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

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