Saturday, March 26, 2016

There are Angels Among Us

Elders Satelel and Fenger - Awesom young men!

Sister McBride's Answer to Prayer
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
     Today is Easter Sunday, and a perfect day to reflect on all the blessings the atonement brings daily to our lives.
     This week our hearts were broken when little David Charlie Taimalelagi, 17 mos. old, drown in a neighbor's pool.  His family is in our ward, and David was one of the few children I know here.  As a way to protect the church, missionaries are not allowed to hold children, but he was one I loved at a distance as I watched him run around in church.  I know that he is not gone forever, and that a future time his family will be reunited.  For now he is an angel among us.
    Wednesday I went to the Victim Support Center with some Relief Society Sisters.  There were about 50 children there being cared for by volunteers.  We took music, an art activity and a treasure hunt for Easter candy.  Again it was hard to fight back tears as I looked at those beautiful children - angels among us!  One of the volunteers has worked at the center for 15 yrs.  She had been a teacher, and when the hired teacher did not show up she stepped in. As far as  I am concerned she has earned her angel wings.  The children were all well behaved and enjoyed the activities.  I hope to be able to go back often, as it is that kind of service when I feel closest to the Savior.
Pray for our missionaries
     Sister McBride, a Senior missionary, prayed that she might find someone to share the gospel with.  The very next day she met Caroline.  Sister McBride has been an angel as she has supported this young woman through some very tough times.  Yesterday it was a joy to be able to attend her baptism.
     This week I have also had the opportunity to hear testimonies of some of our young missionaries.  It is amazing how many of them are new converts themselves, and have come on missions without the support of their families.  They work hard every day under the hot Samoan sun, bearing powerful testimonies of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the restoration of His church.  I am sure that they often have angels watching over them.  Elder Fenger last week was in a bike accident.  He could have been seriously hurt as he went over his bike into a brick wall head first.  What has he been most concerned with?  Getting back to the work.
        Elder Spencer, the volunteer Dentist here, shared a mnemonic device to remember the scripture that best describes what the atonement has done for us.  Like the 7-11 Stores back home that are open 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year and carry everything you need, this scripture is found in Alma 7:11-13, and explains that the atonement is always available to those who want to take advantage of its great blessings.  One of the greatest blessings is that Jesus Christ conquered the grave, and because of him we will all live again with our Heavenly Father.  If you want to know more about Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation, where you were before you came to the earth, and where you go after you die go to

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
I wish all of you a wonderful Easter.  God Bless!  Love, Patty

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Showers, Showers Everywhere!

Linda and Gail Goodman returned home to Payson, AZ

The sounds of Sat. mornings - 3 weed cutters cutting
our front lawn.  No one uses lawn mowers.
Talofa Family and Friends,
Unfortunately not every day can be happy and fun.  This week I was pretty down when we had to say goodbye to the Goodmans.  They moved in next door about a month ago,and we have had a ton of fun with them playing games, going out to eat, going to activities.  They are really going to be missed!
     Shortly after they moved in our shower stopped working.  It would start out with a good stream of water, but then within a minute it would be down to a slow dribble, and sometimes stop completely.  We decided that there was not enough water pressure for both our showers to run simultaneously so we worked out a shower schedule.  It was not until the day before they left that we found out there was a filter that needed to be changed.  Luckily they got one good shower before boarding the plane for home, and Brent and I are once again enjoying our shower - A tender mercy.
       Speaking of showers, we have had more than our share of rain this week, which has brought the oppressive humidity again.  Luckily we got our car back with the air conditioning fixed. Another tender mercy from the Lord.
       The day I was really in the doldrums an early birthday package arrived from my childhood friend, Marleen. She does not even know how good the Snicker Bar tasted and how much I appreciate her thoughtfulness!
Giant Clam - about 2 1/2 feet across!
      The picture above was taken out of my kitchen window Sat. morning.  These poor young men, out in the blazing heat mowing these huge lawns with weed wackers.  I can't imagine a more horrible job.   I know you are probably not that interested, but it is one thing that I wanted to remember about Samoa as weed wackers are everywhere!
     Saturday we went with some of the seniors to the giant clam preserve.  These clams are truly amazing and come in all different colors.  My sister Shauna and friend Marilyn will be here in a couple of weeks and so I am sure that this will be a must see for them.
     While we were swimming in the ocean a huge thunderstorm rolled in with loud bursts of thunder,  lightening and pelting rain.  Is the ocean like a swimming pool?  Are you supposed to get out when you see lightening?
We love the buses! (as long as we aren't one of the people
piled on top of each other inside.)
After a short discussion we decided to play it safe and run for cover under a beach fale, but on the way out we were all treated to a fresh water shower.
     This week I was looking for scriptures on the atonement, and came across a scripture that I loved.  It is found in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah 31: 33-34 -
" But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
I love the imagery of having the law of God in my "inward parts" and "written on my heart."  As we approach Easter I have been thinking about how grateful I am for the atonement of Jesus Christ.   The knowledge that I have that through repentance my sins and shortcomings can be forgiven, and to have the assurance that death is not the end but only a new beginning, are great blessings in my life. To know that  I can live again with my family because of the Lord's sacrifice makes me want to strive to be a better servant.  God bless you and keep you as you go throughout your week.
Love, Patty 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Shake, Shimmy and Roll

