Saturday, November 26, 2016

Stop the Clock!

Mangroves near Solosolo
 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
Our new favorite Disney Movie
     Love and greetings from the beautiful island of Upolu.  Since our mission is quickly coming to an end, we took advantage of a little free time and drove around the east side of the island yesterday for one last look.  How are we ever going to be able to survive in the desert again after living in this tropical paradise?  Of course, along with all of this lush green landscape comes a lot of rain, which we have had almost everyday.  This past week several thunderstorms have moved through, with booming thunder and crackling lightening.  One morning the flash of light and boom of thunder were almost simultaneous, making me glad that I had already returned from my walk and was safe inside the house.  Rain here means that water tanks get filled, crops get watered and people get to eat, so it is hard to complain.
     The new Disney Movie "Moana" was released here this past week, and several seniors went together opening night.  There were so many things in this film that are familiar to us now, and we loved watching it here in Samoa.  I don't buy a lot of videos, but this is one I am going to have to have.  We have a little girl in our Primary class named Moana, so I told her I was always think of her when I watch the movie.
      On Wednesday we had a party for the children at the Victim Support Shelter.  We played a lot of the same games that we used for our primary kids the week before.  I've learned that if you have balloons you have a party.  After the games and singing, we showed the film "Frozen".  Afalua made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all of them, (a real treat) and we took chips, water and a treat.  I am hoping that these beautiful children, who have all been abused, can somehow find the strength to "Let It Go" so that their past does not define their futures.  It was the last day at the shelter for me and it was so hard to say good bye to the young women I have worked with over the past several months.  There were a lot of tears and hugs, and I will never forget what a great experience it was to serve them.  The good news is that I think that Sister Kinghorn, a new Senior missionary, is going to take over for me when school reopens in January.  She brought in a USB and I have downloaded all of the ESL material I have, and she is coming in next week for training.  
Almost ready for Thanksgiving
Vellingas, Sister Foley, Sister McBride
The Hellesoe Family
      Early Saturday morning I made a quick trip to the airport to pick up Elder and Sister Kalama who arrived from Hawaii to serve as Institute instructors. Saturday afternoon Brent and I took our drive and  Saturday evening we had our Senior Thanksgiving Dinner. Since Thanksgiving is not a holiday here, people had to work.   Sister McBride brined and cooked 3 turkeys and a ham.  Everyone pitched in to pay for them and then we all brought food to share.  There was plenty of food, and enough turkey to make a big pot of soup for another Senior dinner. I will include a picture of the dinner next week, after Elder McBride forwards it.  After dinner those who wanted to joined in one of our family traditions - the "Ricky Ticky Bear" game.  It's always a fun way to end the meal.  Ater the clean-up several people stayed after dinner and we played Canadian Fruit Salad, thanks to the Davis' who can remember the rules.  Boy, I am sure going to miss these wonderful senior missionaries who we have shared such great times with!
     The Hellesoe family invited us to dinner after church today.  We had a lovely visit and delicious food.  Jerry (middle front) is one of our primary kids.  We have attended Pesega 5th Ward for most of the time we have been here because it is an English speaking ward.  We are going to miss these dear ward members and our Primary class.  I talk to Bishop Pauga almost every week while I am working. He is over Facility Management for the mission home and some of the missionary housing.  I have appreciated him putting up with my endless requests.  Sister Pauga is the Primary music leader and is like the Energizer Bunny.  Just watching her makes me tired.  Next week is our last Sunday to attend this ward, and we will definitely miss these people! 
Flowers outside our front door
     My scripture for the week is again one of gratitude and praise, as I think about what an incredible experience this mission has been and what joy it has brought to us.  
D&C 136:28:
 28 If thou art merrypraise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
     With Thanksgiving over, I am sure that Christmas parties and celebrations have already started.  Since we will be returning one week before Christmas, we are looking forward to a pretty low key Christmas with our family.  As I think back on past Christmas' it is not the gifts I remember, but the fun of being with family and friends, playing games, reading the Nativity story on Christmas Eve, and watching the children on Christmas morning. Make a point to watch for those around you who may not have family or friends close by, as I know this time is especially hard for them.  I send our love to all of you and wishes for a Merry Christmas Season.
Oute Alofa Mo Outou Uma Lava, Patty 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

