Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fall is in the Air

Brent talking to fishermen at the wharf
 Talofa Family and Friends,
With the mission president gone for most of the past week, I worked hard to get ahead with my office duties so I will be free when Chad and Amy arrive with 7 of our grandchildren next week. :)
      Some of the highlights of this week were the beautiful rainbows I saw almost everyday.  Saturday I went walking just as the sun was coming up and the sky was a brilliant pink, casting a magical pink spell over the whole earth.  I was glad I decided not to stay in bed, as it only lasted a few minutes and then was gone.
     Thankfully there is a noticeable coolness to the air in the mornings and evenings.  It is such a relief from the oppressive heat and humidity that we have had for the last several months.  The
fish hooks ready to be tied on the line
 days are still warm, but it is definitely more comfortable.
        Saturday morning I asked Patrick Dotson, from our ward, if he would meet the Seniors at the wharf and share his knowledge of buying fresh fish.  Most of us do not eat that much fish because we don't know what or where to buy fish that hasn't been sitting out for hours.  He took us to Apia Packers which is right on the wharf. They take the fish off the boats and it is cleaned, filleted  and chilled.  We bought some yellow fin tuna which we had for dinner.  It was delicious!  We will definitely be going back.  While at the wharf we talked to some fishermen who had recently returned with their catch.  They go out for 3-5 days.  The man on the left just got back from Las Vegas - it is a small world. The amount of fish that is taken out of the ocean here every day by the big boats is mind boggling.  One of the problems the Pacific islands face is over fishing by these big commercial fishing companies.  There are many families whose fathers and brothers go out every day to fish, and the family depends on them catching something that they can eat. Meat, even chicken, is too expensive for many families and only served on special occasions.  Men go out at night with spears and lights.  If they catch more than they can eat you will see their catch the next day on the side of the road with someone fanning the flies away.
Elders Iakopo and Vahai on our way to Tiavea
          Elder Vahai got permission from President Hannemann to attend his younger brother's (18) baptism Saturday, if we would go with them.  It was a 1 1/2 hr. ride through gorgeous country.  Tiavea is an inland village, up in the mountains.  It was like driving through one picture postcard after another.  Elder Vahai's family had prepared a special dinner for us, along with the sister missionaries who had taught the brother. There was fish, pork, chicken, taro and palusami, not an everyday dinner, to show honor to their guests. The custom is that the guests eat first, and then the family eats what is left over. Family members fanned us to keep the flies away while we ate.  I would have much preferred if we all ate together, but that is not the way it is done here.  
Dinner at the Vahai home with Sisters Sauni and Asomua
     The women in the Vahai home make Pandana mats to bring in extra money.  They are made from the pandana tree which has long leaves.  They are dried, split and then wove into mats.  It takes months of work to finish one mat.  The photo shows the unfinished mats stacked in the corner of the home, with the spools of dried pandana leaves on the right.  I can't even imagine sitting on a concrete floor for hours every day weaving.
       After dinner we went to the church where there were probably forty people there for the baptism, plus children everywhere.  Brent and I were a curiosity for them, so most of them kept their distance. Some parents tell their children that Palagis (white people) eat bad children.  Even though the service was in Samoan, there was good spirit and it was a joy to be there.  The singing was amazing - it was so loud that it almost raised the roof, with even the children singing all the verses with no hymn books!  I am really going to miss the Samoan singing.
Pandana mats and rolled leaves
        This coming week Brent and I will celebrate our 46th Wedding Anniversary.  One of the great joys of this mission has been having the opportunity to spend time with my sweet husband.  We got married so young, had children within the first year, and had little alone time until now.  He is ever patient, always faithful and has been a wonderful husband!  Happy Anniversary Honey!
     My Scripture for the week is again from my studying this week.  It is found in the Book of Mormon in Alma 13: 28-29:
A few of the Children at Tiavea
But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;
 29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
God Bless you and Keep you and your families another week.
Tofa, Sister Ellsworth

Sunday, May 22, 2016

You can't control the wind. You can only adjust your sails.

