Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Samoan Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.

Even those moms in England who celebrated it a month or so ago. I can remember Barb having to buy Mothers Day cards a year ahead because she couldn’t get them in March in Canada, for her Mom over in England. We figure we should have mother’s day every month rather than every year, we owe our Moms so much. Can we ever repay? Maybe, by being good moms ourselves.

Sorry it has been so long since the last letter. We have been rather busy this past month. We had to go and visit the island of Savaii to teach and attend to any Missionary ailments and prepare the way for the Area Medical Advisor and his Wife to visit on a tour of inspection. Dr Fuller normally resides in Auckland, New Zealand. But his practice covers the whole South Pacific islands area.

A few days after arriving back at the mission office from Savaii the missionaries rolled a 12 seater van back on Savaii, luckily there were only seven on board. So off we went again to sort out the Injured and maimed. The Lord surely must have had a hand in this one. The van rolled five times and came to a stop just at the edge of a cliff. The first hospital couldn’t handle most of the injured as they had no x-ray equipment it was just a small cottage hospital, so they were shipped off to the larger hospital after being bandaged up. By the time we arrived they were all at the second establishment and they were being x-rayed. Out of seven only three were serious with back injuries, suspected cracked ribs etc the others had cuts and bruises. Needless to say none had been wearing seatbelts so they were very sore from being thrown around in the van, one was thrown out on impact. The two worst, we escorted to the main Island next morning at 6 am as the last ferry had already left. These needed CT Scans, only to be found on Upolu. So arriving in Apia amid screaming ambulance sirens, flashing lights etc. we arrived at the main hospital “Motootua General“which had a cat-scan donated by the Chinese Government luckily. The scans were clear, nothing broken maybe stretched tendons so neck braces all round. As we were leaving we realised someone had picked up our camera, so no more photo’s for a while.

On arriving back at the Mission Office we were met by Dr and Mrs Fuller. Who had just arrived by Plane from New Zealand. So taking two breaths, off we went again to escort them on a series of teaching lectures and clinics. This carried on for the rest of the week. Between all this we were trying to prepare for next Sunday as we were both speaking during Sacrament Meeting. On the Friday we were off again to Savaii to escort the good Doctor and his wife to meet another three zones of missionaries, 28 in all. By Friday night we were sure ready for bed. On the Saturday we had a restful day, showing our visitors the sights including Blacksand Beach where we found a beach of totally black sand formed by ground volcanic rock Then further along the same coastline we came to the ‘Blowholes’ where, with caves worn under the cliff edge and vertical holes, formed the same way, great spouts of seawater came shooting up to a height of about 40 to 50 feet. Just before each wave was about to hit the guy who runs the place and collects the entrance fee, threw a coconut, which are very plentiful here, down the hole and as you can imagine they came back up at a great rate of knots like being fired from cannon. It was great fun for a while until we started to feel hungry. We drove almost back to the Ferry wharf and turned off down a one track lane where one of our number, Elder Krogh knew of a nice Cafe’ on the beach. Half way down this very narrow dirt road I looked in my rear view mirror to see the biggest bus on the Island about three feet behind me. Surely this wasn’t on the bus route? It seems it was carrying a party of tourists who had been held up in New Zealand by the Icelandic volcano activity and lack of airplanes to take them home. They had decided to visit Samoa and had picked the same quiet little cafe we had for lunch. It was cosy but we all enjoyed a quickly prepared BBQ lunch of sausages, chicken legs, pieces of pork and fish. Together with potato salad made with breadfruit and Tara & palisami, Tara leaves stuffed with coconut cream and cooked over very hot stones, Pasta salad, coleslaw made with Vi a local veg/fruit tastes a little like apples but without a core just a husky middle. It was all laid out on a buffet table adorned with tropical flowers and a variety of different tropical leaves some woven into baskets and serving plates. Sitting there, overlooking and overhanging the beach with the waves beating along the sandy shore, blue skies. The only thing missing were the seagulls. There are no seagulls down here. It sure felt like paradise.

After lunch we had to head straight back to the wharf to get in line for the ferry, back to Upolu. The Ferry has to be seen to be believed. To get a car or truck on the ferry, one has to back on, up a ramp that forms the front of the boat when hoisted up and a ridge at the top that scrapes the bottom of the car. Some cars have to have blocks of wood placed under the wheels to allow them over the ridge. This time we were placed along the side bulkhead with a flatbed truck with a dead cow covered with palm tree fronds except the head which with eyes still open stared at us all the way across the strait to Upolu. In front of us was an open truck with about ten young heifers standing in their own excrement and the usual accompanying flies. Not the best situation for such distinguished guests and we couldn’t get out of the vehicle because we were parked so close together the doors wouldn’t open, in fact we had to adjust our side mirrors in so they wouldn’t get knocked off by other vehicles coming alongside. An hour and a half later we disembarked after a fairly calm crossing and drove to The Aggie Gray Golf and Country Club Resort for Dinner with twelve Senior Missionaries who had driven from Apia, about an hours’ drive, to join us and a great time was had by all. Aggie Gray was a local character, a renowned hotelier and lady of the island maybe we can expand on this later.

