Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thanksgiving and Temple Trip...

November 19th we flew to Apia to attend the temple with Richard & Myra and Henry and Judith and their son Vince.  It was so awesome to be part of their special day. 
Henry Whuillas, Ali Pili, Judith Whullas, Patriarch Pili, Barbara Autele,
Myra and Richard Arcillia
Being in the temple in and of itself is such a great experience, but being their to see families united for eternity is a like the icing on the cake!  The missionary that baptized them was able to attend as well – making it even more special!
The same week-end we spent a day with Budgett’s,  Spencer’s and Gertsch’s at the beach and enjoyed being together for the last time before they all leave to go home.       When they leave we will be the ‘senior’, senior couple in the mission.  Other than President and Sister Leota, we will have been here longer than any other senior couple.  We have said goodbye to 12 other couples, but we were in the MTC with
Budgett's Bidding Farewell to Samoa
the Budgett’s and Spencer’s so there is a special connection.  The Gertsch’s have been here almost 2 years and they were institute teachers in Upolu, so we formed a special bond with them.  They have become very special friends…
We also went to a dinner show with the senior couples in the mission.  It was a great show.  The fire dancing was amazing.  It was good to meet the new couples that have arrived since July – the last time we were at mission headquarters. 
We had such a great Thanksgiving Week-end.  We were invited for dinner at Patriarch Pili’s.  There were over 30 people there.  Most were the Filipino members that have been baptized in
Thanksgiving Day
the last year.  Some of them had never had turkey before.  It was fun to see their reaction to our traditional Thanksgiving menu.  Of course we had Filipino food as well.  They are not too big on desserts, but my pies (Lemon Meringue, Banana Crème, and Chocolate) didn’t last very long.  They seemed to enjoy them more than pumpkin pie – but with that many people, it didn’t take long for all the food to be devoured…
On Friday night we attended an island wide Youth Roadshow.  It was held at the football stadium and there were about 3,000 there.  It was quite A HAPPENING!!!!!  It was like the
Island Wide Roadshow (5 stakes)
celebrations they have when a new temple is dedicated.  Even as long as we have been here, we never cease to be amazed at the musical talent the island people are blessed with.  Even the teen-age boys join in with enthusiasm – they don’t have to be coaxed or bribed into participating.
Saturday morning we attended a Samoan Day celebration at the Mesepa 1st Ward.  Again we were able to witness beautiful dances, Samoan games, and traditional Umu cooking.  The Relief Society was in charge and divided the families into three groups.  Each group was responsible
Samoan Days - Makeke Ward
to present a traditional dance and skit.  They all had a moral and each group had a special ‘princess’ seemed to pull the theme of their message together.  Each group had a different color and the princess wore a dress in the color of the group – the cool thing was the dresses had to be made out of plants and flowers of their color.  The games were competition games between the groups.  One of the games they played was a race to see who could peel Samoan bananas the fastest.  The type of banana they peeled is very large and the skins are tough – so they use a knife to cut them off.  After the bananas were peeled they were baked
Cooking in the Umu
in the Umu as part of the meal we all enjoyed.  This activity started at 5:00 AM and went until about noon.  It rained off and on all morning, but that didn’t stop the activities.  They just played and entertained in the rain…
That afternoon we were invited to a traditional Samoan wedding reception.  The bride and groom and been married several days earlier in the temple.  The bride had 10 bridesmaids and the groom had the same number of groomsmen.  They started out with several dances – signifying different things.  One was
done by the wedding attendants, another by the members of bride’s family, another by the groom’s family, one by the teachers at the school where the bride works, another by leaders of the ward/stake that had influenced them as they were growing up, and of course the last dance with the bride and her dad.  They had a wedding cake that was 15 different cakes on a heart- shaped rack.  After the bride and groom cut the cake the attendants served it to everyone present – that was after they served dinner to all in attendance.   It was quite  the celebration and an honor for us to be invited.

After the wedding we attended a baptism – the first one for one our newest missionaries.  Baptisms are always special, but when it is a ‘first’ one it is even more special.
In between everything, we went to the post office to pick up mail.  The entire van was filled with boxes.  After we separated it and boxed up the packages/boxes to be sent by small plane to the mission office the total weight was over 500 pounds.  Christmas mail for over 200 missionaries can be a challenge!
Today, Monday 12/2/13, we flew back to Apia for a four day Seminary/Institute seminar.  We are looking forward to being taught by the CES directors from New Zealand. 

Before we left we picked a bunch of bananas from one of our banana trees. One of the delights of being here is enjoying the fruit that grows so plentifully.  We should have another pineapple ready to pick in the next couple of weeks.
When we were in Apia on July we ordered this beautiful hand carved nativity from a wood carver.  The FALE that houses the figures is about 18” tall.  The challenge will be to pack it securely so it will not be damaged when we send it home.

Fire Dancer in Dinner/Show
Dinner/show with Senior Missionaries

We are looking forward to spending one more Christmas on this beautiful island, although we will miss being with our family.  The things we have been able to experience on our mission will be forever etched in our hearts.  WE ARE SO LUCKY!!!
The show was incredible...

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