Monday, June 23, 2014

All the News I can think of:


Dear Blog friends and family. Thanks for following us on this amazing format of the latter-days called a blog. We so appreciate your friendship and the many prayers that sustain missionaries, young and old. We have grandchildren serving as well and know that all who are helping hasten the Lord’s work are deserving of our prayers. We testify that they are heard and we and they are sustained and strengthened by your prayers for missionaries.

I hope to be able to recount those things I’ve wanted to share over the past weeks. I’m going to make a list to help me focus.
·      
      The unique blessings and lessons  that come of serving in the temple
      The importance of serving beyond the scope of our specific call
·         Our ward family and their examples of faith
·         Our temple missionary family and our recent loss
·         Another beautiful site visited and the beautiful people who live there
·         Fagalii Cemetary
·         CCWS Reunion

It is a blessing to be in the temple nearly every day. Officiating in sacred ordinances is such a privilege, and seems especially significant today when some feel that women are unfairly denied priesthood ordination. We sisters who have had hands laid upon our heads and have been given authority to administer saving ordinances in the temple, find it especially hard to understand. Everything in the temple clearly teaches both our need for a Redeemer, and our mutual need as sons and daughters of God  for each other in order to claim the highest blessings offered by our Father in Heaven.  As we come to know God we also come to know ourselves. A mission serves as a catalyst, taking us out of our comfort zone and turning our hearts to God for help every day.

Our first view of the temple as we arrived for the Saturday morning shift.

Every mission assignment is unique. However there seems to be a common experience among newly arrived senior missionaries here. When we first arrived Leon felt somewhat of a lack, wondering what more he could do to be of service. We’ve since heard that same sentiment expressed as we’ve talked with other seniors during their first few weeks. I remember shortly after coming that we walked over to the auto shop and the wood shop (which is what he taught when we were here in the early ‘70’s), talking to the teachers, looking at the equipment and somehow wanting to help. There seems to be this feeling that they aren’t using all their time and talents to the fullest. However, we have learned – first hand – and by observation – that it is just part of the transition into mission life for a senior missionary. Soon we are immersed in our specific assignments, accept callings in our wards, and find opportunities to serve everywhere. We begin to feel that we belong.
Our new dentist, Elder Layne and his assitant, Sister Layne, 
laugh now about how they felt "under used" when they first arrived.
They couldn't have been any happier if they had won the lottery when Elder and Sister Thomas arrived to share the load in the dental clinic. Elder Thomas retired from his dental practice in Corvalis, OR just prior to coming. Laynes hail from Florida. I can't remember where and it's too late to call them.

Unlike all other senior missionaries here, we temple missionaries are under the temple president rather than the mission president. Unlike them, we are not assigned to attend a specific ward, but are free to attend where we choose.  We have come to love our Pesega Lima Ward. We are consistently inspired and strengthened as we attend our weekly meetings, serve in our teaching assignments and as home and visiting teachers. We love our ward family. By their fruits, we are told, we shall know them. The sixteen full-time missionaries serving from this ward are evidence of their faithfulness. Their faith in God is implicit. They do not doubt the love and power of God to help and to heal.


We also feel part of a family of temple missionaries. I’ve written before about our next door neighbors, the Sauni’s. On Sunday, June 8th, just one day before his 81st birthday, Brother Pata Sauni died of cardiac arrest. He was speaking in another ward sacrament meeting when he collapsed at the pulpit. Within minutes he was gone. We have all been affected by the loss of this dedicated servant of the Lord. He and his wife were first to arrive for every shift, working both morning and the afternoon/evening shift every day. He was well known for his “malosi” (strength). His signature greeting was to take a boxer’s stance and punch the air toward you. His handshake was to bump fists with you. Now it has become a standard hand shake among the workers as a way of acknowledging our loss.



On a brighter note, earlier this month a group of us dined at Lupe Sina, which was definitely on our must-do-before-we-leave list. Lupe Sina Treesort (treehouse resort) is a 30 minute drive on the cross island road to get to the turn off. It is another ten minute challenging dirt road up and down and around with signs posted at intervals just to give you hope that you didn’t miss a turn somewhere.  From the deck of the main treehouse, you have an  expansive view of the sea and sky. Carol and Jack Batchelor, owners and gracious hosts,  prepared and served a wonderful meal on the veranda of their home, and gave us a tour of the most recently completed treehouse. On an earlier visit we toured the original one. The cost for an overnight stay in the banyan treehouse is $750 tala per couple. That's $327.25 American at the current rate of exchange. The view alone is worth that.



Carol and Jack's home where dinner is served on the veranda.
The sunset from where we were seated for dinner.