Elders helping Brent rescue our old printer
 Talofa Family and Friends,
     A friend gave me some good advice this week: "You can't control the wind, you can only adjust your sails."  That pretty much sums up my life here in the mission - learning to adjust my sails.  However, some things are easier to adjust to than others.  This week, with no warning, a company showed up with a new printer for the office.  I tried to explain that our printer was working just fine and that we had just paid almost $10,000 WST (approx. 4,500) to have it serviced.  That was too bad - the church had a contract with this company and everyone was going to use these new printers.
Market Day with Afalua

Maryon's Bread Store - Neighborhood landmark
I cannot even start to tell you everything I use the printer for, and I knew how to use the old printer.  The new printer came with no instruction manual and is a totally different kind than I am used to.  When I asked what they were going to do with our perfectly good old printer, I was told it was going to be discarded.  Over my dead body!  I had some missionaries help move it into the McBrides office, where hopefully we can get it set back up.  This new printer is going to cause some major adjustment to my sails.  I see a few melt downs in my near future as the new printer and I get acquainted.

Elder Gray & Elder Tupa'i 1st Spaghetti Dinner
 I decided this week to record some of the every day things I do.  Part of my responsibility is shopping for the mission.  I usually take Afalua, the mission cook and good friend, with me. We are regular customers for a few of the local fruit and vegetable vendors.  Brent and I shop here on Sat. for our own food.
         Another regular stop in my week is the neighborhood bakery.  It is close enough to campus that I can smell the bread baking when I walk in the mornings.  A lot of families buy bread everyday, as there are no preservatives and it goes moldy very quickly.  Every morning at 6 am there is a traffic jam around Maryons, as families come to get their bread for the day. When we are buying for the mission I will often order 30 loaves and pick them up the next day.  There are always vendors out front selling taro, cocoa Samoa, cocoa rice....and big pots of stuff -  I have no idea what is in them.  I don't buy food off of the street because I am afraid I'll get sick.
       This has been a week for dog bites.  Two sister missionaries had serious enough bites to require medical attention.  Elder Gray had eye surgery this week to remove something that was growing over his eye.  Since he is resting at the MRC for a couple of weeks, we had him and his companion over for dinner tonight.  They are both local Samoans, and this was the first time they ever ate Spaghetti.  They were a little hesitant to try it at first, but they seemed to enjoy it.  They were trying to teach Brent and I some Samoan words, and they helped me with my Samoan testimony that I want to use when we return home.  They both are hard workers and it was a pleasure to share a meal with them in our home.  I promised them I would buy them taro tomorrow, but also that next time they come to dinner we would serve them tacos, another first.

     My scripture for the week is another favorite and comes from my reading.   Alma 5:14-15:

14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
 15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body.
It is sobering to know that at some point in the future we will all stand before God and account for our lives while we we lived on earth.  I will try this week to be less judgmental, and try a little harder to be happy while adjusting my sails.  Happy Sailing to all of you.
Love and God Bless!  Patty

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Heavy Duty for our Ipads on Mother's Day
Elder Johansen talking to his family

We need to get Leiataua out of the office before
I strangle him!  Manu'a here he comes!
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
     I always say that my personal motto is "No Drama," but when you work in a mission office there is no way to avoid it.  You take 200 young adults, 18-22 yrs old, put them together with companions they don't know in very close quarters, and it is truly amazing that we don't have more drama than we do.
      Elder Leiataua thought he had to be home before his release date for BYU football.  He bugged the heck out me to get him his release date and airplane ticket.  After we got his ticket, he found out the football date had been changed.  "Sister Ellsworth, would it be possible to cancel that ticket and change my release date?"  NO!!!
Elder Tia Tia's Brother (Back 2nd from Left)
Performing with BYU Living Legends
     Young missionaries are allowed to talk to their families for 1 hr. twice a year, Mother's Day and Christmas.  Several weeks ago we had missionaries calling to set up appointments to use our Ipads so they could Skype.  It was fun to see how excited they were to see their families.
      Friday night we had a real treat when the performing group from BYU, Living Legends, performed right here on campus.  This is a group of about 30 students who come from Polynesian or Native American/Hispanic backgrounds, who learn native dances and put a spectacular show together to showcase their cultures.  There were a few from Samoa, including the brother of one of our missionaries.
     Poor Brent!  He poured his cereal into a bowl, and discovered it was full of ants.  He poured it out on a plate and smashed anything that moved.  After he was pretty certain that he had gotten the majority of them, he poured the cereal back in his bowl and ate his breakfast.  The remaining cereal went into the freezer.  Ants are just a fact of life here.  We have had two Senior missionaries get out of their showers and discover as they dried off that their clean towel was full of little biting ants. They couldn't get back into the shower quick enough, but still ended up with welts from the ant bites.  At least we don't have snakes here, which is a big plus in my book !
Brent was not happy to discover ANTS in his cereal!
A couple of weeks ago a counselor in the bishopric asked to speak with us.  We were surprised when he asked us to teach Primary.  We were told in the MTC and by our Mission President that we were not to accept ward callings.  When we explained this to him he replied, "Oh, this is not a calling.  You will not be set apart or sustained.  This is an assignment, not a calling."  Really???  After discussing it, we decided that we could do it, so today was our first class of 7 yr. olds.  Sister Callahan showed us an internet site with prepared Powerpoints for the lessons.  Except for a few technical problems the lesson went great.  They were pretty cute and we think it is going to be fun.  One of the little girls, who is supposed to be in the class, was recently diagnosed with Leukemia.  She and her Mom flew to Primary Children's Hospital in SLC for treatments.  I will send weekly emails to her so she knows she is missed and loved.
Junior Primary sending their love to one of
their friends at Primary Children's Hospital

