We drove next to a national park. I can't recall the name, but Leon took a picture of the sign, which we will include below. We parked the van and then walked a path lined on both sides with tropical flowers and dense vegetation. It was so incredibly beautiful as to make you stop in your tracks and take it all in. It followed a river which lead to a waterfall. On the other side of the river was a high cliff, green with dense vegetation. Twice, we passed a wide swath of bare earth, where heavy rain, or perhaps another evidence of the December cyclone, had washed the vegetation into the river. At the top of one such place, a huge tree was precariously rooted to the very edge of the cliff. We walked some distance before reaching the waterfall, which was below us on the river, wide as the river. Sister Ho-Ching observed that they had brought their grandchildren here before the cyclone to swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall. At that time, the water was crystal clear; now it is muddy brown.
As we arrived back at the van, President Ho-Ching pointed out to us a noni tree bearing much fruit. There is a picture below. On our very next shopping trip I saw a bottle of noni juice on the shelf and bought it. I have to believe that the drink that is so popular with health seekers at home has been 'added upon'. It tastes nasty!
Soon we were back on the south coast, driving back home around the east end of the island, where in 2009 a tsunami struck killing 100 people as they ran to the densely covered cliff, clinging to trees and grasping at anything available to get above the 46 foot waves. The Ho-Chings pointed out that the homes and other structures on the seaside of the road were all built since 2009. The coast was washed clear of any structure. The homes that remained further inland were severely damaged. We saw fales with only posts remaining. They told us that the homes were full of fish and sharks and eels were left in their yards. One of our temple ordinance workers, Sister Ese, found herself clinging to the top of a palm tree with no memory of how she got there. It reached American Samoa, and Tonga as well. Total loss of life was 189, mostly children. A survivor of the tsunami wrote a book, Tsunami, which I will buy and read when opportunity permits, which records personal accounts from the survivors.
Will we experience any of these deadly storms during our stay on the island? There is no way to know. It is not a concern that keeps us awake at night. One of the incredible couples we've met and have occasion to associate with, are the Roth's. He is a successful dentist from Utah. He is here serving the Samoan people, the missionaries, whoever he finds lined up at his clinic as he arrives early in the morning. His wife is his assistant. Their clinic is housed in a warehouse bordering the school malai (grassy field) at the top of church housing. The equipment is donated by two dental associations of which the Roth's are members. Their service costs the church nothing. They provide basic dental care and teach dental hygiene. I'm sure you are wondering why I brought this up in the context of extreme weather. It is because of what he said to me. He said he has never been happier in his life. No money is exchanged. He serves people from all walks of life, all levels of society. He said if it were possible he would stay forever. He said that he told his children that if during their mission, something terrible should happen to them, "Don't you dare blame God, or turn away from Him. We are here because this is where we want to be. We made the choice to be here and this is where, of all the places we could be, this is where we want to be." I say the same to our children and loved ones at home. I find it difficult to explain the peace I feel every day, even in challenging and new situations.
It's time to get ready for church. I'll leave to my tech expert to download pictures to add to this epistle. God bless anyone who has read the entire post. As Leon says, I was born with more words than he. ;)
Tofa Soifua until next time. Alofa atu.
Elder and Sister Crowley
|Lunch at Coconut Resort -left to right: Karen in back, Pres. Sonny Ho-Ching to her right, |
yours truly, JoAnn Fife, Chuck Fife.
|Swimming pool at resort right on the beach|
|Falls and the nice swimming area below the falls|
|People you might know|