Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Week ending June 16, 2013

Sunday June 16th – Happy Father’s Day

Every week that we are here comes with it’s own unique experiences.  We thought we might make it a week without making a trip to the hospital, but no such luck.  Late Saturday afternoon (as we were preparing to go to a fireside) we got a call informing us that one of our ‘new’ elders had accidently put his CTR ring on the wrong finger,
and he had been trying for several hours to get it off.  He tried butter, oil, cold water, and muscle, but nothing seemed to work.  His finger was so swollen you could hardly see the ring.  He lives way on the East side of the island (1 ½ hours drive from us). 
Elder Willden - They saved the ring - and his finger
We told the zone leaders to go pick him up and meet us at the hospital.  So much for going out to dinner for Father’s Day…  We left the house at 6:00 and got home after 10:00.
We attended another setting apart of one of our institute students.  She is so excited to serve in the Philippines.  She was scheduled to leave on Thursday night, but there was a mix-up on her reservation.  So she left on Saturday. 
Sister Ananoa Laulu - headed for the Philippines
Instead of flying from here to Hawaii, on to Los Angeles and the into Salt Lake, she will be flying to Apia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, San Francisco and then to Salt Lake.  With so many missionaries, it requires Church Travel to become very inventive.  We can’t imagine how crazy that department must be.
Three other missionaries did leave on Thursday – a sister who will be serving in Texas, and two elders (one to the Philippines and one to Denver).  It is so awesome to witness their enthusiasm and willingness to serve.  They are all great examples to us.  The football team from Tafuna High School flew out on the same plane on their way to Oregon for a football clinic.  They will be playing two games while they are there.  The school has a very successful football team, and so they travel to Oregon every year.  They do fund raisers year round to prepare.  It was so fun to be there and feel the excitement and enthusiasm of the players, parents and entire school community.  Just before they got on the plane they did the HOKA and it was so awesome to see. 
Phillip Mendoza, recently baptized - heading for
Oregon Football Camp
One of the players was just baptized last week, and he asked for an English Book of Mormon to take with him.  One of our institute student’s Alfred Soui, who leaves for his mission on Monday, baptized him.  Seeing him so excited to go with his team, but also to see how happy he was for the BofM made things even more special.
We received word from Mike and Alicia that he got a great promotion at work.  One more blessing to add to the ‘Treasure Chest of Blessings’ that have come to our family since we have been here.
We are looking forward to spending the day with Elder Hamula, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy and President of the Pacific Area.  He will be here on July 2nd.  Then we are planning to fly to Apia for a few days.  We are excited to attend the temple while we are there, as we haven’t been since the end of July.   Even though there is a temple 40 miles away, it is a huge expense for the saints to go.  The cost to fly is about $130.00 a person.  The average yearly income is about $8,000 and food is about 40-50% higher here than we pay at home.  Most of their income goes to pay utilities.  Power and water averages about $500.00 a month – without air conditioning.  So it is a real sacrifice for members to attend the temple.  We are SO, blessed to have temples all around us.  One thing this mission has helped us realize is that we need to be more diligent in our temple attendance. 
We are so blessed to have our Grandson, Andrew serving in the Russia, Moscow Mission.  His letter this week was so inspiring.  We shared the following from his letter with our students in our Preach My Gospel class this week.  It fit right in with what we were talking about.  Words of encouragement from thousands of miles away – that helped 12 prospective missionaries with their feelings of doubt…

“I came to an interesting realization as I was studying this week. We are not perfect nor are we going to be in this life. That sounds obvious but I really began to understand what that means. I am really hard on myself when I fall short, especially with the language. I realized that I shouldn’t be upset with myself if I am trying to do everything that I can. Even when we sin, once repent we are supposed to forgive ourselves and forget it. I decided that the way I would do it is, I will think of what Christ would tell me and how he would tell me it if I was counseling with him about my weaknesses which I do countless times a day. He would not scold me or berate me. The main purpose that scolding serves is to bring someone to the realization that they are doing wrong and have faults. Once we come to the Lord with them we have already realized. From this point the Lord can help us overcome them. This is done with love and hard work. Sometimes very hard but love is central to it. This is how I need to be with myself. Ever since I came to this realization I have been a lot happier.”

