Friday, February 19, 2010

#5 February 11, 2010

It’s probably been about a week since we finished the last entry and most of our days are similar to the ones described in the last blog segment. We continue to go to town and shop and just wander around and introduce ourselves to people and chat for a bit. We quite often find other members of the Church working in different places around the towns and villages. We are always very recognizable because of our missionary attire and our nametags, so we get stopped a lot by members who are used to missionaries. John is always in his white shirt, dark pants and tie, but I am able to wear clothes that are a little less institutional looking. I’ve finally finished making some lighter-weight and more colorful clothes (in moderation, that is) and will probably be sending most of the original wardrobe I brought with me back home pretty soon.

The temperature varies all the way from about 79-81 degrees, day and night, so it’s all very predictable. At night we may need a sheet over us at times, but seldom. It continues to rain constantly, but we’ve realized it’s not such a problem as long as we have our umbrella with us. When we run in the mornings, it actually feels great to get wet, and we often do. The humidity doesn’t seem to plague us quite so much now. It’s just a fact of life in Samoa we’ve learned to deal with. Our clothes, even clean ones, get smelling slightly of mildew, but after finally finding a supply of Febreze over in Apia, we’ve got that problem licked as well. I do more laundry than usual, as you may have noticed from our earlier blogs, but we’re learning when and how to do it and to accept that we will always have wet clothes hanging in our house. We have a separate laundry room here in Vaiola, but won’t have down in Lalomalava, so there’ll be clotheslines strung in the bedroom and living room I expect. There are clotheslines in the yard there, but we’ll be gone so much from home, we won’t be there to watch for rain and bring the clothes in. We’ll have washer and dryer privileges, but they charge extra for the dryer, so we’ll use it sparingly.

As long as we’re talking about laundry again, I might as well get the next installation of “Laundry Tales” out of the way and be done with it. The day after we figured out how to use the machines in the washhouse, a truck drove up to our door and delivered a beautiful brand new washer and dryer. Once they got it unloaded and into the laundry room, they said they’d be back to determine how to vent the dryer. In the mean time, we were free to use the washer whenever we wanted. We noticed a sticker on the lid that cautioned us to use only “high efficiency laundry powder”, which is not what we purchased the first time around. We were warned several times in the instructions to stay away from regular laundry powder because the high suds created problems with rinsing and could damage the machine. When we went into town the next time, we went to every store available and found absolutely no laundry soap anywhere marked ‘high efficiency’. Most merchants had no idea what we were talking about. We finally found one that noted smaller quantities to use for front-loading washers, but didn’t say anything about high efficiency. Since it was getting time to do laundry again, we went ahead and decided to try that one.

We got the washer all hooked up to the water and drainage sink and proceeded to start the first batch of clothes by just putting the soap in, pushing the right buttons and going about our other business. Being a little paranoid about the suds, I checked to find that they were all foamed up and spilling out from under the lid. I got a cup and scooped most of them out, which we had to do a couple more times before it stopped agitating. Once it started to drain, we figured we were home free. (oh sure!!) As we were sitting there at the table quietly studying, we started to hear and feel this horrendous sound from the laundry room. We ran in and found that the vibrations of the spinning had sent the washer walking all over the room. John grabbed hold of it and hung on as he walked/wobbled it back into place and had to hold it down until the spinning stopped. We figured it must just be out of balance, so we grabbed the instructions to find out how to balance it. All it required was a special wrench, which we didn’t own, so he turned the legs by hand as far as he could. While he ran to find the maintenance men who had delivered it, I proceeded to start the washer back up so that I could rinse the clothes, knowing full well that it would probably start vibrating again as soon as the spin cycle kicked in. I hoped John would be back by then with help, but figured I could hold it down as well as he could, if I had to. Well, I found that I could, but my arms got so tired, I had to shut the machine down. Pondering my dilemma, I grabbed a chair from the dining room, climbed up on the washer and plopped down, turned the spin cycle on again and sat there for the next ten minutes riding the machine until it finally finished. What I didn’t realize was that this was a double-rinse cycle, so I let it do it’s thing again.

I grabbed my book and climbed on again for the final spin, which is where John found me when he came back. This was a photo moment, if ever there was one. When the workmen came back with their wrenches, and made some adjustments, they wanted me to start another load so they could see what was going on. After emptying the first load and loading the second, and being cautious to add very little soap, we left the workmen to watch the cycle and they were there ready to catch it as it took off again. They decided that there was definitely something wrong with the machine and they would recommend to their superior that it be sent back. They left us there, with a batch of clean, but soapy, clothes, so I informed John that since I was now an experienced washing machine rider, I’d get my book and take it from there for the two rinse cycles. Once that was done and we had the laundry hung, we figured we’d go back to the washhouse with the last batch of dirty clothes. However, before we left, the ‘superior’ in charge of maintenance came and wanted to check out the washer before he had it sent back. Sooo.... we demonstrated the wash cycle for him, with John helping him hold it down, and then he left saying it would definitely have to go back. Okay, that’s fine, but now we’re left with one last batch of soapy laundry that needed to be rinsed. John volunteered to rinse it in the sink and then wring it out, but I had grown to love the jolly jaunt so much that I just grabbed my book, climbed aboard, and accompanied the ill-fated washer through its last two spin cycles. Yaaahooooo!!! I told you didn’t I, that it gets more and more comical. Who knows what to expect once we start washing our clothes at the hotel, but you know, I’m beginning to think there might be a book in the making here—how about DIRT DISPOSAL FOR DUMMIES or maybe even LAUNDRY LAMENTATIONS OF A LUDICROUS LADY? Does anyone know any publishers who might take a chance on it???

Now, we’re not on this mission just to provide entertainment for the masses of people following this blog. We do have serious business here and it is really starting to pick up finally. We have a zone meeting tomorrow, a missionary training class on Friday and a Fireside on Sunday. Hopefully, after those meetings are out of the way, we’ll have plenty to keep us busy in the missionary vein. John, who has always been such a hard worker and has had all kinds of extra things to keep him busy back home, finds himself a little too idle when he gets to the point that he’s had enough of language and scripture study. He helps me with my duties--shopping, cooking, cleaning, LAUNDRY-- but is still feeling that’s not what he came to Samoa for. I suggested that he needed to start up another little hobby for just such times as these, like whittling, drawing, etc. While he was kibitzing around on the front porch with a bunch of the neighbor kids, and was waiting for me to come out with my little piano, a great idea struck me. He’d been wanting me to teach him how to play the piano for years, but would always get bored with it when I tried, like he did as a kid. Now he can’t run off to the woodshop or his garden when he needs something to do. Also, I need someone to experiment on with the Basic Piano Course that was added to my duties as a missionary.
So for the past two nights, I’ve started him on the simple lessons in that course. He’s practically teaching himself, so I don’t have to do much. He doesn’t last too long at it, but he is moving through the lessons and learning the technique and will actually be able to assist me in teaching it when he gets to a certain point in the course. Along with teaching simple piano/keyboard lessons, I’ll be teaching some conducting classes as well. Music always plays such an important part in all our worship services and auxiliary meetings. The Bishops all like to have up-and-coming accompanists and conductors in their wards to assist in the music callings in each auxiliary. So that’s another part of our member support responsibilities.

