Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Princess, a Doctor, Aussies,and a Mutant Bomb

Hello from the island paradise of Samoa where we have just celebrated 51 years of independence! Today is a holiday.  There is a US Navy vessel in the harbor, the skies are once again blue after several days of rain, and we are enjoying our P-Day, awaiting the hour when we will take a tour of said ship. We have been saddened by the news of terrible destruction and loss of life in Oklahoma from hurricanes.  We hope all is well with you.

This is the season when senior missionaries come and go.  In my last post I shared with you about the mission nurse and her husband, the Hanson's, now back home in Payson, UT, enjoying their family again.  Last week the Johnson's, auditors for the church here in Samoa and in American Samoa, said their good-byes. and flew home to Detroit, MI. This was their fourth mission, and as Sister Johnson said, this was the icing on the cake.  At their farewell dinner last Monday night, we were all introduced to the Goodlets, our newest missionary couple who hail from Australia in a very rural area, the nearest city is Perth.  Their property backs up to a 45,000 acre reserve.  They have kangaroos hopping across their property all the time. Elder Goodlet says "Kangaroos are delightful animals. They destroy the garden; you have to choose the garden or the kangaroos. We choose the kangaroos."  Elder Goodlet's assignment is to oversee the technical classes.  He is a retired large equipment diesel mechanic.  Sister Goodlet will look after home economics classes.  Delightful describes the Goodlets.  He has a mop of white hair and until this mission had always sported a handlebar mustache.  He feels quite naked w/o it.  She has rather wild yellow hair, long and contained with clips, and a whimsical face, with a turned up nose and beautiful blue eyes with brows that ask a question.  He said the students asked if he could speak Samoan. When he said, no, he is pretty sure they said, "Good".

So, do you want to hear about the Princess?  Good, because I want to tell you about her.  She is four years old.  At that tender age, she has learned to do the traditional siva (dance) done by the daughter of the village chief or matai.  Her name is Whitney. She is the granddaughter of the mission cook whose name I cannot remember.  She, the cook, became close to the Hanson's as they were in and out of their office in the  mission home and tending to sick elders.  When she was off island for a couple of weeks, Hanson's stepped in and fed a huge number of missionaries during her absence.  She and her husband were guests at the Hanson's farewell dinner.  They surprised us all by bringing little Whitney, dressed in the traditional village princess attire, who danced for us to the accompaniment of her grandparents and her mother who sang and played as she danced. Little Whitney sat directly across the table from me after her dance and let me tell you, she is a good little eater!  We loved each other with our eyes and my heart was full, thinking of my own precious grandchildren. Her grace in dance at such a tender age was truly remarkable.

Two weeks ago, a visitor at church introduced himself as Scott Hurd, here in connection with Pacific Partnership 2013, a medical humanitarian project. We spoke with him after the meetings and invited him home with us for lunch. He spent the afternoon with us and we felt that we were old friends by the time he left.  Dr. Hurd is stationed at Virginia Beach, where he is responsible for readying the troops before they are sent to Afghanistan and such places, by educating them about how to maintain their health and how to treat themselves when necessary. He is a preventative medicine doctor.  He is also a faithful latter-day saint, father of seven and husband of the newly called stake relief society president in their stake. His job here was to take care of all the logistics and make all the connections to prepare the way for the medical team that arrived late last week to conduct educational health clinics all over the islands of Samoa.  The ship in the harbor brought all the needed equipment and the medical team.  With Dr. Hurd's help, we organized a tour of the ship for the senior missionaries this afternoon.  That will be a subject of a future post.

And then there is Henry.  And his Mutant Bomb, aka 199_ Mitsubishi.  Henry is probably the youngest temple worker in the Apia Samoa Temple. He has an irresistible grin.  He lives far away and upland on the mountain, which requires him to walk an hour just to get to the road where he can catch the bus for another hour ride to the temple. Leon became acquainted with Henry by enlisting his help in learning the veil ordinance in Samoan. Then Henry came home with Leon and had lunch with us after the temple shift. This has become a pretty regular occurrence. As they became acquainted, Henry began telling him about a car that had been given to his father and that it needed brakes.  The more he shared about the car, it became apparent that it needed more than brakes. A lot more.  Finally, Leon suggested that Henry take pictures of the car's innards, so he would have a better idea of what it would take to fix the car.  On his most recent visit, Henry brought pictures, and a friend, whose English is better, to translate.  I felt like I was in a doctor's office with the doctor and the family of the patient. The doctor was as diplomatically as possible explaining to the family that the patient was terminally ill and the best and most humane thing to do would be to pull the plug and end the suffering.  There was that look on Henry's face that said he had not realized it was that serious. It was shock and what I thought was acceptance.  Not so. Within days, a wiry little bit of a man with a grin that strongly resembled Henry's, knocked at our door and handed me a key.  It seems that against the doctor's precise orders that the patient, - er- the car NOT be moved, for goodness sake and for the sake of all involved, that it not be driven OR towed off the mountain, because with all its other failings, the car definitely did NOT have brakes, it had indeed been driven, towed, levitated, however in the world it was done, the car was now at the Pesega School Auto Shop awaiting a miracle cure. The end of the story will have to wait.

The vibrant colors of Samoa are not restricted to the vegetation, the sunrise and sunsets. They are in and part of the human experience here in this unique and beautiful part of the world.  

This little area between the mission home kitchen and the conference room served as Whitney's stage.

Doctor Scott Hurd. He's the one not wearing a missionary tag.

Do you ever have to stop and think about on which side of the car you are currently driving is the gas tank located?  Not a problem in the Mutant Bomb. It's inside the car.  Yep. fill 'er up, Matey. I'll hand it to you. Now you understand the Bomb part of the name of the car.

What a beautiful temple!


  1. I love this post. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up.

  2. What a great post! I think you have to move forward in treatment of the Mutant bomb! Henry has faith enough to see it healed!

  3. What a great post! I think you have to move forward in treatment of the Mutant bomb! Henry has faith enough to see it healed!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! We love you and miss you. What a great experience you're having.

  5. Thanks for posting! Looks like you're living the dream!