L-R: Patty, Elders Seigafo & Cassinat, Brent
Talofa Family and Friends,
      Transfer week went amazingly smooth, I think we have just about got it down, just in time to leave.  We had a total of 14 missionaries from the Provo and NZ MTCs arrive on Tuesday, with only one bag lost in route, which Fiji air eventually delivered.  They were fed both with Afalua's wonderful cooking and with spiritual direction from President Hannemann.  Wednesday and Thursday we had missionaries going every which way via ferry and vans, with everyone arriving safely at their new destinations.
      With only 2 1/2 weeks to go we have started our good-byes.  Before our mission I would have never said that I was thankful for FB, as I had very little use for it.  Now it is my lifeline to many new friends and missionaries we have met here and who have returned home, as well as to friends and family from home.  As missionaries come into the office we try to get a photo to remember them by.  It's hard not to fall in love with every one of them, when I see how hard they work both in the very hot Samoan sun or trudging through muggy rainy days.  It seems like they are always hungry, and we are more than happy to feed them when we can.
Elder Ete, Brent, Miriama, Patty, Elder Stevenson
            This week has been special as we have had the opportunity to continue to help teach and baptize Miriama Oge.  Brent was over the moon when she asked him to baptize and confirm her.  She was baptized yesterday afternoon, and confirmed this morning. It is a great way to end our mission.  She is yet another person here who will keep a piece of our hearts as we return home to Las Vegas.
Elders Ete, Tua, Mounga, Stevenson & Talatau (L-R) with
their broom in progress
     Friday night we were surprised when 5 hungry Elders showed up for Miriama's baptism interview.  While she was being interviewed, Brent made the other Elders help him strip palm leaves on the front porch so he can make a Samoan broom when he gets home. (No, he is not taking orders!) Meanwhile, I ran to Mr. Chippy's for Fish and Chips for 8.  While I was waiting for my order the cafe's lights went out because they ran out of cash power.  Here in Samoa you have to pay your electricity up front. As soon as your credit is gone your electricity goes off.  I was surprised when business seemed to go on as usual using lights from cell phones and 1 lantern.  I offered to go and pay their cash power, but was told someone had already been called.
Balloon Volleyball with Primary Kids
        Saturday morning we had a party for our Primary kids.  After two hours of musical chairs, jump rope, balloon volleyball, pictionary, Ricky Ticky Bear and stomping balloons out I was exhausted.  (The best part was watching Brent trying to teach the kids how to jump rope!) We had pizza, root beer floats, and cake before sending them home.  We were excited when almost all of our kids came, and even though it was tiring we all had a lot of fun. I wish we would have gotten a picture of all of the kids before the boys left.   We LOVE our primary class!
Sun setting on both Upolu and our mission :(
        I have had several people ask about our ETA in Las Vegas.  We leave Samoa on Dec. 8th and fly to Auckland NZ.  We will be in NZ for 10 days, and return to Las Vegas on Sunday Dec. 18th at about 6:30 pm.  We are hoping that NZ will have stopped rocking and rolling by the time we get there.  The damage done by the 7.9 earthquake this week in some parts of the country made me realize how vulnerable we all are. After arriving home, we are planning on a very low key Christmas and a pretty hectic two weeks to get several things done before the first of the year.  Our home ward has asked us to speak in Sacrament Mtg. on Jan. 8th.  I am not sure what time the meeting is, but will post later.  I am trying to brace for the cold I know that awaits us.
      Happy Thanksgiving to our Family and friends in the states who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week.  We are planning our dinner for Saturday so the temple workers can participate.
     Psalms 92 expresses gratitude and is my scripture for the week.  I am thankful for the incredible opportunity it has been to serve in Samoa for the past 17 months with Brent.  I am also thankful for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that blesses my life everyday.  I am thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for his great atonement, for Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness that makes it possible for families to be together for ever, for the blessings of health and especially for the blessings that have come to me through incredible family and friends.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:  To shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,  Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.  For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.

