Friday, July 31, 2015

Take a Ride with Us Around Savai'i

For any who are hoping to come visit, here is a preview of Savai'i, the big island of the three Samoas. For those who are not planning a trip, like Marc and Brittney and Curt and Melanee (new babies) here is a quick preview of what is on this island.

The villages are located around a perimeter road, the interior of the island is mountains and old volcanoes.  Most of the big banana and coconut plantations are located on the interior of the island.  If you just drove straight at the speed limit, it would take about 6 hours to drive around the entire island.  Of course, you wouldn't really see much more than villages, fales, ocean views, and people.  Savai'i (pronounced like Hawaii with a 'v' instead of the 'w').

There are 6 stakes and 30 plus ward and branch buildings on this island.  Surprisingly, there is internet access to all but one or two buildings.  We found that each clerk's office has a resident gecko.  That's a little background, now for the pictures you have been waiting for.

This is a typical way for the men and women to carry their coconuts.  They pull some of the fibers of the husks from the coconuts and tie them together.

Over here, our houseplants grow all over the outside.  We see yards like this all over both islands.  This one was particularly attractive with the fale nestled among the flowers, leaves, trees and grass. We hadn't seen the white flowers anywhere else.

For the grandkids and those who have never seen where bananas come from, here's a banana tree.  There are many kinds of bananas, these are long ones that they boil and they taste like cardboard.  We love to eat the short ones.  The large purple blossom you can see at the bottom of the banana bunch is edible, also.  We understand that you slice it and it contains little tiny, tiny banana buds and you fry it.  At the left is a taro garden.  The root is the edible part that they harvest and cook.  It has no flavor and is used like we use potatoes.  However, I have not found enough gravy or butter to make it taste like anything other than paste.  The young taro leaves are used to make pulasami.  They take a taro leaf, pour coconut milk into it and then wrap it up into a ball, then taking another taro leaf, they wrap that around the first leaf and then bake it with other food buried under a pile of leaves on hot rocks.

This is a coconut drying factory.  The fale is built with a stone basement where they burn coconut shells to warm the three foot layer of coconuts on the top.  They break the coconuts in half and drain the coconut milk, then they leave the halves in this open area (see second picture) with the fire underneath to dry.  When the coconut meat is dry, they cut it out and put it into the white bags.  They send the white bags to a factory that squeezes out the coconut oil.

Coconuts broken in half and awaiting two days of drying. Don't worry about sanitation, the flies all wash before landing in the coconuts and the dirt has been sterilized.

You leave the coconut factory and start around the island and see many, many areas like this one.  The volcanic lava rock makes a ledge and the water comes in and crashes against it.  A beautiful site.

Our First Visit Off The Island

On Sunday afternoon, we drove our car onto the ferry for the one hour boat ride to Savai'i (the big island).  I rather enjoyed the ride because I was able to get out of the car before it was fully parked.  Theron could not get out, so he spent the ride in the belly of the boat sitting in the car. We were on a quest to visit every chapel, assess the technology and update the older firewalls.  We scheduled to stay in a "guest house" at the Vaiola School Campus.  The Church sponsors two schools in Samoa - one in Pesega, where we live and one on Savai'i, Vaiola.  Vaiola has about 400 students and about 100 of these students live on the campus.  Some of these students are from Vanauatu, Tonga and other islands.  There are about 50 girls and 50 boys that comprise this number.  There is a senior missionary couple who teach BYU Hawaii courses to the teachers and participate in the activities of the campus.  The current couple is Elder Nelson and Sister Joanne Stonehocker from Lethbridge, Canada.  They will be leaving in about 5 weeks and the next couple is not scheduled to come until November.

We were told not to expect much at the guest house, however, our low expectations were not quite low enough.  We were greeted by several geckos running around the walls.  Theron quickly found the holes in the window screens and chased as many out through the holes as would go and then plugged the holes and killed the rest.  There were two bedrooms and one bed, the bed sheet was covered with flying ants so out came the Mortein (bug spray, we need this type in the states) and the sheet was replaced with some we had brought with us along with pillows, towels, utensils, food, etc.  We know how to go camping.  There was no hot water, so Theron determined that the pipes needed to be primed (of course this was Monday morning when we went to take a shower) BURR!  cold water shower.  Now don't start thinking shower with nice door, clean tile, and shower head -- nope, this was spider infested tile and a pipe out the wall.  We didn't bring a broom, so we walked around with our shoes on.  My estimate is that this typical of many Samoan homes and much better than some I've seen.  We survived and completed our work, but after one week of living here we voted ourselves back to our own island.

These pictures are the view of Vaiola Campus from the 270 steps that lead up to the Vaiola letters on the hill side.
Starting up the stairs.

A selfie at the top

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Our First Trip Off the Island

When you live on an island, you get to know all the areas and places.  We are very comfortable with our knowledge of Upolu and now it was time to discover other lands.  We left the large island and traveled to a smaller island, Manono.  Manono is very much a part of Samoa's life, it was from this island that the great warriors of the 1600-1800s came.  When the Germans occupied Upolu, the people living on Manono would not obey the German laws.  Today, this is a beautiful island with about 2000 people living there, no cars, no roads, no dogs and all the pigs must be kept in pens.  There is a grass, dirt, rock, and sand, path that goes all around the island and it takes about 3 hours to walk around Manono.

