Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Village's First Internet Connection

Today, March 1, was a fantastic day!  It was a once in a lifetime day!

Wireless Internet Repeater
If you were to look at a map of Upolu, you would notice that "The Road" that circumnavigates the island quite nearly follows the coast line.  That is except for an area on the North East where the island's highest mountains slope quickly into the sea.  Although most of this coast is without beach, there are four remote areas where there is enough river delta to provide a spot for a village, and true to mans nature, a village exists in each of the four spots.

Saletele Chapel
For the last two days, we had been looking online at the operation (or lack thereof) of the internet firewalls in all the chapels on Upolu.  Our investigation revealed that the internet in three of the four chapels associated with these villages was not working.  Chris told us that one of these chapels needed a new firewall and one chapel had never had internet service as there was no service available that far in the bush.  However, he had been working with BlueSky and they had just installed a new internet repeater for the village and our chapel would be the first connection.  So, yesterday we activated two new firewalls - a royal pain at best - and today we took the drive to visit the other side of heaven.

Saletele Chapel - how fun it would be to sit in an open fale looking out over the ocean for sacrament meeting.  We went into the clerk's office to install the new firewall; but, there was literally only one electrical outlet so there was no plug available for the firewall.  This will require another trip with a larger power/surge protector strip!

Uafato Chapel (well, open air fale with a small clerk building and an outhouse).  This village is on the far east end of Upolu.  It is literally over the rivers and through the banana and coconut trees.  The mountains are very high on one side with dozens of long waterfalls cascading down through the lush green foliage and the ocean on the other side with waves lapping up onto the sandy beaches.  It is truly a beautiful setting.

As we arrived at the Uafato Chapel one of the BlueSky technicians was just installing the antenna on the roof of the fale and when the connection was completed, he launched lds.org and played a church video.  Rather amazing to witness the preaching of the gospel in this corner of the world taking a giant leap forward.  FYI the second use of the internet was an e-mail to the FM (Facilities Management) telling them to install a cabinet for the firewall, and to kill the hornets living under the eves of the Bishop's office.  (First world technology creates first world attitudes)

 Theron is standing on the front entrance of the church fale.  This is the chapel, Sunday School room, primary room and all other rooms other than the bishop's office which is visible above in front of the BlueSky truck.

The bishop (seated in the foreground) and two other brethren from the church were there observing the installation,  When everything was completed, they, in true Samoan style, set-up a meal of canned corned beef and boiled bananas for the installers. We declined their offering, hopefully without offending them.

To illustrate a little of the village life, as we were driving down the mountain, we saw this man husking coconuts using a stick, a little later he and his heavily laden horse came to their home next to the church.  As we were waiting for the installation to be finished, he brought over a coconut (niu) for us to drink.

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