Saturday, October 29, 2016

Gillette's Farewell Party (Rusty is next to me in the
red shirt, and Cindly is kneeling in front of him)
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Our Cute Primary Class
     Yesterday the Senior Missionaries met at Matareva Beach for Rusty and Cindy Gillette's Farewell Party.  It was a perfect beach day, with overcast skies, great food and a well deserved recognition and celebration of all the service the Gillette's have given over the past 18 months. They are from Gooding, Idaho where they run a large farm growing beans and beets.  Over the last 18 months they have provided service to Pesega high school where they worked in the Vo-Tech program.  It has been a challenging calling, but their love for the students has left an impact on many, many young people who will always remember them
fondly.  I would often see Rusty in the welding shop at 6:00 am, helping young men who wanted to learn how to weld.  Cindy went regularly to the Victim Support Center and taught the girls there how to sew.  If you needed something done that involved a tool, Rusty and Cindy were there.  Yesterday someone said they were afraid that Samoa might literally fall apart when they leave; I think that is a valid concern.  They are dear friends and we will miss them terribly!
Satiu's Pineapple Plantation in our front yard
      Every week in Primary the kids want to know if this is our last week.  They are worried that we they won't see us again.  We have grown to love these kids, and it is going to be hard to say goodbye to them also.  Today this is the conversation with Owen (age 8):
Owen: Is this your last Sunday?
Sis E.: No, Owen.  We are here until December.  I will let you know when it is our last Sunday.
Owen: Are you ever coming back?
Sis E: I'm not sure.
Owen: Will we ever see you again?
Sis E: If you come to Las Vegas on your mission, then we can see you.
Owen: Won't you be dead by then????
      Hopefully in ten years I will still be chugging along.  I am planning on living to be 100, and glad to say at this point I am feeling great.  Brent and I are pretty much over our illnesses, with the exception of Brent's lingering cough.
Papayas in our front yard
      While driving cross island yesterday I was again amazed at the amount of food growing all over this island.  Just in our front yard alone we have pineapples, papaya, coconut and avocados.  The Satius, a couple serving in the temple, would stick the top of their cut pineapples in a cleared area on our front grass.  They have returned home to New Zealand, but their efforts will not be wasted when we share the pineapples in a couple of weeks.  In the back of our house we have lemon grass that makes a delicious herbal tea.  You would really have to try hard to starve to death on this island.
     Last week was relatively quiet with the Hannemanns attending a conference in Australia.  I made some headway with my instruction manual for the new couple, and got caught up with other tasks that had been side lined.  This upcoming week will not be so quiet with Missionary Leadership Conference (MLC) and getting several missionaries ready to depart.  A couple of weeks ago we were released from being Senior Zone Leaders.  After serving for over a year, it has been strange not to have to worry about FHEs, Senior Activities, and emailing updates, now all we have to do is show up. (And that is even optional) It will be really nice not to be in charge of Thanksgiving right before we go home, and not to worry about what to do for 200 + missionaries for Christmas.  We gladly have passed the torch to the McBrides who will do a fabulous job.
     My scripture this week comes from the New Testament in Mark 2:27-28:
"27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
The Sabbath is a great blessing! It is indeed a day of rest when I can focus on my spiritual well being.  I love going to church and then having time to read, take a nap, and refresh myself for the upcoming week.  It is a great gift from our Savior and Heavenly Father.   With our own departure date nearing rapidly, my thoughts turn more often to home and the family and friends who are there.  It will be wonderful to see everyone again.  God bless you and keep you throughout the coming week.  Alofa Tele, Patty

