Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog #13 – November 6, 2010

Hi everybody. I had the text of most of this blog completed when I sent Blog #12, but when I realized how much time would be taken up to add all the pictures I had ready, I decided to split the blog up a little and send the second part of that blog a little later,a part of which you are getting now as Blog #13. I say 'part' because it was still too long with all of the pictures. I'm learning more and more what my limitations are where this laptop is concerned and so, for your sake and mine, the blog entries must be shorter each time. Good News, Right?????

While we were working last month in Saasa’ai we had the opportunity to attend the local primary Halloween party. Now, they don’t really celebrate Halloween much in Samoa, but I appears to be catching on a little. Tasi Segi, a ward missionary in that ward, introduced us to her sister who is the primary president. They had scheduled a Halloween party, but she didn’t know anything about Halloween and asked us for some information about how it is celebrated in America. We happened to have our photo calendar in the car where we have a photo of several of the grandkids dressed up for Halloween several years ago. We showed her the picture of how they all get dressed up in costumes and go trick or treating. She couldn’t understand what we meant by “trick or treat”, so we explained how the kids go from door to door in their costumes and get treats. The “trick” part of the phrase is an old practice from decades ago where the kids would create mischief if they didn’t get the treat. I explained that it’s been decades since any tricks have been played, because most everyone gives a treat. The trick or treating would not be a realistic activity here in the village neighborhoods, so we explained how the wards back home would have trunk or treat, or other activities at the church. Sooooo…. we went to this party and they did a pretty good job of trying out Halloween for the first time. Some of the costumes were nothing more than a painted face, because they understood that the church doesn’t encourage masked parties.
In order to simulate the door to door trick or treating, they set up booths all over different parts of the church grounds and the kids visited each one, carrying their universal plastic grocery bags, and collected treats from each booth.

These are some of the costumes that showed up that night.

This was my personal favorite—several adults dressed up as Mormon Missionaries, complete with their own missionary tags from previous missions.

These two pictures are of Tasi with several of her nieces and cousins. Tasi is one of about 10 children, and her mother is one of 16, so she has relatives absolutely everywhere. The party was a great success and I’m guessing there’ll be more and bigger Halloween celebrations as the years go by and the stores discover how to merchandise all the candy and costumes. We see none of it at this point.

We had another treat this past weekend and went back up to Visaula for some more snorkeling with Elder and Sister Squire. They had come over from Pesega for some special classes at Vaiola and had to stay over until Monday, so we all left Friday afternoon and came back Saturday afternoon. It turned out to be cold and rainy on Friday and also Saturday morning. Sister Squire ended up being a little under the weather, so she stayed in on Friday, and when I started into the water, I decided to be lazy myself. The guys went ahead and braved the elements without us. I went back to our room, grabbed my book and perused it until I closed my eyes and had a lovely little snooze (what could be better?), until John came back a couple of hours later shivering like crazy. He jumped into the shower, which turned out not to be very hot because the water is heated by the sun and we didn’t see the sun that day. We spent some time that afternoon playing some games with the Squires, then went over to the dining room for a leisurely dinner before we all turned in for the night. We planned to get up early to catch the low tide, but when we looked out on our balcony, we saw the Squires on their adjoining balcony taking pictures of several boats circling around out by the reef. We had heard that the palolo were running this week, and these folks had been out catching them all night long with flashlights and lanterns. (John explains that Palolo is a worm-shaped reproductive segment of an annelid or sea worm. It is greenish-brown, worm-like, about 2 inches long and about the thickness of Raman noodles. Once a year, around the end of October or the first of November, and corresponding to a full moon, these reproductive segments come to the surface of the water out near the reef. They are highly sought for, and quite a delicacy.) John has eaten them before and quite liked them, saying they are about like the taste of caviar. Right now I really am just going to have to take his word for it, because they don’t sound that appetizing to me. The people go out with all kinds of fine nets, almost like butterfly nets and scoop them up from the sea and collect them in all sorts of containers. I raced back in to find my camera, but by the time I got dressed and went out onto the balcony, all the boats had come back in and the people were unloading and coming back to the hotel. John hurried down to try to get some pictures of their catch and after seeing the pictures, I was pretty sure that I’d pass on eating the palolo this time around.

