Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Did Ian, the category 5 cyclone that hit Tonga make news in your part of the world? We experienced what was probably the fringe effect. No high winds. Just the better part of two weeks of round-the-clock torrential rains. We're still in the cyclone season. A wind advisory and heavy rain warning is still in effect from the Samoa Meteorology Office; no cyclones predicted. But today! Today the sky was that beautiful blue with those piles of marshmallow clouds on the horizon that we have all longed to see again. Maybe the rain has gone.

In Samoa it doesn’t rain cats and dogs. It rains cockroaches, centipedes, spiders, and creepy crawlies of unknown species (to us). In the house. Taking refuge from the deluge. But, like the old adage of jumping from the frying pan into the fire, they don’t last long.  Mostly we’ve seen a large increase in cockroaches, and thankfully most are back to the floor, feet to the sky, either dead or suffering the throes of death by what must have been a very effective spray application some months ago.  I just realized as I’m writing this that the one thing we haven’t seen is the one insect that was our most common invader – millipede. I guess the poor little suckers don’t know how to tread water. Lamoreaux’s killed eight centipedes inside their apartment.  Eight. Centipedes are the one life form that strikes fear in every Samoan. They are quick, aggressive when threatened, and their bite is very toxic. These were small, maybe three inches long, but still capable of inflicting harm.

These two cockroaches were both in the kitchen when we found them dead. I am disappointed at how small they look when I really wanted you to appreciate their .... size. When they are alive, they are all legs - long legs, long feelers, and they move very fast. (No chapstick was harmed in this demonstration.)
While attempting pursuit and going in for the kill of a living specimen, my flying foot collided with the corner of our coffee table. I am ever grateful that sandals are the recommended footwear. Still haven't been able to wear my temple shoes.

From the insignificant to the tragic: The most serious and tragic effect of the rain was the collapsing of a concrete bridge (or ford), causing the death of four people in a carload of seven.  The family and others had crossed the same bridge on their way to Faleolo Airport to pick up their returning missionary. On the return trip, in the dark and rainy conditions, they had no way of knowing the bridge had already weakened and the weight of their vehicle caused the complete collapse and a drop of some twenty feet into the rushing water. It's a wonder there were any survivors. The missionary, the driver (his bishop), and a young girl survived.

I started this writing on January 13th, which was actually the second day of partial sunshine since January 1. But even the 12th brought the effects of the constant heavy rains far too close to home, and for our next door neighbors, right inside.  We are on a septic tank system here in our temple housing complex. Without being graphic, the water that invaded both of our closest/through the wall neighbors was not what you would call pure. I’ve introduced you to Brother and Sister Sauni in previous posts. They discovered their flooded bedroom Sunday evening. Brother Sauni’s first thought was to discover the source, which had to have come from outside. When he tried to get out his front (and only) door, he found that the workers had placed sandbags across the entrance to his door. Since his screen door opens out, he was trapped. At 80 years old (but most definitely a fit 80), he climbed out the window! The source was the laundry room drain, which is through the wall from their bedroom.  The effect to our apartment, minimal by comparison and shared by all of the other apartments, was slow flushing toilets and slow draining showers.

Brother Sauni w/wife

That pile of sand bags was leaning against that front door.  The window you can barely see, his escape.

The rain ran in torrents through the streets, through the grounds between the temple and temple housing, on the school campus and the access roads around campus, and the teacher’s housing .  Along the back fence behind the Goodlet’s (our Aussie friends) home and out to the street along the side of their yard, the workers dug a trench to help divert the water away from the houses. Sister Goodlet said she was considering planting watercress along their private creek.

Leave it to kids. Floating their flip-flops down the gutter provided hours of fun. 
Competition always makes it more interesting. Making it to the drain first determines the winner.

Looking across from temple housing to the temple.

Attendance at the temple was lighter than usual. The downpours were so heavy, the roar of rain could be heard inside the temple in spite of high ceilings, thick insulation and thick walls. The water coming off the temple roof on the west side looked like a waterfall.

Oh, you big, blue, beautiful Samoan skies! How we have missed you! 
Welcome! Please stay as long as you possibly can. 

We look forward, eyes to the sky, umbrella in hand, and, well, forgetting how hot it can be in Samoa! 
There was some advantage to those constant, heavy, grey skies. How quickly we forget.