Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pacific Area Interim Mission Presidents' Seminar - Apia Samoa

 The airport in Samoa. We travelled  with the Area Presidency, Elder Zwick and the other Mission Presidents and Wives from around the Pacific Area.
 On our way to the hotel we were given information about the country, customs and lifestyles of the Samoan people. This open home pictured is what all the homes originally were like before western culture impacted the island. Anyone who came by was welcomed and provided food and shelter.
 The Samoans are still warm and welcoming by nature but many homes are closed and the open areas are used to get together and socialize.
 We passed many small markets along the main road.
Samoa was the 3rd country open to missionary work. Canada and Great Britain proceeded Samoa.
100% of the Samoan population is Christian. Many churches line the main road. In some of the villages the missionaries aren't welcome and if someone joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they actually have to leave the village.
 This was the first chapel we passed but there were many as we drove on.
Taro, breadfruit, bananas, coconut, fish and shellfish, chicken and pork are common food choices. Many foods are cooked in or eaten with, coconut milk and cream. Fresh fruit is abundant and usually enjoyed with every meal.

 Some people set up their own stands to sell their produce. There is a strong sense of family. Everyone takes care of each other in the family and genealogies are recited and well known. Land is passed down through families.
 We saw many pigs, dogs, and chickens. Some cats. We learned a lot about how people literally live off the land. Planting and harvesting and selling their produce is the livelihood of many.
 The Apia Samoa Temple stands on the western outskirts of Apia in Pesega. Mission headquarters, Church administrative buildings, a meetinghouse and the church college are all adjacent to the temple.
The original temple burned down while it was closed for renovation. This occurred on July 9, 2003. The day after the tragedy overwhelmed saints found courage in the sight of the angel Moroni standing dignified atop the remaining steel-and-concrete skeleton. A week after the news of the fire, President Gordon B. Hindkley, who had originally dedicated the temple in 1983, sent a letter to the Area Presidency announcing the temple would be rebuilt.
 In 2005 the new temple was dedicated with the same angel Moroni statue that had been saved after the fire, atop the new temple.
Samoa and American Samoa have good relations. Here a U.S. Coastguard Cutter is passing through. They aided with the 2009 Tsunami Disaster relief, search and rescue, fishing rights, drug trafficking and marine and environmental concerns.
 Our room at the Aggie Gray.
 On the grounds of The Church College of Western Samoa (a combined elementary, middle and high school), a local rugby team practices. 
These lovely Sisters were preparing for our evening entertainment of singing and dancing by hundreds of the islands YSA and Youth groups.

It was fun to see the smaller kids on the sides by us watching their older brothers and sisters on stage and mimicking their every move. 
Maybe these are some of our future missionaries!

Cute Sister Fata, the Mission Presidents Wife in the Papua New Guinea Port Moresby Mission really knows how to dance.

The highlight of the evening was seeing Elder Toala and Elder Utai. The next night they came to see us at the chapel. Just to report they are both doing great and as you can see they still look like missionaries minus the white shirts and ties. Elder Utais' parents are pictures too.

We visited a Flea Market down the street from our hotel. There were bus loads of people coming in from the country. There were traditional wood carvings, woven bags, baskets, mats, kava bowls, walking sticks,  war clubs, jewellery, T-shirts and much more for sale.
Some of the missionaries serving in Samoa came to sing to us. Elder Christensen may know a couple of these young Elders from California.
Elder Segi's sister, niece and brother came by to say hi.
We visited the missionary cemetery where on May 24, 1895 Sister Adelia Moody, serving a mission with her husband William, died shortly after giving birth to a weak and sickly baby daughter they named Hazel. While her husband continued a two-year mission and earned money for passage home, a Samoan woman loved and nurtured baby Hazel, saving her life. 

June 29, 1891, Katie Merrill(missionary) and infant son Joseph died and were buried on the hill above the mission home. 

June 4, 1892, Jeanette Hilton, young daughter of Elder Thomas and Sister Sarah Hilton, died and was buried at Fagalii. She had been suffering from teething and dysentery.

June 17, 1894, the Hilton's son Harold died and was buried at Fagalii. Six months after becoming mission president, Thomas and Sarah Hilton lost their third child in Samoa. George Emmett Hilton died and was buried at Fagalii. He underwent intense suffering for 23 hours from lockjaw. He was 7 days old.

On May 18, 1902, Elder Judson Tomlinson died after several days of high fever, delirium and physical suffering.
Before leaving on his 1921 tour, David O. McKay promised the now widowed Sister Sarah Hilton that he would visit the graves of her children who died in Samoa nearly 30 years earlier. As he looked at those three little graves, he tried to imagine the scenes through which Sister Hilton passed during her young motherhood there in old Samoa. As he did so, the little headstones became monuments not only to the little babes sleeping beneath them, but also to a mother's faith and devotion to the eternal principles of truth and life.

