Monday, May 9, 2016

Fish I Have Met

I have to admit that I love living on a tropical island. Samoa has plenty of beaches and quite a few clear, cool, rivers with lots of beautiful water falls,  which we all enjoy, so we try to spend most every Saturday in the water somewhere.  It's been great to see Shanna excited about snorkeling (as long as the water is calm).  She and many of the other Sister Missionaries, wear small floatation belts which gives enough buoyancy to feel comfortable.  I call it her "feather" because just like Dumbo's feather which gave him the confidence to fly, her "feather" giver her the confidence to swim.

The islands of Samoa are surrounded with a coral reef that generally limits the depth of water to about 6 feet at high tide and 1 to 4 feet at low tide.  Thus tide times become important so you don't get left "high and dry" and have to walk back to the "shore".  Within the reef there are quite a few varieties of fish but not many large ones, including sharks, which stay outside the reef.  So other than mosquitos there isn't much to be concerned about as far a critters go.  The only other sea creature we have been warned about is the Crown of Thorns which is of the Star Fish family. 

The crown of thorns has a lot of sharp spines that have a poison on them.  We're told if you step on one then you should turn it over and put its mouth on the wound and it will remove the poison.  These are not a native species and they eat the coral so we are encouraged to kill them.  The problem with killing them is that you can't cut them up or each piece will become a new Crown of Thorns, so you have to impale them on a knife or spear and carry them out of the water.  
I don't know what starfish look like in other parts of the world, but here they are blue.  At first glance they look like a discarded blue rubber glove.

I saw a fish that changed its color and patterns as it moved back under some coral which made it very hard to see when it stopped moving.  The photo below is also a "camo" fish but it doesn't change.  I think it resembles a lot of clothing I've seen my family wear.   

This fish is one of my favorites and also one of the funniest colored fish I've seen.  The yellow above its eyes and the yellow and blue pin stripes on its forehead and nose make it look quite comical.  Its mother may not agree but I laugh when I see them.

At Puolou Deep we see large schools of bright blue fish that are generally swimming quite close to the surface.  Depending on the location of the sun, their color changes from the blue to a fluorescent yellow green. 
This brilliantly colored fish is outlined in blue with other rainbow colors appearing on its body.

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, and a couple of others thrown in for good measure.
This yellow fish has a body shape that,from the front, is almost square.  He reminds me of an over ripe banana.
 I think I may have include the clams on other blogs, but they are so spectacular that they need to be included again.  These two are baby ones that are about 18 inches in length.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Yes, the Book of Mormon is for Our Day

Last week I was reading Alma 27 in the Book of Mormon.  You remember; it’s the chapter on Ammon taking the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s to Zarahemla.  The sons of Mosiah had converted many, many Lamanites and they changed their name to Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s.  They buried their weapons of war and began a new life, a “changed” life of a firm testimony of Christ.  The Amalekites (who were descendants from the wicked King Noah’s priests and were half Nephite and half Lamanite) couldn’t satisfy their thirst for revenge and blood and had just returned from a battle with the Nephites; they turned on their own people the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s.  Again these people refused to fight and many were killed.  This caused Ammon and his brothers to pray for them and the Lord helped them leave and take flight in the wilderness toward the land of Zarahemla.

Me and Elder Bybee on Aunuu
Now these were people without a land – they couldn’t live in peace among the Lamanites (Amalikites) and they didn’t know how to approach the Nephites and beg for forgiveness.  They even told Ammon they would become slaves to the Nephites.  Ammon and his brothers went to the Chief Judge of the Nephites in Zarahemla and told him what had happened and about the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people.  The chief judge didn’t condemn, he didn’t judge, he wanted to hear what the people would do.  I love verses 21 – 24:  the people came back with a reply of giving these people the Land of Jershon, giving them all the freedoms they possessed, and even putting an army around them to protect them.  All they asked in return was a portion of their substance to support this army.

I have always been amazed by the charity of the Nephites.  I have also always asked the questions, ‘Did the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s live among the people who were already in the land of Jershon or did all the people who formerly lived there leave?’  No matter, they were welcomed and given a way to live in peace and worship and maintain a life of being (verse 27) “. . . perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.”

I have heard so many times how the Book of Mormon was written for our day and in a very special way, this was confirmed to me.

Each week I read and study a Conference talk to keep the words of our prophets and general officers living in my life until the next conference.  I had just finished reading Alma 27 when I read Sister Burton’s message from the Women’s session of conference, I Was a Stranger.  “There are more than 60 million refugees, including forcibly displaced people worldwide.  Half of these are children.  These individuals have undergone tremendous difficulties and starting over in new countries and cultures. . . . The First Presidency letter sent to the Church on October 27, 2015, expressed great concern and compassion for the millions of people who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships.  The First Presidency invited individuals, families, and Church units to participate in Christlike service in local refugee relief projects and to contribute to the Church humanitarian fund, where practical.”