We went to a fun YSA activity for the Mapusaga Stake.
 It was a star search program.  It was so fun.  Several of our students were in it, so we just cheered for everyone…
 Friday morning our doorbell rang and one of the brothers from across the street brought us a bunch of bananas.  He hung them up so they could ripen slowly.  He put a plastic bag over them to keep the birds away… 
People are so generous here, and they really take good care of us.  There are more bananas than we or the missionaries can eat – so the rest we will make into banana bread.  The plan for them to ripen slowly back-fired.  They all ripened at once!!!

BLOND MOMENT… It was nearly 10:00 when we got home Friday night, so I decided that spaghetti was the fastest thing to fix for dinner.   I warmed up some meatballs in spaghetti sauce and noticed that the sauce seemed really runny.  So I added a can of tomato sauce, but it still looked a little strange.  I had added a little water to the sauce to clean out the bottle and thought I had just added too much…  When we tasted it, it was spicy hot!!!  Realize that it does not have to be too spicy for me to say it is ‘hot’, but even Dennis commented on it.  I wondered if I had bought spicy meatballs.  Then I checked to see of the Prago was spicy…  Was I surprised when I checked the label on the spaghetti sauce – I had grabbed the SALSA from the fridge rather than the Prago!!!!  DUH – did I feel dumb…  But I dumped the sauce and heated up real spaghetti sauce to pour over the spaghetti.  But the peppers were still in there so it was still kind of spicy.  We both had a good laugh!

Father’s Day – We attended a setting apart of one of our students, Alfred Soui leaving for his mission tomorrow.  Over here they invite the entire ward to the setting apart.  That is when the missionary and his parents share their testimonies.  The bishop usually speaks for about 5 minutes, then they set the missionary apart and the stake president gives his remarks after that.  It usually lasts about an hour.  It is a great thing – especially for the youth to witness.  It is one of the few meetings where they don’t serve refreshments after.  We love attending these meetings - they are always very spiritual… Later that evening we were invited to have dinner with the Ho Ching’s, a family in our ward.  He was baptized several months ago and they are preparing to take their family to the temple to be sealed.  They have been in our Temple Preparation Class and it has been such a privilege to get to know them better.  One of their daughter’s just returned from her mission.  In an earlier entry I mentioned that we were able to attend Brother Ho Ching’s baptism and Dennis was asked to be a witness.  Their daughter, who was on her mission at the time, received permission to call her Dad just before he entered the font.  He didn’t know she was calling, and it was so fun to see his reaction.  It was a great dinner – roast beef and mashed potatoes as well as some traditional Samoan food.  It was wonderful to be in their home and feel of their spirit. 
Here's hoping all the Father's out there had a Great Father's Day!  Dennis said spending Father's Day in Samoa was very special and something he will remember always!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Week of June 9, 2013