We traveled across in small outboard motor boats with a limit of 10 people per boat.  We went with Tom and Katryna Youd and Kat's two sisters and an uncle and some of their children.  Great company and great experience because the adults spoke Samoan.

On the way over, Theron held the fishing line and did get a pretty big one close to the boat before it excaped.  Collin, eat your heart out, this is great fishing equipment.

When we landed, a woman with her wheelbarrow cafe is waiting with fried chicken, boiled bananas and nius (coconuts).  The older lady standing with her hand out is literally waiting for a handout.  We bought her a piece of chicken and boiled banana.

Starting our walk, we passed this long boat and then a little further a woman was drying leaves to weave into mats.  We were able to watch her do her weaving.  These mats are incredible.  You see the drying leaves out in most villages.

As late afternoon approached, the tide went out, so the boats couldn't land where they dropped us off; word was sent around the island (don't know how, there is no communication) that they would come over to the far side and pick us up at the old wharf.  That they did, what service.

We stopped at one of the beaches and a fellow was just bringing in his boat from fishing.  The kids were fascinated with the puffer, the blue fish and several other fish in his basket.  Theron was fascinated by the boat, an out-rigger.  This was a hand hollowed log boat in the Samoan style.  For a few tala, I took a ride and Theron got to take the boat.  Cross that off the bucket list!!  How fun is that.

This week, we are leaving the island again.  We will be in Savai'i all week!  Can't wait.  We are staying at Viaola, the LDS school there.  There are no amenities in the guest house except a bed and a bathroom, so our first Samoan camping trip.  We are leaving in about an hour to catch the ferry over.  Wait for further Samoa adventures to be posted next week.

Welcome back Brittney and kids from Las Vegas; have fun Adrian, family and Curt boating on Pineview.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Survivor Beach

Saturdays are beach day.  This day we went back to 'clam beach' - Savaia - and snorkeled out to see the large clams.  Tom Youd and his wife, Katrina, and their two children are here for a family reunion.  Kat grew up in Apia and had never been to this beach, so we introduced her to another part of her home island.  Theron and Tom worked togetheryears ago at BSD.

After snorkeling here, Youd's were traveling over to Survivor Beach (the place where they filmed Survivor Samoa), so we followed along. The Keil Family invited us to eat with them, it was fun to see this big family and how welcoming they are to share their breadfruit, barbecued chicken, pork, and cakes.
This beach is located on the southwest end of the island, over a mountain and down into a valley.  They are making it into a resort area.  Not a bad place to spend 40 days, it's surprising that just a few miles over the hill is a really nice village.  The "survivors" were not far from civilization.

 We are standing on Survivor Beach - are we famous yet?

On the drive, we got to see a long boat practice.  Click on this closer and you can see the individual men who are rowing.  These boats are amazing.

Now, we can truly say we have driven around the entire island.  Now to explore all the interior roads.

Earlier in the week, we visited with Elder and Sister Jackson's daughter and family, the Manwells recently from Georgia.  They had worked with our beloved Tracy Meddow from Jamaica when she was there on her mission.  It was so fun to talk about their experiences with Tracy on her mission and our experience seeing her married.  It is amazing to us how many people we meet on a weekly basis who we have an association with people we know.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Missionaries - 7 Re-activations This Week

We were driving around the island doing our work this week and I asked Theron how to write home about the totally exciting work that we do - watching internet lights come up on a firewall.  He always has a great perspective - we will write and tell them we re-activated 7 this week.  That should impress the bishop and the ward mission leader.  However we only reactivate internet firewalls.

Most of our 130 firewalls can be updated remotely, however, there are 30 of them that are an older model that have to have the laying of of hands, so we have to go on-site, talk with the GSC (global service center), start and re-start the firewall, and watch the resident geiko walk in and out of the internet cabinet.  Every clerk office has a resident geiko and they reside in that cabinet.

So, here is a little trip around the island so you can see some of the Church's buildings as this is where we spend a lot of our time.
 If you look close at the end of this road, through the banana field, there is a chapel.

 Theron is walking on the sea wall of the Falepuna Branch.  The picture below is of the open air fale chapel for this branch with a beautiful view of the ocean.  In the fourth picture I am standing by the church bell. You probably didn't know that we use bells to call everyone to church did you? The bell is an old oxygen tank.  All the villages have a gong to ring every night about 6:30 to call the village to prayer.

 Look closely in the background and you will see Luatuanuu's Chapel waterfall. Every chapel should have its own waterfall behind the basketball court.

 See the white dot in the middle, that's the Nu'umanu Stake Center.  In front of this chapel is a beach and a little island you can walk out to at low tide or swim to at high tide.  It's one of our very favorite beaches on the island.

This is the road to the Siumu Chapel right after a big rainstorm -- all the large pot holes are full and there are always pigs roaming around.  In fact, they have to keep the church gate closed or the pigs go in and rut up the grass.  In Jamaica it was goats, in Samoa it's pigs.

