Dear Friends and family,
Many changes have occurred in the last 40 years, and they weigh heavily on the positive side in our limited perspective of only being here 18 days at this writing. Regarding any disadvantages we may be experiencing here, at this point in our stay, the things most common, i.e., bugs and humidity, etc., have not been the problem we experienced the first time we were here. The bugs are still here, but living in church housing, we haven’t had the problem to any significant extent. They spray for bugs, and 90% of the bugs we do encounter in our apartment are dead bugs – and they are at a minimum. The apartments are air conditioned and ceiling fans are placed in all the living areas. When we are out, we feel the humidity, but I’ve been surprised at how insignificant it seems. Of course I was seven months pregnant the first time we came! Another major challenge we dealt with before was the regular power outages which sometimes lasted for weeks. Living in church housing protects us from that inconvenience. Their generator kicks in w/i ten seconds and the power is restored. I would say that the only thing that has taken us back a bit is the cost of food and other commodities. The exchange rate is definitely in our favor, but given that, prices are still very high.
We have found an abundance of American food products on the shelves, while before it was a rare thing. We have tried New Zealand products, which are generally less expensive, and we like what we have tried. We remember three downtown Apia stores in the 1970’s; now there are many grocery stores, at least two pharmacies, and many other types of stores and shops. Apia is hardly recognizable to us. Samoa has grown up. In the 70’s there was one hotel/restaurant, Aggie Grey; now there are hotels and resorts, and a variety of restaurants to choose from.
The Apia Samoa temple is absolutely beautiful. We’ve been told that it is the same plan as the Newport Beach Temple in California. The floor tile, windows, flower arrangements, and some of the paintings reflect the Island culture and landscape. The temple presidency, matron and assistants are just as loving and welcoming as you would imagine. The workers are dedicated, friendly and kind. It sounds familiar, yes? There are 4 full-time companionships serving temple missions here. The Ho-Chings who serve in the presidency are also here as missionaries serving 3 years in that assignment. There is a need for more ordinance workers. Please pass the word along.
The patrons come by busloads as wards or stakes by assignment. If they come from long distances, they stay in patron housing, just outside the mission complex. Some come by taxi, some walk, but most of the population is outside this ‘suburb’ of Apia, called Pesega. (Pronounce the ‘g’ as an ‘ng’ as in sung or ring). Attending Sunday meetings here, as well as observing the temple attendance of the members, has witnessed to us the maturity of the Samoan saints understanding of and conversion to the gospel.
We love serving in this beautiful place. The sunsets are gorgeous. One of my favorite things about Samoa is the ever-changing sky. It is the most beautiful blue and the billowy white cloud formations are just so beautiful. March ended the rainy season, and though It still rains, it doesn’t last long and skies are mostly blue.
We were able to spend last Monday with the other temple missionaries and presidency on a private beach, owned by Brother Su’a, who is over patron housing. There are many lovely beaches around the island. This one required us to travel up over the center of the island to the south coast. We saw the uprooted trees and other signs of the devastation caused by the cyclone last December. We also saw lush beauty, waterfalls, beautiful villages with their well maintained fales and the large ‘lawn’ area, common to the village, and colorful flowers. We played in the ocean, which is protected by the reef, so no huge waves. And yes, we did get a little burned. Our hosts prepared wonderful Samoan food, including a small roasted pig, BBQ chicken, and 2 crabs caught right there and cooked right on the beach.
We send our love. Thanks for your comments and emails. We love hearing from and about you.
Alofa atu, Elder and Sister Crowley