Sunday, July 24, 2016

Life in Samoa Through Pictures

These are random pictures that we took while Donna and Bill Flake were here.  Donna took a lot of them as she is much braver than we about going up to someone and asking to take their picture.  We are sensitive to their private life and are usually traveling so fast past something that we miss the action.  Thanks Donna for these pictures.

In each village there is a central fale.  They have the village meetings there and the chiefs sit in an order with each type of chief sitting by a pole.  We have only seen a few village meetings so this was a treat to not only see a meeting in progress, but to get a picture.   This one is a little unusual in that they are sitting on chairs instead of on the floor leaning against the posts.
 This picture was taken in Savaii at the school by the canopy walk.  These kids were playing a game of hit the flip-flop.  One of them would stack up two or three pair of flip-flops and another one would use a flip-flop to scatter them.  Very imaginative - use your shoes for the game pieces!

 It is winter in Samoa and these are the winter flowers.  They grow in this pyramid formation yet each one is a separate blossom.
 This family lives exclusively in their fale.  Note that each day they stack the foam mattresses in a corner.  They have some sitting area and some food storage area.  At night they would put up mosquito nets and perhaps a fabric partition.  The outside walls are the old fashioned woven kind rather than the plastic tarp ones.

 This woman is washing the family clothes in this fresh water pond.  After they wash them in an area like this, they will lay them out on the lava rocks to dry.  She is standing in the water, so you get a two-fer; a bath and a washing machine all in one.
 This is family life in a fale.  At the far back on the right is the umu- cooking house. Life is just so simple.
 At Vaiola, these guys lifted this car body off the ground, posing as a tow truck for us, They were big enough boys that they probably could have lifted our car.  This is an old auto body that they are practicing painting and apparently disassembly.  Fun guys.
 This picture at Vaiola is a classroom outside in the shad of the tree.  We didn't have classrooms like this when I was growing up.
 Donna was fascinated with the beaded fale.  They take shells and plastic pieces and beads and other things and make strands that hang down between the fale pillars.  They also never take the plastic wrap off of the artificial wreaths.  I also love the antenna that is propped up against grandma's grave.  A tradition here is to put the most prominent ancestors' graves in the front yard; that's what the large white cement thing is.  

In the picture below, we are having a picnic lunch as part of our day of traveling around the island.  Not a bad spot for lunch.

After the picnic lunch, we traveled to Upolu East Stake in Lalomanu to teach the technology specialists.  One of the wards was still having Primary and so they poised for this picture.

I love to hear the little children sing, they sing Very loud and when they have a fun Primary song, you can hear them far away.  They love to sing!

Elder Schaefermeyer is connecting a video camera to the outlet on the wall.  He is also demonstrating Samoa safety procedures.  Note the chair to climb upon the table, the two tables put together with one more chair to step on so he can get to the top of the ladder (4 chair stack) in order to get to the camera input connector in this chapel.  He is also wearing safety shoes, hard hat, gloves, glasses, and harnes :)

 We had a great time at Mermaid Beach with Donna and Bill.  Bill is holding a star fish.  They are blue here and they are everywhere.

Earlier in the day we went to the Coastal Walk.  A film crew and contestants are on Samoa filming "Australian Survivor - Samoa".  They have been everywhere we want to go.  Well, they finally left and as we were walking along the path, Bill found a survivor torch that had been left.

We all had to poise with it as you can see from our poises.  Nice lavalava Shanna, I never can get these to hang straight!
If you get to watch this Austrailian version of the show, the torch belonged to Sue.  We took it with us and left our contact information with one of the village guys who takes care of the Coastal Walk area.  We figured Sue would want this as a souvenir.

It turns out that the participants don't get the torch, the executives get the torches.  We should have kept it!  Oh, well, good deed is done it is back in the hands of the film crew.

We had a great time hosting Bill and Donna and were very excited that they could come and experience Samoa.  They certainly got to see more of Samoa with us than he did as a young missionary.  He had no idea of all the beautiful places on the islands of Samoa.

Enjoy the pictures, we enjoyed taking them and we'll take more.

Love to all, have a blessed Samoan day!

Manuia le aso

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The DJ4 Phantom - Another Great Birthday Present

We have been trying for over a year to have Bill and Donna Flake come to visit with us.  We served with them in Jamaica and found out then that Bill had served his mission in Samoa in the early 1960s. When we received our call to Samoa, we told them to come and visit.  Well, in December 2015, Bill had a heart attack so he had to recover.  With one more try, they decided that July 2016 was a good time, Bill was strong, the stars were aligned and so they came.

