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!

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