Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bulidings of Samoa

This is a beautiful church both the front and back.  This is the back and it has a large field for soccer, football etc.
Was this dog sad because his master died or was it was just a great place to sleep with a great advantage for a quick attack if he gets up the energy to do so? The family graves are in the yard next to the house.
At night these churches have all the lights on and they look really sharp and inviting.
This is the home of one of the many resident NFL players who came back to the Island and built a big home for his mother.
This is a public Fale so it's called a Faleo'o. It is a public fale that anyone can use for parties, funerals or weddings.
This Fale is on private land and they have just a beautiful yard, well groomed with a countless variety of flowers and trees.
All the  other Christian  Churches have big posts around the perimeter of the building - all very different and fancy. The church goers are all dressed in white from head to foot. The women wear beautiful white hats.
This Fale is across the street from the beach so it sustained damage from the tsunami in 2009. We have lost count of the foundation slabs which are all that is left of homes or businesses from the destruction of the Tsunami in 2009. We have heard from some that it was a 60 ft high wave that went inland more than 1 km in some areas. Many of the island homes are along the shoreline within 100 yards of the ocean. Right behind the homes is the steep mountainside so there is no where to go if you have short notice. Our home is high enough to be above the danger zone so we sleep well at night but as we drive around we see destroyed homes that are vacant or just cement slabs where homes once sat.  You can only speculate as to how the occupants fared. One big shell of a business still has a big fishing boat sitting inside it. There is reconstruction ongoing as it takes years to recover from such a natural disaster.
Another public Faleo'o at the airport.  while people wait for their plane to leave or wait for people arriving they will sit on the floor with their back to a post and have a lunch or fall asleep.

Stake Relief Society Party

One of our New Zealand Elders shouting out the commands for the dance they are about to do.  He was great - he is a very big boy and a very big voice.  They did the Haka.

One of the wards doing a dance from one of the Islands here in the Pacific
This dance started with this man sounding the horn, I believe this was the Hawaiian dancers
Young and Old learn the dance moves and enjoyed the evening dancing
Each ward chose a queen for their ward and celebrated her life.  This sister is the International Coach for women's rugby - don't mess with her, she is not just a pretty face. They were the Tongans.
These beautiful women dancing Samoan style in their pulutasi.  ( dresses )
This was from the Tongan ward and it was a Maori dance
Like I said before, young and old participate and learn the dances.  Even the little guy in the front.
The Older sisters were so graceful and they would get up and dance around the sides for every ward.  They knew every dance.

This is the Stake Patriarch and his wife and they loved to dance, he was given a flower for being the best dancer over 50 years old.

Another one of the beauty queens chosen by the Tafuna 2nd ward.  These people love to dance and sing and they can really dance.  Size does not matter - being big is just fine and no one is shy about getting up in front of hundreds to dance.    

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pago Pago - we finally made it.

June 6, 2014 Wendy and I finally get to the airport to leave for our mission.  It was bitter sweet as we said our good byes to those we love so much.  We will meet up with Dave & Lisa and kids in Salt Lake City for a few days before we enter the Missionary Training Centre in Provo, Utah.  We were only able to face time with Aaron & Stacey and the boys but we love them and miss them as well.  Tom.                All the tears effected my eyes and I enjoyed a week of pink eye at the MTC which was very distracting and uncomfortable. Saying goodbye to everyone was touching and pretty hard. Wendy

We had the pleasure of welcoming a few missionaries at the MTC, one of which was Elder Godfrey from our Cochrane Ward.  It was great to see Bro. & Sister Godfrey as they dropped off their son.  We saw Elder Godfrey quit often in the MTC the week we were there.  He will be a great missionary in South Korea.  Tom
Cydne and I enjoyed a long hug as she watched her son walk away with a friendly missionary who met him at the curb. The goodbye seemed harder for the parents than for the missionary. Wendy