Another part of my duties that John has taken on is helping with the cooking. I joked before we came to Samoa that since the men in Samoa do all the cooking, I would certainly go along with that and turn it all over to John. He has helped me a lot with meal preparation and cleanup since he has plenty of time to do it. We have been getting so many gifts of pineapple, papaya and bananas that we’ve had to discreetly unload some of it off onto the elders and they are usually happy to get it. The papayas and pineapples keep pretty well in the fridge, but once a banana is ripe, it needs to be eaten or turned into banana bread. The only baking pan we had in the house was one we picked up when we were last in Apia—a nice cake pan/baking pan/cookie sheet. We got a banana bread recipe from Kimmy when we were skyping with them and John figured he was ready to make banana bread. We realized that we had no eggs, so we bought a dozen very small eggs, for about 6.50 Samoan Tala (ST), which is about $3.00 (ouch!). We don’t plan to do too much with eggs at that price. After dinner one evening last week, John decided to make banana bread. He had all of the dry ingredients together in one bowl and had cracked the first egg into the other bowl with the oil. Somehow as he was reaching for the second egg, he knocked the whole carton of eggs on the floor. We lost about 8 of them in that accident.
He felt so bad, not only because of the mess, but the cost of the eggs. We cleaned it all up and finished getting the batter in the pan, sort of a small cookie sheet with high sides, and got it in the oven. We followed the recipe in terms of oven temperature and time, but realized after that we should have cooked it either a shorter time or a cooler temperature, because it looked pretty well done when we got it out of the oven. It did taste good though and we’ve requested some bread-baking pans in our next Care package from home. We learned a lesson or two on how to go about our next attempt at baking--alter the time and temp and keep the eggs away from the edge of the table.

In the course of an average day we seem to spend a lot of time in the car. That can be pretty nice actually, in light of the constant heat and humidity. This little car is very well air-conditioned and a nice reprieve in the middle of the day. We see a lot of very interesting things as we drive around. John has been amazed at all of the newer homes that have replaced the typical old very picturesque Samoan fales (house) that he was so used to when he was here over fifty years ago. The thatched roof is pretty much a thing of the past, even on the typical fale, so nearly 90% of all buildings have corrugated metal roofing on them. To find someone actually living in one of the old style fales, instead of relegating them to cook house or animal abode, is quite unusual. We had to stop and snap a picture of this fale, with thatched roof intact, and still being lived in.
Note the second little building next to the bigger one. That is the cook house. Most Samoan homes, including the more modern ones, have a little building outside of the regular house to do their cooking and especially the baking, because it keeps the mess and heat away from the family.
The more modern version of Samoan homes may still have the open walls, but are often painted in very bright colors and have multi-colored print fabric shades to pull down when it rains or they want privacy at night. Notice the large cheerfully painted truck tires decorating the front yard in the third picture (a very common sight in Samoa). Their yards are all very well kept up and have colorful native foliage growing everywhere. There are very few lawnmowers in Samoa. All those neatly manicured lawns are kept up with a weed eater. I expect there could even be some that are still ‘mowed’ by a bunch of guys with machetes, the old fashioned way it was done when John was here as a young missionary. (This is 2 days later—today we actually saw a little old lady doing that very thing—cutting her grass with a machete almost as big as she was) The grass is also weed-eaten (is that a word?) about 6 ft. wide all along both sides of the highways where there are no homes at all. I thought it was just for looks, but John said that the way things grow here, the lush green vines would be encroaching on the pavement in no time, if they let them go. It makes sense to me, but it still looks really nice.

Many of the homes, whether lavish or humble, have a tomb or several graves right in the front yard. There are few ,if any, cemeteries. Having family buried in the front yard is their way of making claim to the property, I understand. This one is of above average size and decoration, but there are many covered with marble, buried in bouquets of fake flowers, or housed inside a very elaborate little glassed-in building. I’ll probably include some shots of others later in another blog.

There are also quite a few concrete block homes, with louvered windows which are almost always opened, even when it rains. That’s the type of house we live in here and I really like the control the louvers give us with the heat, air and rain. Almost every house, and church or school for that matter, has a large open building right next to or even attached to their homes like a covered patio, which sort of acts as a gathering room for large groups, and also doubles as living space, outdoor sleeping space and laundry-hanging space when it rains. I’ve wished for a building like that next to my house, so I don’t have to hang the clothes all over inside the house.

Speaking of homes, we paid a visit to our new little future home today and found a great deal of progress had been made. The front door and windows are in, the painting is almost finished inside and outside, and the cabinets need only to be varnished and the tile put down on the floor. It looks like we might be able to move in the first of next week.
While we were there, one of the workers’ had his son or grandson with him, an adorable little boy about 2 yrs old, I’d guess. The little one was very nervous and sober as we talked to him, especially when John placed his glasses on the boy’s nose. Just as I pulled my camera out to snap his picture, he spied it and let loose with this wonderful smile for the camera. He’s obviously had his picture taken before.
This load of kids in the back of an open pickup is another common sight we see. Truckloads of workers with their tools and machetes, families with kids of all ages, or teenagers in School uniforms are always on the road. Obviously there are no seat-belt laws or if there are, nobody pays attention to them. I mentioned earlier about not seeing a group of guys cutting the lawn with machetes. What we do see on lonely country plantation roads are groups of men, or a single man or boy here or there, walking along holding their machetes. I’ve gotten used to it now, though it was a little unsettling at first; but I’d bet that in another setting somewhere in the USA, people would be terrified by them, not to mention laws against them being carried around so freely. These are such peace-loving people, that there are very few policemen around, accept in the busiest areas in the Capitol, or here around the wharf where there are a lot of people coming and going.

