Monday, September 21, 2015

Pago Weekly Review - Week of September 15

Just to let you know that the Samoa Mission Mail Service is alive and well.  We had a lot mail coming and going this week.  The US mail and packages come by airplane on Fridays and are ready for pickup on Monday. It's great, we walk in to the package retrieval area and they know us and our box number; the canine unit (even though they have no dogs) and customs officials wave us through; we feel so taken care of.  We bring these packages home and put four flat rate boxes into a larger box and pack things around the edges to make it ready to ship on the plane to Apia.  This past week, we sent 6 large boxes (24 flat rate boxes and other assorted things) to Apia.  We also received 7 large boxes from Apia that we unpack and after entering all of the information in the USPS web site, printout and put US postage on them to ship to the US and other places around the world.  Then we travel back to the Post Office and give them to the postal workers for shipment.

Taking care of the mail and visiting each missionary companionship on Tuesday (West Zone) and Wednesday (East Zone) takes up a big part of our days and weeks.

This week we had a tsunami watch created from the earthquake in Chile, so we were on the phone to elders who live by the water and getting them prepared.  Nothing happened except for some high surfs mostly caused by the winds from a storm.  The surfs came in at low tide, so they were pretty benign.

In Apia, the new mission president and his wife arrived - President Arthur Hannemann from Hawaii.  He served a mission in Samoa and is now back as the leader.  The Saunders left on Saturday, Apia time.  President Saunders 65th birthday was on Saturday and we understand the senior couples gave him a little party.  When he arrived here, it was Friday, so he had a second birthday on the flight home, Thus, he is now 66 and has served three years as mission president during his month in Apia.   That was the sign we made to welcome him at the airport - a little fuzzy math.  Some days it gets crazy trying to decide which day it is in which island.  We don't work on Sunday which is Apia's Monday and we work on Friday which is Apia's Saturday so really we only work three days out of the week??

We were able to pick the Saunders up from the airport, take them to dinner at a nice restaurant along with Ropeti Lesa (mission president counselor and supervisor of the PBO office here) and his wife.  They are the best and will be missed.

On Tuesday we had a mission miracle - President Saunders called us and asked us to go and visit Elder Vaai to tell him in person that his grandmother had died.  Then he would follow up with a call and tell him the details.  We were visiting missionaries and I took the call while standing outside with the wind blowing.  A couple of hours later, we drive to the far side west side of the island, find Elder Vaai and his companion. We got him and his companion in our van to tell him the news.  He says his grandmother had been on dialysis for several years and was quite frail.  He took the news very well.  We called the President and told him we had Elder Vaai with us so he could talk with him.  The president said he was in a meeting and that he would call him in a few minutes.  We then delivered the Elders to their next appointment.  Well, about half an hour later the President phones us and asks if we want to hear a funny story -  it wasn't Elder Vaai's grandmother, but his companion Elder Kenae's grandmother that died.  Now, Vaai is pronounced - va eye (Elder on the left); Kenae is pronounced - cun eye (Elder on the right).  Don't give a senior palangi couple a sensitive assignment.  From now on, we ask for a spelling.  We called Elder Vaai and express what a miracle it was that his grandmother was alive!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mason - Age 7 - Happy Birthday

September 9, 2015, was Mason's seventh birthday!!  Wow, how fast he is growing up.  He is in first grade now and is quite the little gentleman and helper.  What a wonderful grandson.

We love his imagination - playing super heros, inventing new things with his Legos and helping his mother and father around the house.  Most of all, we love his gentle ways and he is getting quite shy talking to us on the telephone.  Guess he is more of a face-to-face communicator.

This is the first day of First Grade.  Way to go, learn lots.

Happy Birthday Mason!!
With Love
Grandma and Grandpa Schaefermeyer
serving in Samoa.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blunt's Point

Blunt's point is a WWII naval fortification consisting of one large gun located very strategically on a hill above the entry point of the harbor at Pago Pago.  The location of this weapon is not visible from the road so we had to locate it on the map and hike up the mountain to it.  However, there are a lot of reminders of the fortification of the island in the form of what I've always called Pill Boxes that are quite visible.  These are round concrete bunkers with a narrow gun slot around the top that sit right on the edge of the beach and appear to be located withing sight of each other.  We haven't taken photos of one but will post some later on.  

Shanna kind of reminds me of the front gun sight on a hunting rifle.

 The view from the top was beautiful even though the day was overcast.  We chose the day based on the temperature, which was great for hiking but not the best for taking photos.  We would recommend seeing it in person if you're not impressed with the photos.

