Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Constancy of Change

We are experiencing what all missionaries experience. We’ve said good-bye to people who are and were an integral part of our mission. It will be impossible for us to think of this time without thinking of Sonny and Karen Ho-Ching, Chuk and JoAnn Fife, who were here for us when we arrived. There we other missionary couples who have since left that gave us a sense of home and familiarity while we adjusted to being immersed in another culture. Now we find ourselves, out just 6 months, being there for others.

Yesterday we had the unusual opportunity of picking up the new temple missionary couple from the Faleolo Airport. Normally this would fall to the temple presidency or the temple recorder to do, but circumstances placed them away on other assignments.  Elder Robert and Sister Peggy Lamoreaux from Orem, Utah, arrived at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 21st. It so happened that President and Sister Leota of the Samoa Apia Mission were there waiting for the same plane to arrive, bringing their daughter, Sister Rachel Leota Leulua’iali’I, home from her Utah Provo Mission. They were there with other family members holding large posters of welcome. We had written Lamoreaux on a piece of paper and I was holding it in front of me, standing next to reps of several resorts with signs of their own for arriving guests. President Leota came up behind me and said, “Sister Crowley, I don’t think the sign is necessary.Your [missionary] tags are all you need.” Earlier we had followed him up the stairs to a long bank of windows and looked out on the Air New Zealand 767 which held our missionaries. We watched the ground crew bring the stairs out and place them at the front and rear exit doors of the plane. Soon the doors rolled up and passengers began disembarking.  We spotted Sister Leota. Not long after, we saw our missionaries. They were easy to spot. Who wears a suit coat, white shirt and tie to a tropical island? Right behind Elder Lamoreaux was his wife. Even with my poor vision, I spotted their tags.

Elder and Sister Lamoreaux

So the Lord has provided once again. The Lamoreaux’s are seasoned missionaries, having served two years in Romania and eighteen months in Mongolia.  Prior their missions, Elder Lamoreaux served as a trainer in the Provo Temple. Temple service will be new for Sister Lamoreaux. As parents of fourteen children, she had plenty to do at home.  These people are stalwart. We will be so blessed to serve with them. The Lord hears our prayers.  (That part about fourteen children? It was not a typo.)

We love ‘our’ Pesega Lima Ward. (Lima means 5). Every Sunday the sacrament meeting program lists families by name, who are assigned to clean the chapel. Each area of the building is assigned to a different family, and one family every week is in charge of the grounds.  On the same page is a list of families assigned to feed the missionaries for the next seven days.  We found our name listed in last week’s program for Monday night.  We thought we would be feeding the two assistants to President Leota. As it turned out they were on splits. Elder Amituana’i (assistant) and Elder Fuatimau, who is staying in the mission home for a while due to a broken collar bone from a bike accident, were our guests.  

Left, Elder Fuatimau; right, Elder Amituana'i

Such good young men. As is their custom, after dinner, Elder Amituana’i shared a spiritual thought and a scripture with us.  He told us his own conversion story.  He said that he was not attending church after a certain point in his teen years.  When his younger sister sent in her papers and received her mission call, she said to him, “It makes me sad that when I am set apart, you can’t stand in the circle and lay your hands on my head.”  Her words cut him to his heart. He said sometime later, the sister missionaries were in his home one evening and as they were preparing to leave, they also wanted to leave a spiritual message with the family. One of the sisters asked, “What is the job of a missionary?”  He rather flippantly gave the standard answer – “To bring souls to Christ, to baptize people”.  

It was probably more the way he said it, than what he said.  At this point in telling this experience, Elder Amituana’i lowered his head and was very quiet. Finally when he was able to speak, he said, “I can still see her face. She looked down and finally said,’ You say it like it means nothing.’”   Those words were burned into his mind and heart. It was the beginning of change - a change of heart that resulted in him joining his sister in the mission field. He says of his parents, “They were the most patient people. They never forced the issue, never wavered in their love for me”.  I have heard him say that if it were possible, he would extend another two years. We don’t really know when he will finish his mission. He doesn’t like to talk about it.  He is one who will “waste and wear out his life” serving the Lord and His cause. 

There was a baptism in the ward a week ago on Saturday.  We had not previously attended a baptism here, but felt a connection to both of the candidates, so we went.  We are so glad we did. Seventeen year old Dolly Keil was the first to be baptized.  The Keil family is everywhere.  There were nine children and they are successful business owners of various businesses in Apia. Tragically, the parents of this generation of Keils were inactive, and the legacy continues. We are so impressed with those we have met. Dolly is a granddaughter. Her father, Clint, is Orlando Keil’s brother. We home teach Orlando and Rita’s daughter, Daphne. Are you with me? I’m just telling you we care about this family. 

The other candidate was Amaramo Alesana Sialaoa (he goes by Ramo).  This ten year old boy comes to church alone every week. We have substituted in his primary class a few times. He brings his scriptures, answers correctly the questions, is attentive and participates.  His father brought him the Sunday after his baptism, but they arrived late, as the sacrament hymn was being sung. After the sacrament, the bishop called him up and was voice for his confirmation.  The blessing he received spoke of education and accomplishment of his goals. It was quite amazing. His father stayed through sacrament meeting.  We taught that class again today. Fifteen kids, about half and half boys and girls, They were engaged and participated throughout.  The Roth’s (dentist) say how much they love this class. We understand.


Today, Sister Caroline Kamerath, the new mission nurse, invited the Lamoreaux’s and us to dinner. Honestly, it felt like coming home.  It was a lovely Sunday dinner, set on a beautiful dining table of inlaid wood. There were fresh flowers on the table, and wonderful people to share it with. Our visit in her comfortable living room was interrupted when a phone call gave her an update of a sick elder suffering the effects of food poisoning, which necessitated a call to Dr. Anderson, who advised drinking a flat coke. Nothing else has stopped his symptoms and hospitalization is being considered. Hospitalization is a last resort. It isn’t where you want to go even when you’re well, but especially when you’re sick. That is our nurse’s professional opinion.

Our mission nurse, Caroline Kamerath

Like the missionaries before leaving a home, I will leave with you a spiritual thought from our sacrament meeting. The Kelemete family spoke. The entire family speaks when the invitation is given by the bishopric. Six speakers, an intermediate hymn, and we ended on time. The subject was LOVE. From the youngest child, to the father, their words were taken from the scriptures and carried by the spirit.  The thought I want to share was given by the mother, Sister Leilani Kelemete. She taught us that when we forgive all, we qualify to be called friends of Jesus Christ.  She said when we refuse to forgive, we are in effect negating the Savior’s atonement and the gospel he preached. We are in effect saying we never felt his influence upon us to forgive others. It is worthy of pondering the critical importance of forgiving others, not only the problem of not forgiving, but the purifying power of a forgiving heart. To be called a friend by Jesus Christ is worth striving for.  

May your week be full of blessings and your heart full of gratitude.

Alofa atu ia te oe.
Sister Crowley