KAREN – February 16th – (five days later) We’ve had a more eventful week this time around. We did have a zone meeting where it was suggested that the missionaries could be a big help to the kids in the wards, by offering to assist them with their homework. All the children in Samoa are learning English and it is quite difficult for them. Apparently the government schools don’t give them enough English for them to pass their exams and get into better schools. The parents are so anxious for their children to succeed in English, because that’s where their futures will be found. After talking to the Bishop, it was decided that we would hold our first “homework assistance session” on Sunday afternoon at 3:30. It was announced twice in our church meetings earlier in the day and we expected to have a few kids, mostly teenagers, that we would be helping with their homework. Well, about 50 kids from about ages 5 to 17 showed up, plus some of their parents. Only a few of the older ones had homework with them. The others all just wanted to get better in English. The first 20 minutes were very confusing, trying to come up with some way to deal with all the different levels. Fortunately, we had two Elders there to help us. It was decided to split the group up and send the younger ones, some of whom could hardly read any English, out to another classroom with the missionaries. The poor elders also thought they would just be helping with a little homework, so as they left with the young kids, probably about 25 of them, they gave a us look that said “HELP!!!” I left John to fend for himself with the older kids for a while and helped herd the other children into another classroom and suggested the Elders start with the English alphabet, help them to recognize the letters and how they sounded, and maybe even make some words out of them. I left them and went back in to where John was trying to zero in on some sort of class discussion with the teenagers. They talked about the difference between Samoan pronunciation vs. English, and also had some of the kids with homework bring it up and we’d try to make a lesson out of it. We were still in over our heads, so I took another of bunch of Jr. High-age girls to another classroom and started to quiz them on what some of their biggest challenges were in school. The first room we went into was right next to the one that the elders had the younger ones in. The elders were doing great making games out of the alphabet, but the noise level was just like a playground at recess. With my bad ears and the soft spoken young girls, I couldn’t make sense out of anything they said. We moved to another room clear across the courtyard from the noise and did much better. In a more quiet setting, I resumed asking each one about their most challenging problem. They brought up things like, pronunciation, speech writing and delivering, spelling, etc. I was going by the seat of my pants here, so I asked each one of them to write a short speech, in English, one half page, telling us about themselves—who they are, their families, what they like to do--and if there were Samoan words that they didn’t know the English word for, to just leave a blank space and make a note of the Samoan word down below. I would also write a speech in Samoan about me and my life and we would all share it next week in front of each other. Once they all understood the assignment, we talked about another possible weekday class later in the week and promptly adjourned. I told the elders to go ahead and close down and went in to join John, where we announced that now we knew what we were up against, we would come better prepared next week. We’ll see how many show up next time.

We’ve been on the phone all day for a couple of days since Sunday talking to people at the different church schools to see if there are some books and lesson plans we could use to make the classes more meaningful for the kids. We’ll be going over to Apia next week to pick up some materials, but in the meantime, we went to the local library, where the librarian was most anxious to help us come up with some books to use until we could get the help we needed from the schools. We’ve created a new schedule in order to split up the kids and spread them a little thinner. We’re going to ask the bishop to recommend some Ward Members who speak good English to help us as well. Say a prayer for us. We really need it.

This experience makes me think of something that happed over in Pesega before we came to Savai’i. One of the young elders told us about a quote from a visiting general authority who was giving them some counsel during a time of discouragement. The quote said “There is no Growth in the Comfort Zone and there is no Comfort in the Growth Zone”. Those words hit home so totally with me that I had to go home and print it up (by hand with colored markers), frame it, and hang it on the wall where I could see it every day. I am definitely out of my ‘comfort zone’ and hopefully there is an enormous amount of ‘growth’ going on right now. It’s been made very clear to us that helping families bolster up their English is one of the best kinds of member support we can offer them, but how we do it will be a tremendous growth experience for us.

JOHN: One morning last week I had the feeling that we needed to go down to one of the villages on the coast and visit the local minister. The village is called Sapapali’i, and has a bunch of history associated with it. It was here that the first Christian missionary, John Williams, arrived in Samoa in 1830, and the church set up became the LMS (London Missionary Society) church of Samoa. It continues this day to be the predominant church in the country. They are a protestant church patterned after The Church of England. The actual site of the landing is marked by a big monument, and right by it is this big, beautiful church. It may well be the biggest and most important LMS church in Samoa--certainly it is on this island. The other island, Upolu, is more populated, but because John Williams landed here it has special status over the other churches. The village was named to commemorate William‘s arrival there. When his ship’s sails broke the horizon, the white sails seemed to the Samoans to be like an explosion in the sky. Explosion is “pa pa”, and chief (or lord) is “ali’i”. The past tense is “sa”, hence the word Sa papa ali’i is contracted to “Sapapali’i”. The minister of this church is undoubtedly carefully selected, and holds a position of great respect. We met him, Esera (Ezra), and his wife Tamara and began what is proving to be a close, mutual friendship. They are most gracious, and eager to visit with us. They are both native Samoans, but speak good English, and look forward to our visits to engage in good, friendly conversation. I told him on our first visit that I had been listening to the local radio to help me get an ear for the spoken language, and that some of the best spoken word came from ministers’ sermons. I asked if he would allow us to attend his church so I could hear his sermons in Samoan. He said we were very welcome to come, and so the following Sunday we attended our first LMS Church meeting in his beautiful chapel. It was very impressive and the music was wonderful, with the audience doing all of it with full voices and wonderful harmony. He even spoke kindly of us from the pulpit, pronounced a blessing on our work, and asked his congregation to be accepting of us--not at all like the early days of our church when we were persecuted severely by the other churches of Samoa. He even announced that I would be giving a sermon at some point in the future. This story will be interesting to follow in days to come.

KAREN: I’ll just fill in a few little blanks here about our visit to the LMS church. (Hmmm, interesting how close that comes to LDS Church). Actually, we were able to locate that minister because we ran into a young American girl from Texas named Emily who was walking by the Church earlier in the week. There are so few Americans on the island, that we seem to naturally migrate toward each other. She is in Samoa as a member of the Peace Corps and happens to be staying with our minister friend while she volunteers at an elementary (called primary) school in that village. She is struggling with Samoan like I am and we had a lovely visit with her. She told us where to find the minister’s home and hoped to meet with us again sometime to swap stories and languages. Before walking up to the minister’s home, I was very nervous about showing up there unannounced. They were so very cordial when we arrived and we had a wonderful visit and an invitation to attend their services on the following Sunday.
As we were driving up to the church on that beautiful Sabbath morning, right in front of us in the driveway was a walking mass of church goers all dressed in their Sunday best white clothes. That is apparently a time-honored custom for many of the other Christian churches here in Samoa. The men had white sport coats on (despite the heat) and most of the women had big white hats. They all looked so beautiful. John was right about the music. They had two formal choirs, each with their own organ and organist, both of whom also seemed to be the choir director. Singing is a great tradition for Samoans, no matter what church they’re in. They grow up singing at the family devotionals they have every night in their own homes. Our Samoan tutor told us that most of them have relative pitch and hear harmony naturally. As a lifelong choir director, what I would have given for a bunch of them in my choirs along the way in my lifetime. (no offense intended for those few faithful and talented members of the Wallsburg Ward choir that might be listening in.)

After the service, the minister and his wife asked us for lunch, but we had to rush off to our own church meetings where we had obligations. We made plans to do that on another Sunday.