This is Flowerpot Island where we went snorkeling last week.  Here you can see how the island is surrounded by a coral reef so the waves break away from the shore which provides great snorkeling at high tide.  Experience has shown that snorkeling at low tide may result in coral in your foot!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pago Weekly Review - September 8-14 - Transfers

Monday morning at 6:45 a.m. we were setting out English muffins and bagels for the missionaries who were leaving this morning for Apia.  They were either going home or being transferred to another area.  Here at the airport, you must be checked in one hour before the plane leaves.  They were leaving at 8:30 a.m.  So, first time we have done this, turn out onto the main road (there is only one main road on the island) and traffic is backed up almost from our house to the turn for the airport.  Slow, slow, slow.  We try the cutoff traveling down an unfinished road for about half a mile and then hit some pavement.  The speed limit is 25 mph, so you can't hurry very fast.  Needless to say, the two elders with us did not get on their flight.  They were assigned standby two hours later.  You don't leave the airport because of the one hour rule, so we sit around the airport waiting for the next flight.  We get four of the ten elders onto the first plane, two on the 10:30 plane and two on the 11:30 plane (which was their flight anyway).  The two trainers who were just going to Apia to pick up their new companions, didn't make a flight at all.

Elder Forsythe, who was going home, got on the second plane and we were told later that he didn't even have a ticket.  We had to purchase this the next day.  How's that for running an airline?

We received elders Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; a total of seven new elders.  The new elders are:
Elder Daley (from Tooele, a brand new elder from the MTC).  He is with Elder Harn his trainer.

Elder Keller and Daley just arriving in Pago.
Elder Keller (a transfer from Upolu who is about 6'10")
Elder Manumaleuga (a seasoned elder from Apia sent to replace a zone leader who was changed to a trainer assignment)
Elder Speakman (from Idaho via the MTC)
Elder Reid (from American Fork via the MTC)
Elders Erickson (trainer), Speakman, Reid, Bybee (trainer)

Elder Lamaroux - right (from Idaho, a trainer who has only been out 4 months, we met him in the MTC)
Elder Larson - left (from Idaho via the MTC) - His is a great story.  He get motion sickness very easily and the small plane ride from Apia to Pago was very rough.  He got sick and the fellow behind him kept handing him barf bags and patting his back.  When we met them, the Samoan fellow who had been behind him came up and asked, "How you feeling Kolipoki."  It was so cute.  Well, he was green all day.  We finally got him and Lamaroux to their home on the far west end of the island.  This is an area they whitewashed so they are both new to the area.  It gives us something to do, to keep in contact with them.

Wednesday evening it was taking Larson and Lamaroux to the west side and then taking some supplies to another set of elders who live on the far east side.  It was a drive of extremes going from side to side of the island.  It was late when we finally arrived home.  We also missed driving through areas that they close for half and hour starting at 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for prayer time in most villages.  Really don't know how we missed that one.

In addition to getting elders settled, we have been imaging new computers for the PBO office and have had a steep learning curve.  We got it done along with imaging and installing two new computers at the S&I offices.  We have also met with two stake presidents and are finding ways to get our training materials printed.  Needless to say, it's been a busy, busy week and it went by so fast.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pago Weekly Review - September 5, 2015

This blog post starts a new chapter in our Samoan Mission, I am calling it the Pago Weekly Review.  We will write about our missionaries, travel activities and life here in Pago.  Enjoy.

This is a list of our missionaries names.  It's more for Theron and me to remember than for public interest.  There are two zones, East and West and five districts.  This list was prepared before transfers on Tuesday, but we want to remember the elders and sisters who were Our First:
Sisters Aspinall and Markowitz
Elders Tuitalili and Funganitau
Elders Bybee and Buckingham (he has eye disease and is going blind)
Elders Siaki (he will finish his mission this week) and Erickson
Elders Forsythe and Evangelia
Elders Unga And Mikkelsen (he will be the BYU football team kicker when he returns)
Elders Sparks and Onosai
Elder Zobrist (he is leaving this week) and Afuvai - West Zone Leaders
Sisters Laban and Lund
Elder Tafeaga (his companion went home to Savai'i to his father's funeral)
Elders Harn and Masaga (living in the football mansion)
Elders Cassinat, Havea (he is recovering from typhoid fever)
Elders Smith, Robertson, Taufaalili
Elders Leiataua and Barclay
Elders Howard and Tua'itanu
Elders Vaai and Kanae
Elders Seui and Fenger

This week, we had four elders who were vomiting and had diarrhea.  We bought Gatorade and Theron had to show them how to take the carbonation out of a coke so they just had the syrup - go figure in this day of soda!  Theron counseled with two elders one having anxiety and one going home for a repentance issue.  One elder had an ear ache and we started him on amoxicillan.  One sister had a little fungus rash on her face.  I was recovering from a sore throat and so I had to elbow bump handshake and encouraged them when they are sick to do the same.  We carry lots of baby wipes with us - they are great hand sanitizers.