Go Manu Samoa! All Blacks 25 Manu 16

This week was the rugby game of the decade in Samoa.  The New Zealand All Blacks and Manu Samoa played in Samoa.  Everyone on the island was into this game. They decorated like these pictures show for miles and miles from the airport to Apia and then clear out to the east end of the island.  The game was on Wednesday and all the businesses closed at noon.  As we were driving from fixing a firewall on the west side of the island, the streets were empty and all the taxi stands were crowded with taxi drivers gathered around a small TV; large family gatherings could be seen at the fales and great crowds gathered downtown to watch the game on a large screen.

Yep, these are gas pumps wrapped in coconut fronds.  We're sure its not dangerous.

Along this section, they took coconuts and put them in piles that looked like rugby balls and painted them black with silver stitches and across the street were blue and white painted coconuts to look like rugby balls.

The tickets at the stadium were sold out a long, long time ago.  It was such fun to see how everyone was into this event.  Manu lost 25-16, but one player made a goal score - don't know what it is called and has become the national hero.  Rugby is not for the faint of heart and is really wild.

We watched the game in our little house eating pizza.

Way to go Manu Samoa!!

The Lord's Technologies

Theron is so creative when he thinks about how to present things in our training.  Me, I hit them straight on and say, here it is, here is how it should be done and get on with it.  Glad I have Theron to mellow me out and teach me and everyone else a better and more fun way.

Have you ever thought about the Lord's technologies?  We always think of technology in latter days, but from the beginning of time the Lord has used technology to further his work.  How about the Brother of Jared when the Lord touched 16 stones and made light - the first light bulbs.  Think of Lehi waking one morning and seeing the Liahona - a GPS, compass, and instant messenger.  What about the interpreters (two stones in silver bows) that Joseph Smith used - Google translate.

My challenge to our kids as they read the Book of Mormon or other scriptures, see if you can find other references to technologies that Lord provided to us.

We know that as Brigham Young said, "Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God . . . We should take advantage of all these great discoveries." (Discourses of Brigham Young)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Family Update

Our mission pictures are getting to be a lot of the same things.  Really, how many beaches, coconut palms, and roadside fales can you take on a small island.  Besides, we spend much of our day in our office in the Service Center.  We walk the large Church compound and attend the Temple once each week.  Last week we did a sealing session with our ward and this week we attended a Samoan session (it's always fun to attend these and their times are earlier than English).  So, we are sharing the many things that are happening in the family.  Family back home is definitely a big part of our mission.

This week, I have been having lots of sorrow about not being home to help Curt and Melanee.  I know that Adrian, Crystal and our ward will help, but I will be sad not to be able to hold these little babies as babies.  I figure they will be a year old when we get home, which will mean they might be walking or at least crawling.  For us, this is a fun age!!!  and we look forward to spending time watching them.

We received our first pictures of the babies this week and want to add these to this journal.  They are labeled Baby AAA (a girl), Baby BBB (a boy), and Baby CCC (a girl).  They look so cute with small button noses and all their toes and fingers.

Curt shared this picture with us of Melanee and Brittney comparing belly sizes.

Adrian and Todd just barely learned about the babies because they were ma and pa on trek with their stake.  So cute, pulling their handcart.  Cameron and Taylor were left behind staying with cousins.

We hear it has been very hot there and have seen lots of pictures of Mason, Ali and Tyce playing at the water park.  Taylor is getting is buzz for the summer.  Right now he's Mr. Arrowhead!  Cute.

Ali is enjoying her pedicure foot massage and Tyce is learning that he can ask to have his diaper changed.  It's close to potty training time when they go to get their own diaper and supplies for you.

My sister Lisa just had her back surgery this week and she is doing well.  Linda is up there this week taking care of her and then she's under the care of Heather, Thomas and Christian for at least 4-6 months.  The next back surgery will be Linda.  In case you didn't remember, we all three of the same back problem.  Seems like it runs in the family.  In my case, I'm sooooooo glad to have had the operation and that it corrected the problem.  I can walk, sit, think and live now.  So grateful for modern medicine.

Theron's been under the weather this week with a little stomach ache and accompanying symptoms.  We don't relish the prospect of going to a doctor here, so I pray he gets better.  

Today is the 4th of July so the senior couples got together and watched the movie National Treasure and eat apple pie.  This coming week is the BIG rugby game as the All Blacks are coming to play Samoa.  I don't think it will mater which team wins as they are pretty much all Samoans.  We drove out to the West end of the island to take one of the ICS guys out to the ferry to Savaii and the miles of road to the airport were all decorated to welcome the all blacks.  There is literally miles and miles of the triangle flags strung on poles they have put in to support them.  Quite a few people have stacked coconuts and painted them to look like rugby balls.  Some are all black with silver painted lacing, Some are gold, or white or blue.  One family put up giant cut-out pictures of the players in what looked to us like a re-purposed manger scene.

Well, that's the news on the home front and the mission front.  Love and Kisses to all our family and friends.  Soifua until next week or the next big happening.