Sunday – June 9, 2013

The past week started out busy but somewhat uneventful.  However, it didn’t end that way!  It included the usual trips to the post office and airport to pick-up and distribute the mail.  There was a lot of mail at the post office when we went on Monday.  We ended up sending 11 large moving boxes to mission headquarters.  They in turn sent us two boxes full of items for the missionaries that were transferred to this island last week.  They are only allowed to bring one suitcase on the small plane from Apia, so they box the rest of their things and then the mission sends it over.  That means that we have to deliver their boxes to them because they are not allowed to leave their areas unless they are zone leaders.  The zone leaders can leave their zones on Monday to do shopping for themselves and the missionaries in their zones.  Monday is the day the ZLs come to our house to turn in their weekly reports and pick up their mail.
We had MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) with President Leota and the AP’s (assistants to the president) on Wednesday.  These meetings are training meetings for the 10 zone leaders and the two sisters who work with the other sisters in the mission.  They are always full of great information that needs to be shared with all the missionaries.  The AP’s came on Monday to do some training to the new trainers and spent the night with us.  It is always such a blessing to have them in our home.
Dennis has been sick with a cold and fever since May 29th (completely lost his voice for three days.) That meant I had to teach our Temple Preparation Class by myself.  We usually team-teach.  It has been two weeks since he started with a sore throat.  The prescription he was given made him really sleepy so I have had some time to catch-up on little projects including mending, correspondence and cleaning cupboards etc. 
We spent about 4 hours in the hospital with a sick elder.  We thought he might have pink eye and he also had a cold.  We didn’t want it to turn into pneumonia – he had that in January, so we felt it best for him to be seen by a doctor.  The diagnosis is always the same – no matter what the symptoms are – tonsillitis and an antibiotic….  He did have an infection in his eye so it was good we took him in.  We have learned to take something to read whenever we go.  He couldn’t get the prescription after he saw the doctor because the pharmacy (there is only one on the island) was closed, so we had to go back the next day to pick it up.  The average waiting time is 2 hours, but we have waited as long as three.  You take a number – our number was 63 and they were serving #66 (they start over when they reach 100).  That meant that there were 97 people ahead of us.
The mission has just approved use of bicycles again for the island.  Because there are no sidewalks to speak of, and the roads are so narrow, one is taking his life into his hands to ride a bike here.  Due to safety issues, they took the bikes away a couple of years ago.  However, there are some areas on the island where they are really needed, and safety is not an issue.  So we have been trying to find GOOD bikes that will accommodate the weight of some of our elders…  What a challenge.  We finally were successful in our search – then came the challenge of find helmets for adults…  When we can find good bikes, there are not helmets and when we can get helmets, there are no bikes.  We finally got smart and purchased helmets, lights and locks a few weeks ago and stored them until the bikes came.  We had success this week!!!  The elders were so happy…
We also replaced beds in two of the missionary quarters this week.  We have a recent convert making them for us.  However, he does not have a truck, so we tie them in the back of our van to deliver them.  This week we were lucky.  One of our institute students was able to get a truck to move the beds.
We put another institute student on the plane to report to the MTC in Provo.  She will be serving in the St. George Mission, and we hope to visit her after we get home.  She is such an awesome young lady and has such a strong testimony. 
Jacqueline Frost - headed to Utah St. George Mission

This week we saw LOTS of rain.  It rained so hard on Wednesday that our water Zumba class was canceled – which is unusual, because they don’t cancel anything due to rain.  But we had flashflood warnings and the said on the radio, “If you are out driving, just go home!”  There is a ditch in front of the college just down the street from us. 
It is about 5 feet deep and about 8 feet across at the top.  In two hours it was filled to overflowing on the road.  There is a waterfall (not much more than a trickle) just off the side of the road and the water was coming down so fast the pipe that goes under the road could not contain it.  It had turned to a mud fall… 
But by the next morning the waterfall was back to a trickle and the ditch had about 2 inches of water in it.  It is amazing to see that much water disappear so fast.

Several weeks ago the Juni Maeva family that we home teach asked us to attend a celebration.  They didn’t give us any details as to what the celebration was for.  Because it had been so long since we received the invitation, we were not sure it was even still on – yesterday was the day…  When we got there we found out it was threefold.  A birthday party for the dad – he turned 83, a graduation party for his grand-daughter and a wedding reception for his daughter.  We also discovered Dennis’ name on the program to give the closing prayer.  They sat us on the same table as the bride and groom and treated us like royalty.  Needless to say, they had LOTS of food.  The potato salad they served us was so good.  We found out she added lemon juice to it.  I made her promise to give me the recipe the next time we go home–teaching.   We also had the best Oka we have had since we got here.  Oka is raw fish cooked in coconut cream – usually octopus.
We attended two baptisms – and after one of them we were invited to another feast. 
They served breadfruit, taro, noodles and chicken.  We were still so full from the earlier party that we ate enough to be polite and were able to convince them that we wanted to take the rest home. 