The other Missionary we greeted was Elder Burton.  This is CJ's brother's (James) family and their son is going to Berlin, Germany.  It was so nice to see the whole family and watch as they said their good byes.  Always a tender moment.  Tom
With Jessica moving to St. George I know we will enjoy time with this great family in the future.  Wendy

We arrived in Apia Samoa on June 23, 2014 after spending 10 days at the MTC in Provo, flying to Auckland New Zealand for 3 days and then back to Apia.  It was great to get here and meet President Leota our Mission President.  He is a wonder man, so kind and tender.  He will only be our Mission President for 5 days then his mission is finished and he will go to Australia on another assignment.  Our new Mission President is President Tolman from Arizona and we will meet him on July 9th. Tom
Pres. Leota was such a gentleman. It would have been nice to have had more time to associate with him. Wendy

It was nice to see President Woods picture on the wall.  They had all the Mission Presidents that have served in Samoa.  President Wood actually was one of 3 missionaries that were the first missionaries for the Church to come to Samoa.  He came back 4 or 5 years later to serve as the Mission President.  It is great for us to see how the church has grown here in Samoa since then. Tom
Most members know who Elder Wood was. Some say their grandparents spoke of him often. Wendy

 These are the Krogh's from Utah.  They have served 3 missions to Samoa and this third mission they came for only 6 months to help out any way they could.  They were assigned to learn our job and then train us when we arrived.  We are so grateful for their wonderful help.  Elder Krogh speaks fluent Samoan and is very knowledgable regarding the customs of the people here. Tom
Now this is one cool couple! The amount of service they have given and continue to give is remarkable. She is teaching young people piano lessons while she has been here. Everyone loves Elder Krogh. He is such a novelty since he speaks such fluent Samoan and takes everyone by surprise when he starts to talk. He is very much like uncle Bruce.  Tom

This is a picture of a Fale, which is a house, meeting place, where the people actually live if they don't have a typical home.  They cook, eat, socialize, sleep in these Fale's.  The mountain behind is called Rainmaker mountain and is in the harbour at Pago.  Tom
This Fale is in a public area in the harbour. Most fales are not near as fancy as this. The Tsunami in 2008 must have caused this one to get a new roof. There was extensive damage to many buildings and homes with loss of life. There are many ruins of homes just left as is.  Wendy

The local folks like to fish and when tide is out they climb up on the out cropping so they can cast way out in order to catch fish.  Great to see.

This is a beautiful Fale, it is all lashed together with rope and twine and the poles are carved with beautiful traditional patterns.  This one is large and sits at the airport as a gathering place out of the sun as well as a greeting place when you arrive. Tom
It is fun to see Samoans sitting under this with their backs against the poles. It works.  Wendy

Yes Senior Missionaries are allowed to swim / snorkel.  We travelled to the far westerly part of the Island visiting missionaries and while there we took the opportunity to swim and snorkel for awhile.  The water is warm as a bath, it actually started to rain and it was so pleasant as the rain was warm also.  Got to do more of this. Tom
There was no one around, just us on a pretty little beach with a vacant tsunami damaged house up on the shore. It is such a natural paradise without a hint of commercialism. The snorkeling was just so so. We would go back there to picnic but not to snorkel again. Wendy

This is a very common site, the whole family in a truck.  There are 9 trucks to every car because you obviously can haul more stuff around.  Notice the bananas in the back, also the girls hair is so thick she has 4 large braids.  The men and women have lots of traditional tattoos.  This was a quick stop at McDonalds. Tom
I love to see the women dressed in their sunday best riding in the back of the pickups. I have not seen how they get in the back yet. It must be tricky since they are in long skirts. Wendy

We have a beautiful yard here at the mission home and we have bananas, papayas, pineapples, mango, lemons growing in the yard.  The large bats get to the mangos before we do so we are learning when to pick and what to watch for. Tom
I picked a papaya today and will try it tomorrow. Wendy