Shake, Shimmy and Roll - Senior Style
FHE Pinewood Derby 
Elder Pati Returned Home to get broken foot fixed.
Boy, I am really going to miss him!!!
Fia Fia at Traditions - The brother on the far right is in a
bishopric, far left a temple worker, and the one next to me is
taking the missionary lessons.  
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
This week I was reminded again of how many ways we are all connected, and really how small the world is.  It has been amazing to see how people from all over the world have sent help to our neighbors in Fiji, as they work to put their country back together after Cyclone Winston.  Ships from many different countries have arrived in Fiji ports with emergency supplies and materials for rebuilding.  Because they were trying to accommodate these ships, the ship that brings gas to Samoa was delayed, leading to gas rationing here.  This was just a minor inconvenience when compared to the lives lost and the tragedy of 62,000 people left homeless in Fiji.
For Senior Family Home Evenings we generally have a lesson or guest speaker.  However, last Monday the Goodmans and Barretts planned games for us that included a pine-wood derby, stomp the balloon, shake the ping pong balls out of a box, and whistle after eating crackers. It was like taking a time machine back 50 years. We all had a lot of laughs and a great time.

This past week we have had two strong earth tremors.  They have definitely become more frequent in the last month.  I hope this doesn't mean we are in for a big one!

 This has been a week of goodbyes.  I took the Barretts to the airport Friday night, as they are returning to Idaho Falls.  They were not missionaries, but came as volunteers to help wherever needed.  Sister Barrett is 75 and Brother Barrett is 80.  They are still a dynamic duo, walking everywhere in the heat or rain, helping at the dental clinic, the school and the office.  We have fallen in love with them and they will be truly missed! The Aveis also left Friday on an emergency medical release.  This was their second mission to Samoa as Auditors for the church.  We love them and will always remember Elder Avei's wacky sense of humor and Sister Avei's no nonsense dedication.

We also said goodbye this week to two wonderful missionaries sent home on medical releases.  Elder Pati's foot was run over in a work related accident right before he left.  The doctor in American Samoa took an x-ray and said he was fine.  When he got here he could hardly walk, so he has been in the office helping me and Elder Frazer, the AP. He might be going to Las Vegas for surgery, so keep your eye out for him.  Elder Erickson left last night to return home.  His feet have have been infected for months, and nothing we have tried has worked.  He is a hard working faithful missionary who will also be missed.  We love both these young men and wish them the very best!

The Whittles work in Self-reliance, and invited the Seniors to a Fia-Fia last Thursday at the Traditions Resort where a few of their students were performing.  These young people have amazing strength combined with graceful movements.  Add beautiful singing, elaborate costumes and instrumental music and that equals great entertainment.  The bonus was a traditional buffet and the company of friends.

Friday Morning I attended a meeting at the Pesega Middle School gym.  I had asked the Schaefermeyer's to put together a presentation on "Preparation is the Key to Missionary Work" for this program.  They knocked it out of the park with a multi-media presentation that held the attention of over 400 Middle Schoolers.  I never cease to be amazed at the talents and the willingness to serve from our Senior Missionaries.

We have had almost steady rain for the last three days.  It goes from sprinkling to incredible downpours.  There has been some flooding and landslides, but also some beautiful rainbows.  Brent and I have both had a touch of the flu for the last 24 hrs, with body aches and stomach aches.  I am starting to feel better.   We pretty much slept the entire day (Sunday).  Maybe we were just exhausted and needed the sleep.

There are so many scriptures from my study this week in 2 Nephi 31-33, it was hard to choose just one.  May I suggest that you read these entire chapters, as the prophet Nephi pleads with his people at the end of his life to follow Christ.

2 Nephi 31: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

Again, I testify of the truthfulness that is written in plain language, in the Book of Mormon.  There is a promise that if you read this book with a desire to know if it is true, and with  real intent in seeking truth, you will have your own answer from God.  It, along with the Bible, testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ and show us all the way to find happiness in this life and in the life to come.

