We have been inundated with bananas. Have the banana trees only just recovered from the December cyclone? Why all the bananas? I don't have the answer. People are giving us bananas of different varieties everywhere we turn. We go to the temple and in the break room the table is full of bananas –not only bananas, but banana soup! There is one variety that is about the length of the bananas you are used to (here they are called palagi bananas), but at least twice as fat. They are very tasty—especially with ice cream and chocolate sauce. The little misilukis are anywhere from tiny to small, and very good, very good. I think bananas are fattening, attract mosquitoes, and may cause constipation (that’s just a guess because when a baby has diarrhea, bananas are part of the recommended diet). But bananas are what we have in abundance, and we eat them. On cereal, under a scoop of ice cream, alone, baked in coconut milk, or boiled in soup (for my part the latter is only eaten because of peer pressure), we eat them.
Today is Sunday. Leon taught the lesson in his priesthood quorum. The subject was Loving God More Than We Love the World. He used the picture of the monkey, his hand grasping a banana inside a jug, caught between his hunger and his need to be free. He shared the story of Jacob and Esau from the Old Testament. You remember the account of Esau coming in from hunting, tired and hungry, and trading his birthright away to Jacob for a ‘mess of pottage’, which we commonly think of as hot cereal. Anyway, the response from the class to that story was totally unexpected, but on further reflection, totally fa’asamoan. A brother spoke out indignantly: “That would never happen in Samoa.” Another chimed in, “He should have fed his brother.” They were totally in Esau’s corner. And they were absolutely correct: it would never happen in Samoa. Brother Macdonald said right out loud, “I hate that story!”
I also taught the lesson in Relief Society, however we are one lesson ahead of the priesthood, so my subject was Doing Good to Others. In response to my question as to whether anyone had ever pulled themselves out of a gloomy mood by serving someone else whose need was greater, one sister told the following experience. Cathy Arp is actually one of the two sisters I visit teach. She is a diabetic whose health is declining. On a particularly hard day, night actually, she was very tired when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was someone whose cupboards were bare. Was her husband home? No, he was not. There was an apologetic request for the need of food and the lateness of the hour. Cathy responded by answering the need. No sooner was she home again a second request, a critical need for food, came from another family, again asking for Seig (Cathy’s husband). Before the night was over, she had delivered food to four families. In each case they were very apologetic, saying they had asked so many times before, and hesitated to ask again. But as each had prayed for guidance, Seig came to mind. So even at the late hour, need overcame humiliation and they called the man who had never turned them away. Cathy said that while her strength and patience were worn thin by the end of the fourth visit, she realized what a blessing it was to be married to such a man to whom the Lord would direct his children in time of need. I didn’t ask Cathy, but beside whatever else she provided, I’ll bet she took them some bananas.
In another sense, we are going bananas over a care package we received from home this past week. Leon and I looked at each other and wondered and hoped that we had sent care packages to our missionaries when they were out. That was so long ago! We’ve since been assured that we did. I had no idea how fun it could be to receive any mail from home, but especially to have received a box full of ingredients for holiday cooking! Rather than packed in packing peanuts, it was packed in mini candy bars, which we sorted out like a couple of kids, setting aside our personal favorites and sharing others. A few weeks ago we received another care package from the Fifes, who had personal knowledge of how valuable some of the contents of their box would be: namely the tp which they labeled, “For special occasions”.
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, we have to list near the top the modern technology that allows us to call home anytime with such clear sound that it’s hard to believe how many miles separate us. We check our email inbox daily and are grateful for the timely communication between friends and family, and especially hearing from our two grandchildren currently serving missions. Skype is a modern miracle we plan to employ on Thanksgiving Day when nearly all of our family will be gathered together. As for us, we will celebrate Thanksgiving with all of the senior missionaries on Saturday, November 30th, because that is the day everyone, including us temple missionaries, is free in the evening. That will be your Black Friday as we are a day ahead.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!