July 24th is the day that people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints celebrate the early Pioneers of the Church entering the Salt Lake Valley. I think it is pretty amazing that my Great Great Great Grandparents, James Bowers and Mariah Bowers on my Grandma Kendrick side, joined the Church near Birmingham, England in 1839. They left every thing, including 4 children, and set off with their six children to join the saints in Utah in 1856. And who did they travel with? Edmund Ellsworth, Brent's relative who led the first handcart company. James died on the journey and Mariah continued on alone with her six children. She settled in Nephi Utah. Today I am grateful for the sacrifices of these good people.
Friday night, while driving a couple of Sister Missionaries back home to the South side of the island, we came upon this horrific bus crash. It happened on a very steep section of road and on a sharp curve. It appeared that the driver probably lost his brakes. The bus was full of 50 high school students from the village of Siumu, returning home from an athletic competition in Apia. The paper
|Bus Crash at Tiavea|
today is reporting that no one was killed - which is truly a miracle considering the condition of the bus.
During Primary today I became aware of a very strange sensation - the ground was definitely rolling. It was the strongest tremor I've felt since we've been here. There are tsunami escape route signs posted around the island, but I am hoping it will never get bad enough that we have to run.
|Tsunami Signs are posted around the islands|
After Church today I drove a Sister Missionary to the airport. I have lost count of how many trips we have made - but it is a lot! However, I loved driving home on a Sunday afternoon. Samoans take the commandment of keeping the Sabbath Day Holy quite seriously. You see the Protestant women walking home from church in their white dresses and white hats. Unlike Saturday night, there is no one out playing ball, and very few children out playing. There are very few cars on the road, and almost all businesses are closed. It was wonderful to drive through the villages at at a leisurely rate, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There is no way to adequately describe the beauty of this country. I love the millions of sparking diamonds on the aqua ocean, the countless varieties of flowers, bushes, trees, the changing cloud formations and the different hues of the sun. Boy - I am sure going to miss Samoa!
|Elder Cutler's "Best Socks"|
Our internet has been off and on at the house for the last couple of weeks. (Mostly off) Since our daughter, Annie, is expecting a baby girl any day I have been anxious about missing her important call. There are sacrifices that have to be made when serving a mission, and not being home for the birth of a grandchild is a biggie. It is lucky that I am so busy that I don't have too much time to dwell on it.
This last week Elder Cutler was working in the office and slipped off his shoes. I was shocked to see his stockings! He said they were the only clean ones he had, and when his shoes are on they appear to be fine. Since Samoans seldom wear shoes, socks are not a priority either so they are difficult to find.
Saturday morning we had a wonderful sunrise Relief Society Activity at the Temple. If you look closely you can see us sitting at the church across from the temple. Elder Schaefermeyer's drone is responsible for these amazing photos. The second photo is all of us standing on the front temple stairs. I am next to the last on the right (Just in case you were wondering). Sister Anderson said something in her talk that I have been thinking about. She said that Christian churches do a great job bringing people to Jesus Christ, as does our faith. But it is only in the temple where people are also bound to Heavenly Father through the process of making covenants. It is the only way to get back to our heavenly home.
The Starkes arrived this week from Portland, Oregon. They will be working with teachers at the Pesega Campus. They expressed an interest in going to the beach, and you know how hard they had to twist my arm. The Spencers and Davis' joined us at Matereva Beach. We were well rewarded for the effort to go with the most
amazing snorkeling experience yet. There were literally thousands of fish of every description in the coral reefs. Being there at low tide helped us to see more than we usually do. It was awesome!
My Scripture from the week comes from our Primary lesson today. We are teaching the children in our class stories from the New Testament this year. Today we talked about the Good Samaritan, and how important it is to be kind to people, even when they are not kind to us. An important lesson for the world today. Luke 10:34-37:
"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion