Sunday, October 26, 2014


Our missionaries really like to sing and many of them are learning how to play the ukulele, so Wendy bought a bunch of them so she could make them available to the Elders who can save up and buy one from her.  She tunes them and gets them ready for the missionaries wanting to learn how to play.

Pres. Tolman gave us permission to take the missionaries to the new movie "Meet the Mormons".  It was great for them to have this experience and then to invite investigators to go with them.  It was nice that Samoa was one of the limited screenings for the movie.  It was very busy and often sold out each showing.

These Tongan and one Samoan Elder just came from a service project.  I was so amazed that they did not have shoes with them.  They said oh we don't wear shoes when we work in the plantations because it's too hot.  I asked them to let me take a picture of their feet - the picture doesn't do a good job of showing how tough and leathery their feet are.  They thought it was pretty funny that I was so amazed, one said "our feet are like horses hooves".  These boys are all very good athletes.

Well, every so often we have to say goodbye to missionaries we have grown to love.  They become good friends and we share a great bond of love as we serve together.  3 of these Elders are going over to Upolu and the one on the right will stay with us till November and then he goes home.  The one with his tongue sticking out is Tongan and famous for killing and eating dogs here.  

One of the families that provides housing for a set of our missionaries also entertains groups that arrive on the cruise ships.  They have a wonderful set up on their property where they demonstrate many traditional customs of the Samoan lifestyle.  Very similar to the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Hawaii. They climb coconut trees, dance, make mats and hats and baskets, cook in a umu (As part of Samoan umu making, guests participate in the process of pusaga o le umu (building the umu) and preparing and cooking traditional foods,

including talo (taro), ulu (breadfruit), palusami (young taro leaves cooked in 
seasoned coconut cream) and faiai eleni (canned mackerel cooked in seasoned coconut milk), the guest are generally entertained.   Isn't this little one cute.

We watched this lady sing to the shark and turtle to see if they would appear or just spray her to let her know they are there.  This is a legend that the people believe and honor.  They come to this spot and sing a special song over and over again.  She got sprayed (soaked) and came back to where we were to let us know that the shark and turtle had heard her and responded.  You can look up the legend at:

This Elder is a lot of fun.  He has just been made a Zone Leader here and is learning the ropes.  He especially is learning how to speak English on the phone.  He says I can do ok in person but on the phone I don't seem to know what to say ?? we can attest to that.  He is great.  You can keep an eye on him in the near future as he has a scolarship to BYU where he will be playing football.  He works hard at missionary work and at staying in shape.  The coaches from BYU send him a letter each month to encourage him to work hard on his mission and not worry about football for now.  We really enjoy him - he has promised us front row seats when we come to watch him play.

Many of the Fale's (Fale is the Samoan word for all types of houses, from small to large) are just a shelter, but on some of the properties they might have a special Fale that is well cared for and has wonderful ceilings and mats to sit on.  These are great out buildings because you can hang your laundry on a line inside and it won't get wet when it rains, you can rest on the cool cement when it is sunny and hot, you can hang curtains around to give you privacy if you want to live in it, you can set up chairs and use it for seminary or sunday school (often used this way), you can hold a dance or a meeting or just sit against a post and watch the breeze blow by (that happens a lot as well)

Wendy and I have the great privilege of providing support to all the missionaries on the Island of Tutuila. After teaching Institute in the mornings on Monday through Thursday, we have 36 missionaries that we take mail & parcels, cleaning supplies, clean filtered water(we clean/sanitise/and fill about 15 bottles with clean filtered water each week), missionary material(we maintain an inventory of teaching material and cleaning supplies in our storage units at the mission home) and treats to each week.  Wendy is their resident medical specialist that helps keep them healthy, clean and able to advance the work of the Lord. We provide them with whatever they need to do the Lords work - even if it's a rat trap or a broom, whatever they need to be able to focus on the work.  We feel like these young men are like our grandsons and we want them well taken care of just like we hope in the coming years that some Sr. couple will take care of our grandsons and granddaughters as they serve. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014


 Well, it seems as though Wendy and I are somewhere exciting on my birthday.  In 2010 we had just arrived in Robin Hood Bay, North England having just completed a 13 day hike from Coast to Coast.  In 2012 we found ourselves in Leon Spain, on our 35 day pilgrimage trek across Spain. And here we are in 2014, American Samoa, sitting on a beautiful beach we hiked to with the Bay and beach all to ourselves.

 In 2009 a tsunaumi hit the Island of Samoa and one of our Churches was badly damaged.  When we got here in June it was all boarded up but in September they started to rebuild the Chapel.  We hope to see it's completion and dedication while we are here.

 We had a great experience in early September with Elder Haleck, the Stake Presidents and the Mission President & Sister Tolman over on the Island of Aunu'u.  This is the landing area of the first missionaries to Samoa.  This is where Wendy's great Uncle EJ Wood landed and started his missionary service in 1888.  There was a special celebration with Elder Haleck, Stake Presidents and Mission President & Wife, Wendy and I and and Elder Anderson who just arrived to serve here.  Elder Anderson is a great, great grandson of Elder Dean who also was one of the early missionaries here.  They made a fuss over Elder Anderson and Wendy because of the great blessing their ancestors were to Samoa.

 This float gives rival to the Rose Parade I'm sure.  We witnessed the Miss Universe, American Samoa beauty pageant, with 5 contestants driving these great floats from one end of the Island to the other.  It really slowed traffic down from 25mph to about 10 mph.

Here on the Island there is a special heart attack burger called the "Marvin Burger".  It is a special event for the missionaries and has been a main burger dive for post district meetings.  This place should be on "Diners and Dives".  Here is the what they put on it.  3 patties of meat, 3 patties of cheese, 3 fried eggs, 3 slabs of bacon (barely cooked), lots of mayo - $5.35 and it's all yours.  It comes with fries, lots more mayo dipping sauce and all the lemon-aide you can drink.  In case any of you are wondering - NO I have not had one and don't intend on having one.

Wendy and I got to tour the Hokule'a. This is the replica of the kind of canoe's the ancient polynesians used to sail the ocean.  It is completely built without bolts, screws, nails.  There is over 6.5 miles of rope and lashing holding it together.  It has a companion canoe that is larger and fully equipped with technology to film, track, and do research as it follows the Hokule'a around the world.  The Hokule'a has a mission to educate people
regarding celestial navigation, do research on the oceans and the Islands where they stop and visit and try and maintain the great heritage of the early polynesian people and their way of navigating the great oceans of the world.  We were fortunate that they stopped here for a few weeks in September giving us the chance to go on board and visit with the crew.

Well, hiking seems to be the trend for the Septembers of my life so of course it would make sense for Wendy and I to go for a hike and explore the Island.  We hiked the Mount Alava National Park hike.  It is a 4 hour hike along the ridge overlooking Pago Pago bay.  It starts at a pass called Fagasa Pass and goes it seems like forever.  The peak is approx. 1610 feet above sea level and there are many, many ups and downs as you hike the trail.  We had a great time - Wendy was so tired and hot that she took off her shoes and put on some flip flops to ride in the van.  Unfortunately she left her running shoes sitting on the road beside the Van.  We only realised this about 2 weeks later when she couldn't find her shoes.