So ends another week in the beautiful island nation of Samoa.  Love, Patty

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Savaii Get Away

David (?), Richard Berrett and Jim Winegar all served missions
in Samoa in the 1950's.  Here they are at the RLS Home.
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Last Monday started out with an invitation from Jim Winegar for a special tour through the Robert Louis Stevenson home for FHE.  I was exhausted and almost didn't go as I had already been through the tour twice, but it is so beautiful there, that once I was there I enjoyed the company of the other seniors and the beautiful surroundings.  They have invited us back any time to check out a RLS book from their library and read on the veranda.  That is an offer I am going to have to take.

Wednesday night some of the seniors enjoyed a trip to the local cinema to see "Three Wise Cousins."  This movie was filmed in Samoa, and sells out every night it plays.  It was fun to hear the Samoans laughing at themselves, and really was an accurate portrayal of real life here when you get out of the city.  It also had a good moral - You have to work hard to make a good life.  
Amoa Resort 0n Savaii - a lovely get away

One of 5 church run high schools.   It is on the island of Savaii
Thursday and Friday the office was closed for a national holiday - public elections.  Almost everything closed down to allow the people the chance to participate in their local elections.  The Church Pacific IT team took advantage of the holiday to put a new phone system in, so when we could not be in the office we decided to go to Savaii.  The missionaries in Savaii needed supplies and their monthly allowance, and Brent and I needed time away.  The Goodmans told us about the Amoa Resort, so we booked a bungalow and were off mid-day Thursday.   After delivering the supplies we headed to the resort to cool off in the pool.  Our car still does not have air conditioning, and we were both exhausted from the heat.  For over an hour we had the entire pool to ourselves.  We even had lunch served at the swim up bar.  It was heavenly! That evening our dear friends, the Callahans, joined us for dinner.  They are working at the Church school at Vaiola.

Kenny Callahan and Brent throwing coconuts into
the blowholes on Savaii's coast
Vaiola is inland on the island of Savaii.  That hill in the picture is actually a volcano, with stairs that go up to the top.  (We passed) It is a high school with over 100 foreign boarders from the Pacific Islands.  There are also many more local students bused in.  The students at this school get a good education, learn English, and consistently test well in national exams and get into foreign universities.  It is a great blessing for these kids who have absolutely nothing going for them at their home villages in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and other small island nations.  The near-by local village donated the land to the church on the condition they would maintain an elementary school for their children.  This is also a great blessing for the children of this village.  Sister Callahan was an assistant school district superintendent in Utah, and her and her husband Kenny teach college education classes for the teachers so they can become certified.

The perfect place for an afternoon picnic
Friday we spent touring part of Savaii with the Callahans, who made great guides.  Driving along the South coast there are massive lava flows.   Lava tubes have formed underground and make a spectacular show as the water shoots through them, straight up into the air.  Kenny and Brent gathered coconuts and then tried to throw them in at the right time to send them flying skyward.  Thankfully they did not come down on their heads! What is it they say?  You can take the man out of the boy, but never the boy out of the man.  Gwen and I stayed back quite a distance, but all of us were pretty much soaked with salt spray before we left.

Our next stop was a lovely waterfall and pool where we stopped for a picnic lunch.  The water looked inviting but getting into and out of the pool would have been a challenge.  The other small problem is that we were not in our swim suits.
Our Little Blue Hyundai is loaded on the ferry for
the trip back home from Savaii

I am not fond of the ferry ride to or from Savaii.  However, this time we took the small ferry and had a breeze which helped with the heat.  Returning home I was ready to shower and go to bed.  Just about that time the Goodmans show up with an invitation to go with them and their friends from NZ, Tracy and Lee, to a great new bistro they just discovered.  Brent was game, so with wet hair and no make-up I was off again.  Boy, this being on a mission is exhausting!!!

Today is Sunday here.  When I came to the office to write this blog, I first checked the email and saw that there will be a price to be paid tomorrow for our little get-away.  It will take me a couple of days of long hours to catch up.
My Scripture this week is again from our Sunday School lesson today on "Christ invites all men to be saved."  The one thing I love about the gospel is that the God I worship is a fair God, to all people of all times.  He loves everyone.  This mortal life is definitely not fair - so much suffering by so many innocents.  However, God has promised us that in the end everything will be just, and those who have suffered will be blessed if they choose to follow Jesus Christ and keep His commandments.

2 Nephi 26: 24-28:  He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

 25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
 26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
 27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
 28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
It is a great blessing to be serving a mission here in Samoa.  Although we miss our family, we know that they are well.  We were really excited this week to learn that our daughter, Annie and husband Chad, are expecting a baby girl in July.  The amazing technology we have will allow us to see this new little girl shortly after she is born.  I will miss the cuddles, but can make those up on our return. I hope all of you in the States are surviving our national elections.  I just catch enough bits and pieces to make me grateful that I am missing it.  I am sending fond thoughts and lots of love.
Tofa, Patty