Alofa Tele, Patty


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Talofa Family and Friends,
      Boy, what a crazy week!  I am glad that we are in Samoa and insulated from the majority of chaos that seems to be exploding in cities across the country - at least that is what the media here is portraying.  Election night I was glued to the TV watching Australia and New Zealand News as they reported the results.  It made me realize that the whole world was watching this election. When they signed off I had to come to the office and watch as the drama continued on live streaming.  I watched in complete surprise as the center of the map turned red - even Arkansas!  Even though I am not a Trump lover, I was encouraged by his acceptance speech and at this point I feel hopeful for our country. There definitely needed to be a change - and Hillary was not the person to bring it.
Farmers Festive Reindeers - ugh!
     Here it is the middle of November and most of you are preparing for the holidays.  Except for the very festive reindeer display at Farmers and the Christmas decorations popping up at other stores, I could easily forget that it is almost Christmas.  There are many things I love about Samoa, but I have to say that they have the Ugliest Christmas Trees I have ever seen! (And the reindeer are pretty lame too).  Please, my Samoan friends who read this, don't be offended, don't protest outside the mission's just my very humble opinion.
The Gillettes Ready to Go Home :(
      Friday we borrowed a 15 passenger mission van to take Rusty, Cindy and their visiting family to the airport. I think between them they had 15-20 pieces of luggage, and then when we got to the airport Cindy realized she had left Rusty's carry-on in the back bedroom.  A quick call to a friend and the problem was solved.  The Gillettes have been dear friends, and it was so hard to see them leave.  I'm sure there will be a trip to Idaho in the future to see them again.
     We have loved having Miriama take the missionary discussions in our home.  She is a beautiful, smart young woman who wants to join the church for the right reasons.  She has asked Brent to baptize her next Saturday, which will be a great way to end our mission.
Taumeasina Island Resort - Book Now!
Elder Vahai's carving
  Last week, when we were taking Miriama home, I noticed a sign for a resort that I hadn't heard of before.  We took a detour to explore the new Taumeasina Island Resort, and found a 5 star resort hotel about 15 minutes from our apt.  When we found out that they have a local day pass for $40 WST that includes a $40 voucher for food we knew where we would be spending our next Sat.  Several couples joined us yesterday for a swim in the pools, snorkeling in the ocean (only steps away) and kayaking out to the reef.  Afterwards we enjoyed a leisurely lunch which was delicious!  Brent forgot his camera yesterday, but he did snap a picture on the day of our discovery.
        President and Sister Hannemann were off island all week, so again Brent and I held down the fort.  This upcoming week is our last transfer, and I have the schedule done, so hopefully the President won't change too many things at the last minute.  At FHE last Monday Sister Starke conducted a very interesting activity where people identified their personality type.  I learned that I am mostly West and Brent and President are mostly North.  That means I like things organized and they just push through like bulls in a china closet.  It helped me understand why we knock heads a lot.
     Elder Vahai (Tongan) was Elder Cutler's companion last week, so while Elder Cutler worked on computer tasks, Elder Vahai carved hymn books.  He is an amazing artist! Several missionaries know how to carve the books, but he is the best I have ever seen.  He comes by his talent honestly, as his father carved the King of Tonga's official chair.
     I have loved teaching the New Testament in Primary this year, and am enjoying just reading it through again.  It is like spending time with an old friend.  In reading John this week this scripture stuck out.  The LDS Temples that are now around the entire globe exist to help save the dead who never had a chance to hear and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  These scriptures refer to to this doctrine of saving the dead. John 5:24-29:
 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from
death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
      It is a great blessing to understand the plan that our Heavenly Father had for every person ever born on the earth - a plan that is totally inclusive.  If you want to know more you can always invite the missionaries into your home to share this message.  I send my love to you and look forward to seeing you soon. 
Alofa Tele, Patty

