couples joined us for swimming, snorkeling and a picnic at "Mermaid Beach."  It couldn't have been a more perfect day.

The purpose of their visit was Priesthood leadership training, and their schedule was pretty tight.  It was up to me to make sure that their rooms were ready, and meals were planned and served on time,  Thank you to Sister McBride, who is a talented decorator and made sure the table setting was gorgeous and the presentation first class.  Some of the Senior couples had the opportunity to come and serve meals also, and ward members supplied beautiful flower arrangements, so it was definitely a team effort.  Sunday night was Elder Christofferson's Birthday, so we had to have cake and balloons.  He was a good sport, as it was his 2nd or 3rd cake he had received.
Elder Christofferson's Birthday

When I think of all the amazing experiences we have had on our mission, I can't understand why every Senior Couple in the church is not signing up.  We are getting close to being half way done, and a part of me never wants it to end.  Definitely the best part of serving a mission as a Senior Couple is the opportunity to meet amazing people.  We said good-by to Bob and Jan Lorenz the same day we said hello to the Nielsens.  Maurice and Alecia McBride have been amazing as they work so hard to improve housing for our young missionaries.  They have also taken the major part of health care off my shoulders, which I appreciate.  The Gillettes are always willing to go and fix anything that needs to be fixed anywhere on the island. We were glad to welcome back the Schaefermeyers this week, who have been serving in Tutuila.  Their job is to set up online services for wards, and train leaders how to use the new technology.  We enjoyed going to a youth activity Friday night with them, where they taught swing dancing.  I even got Brent up and dancing!  There are the Callahans who help certify teachers, the Whittles who teach English and Self-Reliance, the Aveis and Kennerly's who serve as auditors, and many others who work in the temple and other support roles.  It is amazing that every person has received a call that best uses their talents. (My talent is telling other people what to do:)
Bob Lorenz, Sister Hunt & Jan Lorenz - Forever Friends

Afalua has worked in the mission office for years under 7 mission presidents.  She has won our hearts as she serves long hours to make sure everyone is taken care of.  During the days when the General Authorities were here, she was in the kitchen at 4 am and often did not go home until after 9 pm.  I take her food shopping for the mission several times a week and it is always an adventure.  I will try to remember to take the camera next time and document it.

My Scripture for the week is Amos 3:7 - "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
Sis. Ellsworth, Elder Christofferon, Afalua Tuivaiti
The Articles of Faith are 13 statements of basic beliefs of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Number 6 states: "We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth."

The message to the missionaries at our conference from an Apostle of God was to study the Book of Mormon to strengthen our testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am happy to be able to serve  as a missionary, and with all my heart I urge you to read the Book of Mormon if you have not yet done so.  It is a message of hope and will put your life
Elder and Sister Christofferson & Patty & Brent

in a new perspective.  You will learn that there is a purpose to your life, that you just didn't pop into existence from nowhere, but that you are a child of God.  That there is life after this life and a plan for all of us to be together with our families and friends.  And all of this is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and a Heavenly Father who loves us.  For more information about this plan, go to

Sending my Love and Warm Thoughts,

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Happy Days Are Here Again!

Our Five Elders that went home Friday
(Havea, Wilson, Bosworth, Fevesiai, Suiaunoa)

Hello and Goodbye to the Jordans
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Just in case you don't know, the Samoan greeting "Talofa" means "I'm sending my love."  I hate to tell you, but I think I have fallen almost completely under the spell of this beautiful country.  Friday night I was sitting in the temple thinking that I have never been happier in my life.  It is a wonderful thing to spend everyday serving others and not worrying about Donald Trump, the Middle East or the Stock Market.  Yes, the first few months had their challenges, but now that we are settled and basically know what we are doing and how to get around, life is wonderful!

