Saturday, February 27, 2016

Where There's Smoke there's SupperMy

My Tacos did not turn our so good.  That's
what happens when I am trying to do too
many things at once.
 Talofa Family and Friends,
Well, I am glad to report that Brent and I both survived a very hectic, crazy transfer week.  President and Sister Hannemann were stuck in Manoa (thanks to Cyclone Winston) so the APs and us managed the transfer of 26 missionaries.  For those of you who are not familiar with what this entails, it basically meant that we were trying to lodge, feed and train 26 new misssionaries, plus 19 missionary trainers who came into the office all at the same time. One night we had 50 people here.  We put out sleeping mats everywhere, including our office.  The next morning when I walked in I was almost bowled over with the smell.  I forgot what teenage boys shoes smell like - a smell I had happily forgotten.  A generous spray of Lysol and a lot of airing out, and it is almost gone.

The week started off last Sunday night with a potluck Mexican dinner for the Seniors that the President was supposed to host, but which got switched to us when he was not here.  Thirty six taco shells were pretty much incinerated while I was trying to get everything organized to serve.  No big deal, we took the other fixings and made taco salad, which turned out to be a big hit.  Mexican food is one thing I have really missed, and so kudos go to the seniors who found the fixings to make enchiladas, Mexican layer dip with chips and Mexican Wedding cookies for dessert.
Missionaries returning home.  Boy, I sure do LOVE
these amazing missionaries

 Monday and Tuesday the new missionaries showed up from the Provo MTC (Mission Training Center) and the New Zealand MTC.  Both of these groups arrived at the International airport which is about 40 minutes away.  Two large vans were required to transport them and their luggage back to the mission home.  Tuesday  there was training and a welcome dinner for the new missionaries.  Sister Afalua always works so hard to prepare traditional Samoan dishes.  These dinners are always a real treat.  Luckily President Hannemann was able to get home Wed. night.

Thursday morning the missionaries returning home arrived.  Elder Europa (purple tie) was the only member of his family.  While he was on his mission his family joined the church in Savaii, and he was able to go home and baptize them.  Sister Oteomoa, green shirt, was a recent convert when she decided to go on a mission.  Elder Samaseia (Far left) held a special place in my heart as he spent some time in the MRC with Dengue, and later food poisoning or bad water.  No matter how bad he felt he always kept a good attitude.  Again Sister Afalua made an amazing farewell dinner, and then we were treated to a very spiritual testimony of each of the returning missionaries.
Elder Frazer (AP) with Elder Ainoa
      It is always a tear jerker when the local families drop their missionaries off. Most of these missionaries are only 18 years old (19 for the Sisters) when they arrive.  For many it is the first time they have left home.  They are leaving behind families, friends, school, and a lot of freedom.  Once on a mission they are not allowed to watch tv, get on the internet, use personal cell phones, or call home.  They commit to sleeping on floor mats, waking up early, many hours of daily study, many more hours of proselyting and teaching, hours every week of service, hours of rejection, learning to live with companions, and all of this living in less than ideal circumstances. (I think most parents would have a heart attack if they saw some of the places these young people live).

Sister Oteamoa with the return missionary who
baptized her.  He was here to congratulate her on
a job well done.
 Then there are even more tears when families pick their missionary up two years later.  All of these young men and women have endured challenges and experiences that have turned them into spiritual giants.  They have all gained a strong testimony of the gospel and of their Savior Jesus Christ. Their families are so proud of them. I also have so much love and admiration for each one of them.  They will be a great blessing to their families and communities as they return home.

My scripture for the week comes from 2 Nephi 15:26, where Nephi is quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah: And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth; and behold, they shall come with speed swiftly; none shall be weary nor stumble among them.

This scripture refers to the people in the last days (our day) who listen to the message of these young missionaries, and recognize that their saving message is from God.  It is such a privilege to serve with these young warriors of God.  I am blessed!  Have a great week.  Love, Patty

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pray for Fiji

Gwen Callan, Sis. Ellsworth, Linda Goodman at
Sealogo Beach House
Dear Family and Friends,
Talofa.  As I write this our neighbors to the southwest, Fiji, are being hammered by the most severe storm in their history - a category 5 cyclone made a direct hit last night.

