Friday, February 21, 2014

January/February 2014

Wow, we can’t believe that another new year has arrived!!! 
This is just one of the beautiful flowers we see everyday!
As fast as the time is flying by it will soon be time to bid this beautiful island farewell.   We received our release date – April 24th.  We have to admit that it was a SAD DAY…  We have loved our mission so much and we hate to see it come to an end. 
Tutuila Missionaries - December 2013
Although we are so excited to see our family and friends, we are saddened to be leaving behind friends (many who have become like family), because we know we probably will never see them again.  We did promise that when they get an institute building we will come for the dedication…  AND when a temple is built here we will come for that event as well.   This month we have seen our share of sickness and accidents, which took us to the hospital several times a week.  That is a great adventure in and of itself…
Between January 1st and Valentine’s Day, we made 21 trips to the hospital.  
Door going into the ward at the hospital…  Challenges...
Thank goodness none of the trips were for anything serious.  However a tiny scratch here can become infected in a matter of hours, so we don’t take any chances.  So between making trips to get a medical ID card, see a doctor or get a prescription we spent more than our share of time at LBJ (Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital).  These trips just add to the variety of our day…
Institute classes started again on the 13th – our last semester -  and we are enjoying being with the students again.  Dennis is teaching two classes – Old Testament, Part 2, and Doctrine and Covenants, Part 2.  I am teaching Teachings of the Living Prophets.  It is amazing how much you learn when you are the teacher – much more than the students, I am sure… 
We are still holding a Preach My Gospel class in our house on Thursday evenings.  We are combining it with Missionary Preparation so those attending get institute credit for taking the class.  We have so many missionaries being called to English speaking missions that need to hear the material in English, rather than Samoan.  This class is one of the highlights of our week.  I try to have some kind of refreshment to serve at the end of class, and we tease the students that they only come for the food!  But it is so fun to just sit and talk to the students in a casual setting after we finish the lesson.  Most weeks we end up taking several of them home - and it makes for a long evening, but so worth it!  
We are right in the middle of the rainy season, and we haven’t been disappointed…  When Jeff’s family and my Mom were here at New Year's we had rain everyday and were not able to do some of the things we had planned, but since they left the rain we have had makes the rain we had while they were here look like a light summer shower.
This is a picture of a small waterfall right next to the road on the West end of the island – it is usually just a trickle on the side of the mountain.  But when it rains the trickle becomes a mini Niagara Falls..
We are so thankful for the Internet and email.  It gives us a chance to keep up on what is happening with our family and friends.  The other day Alicia wrote to say they had an activity in Primary where the children were asked to draw their favorite thing about the creation.  McKenna drew her family, Ellie drew flowers and Lexie drew steak and chocolate!!!  We love it!!!!  - Chocolate is it’s own food group and we haven’t had a good steak since we got here…  That is one thing we are looking forward to when we come home… Texas Roadhouse here we come…
We also got a picture of our Jacob – he lost his first tooth!!! 
They have had enough snow at their house (in North Carolina) to go sleigh riding and build a snowman!  As much as we love this weather, we have to admit we miss the snow…  However, we may be singing a song of a different tune next year at this time…
We found out that Michael’s family were in St. George at a soccer tournament in mid February.  When we talked to him they had played two games – won one and lost one.  Out of town tournaments are one of the special memories we have as our family grew up.  Dennis has turned the reins of coaching to a new generation, and several of our sons are involved.  Now we have the opportunity to witness our grandchildren participate in sports and activities…  Where did the years go???
Devin's little boy was in his first bike race.  He was so proud of him participation medal.  We are anxious to see him race.
Stephen's Alec is playing for Granger High's basketball team and we understand he is turning into quite the basketball player.  
Bananas growing - purple pod appears
first and bananas form above it.
This is a pineapple growing in our yard
Same bananas - 2 days later
We are so happy that our family is being blessed in our absence.  That is one of the blessing we were promised when we came on our mission, and we have seen evidence of that blessing.

We have been able to attend several baptisms this month. 
Elder Brown and Elder Henrie at a baptism of a 90 year old
woman and her grandson...
One was for a 90-year old woman.  I couldn’t help but think how long she has waited to hear the Gospel.  She just radiated when she came up out of the water.  The Gospel brings such peace and joy, and how grateful we are to be part of it.
Dennis dancing with one of our students
We were able to attend an island wide (5 stake) YSA activity Valentine’s week-end.  Friday night they had a dance (with an awesome finger-food buffet) and Elder Fata, the Area Seventy attended.  He even participated in the dance, and took lots of pictures to share with the area presidency.
Everyone had a great time.  Including our Institute President,
Vavao Sualoa (Jr.)
Saturday night he spoke at a fireside.  He emphasized the necessity for the young adults to find a mate and marry in the temple.  He told them it was not part of God’s plan to have so many young single adults – that His plan was for them to marry and have families!   He said he hoped that when he visits next time that the YSA population will have decreased…   What a blessing to us to have the privilege of spending time with one of the Lord’s servant’s and listening to his counsel.     
We had to move a set of elders this week.  When we got to the house they will be living in there were no curtains on the bedroom or bathroom windows, so we added sewing new drapes to our list of things to do.  That is why
This tree was decorated at Christmas - pretty clever...
we love this mission so much – there is so much variety in our responsibilities – we are never bored…
We ordered garments and missionary materials in November, and are still looking for their arrival.  We usually get our orders in about two weeks.  Investigation found that no tracking numbers had been recorded, and due to a change in their computer program anything sent anywhere in Samoa (American or Western) by default went to 'Samoa'.  So by default our address was changed and no one knows where our orders are.  As a result they shipped the order again.  We are hoping for their arrival by the end of the month.

Chocolate cake does strange things
to you at 9:00 AM
There is a beautiful tree here.  It is called the Tamaligi Tree and it is covered with orange flowers all year.  Sometimes there are more blossoms than at other times, but there are always blossoms on the tree.  I never tire of seeing the flowers and trees on this island.  At institute this week we decided to have an “Un-birthday Party” between classes.  Of course the camera came out and we took some great pictures…

 We have breadfruit trees growing in our yard.  The green fruit resembles a potato - kind of…  They bake or boil it, and even fry it.  One of our favorite ways to eat it is like fried potatoes cut up with onions and mushrooms.  They also make breadfruit chips - like potato chips.  They are good…. 
I think he needs a ladder...
Just move the 'little leaf' out of the way...

started this post with “I can’t believe…" and that is how I will end.  I can’t believe that February is almost over…
Quality time after a baptism - with our special friend - Richard  Arcillia
We love these people so much!!!!

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