This first picture is of the bigger boat owned by the hotel, unloading several guests who had come to Visaula especially for the palolo run. In the second photo, John was able to catch a picture of one batch of the squirmy worms collected in a garbage bag by one of the guests. Ugh!!! When I thought of having to go out there snorkeling with all of them swimming around, I was ready to stay back, but it turns out they are completely gone by daylight and won’t come out again until after dark. Considerate of them, I’d say. We did go ahead and go snorkeling for awhile, but it was still cold and stormy and we didn’t last long. We came on in for a yummy breakfast and just about the time we finished, the sun decided to make an appearance, so we asked if we could stay beyond checkout time to do some more snorkeling. The owners were not expecting any new guests that afternoon, so they told us to take all the time we needed. We had a wonderful time. Besides being warmer with the sun out, it kind of sparkles under the water and you can see so much more color. Since we’ve gone snorkeling with the Squires, we’ve learned that half the fun is the hunt for shells and diving for them. I haven’t had the nerve to do much diving at all, because it means taking a big breath and diving under, while your snorkel tube fills up with water; then when you come back up you have to blow hard to get all the water out in order to take another breath. I watched John do a lot of dives and he found some really nice shells. I decided that I wanted to try it, so I stopped in some shallow water and practiced a few times, getting two or three good mouths full of sea water before I finally got the knack of it. On my first real dive for a shell, I had a hard time staying under, because quite frankly, in spite of a pretty good weight loss this year, I still have plenty of blubber on me that keeps me afloat. After working really hard I was able to make it to the bottom, only 6 or 7 feet down, collect a shell and make it back to the top without a big gulp of water. The shell was a small, very common one, but I was really proud of myself for actually doing it and it certainly added to the fun and excitement. I had to keep that silly little shell because it was my first dive success. We collected several other shells and finally had to bring them back in because we had no more pockets, etc. to carry them in. After we unloaded, we went back out again until we just wore ourselves out. It’s probably one of the most enjoyable times we’ve had snorkeling and look forward to our next shot at it. The Squires are expert snorkelers and they also take lots of underwater pictures. When we saw their photos, we really got the bug to get an underwater camera and try to take our own pictures. We may do that for ourselves for Christmas this year. In the mean time, we thought we’d include a few of the Squire’s underwater pictures just to give you an idea of what we’re seeing down there. Let me tell you, if you get to the ocean somewhere and don’t get a chance to even do some simple snorkeling, you’ll have missed most of the beauty of that venue.

When we left Vaisala on Saturday afternoon, we decided to go home around the opposite way from where we came. We came around the island counter-clockwise, and could have gone back the same way, but we decided to go the other way just to see some different scenery. Visaula is far enough around that it’s about the same distance both ways. As we were getting close to home, we told the Squires about a tapa cloth demonstration we had seen a couple of months ago, at a fale up ahead a short distance. They are leaving to go back home this month and this is their last trip to Savaii, so they asked if we’d mind arranging for them to see the demonstration. We had made a reservation before when we brought another couple, so I was glad for the chance to see it again and take photos. We stopped at the fale and asked if it would be possible to see a demonstration that day. The lady said that if we didn’t mind waiting 5 or 10 minutes while they gathered everything up, they’d be glad to oblige us. The making of tapa cloth is becoming almost a lost art, because most of the younger generation are not interested in taking so much time and trouble to create a project. There are apparently only about 3 families left on Savaii who make tapa cloth anymore and this family so far seems to be able to keep their younger generations interested.

JOHN: In our visits we have met some interesting and unusual people. We always go out to meet families initially using a ward mission leader or some other church member to show us where to go. There are no street names or address numbers. Many families will contain a father, mother, their children, grand parents, cousins, etc, all living in the same house. One woman, Flo, has taken on the responsibility of taking care of a severely handicapped 30 year-old niece who can only lie on her back and be spoon-fed all of her meals. She can’t talk, sit or stand due to severe contractures of her joints. She is probably mentally retarded as well. Another 7-year-old girl has been ‘p[ taken in as a daughter because her real mother tried to take some kind of drugs to abort her, and thought she would also be born like the other handicapped girl. She, however, is quite normal, and, in fact, is very precocious. If this isn’t enough, Flo also takes care of her aged mother who is wheelchair-bound. Flo has been coming out to church again. She speaks good English and loves to talk. Our first visit lasted 5 hours.

We stopped in for another short visit yesterday and ended up staying about 3 hours, after she had fed us several kinds of snacks and then prepared a full meal for us of fish and chips, chicken soup, taro and bananas, soda pop. She kept sending her girls out to buy more stuff at the store. We certainly were filled up and ended up having just fruit and mixed nuts for dinner that night. We’ll be going back tonight to take her a pumpkin pie and the recipe. She has a baking business that she’s trying to expand into a fish and chips place and thought pumpkin pie sounded pretty good to add to here menu.

