Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cliff and Kathy Vellinga and myself at humanitarian project
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
It has been a rainy week here, I almost feel like my toes are starting to web.  I heard that in the month of April we had more than 10" of rain!  We are lucky to get 4" a year in Las Vegas.
     This week I enjoyed attending a celebration at a school with the Vellingas, who are serving as humanitarian missionaries.  They had helped with this project at a local elementary school. The Dept. of Health was going to close this school because of the poor conditions of the restrooms.  The church went in, tore out the old, decaying wood and replaced everything with painted cinder block, tile and new toilets. The kids had made decorations, and prepared a musical program to show appreciation.  It was my first ribbon cutting for new bathrooms. Good job - Vellingas!

Friday afternoon we closed the office early to go to the movie theater to see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding #2.  I was more than ready to get away from the computer, which I had been working at for hours.  The movie had some good laughs and
Inside of Catholic Cathedral-downtown Apia
 a much needed diversion.  After the movie we decided to go over and see the main Catholic Cathedral in downtown Apia.  It was gorgeous!  I have been in a lot of beautiful cathedrals around the world, but this by far is my favorite.  I wonder if we could arrange to have Sacrament Mtg. there one Sunday?  Probably not.
Sua Trench - South Side of Upolu.  This is the #1 Trip Advisor
Activity if you visit Samoa.  Our kids our going to
love this when they get here in a couple of weeks!
     Since Brent and I are the Zone Leaders for the Senior Missionaries,one of our responsibilities is to plan activities.  We have wanted to go to see the Sua Trench since we got here, so last week we decided that this would be the week.  This is a huge lava hole, with a cave on one end that you can swim through.  The ocean water comes into the hole through an underground lava tube.  There are ropes to hold onto as there is a strong current as the water goes in and out of this tube. To get into the water you have to climb down stairs and then this ladder.  I wasn't sure if all the seniors would go, but I am proud to say not one of them chickened out.  I have to say that most of us are doing things here that we never imagined ourselves doing before we came. We all had a great time!   
     When we go on these weekend activities we try to get a church van so we can all ride together.  Half the fun is the journey.  After the swim, we were all pretty tired, but Elder McBride suggested we stop on the way home and see another waterfall.  (Waterfalls are not rare around here!)  I was exhausted, but he assured me it would be worth it.  It was only a "short" walk. The walk wasn't so fun but the waterfall was spectacular!  Unfortunately, our battery was dead, so Elder McBride snapped this photo of  Brent (possibly the last one of him in this life time) standing on the edge of this giant waterfall that drops straight down about 200 ft.
"The Last Great Explorer"
     Well, tomorrow is another day and I am supposed to be at choir practice in 15 minutes, so am going to close with this thought.  There are so many wonderful things to see and do in this life, don't waste a single day of your life not having at least one great moment of service or adventure.
      My Scripture for the week come my reading this week in Mosiah 7:19-20: "Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them.
 20 And again, that same God has brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now; and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage."
I send my love to all of you.  Love, Patty
"All right, Elder McBride.  We will walk to one more
waterfall - but it better be spectacular!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Week of New Beginnings

New Missionaries arrived Monday & Tuesday
Talofa Family and Friends,
This has been a crazy week with new missionaries arriving, old missionaries returning home, several trips to the airport, a severe pain in my neck (almost certainly stress related) my 65th birthday,  a cyclone that could have been devastating, but wasn't, and a visit from the Area President.  Next week has to be a cake walk in comparison!

It is hard not to get attached to these young missionaries, and as they leave the mission we wish them the very best as they start these new chapters in their lives. It is an amazing experience to be at the mission home when the families arrive to both drop new missionaries off, and then two years later come to pick them up.  Only mothers who have sent missionaries off can understand the aching you feel for them while they are gone.  As a mother of four missionaries myself, I know exactly what these families are going through.   The elders that are in the office a lot for one reason or another are the ones we really get attached to.  Elder Tiatia and Elder Pati were two of these missionaries.  It broke my heart to see them go, (both on my BD) but I know Elder Tiatia will be back soon, and Elder Pati is going to be an awesome missionary in PNG.  The other seven who left this week are to be commended in every way for the many sacrifices, rejections and deprivations they have faced the last two years.  My father, who was not a member, always said that missions were great for young people, as there was nothing worse that life could throw at them than what they experienced on a mission. However, there is nothing greater in this world than being an instrument in the Lord's hands, in helping someone  to come to Christ and recognize the truth.  I know all of you see these young men and women, wherever you live, and I pray that you will feel moved on to listen to their message.
Our 7 Missionaries returning home with Honor
Two to the States and Five to Samoa
Saying Goodbye to two of our favorites