This past week was transfers which is always bitter sweet.  Sweet because we get to welcome new missionaries (This week we welcomed 14 new missionaries.)  Bitter because we have to say goodbye to missionaries who we have grown to love.  Wilson and Suiaunoa were both APs in the office, and so we had worked closely with both of them and grew to love them.  They are both converts.  Elder Suiaunoa joined the church as a teenager, after he was invited to play volleyball at the church.  He had 32 baptisms in one of his areas!  He was an amazing missionary.  Elder Wilson last served on a tiny island off the coast of Tutuila, Am. Samoa.  He told of talking to members there who helped build the chapel in the 1980's.  The Matai (chief) had given them the land, but refused to let them transport the needed sand for cement from the other side of the island.  The members had a special fast and the next day there was a pile of sand right where they needed it.  After that was used another pile, and another pile appeared, until the chapel was completed.  After the construction was completed the piles of sand ceased appearing and have not appeared since.  We hear many faith promoting stories from these faithful young missionaries.
Black Sands Beach - Last Hooray for Bob and Jan Lorenz
 Dennis and Suzie Jordan also arrived this week.  Since they didn't have a car we got to spend a lot of time helping them get things done before they headed over to American Samoa, where they will be serving.  This is their second mission here.  They went home 19 months ago, and are back for a 2nd round.

This was the last Saturday before the Lorenzes leave, so we had to go to the beach, even though it was windy, thanks to Cyclone Victor. We about all drowned trying to get out of the water, myself included.  It was like being a rock in a tumbler.  Brent is the head in the water.  He is like a kid when he gets in the ocean, and also a very strong swimmer.  Bob Lorenz has been the dentist here with his wife assisting him.  They have given me so much help with sick missionaries, I really hate to see them go.  Sometimes you meet people and instantly bond.  That is how it was with Bob and Jan.  They will be forever friends!

Life in the Garden of Eden
One quick nurse story for the week.  A Samoan Elder who knows very little English calls me on the Phone:
Elder: Sister Ellsworth, my companion's body is broken!
Me: Elder, what exactly is broken?
Elder: His whole body.
Me: His whole body is broken?
Elder: Yes.
Me: Elder Frazer, (Samoan AP) please take this call and get more specific information about what is wrong.
Elder Frazer: Blah, blah, blah....(in Samoan)
Me: Well, what's wrong?
Frazer: I told him to come into the office - his body is broken.

When this Elder got to the office he was covered in hives.  They were trying to tell me his skin was broken out.  A couple of Benedryl and an hour of rest in the MRC and he was as good as new.

My scripture this week reflects my life as a missionary.  It is found in the Book of Mormon in 4 Nephi 1:15-16: "And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people."
" And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God."

The Book of Mormon is tangible evidence that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  You can hold it in your hands, read the words for yourself, and ask God if it is a true book.  It does not replace the Bible but is an additional witness of the Savior.   I testify that time and again I have received personal confirmation of its truth.  If you have not read the book you can go online to and request your own copy.  No one will come to your door unless you request it.  I send my love to all of you.  Love, Patty

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Brent's BD

 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
View of Downtown Apia, Samoa
After a busy week last week, we took some down time to relax this weekend.  Yesterday (Sat) we cleaned up the apt., did shopping, went for Chinese food for lunch with the Lorenzs and then spent the afternoon reading and watching a movie. 

 This year our church starts at 7:30 am!  That means we are out by 10:30 and have the rest of the day. Today we decided to take a drive and explore some of the side roads and historical sites in Apia.  We ended up on a hillside with a great view of downtown Apia.  We live about five minutes away from the downtown area.

Brent's Birthday
This week was also Brent's Birthday.  We were both excited that a Christmas Box arrived on his birthday from our friend Marleen in NY.  Our favorite candy is Mike & Ikes,(original)  and there was a good amount enclosed to keep us both happy for a long time, besides mosquito repellent wipes and garlic pills.  Thank You!  He loved hearing from many of you on FB and he got calls from the kids and his brother.  For lunch I took him to his favorite Ice Cream store, Ooh La La's, for a double cone and then out for dinner with friends.  I would say he had a good birthday. 

I was the patient this week with an infection (You don't want to know the details) so I asked the dentist (a friend) for an antibiotic.  I forgot to tell him that I am allergic to penicillin, and I paid a dear price for that omission.  Luckily it was not fatal, and after a trip to the doctor to treat the infection plus the rash, I am feeling good as new.  