     My Scripture for the week is about the importance of teaching our children about the Lord. 3 Nephi 22:13 " 13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children."

 Being with the kids today reminded me again of how much I miss my own grandchildren.  I tease them that I am going to squeeze their eyeballs out when I finally get to hold them again.  If you have your kids close to you give them a hug.

God Bless you and your families as you go throughout the week.  Love, Patty

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

Ward Choir Practice (the hole in the front is
where Brent was sitting)
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
     Happy Mother's Day!  Here in Samoa Mother's Day is a huge deal!  Tents have sprung up all over town with people selling flowers, white hats and other gifts for mothers.  Tomorrow is a national holiday to celebrate mothers.  Most everything will be closed so families can spend time with their mothers. Isn't that a great idea?
     Since most of the seniors do not have to work tomorrow, we are planning on driving to a resort on the south side for lunch and hopefully a dip in the ocean.  Brent bought me some flowers for Mother's Day, and add a beach day, and you have a great Mother's Day. Boy, we are really going to miss the ocean!

       I wish I had a picture of my own mother to post, as I have thought a lot about her this week.  Brent and I were both blessed with amazing mothers.  I have also thought about my daughters (I count my sons' wives as my daughters also).  They are all amazing young women who work so hard to take care of our precious grandchildren.  Being a mother was the greatest adventure of my life!
       At choir practice tonight I had Brent snap a picture of our ward choir.  Now that's what a ward choir is supposed to look like.   There are no phone calls, no begging or bribing, just an announcement in the ward bulletin, and people just show up.  Samoans love to sing and they are very good at it!
Bishopric provided Mother's Day dinner for ward choir
Bishop Pauga is in Green Shirt :)
     Finally it has started to cool down a LITTLE.  (less hot is more accurate than cool)  However, with the change of season has come the usual colds and flu bugs going around.  I was not spared, and also came down with a cold.  I have spent a  lot of time in bed, as I couldn't seem to stay awake at the office.  Finally I am feeling better today.
       We did have a scare this week with one of our Samoan elders.  He was eating at a member's home and didn't realize that one of the dishes had crab meat in it, and he had a serious allergic reaction.  It took a team effort of the members and zone leaders to get him to the hospital which was about an hour away.  Luckily, the zone leaders had some Benedryl that they were able to get into him on the way to hospital, as he was having trouble breathing.
We don't like those close calls!
Yacht Club is a great place for dinner and to watch the sun set.
Vellingas and Schaefermeyers
         The scripture that comes to mind is tonight is one of my favorites, Proverbs chapter 31.  If it has been a while since you've read this chapter, it is a beautiful reminder of the value of virtuous women.

   10 "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies."

       Besides my own mother, my life has been blessed with great examples of wonderful women,  from my sisters, grandmothers, aunts, extended family and friends.   The Gospel of Jesus Christ acknowledges the value of women.  I wish all of my sisters at home a happy Mother's Day.  Although I have made new friends here, I still miss my friends back home and think of you often.  You are in my thoughts tonight.  God bless you and keep you!  Love, Patty  

Sisters at the airport on their way to BYU MTC.
They will be serving in SLC, Idaho and Colorado

Fond Farewell to Elder Davis.