Friday, April 8, 2016

A Day In The Life

For you who may have wondered what a typical missionary day is like and even if you have never wondered, we thought we would document one of our days.

April 7, 2016, Thursday
6:30 a.m.:  We usually can't sleep past 6:30 a.m., not because we don't want to but because of the incessant rooster crow won't let us!  Sometimes it's the dogs barking, but most often the roosters.  Chickens run free on the island, but if you ever tried to catch one to take home for dinner; someone would track you down.  They are watched, by whom - we don't know.

I usually reach for my iPad and read a couple of Ensign articles or the Sunday School lesson.

7:00 a.m.:  15 minutes of Tai Bo with Billy Blanks - now this isn't a regular activity, but I sure would like it to be.  Forcing myself to exercise is the hardest work I do all day.

7:30 a.m.:  Shower, cook breakfast -- cereal; eggs; and most often a yogurt smoothie especially when we have just been to market and bought fresh pineapple, papaya and bananas.  Today, I fix scrambled eggs, hash-browns, bacon and a piece of toast.  We are traveling and lunch and dinner will be a long ways away.

8:00 a.m.:  Eat and read at least 2 chapters from the Book of Mormon.  In December, I finished the New Testament.  This time reading the BofM I read two chapters, try to think about them through the day and then read them again the next day.  So it's kind of like reading it twice in a row.  It gives me things to reflect on.  Right now, I'm only in Mosiah 16-18.  I love Abinadi's testimony of the Savior and the atonement and reflected yesterday on how he converted just one person.

Clean up the dishes and wash them.  We can't leave dirty dishes in the sink (no automatic dishwasher just me) because the ants will find them and we will have an ant colony on them when we return for lunch.

8:40 a.m.: Today this is the time we had prayer and then left for the office.  It's rainy so the shoes are flip flops, can't ruin them walking in puddles of water.  Theron is wearing his "ea" (e a) that's a lava lava with pockets; it's what the men wear for business attire.  As he says, 'it's cooler than pants.' Today, we are going to several chapels to make sure the satellite systems are working for General Conference this weekend.  Many of you have already viewed conference, right?  Well, the live Saturday sessions are on Sunday starting at 5:00am here and the Sunday sessions are on Monday at 5:00 in the morning our time.  So, throughout the Pacific we record conference and copy it to DVDs that are distributed to the wards around the islands for viewing the following Saturday and Sunday..

8:45 a.m.: It's a short drive to the Service Center just around the corner from the Temple.  That's where our office is located.  We have a little hall area that they put us in next to the ICS (Information Communication Systems) office.  Today, we aren't going to work there; it's right to Chris' office (he's the manager of ICS and our Samoan boss) to give him some new remote controls for the DVD recorders in the stake buildings (remote controls have legs here and go on walk about).  We discuss who is going where; Chris will take the west side and we will take the east side.

We then go to Helamana's office (Facilities Manager of the east side) to find out if the modulators he had sent express shipment have cleared Customs.  Nope, they are still working on it; so much for express delivery.  The modulators are used to separate the languages in the satellite racks.  The DVDs are recorded in Samoan and English.  Most of the members speak Samoan, but all the stakes provide a TV in a Relief Society, Primary or High Council room that can be tuned to English.

Ian (an ICS employee) had to re-image a computer for a ward we are working with and Daniel, the other ICS employee, took the drivers with him to Savaii, so that won't be done today or tomorrow which means they are now a month behind on submitting their financial reports.  Guess that's Monday's job to take the computer back, if it gets re-imaged.  Chris gives us a repaired computer for the Nu'umau Ward (it's on the east side) that was in getting a new power supply.  We will take this with us and install it.

