The last week in March we had a great opportunity to spend several days as chauffeurs and companions to Cyril Figuerres from the Church Correlation Department. He was asked by the Quorum of the Twelve to come to Tutuila to conduct interviews with seminary students and teachers, as well as bishops and other leaders to determine why the seminary students were or were not having personal scripture study.
|Us with Cyril Figuerres|
The Church is conducting surveys world wide asking the same question. It was enlightening to sit in the interviews and hear the responses. Samoa is not unlike the USA in their reasons – time being the biggest factor. Brother Figuerres shared some fascinating stories about some of the assignments he has received from the “Twelve” and how it has affected some of the decisions over the years. Preach My Gospel came from a study he conducted about 12 years ago. His experiences shed a whole new light on the inner-workings of the Church.
|Seminary Teachers Inservice Meeting|
SEMINARY/INSTUTUTE GRADUATIONS – We have the privilege of attending the seminary and institute graduations for each stake. Their graduations are very similar to the graduations at home, except they have a lot more music – and that adds so much to the spirit. The girls all dress in beautiful white dresses. After the graduation everyone meets in the foyers (which are outside) and presents the students with flower and candy leis. Most of them have so many leis that they are all the way up the backs of their necks. It is a real happening… Dennis represented the Church Board of Education at two of them. He presented the students to the stake president as being eligible for graduation from seminary and institute. It is so great to be able to shake each graduate’s hand and feel of their spirit. About 95% of the youth graduate from seminary. Many of the students will be attending institute in the fall – but with the change in the age for missionary service, many of these young men will be heading into the mission field. Tonight (May 18th) was the last one. Elder Fata, newly called Seventy for this area was the speaker. After the graduation we were invited to have dinner with him and the stake presidency and their wives. It was a great way to end the day.
|Three of our Institute Graduates|
ELDER OAKS VISIT – Elder Oaks and his wife visited the mission in mid April and held firesides for the YSA as well as the missionaries. He also conducted a four-hour training session the stake presidents and bishoprics. He did not come to our island, but we had the opportunity to hear him via satellite. It was another great blessing to us to be taught by one of the Lord’s chosen apostles.
YOUNG SINGLE ADULT DANCES – We get invited to all the young adult dances (usually at least one a week) and it is so fun to see their moves and all their energy. We even manage to dance a few dances… The fun thing is when they ask us to dance. Last week we were at one and a member of the stake high counsel said, “Elder Jordan, how do you move your feet that fast?” It is fun to show them how we danced when we were their age, and some are even trying our moves… However, the songs seem to last longer than we remember. It is a great workout!
INSTITUTE CLOSING SOCIAL – On April 27th we had a swimming party at the beach for our closing social. We rented a bus so we could get everyone there.We played games, including volleyball...
We had pizza, hot dogs and the trimmings. I made brownies for dessert – they didn’t last long… Lunch ended in a mustard fight. It was a good thing we were all close to the water. We laughed until we were almost sick. It was a great day.
BAPTISM IN THE OCEAN – The Amanave Branch on the far West end of the island had their first baptism since being organized as a branch about three months ago. They were an independent Sunday School until then. They don’t have a chapel, but meet in a renovated home, so they don’t have a baptismal font. The branch president really wanted as many members of the branch as possible to witness the baptism, and because most of them don’t have cars, getting to the nearest meetinghouse with a font was not an option – unless they rented a bus.The surf was pretty rough so getting the prayer said before another wave hit was a challenge. Luckily, the young man being baptized was only 9 years old and not very tall, so he they didn’t have to wade out too far. They did have to do it twice though because hi arm came up when a wave hit. It was such a blessing for this struggling branch to witness the baptism.
ZUMBA IN THE POOL – We have joined an aquatic Zumba class, held three times a week, to try and get in shape. We tried walking – but it is hard because there are no sidewalks and LOTS of dogs. Besides, with the rain, it is hard to do it every day. We got an elliptical, and try to use it every day, but decided exercising in the water sounded more fun – and it is…I keep telling Dennis that we have to build muscle before we can expect to loose weight. Hope the muscle building gives way to the weight loss pretty soon.