Friday, August 12, 2016

It seems that each new day brings a list of new things that we hadn't planned on.  So I have resorted to making a list of things I want to remember and then working on that list as time permits.  The problem is the list keeps growing and time to share keeps decreasing.  I just have to remind myself that a little each day is better than nothing.  
SAD DAY JUST WEEKS INTO OUR MISSION...With all of the incredible things that we are experiencing, and all the wonderful things being here brings, life has a habit of throwing in some unexpected sadness.  Just a few weeks after our arrival, we received news that our beautiful grand-daughter, Ashley Finlinson was in a coma.  We determined that one of us had to return to Utah to be with our son Todd during this crisis.  Dennis stayed to carry on the responsibilities we had here and I flew home for the funeral.  It was wonderful to see our family again, but so sad because of the circumstances that took me home.  I am so thankful for my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation - because I know that I will see Ashley again and that she is happy, and free from the challenges of life that she faced.  Heavenly Father brought peace to our hearts and I felt his love for me and our family.  I was asked to be the speaker at the funeral.  That was a challenge, but it was such an honor to be asked.  
SPENDING ONE ON ONE TIME WITH MOM...While I was there, my Mom came and spent several nights with me.  It was so fun to have her all to myself.  We sat up nights and talked and giggled like two teenage girls.  My sisters were all out of town...  
But while I was there, she ended up on the hospital with a gall bladder attack.  I was so glad I was there and able to be with her in the hospital.  One night there was a knock at the door, and three of our adopted daughters from Samoa (who have since moved to Utah) came to visit.   They brought the most beautiful flowers...
WEDDING OF TWO OF OUR MISSIONARIES...  In April we went to Apia to meet with the other senior missionaries in a conference.  As we were waiting at the airport to go through customs I heard a voice say, "It is them - that is Elder and Sister Jordan..."  I turned around and saw two of our sister missionaries who we served with before.  Sister Satele and Sister Te'o.  Wow, it was so great to see them!  What are the chances that we would run into them...  Anyway, we found out that Sister Wilma Te'o was getting married the next day in the temple to another of our missionaries, Elder Josiah Sianava.  We were able to attend their wedding and the reception and share their special day with them. 
WEATHER IS SO UNPREDICTABLE...  When we first got here, the island had been several weeks without significant rain.  The golf course was brown - not the usual lush green.  Not only were they watering the plants around the government buildings, they even had them covered to protect them from the direct sunlight.  Then it started to rain and it seemed like it would never stop.  Then we got word that Cyclone Amos was headed our way.  We made the required preparations to make sure we had adequate food and water for the missionaries just in case we needed it.  As people prepared, buying food, water, boarding up windows, etc. the same message was shared by everyone.  They all expressed the thought that they were preparing, but that God would protect them and the island.  That is exactly what happened.  It was predicted that the eye of the storm would pass right over us, but winds shifted and we only felt the outer-bands.  We did lose a couple of banana trees and there was a lot of debris strewn around.  Within hours of the storm, the people of this island were out cleaning up and by the next day nearly all the evidence of the storm had been cleared away.  There were a lot of prayers heaven sent - and those prayers were answered.  These people have such great faith - no matter what religion - they truly believe in the love and tender mercies of our Savior.  So we went from DRY conditions to getting over 36" of rain in a month.

LOST GLASSES... One day while delivering supplies to missionaries on the far side of the island, Dennis threw a bag of garbage into a dumpster.  When we got home he realized that his glasses were not on the dashboard of the car.  He said he remembered feeling something brush his leg when he got out of the car to throw away the garbage.  That dumpster was over an hour away, and it was getting dark...  We got back in the car and drove back, with slim hope that we would be able to find his glasses.  We were not even sure which dumpster we had stopped at...  By the time we got back it was dark..  He got out of the car and started looking on the ground.  A man was walking by and asked what we were doing.  Dennis told him he had lost his glasses and thought they may have fallen out of the car by the dumpster.  The man told us to wait while he walked into his house and came back with the glasses - unscratched and in perfect condition.  His son found them and picked them up.  Perfect timing?  WE DON'T THINK SO... What were the chances that the man would be walking past at the same time we stopped at the dumpster?  If we hadn't run into him, we would have just considered the glasses gone.  To walk to a house off the road and ask if anyone had found a pair of glasses just wouldn't have happened.  Prayers were answered that day.  The Lord truly is mindful of each of us.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Stroll down memory lane....

So may things have happened in the last 7 months that I hardly know where to begin...

BAPTISM... The first week we were here there was a father baptised.  It was really special because the rest of the family had been baptised and had prayed to many years that their dad would accept the Gospel and then they could be sealed together as a family.  The spirit was so strong at the baptism, and the looks on the faces of the family is something I will never forget - PURE JOY...

BABY BLESSING... One the first Sunday we were in Tutuila we decided to attend sacrament in one of the Makeke Wards. Makeke is a Tongan village and we love visiting there.  A beautiful Samoan baby was blessed during the meeting, and I realised that the mother was one of our former students.  It was so great to meet her husband and share this special day with them.