No one can find any AA batteries, so we commit that we will buy some.  Not only do remote controls go on walk about, it they stay stationery they don't have working batteries.

around 9:15 a.m.:  Leave the Service Center to go buy batteries.  Alma the guard, a fun guy and our friend, stands in front of our car and gives us his big toothless grin.  He then comes around to talk to Elder Schaefermeyer and we give him a bag of trail mix; another big toothless grin.  We carry granola bars and small packages of trail mix with us either to give away or to eat when we're on a remote side of the island.
SAAB is down 3rd light road - the senior missionaries know the streets by 1st light, 2nd light, 3rd light and Cross Island roads.  Each street light takes you downtown Apia to the shopping area.  SAAB, the stationary/electronics store is down 3rd light.

We remember before we get to SAAB that we forgot to pick up the computer to take to Nu'umau so we'll have to go back and get it.

In Samoa and most island places, you can buy one of a package or you can buy the whole package - the battery package was 20 batteries, one battery is $3WS tala or about $1.20 US; the package is $60WS.  We need lots of batteries - it's the package.  The same goes for anything that in the US might be packaged in bulk.

We also need gas.  The gas station is down 1st light.  There are no service stations on the south east side of the island so we have to go with a full tank.  We pass Big Bear (our Target, Kmart, Shopko store).  Next, we pass the flip flop store.  There are dozens of these little market stores that sell a variety of things.  Then we get to the gas station.

Back to Service Center, got the computer, ready to travel.  Starting mileage today is 30896.  Top traveling speed is 40-45 kph (25 to 30 mph); two lane roads, often no shoulders and plenty of pedestrians, pigs, taxis, and buses to slow you down.

NOTE:  Theron has had Chikungunya or Dengue fever all week; he's not feeling the best.  It's a mosquito born sickness that starts with a high fever, then you break out into a rash, and then your joints swell and hurt.  He's at the joint stage.  Nothing to do but treat the symptoms with Panadol (like Tylenol).  Add to that the rain and humidity today; we are going to sweat!

Just a little preview of what we usually follow and how traffic is at the main roundabout in Apia, the clock tower.

9:45 a.m.:  Arrive at first stop, Apia Samoa Stake Center, Village of Navu.  They keep this satellite rack locked with a padlock; our master building key will not work.  However, the night before we met with President Tuia, Stake President, and he gave us the padlock keys.  This is the first time we have looked into this rack and don't know what to expect.  It's not too bad, they just have it wired to only play Samoan, so Theron has to change some sound cables so the left channel will be English and the right channel will be Samoan.  We test the video in the chapel; it works.  (Our new battery powered projector is great for projects like this; we just need one cable and we are good to go.)
 Theron is doing his best work.  Sometimes it reminds me of the story Judy tells about Craig cleaning the garage.  She asked him to go clean the garage and several hours later went out to see how things were progressing; Craig was sitting on a stool in the middle of the garage trying to decide how to do it.
 This is our air conditioning.  Three blade fans, 10 foot high ceiling.
Showing conference on the wall.

Called President Tuia and tell him all is working and he tells us where to leave his padlock keys.  We do so and are on our way.

It's a 4 paper towel sweat we mop from our brows.  Theron's shirt is just soaked in sweat.  Then you get into the car, turn up the air conditioning and start to freeze.  Go figure.

11:02 a.m.:  Leave Navu to drive to Nu'umau Stake Center.  This is the chapel you have seen before with the nice beach across the street and my island.

If you can't pass on the right, pass on the left.  We are right-hand drive.

11:30 a.m.:  Arrive Nu'umau.  I install the clerk computer and Theron works on the satellite rack.  I've seen every clerk office on this island, Tutuila and Savaii.  I've met most of the geikos which live in them and they always have lots of ants and termites (I know because of the piles of dust).  Almost every clerk chair is broken or missing one or more wheels.  Many do not have air conditioning; this one has only a fan - by the time I connect the cables, test the internet connection, and re-select the right sound output - I've used 5 paper towels to wipe my brow, face and neck.
This is a view of the Nu'umau chapel from the pulpit.  I've spoken from every pulpit in Samoa, luckily without an audience.

