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


papaloa_ete said...

Talofa lava Elder & Sister Krogh... wow what an experience you are both having (I guess we should have had a section on local food given the experience you had with the eel.. heehee). Its weird in a sense to read your stories and see the pictures given you are now living a reality I am very familiar with - playing in the rain, collecting rain water, walking to school barefoot, wearing school uniforms - takes me back to my childhood as if it were yesterday.. Elder Krogh - o a mai lau fa'aSamoa? Masalo ua toe manatua le tele o upu sa e fa'aaogaina i le taimi sa e tala'i ai i lau misiona.. Sister Krogh.. how's the Samoan? Have you been able to use your language skills from some of the scenarios we role played in the MTC? I hope they will be of value to you. Just a quick side note.. today is/was Super Bowl Sunday! Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints - wow what a game! The Saints pulled away and became the NFL Champions in the 44th Super Bowl! First ever in franchise history. I have to admit I'm a little partial towards the Saints given my wife and her family are from Louisiana.. besides it was a great win.. Peyton Manning as hard as he tried, couldn't win the game.. mind you former BYU star Austin Collie had some great catches and looked amazing! I wouldn't be surprised if he won Rookie of the Year.. anyways, just thought you may be interested. Well.. keep up the great work, there is no doubt in my mind you are on the Lord's errand now..Sister Krogh, I know you will probably have a lot of Martha moments, however, you will find that in Samoa, you will mostly feel compelled to be like Mary and just "be still" for a moment.. Love you both and I look forward to reading about your great adventures.. Papaloa Ete..

papaloa_ete said...

Sorry - in case you were both wondering... the score was 31 - 17, Saints...

Norm and Heather said...

Dear Elder and Sister Krogh,
What a lovely setting for your missionary work! We are stil slogging through snow here in Pecs! We know it will take some time to make the adjustments in your life style -- we feel for you! All that green grass and those anoying palm trees rustling in the ocean breezes! It took us about a month before we were organized enough to concentrate on our calling here. Things are going very well now and we are happy to be here with each other and the very special people we are working with. Don't think we wil get to do any snorkeling though! Love you guys, great to read your blog!

Silvey Mothership said...

Yuck, I'm with you Sister Krogh. The eel and other slimmy things would definitely make me lose weight because I would not eat them either!You have a lovely setting to live in. Is it more humid than MO? I really enjoy the pictures and all your experiences. Are you teachers too? Will you tract? Thanks again for blogging! It is so fun to read it!

ashton said...

we miss you!

Bobette said...

I love reading your blog entries.
I have no doubts that the two of you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you are meant to do for this time in your lives.
Your recorded experiences are an inspiration to me, and reflect your spiritual strength, as well as your incredible resilience and creativity in challenging situations.
I want you to know that I am a bit envious of all those individuals and groups who will be touched by you during your mission, because my family and I have experienced firsthand - your love and devotion to the Lord, to your family, and to the human race, and our family has been richly blessed by your friendship.
We love you and cherish your impact and nfluence in our lives, and I miss your presence in Kirksville.
Your amazing talents and attributes are endless, and I know those in your mission will be immeasurably blessed by your influence there.
I keep you in my prayers, and am grateful that your family and ours are seemingly eternally linked together through one of our children - and his children.
I send my condolences for the passing of your dear friend, and share your belief in a future reunion and association with him.
Stuart and I send you our love and continuing best wishes.

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