At least one person is dead and entire villages are feared destroyed after the worst tropical cyclone in Fiji’s history.
Kenny Callahan and Brent in his new hat
Fijians, tourists and aid workers have awakened to scenes of utter destruction after a category five cyclone battered the South Pacific nation with wind gusts as strong as 325km/h and waves up to 12m high. The scale of the destruction is absolutely massive and it’s still far too early to tell just how many people’s homes and livelihoods have been devastated by this storm,” Australian Red Cross aid worker Susan Slattery told AAP from Suva." (Internet)
In Samoa it has been raining hard off and on for the last few days, and we are several hundred miles away.  We almost cancelled
Part of our group as we depart the resort
Gayle and Marc Jorgensen from Orem, Utah.  Marc is teaching
math at the Univ. of Samoa this semester.
 our beach excursion yesterday, but we had made reservations at a resort and were not sure when we would be able to reschedule.  Amazingly it stopped raining just about the time we got in the water, and started up again just as we were getting ready to leave.  We rented two seaside bungalows for the day, which was wonderful to have a place to shower and change.  The resort had kayaks and paddle boards for those who wanted to use them.  The snorkeling was some of the best we've had since arriving.  We saw ribbon fish, bright blue star fish, a giant sea slug, sea urchins, some beautiful coral, and the usual array of colorful aquarium fish.  Besides the beautiful ocean there was an elegant swimming pool that we enjoyed after our time in the ocean.

These weekend excursions are a lifesaver for me after we work so many hours in the office every week.  Last week I was so stressed I had to take a muscle relaxant to get the kinks out of my shoulders and neck.  Sister McBride gave me the name of a prescription she took for the same condition when she was in Saudi Arabia and the dentist called it in for me - I was amazed it was available here.  It is a Chinese medicine and it worked wonders.  I'm just hoping I don't start to grow chest hair or something worse, as the instructions and side effects are all in Chinese.

So what do I have to be stressed about?  Six sick elders in the MRC, one with a fever of almost 104, one elder with a possible broken foot, 4 elders with either the flu, Dengue, or who knows what....transfers starting tomorrow with a total of 29 new missionaries, the mission credit card  maxed out so we had no money to buy food for the mission (luckily Brent was able to fix this yesterday)  and President Hannemann has been off island for over a week, and just called to tell us he won't be back for most of the transfer week!  Oh my!  I think that pain is starting to come back! (I forgot to mention the temporary crown fell out also - which means another trip to the dentist)

Well, one thing is for sure - I am NEVER bored.  Each day brings new challenges and new things to learn.  It helps to be surrounded by great missionaries and wonderful Senior couples who are always supportive and go with the flow.  We love having the Goodmans next door who are always up to a game of Sequence or Five Crowns in the evening, and we love having the Callahans here who are visiting from Savaii for the weekend.  The Vellingas and Spencers survived their first week, and already have plans on how they are going to help improve the lives of the Samoan people.  We LOVE the Seniors!

My scripture for the week is from 2 Nephi 2:13; "And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

I testify that there is a God, and that He has given us commandments, not to bind us down but to help us find happiness.  If you want to know what God expects you to do, read the Book of Mormon and Bible or go to where there are short videos and a place to chat online with a missionary who can answer your questions about God's plan of Happiness.  I know this work is true because even though there are challenges, it brings me great joy.  I have never been happier!  Remember the people of Fiji in your prayers tonight and have a safe and happy week.  Love, Patty  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Help! I'm Melting!

Li Ching Fruit - Very Yummy
Talofa Family and Friends,
Dr. and Sister Spencer (New Dentist - Front)
Linda and Gail Goodman (Old Dentist - Back)
 Samoa is always warm, but the last couple of days have been HORRIBLE!  It is like sitting in a sauna and having a major hot flash all at the same time.  Most of the local people here do not have air conditioning and they have really suffered.  I really have no room to complain, except our car air conditioning went out and when I am driving around I have to make sure to have something to wipe the sweat out of my eyes so I can see where I am going. Tomorrow morning the car goes into the shop.
Another small problem this week was a toothache that started in the middle of one night.  When it went away the next day I was grateful, but it was back the next day, even worse.  When I couldn't stand it any longer I went into the dental clinic.  Bad News!  I needed a root canal.  I was very lucky to have Dr. Goodman here from Mesa, AZ, and his wife Linda.  It wasn't the modern office setting, but I got it done with minimal pain.  The only problem is that there is no lab here, so I have a homemade temporary on that has to last a year.

Linda & Gail Goodman, Wendy Whittle and Cindy Gillette having
a nutrition break at the beach.
This week we welcomed two new senior couples, the Spencers from Calvary, Canada, and the Vellingas from Las Vegas, NV. The Spencers will be in the Dental Clinic for 18 mos. and the Vellingas will be serving in Welfare and Humanitarian for two years.  We wanted to start out their mission on the right foot so a trip to Matareva Beach was planned.  Unfortunately the Vellingas got the Samoan Crud, so were not able to accompany us. You can see from the picture on the left that we are all about nutrition here.  Yes! That is the dentist with a coke and lolly pop!  I can't say anything bad about him though because he did an amazing job on my tooth - so I will owe him and his wife forever!

