We’ve had a LOT of rain. A week ago it rained all night Saturday and all day Sunday. There were times when it was coming down so hard that it woke us up. We had showers off and on all week, and then again this Saturday and Sunday it really came down. We took the mission van to town Saturday after the temple with Sister Moaga and Brother and Sister Sauni to get our groceries for the week. Our last stop was the open market which is a large outdoor market where the local people sell their produce and handicrafts. You can buy a hand of bananas, a stalk of sugar cane, fresh papaya, coconut, Chinese cabbage, lemons, limes, taro, tamu (yam), tomatoes, cucumbers, star fruit, pineapple in season, cooked taro in coconut milk, palusami, breadfruit, niu, breadfruit chips, taro chips, banana chips, charcoal equivalent which is coconut shells, Samoan oranges which are not orange, handcrafted necklaces, earrings, bracelets, woven baskets, fresh flower arrangements usually featuring the blossoms of the ginger plant. This is also where our son-in-law, James Merrell, found his beautiful conch shell. On this day, even with our umbrellas, we were all pretty wet by the time we finished. The market is covered by tarps, but in between the tarps and from the van to the tarps was enough to get us plenty wet.
We wonder if it is the rain that has brought more than the usual number of millipedes into our apartment. We were encouraged to put a barrier of sorts inside our front threshold to discourage the creeping things from entering. We did that. It is the same idea as those used sometimes at home to keep the draft out on cold winter days. We call it the millipede speed bump. Leon sprayed it with some repellent, so mostly they come here to die. They make it over the speed bump but don’t last long. When they die, they curl up in the shape of a comma. England has nothing on us. They may have their House of Commons, but we have our House of Commas.
When Ho-Chings were here they told of a time when it rained so long and hard that their apartment was flooded. The water rose up about a foot outside their apartment causing the bugs to climb above the waterline in masses. We were so relieved when she said that our apartment didn’t flood. The image as she described it would have given me nightmares if ours was in danger.
We like our apartment. It isn’t furnished as nicely as some, especially the teachers’ housing where we lived in the ‘70’s. But we’ve learned that the back-up generator that services the buildings and apartments in the temple complex, (mission home, service center, distribution center, translation and travel offices, temple president’s home and missionary apartments) does not service the teachers’ housing. So, though our living arrangements are simpler, but when the power goes off, the generator kicks in within 10 seconds. Not so for the teachers. During the cyclone and the aftermath in December they were without power for two weeks. We remember those outages from before. We were without power many times and for extended periods. They would give designated hours each day when we would receive power for a couple of hours to keep our refrigerator and freezer cold. We would plan ahead so when we opened either appliance, we knew what we were after and got out quickly. So the teachers tease that we live in the celestial kingdom.
Two things have happened recently that are significant blessings to us. As missionaries, our membership records remain in our home ward in the states, so we wouldn’t necessarily receive a calling here. Leon asked the high priest group leader in the ward we attend if we could be given a home teaching district. Brother Craig was happy to comply. There were a couple of sisters who both needed home teachers and they were praying to know who should be assigned to visit them. We were given three homes to visit: Sister Lupe Ieremia, Sister Daphne Keil Papali’I, and the Meredith family. We love these families already after one visit. This has filled a need in our lives that I couldn’t have described but only felt. To be in the homes of these people, learn their histories and who they are is to love them. I will devote a post to them so you can get to know them too. I will just say that when our young tour guide at the Polynesian Cultural Center many years ago, called us ‘cousins’ because “In Samoa we are all cousins”, she wasn’t far off. I need to take notes on our visits to be able to remember all the connections to other families we know of in the ward, or have known before.
Leon has taught twice in the high priest group and will teach a third time in November. Now I’ve been called to teach the 3rd Sunday lesson in Relief Society. I’ve always wanted to teach in Relief Society. And then Sunday, Brother Paramore, counselor in the bishopric, asked us to speak in sacrament meeting next Sunday on the blessings of the temple. We approach the assignment with great humility. We are always so strengthened by the sacrament meeting talks, including the youth speakers. We are blessed to attend the Pesega Lima Ward. Our Sunday School teacher is the church historian for Samoa and a masterful teacher. There are 15 young missionaries currently serving from the ward and another young man has his call.
Speaking of missionaries, in just the last week 26 new missionaries arrived at the mission home - eleven from the New Zealand MTC and later, fifteen from Provo. We were at the temple when fifteen elders came on Friday. It is unusual that most were palagi. I happened to be by the baptistery and laundry as they came to turn in their temple clothes. A couple of elders lingered, taking in the beautiful font. I had the opportunity to point out to them that this temple is one of only three that features a font resting on the full bodies of the twelve oxen. Most are represented by the front half of the oxen, but don’t extend the hind quarters under the font. Then I asked them what they thought the oxen represented. They didn’t have much trouble answering that one. Then I asked them the meaning of the symbolism of the baptismal font resting on their backs. This one proved more difficult. The light went on when I reminded them that Abraham was promised that through his seed all of mankind would be blessed. The responsibility for taking the gospel to the world and providing the saving ordinances required for salvation and exaltation rests upon the twelve tribes of Israel. I love the temple.
Pictured below is a photo Leon took of a painting that hangs in the mission home representing the first missionary couple to serve in the islands of Samoa, Joseph Dean, his wife, child and infant daughter arrived in the 1880's. The painting also hangs in the temple foyer. I am often where I can gaze on it and imagine what it must have been like for them. Those first missionaries were pioneers in the truest sense. The work continues to go forward. I found an interesting site, cumorah.com, giving brief history and 2009 statistics of Samoa. Here is a pertinent segment of the information found there.
Denominations Members Congregations
Latter-day Saints 69,244 133
Assemblies of God 13,248
Seventh Day Adventists 8,534 40 (includes American Samoa and Tokelau)
Jehovah's Witnesses 391 9
We send our love to all of you and prayers for your health and happiness. Alofa atu ia te oe.
Clark Kelly Price, Artist
From the sublime to the gross. This was our biggest morning harvest yet.
The color scheme goes nicely with the painting, though, don't you think?