FOOD TO MANU'A... There are two SMALL islands about 40 miles south-east of Tutuila, and there are now 10 missionaries serving there.  One of our responsibilities is sending them food each month.  There is a small store there, but the inventory is very limited and expensive.   There is a boat that goes to the islands at least once a week, but not too long after we arrived the boat was damaged and the only way food was getting there was by plane, and that is really expensive.  We had no choice but to use the plane - but everyone was trying to get food to their families so the planes filled up fast.  About three weeks into this situation, they stopped sending freight - you had to be a paying passenger in order to take food.  So many were buying round trip tickets - flying over dropping off the food and then coming back on the same plane, that there was no room for extras.  The planes are so small that everything is done by weight.  They weigh you when you get on the plane, and when the weight limit has been reached no one or nothing else goes.  We prayed everyday that somehow we would be able to get them food.  We were sending canned tuna and granola bars in very small quantities in order to meet the weight restrictions.  The missionaries never complained - every time we talked to them they were so happy and up-beat.  However, they must have emailed their parents that they were hungry, because boxes of food started coming in the mail for them.  Our extra bedroom was full of boxes of food - what the mission had bought to send and boxes from parents.  They had money, but there was nothing to buy in the store.  It was a scary time for us.  About 5 weeks with no boat going one of the elders confided that he was hungry.  Dennis asked him what he had for breakfast and he said a banana.  How about lunch - a banana.  And dinner?  Two bananas!  Our hearts literally broke!  In tears we pleaded with the Lord that a way would be found to get them food.   We witnessed a MIRACLE the next day...  We were told the boat wouldn't be ready for a least a couple of weeks, but we got word that it was sea worthy and ready to sail.  We were able to get food and supplies on the boat - even though they said no personal items could be shipped for at least a week.  They were only taking commercial items.  When we saw those boxes on the boat and knew they were on their way we both shed tears of relief and gratitude.
The missionaries said when the boxes arrived, they spread them all out and opened them together...  They said it was just like Christmas.  Tears of happiness and gratitude were shed on both sides.  As an added blessing, there have been several baptisms on these two islands.  The Church has not had a presence there in over 5 years - so when missionaries were put there in December it was like starting all over.  Most of the members that were there had moved to other islands.

MISSIONARIES IN VATIA AND AFONO... The village of Vatia is over the mountain on the other side of the island that is so beautiful.  The ward there is small - but the spirit is incredible.  There has not been a baptism in the ward for several years - but we were able to attend the baptism for a very special young woman.  A few weeks later her children that were old enough were also baptised.  And the end of July missionaries were assigned to the ward and a small branch (Afono).  Until then the zone leaders worked with the two units - it is such a blessing to them to have 'their own' missionaries living and serving their two villages.

FED THE HUNGRY... Many times we have been given food after an activity, and wondered what we were going to do with it.  They are so generous and sometimes we can't eat it all before it spoils.  One night we found ourselves in that situation and were prompted to call a family to see if they could use the food.  The father shared that they were at that moment in the car on the way to the store to see what they could buy with the meager amount of money they had.  They shared with us that they had absolutely no food in their house.  He has just lost his job...  Within 2 minutes they were at our house.  The food we gave them was enough to feed the family for several meals.  They were so appreciative - shedding tears of joy as they loaded it into their car.  Great feeling...

TRIPS TO THE HOSPITAL...  Things haven't changed as far as medical needs since we were here before.  We have had missionaries seen for strep throat, removal of wisdom teeth, sprained ankles, mosquito diseases, ear infections, skin diseases (one elder had infected sores all over his lower legs from shaving)!!!  Seems to be the latest thing for Samoans...  We had to tell the elders - "no shaving your legs..." One elder got a piece of metal in his eye and had to have it surgically removed.  We were just thankful that an eye surgeon is now on island.

ZONE MEETING ON THE LAWN IN FRONT OF PARADISE CHICKEN... One night, after zone meeting the president decided the missionaries had to be fed.  It was late and finding someplace that could serve 30 people that time of night was a challenge.  He ordered chicken and the fixings for everyone, but there was no space in the dining room.  So we all sat on the lawn in front of the store and finished the meeting.  The missionaries shared stories of some of their successes that day and even with cars driving by (can't say whizzing by - because the maximum speed limit is 25 MPH), it was a very spiritual meeting.

MEETING OLD FRIENDS...  Even though we have been here several months, we still run into people we met when we were here before that didn't realise we were back.  We are greeted with open arms, hugs and kisses and comments about how great it is that we are back...  Seeing the surprised look on their faces when they recognise us is so much fun...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Original Post that I thought was lost in cyber-space...

Samoa Apia Mission Memories - January 2016

NOTE:  This is my original entry of June 26, 2016 - that I thought I had lost when I went back to add to it...  So some of the information is duplicated...  DUH!!!!!