Cyclone Amos Game Night
(I told Brent to look scared!)
I was not prepared for the jolt it was to my pschye to turn 65.  Somehow in my mind 64 still seemed pretty young, but 65!!! Well that is a whole other matter!  Maybe it's that I had to sign up for medicare - or that my dad always said he hoped he would live to be 65 (He lived to be 97) but anyway I am not happy about it.  However, to ease the pain, my sister Shauna and friend Marilyn made me a BD cake when they were here, Brent bought be a beautiful black pearl necklace, and many friends sent BD wishes both here and over FB. This evening (Sunday) the Spencers had a delicious dinner with another BD cake for some of us who shared April birthdays.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The other big event of the week was Cyclone Amos, who started out as a Category 1 - went to a Category 4 - and when it finally hit Samoa last night was a Category 2 Cyclone.  Now on a scale from 1-5, that might not sound like much, but there was some serious rain and wind.  We had the Callahans over for dinner and games to help take our minds off the weather, but after they left the wind really picked up.  At times it sounded like our roof might come off.  To cover up the noise, Brent loaded "Shrek 3" onto his laptop, and we laid in bed and watched that until I fell asleep.  This morning there are a lot of trees down (mostly banana), there was flooding downtown and in some of our missionary housing, but as of tonight all missionaries are accounted for and safe.  The sky tonight is a beautiful blue touched with streaks of pink and orange.

My Scripture for the week is Mosiah 5: 7-8 " And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.
The people who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints make covenants with the Lord, just as Abraham did in the Old Testament.  That is why we build temples.  We promise to learn and do His will, to follow his prophet; in turn God promises us that we will be saved with our families.  If you want to know how you can be with your family forever talk to one of our missionaries, or visit  
I feel blessed to be here in this beautiful land of Samoa.  I am grateful that we were spared from the devastating cyclone that passed very close.  I love you all, and again appreciate the thoughts and prayers that came my way this week.  God Bless You and Keep You!  Patty

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"The Best of days; the worst of days!"

Part of the kitchen floor repair work
A few of the youth from Savaii
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Last Sunday night when I came in to post my blog I was greeted with water pouring out of the office ceiling, from the light fixtures, fans, all over Brent's desk - it was a MESS!  Needless to say, getting my blog written was not first on my mind. I called maintenance, and was glad when they responded quickly.  Monday morning I walked in to the kitchen and dang it if the floor wasn't flooded in there! Another call to maintenance, and after several hours it was discovered a pipe had broken in the floor.  Meanwhile, sister missionaries had called from Savaii with a sad story that their ward had planned a youth temple trip, and their housing arrangements had fallen through - would it be possible for them to stay at the mission home?  (Only 30 teens with leaders)  Not realizing at that point that the kitchen floor was going to have to be jack-hammered and the water main would have to be turned off, I told the girls we could accommodate them. That meant for a time we did not have a working bathroom, and the kitchen was a mess while these good people tried to fix food for everyone.  (Did I happen to mention that the Pres.was off island???)  The same day the kids arrived, McBrides went into their office and discovered that the air conditioner had malfunctioned, and their office was flooded!  Well, I guess if that is as bad as it gets I can handle it. I just saw Ecuador had a 7+ earthquake with many killed, so this is a cake walk.

I love wearing flowers in my hair.
Brent bought me this one which I love!
 The best part of the week was that my Sister Shauna and friend Marilyn, visited from home. I loved having a girls vacation for the first few days they were here, showing them around the beautiful island of Savaii.  We stayed at Savaii Lagoon right on the beach, where the people were wonderful, the snorkeling great.  Unfortunately I do not have Shauna's pictures yet of Marilyn holding a sea turtle.  On our return home to Upolu, Brent took them one day to see the Giant Clams, and also to a beautiful resort for lunch. They also enjoyed a family home evening in the Hannemann's home with the Taimalelagi Family, and a FHE at a small branch where the Schaefermeyers set up a screen and showed "Meet the Mormons."  Hopefully Shauna got some good missionary pictures to submit to the church.  The last day they were here we enjoyed visiting the Samoan Cultural center where we learned about the practice of tattooing, (We actually watched a man get his bum tattooed), how to cook in an umu, wood carving and the labor intensive process of making tapa cloth from the mulberry bark. We were treated to some traditional Samoan dishes, served on plates we wove from palm branches.  We also participated in a traditional kava ceremony, and enjoyed a show of Samoan dancing and singing while we ate. I wish I would have had more time to spend with them, but it was wonderful to see them for the short time that they were here.  They are off now for another adventure in New Zealand.
Afalua, Shauna and Marilyn making their
lunch plates at the Samoan Cultural Center

Another high point of the week was the baptism of Brother Taimalelagi.  This was the family that lost their baby in an accident a few weeks ago.  It was such a comfort to see their strength, especially his wife's, and I know this will be a great blessing for their family.  In one year they can go to the temple and have their whole family sealed together, including baby David.
A special day!  Brother Taimalelagi baptized creating
a beautiful Forever Family.
      Tonight Brent and I went to ward choir practice.  It was so much fun!  The director and accompanist are amazing, the music beautiful and there were probably 30 people at the practice.  I have missed singing in a choir and playing the piano and organ.  There are several sisters here who are very talented pianists, so I have not had the opportunity to play, except when we first got here and I helped out in a Samoan Ward Primary.  This week Afalua and I are going back to the House of Hope and plan on teaching the young women some songs.  I hope it goes well!

