What a week this has been! Did you ever have 'growing pains' when you were young and growing? I did. I guess my mom asked the doctor about the pain I experienced occasionally, which to be honest I couldn't accurately describe today. I do remember a specific time that whatever the pain was, I found it difficult to walk home from a friend's house some distance away due to this 'growing pain'. So maybe the doc told her not to worry, that it was just 'growing pains'.
This week I have experienced 'growing pains' once more, but not the kind that respond to a heating pad. These are the areas - and I can clearly identify them for you - where growth (hopefully) is occurring. I may not be as accurate in identifying the cause. My experience is that it can usually be traced to one or all of these three common problems: pride, vanity, or selfishness. Hey, that can't be. Can it? So the areas that are causing so much pain are (1) Samoans speak waaay too fast! Samoans speak slang, which greatly hinders learning by listening. For nearly every 'T' they substitute a 'K'. Believe me, this is a problem. (2) When you ask a Samoan a question, no matter what the right answer is, they may smile and nod "Yes". That may mean they do not speak English and did not understand, but sometimes the answer to 'do you speak English' is also a smile and an affirmative nod. Communication is a real problem when they ask you a question as well. Especially if you don't understand that you have just been asked to do something and you didn't get that message at all so you don't show up for an assignment. (3) Samoans don't like to be corrected. Of course that is not true of all Samoans, . . .. Okay, three or four patrons this week. Combine the speed of their speech, and their determination to press forward and not respond to gentle, persistent efforts to instruct, well, it's a problem. It's especially a problem when the 'instructor' has just barely learned herself. "Did I hear what I thought I heard? or Did I not hear what I should have heard?" It's not possible to have an instant replay.
Growing pains also came as a result of facing a very real possibility that the Ho-Chings, our friends and mentors, may not be able to finish their mission. We have grown to love them and we have depended on them like a new convert depends on the missionary who introduced them to the gospel and baptized them. They have played such a crucial role in helping us in the temple, and in everyday life. Sister Ho-Ching is very ill and as a result she and President Ho-Ching, counselor to president Fitisemanu, are back in the states to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. He also has severe pain in his ankle, which has been getting worse. He is diabetic. Of course we are anxious to hear from them and pray a positive outcome and for their return, the good Lord willing. Without them, we have had numerous and varied opportunities for growth.
This is what the "Doctor" ordered for these growing pains: a big dose of humility and patience, to be taken daily as needed, preferably with a large glass of understanding. The fine print is the most important part. This is what it says. "These children of the Islands are My children. Do you see the evidence of My love for them? Is there any hunger here? Any war? Poverty? Is there beauty here? Abundance? Do you know of their sacrifice to visit My House? Do you understand the miles they walk, the hours they spend waiting for a bus? Do you see how they love each other? Do you feel the love they show you? Do you notice the limping ones, the blind ones and the aged? Do you sense their faith, how strong it is? Have you ever seen a House of the Lord more beautiful than this one I have provided for My Samoan children? Do you realize what a privilege I have granted you to serve them here in My House? Were you not aware that serving a mission is hard work? That it requires sacrifice and obedience, and selflessness?"
He promises if I will continue to take my medicine every day that I will grow strong and capable of serving my mission with honor and without regret. I have the best Doctor. I've learned to trust His diagnosis and treatment.