The LMS church building is one of the prettiest churches of several along that strip of road. As you can see, it is beautifully kept up and if you notice off to the left is their covered open “cultural hall” where they have socials and probably even services sometimes when it’s really hot in the building. I hope to get some pictures of the inside of the church, but didn’t feel it was appropriate to do so on a Sunday during church. It has amazing intricate woodworking on the ceiling and colorful stained glass windows. It was a real treat to be there that day.
What with Samoa being a predominantly Christian nation, there are all kinds and sizes of churches everywhere. The first two pictures are of other churches along the same route as the LMS church. Note the luxurious home to the left of the blue and white one with the red roof, and especially note the pink and white tomb in the front yard. The second one was looking a little dilapidated when we drove past it the first few times, but today we noticed painters were freshening it up. When they noticed me taking the picture of the church, they decided to ham it up for me to take their picture as well. Samoans are also a very fun-loving people with a great sense of humor.
These three pictures are of a typical LDS wardhouse, of which there are a surprising number all over the Samoan islands. There is a charming outdoor baptistry in the courtyard, and in the rear their version of a cultural hall, including the open covered pavilion, restrooms and the volleyball and basketball courts (which double as a parking lot on Sundays).
JOHN: Yesterday we went for a walk along the beach road , and met a young man who had come to Savaii for his father’s funeral. His father had committed suicide as a result of the depression he felt after losing the sight in his one good eye. He said his dad was a good member of the church. He had gone to see a doctor for treatment of his good eye, and the doctor did something wrong, resulting in blindness in both eyes. There is a strong practice here of alternative medicine, actually it is the native medicine that has existed for centuries. Some claim that it works, but others don’t agree. They use a lot of native potions, massage, etc. I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet he was treated by a local practitioner and not a real doctor. He apparently stabbed himself in the temple with scissors to kill himself. We did have a good walk and talk with the son though. He wanted to give a tour of the village, and we walked for about an hour with him, talking both English and Samoan. We will probably get to know him more as time goes on because his mom is the Relief Society president in the ward there, and I think she is also the leader of the village women’s committee.

I had a hard time sleeping the other night. I knew my good friend, Gary Totland, was in serious trouble in an intensive care unit back in Utah. We learned the next day that he had died about the same time I was having my attack of insomnia. I thought throughout the night that he was one of my few remaining close friends. He was the best man at my wedding, and we did many things, especially sports together over the early years of our lives. He was a great one who could make everyone happy with his wit and genuine friendliness. I’ll have to wait till I am on the other side to renew that friendship.

KAREN: We are truly saddened by Gary’s unexpected death and it makes us feel much older as we realize that there are fewer and fewer friends and relatives our age. I know this must be a great shock for his wife and family, but also know that they, as we, will find comfort over time in the Savior’s gospel and the knowledge that death need not separate families permanently. Thank Heaven for that knowledge and the peace it gives us in times of grief and trial. Life continues to go on in Utah, with deaths, family birthdays, weddings, reunions, etc. and I’m sure we’ll have a lot more news from home to keep up with as we serve out here in the middle of the ocean. Hopefully, most all of the news will be happier than this last bit of news about Gary. So…keep the news coming, we love hearing from you.
This final picture is of downtown Salelologo, probably the largest village on Savai’i and near the wharf where all traffic comes and goes on and off the island. The buildings all around the gas station are stores, and note that John is sitting in our car as a woman pumps his gas. No one pumps their own gas here.

Well, thanks for suffering through our travelogue. As our mission progresses and we find ourselves much busier (we hope), I expect the blog will dwindle down to a trickle. It’s been a great time filler for me, like a good friend to talk to I might add, and will create great memories for us as we view it after our mission.

Love to all from The Kroghs

PS: we got our malfunctioning washing machine back today and it worked like a charm, in case you were sitting on the edge of your seats wondering about it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#4 January 31, 2010

JOHN: We travelled from Savai’i back over to Upolu yesterday a.m. on the ferry without any problems (seasickness). Saw flying fish and dolphins along the way. Shopped in Apia after lunch and bought more supplies. In the evening, we attended a huge meeting with all saints (church members) with Samoan songs and dances performed by young people from each stake on Upolu. Apostle Cook, Presiding Bishop Burton, area president and area seventy and all their wives were guests. Great program, but hot and very humid. Karen almost melted. Today we went early and bought fish at fish market (red snapper, albacore, and tuna). Big fish there, and many kinds.

Went to the Temple in the morning to do an endowment session (special service only done in temples, where members can commit to living the gospel of Jesus Christ and in turn, great blessings are promised to those who keep covenants, and includes baptisms and endowments by proxy for deceased ancestors who died without the opportunity to hear the gospel and partake of those saving ordinances). The endowment session was full and so we went into a sealing session, where members are sealed by priesthood authority to family for time and eternity, including husband to wife and children to parents. Again, already-endowed members stand in as proxy for those who have died. Extremely moving and spiritual experience! It was conducted by a Samoan priesthood worker, who taught many great truths about the eternal nature of the family.

Later in day went to visit Fotu Aiono, a man who was a missionary over 50 years ago when I was here as a young man. His huge garden contained many wonderful plants (pineapple, papaya, taro, etc.) plus beautiful flowering plants mixed in with coconut palms, bamboo, flowering trees, etc.). Looked like a garden of Eden. Had lunch in his new home, and then came back to Apia for a meeting with all Samoan missionaries and above-mentioned general authorities. Great spirit felt by all. Great testimonies borne by apostle and presiding bishop. Lunch later with group of senior missionary couples, included many things we love to eat but don’t have very often in this country (potato salad, ice cream, etc.). Evening meeting with all saints in Samoa (some heard it in their villages on other parts of this island and on other islands by broadcast). Again a great meeting.

KAREN: As John mentioned, we took the ferry back over to Upolo for a special church conference with visiting General Authorities from Salt Lake, who are travelling all over the South Pacific visiting the missions and giving support and encouragement to the missionaries and members. The ferry ride turned out to be okay. I had been dreading the ride on this small ferry (We had taken the large ferry over on our first trip, which is a smoother ride.) The last time we made this trip 5 years ago on this same small ferry, I had one of the most miserable experiences of my life. We got stuck in the car during a storm with the ferry rocking up and down and no way to get out the doors to go up to the deck for some air. I could open the door a small crack on my side with just enough space to lose my lunch (a couple of times) onto the floor of the boat. On John’s side, his door wouldn’t open, so he had to roll down the window and throw up all over the side of a large SUV parked about 6 inches away. There were 4 of us in the small compact car, right up against a wall on one side, the SUV on the other, and I became very claustrophobic, as well as sick. The trip takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but sitting there in despair it felt like three hours. Yesterday, I would have chosen to take the later ferry, the large one, but the other couple we went with felt we had to leave early in order to get all our shopping done. We don’t get to the big city very often so we take full advantage of the better shopping while we’re here.

