Saturday, August 10, 2013

Week ending June 14th - Trip to Upolu and Savaii

Week ending July 14

July started out with the anticipation of spending time on the islands of Upolu and Savaii.  We flew over on the 3rd – which was the 4th over there.  It was so great to see the Budgett’s and Spencer’s again.  We spent 10 days between the two islands doing the tourist things and enjoying the beauty of the each island.  It is amazing how different each of the 3 major islands in Samoa are, even though they are within 40 miles of each other.  We took the ferry between Upolu and Savaii – it took about an hour and it cured me of the desire to take the ferry from Tutuila to Upolu (an 8 hour trip). 
On the ferry from Upolu to Savaii
We enjoyed the ride, but 1 hour was long enough.  For the difference it costs to fly I am willing to pay the extra.  While we were there we had the blessing of being able to attend the temple a couple of times.  We were able to do endowments as well as sealings.  What a blessing the temple is to us! 
We even did some missionary work while we were there.  We got a call one morning while in Savaii that an elder was vomiting up blood and needed to be taken to the hospital.  The hospital there is like in Tutula – long lines and questionable care – but we are just happy to have medical facilities, no matter how limited.  When we went back to the mission office in Apia (on the island of Upolu), we spent one morning helping in the office.  In the middle of it all Sister Leota came in and asked us to help her dress a wound from a dog bite one of the sister missionaries had received on the back of her knee.  I pictured a puncture wound or some torn flesh, but because she hadn’t said anything for two weeks by the time she reported it, it had turned into an open wound about the size of a baseball.  The skin was completely gone and the infection was deep into the muscle.  I can’t imagine how it hurt when we cleaned it and applied the dressing.  
While we were on Savaii we had lunch on a little secluded beach. 
Cheryl Budgett and Susan enjoying lunch on the beach
The owner of the property charged us 10 Tala (about $5.00) for the four of us to eat on his beach.  He brought us a little picnic table and while we were sitting there, he climbed up a coconut tree and cut four coconuts.  When they are just picked they are called NIU (pronounced new).  He cut them open and we drank the coconut water.  It was so good! 
I wasn't hesitating about drinking the NIU - just trying to decide
how to drink it without spilling - it was really full...
They say that coconut water is the purest water you can drink.  We buy niu’s here, but to have one so fresh was a real treat.  That afternoon was something out of the movies – a tropical beach, coconut tree climbers, snorkeling, eating native food and just enjoying the beauties of this beautiful country.  We spent our one-year anniversary at the most beautiful beach resort.  We snorkeled, swam and then had a delicious dinner at the restaurant.  Budgett’s, who we stayed with in Savaii (they teach at Viola – the church school on the island) wanted to take us swimming in another waterfall, but the transmission started acting up on the car and we didn’t want to get stranded at the bottom of a hill on a dirt road – which is where we would have had to go to get to the waterfall.  We visited the Blow-Holes
where a little Samoan man threw coconuts into the holes and when the water came into the hole the coconuts shot several hundred feet in the air. 
Look Closely
See The Coconut...
They are like geysers in Yellowstone, but with ocean water. We have some great memories of that beautiful island.  We swam with sea
turtles and even saw Rainbow Gum Trees. There were three of them growing right next to each other, and as far as they know they are the only ones in Samoa.

Resort where we celebrated our 1 Year in the
Mission Anniversary...

Swimming With the Turtles

Upolu, where the mission headquarters and then temple are located proved to have more to see and do than we had time to experience.  
We visited Sauniatu, where the first church school was built In Samoa.
David O. McKay Fale in Sauniatu
  President David O. McKay said when he visited there that it was the most beautiful place on earth.  The Church owns about 750 acres there.  Besides the school, there is a chapel, a cemetery, and a beautiful fale named for President McKay.  It was damaged during the cyclone in December, but they had just finished rebuilding it a couple of days before we visited.   They also have a CAMP - yes, I was able to experience Girl's Camp in Samoa.
Add caption
There is also a waterfall there – that we swam in.   
Dennis & Susan in Sauniatu Waterfall
What a great experience!  We went to several beaches (Vavau was one) and besides awesome snorkeling and swimming we collected lots of seashells.   We visited the home of Robert Lewis Stephenson one day.  Then we went to O Le Pupu-Pu’e Nations Park Costal Walk. 
Costal Walk
The formations were like Arches National Park, but the arches are made of Lava and in the ocean.  It was beautiful and worth the walk…  Along the walk we saw many trees with strange fruit on them.  We found out that it is the fruit they make Noni Juice out of.
Fruit Noni Juice is made from...
  We swam in Piula Cave Pool – right next to the ocean.   When you swim to the back of the cave it opens up to the surface and the scenery is breath-taking.  Then when you look out into the pool from the back of the cave the color of the water with the sun reflecting on it is incredible.
We visited a place called the Trenches and swam in a caldron where the only access is down a long ladder. 
This was SO AWESOME!!!
When I first saw the ladder I wasn’t sure, but it was worth every step.  I just didn’t look down….   We saw several waterfalls that we didn’t swim in, just enjoyed their beauty.  One place where they demonstrated several Samoan customs had a waterfall that was actually three falls. 
Notice the 3 Waterfalls...

None of the ‘tourist sites’ are owned by the country of Samoa, but are owned by the villages where they are located, and the people earn their living through tourism.  Even the beaches are village owned and so you pay a small fee to use them.   
Cave Pool
Beach Where We Collected Sea Shells and Snorkled
Small Waterfall and Swimming Pond

Cave Pool

We say and did so much in the ten days we were there and came away with so many memories.  But we have to admit, that after 10 days we were ready to get back to Tutuila and our mission duties. 

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