This is Sauniatu (meaning a place to prepare. It took us 45 minutes travelling in an air conditioned bus. David O. McKay visited in May 1921 and it took him 8 hours by horseback. The early Saints who established Sauniatu had a vision about the importance of this place in the Samoan history of the Church. They know they needed a place where they could prepare and build strength. In 1904, when they established Sauniatu, they had been expelled from their villages, persecuted, and unfairly taxed for being Mormons. Later they started a school at Sauniatu, and it became one of the Church schools in Samoa. From time to time, during the ensuing years, the people of Sauniatu and the various school administrators talked about the advisability of keeping such a remote school operating.
At this very spot, in 1921, when Samoan officials were wondering about continuing the village, Elder David O. McKay and Hugh Cannon visited Samoa on their around-the-world tour of the Church. It was on this visit that Elder McKay pronounced an apostolic blessing on Sauniatu and its inhabitants. among other things, he blessed them that they would have an abundance of food and clothing, that their plantations would be fruitful, and that peace would abide in their hearts and homes.
We were served a wonderful lunch on woven baskets.
The school children sang to us and their voices were truly angelic.

Great Leaders

We're grateful to our Zone Leaders for their example, service, faithfulness, diligence and testimony. They exemplify what Jeffrey R. Holland calls a teacher come from God.

"We can only lead others to Him if we ourselves are striving to know God, if we ourselves are continually seeking the light of His Only Begotten Son. Then, if our hearts are right, if we are as clean as we can be, if we have prayed and wept and prepared and worried until we don't know what more we can do, God can say to us as he did to Alma and the sons of Mosiah: "Lift up thy head and rejoice. . . . I will give unto you success."

Our new Zone Leaders this transfer are: Elder Heinricks, Elder Niutua, Elder Lammi, Elder Hopoate, Elder Tepaki and Elder Vaemolo.
 Elder Niutua, Elder Hopoate and Elder Vaemolo all come from the same Stake! Their past leaders and their families must know how to train great leaders.
 In the mission we are continuing the theme of "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." Elder Lott and Elder Hopoate demonstrate how they are going to motivate their Zone with regards to the theme.
 More Zone motivation ideas for the Palmerston North and Hawke's Bay Zones.
 Amazingly, these seven Zone Leaders are all from New Zealand!
 Like Father like Son. Elder Murphy was Elder Heinricks trainer when he first came to the mission. (Elder Rowe must be a distant relative.)
We have to have the Sisters pictured too. Sister Fetu'u is training Sister Tuifelasai. Does that mean Sister Kezerian is a Grandmother and Great Grand mother?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Missionaries, Returning Missionaries

As we see our missionaries returning home after dedicating their time, talents, energy and strength to serving with all their hearts, we hope they exemplify what Elder James E, Faust once said:
"Our young elders are models of young manhood. When they come home, some are criticized as being self-righteous for maintaining a decent appearance and keeping their hair trimmed neatly. I cannot understand why a returned missionary is considered self-righteous if he tries to live the standards and principles he has taught as a representative of the Lord to the people where he has served. Of course returned missionaries are not expected to wear white shirts and ties all of the time. But wearing sloppy clothes and weird hairstyles to supposedly look trendy is not proper for one who holds the divine commission of the priesthood. Returned missionaries are an examples to the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, who will be the future missionaries. Often that which is seen by the Aaronic Priesthood is more powerful and persuasive than what is said. 
Men and women often attempt to gain notice and approval of the group from whom they seek acceptance. Such peer pressure may cause them to do things they would not otherwise do. This is acting out of weakness, not strength."

President Spencer W. Kimball said: 
"It always pleases me when I go to a community and I see the returned missionaries still well dressed, well groomed, and having their testimony and . . . are eager to give the message that they had been teaching all those years.
This intake was all about service and thanks. They were all helping each other pack up and repair clothing so they were ready to serve. We even found thank you notes after they left.
Our newest arrivals. Elder Brown, Sister Paongo, Elder Godinet, and Elder Tautua'a. Welcome!!

 Elder Nelson stayed up way too late packing for home. We were afraid he might miss his flight!
 Elder Finlinson, Elder Philip, Sister Posala, Sister Kezerian, President Kezerian, Elder Bonnefoy-Jenkinson, Elder Windhausen, Front: Elder Booth, Elder Nelson and Elder Scicluna. Farwell and Thank You!