Others we have visited have had their feelings hurt by a church member, or they have stopped keeping the commandments and have fallen out of the habit of going to church. We are sure that some of them don’t tell us the real reasons. Undoubtedly there are some who don’t want to pay tithing, others who live far from the church and don’t want to walk that far, etc, etc.. We are offered Samoan cocoa practically every where we go. We usually eat Sunday dinner with a member family, and eat a lot of taro, palusami, chicken soup, fish (speared, baked whole), papaya, and lobster and crab on special occasions.

Last week we met a woman who is not a member, but now wants to be baptized, along with her whole family. The Elders are now giving them the lessons. She told us her church has levied an assessment on each family of $5000, 30 pigs, and 24 cases of canned meat for the building of their new church down on the coast. If they don’t come through with the assessment, they will not be allowed to worship at that church. She was impressed that we would eat the same food as her family ate. She said her pastor would turn his nose up at that food because it wasn’t good enough for him. She was also very impressed with our tithing doctrine and our unpaid ministry. I explained that our church leaders don’t get paid one cent for their service, and that they all have to support themselves. Other churches here supply their ministers with a salary, all their food, sometimes a car and a house – all at the expense of the members. I pointed out that that was not in accordance with Christ’s teachings, because Peter and his fellow apostles continued to work as fishermen while serving, and Paul continued to work as a tent-maker while serving as an apostle. Anyway, I’m sure that family will soon be baptized. Our mission gets about 130 baptisms each month, and leads the Pacific area in baptisms. I told Karen she could edit my entry if she wanted to, and you will know she didn’t if the following statement remains: Karen is a dingbat.

KAREN: Ha! I added a couple of things anyway and everybody already knows that I’m a dingbat, so that’s not big news to anyone.

Recently one of our elders, Elder Beck, called us to tell us about an injury on his hand that appeared to be getting badly infected, with red lines running up his arm. John told him to go straight to the hospital and they surprised him by admitting him immediately and starting him on intravenous antibiotics. He had been putting a shirt on and put his hands above his head and was smacked by the metal blades of the ceiling fan. He and his companion, Elder Wells, had to stay at the hospital for three days, until the treatments were finished. They had not a chance to get back to their fale to even get clean clothes, or shaving stuff, etc. We visited them the second day and found them pretty discouraged, just sitting there all day and night. In Samoa, you have to take your own bedding to the hospital, supply your own food and have a member of the family stay with you 24/7 because of a nursing shortage. Because companions cannot be separated, Elder Wells had to stay as the family member. The local ward provided them with bedding and a mat so Elder Wells could sleep on the floor in Elder Beck’s cubicle. The ward also provided meals for them. We had thought we could pick them up and take them home that second day, but the doctor wanted more treatments, so we had to come back the next morning. They were both chomping at the bit to get out of there so that they could get clean clothes, a shower, and a shave. They had pretty good 5:00 o’clock shadows by then. It took most of the morning to finish the last treatment, and their whole zone of elders came in while we were there waiting and sang to them and had a prayer. The hospital was pretty clean, but very sparsely furnished. Each cubicle had a bed and a bench. Elder Beck’s intravenous bottle was hanging from a home made wooden stand about 6 ft tall, with a cross board at the top with holes drilled in it to hold the bottles of fluid with a wire. It was almost noon before they were ready to go and they were really ready. These are some of the pictures we took while we were waiting for them.

I got Elder Beck’s family’s email address and sent them a note and copies of the pictures. I got the pictures in the message in the wrong order, and apologized that I was a 72-year-old senior missionary, who is still pretty computer illiterate, and said I was thankful that the pictures ended up in the message at all. We got a copy of a note his family sent as they forwarded the pictures to other family members and commented about the sweet little old 72-yr-old grandma who had sent the pictures. We got a big laugh out of that. I may be a 72-year-old grandma, but sweet and little??? That just doesn’t seem to fit a true description of me.

