Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chapter 32 - We found K-Mart...

After 5 months on the island, we have learned we can find almost anything we need or want - for a price...  We have learned which stores have the best prices and which store to go to if we want certain things.  We have also learned that if we see something - BUY IT NOW, because it may not be there when we go back.  We learned that with sour cream, shaving cream, cloves, make-up, Chicken in a Biskit and Wheat Thins...  It seems like if we ask for something to be sent, it always shows up somewhere...  It is a challenge, but kind of fun at the same time.  The other day we were saying if we had a Walmart or K-mart we would be able to get most anything.  Well, guess what?  WE FOUND K-MART!!!  But the selection is not quite the same...
The other day we had to get the tires changed on our van.  We drove into the dealer and they directed us to their customer waiting area....  We were happy that at least we had chairs to sit in...

And here is proof that the dogs really do use the crosswalks...  Wish the humans were as smart!

Chapter 32 - Family Home Evening with a General Authority

12/17/12 – Tonight we were invited to have Family Home Evening with Elder Haleck, one of the Seventies, and his wife Peggy.  What a wonderful opportunity to be taught by him.  They made us feel so comfortable in their home.  
They also invited the members and investigators from the Philippines that we have had the privilege of working with since we got here.  Henry and Judith were baptized a couple of weeks after we arrived.  Then he invited Richard and Myra to come to church with them.  Myra was already a member, but Richard was not.  He accepted the Gospel with open arms, and from there is has just mushroomed.  There were about 25 in attendance.  If things keep going, it won’t be too long before we will have a Philippine Branch!  It is so awesome to hear them bear their testimonies and see the change they have made in their lives.  The three that were baptized last week were all chain smokers and spent their weekends drinking.  We witnessed a miracle as they gave up their previous lifestyle and got themselves ready for baptism.  Sister Haleck served Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner.  Our friends from the Philippines were not sure about the food.  But after they tasted it they seemed to enjoy it.  Many of them joined us on Thanksgiving, and they were not sure about our Thanksgiving food either…
After dinner entertainment...
The evening was so special.  We hated to see it end.  Another great blessing for us!  Heavenly Father must really love us to bless us with the opportunities and experiences we are having.  Except for health reasons,  there really isn't a good reason not to serve a senior mission…  Dear friends, follow the prophet and prepare to serve!
Blessed to be with special friends this Christmas Season

Chapter 31 - Coconut Point Young Adult Activity

11/10/12 – What a great day!  We got engaged 45 years ago tonight.  We can’t believe it has been that long.   Five more years and it will be our 50th.  Seems like just yesterday that we were planning Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary…  Time goes by so fast.
We celebrated by attending a YSA (Young Single Adult) activity in one of the wards.  We went out to an area of the island called Coconut Point.  It was right on the ocean.  We were in a grove of coconut trees.  It had two fales in the grove and right in the middle they built a huge bonfire!  It was 85 degrees – the fire was not needed for warmth – only atmosphere…  We played a couple of games, roasted hot dogs and even made s-mores. We were asked to share our testimonies on the importance of ‘gathering’.  And surprise, surprise – it rained on us!   Almost like being at Girl’s Camp.  It made me think of the beautiful Young Women in our ward at home, and made me realize how much I miss them!

Chapter 30 - Week-end on the Island of Aunu'u

Island of Aunu'u from the boat...

Seminary Class
11/16/12 – We had a great experience Friday and Saturday.  We went to Aunu’u, the island about a mile off the East coast of Tutuila.  They have a school on the island, but the high school students attend school on the main island.  Because they have to catch the boat so early each morning for school, they hold seminary in the evening.  So we attended their seminary on Friday evening,
 than went to a ward volleyball activity.  The power went out in the middle of the activity, but no worries, they just moved onto other activities that they could do in the dark.  No one complained…  All the power on the island comes from a generator, and it is not unusual for them to loose power several times a day.  It is just part of life for them, so no one stresses about it.  We stayed with the Lotoa Family – we met their daughter in the MTC.  She is serving her mission in Salt Lake City at Temple Square.  They are an amazing family – 16 children.  They went to the temple as a family just before she left for her mission.  They are such a great strength to the branch and to the village.  We slept in the girl’s room.  There was no furniture – only a mattress on the floor and a cabinet in one corner.  There was a small air conditioning unit in the window and they brought in the fan from the dining area just before we went to bed.  They did everything that was possible to make sure we were comfortable.  
Eating with the family
(tradition is that the father of the home eats with the guests and the family eats after)
We were treated like royalty.  Their oldest daughter did most of the cooking, and she was an  amazing cook.  They have a drink here called Cocoa Samoa and it can be quite bitter, but hers was SO GOOD!!! 
Singing and relaxing together - until midnight...
What a great memory...
(the family does this almost every night with neighbors)
After the ward activity we went back to their house all sat outside with the family and branch presidency and sang songs accompanied by a guitar and 2 ukuleles.  It was so relaxing, - we could have sat there all night.  On Saturday morning they all got up at 6:00 and went to the church to finish the game they started the night before.  
Men fishing off shore...
Later we watched them fish off the shore with big nets.  
Two men held the ends of the nets and the kids spread out between them, walking towards the net chasing the fish into the nets.  It was really something to see.  In the afternoon we attended a baptism.  It was a great ending to our little get away…

When we arrived, some of the local children greeted us.
They swim life fish...
Aunu'u Harbor