They are just as friendly and gracious as they look.

 Jack is a master builder and a creative genius. The banyan tree is host to the original treehouse, which is integrated into the structure of the tree itself. The tree (they call it Samson) estimated to be 300 years old, stands 180 feet tall with a circumference of 140 feet. You can look it up on the internet and learn more at www.lupesinatreesort.com.



Lucky for us, Samoa is host for this year’s CCWS Reunion. Church College of Western Samoa was the name of the school when Leon taught here from 1971-’74. It is actually a high school and is now known as Pesega High School. We attended the opening day on Saturday. Our good friends, Vernetta Tagaloa and Pat Moors (former students of CCWS), have worked on the planning committee with others for months preparing for this week.


 Three months of practice for fifteen minutes of beautiful and energetic traditional siva.


Sister Tagaloa, who organized and helped teach the dance. 
Notice the Pesega school colors of yellow and blue reflected in their costumes.
On the stage behind are posted snapshots of students, teachers and administrators on a timeline from the '60s through the 2000's. In the 1970's section is a very faded enlarged yearbook picture of Leon. I wouldn't have recognized the image if his name hadn't been printed underneath. But, hey, he is there. Our next door neighbors all those years ago in the teacher housing were Kent and Penny Larsen. Kent was a counselor at CCWS at that time. He is arriving tomorrow for the reunion.We are really looking forward to that.
                                                                                     Leon                                 Kent
Leon and I visited the cemetary at Fagalii, the original site of the mission home in the early days of the LDS church in Samoa.. A smaller portion of the small cemetary is cordoned off by a low fence. Within this space is the resting place of LDS missionaries and family members from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. Of the eight graves there, four mark the graves of children, all under the age of two; one is a 21 year old wife and mother. The organization of the 27th stake in Samoa just this year is a result of the sacrifice of these pioneers and those faithful souls who followed in their footsteps, including their Samoan converts, who endured sacrifice and persecution to rival that of our own pioneer ancestors. In the May 1975 Ensign is a talk given by Elder Loren C. Dunn titled, Faithful Laborers, which details the stories of these very souls buried here.
A newly published book titled, A Bright Samoan Sunrise, contains the stories of 26 early Samoan converts, compiled by R. Wayne Shute and Tuifao Tufuga. The stories come from journals and from the pen and memory of living descendants. The story of Sale Manu (1898-1956), is related by his daughter, Nesa. The family was baptized in 1934. Manu was called as a branch president in Savaii during WWII when American missionaries were called home and the local leaders were encouraged to preach the gospel and strengthen the members. The village of Satupa'itea on the island of Savaii, where Manu was assigned to serve was a Methodist village. The pastor of the village threatened Manu with harm if he continued to visit members of his flock. Manu only taught villagers who invited him in and wanted to learn about this new church. Explaining this to the pastor did no good. Time passed and tensions grew. News came through a family member that they had better leave "that night"or their lives were in danger.

Early the next morning, at Manu's direction, the family all dressed in their white Sunday clothes, Manu in his suit. A band of about 200 men approached the house. Leading them "were about 10 high chiefs". The men were carrying wood, axes and knives and rocks. They built a huge bonfire in front of the house. Kneeling before the high chiefs and using the high Samoan language, Manu addressed the chiefs, "I am willing to die today with my wife and my children if this is the will of my Father in heaven. If it be his will, we will die today because of our testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--you go ahead and do what you came here to do. I am willing to die." In response, the highest chief replied, "Manu, we are afraid. You are a true servant of God. This umu (fire) was for (the owners of the house where they were living)". The chief said that the property owners had left in fear of their lives. He then told all the men, including the chiefs to go home. All but one obeyed; the one came back and set fire to the fale, and two other buildings as well. A police officer had been dispatched with news of the escalating threats. When all of this came to the attention of the Commisioner of Samoa, armed troops were sent to round up the offenders.

When asked by Police Inspector, Fitisemanu, what kind of punishment Manu would think appropriate, he said, "I forgive these men of the things they have done--all we want is to be left alone so that we can worship as we see fit." The crimes were serious enough that the judge felt they must go to prison. "Punishment was meted out to all the high chiefs with lesser punishment for the young men of the village."

The words of those faithful laborers sunk deep into warm and loving Samoan hearts. Today their descendants are participating in the hastening of the work of the Lord, faithfully serving in their wards and stakes and in other areas of the world as full-time missionaries. We know some of these people. We learn from their example what it means to be truly converted. We will miss them, but hope never to forget them.

Manuia soifua. Until next time, thanks for sharing this experience with us.
Sister Crowley

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