These are all great missionaries and trying to do everything to be obedient.  We have also been working on imaging 5 computers for the PBO office and met with Stake President Aiono who is also the coordinator of Seminaries and Institutes.  He wants to start the technology training immediately.

Shopping is as much a challenge here as in Apia.  We have a CostULess which is similar to Costco and that makes life a bit easier.  For "non-bulk" items, we shop at several other stores.  This is a picture of the fresh fish in the grocery store, Theron calls them one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.

Here are some pictures from our little Saturday trip to Aua Pass and Vatia (the north east side of the island).
 Neala should remember this bus stop.  It's where you left your camera bag.
 This is called flower pot island.  We drive past it every time we go to the east side of the island.
 This is Pago Harbor from on top of Aua Pass.
 This is our friend, the US Post Office.  Each week we go to pick up and deliver the mail.
 This is Rain Maker.  One of the tallest mountains on the island.
This should tell it all.  Eat more StarKist Tuna, keep Samoan's in work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Baby Shower, August 29, 2015

On Saturday, August 29, we were able to Facetime Adrian and get in on the baby shower festivities.  It looked like a great party.  How I appreciate all the relatives and friends who are supporting Melanee and Curt.  My heart is so full - thank you just doesn't do it, but how we love you all.  Theron talked to Neala and she gave us the most precious compliment - she said she was so impressed that our three daughters get along so well together.  Thank you Adrian, Brittney and Melanee for loving and supporting each other.  This picture is more precious than anything!  Six of our favorite girls and one pretty special little boy.

Curt can't go to a party without getting a new t-shirt!  Wear it proudly son and don't let the kids smear jam, juice, spit, or other things on that clean white surface.

And while there was a party, Tyce was having fun with a horse.  A photo bomb on this blog page.

Pago Pago, American Samoa - Time Travel

At 9:30 a.m. Friday morning, August 29, in Apia, Samoa, we boarded the 15 passenger Polynesian Air airplane to take the flight to Pago Pago, American Samoa.  The flight lasted 35 minutes, but we arrived at 10:05 a.m., Thursday, August 28, that's 23.5 hours before we left.  Some how the song "Eight Days A Week" seems to come to mind.  We can't decide whether to be jet lagged or refreshed and renewed.  In any case, Pago will be our home until the middle of January 2016.  Notice the picture of the pilots in the cockpit that hold hands for take-off (it's a very romantic flight).  There's not a lot of security on this flight. Okay, there is no security, no metal detector, no baggage screening, but luckily no chickens either. The next picture is leaving Upolu, Western Samoa.  We had a great time seeing our island from the air.

Here we are landing at the airport in Pago Pago.  It's almost like we could help unload the luggage.

Sister Saunders, the mission president's wife who had served in Pago the last 14 months, came with us to show us what to do and introduce us to all the missionaries.  There are several flights a day from Pago to Apia and Apia to Pago so when your luggage doesn't get on one plane it arrives on the next.  Our luggage arrived at least one flight later than us.  We didn't wait for it; we went straight to the mission home and refreshed, got a good look at all the packages we need to forward to Apia and those that are being shipped from Apia to the US.

We never wanted to serve a mission and be the office couple, mission president, nurse, counselor, travel agent, housing coordinator, car czar, etc.  but here we are all of the above -- mail handlers, missionary parents, nurse, counselor, technology trainers, and tourists and on and on.
We first had to get over our culture shock.  We enjoyed the Samoan style in Apia; Pago is American all the way except they still speak Samoan.  W e went to Cost U Less (think Costco) and really suffered culture shock looking at all the stuff to buy. And buy we did - Hey I need those!

There are two missionary zones in Pago - West and East.  Within two days, we had traveled to all the missionary homes except one at the far east end of the island and met all but two of the missionaries.  We will be missionary parents to 33 elders and 4 sisters.  Elder Vaiagai left today, Sunday, for Savaii to attend his father's funeral.  He will spend a week home and then will serve the last month of his mission in Apia.  We will be writing about these elders and sisters much over the next four and a half months.

We had a whirlwind two days of training from Sister Saunders and then she had to fly back to Apia to fly to Australia to attend a mission presidents training.  We are on our own.  And so another adventure begins.