Friday, August 31, 2012

Chapter 10 - FIA FIA Celebrations

They are creating a 5th stake on the island this week-end and so the Pago Central Stake, had a celebration (Fia Fia) to honor the out-going stake presidency.  The president has been in the stake presidency for 18 years.  We were invited to attend the festivities.  Friday night (8/17/12) we were invited to a stake dance.  We thought it was probably a youth dance, but when we got there it is for everyone on the stake (the whole family).  There were over 200 people there and everyone danced - young and old alike.  When we walked in we just kind of stood back and were watching what was going on.  All of a sudden a brother came up, shook our hands and introduced himself as the high counselor in charge.  He told us to follow him, and he led us to a table right in front and instructed us to sit down.  It was the table where the stake presidency sat throughout the evening.  And we were treated like royalty all night!  They introduced us and made such a fuss it was embarrassing (actually it was - no almost about it).  About half way through the dance they brought us a pork soup and rolls to eat, plus water and soda to drink.  Then they brought dessert!  We had a great time dancing, and by the looks and number of times we got our picture taken, I don't think they are used to senior missionaries dancing - especially the fast dances!  The last dance is always a traditional Samoan dance that only the stake presidency and a select few participate in.  We were asked to participate in that dance.   Kind of scary - everyone watching and us trying to follow along.  I am sure we looked really stupid, but what an honor to be asked.  We laughed all the way home...
Then on Saturday at 10:30 they had a FIA FIA - a big celebration where all the wards in the stake (9 and one branch) each put on a program which included dancing, singing, testimonies and honoring the outgoing stake presidency.  
I think he played football in days gone by...

Their hand movements are beautiful and
they are so graceful!

Each ward took their turn - it was like the programs they put on when a temple is dedicated.  It went until 4:30 that afternoon.  

Some of the dancers
When we drove up we hadn't even got out of our van and a brother came up to us and said he had been instructed to take us to our seats.  Well, we were again put at the table of honor where the stake presidency was sitting.  
More dancing
They recognized us in the welcome and made such a fuss that we felt like royalty.  They brought out big plates of fresh fruit for everyone at the table, and they kept filling them up.  Then about 1:00 they started bringing out more food.  We each had a plate with shrimp, salad, sausage, ribs, 2 kinds of ham and some kind of noodle.  
Ham, sausage, salad, soup and inside the
foil was coconut baked in Taro leaves..
Crab and Lobster

There was enough on the plate to feed four people.  Then they brought out a soup made with okca - and it was really good.  More fresh fruit and a plate with a whole fish covered in grilled onions.  The fish still had the head and tail on it - but you couldn't see the eyes for all the onions.  IT WAS SO GOOD.  If that wasn't enough, each ward then brought us more food – a gift to show respect.  That is 10 somethings... One ward brought out a dripper size pan of rice and ham for each couple at the table, and they gave the president a whole roasted pig (head was tail still intact).  They stuff the pig like we do a turkey and then wrap it with leaves to keep the stuffing from coming out.  We had enough food for a ward dinner...  
This picture shows about 1/4 of the food that they brought us...
I am sitting next to the Stake Patriarch's wife.  She was so delightful!
Then they brought out a whole cake for each couple sitting at the table.  We tried to taste everything so we wouldn't offend anyone, but there was no way we could eat it all.  But no worry - they came with foil and foam trays and packed up what we didn't eat so we could take it home.  It filled our fridge.  
Each ward as part of their program presented the stake presidency with gifts.  I am not talking about a single gift.  It was nothing for each ward to give the president and his counselors 2 or 3 quilts, 3 or 4 large woven mats - that signify honor, gift baskets, fans, homemade baskets and more food.  And each ward did that.  The gifts each of them got filled the backs of their trucks!  It was amazing...  As each ward finished their part of the program, the presidency would do another dance, along with the bishoprics to signify farewell.  These people really know how to celebrate!!!   We attended two FIA FIA celebrations - One on Saturday 8/18 and one on Friday night 8/25. 

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