Before we got on the ferry, Sister Montgomery and I got out of the car and went into a small lounge toward the center of the ferry where less movement is felt. I had taken my ginger pills over an hour earlier, the locally recommended remedy for seasickness, and found a nice comfortable seat in the lounge to try to close my eyes and possibly fall asleep in order to weather the storm. It all worked like a charm. I dozed off right away and woke up about 45 minutes into the trip feeling just fine. I was able to sit up, jot some notes into my ‘pre-blog’ notebook, and check over my shopping list before we came close to shore again. When we went back out to where the car was parked right along the rail, we found John and Elder Montgomery raving about the sight-seeing tour they’d had watching the school of dolphins that were swimming and leaping alongside the ferry together with the flying fish. Apparently, we had missed a real show. I felt bad about Sis. M. missing out just to keep me company, but she said she had seen ‘that show’ several times and I would be able to also over the next couple of years. I felt a huge relief, knowing I could make this trip back-and-forth between islands without a repeat of my earlier journey of misery. I think I can really put that memory behind me now.

Once we landed on Upolo, we hit the ground running. We went straight in to the Mission Office, which was a hubbub of activity. It was swarming with young elders who had come in from all over the islands for the conference, some of whom we had made acquaintance with back at the MTC in Provo. We also met up with the other new Senior couple who we had trained with in the MTC, a dynamo of a team who would be responsible for the medical health of all missionaries. They were from Canada, but originally from England and had every earmark and accent of a true Brit. They had to stay at the MTC a week longer than we did for extra medical training, and had landed in Upolo after we had left for Savai’i. It was so good to see them again. I wish there was time and space here to tell you their history, but suffice it to say it was very colorful. After clearing a up a bunch of paperwork, a brief meeting with President Haleck, and renewing acquaintances with other Senior couples we had met during our first week on Upolo, we set out for a shopping trip. It seemed much hotter in Upolo, but it was a truly sunny day, which we hadn’t experienced for awhile, and we were constantly on the move. We made our trek around to several stores to locate different food items, not available on Savai’i, and for several household items we would need to set up our new apartment. The one big item we needed was a microwave. What with the constant heat, using a stove and oven can really steam up an apartment. We were appalled at what we had to pay for one, almost $500 for the cheapest one we could find. We decided it was worth it to have access to the quick and cooler cooking method. We got a white one, but the stainless steel model was almost $1000.

One of the purchases I made in the States before we came was a nifty little 5-pound electric sewing machine to have on hand for mending, etc. I can’t seem to live my life normally without a sewing machine close at hand. I’d had such a dilemma trying to shop for the right kinds of clothes for the heat and humidity and still stay within the guidelines of conservative missionary attire. I’d had such mixed messages from my missionary guide book and ex-Samoan missionaries, that I just packed a bare minimum of clothes, and figured I’d just whip up the proper wardrobe once I got in Samoa. When I first got to the Mission office, I discovered all the lady missionaries were dressed in these wonderful colorful Samoan prints of light-weight cotton, and sandles with no hose. I knew that sewing machine would really come in handy right away. I shopped for fabrics and set myself up early on to make some acceptable Samoan missionary clothes. I’m sure you’re aware that the electrical power source in other countries is different than the US, so we have to use special plug adaptors, and even transformers, in order to use American appliances, such as curling irons, blow dryers and sewing machines. I knew that, but when I hooked up my straightening iron the first time, using only an adaptor, it blew a fuse and I assumed it had ruined the iron. Gratefully, the fuse switch just flipped off. My naturally wavy hair kinks so tight with the Samoan humidity that I look like a little old lady straight out of the beauty parlor with a new perm. I can straighten my bangs and sides with the iron, but it doesn’t last long. Oh well, I guess I am a little old lady, or big old lady in my case. On the day I set up the sewing machine for the first time, I carefully added the converter plug and proceeded to plug it into an electrical strip instead of the transformer. This time it didn’t just blow a fuse; it completely burned out the motor. I felt more stupid than upset. I had only paid $39.00 for the little machine at a half-price sale, so I figured I’d just find a little one here in Samoa that worked with the local current, and donate it to the mission when I went home. What I didn’t anticipate was that there are virtually no home sewing machines for sale in all of Samoa. I found one that had to be hand-cranked and two old foot-treadle machines. I was just totally perplexed. I’ve since discovered that the only ones who sew in Samoa are tailors and dressmakers and most of them use commercial machines. So, I found a place in town that would fix my little machine, but they’d have to order a new motor from New Zealand and they suggested we replace it with one that worked with Samoan current. I said okay, and don’t have a clue what I’ll have to pay for the new motor and labor, but I’ll bet anything it will be a whole lot more than the $39.00 I paid for it in the first place. When I expressed my chagrin to the clerk at having to wait so long for the machine to be repaired, and that I needed it to get the proper clothes made, she kindly offered me the use of her little electric Singer machine until mine was fixed. When I protested that it was too much to ask, she would not take ‘no’ for an answer. So I am now using her machine for as long as I need it. That is just the Samoan way. Our Samoan tutor cautioned us about complimenting people about things they were using or wearing, because they would end up giving it to you as a gift. Well, this sewing machine was only a loan, but it was like a gift to me. While we were back in Upolo, I stopped in the shop to find out how soon I could expect my own machine back and she said it would be at least a couple of weeks and I was not to worry about it. She didn’t need it back for quite a while. That was not unusual Samoan behavior, I am told. So I happily purchased some more fabric from her, very inexpensive in Samoa by the way, and we went about the business of finishing our shopping.

For lunch in town that day, the Montgomerys took us to a wonderful little restaurant, tucked back in an alley behind the stores, where we had a really wonderful hamburger, with fries and all the fixins and more. Besides the usual lettuce, tomato, pickle, Mayo, etc., it had a fried egg and a slice of pineapple on it. We could hardly get our mouth around it, but we managed with the help of a big napkin.

After we had finished lunch and shopping, we hurried back to the Church College where a very special show was performed for the visiting Church authorities, the local members and all of us missionaries. The show was great, but it was so hot and sticky in that big hall, I thought I was going to pass out. When Samoans start singing and dancing, they just don’t stop. We enjoyed it a lot, but were ready to head back to our rooms and go to bed. To bed YES, but sleep NO.

