Sunday, October 6, 2013. This may not ever make it into print, but I want to try to find words for what I have experienced during the past few weeks, and especially what happened last Friday.
We’ve been here for seven months now. We are just beginning to understand the culture. It is a key to understanding everything else. It allows us to make sense of so many things. We are beginning to find humor rather that frustration in the clashes between the cultures – ours and those we are here to serve. As recently as yesterday, I found my blood pressure on the rise because once again I lost sight of the fact that it is my responsibility to let go of my cultural paradigm and remember that I am the guest here. It didn’t happen all at once, but as I fulfilled an assignment which immersed me in a sacred ordinance and the Spirit was so present, my anger melted away. That must be the meaning of how our troubles are “swallowed up in the joy of Christ”. With my soul quieted, I was taught once again that this is not my world. I am a guest here.
This is your conference week-end. Ever since we arrived Leon has requested again and again that the tv antenna on our roof be fixed or replaced. It pointed to our roof. You can imagine the poor reception. BYUTV airs on a local station here. That’s a great thing for us because we don’t have cable and only get 3 channels. In desperation, Leon called one of the engineers again and said, “Just bring me a ladder. I’m going to fix the antenna myself. I want to watch conference and I’m going to fix the antenna.” With visions of a senior citizen falling from the roof and the imagined repercussions, immediate action was taken and we have great reception. We caught a little of the Saturday morning session this morning before church, a little of the afternoon session when we got home. I especially appreciated Elder Dube’s talk on meekness. Mostly because that is what I lack. It was a great help to me in recognizing what I need to do.
My lack of meekness was actually what caused the rise in my blood pressure yesterday. The Sunday session will be broadcast live tomorrow (Monday) from 6-8 am and 10-noon. That is the day we do our household chores at the temple, while it is closed. Monday is also the day the temple missionaries had a calendared activity to watch conference. However, on Friday we were told that instead we were going to go to Piula to swim; that we would keep to the regular 6 a.m. cleaning schedule and then go on our activity as soon as we were finished. I spoke to the matron Saturday morning, asking if it would be possible to change the time of our Monday assignment so that we could watch both sessions of conference live at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and then come directly to the temple to do our work at noon. She reminded me that the sessions of conference will be rebroadcast the following week-end in the stake center and also they will be broadcast "all the time" online and on tv during the week. Do you see the problem? I was standing there with one foot in West Jordan Utah, and one foot in Samoa. It was terribly uncomfortable. Fortunately, sometime in the next few hours, I was able to pull my foot out of Utah, and plant both feet firmly right here again, where everyone realizes that for Samoa, general conference is one week later than in the states.
Monday it rained so hard we hoped maybe there would be a change of plans. Not so. As it turned out, we enjoyed ourselves on the activity, though to start with, inside we went screaming and kicking. Following President Hinckley’s *advice, we put a smile on our faces and joined the group. There were 2 vans of us. Fitisemanu's drove one van. We rode with Paugas and I had a great visit with Sister Pauga and got help with the language as well. It was a fun day.
One week later.
Saturday, October 12, 2013. General Conference was well worth waiting for. We were able to attend the English sessions in the chapel directly across the street from the temple. Most of the Samoan temple missionaries also attended there as the building is the ONLY air conditioned chapel on the island. It is the one that hosts the visiting general authority meetings. In the morning session, the projected images seemed over-exposed. People looked a little washed out. It was especially noticeable when the choir was on the screen. I wondered for a minute if we just hadn’t seen so many white people together for a long time. Actually, I think that was part of it. But it was a color adjustment problem that was corrected in the afternoon session. I strongly suggest that if you don’t want your daughters to marry Polynesians, you don’t send them to BYU-Hawaii. The bronze skin color is beautiful. We look at ourselves and think, (as Elder Gertsch expressed), “Am I getting pinker?”
There was definitely a missionary theme going on today. But I also felt that we needed to ponder the talks in reference to how they are to prepare and protect us against the events of the future. Perhaps answering the call to become involved with the full-time missionaries and doing our part to bring people to Christ is the very thing that will protect us and enable us to endure the challenges ahead. Is there anything that could increase our faith and deepen our conversion more than missionary work?
It is getting late. I was hoping to say so much more, but evidently I’m still recuperating from my Friday temple assignment, and need to go to bed. I so appreciate your prayers in my behalf. It takes all I have and then some (the Lord’s grace and tender mercies) to fill this coordinating assignment. I know I am being sustained through prayer.
Love to you all and thanks for your prayers,
* “Don’t be gloomy. Do not dwell on unkind things. Stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunshine. Even if you’re not happy put a smile on your face. ‘Accentuate the positive.’ Look a little deeper for the good. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, with great and strong purpose in your heart.” ~ President Gordon B. Hinckley
These are some pictures I took that day at Piula Cave Pool.
I'm standing on the sea wall, looking toward the cave at the end of the pool.
L-R: Elder Crowley (doesn't he look pink?) He's reminding me where to find the zoom on our camera.
Sister Tafua in white Tee (new from Huntington Beach, CA), Sister Nele Moaga, behind her is Sister Collins, Sister Fitisemanu in center, Sister Tavete behind her, the Sauni's are behind Tavete, and in front is young Sister Afualo. Sissters Collins and Afualo have been serving in the temple and have now left for their missions to ID Pocatello and Australia Sydney respectively.
Elder Bob and Sister Peggy Lamoreaux, from Orem, UT, parents of 14 children. This is their 3rd mission, the first was to Romania, second to Mongolia. Samoa is their reward.
Lamoreaux's with their backs to the sea. Remember the cave pool is a fresh water pool, separated from the ocean by the sea wall.
President and Sister Pauga. She's the one tutoring me on my Friday assignment.
These two girls prepared the food while we were in the temple. As you might expect, there was more food than we could possibly eat.
The Samoans learn to sit in this position from the time they are babies. They can sit this way for hours. Not us.
Manuia aso confesi.
(Blessed conference day)