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Skies on Fire

Fabric painting with wooden template
 Talofa Family and Friends,
     The rainy season has arrived, with deluges almost everyday.  A couple of times this week I got caught on my morning walk, and came home drenched.  You can hear the storm move toward you as the rain on the fales tin roofs makes a noise like heavy freeway traffic that gets louder as it moves toward you.  I am always surprised at how fast these storms move in.   Lucky for me that I'm waterproof!  However, the storms provide the most incredible sunrises and sunsets that are hard to capture with our camera.  Several times this past week it appeared that the sky was on fire with deep reds, oranges and pinks ablaze across the entire sky.
        Before we leave we wanted to get some things made up for the kids for Christmas and a few things for us.  There are many people who sew in their homes, and many other small businesses that can sew whatever you want.  You just take in the piece of  your clothing that they can use for a pattern, buy the fabric and presto, you have a custom made garment for a very reasonable price.  Brent has gotten a couple of beautiful shirts made, and I took some fabric in this week to get a matching shirt after I saw how nice his were.  Afalua surprised me with a beautiful skirt that fits perfectly.  When I asked her how she knew what size she said she just has been looking at me and figured it out.  No measuring - No pattern - Amazing!
     These goodbyes are getting to be way too  
Elders Galu, Kanahele, Lautafi and Galvez with Sister Wardle
frequent, with five of our missionaries going 
home on Friday.  Sister Wardle was in the MTC with us, and Elder Galvez was one of our Dengue patients that we grew to love last year when he was in the office for several weeks last year recuperating. FB is a wonderful way to keep in touch with these wonderful young people who we have grown to love.  
Seniors gathering shells at Fagaloa Bay
     This past week we have loved having a young woman, Mariama, take the missionary discussions in our home.  Elders Stevenson and Ete teach the lessons, and Brent and I have the opportunity to add our testimonies.  It has been a sweet experience and she is planning on a Nov. 19th baptism.  We planned to pick her up for church this morning, but had to go into fast gear when our USA alarm clock got confused and jumped ahead 1 hour in the middle of the night. With church starting at 7:30 am, we had 20 minutes to get ready.  I was pretty impressed that we made it!  
     Our Saturday Senior Activity this week was a little different, as we went exploring a remote area that we had never been to.  Fagaloa Bay, on the NE side of Upolu is about as remote as it gets. I had heard that there was a beach there with beautiful shells.  On this very tiny stretch of beach there were hundreds of large red and white shells.  Elders Cutler and Vahai showed us the way as they had a family to visit at the end of the road.  Children appeared out of nowhere and began bringing us armfuls of shells.
Sister Vellinga treated our shell gatherers to a lollypops
     After all of us getting all the shells we wanted 
we walked up to the small fale where the Elders were giving a lesson.  I had promised Sister Hannemann that the seniors would share a song with this family, so we sang "I Am A Child of God".  It was a humbling experience.
     We took over 50 pictures on this adventure, and it was hard to choose just a few.  The scenery was spectacular as you drop quickly from the top of a mountain, down a winding road, with steep green cliffs with waterfalls and the bay below.  At the bottom there are several very small remote villages, with people living very simple lives.  They are far removed from the elections and world dramas that cause the rest of us stress.
Elders Cutler and Vahai with investigators
         We are down to 4 1/2 weeks before we leave Samoa.  We have started to pack a few boxes to send things home, and are making preparations for our departure.  We have our NZ trip planned, with reservations made and a wish list of activities we will in no way have time to complete.  We are excited to be home for Christmas with our family.  Can't wait to squeeze the eyeballs out of our grandkids.
        A nice surprise arrived this past week, when FM showed up at our door with new couches (Desparately needed) and a new bed that we didn't need.  Oh well, we will enjoy them for 1 month.
        I have loved reading the New Testament this 
Village men working on poles for a new fale
week, and have made my way almost through the Gospel of Luke.  I have been struck this time with the veracity that people with authority went after the Savior because he threatened their power and position and refused to go along with their corrupted ways.  Very similar to what is going on today.  Luke 6:6-11
Craftsman with my small bowl made from the Ifilele Tree
And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? 10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
Beautiful Fagaloa Bay
 We all need to be courageous in standing for what we know to be right, without being hateful to those who do not share our opinions.  Let's not follow the example of the Scribes and Pharisees, but the example of Christ.  God bless you as you go throughout the week.  I hope we will all continue to pray for our country as elections are held this week, that no matter the outcome there will be peace in the land, that somehow we can come together and mend the divisions that now threaten our country. 
 Alofa Tele, Patty