I've determined that the reason their internet is down is that the modem is not working, Theron walks down to confirm.  We call Helamana and he will report the outage to BlueSky.  This is important because the internet usage is metered and the Church pays a very steep price for internet service.  We are trying to hold BlueSky's feet to the fire and get things working and reliable.

Theron has worked on this satellite rack before.  Both modulators are bad (the new ones are waiting in Customs) and so they can only show conference in Samoan.  Finally all is working and we are on the way to the extreme east edge of the island - Upolu East Stake.  Oh, the chapel has a pretty good bathroom.

12:57 p.m.: Leave Nu'umau travel to Upolu East Stake.

I'm getting a little hungry so we stop at a roadside market and fortunately they did have ice cream on a stick.  It was a fudgecicle that tasted like it had been thawed and re-frozen, but it filled the need.

1:41 p.m.:  Arrive at Upolu East Stake building.  This stake center is in pretty good shape.  Theron tested the modulators, we checked to see that they could display video, we even helped the FM look for a way to get the screen to come down.  Finally, they called the stake president and he told them where the remote control was.  It had a bad connection, so they were filing the corrosion off the contact points to make it work - go figure, this chapel has a beautiful ocean view and sea breezes.

It's now raining and it's 2:32 p.m. when we left Upolu East for our last stop at Saleilua Stake Center.  Everyone comes outside when it rains.  They love to walk, work and play.  It was fun watching little kids jump and slide in mud puddles all along the way.

2:50 p.m.:  There are about three resorts along this long stretch of road and we choose to stop at the one on Lalomano Beach.  Finally food.  I select the grilled chicken salad and banana chips and Theron has the coconut crusted fish.  It's a can of Coke to drink - no nius (coconuts) today - finished.  We are the only ones in the dining area.  We eat, pay and are on our way by 3:20 p.m.  A half-hour is not too bad; sometimes we have waited for our food lots longer than that.

There is always a picture of the day.  This was the picture of the day.  The rain is just coming down and these two horses are standing on the porch of the house.  Notice the fale in the background; all the sides are open and they just have some tarps that they put down to stop the rain from coming in.

4:00 p.m.:  Arrive at Saleilua Stake Center.  The only thing we have to do here is re-install their DVD player/recorder.  The youth are learning some dances for a performance.  I love to see them dance, they are so graceful and the young men really get into it.  I asked if I could take a picture and they smile.  I loved the teacher, she was sitting up front with a long stick that she waved up and down and side to side to tell them where to move.  I wish I could put sound into this because the music is always LOUD.

We called President Kofe, the Stake President, and told him all was operational and were now on our way - 4:27 p.m.

From here we drive a little distance and can take the cross-island road which goes from south to north across the middle of the island.

5:10 p.m.:  Arrive home.  Total mileage - 30976.  That's a total of 60 miles in 8 hours.

Theron is ready to change clothes, take a shower and rest.  Tuesday and Thursday nights at 6:00 p.m. is the English session at the Temple.  We try to attend one of these each week.  There have been times we can't make these times and go to a Samoan session, juggling the headset is not something I really like, but it is very convenient.  Sometimes the veil is in Samoan and we answer in English; that's a little tricky.  I get cleaned up so I can go to the Temple.

I brought my filing box with family names.  My box is almost empty.  This has been a real blessing.
10 initiatory; 34 endowments; 52 sealing to parents; and 13 sealing to spouse.  We have a few more names to do and then my box will be empty.  Adrian, bring some family names when you come.

5:40 p.m. I leave for the Temple which is only a couple of minutes from our home.  Yes, I drive.

Get home around 8:30 p.m.  We heat up the leftover shepherd's pie casserole and eat dinner.  I'm exhausted.  Theron is exhausted.  We watch a Big Bang episode on TV and go to bed.

9:30 p.m. Lights out.  Our day is officially over.  It's just the dogs barking now until the rooster starts again at 6:30 a.m.  We love the work and thank our family for giving us their support as we serve.

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