Brent and I have loved reading "Samoa, An Historical Novel".  I wanted to see where the great Matai Chief Malietoa was buried, which is what spurred our Sunday drive.  He led the opposition against German colonial rule at the end of the 19th century.  I was shocked to find it on the way to the airport, on a road I have traveled many times.  Coming back into town, just a few blocks from our apt. we discovered the tomb of Tamatasese, another great Samoan Leader.  Learning about the history of this country has helped me understand and appreciate the culture here.

One interesting custom here is that when you die you are buried in the front yard.  If the family moves, they dig up the ancestor's bones, clean them up, wrap them in cloth and take them with them to be buried at their new home.  That way the family is always together.  I think this is a great idea - what about it kids?

Grave site in front of family home

We have another busy week ahead of us with transfers and a new couple arriving.  We are both happy and healthy and grateful to the Lord for the great blessing it is to serve in this beautiful country.  Life is never boring, and we are so busy that the weeks fly by.  

I am excited that the Book of Mormon is our scripture for the year to study in Sunday School.  The first few chapters are full of drama as Lehi's family flees Jerusalem.  The lesson that stuck out to me this time is that life is not promised to be easy and problem free if you are keeping God's commandments, but that in the eternal perspective, you will be blessed.  My scripture this week is Nephi 3:7 
  And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
I send my love!
Tofa, Patty

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Years

American Samoan Sisters sharing breakfast in our home

 Dear Family and Friends,
Talofa Lava and Happy New Year!  The best part of the holidays being over this year is that there is no tree and decorations to take down and store. We had a busy week with our Sisters conference on Wed.  Almost all of our sister missionaries were able to attend, except the ones serving on Manua, as the ferry was out of service.  It was wonderful to meet with these beautiful young sisters, hear their testimonies and be able to share some thoughts with them.  The sisters from American Samoa had to stay over night, so we took advantage of that and had them over for breakfast before they caught their plane back home.
Kokobananas is similar to a tree house - only with very good food!
You can't see the beautiful ocean that is only steps away.
"Return to Paradise Resort" New Year's Day
      Our New Years celebration started with a lovely dinner at Kokobananas with friends.  We splurged and ordered delicious steaks - a rare treat!  Most of the other couples went to the stake dance after dinner, but for some reason my right knee swelled up and was so painful I could hardly walk.  Right before we left for our mission I was attacked by a goose in Sunset Park, and injured my knee trying to run away.  Every once in a while it flares back up.  Luckily New Years day, after a couple of Aleve, my knee was feeling a little better so we joined three other couples at the "Return to Paradise" resort.  I think it is the location of an old Cary Grant movie.  I had not planned to go in the water, but the aqua marine ocean was too much of a temptation.  Brent helped me hobble in and out of the water, and just floating there in the gentle waves was heavenly!
Cindy and Rusty Gillette from Idaho.  Rusty found
this dried up crab on a rock.
     Looking at my January calendar I can see that there is not going to be much time for lounging in the ocean. I am excited that Elder Christofferson will be here from the 23rd to the 26th, so we will be busy getting everything ready for his visit.  We also have 14 new missionaries and two senior couples arriving. We say goodbye to the Lorenzes who have been serving in the Dental clinic.  Bob Lorenz has been a great help with sick missionaries.  They have become dear friends and we hate to see them go!  We also say goodbye to the Latas who have served as Welfare Missionaries.  They have been working with a small branch in Aleisa, where the average Sunday attendance has gone from 10 to over 100!
      Brent and I have found another great book to fill our evenings, "Samoa-an historical novel."  It is fascinating to learn about the history of the Samoan people who were sailing the open seas in dug out canoes using the stars, birds, ocean currents and sea animals to show them the way, over a thousand years before the Europeans or Asians dared cross open waters.  It is helping us to understand the unique culture of the people here.
     I enjoyed reading Jeffrey R. Holland's talk this week "Remember Lot's Wife."  All of us have been given the gift of a new year, a new chance to do things better.  Elder Holland's advice is to not dwell in the past, but to learn from it, cherish the memories and move forward.  If you need a good New Year's read I can recommend this - you can find it online.  My scripture for the week is taken from this talk, Philippians 3:13-14:
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I send my love and wishes that your homes may be peaceful, your health good and your families happy.  Happy New Year!  Patty