The parallels:
·         These modern refugees can be likened to the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s.  They are being driven out of their own countries by their own people (Amalicites) who in our day are non-Christian, terrorists who seek for power and authority and when someone doesn’t follow them, they seek to kill them.
·         The refugees of today don’t have any place to go.  Countries are rejecting them.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ prophet has asked us if we will help them.  Just like the chief judge.  We are given our agency to give support or withhold support.  Humanitarian aid is our ‘land of Jershon.’
·         A portion of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s was children.  Who did these children grow up to become?  The stripling warriors led by Helaman.  Are there some among today’s refugees who could grow up to be the type of leaders of nations, communities, churches, etc. that will help us have a more peaceful life in our future because of what they are suffering now.  Or do we turn our backs and let them be sucked into a world of terrorist retaliation? 

I am so grateful to have read these two items at the same time.  I have truly learned the importance of paying attention to the small amount of information Mormon (not even a hundredth part) included for us to have in the Book of Mormon.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Accident - The Transport

We were planning on going to the far east side of the island earlier in the day, but remembered we had an 11:00 a.m.meeting with the FM managers to demonstrate how to use a crab box for the sound in the chapels.  This delayed us until about noon leaving on this hour or so drive.  If we had traveled earlier, we definitely would not be driving by a truck accident that had just happened and the two people we transported to the medical facility would have had a much longer wait for needed medical help.

The accident was by the area called Tiavea just past the large reservoir on the island.  It's a remote stretch and so people tend to go rather fast through this area.  Fast is a relative term - 40 mph top speed in most cases.  Samoans also to ride on the back of trucks and some even take naps on the load of coconuts.  And, as things go, it was raining!

We saw a group of people gathered by the side of the road and as we drove past noticed the large flat bed truck in the ravine and people down there looking after someone that had been hurt.  We determined that we needed to stop and see if we could help.  We were the only car on the road in both directions.  They hurriedly asked us if we could transport two men that had been hurt the worst.  One was laying on the bed of the truck with a very dirty cloth draped loosely overa very bad wound on his left leg just above the ankle.  The other man was sitting on the road side and they told us he had a neck injury.  With some quick moving of all the equipment we carry in the car, we lowered one of the SUV seats so the man with the leg injury could lay down and the other man sat in the seat.  The medical facility on this side of the island is about 1/2 hour or more drive from where we were.  On went the emergency flashers and off we went to the medical center.  By the way, neither man spoke English.

All along Samoan roads there are speed bumps and pot holes.  Theron hit one speed bump too fast and groans abounded in the back seat.  How bad he felt, he just couldn't see it and get slowed in time.  We are not familiar with this part of the island nor where this medical facility was located so when we determined the village was close, we started asking those along the road where the medical center was located.  Upon arrival, the nurses brought a gurney, but they couldn't lift him onto it, so they brought a wheelchair.  People standing by took charge and moved him - as he grimaced with  pain.

The fellow with the neck injury was lifted up and out of the car and a fellow helped him walk into the care room.  Not sure how he will fair with a neck injury.  Our ambulance lacked a lot of equipment and comfort.  I walked into the care center to see the wound on the man's leg and it was gross, The wound was about three inches in diameter and deep enough that we could see what appeared to be crushed bone and some pretty torn up tissue. There was plenty of  blood and stuff (that's a good medical term) oozing out.  I know that they often don't properly treat severe injures of limbs here, it's easier to amputate and ambulate than repair and rehabilitate.  We wonder what his outcome will be.  We just don't realize the quality of the medical care we have back in the 1st world.  Shortly after we arrived another car pulled in with a couple of the other men who had minor injuries.

We finished our work and then traveled back towards Apia.  When we came upon the wreck site, we saw 4 guys still sitting on the grass.  These fellows had been riding in the truck.  One was in the cab with the driver (the neck injury) and the others had been riding on the back of the flat bed on top of the load of coconuts.  Three were able to jump off or were thrown clear as the truck rolled, but the fellow we transported with the leg injury had been sleeping on the coconuts and he received the worst injury, I can't imagine how violently he had been thrown around.

The remaining men were staying with the truck until they could get it towed, so we gave them our stash of power bars and taro chips and headed on to a satellite training at Nauvu.  We're thankful that we could help in a small way. We wish these guys a quick recovery.  We now add emergency medical transport service to our list of missionary activities.  Love to all.

(The truck is facing opposite the direction of travel.  It slid sideways on the road and then rolled once.  The metal sides of the truck were torn off and most of the bags of coconuts are actually under the truck.  One of the men stated that they were traveling too fast.)