It's a rather large ship as you can see. Elder Schaefermeyer wanted to water-ski behind it, but all they bring is fishing line and hooks to help make the trip pay.
The painting below hangs in our home over our desk. It is a representation of Joseph Dean, the first mission president in Samoa, arriving on the island of Aunu'u.
Below is the reality of what the return of missionaries to Aunu'u looked like. The Elders said they were grateful they had dry feet and weren't caring a baby.
|Elder Vaituu, Elder Dailey, Elder Fa'alogo|
Elder Funganitao - this is deceiving, because he stands about 6'8" and towers over Theron.
Elder Erickson is on the left and Elder Daley is by me.
One thing we can count on at the airport is that everyone's luggage is overweight. As we cue the elders for boarding it is a sure bet that we have already weighed their bag, opened it, taken out 10 pounds or more, put that weight in their backpacks and rearranged their packing. I am always amazed at how missionaries pack and I have seen it all, so has everyone else traveling on the plane as we stand around the airport check-in area.
After we send the transferees on their way, we wait a few minutes to pick up Elder Smith who is arriving from Manua. He will fly out at 4:30 p.m. to be re-assigned to Upolu. Then it is off to the post office to pick up the mail for this week - it's Christmas time and their are packages galore! Sending these on to Upolu, Manua, and Aunu'u will be a challenge for another day. The cargo plane arrived two days late, so we were told to come back tomorrow to pick up more mail since they didn't have it all sorted.
The next set of elders were to fly out at 14:45 p.m. A quick look at these numbers late at night was mis-read as 4:45 regular time rather than 2:45 p.m. military time. We told them to be at the airport at 3:45 p.m. When I realized my mistake, it was 15 minutes before the plane left. So the three Elders who had finished their mission and were going home to be released didn't make their flight. Okay, it's beg time at the airport, let's try to get them on one of the next two flights of the day. The guys at the airport are very understanding and very flexible. The elders are now on stand-by. On the last flight out their is one seat. Elder Schaefermeyer takes our 6'8" 300+ lb. Tongan, Elder Funganitao (our gentle giant) to the desk. They check him in and then the clerks notices he has an expired Samoan passport and they won't let him fly into the country without a full itinerary showing he will be leaving Samoan within 4 days. We then turn to the other two elders and ask, 'okay who wants to go.' They don't want to be separated and they stand shyly trying to decide. The clerk looks at the size of the other two Elders and says, "We can take both of them". So, Elders Vaituu and Fa'alogo get on the plane. Elder Funganitao has to wait until the next day before we can get his papers in order.
At 16:45 p.m. (4:45), we go the arrival terminal to great 5 new missionaries: Elder Hingano, Elder Faletoi, Elder Tuimaualuga, Sister Wardle and Sister Dixon. Elder Faletoi from West Valley, Utah, is one of our new zone leaders (He will play football for Dixie State.). Another exciting adventure in getting to know new missionaries. The only new one from the MTC is Elder Tuimaualuga from Riverside, California. Elder Hingano is from California; Sister Dixon is from New Zealand; Sister Wardle is from Eagle Mountain, Utah.
|Sister Dixon and Sister Wardle|
Wednesday: We take Elder Funganitao to the airport with papers showing he has a flight leaving Western Samoa. However, the papers didn't show that the ticket to Tonga had actually been purchased so it was still a bit of an ordeal to get him on the plane. We made sure that someone would be at the other airport to work with immigration to get him through the process.
It's the first of the month so we head-out to deliver missionary money disbursements. The elders and sisters love to see us on the first of the month to receive their $50.00 living expenses. Yes, that's right - a whole $50.00 to live on; however, they all are fed each night by the members so they spend very little on food.
At 5:30 p.m., we have a technology specialist training on the east side of the island -- Aua. We wait for half an hour and one person shows up. We teach her and schedule the last of four training sessions for the next week. One at a time; one at a time.
Thursday: A day of working on technology. We install 3 new computers and install the Church Videos on two old ones that are still under warranty. Theron worked with the FM to fix the sound system in the Malaeimi Chapel in preparation for their stake conference. We also received a call that two new elders were coming to fill an area that they forgot to assign missionaries to. (sometime we wonder who's minding the store) Off to the airport to pick up Elder Tuala (New Zealand) and Elder Lealaiauloto (Australia).
Friday: Off to Tulao to help with a missionary fireside. They are showing Meet the Mormons and asked us to provide sound and a projector. The fireside is set for 6:00 p.m. Because of traffic this time of night, we leave about 4:00 p.m. Boy are we surprised at traffic. There was an island high school football game and the Vikings (east side - the side we are traveling to) won! Everyone along the way was waving red or white banners, the cars were honking and there was a literal parade of traffic. When we got to Tulao, just before 6, we were just ahead of the biggest part of the parade, so we went out in front of the Church pulled up two of their red and white flags and waved at all the cars in the parade. Now, this also means that no one showed up for the fireside. The missionaries went over to the village to "round up people" to come watch the movie. Finally about 7 we had five people show up and began the movie. It really was a great setting - an open fale with the screen being blown gently by the wind from the ocean and hearing the ocean wash up onto the rocks in front of the Church. Home late, can we sleep in tomorrow?