Now, envision a stake president who lives in a small, remote village in the hills of Samoa. His home is a lean-to on the back of a fale with only one electrical outlet in the traditional family gathering room. His wife cooks in a umu (outdoor cook shack) and the kitchen sink is mounted on four wood poles and braced with a few sticks of wood plank and is located outside, about 40 feet from the living quarters, with a loose stone floor. The open fale area in the front of the home has been set aside as a chapel for the branch to have Sunday meetings. He farms for a living growing taro, bananas, and coconuts. He's well over six feet tall, solidly built, and most importantly, he has a smile and a warm handshake whenever you meet him. This is a truly remarkable stake president -- meet President Kofe of the Upolu Samoa Saleilua Stake.
We met him about five months ago during our technology training for his stake, we promised him that within the next few months we would be installing all new computer throughout his stake - as his was one of the only stakes that did not receive even one of the last installments of new computers. We fulfilled our promise and today, September 14, we installed the last new computer in Vaovai Ward.
The Vaovai Ward also meets in an open fale, for now, because their building is being remodeled to become the new Saleilua Stake Center. The clerk and bishop cannot use the office because of the construction and so the clerk takes the computer to his home during the week. We didn't know where he lived, so President Kofe had us drive to his house, pick him up, drive him to the clerk's home and then to the stake center. You have to realize, President Kofe doesn't have a car, he lives about a mile up a dirt road in a little village, and his home is 4 villages away (maybe 10 miles) from the current stake center. So, we have no problem in providing transportation to have him assist us. Since he is a farmer he can leave his work to go and help anytime he is needed.
When we arrived at his home, he changed his shirt (from a clean yellow one to a less clean purple one), grabbed a long rag from a little pile of dirty clothes and we trekked along the muddy path, through the weeds to the right coconut tree. He tightened his lavalava around his waist, wrapped the cloth around his feet, grabbed onto the tree, gave a short hop and up he went. The tree he chose to climb was among some of the tallest we have seen and when he reached the top, down came several coconuts which his kids gathered up. His 15 year old son, found a stick (about 3 feet long) shoved one end in the ground, cut the top of the stick to a 45 degree angle, and started to husk the coconuts. I had to divert my eyes as the President shimmied down the tree in his lavalava as there are parts of a stake president I didn't want to see. It was definitely exercise and he beamed with pride that he could still do this; he commented that it had been about a year since he had climbed a tree. He has children for that now.
Elder Schaefermeyer had to try his hand at husking the coconut. We would starve if we had to live like this. Not only can't Theron climb the tree, he can't even get the husk down to the point of where you can cut the top off and drink it.
All was done is the spirit of fun, friendship, and with a lot of frivolity. We went away with a great appreciation for President Kofe, his family and his circumstances. What humble leaders we have in the Church and it just goes to show the Lord doesn't look on your livelihood or circumstances; if you have what the Lord needs, you are called to the work.
Thank you for your example President Kofe.