The scripture that comes to mind this week after more than just a few trials, is from the Doctrine and Covenants 122:7. Joseph Smith had spent months under horrible conditions in the Liberty Jail, when he cries out to the Lord, This is what he is told -
Showing "Meet the Mormons" in an open air fale chapel

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

Not that I have looked into the jaws of hell this week, even though it has been almost that hot, but there have been some challenges.  I know that all of our challenges are for our good.  My arms ache to hold by grand babies again, and to put my arms around my family and friends.  Seeing Shauna and Marilyn this week definitely made me a little homesick, but then when I think what a short time I have left here I feel torn, as I know I will probably never return.  I have grown to love Samoa and her people.  I love the opportunity to serve others and to be on a full time mission.  I love working with these incredible young missionaries, and I hope that if ever one of them knocks on your door, you will let them in and listen to their amazing message.  I am starting to understand what it means when missionaries return home and say it was the best time of their life.  God Bless all of you and Keep you in the hollow of His hand.  Love, Patty

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Reading a 1909 copy of  RLS's "Treasure Island" on his Veranda

Seniors at Easter Dinner (Sideways - sorry)
Talofa Family and Friends,
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest -
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!  This week as we were playing host to Dr. and Sister Olsen, the Medical advisor for the Pacific region, we stopped at the Robert Louis Stevenson Estate.  Because we had already been on the tour 3 times, Brent and I opted to sit on the veranda with books out of his personal library.  Brent opted for "Kidnapped" and I picked up a 1909 version of "Treasure Island."  It did not take too many pages to draw me into the story. Now I just need to have the time to find out what happens to Jim Hawkins and Long John
Silver.  Luckily I have it on my Kindle, so will finish this great adventure this week.
     President and Sister Hannemann have invited all of the Senior missionaries to their home for dinner tonight.  The plus side was the Jordans came over from American Samoa and the Matagis are here from Savaii.  Because they seldom get in on Senior activities, we planned a beach party complete with a weenie roast, potato salad, marshmallows and 60's music.  Rusty Gillette even constructed a portable bar-b-q out of a tire rim and some fancy welding.  The roasting sticks were made out of welding wire stuck into a block of wood.  The one thing we didn't plan on was the rain with thunder and lightening.  After several plan changes, we finally settled on going to the fale behind the stake center and having our "beach party" with out the beach.  When you get great people together with great food and great music, who needs a beach?  We had a great time!
     Tonight, at the Hannemanns, we are supposed to be having Fajitas.  However, I haven't seen the Hannemanns all day, so hope this is not a repeat of last time they invited us all, and then didn't show up.  Life with the Hannemanns is always interesting.  This week we had the first baptisms on the island of Manua.  It is exciting to see the Church moving into new areas that have
not had missionaries for a very long time.
Rusty's great Hotdog Bar-B-Q
It has been wonderful having the Olsens here.  They are my go-to people when missionaries show up with something we can't handle.  Gary was a General Surgeon and his wife was an ER Registered Nurse.  We can send photos, x-rays, catscans...and get back good advice.  They have been a lifesaver for us since we have been functioning without a nurse.  I really wish they could stay, but they not only help us, but are the advisors for the entire Pacific Island region.  Monday and Tuesday they will be traveling around Upolu with the McBrides checking out some of our missionaries we have been concerned about,  They are also going to go through our medical cabinet and help us get restocked at the local pharmacy.
Alecia with Gary and Linda Olsen visiting from New Zealand 
The Olsens leave on Wed. and my sister, Shauna, and friend, Marilyn, are arriving on Thursday.  I am going to have some girl time with them next Friday and Saturday, which I am very excited about.
     I got up at 4:30 this morning so I could watch General Conference at 5:00 and be ready to leave for church at 7:15 am.  I love hearing the messages from Church leaders every six months at General Conference.  It is like taking a super vitamin for the spirit.  Tomorrow I will get up early again to hear Sunday morning session, and catch the missed sessions on the computer.
     My scripture for the week is from the Old Testament, Amos 3:7:

 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

 Many people today believe that there is not longer need for prophets, as in the times of the Old and New Testaments.  Does that make any sense that God would speak to people in the past, and not have anything to say to us?  I know there is a prophet today who holds the same keys and authority to speak for God as the prophets had in the past.  You can hear what he and those who work with him have to say by listening or reading their messages from General Conference on
     I send my love and hope that wherever you are, you are happy.  God Bless you as you work out the challenges that face all of us in this life.
Tofa - Patty