Saturday, October 22, 2016

 Texas Theme for Elder & Sister Nielsen
Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
We barely survived a very busy week,  that included a 3 day visit to the mission by Elder and Sister Gifford Nielsen, a bad stomach flu, cold, and a farewell to one of our favorite missionaries.  (If you haven't figured this out yet, they are all our favorites!)
      Monday evening the mission hosted a western theme dinner for the Seniors in honor of the Nielsens who lived in Houston, Texas for a good part of their married lives.  Elder Gifford was the quarterback for the Houston Oilers for several years.  This is their second visit to the mission, and nicer people you could never find.  Sister McBride (AKA Martha Stewart in residence) put together the tables complete with tin plates, cowboy hats and sack candles.  There was a wanted poster hung up in the courtyard for every senior couple, with a cute message that matched their position or home town.  The Ellsworths were last seen playing Black Jack in Las Vegas.
Cindy and Rusty Gillette's Poster
They have worked with Vo-Tech Ed
and will be returning home soon.
 Sister Ellsworth cooked sloppy joes and all of the Seniors donated a salad or dessert.  The evening was topped off by an inspirational presentation by Elder Nielsen.
       Tuesday morning I helped Afalua put together lunches for 135 missionaries, and then went for an hour in the afternoon to hear part of the conference.
     Wednesday is our day to go to the Samoan Victims Center to help with school.  I work with the older girls, ages 14-18, with English and Reading.  Afalua takes charge of the younger children.  I have 4-5 sisters who regularly go to help, along with three sister missionaries.  However, I do all the planning and prep work.  I would love to find someone local who would be willing to take over this responsibility, as it took us so long to get our foot in the door.  We are leaving in 6 weeks, and I would hate to see this door shut.
     Wednesday evening Brent and I used our precious internet time to research the local candidates for Nevada and Las Vegas.  We filled in our ballots and sent them off.  The people in this part of the world think that Americans are crazy for having two morally corrupt people running for the highest office in our country.  I'm afraid that I agree. I had to go for "None of the above."
       Thursday evening the Hannemanns treated the office staff to dinner at a Sinalei, a very nice resort.  We were there to watch a beautiful sunset and enjoy an evening together.  Our poor waitress got almost every order wrong, so I think next time we will skip ordering and just say "Surprise Us."
Sister Barnes (Nurse), Afalua (Chief), Sister Anderson
(Bikes and Autos) at Sinalei Resort
Patty and Brent at Sinalei - Unfortunately you can't
see the beautiful sun setting behind us.
        For most of the week Brent was miserable with a bad cold.  His coughing kept him up most nights.  Friday morning I woke up with a headache, and an unsettled stomach.  I went for my usual walk, telling myself that if I just got up and got busy I would feel better.  Wrong!  By 9:00 am every joint in my body ached, I had a fever and my stomach was rolling.  I called Brent and told him I was not coming in.  I then literally slept for the next 24 hrs. except for a few times when  I woke up to wretch myself inside out.  I was sorry that I did not get to see Elder Keller off, but he promised at some time he would make it to Las Vegas to see us. Except for a quick trip to the grocery to get some food yesterday, I pretty much slept that day away also.  Here it is Sunday evening, and neither of us are still feeling great.  The Hannemanns left this morning for a 5 day conference in Australia, so hopefully it will be a quiet week.
      Today in Sacrament Meeting was our Primary Program.  I was so proud of the kids in our class as they did so well with their parts and their song.  Actually the whole program went well.  One of my favorite things about serving in Primary are the beautiful songs the children learn that teach gospel principles.  Instead of a scripture this week I am going to share the words to one of the songs we sang today.
Elder Keller and Brent (I hope he
got the aisle seat we requested for him!)

                     I Lived In Heaven
I lived in heaven, a long time ago it is true;
Lived there and loved there with people I know, so did you.
Then Heavenly Father presented a beautiful plan,
All about earth and eternal salvation for man.

Father said he needed someone who had enough love;
To give his life so we all could return there above.
There was another who sought for the honor divine.
Jesus said, "Father, send me, and the glory be thine."

Jesus was chosen, and as the Messiah he came,
Conquering evil and death through his glorious name.
Giving us hope of a wonderful life yet to be.
Home in that heaven where Father is waiting for me. 

Go to to find our more about where you came from, why you are here, and where you are going.  This knowledge brings so much peace and purpose to life.

Alofa Lava, Patty

Saturday, October 15, 2016

There is Beauty all around....