Chapter 29 - Transfers

Saying Goodbye to Sister Paepae & Elder Lavetala (Savai'i, Samoa),
and Sister Amituana'i (Australia)
From Left...  Sister Paepae, Elder Lavetala, Elder Liston, Elder Uri,
Sister Amituana'i, Elder and Sister Jordan
MISSIONARY TRANSFERS If there is a downfall to this mission, for us it is when missionaries get transferred.  It is so hard to say good-by.  They are like family, and when we put them on the plane to go to another island, we know there is a good possibility we will never see them again.  I am not ashamed to say that many tears are shed… Transfers come every six weeks and we do not look forward to them…

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chapter 28 - Meetinghouses

Two story building - chapel and cultural hall are upstairs
Parking lot has 10 parking stalls
This post is written for the benefit of my Facilities Management friends and former comrades, who, by the way I miss…  In former posts I have mentioned some of the challenges and differences the FM groups face on this island.  If I mention them here, than so be it…  I hope you enjoy this...  Susan

Open air corridors
·      Corridors - There are 16 buildings (2 more in planning). Most of them have no halls as we know them.  All the rooms open into beautiful landscaped courtyards. 

·      Chapels – Most have ceramic tile floors and if they have pews they are not attached to the floor.  No work orders to secure pews… 
·      Floors - The floors are mostly ceramic tile.  Some of the chapels have carpet and some of the cultural halls have terrazzo flooring – but not many.  No wood floors to screen and re-coat…
One of the chapels

·      HVAC - There are no boilers, furnaces or water heaters to worry about.  Only a few of the chapels and cultural halls have A/C.  Most have ceiling fans – as many as 24 depending on the size of the rooms.  I only know of two chapels that have air conditioning.  If the building has a Relief Society room it usually has air conditioning.  Some of the bishop offices and stake offices have A/C as well.  They are the wall hung Mitsubishi type units.  Speaking of bishop offices, we were in one the other day that was a classroom with a banquet table in it.  No A/C, file cabinet, credenza, carpet, drapes or any of the other amenities that are usually found in a bishop office.  Actually, he uses a classroom - he has no office.  So if he has to conduct ward business he is at the mercy of the auxilliary schedule.   
Baptismal font
Stairs on the left lead up to the stake offices
·      Pianos/Organs – Not all of the buildings have pianos in the chapel.  Most have piano/organ units, but some have only keyboards.  There are no pianos in the Relief Society rooms.  Most Primary rooms have keyboards. 
Baptismal font
(most are outdoors)

·      Hymn books - They don’t leave their hymn books in the hymn book racks.  The Aaronic Priesthood boys bring them into the chapel before the meetings start and gather them up after Sacrament meeting.  These Saints really love to sing.  It is so inspiring to hear them – adults as well as children.  In fact many don’t bring scriptures to church, but most bring their hymnbooks. 

·      Baptismal Fonts – Most are located outside in the courtyard.  They have roofs over them – much like the fales.  Some are ground level – so you climb up and down stairs to get into them!  Because there are no water heaters the font can be filled in a relatively short time. The temperature of the water is not too bad – kind of lukewarm. 
You can't really see, but there is lots of rust on these fountains...
·      Drinking Fountains – 
Some buildings don’t have drinking fountains.  If they do it has only been within the past year that water filters have been installed on them so the water is safe to drink – since a new FM manager was hired.  Most everyone here buys filtered water because the water is so bad.  We attended church at a building that does not have a drinking fountain and drinking the sacrament water was a whole new experience.
Notice the rust on the RS chairs...
The padding is about 1/4 inch thick...

·      Relief Society Rooms – Very few meetinghouses have designated Relief Society Rooms.  If they have one, they usually have drapes, but no pianos or carpeting.  This is a picture of the Relief Society room where we teach institute.  Notice the chairs – and then appreciate what we have.  We are so spoiled…
Relief Society Room
(notice the drapes)
No piano...

·      Landscaping/Sprinkling – There are no irrigation systems to worry about – no repairs, stuck valves, lines to blow out or brown grass….  They use coconut shells instead of bark in the shrub/flower beds. 

·      Parking lots – The parking lots are concrete – the newer ones are stamped to look like brick pavers.  To mark the parking stalls, they cut out the sections and put in different colored concrete – even the handicap stall emblems are done that way.  You never have to re-stripe…  The parking lots are small – most have about 15 to 20 stalls.  Most people either walk to church or ride the bus.  The stake center lots are a little larger.

·      Mold & Mildew – The biggest challenge they face is the mold and mildew problem.  It is everywhere.  A lot of the time is spent fighting this issue.  Also, mechanical and electrical units need more maintenance because of it.  HVAC units and electrical units need to be replaced every couple of years due to this problem.  Another problem they fight is the deterioration of the rock walls around the meetinghouses.  The seawater erodes them and they have to be repaired constantly.  One building located right on the ocean (about 20 yards from the beach), has a stone and rod iron wall around it.  The rod iron has to be repainted about every three months at at cost of $4,000 each time it is painted.  I told the FM I would get rid of the fence...
Sorry this is sideways.  That is a WonDoor in good condition...

   The FM and I enjoy comparing stories - the differences and similarities as well as the challenges.  So many things are different over here, but then there are a lot that are the same in FM groups here and at home.  Because of my background we have been able to get lots of things done in the buildings that needed to be done, which probably wouldn't have been done otherwise.  One thing that is vastly different is the standards....  nothing is a "3" - try a 4.5 or a 5...  All in all I am happy I am not an FM here.  The members take care of the outsides of the buildings - the grounds are immaculate.  But the insides are awful.  Even after they clean on Saturday the buildings at their best are worse than the buildings at their worst in the USA.  Count your blessings!