We stayed in a very nice guest house that doesn’t get used very often, or fumigated often enough, so we shared the place with several lizards, geckos and a couple of the biggest cockroaches I had ever seen, probably over two inches long. Needless to say, I stayed awake a good part of the night, tossing with the heat and humidity, and worrying about which critter would end up in bed with me. We got up early the next morning in order to go to an early session at the Temple. I kept having to go back to the house because I’d forget different things, and that made us a little late. We were picking up Elder and Sister M. on the way, and I felt really bad when we got to the Temple and found out the session was too full. We were going to have to wait for a later session, which would make us late for a lunch date to visit the plantation of one of John’s old Samoan friends. While we were deciding what to do, a temple worker came out and invited us into a sealing session instead. I was so relieved, but still embarrassed that I was responsible for throwing our time schedule off. Once we went back in, changed into our white temple clothes, and were seated in the sealing room, I started to become a little more calm. As the sealings proceeded, I began to feel the sacred spirit of the Temple and more particularly the significance of this most wonderful of all the ordinances we have in the Church of Jesus Christ. Realizing that these people, whose names we were vicariously acting as proxies for and who had died over a century ago, had been waiting as spirits for heaven knows how long to be restored to each other as a family unit on the other side of the veil. You could almost feel their presence in the room. Being there, in that sealing room, or any sealing room in any temple in the world, is the ultimate goal of all faithful Latter-day-saints. As missionaries, our total focus is on bringing as many living souls as possible, whether they be new members or inactive members, to this point in their spiritual journey in preparation for glorious blessings in this life and the life hereafter. I was humbled, as I’ve never been in my life, by the magnitude of our responsibility to these good people, in spite of whatever hard work, discomfort or homesickness we are faced with. Aside from raising our own eternal family and teaching them about the Savior, nothing we will ever do in our lives could be more important.

After going through several tissues during the session, I felt drained, but uplifted. Our being late for the regular session and ending up in the sealing room, was exactly what I needed that day. I knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be, doing what we were supposed to do at this stage of our life. I felt wonderful. The euphoria of the experience lasted on through the weekend and I was bolstered for the work and the trials ahead.

Once we landed back on Savai’i, and on up to Vaiola, we were sort of back to normal (for us on Savai’i anyway). Early morning walk/run down the beautifully manicured entrance road to the School (see picture below), shower, breakfast, scriptures, language study, to town to find some other much-needed item that can’t be found, shopping for groceries (practically daily because we have such a tiny fridge), to the bank ATM for cash (Samoa is pretty much a cash-only place), visiting around with local people at the stores, bank, internet cafĂ© (to download and send off our emails), and the open market.

A trek to the open market is really something. The building is a very modern, open, two-story sort of mall, like a bazaar, with open stalls on the first floor (see the picture and notice the woman in the lower left corner taking a nap at her stall during a lull in business. Many of the merchants have a bed or lounge by their stall, or a kid or two asleep on the table). The picture of the men sitting on benches around a table is a place where only men can come to buy and drink Kava, (a not quite alcoholic beverage) and get involved in a checker game, either to play or watch, or just to visit. The second floor is made up of dozens of small shops selling just about everything (except what you’re looking for). Like any self-respecting mall, they have their ‘food court’, where some very questionable foods (for me anyway) are available for all.

On our way back home, we usually stop by the apartment (where we will supposedly be moving soon) to check on the progress of the construction of our new home. (the photo says it all)


Once we’re back home and John has cooked up a great (really) red snapper (a fish market purchase) for dinner, we sit out on the front porch, where most evenings the neighborhood kids will congregate for a visit. They are all children of the teachers and have wonderful Samoan names, like Brandon, Valentine, Norman, Cherry, Nedra, Angel, Rose, Joseph, Fraser etc. Actually, most have Samoan names too and the fine young four-year-old gentleman front-and-center in the photo is called Sefulu (meaning Number 10) because he is the tenth child in that family. They are all very sharp kids and speak quite good English (which is required here at this school). They love looking at the pictures of our family in our 50th Wedding Anniversary album and trying to identify which baby grows up to be which teenager or adult. One day I brought out my little roll-up piano (a rubber keyboard that wraps around a little box that houses the speakers and lays out flat when you unroll it). It’s about three octaves long but the keys are standard size. When I told the kids I was going in the house to bring out my piano, they were really puzzled, particularly when I came back with a little bag about 7” x 8” x 3”. I played a couple of nursery rhymes and primary songs on it, and they all sang along beautifully, and then they all wanted to play it. So we set it on a very tall book to make it more stable and each child took a turn playing the notes as I pointed to them from the opposite side of the keyboard. Today we picked up a board at the lumber yard so that we can lay the whole piano out flat and make it easier to play. I expect there’ll be music from our porch for many nights before we move, a hopefully so when we come back to visit. Vaiola is only about 20 minutes from Lalomalava where are new apartment will be located.

One day last week, while we were shopping at a local grocery story, we ran into the owner of the hotel where our new apartment will be and informed him that we’d decided to go to his hotel restaurant for dinner. He is the chef as well as the owner. He told us to come about 7:00 p.m. We had wanted to come earlier while we were still in town, but we realized later why coming a little later was a really good idea. We killed some more time in town and showed up for dinner about 7:00. There were some very interesting things on the menu (most apparently quite edible by my standards) and the prices weren’t bad at all. We selected two items and while waiting for the food to be prepared we enjoyed the lovely ambiance of the restaurant. It is situated right at water’s edge and the whole wall that faces the ocean is open. The waves don’t break right near the shore at this point on the island because the reef is quite a bit further out and they break over the reef. The water inside the reef is very calm and peaceful. We could hear it just gently lapping the rocks like you might hear along the edge of a large lake. They must have planned the background music just for us because they were playing some oldies out of the 50’s, most of which we recognized--Nat King Cole, Franky Lane, Bing Crosby, in case any of you are old enough to remember those singers. We had finished our dinner, which was absolutely fabulous by the way, and were patiently waiting for the check, when the unexpected ‘Dinner Show’ began.

The sun was just beginning to set and the reflections on the water and clouds were starting to show a little color. I got my camera out of my purse and took a picture, only to find that the sunset proceeded to become more and more brilliant as the seconds ticked away. I’d think it couldn’t get any better and then it did, again and again and again. I’ve only showed about six frames here, but I probably took 20 or so altogether over a period of about 5-7 minutes. It was just an amazing way to finish a meal and an evening. Once we paid the bill and started to leave, we met Poi (the chef and owner) out in front of the restaurant, where he was carrying his beautiful little two-year-old daughter and was walking with an older gentleman, a Palagi (white). We congratulated Poi on the delicious meal and he introduced us to his father, who is an Englishman and who founded the hotel. Poi’s mother is a native Samoan and is also the Minister of Health in Samoa. She lives most of the week in Apia (the Capitol on the other island) and comes home on weekends, while the retired father stays at the hotel on Savai’i, where his son has taken over the management, and the cooking. We also complimented them on the glorious sunset extravaganza, and his father said we must come back when the moon is full and the show is magnified by a moonrise over the water. Since we’ll be living right there once we move, I expect we’ll get to see it anytime the sun and moon decide to make an appearance together.