Black Sands Beach - Where else can you have an entire
spectacular beach to yourselves?
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Elder Best shucked the coconuts with Afalua's help.
     Black Sands beach on the south side of Upolu is Brent's favorite beach, and the location of our Senior Sat. afternoon activity.  The road in is a little bumpy (huge understatement) but it is worth it. Life does not get much better than this!  During high tide, there is a strong undertow, but yesterday we hit it a little after low tide and no one came home with a swim suit full of black sand.  Instead we stuffed ourselves with coconuts picked fresh and bananas.  Elder Best discovered that if you chew up coconut and spit it in the water, scads of fish will appear.  It didn't take long until several of us were following his lead, enjoying the feeding frenzy all around us.
    On our way back over the bumpy road we saw several men on their way to fish with the
long poles.  We stopped and talked to a couple of them.  One of them was a return missionary and the other the pastor for another church.  By looking at them, I would have never guessed.
       Last week everyone was busy preparing for Elder Gifford Nielsen's visit that starts tomorrow.  I now understand why the Lord does not tell us when He is coming.  We would kill ourselves working on table settings, decorations, agendas, landscaping, cleaning, menus, repairs......By the time He arrived we would be too exhausted to greet Him.
Patty and Afalua enjoying fresh coconuts and bananas - Yum!
      I have been trying to put together instructions for Sister Deffense, who arrives the day after we leave, to take over my job.  It is time consuming and brain numbing trying to write out directions for everything I do in the office.  Technical writing is not my forte, especially when I have to do it in between regular interruptions and trying to complete what needs to be done that day.
     We decided that since we are so close to New Zealand, and that is one place on my "Bucket List", that we will visit there on our way home.  We have been working on an itinerary that includes both the North and
South Island.  Brent is here in the office with me working on the last details so we can firm up some reservations. We are excited to see this beautiful country and visit with friends from our mission.
Pastor and Return Missionary off to get fish for supper.
Apia Sunset on the Peninsula
     Yeah!  our Golden Plover made it back from the Arctic Circle.  These birds stop to rest at the exact location every year. We were afraid that maybe he/she didn't survive, as it has been several weeks since our first Plover sightings.  After resting here for a few months this little bird will fly back to New Zealand for the summer.
     Elder Nielsen asked all the Seniors to prepare a 5 min. talk on repentance for FHE with him tomorrow night.  My scripture this week comes from my preparation for this talk.  It is found in the Book of Mormon, Alma 34 - 15-16: "    15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
 16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

Our Heavenly Father knew that all of us would make mistakes during our mortal lives.  The atonement of Jesus Christ covers the sins we sincerely repent of and makes it possible to return to our Heavenly Father after this life.  What a great blessing repentance is in our lives when we take advantage of it.

I send my love and wishes for a blessed week.  Oute Alofa Mo Outou Uma Lava,  Patty

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Rat Goes Home

White Sunday at the Wharf

Talofa Family and Friends,
     It is White Sunday here, so that means lots of smoke as families prepare their food in the umus, children get to eat first, and every one gets new white Sunday clothes.  This is a big holiday here celebrating children.  It started yesterday and continues through Monday.  Sister Barnes got this picture early this morning down by the wharf as people were traveling to the large cathedral downtown.  
MTC Missionaries at the Airport
     Tuesday we picked up missionaries from Provo and New Zealand MTC.  They were excited to finally be here in Samoa.  Transfer week is always exhausting, but this week went pretty smoothly.  We have about 5 missionaries with their trainers still at the mission home, while they read the Book of Mormon.
     Elder Wood from Spanish Fork, Utah is in my niece's ward.  He helped me bid a fond farewell to Rat, outfitted in his new lava lava designed and created by Brent, before he was boxed up to send to Samantha in Spanish Fork.  Rat was discovered in my suitcase at the Provo MTC 15 months ago.  Since then he has been hanging out in our pink tile bathroom.  However, he has been complaining that it is too hot and muggy here, and he wants to go home.  Rat has been traveling between Sam and I for 16 yrs. now.  He's happy to be going home.
Elder Wood and Patty bid a fond farewell to Rat
         This week I was infuriated when I discovered that my new ugly Nike walking shoes had been stolen off my front porch right in the middle of the day.  We live in a walled compound with security at every entrance.  I never feel unsafe, but now know not to leave anything out.  Luckily my daughter sent me my old walking shoes from home a couple of months ago, so I did not miss a morning walk.  I have since learned that President Hannemann's running shoes and Sister Barnes flip flops also disappeared off of their front porch.  I think I will post a reward for the shoe thief.
Senior Missionaries at Matareva
   Saturday the Seniors enjoyed an outing at Matareva Beach.  Its white sands, warm aqua blue water and coral reefs full of every kind of fish you can imagine is hard to beat.  Throw in beach fales and a bonus male streaker and you have a great day.  There are not a lot of things that Brent and I share a love for.  We don't like the same kind of movies, hobbies, restaurants, but one thing we enjoy doing together is snorkeling.  I probably like it more than Brent as he pulls me along, but it has been so enjoyable exploring these amazing reefs together.  I surely am going to miss that!
Afulua and her Mom
     We made it make in time from the beach to shower, dress and get to the church for the baptism of two sweet young women.  Both testified of how their lives have been blessed by the restored gospel.  Elders Stevenson and Ete live across the street so I see them often.  I love their testimonies and their willingness to work hard.
        I started reading the New Testament this week.  These are stories that I've heard my whole life.  I am so grateful that we took the opportunity to visit the Holy Land a couple of years ago.  Now when I read the Bible I have images of places and a feeling of the space and context of these scriptures.  My scripture for the week comes from Matthew 5, and is from the the Sermon on the Mount.  I can easily visualize the place where this took place.  If you haven't already been, I would put a trip to the Holy Land on the top of my "Bucket List."
Matthew 5:14-16:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Matareva Beach - Gorgeous!
 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
  The light of the restored gospel is being taken around the globe by young LDS missionaries.  If you have not listened to their message or read the Book of Mormon I would urge you to do so, as I know it is the true word of God.

