It's Sunday afternoon here in somewhat blustery Samoa. It's midwinter here, you know. That makes for milder temperatures. It's been another wonderful Sabbath and once again I stand all amazed that we are here. I have the sense that time is passing quickly and I on the other hand am definitely not as quick as I used to be. That is a sobering concept to contemplate. By the end of the week we will have been here four months. Let's see four gusinta eighteen .... okay, sixteen divided by four is 25%, four into 2 goes .5 times, so does that mean at the end of the week 25.5% of our mission is over???? That is really scarey. Not only is the Lord hastening His work, He is shortening the days. Don't you think? I know for sure He is shortening the nights! Haha.
Speaking of shortening, I've made pies twice since we've been here: once for Brother Sauni's 80th birthday and once for lunch with the Fife's the week they left for the states. Sister Sauni sparked the pie making by asking me to teach her to make a pie [because it is her husband's favorite treat]. I'll let you know when the lesson happens and how it goes. The first quest was to find pie tins. Sister Fife loaned me her disposable pie tins and said she found those right after Christmas, but hadn't seen any in any of the stores before or since. I guess it's kind of like the mail: pie tins after the holidays and my birthday card from Tiffany mailed in March has yet to surface. Thank heavens for email and cheap phone calls! Then we found some ourselves but couldn't confirm they were actually pie tins as the slant of the sides of the pans were somewhere between a cake pan and a pie tin and take my word for it, the slant of a pie tin is significant when it comes to placing the pie crust in the pan. The next challenge was to find a rolling pin. Eureka! We were so excited when we came across one. Not quite as excited when I got it home and realized it didn't live up to its name. It didn't roll. With time, it has loosened up a bit and only stalls occasionally. The good news is that among the miscellany we inherited from the Fife's, we now have a rolling rolling pin!
Wow. I really took a side trip there. Back to our Sabbath. Elder Halek, counselor in the area presidency for the South Pacific attended our Pesega Lima ward today. It was fast and testimony day and he presided at the meeting and bore his witness of the Savior and this work we are all involved in. Leon taught the lesson in high priest group. He was already feeling anxious because of the high quality of the teaching here, and then President Halek sat right in front of him. As you already know, these men are men of God and so humble and personable. He participated in the lesson and was given time at the end to speak. His words complimented the lesson perfectly.
I was able to visit with Sister Halek after our meetings and learned that her husband served as mission president here from 2008 - 2010. They were hugging and being hugged by so many they had known before. She said during their stay, President Hanks was temple president and he said the decision was made to send no more temple missionaries to Samoa. The temple had been here long enough to be self-sustaining and it was time for the local people to step up and fill the needs of the temple. When she asked how many of us were serving now as temple missionaries, I was surprised myself to realize that we are the only ones without some blood connection to Samoa, well, other than our two daughters who were born here during our first stay. Our sister missionaries were born here and living in Australia when called, Brother Merrick is palagi, married to Fiesta who is Samoan by birth and raised here with a large family of aunts and uncles, cousins, including her uncle, President Fitisemanu. As you may remember, Merrick's are not officially on a mission, but came to serve none-the-less. Sauni's are also not officially missionaries, but definitely Samoan and definitely temple workers.
Fitisemanu's invited us all to lunch at their home after church. You would not believe the amount of food. President commented on the blessings of abundance here in Samoa. "You will never hear of a Samoan that goes hungry or dies from lack of food." I was glad he added, "Of course many die from too much food" because it is true. Heart conditions, diabetes and high blood pressure are all common. They probably look with suspicion on a skinny person. Like, what's with that?? Did you forget to plant your taro? But we are learning to guage what we can handle and stopping at what we know is our limit. Taking small or mini portions of many things, gravitating to any and all vegetables in a dish, and never passing up a salad. Today I mistook the raw fish which was in a sauce with other things as being a fruit salad. I ate my first raw fish. It was actually very good. (Some of our kids are cheering). For Max's 10th birthday dinner, he chose sushy.) I'm not even sure how to spell it.
In one hour our Samoan neighbors and fellow temple workers will be here to help prepare for the senior missionary FHE tomorrow night. Our district is in charge this week. Our guest speaker will be Brother McDonald, church historian here in Samoa. He is an excellent teacher, so knowledgable and interesting. He will be telling us about the very first missionaries to Samoa. We are also going to give out the words to the national anthem and sing it together. Doesn't that sound fun? I hope our neighbors don't feel they have to bring platters of food for refreshements. That will be the tendency.
As Leon says, I was born with a lot of words. I fear this post is more interesting to me than to anyone else. Thanks for caring. I will have a LOT of interesting things to write about next time because our Leslie and James Merrell, Ben and Brianna are arriving at the Faleolo Airport this Friday, July 12th at 11:40 p.m. !!!
Until next time, manuia le po ma tofa soifua! Five days and counting!