It is amazing that we have been back in American Samoa serving for almost 6 months.  We can't believe how fast the time seems to be going.  As we look back on events that have transpired since our arrival, we are awed and humbled at how much we have been blessed.
We spent five awesome days in the MTC in Provo, Utah.  The second time there was just as amazing as the first time.  We met many new friends and had some incredible experiences while we were there.   This is a picture of us in the MTC with the missionaries that flew to Samoa the same time as us.
We flew from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles on Monday, January 11 and arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on the 13th early in the morning.  The flight was approximately 13 hours.  Because we crossed the international date line, we didn't have a Tuesday.  We left Auckland and arrived in Apia, Samoa in the early evening.
We met our mission president and his wife, President and Sister Hannemann, as well as several of the other senior couples serving in the mission.  Elder and Sister Ellsworth, the mission office couple, Elder and Sister McBride, in charge of housing, and Elder and Sister Gillette working at the school.  They are all so delightful - more new friends.
When Dennis mentioned that it was my birthday, they said they would have a birthday cake for me at our dinner meeting the next night.  We met with President Hannemann and Sister Hahnemann Thursday morning to get better acquainted, and President Hahnemann, knowing it was our second time here, thought it would be fun to have lunch - with traditional Samoan food in the park.  It tasted so good, but both of us got sick and couldn't attend the welcome dinner planned for us that night - no birthday cake for me...  We went swimming on Friday with some of the other seniors.  It was really great to feel the warm Samoan waters between our toes again.  It was raining, so we didn't do any snorkelling.
We flew to Tutuila, the name of the largest island in American Samoa, on Sunday - after attending church (7:30 block) arriving on Saturday - crossing the international date line again, so we had no Tuesday, two Saturday's and two Sunday's that week. -  The Schaefermeyer's met us at the airport.  They are the couple that were doing missionary support until we arrived.  We bonded right away - more new friends...
We spent several days with them - visiting and meeting the missionaries and learning where they all lived.  Some of the places they lived were the same, but some were new - and since there are no addresses on the island, we had to learn landmarks to know where to find them.
Monday morning we met with Sonny Aiono, Seminary and Institute director for American Samoa.  It was so great to see him again.  He gave us our class schedule for the semester and we prepared to start teaching the next day.
We taught 4 classes - twice a week for each.  Doctrine and Covenants, Part 2, Book of Mormon, Part 2, Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel, and Foundations of the Restoration.
Needless to say, we hit the ground with our feet running!  We took this picture during one of our classes.  We love our students...

Because one third of our mission is over, and this is my first post, there are lots of memories to share.


When we returned home from our mission to Samoa in May 2014, we never dreamed that we would have the opportunity to return - especially to serve another mission.  We were saddened to leave many wonderful friends - who had become like family to us.  However, we got an unexpected email from mission president in March 2015 (just 10 months after our return) asking if we would consider returning.  To make a long story short, we were delighted, but hesitant at the same time.  There were several issues that had to be worked out before we could commit, but, while on a pioneer trek at Martin's Cove with our youth, we both received confirmation that returning to serve another mission was the will of our Heavenly Father.  So, we proceeded to fill out mission papers and prepare for our return.  Although it was really hard to leave family again, we knew it was what we had to do.  We entered the MTC in Provo, Utah for a week of training and instruction.
The elders and sisters in our district were such great examples to us.  At the end of the week, we all parted to different parts of the world, anxious to serve in whatever capacity was needed.  We left Salt Lake on January 11 and arrived in Apia, Samoa 23 hours later.  But because we had crossed the International Date Line, so it was now the 13h - my birthday.  They had a welcome dinner for us the next evening, with a birthday cake to celebrate...  However, we were both sick and couldn't leave the bathroom - so glad there were two in the house we were staying in...  So we missed the celebration...  It was great to spend a couple of day in Apia before flying to Tutuila (American Samoa) to begin our journey.  We arrived on Saturday, and we were to start teaching institute the following Tuesday.  Our class schedule   Meeting the missionaries that were now serving on Tutuila was such  treat.  They welcomed us with open arms and in many ways it felt like we had never left.  It was so fun to watch peoples reaction when they saw us and realized that we had returned.  When we were here before, we saw 26 of our students leave for their missions.  As they each left we thought we would probably never see them again.  Now we had the blessing of seeing them return...  We taught four classes - twice a week (Monday - Thursday).  
We taught two new classes that have just been added - Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel, and Foundations of the Restoration, as well as Book of Mormon- Part 2 and Doctrine and Covenants - Part 2.  The RM's started a new club - Endure to the End, and it is fun to be part of that great group.  

It is now the 2nd of August and we have been so busy that I haven't had a chance to do anything with our blog.  We can't believe that we are 7 months into our mission already.  I started a post several times and when I attempted to post it, the information was lost.  I will end this post and the next one will be a summary of the last 7 months.  It has been quite a ride...  We miss everyone at home so much, but are finding joy in being part of this mission again.