When we got home that evening at about ten o’clock, we had to finish off our presentations for Sacrament meeting next morning where we were due to speak and prepare our lesson for our primary class of CTR 7 yr olds. We are in the throes of joining together with two classes of seven year olds in London Ontario to start a CTR Club where they can write to each other and compare life styles and cultural experience in Samoa compared to Canada. It should be fun, our kids are really looking forward to it and have lots of questions to ask.

On Sunday evening the Fullers flew over to Tutuila the third largest island also known as American Samoa for two days. This gave us a day’s break to catch up with writing up reports on treated missionaries over the past few days. Also to plan on the final series of lectures and clinics on Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. Unfortunately we had to cancel our shift at the Temple to attend a farewell and wrap-up dinner with the Mission President his wife and the Fullers who were leaving that night for their home in New Zealand. We have to admit we did not work too hard on the Friday.

It was soon after that that we experienced our first shudders of an earthquake. Nothing earth shattering if you will forgive the pun, rather like a very large truck passing closely past the building. The crockery in the cupboard clattered but nothing more. We figure it is just another experience to file away. This week we have been trying to catch up with ourselves. Pat has had a mountain of charts all week, about three feet high on his desk entering reported data into the computer for Salt Lake. While Barbara is entering more information onto other charts to make Pat’s pile four feet high. It doesn’t help that a Mission Dentist has come on a three month working mission attending to missionaries’ teeth which also has to be entered into e-med a church data base which collects missionary health data for analysis from around the world. Elder and Sister Bell the couple who look after the Mission Office have had a friend from home visiting them this week and occasionally missionaries parents come to pick up their sons who have finished their two year term here in Samoa.

A little while ago we took the Dentist up to Suniatau a Church farm that was started off as a haven for church members who were being persecuted for being members of the church. The Farm was started to sustain the folks who had to move up to Suniartau in about 1904. The settlement lies in the crater of an extinct volcano with what looks like mountains all around but are in fact the walls of the volcano. There is also a church school run on the premises and today the farm is used to teach young people in farming techniques for local terrain so they can also improve their family’s plantations, which are small plots of land that families grow food for themselves and to sell at the roadside stalls, or in the market in Apia. A plantation may have a few coconut and banana trees and maybe breadfruit with tara a root vegetable, growing in between the trees. Papaya, mango and avocado pears and pineapple lychees, Mangosteins, Vi, are also scattered around. The climate is kind for growing but all families are only a cyclone or hurricane away from starvation. Meat comes from free-range mini-pigs and chickens, beef from heifers fenced in but with plenty of room to wander. Water is very suspect. It is caught in gutters around a fale and kept in a rubber or concrete tank behind the fale (house). Though locals have constitutions like elephants visiting Palogi, white people, are often stricken with the dreaded diarrhoea until the immune system and stomach flora, kick in and get working.

Life is simple in Samoa except where politics get in the way The government is presently trying to bring in an act that will change the constitution as it applies to religious freedom, They want to restrict the Islands to three religious groups, heavily backed up by the local ministers of these three religious parties, who have been using unrighteous dominion over the Villagers for years. They demand money for very large houses for themselves while the villagers live in very humble circumstances. The challenge they have now is that they are losing members and money too, as people are leaving those churches for others like Jehovah Witness, Seventh Day Adventists, Bahai and Latterday Saints who don’t treat them this way and the three churches are feeling the pinch. The Latterday Saints build the churches for members and Bishops are not paid a wage so have no need to extract money for those purposes. We pay a tenth of our increase and that is worldwide. This finances books, church buildings, schools, temples hospitals, welfare farms and food banks and general maintenance costs etc. Member contributions cover spiritual, social and educational needs for all, ministerial positions are all unpaid. Everyone gives of their time and talents and this makes for a great community spirit.

We had an interesting morning today escorting the visiting Mission Dentist and his wife to visit with the President of the Dental Association on the Island and the Head of the Dental Department at the local Government General Hospital. The Dentist having a piece of dental equipment to present to the Dental Department on behalf of the Rotary Club, to which he belongs. The Dentist Dr Capener is here from the U.S. for three months volunteering his services to provide free dental treatment to the Missionaries and local residents who cannot afford such treatment. We have met so many good people volunteering their time to help the Samoan Community.

Well we hope everyone has a good summer. We will miss seeing all our friends at the cottage this year but there will be other years. We hope all the nurses have a great time at the reunion in England. We will be thinking of you at the end of the month especially Maureen who seems to be avoiding us. How about coming home via Samoa. It’s only a short jump from Sydney.

Take care, everyone all our love xxxx


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