You are all probably wondering what on Earth kind of a mission we’re on, what with shopping, sightseeing, killing time, dinner out, wandering all over town, going snorkeling, etc. Well, that’s a good question. We probably don’t even know the whole answer yet. The ultimate purpose of our mission is to bring souls to Christ, which can be achieved through many avenues. Our specific avenue and job title is Member and Leader Support, which means a lot of things, but especially that we are here on Savai’i to assist new members, who have accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to ease into church activity and help train them as they are called to leadership positions. We will also be friend-shipping inactive members and hoping to help them recognize the blessings of returning to full fellowship and activity, and, of course, set their eyes on the ultimate goal of going to the Temple with their families. Since the Stakes are beginning several new programs for activation that are just getting off the ground, we have to wait until we meet with all the wards and their members, identify those who need fellowshipping and then team up with the members to visit, get acquainted with, and continue to fellowship. Our first Member Activation Fireside is next week, where we’ll be making appointments to start the visits. (a ‘fireside’ in Mormon jargon just means an informal gathering of people, outside of the regularly scheduled meetings, where different subjects are discussed or presented. They usually take place in people’s homes, (‘around the fire’ so to speak) but not always. John attended a Priesthood meeting with all the Stake Presidents and the area authorities and discussed with them our availability to help. We’ll be going all over the island attending firesides and teaming up with members in all the wards. Probably about 30% of all Samoans are Mormons and the young missionaries are teaching and baptizing new members all the time, so we have our work cut out for us once we really get started. We will also be meeting with the missionary preparation class, which is held once a week, to help young men and women who desire to serve a mission to prepare themselves spiritually to go out into the world to preach the gospel. Hopefully we can do some good. In the meantime, we are just biding our time, shopping for food and furnishings for a new apartment, and visiting around with anyone who will talk to us. We actually do our snorkeling on our “P” day (preparation day), sort of a day-off from missionary work to write letters, emails, clean house, have some sort of recreation and, of course, do laundry.

JOHN: One day this week we drove up the coast to see if we could find the village where I served as a young missionary. I was unable to find the exact spot where our old house stood. It was behind a chapel, and the chapel is now gone. The other fales there looked unfamiliar to me, but there was a new chapel nicely situated on a projection, right on the coastline. The village is called Moesavili, which means sleep in the breeze, and there was a nice, cool breeze coming in off the ocean as we walked around this beautiful new chapel. The grounds were landscaped and maintained beautifully, and we found a cab driver and 2 lady missionaries who informed us that this was, in fact, the Moesavili chapel. The coastline there is something you might expect to see on a travel brochure – absolutely beautiful.
I remember the meetings we held there in the old chapel with everyone sitting on the floor, and the small children sitting cross-legged, and falling asleep in the meetings with their heads on the floor in front of them and their legs still crossed. The women nursed their babies openly in the meetings, and the sacrament consisted of pieces of taro, baked bananas, or breadfruit, because bread was not often available. We were often asked to speak without any advanced warning in these meetings, and this necessitated our always having something ready to speak on. Now there are nice pews, an organ, bread, and enough good, knowledgeable members to do most things without relying heavily on the missionaries. I look forward to meeting people in their homes to help them strengthen their resolve to be active in the church. I believe the Polynesians are the pure blood of Israel as suggested by the Book of Mormon, and the reason they are so strongly Christian is because of that heritage. So many have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and joined the church, and the church is well thought of now, and experiences much less persecution than in former days. I believe that when they hear the message of the restored gospel they are quick to recognize the “Shepherd’s” voice because they are of His fold. Unfortunately, the customs of the country make it difficult for many to remain faithful, and they go back to their old ways. That’s why we’re here—to bring them back to Christ. My impatience needs to be tempered by the fact that we are now just one month into our mission, and we spent only 5 days in the MTC in Provo, while the young missionaries spend 9 weeks in Provo just learning the language before they come here. I’ll keep working on the patience thing.

KAREN: Soooo…… are you ready for another little episode in the continuing saga of “The Krogh Laundry Trials and Tribulations”? No??? Well, just skip ahead then, but I do want to get this down in our record and it does continue to get more and more comical. After the first hand-washing and wringing incident, we planned very carefully to watch for a fully sunny day to accomplish the next washday. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t rain later, but at least we could be assured there would be no power outage. First thing in the morning, on what appeared to be a very bright day, we took a couple of loads over to the wash house, loaded up two machines, turned them on and noticed the water was still coming in at a trickle. Ooookaaaay, what next? We then noticed a hose hooked up to the adjacent laundry tub and realized that we probably had to help fill the washers with water from the hose in order to get them to fill up before nightfall. We got one filled and started, and then filled the other one and got it on its way. Piece of cake!!! Well……. not until you realize that the washer is probably going to spin all the soapy water out at some point and will need to be filled again in order to rinse the clothes. We took turns checking the machines on and off until it looked like they were ready to be filled again. We repeated the earlier regimen of filling each washer for the rinse and congratulated ourselves when we were finally able to pull clean, spun-damp clothes from the washers with absolutely no wringing on our part. Knowing we had to leave soon, and also knowing it would probably rain while we were gone, we proceeded to hang the first batch of clothes in the laundry room. We had pretty well filled up the lines when John went to get the second batch, so I figured we’d have to hang them over the backs of chairs, etc. in order to get them all dry. When he came back in, quite a bit later and empty-handed, I asked what had gone wrong now. With a silly grin on his face he said, “oh I just hung them out Samoan style.” He led me to the front porch and proudly showed me where he had laid them neatly out on the front sidewalk ‘Samoan style’.
For generations before Samoans had clotheslines, all of their laundry was laid out all over the yard, on the grass, and especially on the abundance of black volcanic rock all over the island. The first time I saw it 5 years ago, I thought the laundry had blown off a clothesline. I mentioned it John and he said that’s the way they always do it. Most homes have clotheslines now, but many still use the old time-tested method of spreading them on the warm, clean black rocks, or on cement sidewalks or driveways, if they have them. So, John is now a full fledged Samoan laundress. Fortunately, it did not rain while we were gone that day, and we were able to gather up the dry clothes when we got home. Now….don’t forget to tune in next week for the next laundry tale. Actually, it’s already happened, but I won’t burden you with it this time around. It’s definitely time to end this for now.

With love from The Kroghs

Friday, February 5, 2010

#3 January 25, 2010

After staying in Pesega for almost a week, we packed our little car up to the ceiling and took off for the wharf, where we drove it onto the Ferry for the trip across the open ocean to one of the other Samoan islands called Savai’i. After dropping me off to enter with the other passengers, the car was sandwiched in with all the other vehicles, including large commercial trucks hauling merchandise to the other island.

John squeezed out the driver’s side and joined me in the cabin up above, where we sat in a nice air-conditioned cabin and watched Walt Disney’s “Mulan” with all the other passengers. I actually slept through most of the trip, and gratefully didn’t get seasick. Sister Haleck had given me some ginger pills to try out and said they worked much better than Dramamine for her. They worked for me too.