Knowing this, Theron could proceed with his plans to buy a DJ4 Phantom (drone) and Bill could bring it down.  The plans went well - the Phantom was delivered to Flake's home, they cleared enough room in their suitcase for the equipment and arranged the flights.  They arrived July 7.  No sooner did we reach our house from the airport when Theron commandeered Bill's suitcase and found his Phantom.  He has been having fun ever since!  I'll pat myself on the back for giving approval for this birthday, Father's day and Christmas present.  We have been deprived for the last 16 months living on a Pacific island. :)

 The set-up

The first flight

Adrian and Todd's visit gave us a good itinerary for the Flakes to follow, except, Donna was affected with allergies/asthma almost from the moment of their arrival.  We were able to get her some prednisone and other allergy and asthma medications so she could breathe.  Most of the time, she was able to wear a dust mask and enjoy the trip.  Samoa has great air quality except for the continuous weed burnings, umu cooking and bus exhaust.

After a few days of medication, the trip can be declared a success.  They were able to atend a faifai at Traditions, travel to Savaii for two days, an excursion with the turtles, help us do a training at Sauniatu and a swim in the falls, enjoying the artists at the Cultural Center, shopping and even snorkeling at the clams!  Donna is a great photographer so we just let her take lots of pictures.  She got shots we wouldn't normally get - especially ones in homes.  In the next few blogs, we'll post some of them, and maybe a couple of photos from the drone.  We had a great time hosting the Flakes and were very glad they could come while we were here to give them the tour.  We were able to show Bill a lot of the islands that he (and most young missionaries)  never know existed.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Alison and Lee - July 28, 2016 - Ogden Temple

July will also bring the marriage of one of our favorite nieces, Alison Spendlove.  She is so full of life and Lee looks like a fun person.  We wish you the very best and much happiness in your new life.

This will be fun hearing the entire story of the meeting, courtship and marriage.  We hope to see you soon and hope all goes well at the wedding.  How proud Dawain and Jana must be!!  Way to go.

The 4th of July - Samoa Style

When you have an independence day to celebrate, what better way to do so than to have a beach party.  A good old fashioned, hot dog roast, potato salad, chips and 60s music!  I let the senior missionaries use my beach and view of my island just for this occasion.

We decorated with floating balloons and coconut tree stumps decorated with the good old red, white and blue.

Add a few chairs from one of the Church fales and tables from the mission office.  Top all of that with our homemade barbecue grill - the old tire rim, with three legs and loaded down with charcoal briquettes.  Put the grill in the water so you enjoy the cooking.  Then, put an iPad and a speaker on top of one of the stumps and crank up the Beach Boys, .... and DUDE you have a party.

 The water was sooooooooo warm, a little tube floating time before the food.

 And when the last of the sun was setting, the last of the seniors left the water.  The waves gently lapping on the beach with another day in paradise enjoying our freedoms!!!!

Happy 4th of July America from our tropical paradise in the Pacific!

Casey and Jennilyn - June 11, 2016 - Ogden Temple

What a summer of surprises we have received.  First, we heard that Casey prepared himself and went through the Temple for his endowments.  Casey, our heart is so touched.  Thank you for accepting these covenants.  You have always been a wonderful nephew and this makes us so proud of you.

Then, we get word that Casey is getting married and they were sealed in the Temple!  Wow.  We can't wait to get home and meet Jennilyn and get to know all about her.

This is now Linda's family, we can't believe how grown up Josh and Matthew are.  Cherry and Lucy, thanks for your love and support of your mother.  Casey and Jennilyn, we wish you happiness plus!  Love to all.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Samoa Independence Celebration

We love the way the Samoans celebrate.  Everyone participates - young, older, old and oldest.  They dance, sing and eat.  It's such a rich culture of celebration.

This Independence Day we went to a stadium to view all of the village performances.  The group of men and women in this picture is comprised of all prisoners from Apia and at the end of the dancing and singing a large (we're talking 20 feet by 30 feet) fine woven mat is brought out and placed over several prisoners.  This is a ritual that was performed historically by an individual when he had committed a crime against someone in the village.  The individual would go to the center of the village and cover himself in a woven mat in the midday sun.  The person would voluntarily stay under the mat either until death by heat stroke or until he was forgiven and the mat was removed by the person who was wronged.  Once the mat is removed, the person is forgiven and the village accepts them back.  This was performed ceremoniously by several of the prisoners and a government official removed the mat.  We're not sure if the people under the mat were paroled or not, but it was a very emotional ceremony. The hugs and heartfelt gratitude by family and friends that followed the removal of the mat was really a touching moment.

More cultures and towns today throughout the world need a forgiveness mat.