This is going to be short this week, as we have invited a new couple in the ward for dinner.  They are here teaching math for 4 months at the local university with a volunteer program not associated with the church.  They are living without a car, air conditioning or hot water and have had a pretty rough introduction to life in Samoa.

My Scripture for the Week is from 2 Nephi 5:15 And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learningand the profit of my children.

Hope you all have a great week!
I send my love. Patty

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Week of New Experiences

 Talofa Family and Friends,
Right after Elder Christofferson left, President and Sister Hannemann jumped on a plane to New Zealand for a weeks training for Mission Presidents.  They got home Friday night and left Saturday morning, so again we are running the office.  We had a couple of interesting learning experiences during the last week, one involving the local hospital, and the other involving an adventure with the Schaefermeyers and BYU TV.

I was informed Tuesday that one of our missionaries had been admitted to the local hospital with complications of Dengue Fever.  We have had missionaries in the emergency room and to the clinic, but this was the first time anyone was admitted over night.  I was surprised to learn that we needed to supply a sheet, pillow, towel, and disposable eating utensils. Plus, someone had to be with him 24 hrs/day because the nurses do not do things like get patients drinks of water, help them to the bathroom, or make sure they get fed.  Samoa has a National Health Plan, and apparently they have figured out how to make health care affordable.  I understand in the smaller hospitals, you also have to furnish all the food. When the lab work came back inconclusive of Dengue, the doctor said it didn't know what was wrong with him and released him.  Luckily the elder is doing better,  Sister McBride and I Pinkie promised each other that we would not let anyone take us there if we get sick as the mattress was stained and filthy. Hip Hip Hooray for Socialized Medicine!

Schaefermeyer's Car Hanging on the edge
Honey, are you sure we are still on the road???
 When Schaefermeyers are around life is never dull.  One of their assignments is to keep BYU television on the air here in Upolu.  He informed us Friday night that he needed to go and install some brackets on the receivers, which were located on the top of a cell phone tower on the top of a mountain.  Would we like to go on a drive with them and Gillettes to fix this problem?  It wasn't long after we started up the mountain the pavement  ended, and about 1/2 hr later our front wheel drive Tucson Hyundai had gone as far as it was going to go.  It had rained most of the night and the trail (calling it a road would be an exaggeration) was slippery and very steep. We parked our car and all six of us squished into Schaefermeyers 4 wheel drive Tucson.  I have to say that the slipping, sliding, bouncing, swerving ride was better than any amusement park ride I have ever been on!  Unfortunately, we slipped just a bit too far one time, almost rolling the car into a deep ravine.  Carefully we all exited out the right side, and after the 3 men did what men do in these situations, (Stand around, look under the car, rub their chins) they finally decided it was too dangerous for us to try and get it out ourselves, as we risked it rolling over.  Luckily we were almost up to the cell tower, and we had five bars on our phones to call for a two truck.

 Since we were almost to the top, we continued on foot, to the tower.  Brent and Elder Schaefermeyer climbed up almost to the top to fix the receivers and Sister Schaefermeyer and I climbed to the second platform where we had an incredible view of Apia.  Once the tow truck got there and got the car safely turned around, we were again on our way.  However, somehow Elder Schaefermeyer hit something on the way down and took out his left front fender.  He is sending BYU the bill.

Just while I was here typing this up there was an earth tremor - I just checked the Tsunami Warning and there is nothing showing up, so it was just one of the many small tremors that happen
Elder Schaefermeyer in front of cell tower

The rains that came this week were welcome, as it had been so dry.  The air is so thick with moisture that it is hard to breathe.  However, I can't complain, as myself along with many others on the island have been praying for rain - as this is the rainy season and people depend on rain for their food.

Couldn't miss the opportunity to see the view. (And this will
probably be the only opportunity in my life to climb a cell tower)

In Relief  Society today the lesson was on gratitude.  We were asked to make a list of the things that we are thankful for.  I feel blessed in so many ways, but my testimony of Jesus Christ and the scriptures that testify of Him are among my greatest blessings.  My scripture this week is from Alma 34:38 - " That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Oops! Elder Gillette checking out the damage.

As I was thinking about what I am grateful for I also thought of my wonderful family and friends who are amazing examples of service to others.  I  have been blessed to know you and to be part of your lives.  God Bless You - Have a Great Week!

Tofa, Patty
That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
View of Pesega - the LDS Church Complex where the Mission Office and our Home are located.