Once we disembarked on Savai’i, we drove through several small villages and on up into the hills where we ended up at the Vaiola Church College compound, (another high school) where we would stay for a month or so until we can find a permanent apartment. We went to Elder and Sister Montgomery’s home, one of many on the compound, and they had fixed us a nice dinner. They are the only other American LDS Senior Missionary couple on the island and work at the Vaiola School training the teachers who do not as yet have teaching certification and assisting them in becoming fully certified, in order to move on to other teaching jobs in the Islands. Several of these teachers have acquired their education so far through the LDS Church Perpetual Education program, where worthy students who cannot afford to go to college are given help with the finances for their education, and then pay it back into the Perpetual Education Fund once they finish their schooling and have a job. The Fund then helps others to find a way to get their educations and help pay for the next generation. (thus, perpetual education) It is an inspired program and thousands of poor, but talented and worthy students in third-world nations all over the world are able to move out of poverty and into situations where they can not only support their own families, but help others as well.

What a great couple the Montgomerys are, both quite well educated, but very down-to-earth. After swapping many stories about our lives, we found we have much in common with them. After dinner, they took us over to our next temporary home, a small three-bedroom house, just like the other teachers’ homes on the compound.

There are big dorms for High-school-age boys and girls, and several other buildings that house the cafeteria, offices and classrooms. One of the classrooms, a large typical Samoan Fale (house) is right across the street from our ‘home’. It has a roof, but no walls and there are classes there all day long, rain or shine.

The students all wear handsome yellow and blue uniforms and flipflops, or no shoes at all. There is also an elementary school on the campus, but those students are all bussed or driven to school or walk up the hill, barefoot on the gravel road, from a small village down the hill about half a mile. They are beautiful children and though they all speak Samoan, they are required to speak English for everything on campus. Many are learning English for the first time, but they learn fast and their families know that there are no good jobs ahead for Samoans with no English, unless they scrape out an existence from the land or the sea like their parents have had to do. Most of the students are LDS, but there are several non-LDS students whose parents push hard to get their kids into this well-known school. All of the teachers’ children attend the school and we get to see a lot of them around the neighborhood after school hours. One day last week, before school started, it was raining really hard. We walked across the road behind the fale/classroom, large umbrella overhead, and watched a bunch of them play some sort of ball game we didn’t recognize, totally oblivious to the pouring rain, which happens most of the time during this season of the year.

When it’s raining it’s the most cool, so no wonder they save these really active games for the rain. Our first really big rainstorm here in Viaola was apparently one of the heaviest they’ve had in a long time. Each house has a huge black tank behind the house to collect the rain, their only supply of water. I had suggested to John earlier that I needed to get some distilled water for my C-pap machine and wondered if I’d be able to find it on Savai’i. He just laughed and pointed to the big tank of rain water, which totally overflows during a rainstorm like the one we had last week. While it was pouring that day, he sent me out with an umbrella and a big pan to collect a goodly supply.

The next day after we arrived we were taken around to see three apartments that had been scouted out for us. The first was a really wonderful big three-bedroom house, right on the ocean, but it would cost the Mission a fortune to make it ready. It looked great and was very inexpensive, but it needed major work to get the electricity and plumbing up to code and the Mission would need to furnish it completely. The next one we saw was a small, unfinished one-bedroom house on the grounds of a local hotel. It was probably more realistic for us in terms of size, but was quite a bit more expensive than the first. The hotel would finish and completely furnish it, however, and the rent included utilities and access to the hotel laundry facility in the little building right next door to the house. The third place we saw was sort of out of the way and seemed very dreary to me. It was the same price as the second little house, but did not include utilities. We decided we liked the second one best and submitted our choice to the Mission President to discuss it with the mission Service and Housing people. The hotel owner had told us it would take about two weeks to finish the building, but he didn’t want to start it until he knew he had it rented. So, we had to just wait until the powers-that-be made their decisions.

Another part of this new adventure for me is the food. I’ve tasted some Samoan food in the States at Samoan missionary reunions and liked it pretty well. Most of what the common Samoans eat is not as palatable as that food was, not to me anyway. One day in the open market John bought what he thought was a dish he’d had before that was wrapped in taro leaves and baked. When he asked what it was, he thought he heard something different and said I would just love it. When we got it home, warmed up and opened, it turned out to be a moray(sp) eel, which had not even been cleaned (typical Samoan style).

I about choked. I insisted that if he would clean it up, take the head and fins off and make it restaurant ready, I might be willing to try it. It actually tasted pretty good, but was loaded with zillions of tiny bones. We threw most of it away and doubt we’ll try one again. We did have some really nice tuna a few days later that we bought at the fish market in town and it was really delicious.

We do have potatoes, very few green vegetables except cabbage, lots of taro, breadfruit, some pork and beef and a few other basics. Between our early morning walk/run and little desirable food, I may lose some of those unwanted pounds.

Hooray! We finally settled on the lease for our permanent apartment. The Mission President was ready to go with it, as long as I personally felt I would be comfortable living there. I guess they’re not quite as concerned about the comfort of the young missionaries’ digs as they are with the senior couples. After a little more red tape, we were able to let the landlord know that we wanted it. As I said before, it’s a small building on the lovely grounds of a local Hotel. It’s not a big hotel in the usual sense, but a series of small guest houses scattered around a neatly landscaped piece of land along the ocean. Our place is set back behind the regular guest houses, maybe 100 yds from the water, but very nicely situated and secure, where the gate is locked at 10:00 each night, and watched over by a night-watchman—kind of a gated community, of sorts. We’ll be in a very central location, in a village called Lalomalava, just off the main road that goes all the way around the island. Most all of the villages are located along this road and close to the ocean. We were told at first that it would take a couple of weeks to have the place ready, but after seeing the stage of building it’s in right now, I rather doubt that. Especially after Poi, our landlord, was telling us yesterday that the guy who was going to do the work, had to beg off because his wife was overseas and he had to babysit the kids. He hoped to find someone else soon and we hope so too. The house has a nice open living room (or lounge as they call it), dining area and kitchen, one bedroom and a bath. See the “before” pictures here, along with grounds and pool photos, and we’ll send along the “after” pictures when it’s done.

Our rent is actually quite reasonable in light of the fact that it includes utilities. We pay 1200 Samoan tala/month, which is probably about $575--similar in price to others we saw, but they did not include utilities. This will make it easier to budget each month. When we’ve told people that the remodel/build will be done in a couple of weeks, they grin and remind us that it will be done in Samoan time, which mean ‘when it gets done.’ (Hmmm, shades of building a house in Wallsburg). I’m fast learning that patience is one of the virtues I will have been sent to Samoa to learn. Everything, and I mean everything, moves at a much slower pace. I just need to slow down my normal speed and go with the flow.

I’m going to end this here and get to bed. We hope to be in town and on the internet by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, so we’ll have to get an early start to get there in time.

Love to all from Elder and Sister Krogh