Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chapter 33 - S&I Seminar in Apia, Upolu

The day after Thanksgiving we flew to Apia for a S&I Seminary.  We left on Friday morning.  The flight took about 45 minutes and when we arrived it was Saturday – they are one day and one hour ahead of us.  They are on daylight savings time and we are not. When they go back to standard time we will just be a day behind them – no hourly difference.  It is strange, because the island is about 40 miles away.  Until about a year ago, American and Western Samoa were on the same day and time, but because so much of their commerce is with New Zealand, they elected to move the date line so they were the same.  However, American Samoa  (which is further West) chose not to change.  So we deal with the day/time issue.  It keeps us on our toes….
We left on Friday so we could visit the “Market”.  It is a fascinating place.  There are rows and rows of vendor shops, and most of them sell the same items, but it is so fun to walk up and down and see everything they have to sell.  The sights and smells are so intriguing.  We bought a Kava Bowl – to use as a candy dish, and a Fu’e (it looks like a large fly swatter) that the high chiefs use when they want to talk.   After we visited the market we went to a beautiful beach and went swimming and snorkeling.  
Getting ready to take the plunge...

What a great experience.  We saw so many colorful fish and beautiful coral.  It was amazing to see the variety of fish and the brilliant colors so close to shore.  I thought one could only experience such beauty scuba diving.  We are looking forward to going again.  Of course, in the excitement I didn’t think to use sun screen or put on a shirt, so I experienced the SAMOAN SUN at it’s finest.  I got a SAMOAN, SAND, SWIMMING, SNORKELING, SUNBURN!!!  Funny thing was, even though it was almost purple in color, it didn’t hurt – it just itched…  And when it started to peel it itched even more.  Through all of it, I thought of my sister Kathy.  She likes to peel sunburned skin!  We stayed with Reed and Nada Spencer.  They were in the MTC with us. We were also able to spend some time with the Budgett’s – the other couple who were in the MTC with us.  It was so much fun to be together for a couple of days.  We had a great time together and laughed a lot…   Saturday evening we went to the Family History Display we have been helping with in the stakes on Tutuila.  It was great to rub shoulders with President and Sister Leota again.  
Sister Budgett and I on the temple grounds
We are standing in front of a Peacock Tree

It is always such a blessing to be with them.  Sunday after church, we spent some time preparing the 1-hour presentation we were assigned to give at the seminary the next day.  When we found out about the seminar, we thought we were going over to be trained, but a couple of days before we went, I got the feeling we ought to check our S&I email address to see if there was anything we needed to do beyond the original instructions we received in October.  To my shock and surprise I saw that we were on the program to teach a workshop!  I was sure glad I checked the email.  We were to discuss a talk given by Elder…… at the last S&I broadcast.  It was a challenge, because of the subject matter, and we didn’t want to lecture.  We wanted to be able to present the subject matter with group involvement.  We were scheduled first thing Monday morning.  
S&I  Seminar - Our bosses
Ngatai Smith (left)
Wayne Maurer (right)

Our presentation went well, and after we were done, we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the seminar.  It lasted two days – Monday and Tuesday, and we received some great ideas to help with our teaching.  Monday evening we celebrated Thanksgiving with all the senior couples, President and Sister Leota and the temple presidency.  After dinner we went over to the temple grounds to take pictures.  One of the pictures was taken by the fountain in the front of the temple.  It was hot, and I mentioned that the water sure looked inviting.  Pearl, the mission president’s 17 year- old daughter agreed.  Well, Dennis looked at her and said, “I will if you will.”  The next thing I knew they were both standing ankle deep in the fountain!  
Rebels In The Fountain...
 Sister Leota just covered her eyes, the temple president seemed amused and President Leota said Dennis was the only missionary he would allow his daughter to stand in the temple fountain with.  I was sure we were headed for a transfer….
Tuesday evening we went with some of the other senior couples in the mission to dinner.  We sat right by the ocean and it was beautiful.
Susan, Elder & Sister Gertsch, Elder & Sister Budgett
Elder and Sister Osborne, Sister & Elder Spencer, Sister Tanuvasa

The food was good, but the company was even better.  The highlight of our four-day trip was we were able to contact a sister who served her mission in Salt Lake City, Sister Nive Tanuvasa.  When we gave the missionaries her name, hoping we could find her (we didn’t have any idea which village she lived in), they knew right away who she was.  They told us she was the best member missionary on the island – that she gave them contacts weekly and they knew if she gave them a referral they better follow up on it.   She met us at the mission office and we took her to dinner with us.  It was so great to see her.  She was such a great missionary – she served her entire mission in two stakes, one being ours, as well as teaching those in the mission who needed to be taught in Samoan.   We were blessed to have her and her companion in our home several times for dinner.  It was so awesome to see her!  It was a great way to end an incredible week-end!

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