CHRISTMAS IN SAMOA
What a busy time of year. Just like at home the Christmas Decorations start to appear in the stores just after Halloween. People love to decorate for the holidays, and many put up Christmas lights on their fales – even the ones that have no walls.
|One of the Churches on the island decorated for Chirstmas|
I have said before that the houses here go from HUMBLE open-air fales to very nice homes – by US standards. Hearing Christmas music is strange when the weather is so hot… But we were busy enjoying all the festivities…
|Two of the larger homes on the island decorated for Christmas...|
The season started out on December 5th with a Christmas devotional and activity with Sister and President Leota and the AP’s for all the missionaries on the island.
|Competition was intense...|
It was so much fun to watch, as they played some competitive games together. They played one with ping pong balls, several with soccer balls, several relays, and the one where you tie a balloon on your ankle and try to pop each other’s balloons while protecting your own from getting popped. There was a lot of competition going on in the room. It was a great day. President and Sister Leota are such wonderful people. I can see why the Lord called him to lead this mission. We love them so much…
seemed like every night there was an activity somewhere in one of the wards. We attended a party by the pool with one ward. They divided the ward into four groups and each group was responsible to come up with a skit and four musical numbers. Each group was responsible for their own food, and because we were guests, we ended up with four different dinners…
|We sat on one side of the pool and the entertainment was under the tent on the other side...|
The owner of the pool is a high-ranking chief of his village, a member of the Church, and well respected on the island. He paid us such a great compliment. It is scary sometimes to realize how much we are being watched and in the short time we have been here, how many people know who we are. Another ward had a dance for their party. It was so fun to see everyone, no matter their age, dancing and enjoying themselves.
|Our ward party... Looks like they are running out of food -no worry more is on the way!|
Sister Tele Hill (she is our medical angel)
They always start out ward activities with a traditional Samoan dance performed by the leaders and special guests - and we are expected to dance! I have caught on to the footwork, but I just can’t move my hands in the graceful fashion they do – so I feel really conspicuous! But we are made to feel so special, so we just laugh and do our best! All of the zones were asked to go Christmas Caroling to investigators and new members in their wards, and we had the privilege of going with several of the zones. It seemed kind of funny – going caroling when it was still light, and HOT.
|Christmas Caroling with the East Zone|
We are used to caroling in the cold - until our toes grow numb - and then going back to someone’s house or the church and having hot chocolate and donuts to get warm. Here we relished getting into the air-conditioned van and having a cold drink of water… But it was so great singing carols in the Samoan language, and watching the reaction of the people we sang too. They were so responsive and almost everyone greeted us with warm hugs and kisses. It was a great experience… The Pago West Stake has a 20-year tradition of throwing a Christmas party for all the missionaries on the island. They fed us an awesome dinner – with more food than we could eat.
We went home with enough food for four more meals… Then each zone (5 of them) each put on a skit and presented a song. They were so funny.
|Missionaries at the Pago West Stake Christmas party|
We laughed so hard we were crying. The leaders in the stake presented a short program and then they presented each missionary with a gift basket
|President Tuitele presenting gift baskets to each of the missionaries|
that contained items the missionaries could use – including lots of goodies.When we got home we put the items from our basket on the kitchen table.
We were treated well, don’t you think… We got sheets, pillowcases, a tablecloth, lots if shampoo and hair products, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, mouthwash, and even after shave (when we first got here we couldn’t find after shave and had to have Jeff send some)! I don’t think we will have to worry about that item for a while. I already posted our Family Home Evening with the Halack’s. That was another highlight of the season. We spent Sunday evening, the 23th with the East Zone elders. We went caroling with them and then went back to the church and had Family Home Evening with them.
They invited a family to join us, and it was a great evening. I even shared the McLachlan story. We got permission from President Leota to have the missionaries from the other four zones at our house for Christmas Eve. So we had our traditional Christmas buffet with pretty much all the food we would have at home – except stuffed celery.
|Christmas Eve with "our" missionaries..|
We haven’t been able to find Chez Wiz here, so we used a cheese from New Zealand that was almost as good. We even had or goodie table – minus the fudge – because of the humidity it just won’t set up here. Christmas Day some of the missionaries put together a puzzle. It didn't take long with so many working on it...
|Careful - don't break it!|
Elders Hansen and Stout
It was strange celebrating Christmas without snow, and we missed being with our family, but it was a wonderful Christmas that we will remember it always.