On December 9, Elder Rusty and Sister Cindy Gillette came over to visit. The Gillettes work at Pesega School in the vocational program and since school is out, they needed a road trip. They were the first visitors we have had so we really looked forward to having someone our age to talk to and tour with. A tour of Tutuila (American Samoa) consists of going to the World War II canon bunker, stopping by the bat tree, visiting growling rocks, and shopping at Cost U Less (a store that is similar to Costco). Gillettes stayed with us until Sunday the 13th.
This is Rusty and Theron by one of the many World War II machine gun bunkers on the island.
This is a picture of the growling beach. The beach area is composed of large rocks that roll over other rocks as the waves roll away from the shore which causes them to make a growling sound.
We saw an unexpected sight as we drove toward Pago Pago; a crew had their long boat out for some practice rowing. Looks a little like they need practice as all the oars are not going in the same direction. Below is the long boat up closer with no one aboard.
This is the bat tree. All around the island are fruit bats. They hang the best in a few trees like this in Aua area. But, we see them all over the island and they fly both day and night. The one below is a close-up. These bats are very large.
In our front yard we had a banana tree that had a large bunch of bananas that was ready to harvest. We cut them down a couple of weeks ago and then let them hang to ripen. Bad idea in all sorts of ways, all the bananas ripened at the same time so here we are with 30 or more ripe bananas. When a full bunch of hanging bananas ripen, you make banana bread. I invited the zone leaders, Elder Faletoi on the left and Elder Lamoreaux on the right, over to help and we made six batches. We could not find small aluminum baking pans so we made our own from aluminum foil. When resources are lacking, you have to figure out a way to make it work. We baked 35 or so loaves, I lost count.
The number of Christmas packages we have been recieving from the Post Office has been increasing every week. We definitely had a van full of packages this week, we sent them on to Apia but we can't guarantee a Christmas delivery.
Besides Christmas packages, we put together a pallet of food, suitcases, and missionary supplies for the three sets of missionaries in Manua. Manua is an island 60 plus miles further east of Tutuila. There have not been missionaries there for many years and right now the branch consists of two sisters. The mission president put six missionaries there several weeks ago. Two of the elders went with him to see about setting up the island and took only a backpack full of clothes; they were left to continue the work there and have been living out of that backpack until Tuesday morning when the ferry with our supplies arrived with their suitcases. It's a scene out of "The Other Side of Heaven."
Wednesday we did a technology training, then picked up Elder and Sister Ellsworth, the office couple, and Elder and Sister Callahan, the ITEP couple that teach in Savai'i. We started the island tour over and visited missionaries along the way. On Thursday, we did "a Savior is born" facebook project with our West Zone Elders (see our facebook page to see their pictures). Today is Sunday and we just put these two couples on the plane to fly back to Apia and Savai'i. We have our house back and a few minutes of alone time. Always glad to have visitors but always good to have our private life back.
This week we are getting ready for Christmas - we'll let you know next week. In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas. Can't wait to see the sparkle in the grandchildren's eyes!