9/15/12 - We have had the incredible week. Two couples that were in the MTC with us, Reed and Nada Spencer, serving on the Island of Upolu and Jim and Cherri Budgett, serving on the Island of Savaii as ITEP missionaries (working with the teachers in the church schools to help them become certified through BYU Hawaii), came to spend a few days with us.
|Budgetts, Spencers, Jordans at the MTC|
So with our vast knowledge of this island, we became tour guides. Much of our time was spent taking them shopping for food and items that they are not able to get in Western Samoa. They brought coolers over so they could buy meat and items that needed to be kept cold. We visited the Samoa National Park. It is located at the top of the mountain range and the scenery was awesome. We drove Highway 1 (the only road) from one end to the other. The island is about 20 miles long, but the highway follows the shoreline so the road is considerably longer. When we got to the village at end of the road on the West end of the island, we stopped and asked permission to take pictures and get in the water.
|End of the Road - West end of the island|
Some of us went wading, but Elder Spencer went snorkeling. He got some great pictures with his underwater camera.
|Calab, Steven & Sam - Reid Spencer's body guards while swimming|
We made friends with 3 young men from the village, Calab, Steven and Sam.
They were so friendly and when Elder Spencer went out swimming they shadowed him to make sure he was safe. We got some great pictures of the sunset.
We also visited the Island of Aunuu, just off the East end of the island. It is the island where the Church was first introduced in Samoa. There is a picture hanging in our house that depicts the missionaries landing. There are about 500 people that live on the island. Most of them work at the Starkist Tuna Factory, so they ride the boat over every morning to go to work. There is a school on the island (kindergarten through 8th grade). The high school students attend school on the main island, so the boats are pretty busy in the morning transporting everyone. During the day, between the workers and the students there are not too many people left on the island. Several of the young adults that live there attend the community college by us. They have to catch the boat at 5:00 AM, catch a bus to Pago and another one to Mesapa where the college is located, to get to their classes by 8:00. There are three religions represented on the island and everyone attends church.
|Boat we took to the island|
There are not enough members for a ward, but the branch is strong and when they get 5 more Melchizedek priesthood holders they will make it a ward. We met a family while on the island whose daughter was in the MTC with us. Her name was Moetai Lotoa. Little did we know when we met her that we would ever have a chance to actually meet her family. She has 14 brothers and sisters.
In fact, two of her sisters ( Tala and Foa), and a cousin (Tia – recently baptized) took us on a tour of the island. tours of duty in the Middle East, and they have a son now serving in Afghanistan. The family has a farm (they call them plantations in Samoa) where they raise taro.
|Walking through the plantation on the wide thick|
We walked through their plantation and it was beautiful. It has a wide cement path going through it. The concrete was really thick – in some places as much as two feet.
What a great opportunity it was to meet the family and listen to their testimonies.
We also met the High Chief of the village. I sat next to him on the boat ride back to the main island. It was so interesting to talk to him. He is not a member of the Church, but he told me he gave the land to the Church so they could build the meetinghouse. He was so gracious and invited us to come back anytime to visit.
There is a miracle that goes with the building of the chapel. The high chief controls all the land and what is done with it. When he was first approached about giving permission to build the church he flat out refused. Finally he said he would give them property to build but they couldn’t use any of the sand from the island to mix the concrete. Without sand the building could not be built. So the members held a special fast. All of the building materials were delivered to the island in preparation for construction to begin, but still use of the sand on the beach was denied. On the day designated for construction to begin a pile of sand was found on the building site. No one could explain where it came from… There was always enough sand on site throughout construction, and when sand was no longer needed the pile disappeared. God always provides a way if we just have enough faith!
Budgett’s and the Spencer’s stayed from Saturday until Thursday.
On Wednesday another couple came and spent the day with us.
|Reed Spencr, Us, Budgett's LaWana (husband taking the picture) & Nada Spencer|
At Carl's Jr - of all places
Joe and LaWana Osborne are also working with the Church schools, but in four different island countries. They were in Tonga for 6 months, in Samoa for 9 months, and then they will go to Fiji and then Karabus… They were going to stay at the hotel, but we convinced them to come stay with us and save some money. All three couples were between classes and had some down time so chose to vacation on American Samoa, and because it was a pleasure trip they had to pay all their expenses. It was so fun to get to know them. They live in the Layton area and we hope to continue our friendship when we are released from our missions.
We attended a missionary fireside at the Leone 1st Ward on Sunday evening (9/23/12). It was so great. It was a musical fireside and the whole ward participated. It started out with the Primary Children singing two songs about missionary work, then the youth of the ward sang a couple of songs. After that, the Relief Society sang, then the Melchizedek priesthood sang a song. Before each group sang, someone from the organization gave a scripture and short thought to go along with the song. Then the bishop got up and gave a few remarks about missionary work and the importance of ward members doing their part. The ward and full time missionaries serving in the zone sang the closing song. It was so great – and even though it was all in Samoan, we were able to understand quite a bit of what was going on. The Spirit can speak to us in any language…
We are so thankful for the blessing of serving this mission with these wonderful people!!!