After this group, there were several village groups that presented.  The program went for several hours and at the end, the Prime Minister was presented with six very, very large pigs that were brought out on bamboo mats covered with mats (yes, they were dead) .  We had a training to do across the island so we had to leave before our Pesega students presented.  However, we can tell you that there were 600 students who danced and sang.  We have a video we'll show when we come home.

Many other large mats were brought out, displayed briefly and then presented to the prim minister and wife. 

Our parades and celebrations are great, but it's pretty impressive when each village has several hundred people singing and dancing all in costume for Independence Day in Samoa.  America, maybe we need to step it up a notch.  (or maybe not, I don't know how to weave a fine mat or kill a pig.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Update on the Grandchildren - June 2016

From time to time, I just have to throw in pictures of what we are missing.  Three months and counting now!!!
 The triplets pool party and Curt's first father's day picture!!!
You can't get much better than 4 cute guys!  The best picture ever of Cameron and Taylor.
 Jesse has to wears glasses just like his cousins Cameron and Tyce, way to go.
 Can't wait to get home and go on adventures with Marc and Brittney.
Can't wait to get home to use Mason, Ali, Tyce and Kacey's pool and slide.
 Cameron went to his first youth conference and high adventure.
Big T, go right on inventing!!!

The Big 65th Birthday - Theron has reached a milestone!

 This is the big year for Theron – it’s legitimate Social Security time; Medicare is our primary insurance; and our investments just might last the rest of our years.

We had no big celebration because we are so far away.  So, I am telling the world about Theron as I have observed him for 42 of his 65 years - up close and personal.

When you reach the age of 65, you deserve a great birthday gift - his quad copter will be here next week!  All the senior elders are patiently waiting to help him fly it!  He has been studying how to fly it for two weeks now and is listening to all the training videos he has downloaded. This is normal Theron learning.  He studies and studies and reads on a subject until it becomes a part of him.  I love watching him study a new topic; it consumes him.

For all of you who think Theron is nothing but jokes, quick wit and comebacks, you only know the outside public shell.  Here’s the Theron that I know.

 He works very hard and plays as a reward.  When there is a job to do, he is with it to the end.  Just before we left on our mission, he worked day and night building Adrian and Todd’s basement.  He then went and spent two weeks helping our good friends Craig and Judy remodel their new St. George home.  He put his heart into these acts of service and enjoyed every minute of it.  

Through the years, he has always provided for his family.  We have never gone hungry, never gone without vacations, never gone without toys, never gone without anything we have needed and wanted.

He has a very strong testimony of the gospel.  He has served many times in the Young Men organization and has taught tirelessly how to be the adult who performs as a shadow leader.  He would rather build up others than build up himself and his talents and skills.  

All of you will be able to answer these questions, because he has touched your life in more ways than you can count:  Who was it that bought 15 large boxes of matches and gave them to the kids to light fires while we were camping?  Who was it that forced me to get into an inner tube with a life jacket and float in 4 feet of water at Lake Powell?  Who was it that made Neala don scuba gear and then jump in the water to rescue her just before as she yelled "Joe"?  Who was it that built Adrian a larger than life Barbie house that was much stronger than the plastic model?  Who was it that hiked Philmont 5 times?  Who was it that rented a parachute for Lake Powell and made Judy ride it?  Who was it that turned our front yard into a Christmas extravaganza with lights, music and Santa Claus?  Who was it that took Adrian to Korea and China; Curt on a three masted sailing ship as a crew member; and Marc to the Bolshoi Ballet in Russia one week and the Budweiser factory the next?  Who was it that made every business trip a vacation and brought back foreign money to our kids?  Who was it that convinced David Cope to travel to Antarctica and wear a tuxedo t-shirt?   Who is it that can pick out a "than" and "then" mistake?  Who was it that said, 'Peace can break out at any time.'

Theron loves his family.  He taught our children how to laugh and how to be independent.  It was his idea to give them keys to all the cars when they turned 16.  He was the one that told the boys to go out the back door if they wanted to sneak out, rather than try to sneak out through the basement window of their bedroom.  

His favorite Church calling was cub master.  He has an annoying habit of timing the music of the sacrament meeting songs and complaining about how slow we sing.  He loved home teaching the Koch family and taking doggy treats to tame their dog.  

He is never happier than when he can banter back and forth with his sister Neala.  He is always worried about his sister Elynn and her health.  Carol and Kendall are close to his heart and he is worried about Kendall's health right now and always anxious to hear about Carol's latest operation.

Besides his family, he loves my dysfunctional family and continues after all these years to laugh with the "we was's".

There are just so many things I could say about this wonderful man.  He loves us, he is compassionate, he knows how to handle difficult situations, and he makes us laugh.  We love him back and wouldn't trade him for anyone else - even after all these years.

And - it's hard to find good pictures of the family photographer, was he there all these years?!