Hello from Samoa!
T hanks for any and all emails from family and friends. We are limited in our access to the internet as we do not yet have it in our apartment. We are kept very busy and finding time to go to the mission home when it is open to use the internet is more difficult than we would have imagined. I will try to imagine what questions you may have and attempt to answer them.
Our travel here actually took about 29 hours and was as pleasant as possible. We are very impressed with Air New Zealand. I hope if you are able to make the trip to Samoa you will come via ANZ. We arrived Wednesday, March 20th, and were met at the airport by Temple President Fitisemanu and his wife, who have been so helpful to us. All the temple missionaries are housed in apartments next to the temple. The mission home and pbo offices are also right here in a gated complex with security guards. Samoa is a peaceful place, so no need to assume anything ominous. The church is proactive in preserving property and workers.
President Sonny Ho Ching and his wife Karen are neighbors here in the temple apartments, and drive the temple mission van. They include us on all shopping trips as we don’t have Samoan drivers licenses. We have been surprised to find many American products on the shelves. Things have changed a lot in Apia and surrounding areas. There are many hotels and resorts on the island now, lots of restaurants and stores. The exchange rate is good. For $2 American we get $4.25 Samoan tala. The cost of food and goods is high. We buy milk in quart cartons that have an amazing shelf life. I know what you’re thinking, but you are wrong. It is very good. We have yet to eat fresh seafood but taro and palusami are available from local people who set up a table in front of some of the grocery stores and sell their produce. Another favorite of mine is the clear liquid in young coconuts, called niu (sounds like new). It has also been offered at these storefront tables. We were sad to learn that many fresh fruits were destroyed in the cyclone which caused devastation on this island. There are no bananas, pineapple or mangoes as a result of the storm. It will be many months before we can find those.
Our friends, Chuck and Joann Fife who are also ordinance workers, arrived eight months ago and experienced the cyclone and the aftermath. They, with other missionaries, gathered food and traveled out to villages delivering cookies and crackers, water, whatever they could easily eat. The chapels were full of the homeless. They found a family who had taken shelter in a large water tank. The father had gone to find work for food. A young boy had a laceration on his leg that needed medical attention, so they took him where that could be found. Huge trees were uprooted. Others lost branches and foliage. The storm occurred two weeks before Christmas and lasted about 3 days. Everywhere we see the destruction. We saw cars upturned and were told one was in a tree. Life goes on. Trees will grow back. Fruit will be harvested again and, we hope, before we leave. Taro grows in the ground, so it is still abundant and is a mainstay in their diet.
Because Samoa is across the international date line, we are one day ahead of you. So today is our Saturday and your Friday. You in Utah and Idaho are 4 hours later than we. It’s a little confusing, but I’m getting used to it. Something I still haven’t become accustomed to is that here we drive on the left as in England, New Zealand and Australia. It’s a good think I don’t have a license! I would be a definite hazard!
We paid a visit to Sauniatu this week, which is the village visited by President David O. McKay, and which he said was one of the most beautiful places on earth. This first picture was taken with our backs to the river where David was baptized 40 years ago.
The other two pictures are of the house we lived in all that long time ago when Leon taught at the church school here in Pesega (pronounced Pay-seng-a). We were the first family to live in this house. It wasn’t landscaped as it is now. The street is so beautiful now. We send our love and assure you that we are so very happy to be here serving is the beautiful Apia Samoa Temple.
Elder and Sister Crowley