Tomorrow our new little Colbie will be blessed at church.  How we would love to be there!
Oute Alofa Mo Outou Uma Lava, Patty

Elder Stephenson (R) and Elder Ete (L)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ties, ties and more ties....

Theron's parting gift
 Talofa Family and Friends,
I don't know what is harder, getting ready to go on a mission, or getting ready to leave the mission field.  Both times are mine fields of emotion, feelings of uncertainty and the stress that comes with any big life change.  All of this was brought to the surface this week with our good friends, Theron and Shanna Schaefermeyer, leaving for home.  Rusty and Cindy Gillette, more dear friends, leave in a month, and then 4 weeks later we will be on our way home.
     Last week driving cross island with Schaefermeyers, Theron kept telling us he saw grapes.  Since we were all sure that there are no grapes here, we humored him. This week he brought in what he had seen.  They are beautiful, but I have no idea what they are.
       Brent is handling his stress by sewing more ties.  However, he has discovered that not everyone needs ties the same size.  We had a good laugh when Theron came into the office and started pulling and pulling and pulling out the inside part of the tie from inside of his shirt.  President Hannemann wore his tie into the office, and it reached  down past his belt buckle.  Well, back to the drawing board.  I have to give Brent credit for his tenacity with this project - something he has never lacked when he puts his mind to a project.
Brent's homemade ties - Still working on perfect pattern
Apollo Movie Theater one last time with dear friends
      This weekend we just took it easy, and rested up for this week's transfers - always the busiest/craziest time.  We enjoyed watching General Conference today, and were grateful for BYU TV.  Tomorrow morning (Monday) we will be up early to watch the first Sunday Session. Next week they will show all the sessions at church, but will have it translated into Samoan, so will stay home and have a quiet Sunday.  One of the greatest blessings of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, is hearing the Prophet, Apostles, and other church leaders counsel and teach us every six months. Their messages are always inspiring and comforting.
      With the time change last week, by morning walks are once again in the dark.  The upside is the beautiful stars that I rarely see in Las Vegas.  Orion's Belt is always easy to spot and is the constellation that led the 1st people to these islands thousands of years ago.
      On a humorous note, last weekend when we were at the beach, Brent found this very unusual green shell, the only problem was that it was inhabited.  Since I wanted the shell, Brent brought it home, and I set it out on the front porch, thinking we would get the critter out the next morning.  Well, the next morning it was gone - down two steps and nowhere in sight.
Wednesday morning, returning home from my walk, I saw something moving down the sidewalk quite a distance from our house - It was my Green Shell.  I was surprised at the size of the clam that came out when Brent put it in warm water.  I did feel sad about evicting it, but we put it outside with another shell we had.  Next time I will leave all inhabited shells on the beach.    
Driving around the island you often see these large sheets full of oval holes.  They are what is left over after they cut out the soles for flip flop shoes, the shoe of choice here.  When you live on an island with limited resources, nothing is wasted.
      I finished the D&C this week, and have a renewed testimony of the Prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith.  We in no way worship Joseph Smith, but honor him for the part he played in restoring the gospel and priesthood back to earth after the great apostasy.  This scripture is from D&C 35:3 and was written after he was killed by a mob in Carthage, Ilinois in June 1844.
 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.  In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fullness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

I send my love to all of you from the beautiful island of Upolu, Samoa !