THE POWER OF THE PRIESTHOOD…  Friday night we got a call requesting Dennis help with a blessing for a brother in our ward.  His wife is a NP and helps us when we have sick missionaries.  We love them both so much.  We went to their home and I was shocked when I saw Brother Hill.  He looked like Dad did the last couple of days before he died.  He was struggling to breath and it was hard to get him to respond.  Dennis gave him a beautiful blessing, and we saw an immediate change in his breathing.  We left about 5 minutes later and he was sleeping very peacefully.  We got a phone call about 30 minutes later to report that he was wide awake, alert, sitting up and eating.  There is Power in the Priesthood… We witnessed a miracle!!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


NEED FOR SENIOR MISSIONARIES – One of the senior missionaries serving in our mission wrote a description of what senior missionaries do, and how vital they are to the missions of the Church.  He put into words exactly what each of the seniors in our mission feel.  We share it because it is so timely and clearly shows how necessary seniors are to the success of the work.  There is much more work to do than there are people to do it.  It is up to us to move forward with faith and heed the call of our prophet.  The message hasn’t changed – THE LORD NEEDS SENIOR MISSIONARIES……
Elder Osborne wrote, “As we look back on each week I am always surprised at how quickly each week seems to pass. Whether the week has been good, or a little disappointing, my perspective of time and eternity increases with time. There is so much work to be done, a finite amount of time to do it, and our time is drawing short.  As we visited with other senior missionaries this week, we talked about how logistical and task oriented much of the work we do is but how essential it is to the souls of the people here.  Mission staffs support the work of our proselyting missionaries and take care of everything from cars and housing to having B of M’s on the shelves; we have missionaries who train ward leaders on finances and membership record matters so they can take care of the operations of the wards; there are missionaries that teach teachers and missionaries who watch out for the health of missionaries and deal with those problems; and we have missionaries working with young adults and others supporting PEF and the education and employment training needs of a people, preparing them to maintain Zion.  There are also humanitarian missionaries, spread thin with the many projects the Church is sponsoring to support the people and improve their health and living conditions. And then there is us, just doing what we do and like everyone else, we have hope that the things we do may save one soul now that will in turn, bless the lives of generations to come. And so it’s all missionary work with one common focus regardless of the form it takes.” 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The work here keeps us really busy – which is a blessing in disguise because it keeps us from getting homesick.  But today I started thinking about the birthdays and special events we are missing out on.  Besides birthdays we have missed some very special events in our family.  In the last few months our Bryce and Madison were baptized.  Andrew left on his mission, Sean was ordained a deacon and passed the sacrament for the first time, Alec graduated from 9th grade and Ashley and Josh both graduated from high school.  Although we missed being part of these special events, we have been blessed with peace and comfort, knowing that our family is progressing and experiencing new adventures, which make us so happy and proud.   Life is full of many opportunities and challenges that make us grow and become better.  We love you all and want to say thanks for your love and support which makes it possible for us to be serving a mission!

Toward the end of May we flew to Apia for an institute meeting.  It was a great meeting and we learned so much.  The new area seventy was in attendance and it was so great to meet and talk with him.  We got some great teaching ideas to use when classes resume in August.  Even though some of them were not new to us, reviewing the methods and sharing ideas was so beneficial.

On Saturday, May 25th we received a request to pick up Elder and Sister Dansie, serving a family history mission in Auckland, New Zealand, from their hotel and escort them around the island as they met with the family history consultants and priesthood leaders in the five stakes here.  We invited them to stay with us, rather than use church funds to pay for a hotel.  It was so fun to get to know them.  We really enjoyed their visit.  

We all had a pleasant surprise when we asked them where they were from and they said Taylorsville.  When we asked which stake they lived in it turns out we live in the same stake.  They live just East of 3200 West and a little South of us.  Because our ward was just put into their stake about a year ago, we didn’t know them – we laughed and joked that we had to come all the way to Samoa to meet our neighbors…

Transfers come about every six weeks, so the last week in May we had to bid farewell to 5 of our missionaries, Elders Pepe, McOmber, Brunt, Katiele, and  AhWong.  It was bittersweet, putting them on the airplane to Apia.  Even though they will still be part of our mission, we will miss our day-to-day association with them.  It was like losing 5 sons.
BUT we did got 10 new elders.  That meant we had to find more housing, get more beds made and equip their houses.  So it was a very busy week.  They all arrived OK, but their luggage didn’t.  Seven of them had to wait until the next day to get their luggage.  It is a good thing we had extra toothbrushes and razors….