These are pictures we took of our second adventure making pizza. Elder Uelese, who was the zone leader and getting ready to go home, said he’d heard I’d made pizza for the last zone leader who went home and suggested he’d love to have some. So we invited him, and his companion and any others they wanted to bring along to have pizza the following Saturday. We got a picture of the pizzas this time and I’ll admit they look pretty strange. The cheese we can get here hardly melts at all, so the pizza looks a little blotchy. I was so excited to find pepperoni over in Apia last trip, so these pizza’s were better than the others. We have no such thing as a pizza pan around here, so I found these funny shaped aluminum trays at the grocery store that looked like they would fit in our little oven, so we bought 4 of them and they’ve worked out pretty well. I cover them with foil, so they don’t get burned on food on them and will plan to use them over and over. We had to flatten them out a little, because they were shaped like a serving tray with a ridge in around the middle, but John just took the hammer and smashed them all pretty flat and once they’re covered with foil they don’t look quite so beat up. The picture of Elder Uelese sitting at the serving table with the pizza in front of him, is exactly where he sat the rest of the evening. I had intended to use our little table as a buffet and just planned to have them load their plates and sit around the living room with drinks on a little table in the center. Elder Uelese just decided to stay by the Pizza and I think must have eaten almost two of them (I made four) by himself. The other 5 of us ate the other two, plus a couple of pieces. This particular elder is a very handsome fellow, but I’m sure he’s put on about 50 pounds since he got here and I hope he can take some back off when he gets home. He’s actually a law enforcement officer who was in great shape when he came and is expecting to go back to work on the police force in Hawaii. I’ve a feeling they’ll crack down on his weight once he’s back. He’s a great elder though, and is several years older then most of the others. He just felt a strong desire to get more school under his belt before his mission, so he almost finished a masters degree in Criminal Justice, but just couldn’t pass the final test two different times, missing the passing level by only 1 or 2 points both times. His father, who had been encouraging him to go on a mission for several years, told him he’d be sorry if he waited too long. He jokingly said his father must have put a curse on his exams, and figured he’d probably never pass until after he’d served his mission. He was so reluctant to go on a mission for so many years, but now he doesn’t want to go home. He’s extended twice for a month each time and asked the President to extend again, but was told that it was probably time for him to get home and move along with his life. As with the other missionaries we’ve watched go home, we’ll really miss him too.
This a photo we took of our good friend Tasi Segi, (see pictures early in this blog in Halloween paragraphs) with her “friend” as she calls him that she is planning to marry next summer. They are engaged, but like most Samoan couples there is very little demonstrative romantic behavior between them in public. She met him just as he came home from his mission and he became interested in her right away. Because she was planning on a mission herself, she didn’t want to get too serious with anyone yet. She did really like him, but had very strong feelings about her own mission. He told her he’d just wait, because he really intended to marry her someday. Once she finally got her call to the Independence, Missouri, mission, he supported her completely and wrote her faithfully every month, even though she didn’t write to him a lot, because she was trying to focus on her mission. She was amazed that he was still waiting here in Samoa when she got home and hadn’t changed his mind at all. She was able to relax now that she was finally home and allowed him to come around a lot and spend time with her and her family. She’s totally committed now, but he works over in Apia and she’s not ready to think of moving there just yet, so they trade weekends and visit each other. Each time she goes over to Apia, she stays a little longer with her cousin because she doesn’t want to be separated from her “boyfriend” or “Fiancee” or friend as she calls him. I’ve a feeling the wedding will be sooner than next summer. Tasi has been a great help to us visiting inactive members of her ward, where she is serving as a ward missionary. Because of her American mission, she speaks great English, so we’re able to go on splits with her and the ward mission leader. We’ve become great friends and we really miss seeing her so much now that we’re working in another ward. The day we took this picture of them there was an outing at the beach for the local YSA, Young Single Adults, where they swam, played volleyball and had a wonderful feast of barbequed chicken and all the trimmings.

The elders are always invited to the YSA activities on Saturday, even though they can’t swim. This was the same day we brought Elder Beck home from the hospital. We had wanted to stop on the way and meet Tasi’s intended and the elders decided to stay after seeing the food and games. The other local elders were there too, so we turned our hospital veterans over to them to enjoy the food and volleyball and association with the Samoans so near their own age. It was a nice change for them after those three days cooped up in the hospital, and we were freed from having to take them all the way home, so we were able to go home and get caught up on some of our fun Saturday stuff, like laundry, shopping, housecleaning, etc.

Our trip over to Pesega for the Thanksgiving celebration was a really fun weekend. We started off on the early ferry on Saturday morning, arriving on Upolo about 9:30. We were scheduled to meet up with some other couples at a beach on the back side of the island, Return to Paradise Beach (named after the movie that was made there back in the 50’s with Gary Cooper). The route from the wharf to the back side of Upolo is much different from the one we usually take into Apia, and much more picturesque, because there are just small villages over there separated by larger open areas of bush or beach or mountains. One of the rivers we had to cross had no bridge, just a ford. We see these quite often in Samoa where the stream of water just crosses a concrete roadway where the cars just go through the water to the other side, maybe 8-10” deep.

This first picture was taken as the car was getting ready to cross the ford. The other two were taken from the inside of the car halfway across, looking upstream and downstream. This ford is under water almost all of the time, but there are several others on the islands that only have water crossing them during a severe rain storm, which we experienced the first couple of months we were here during the rainy season, and will start happening again as soon as the rainy season comes upon us in January. Last year, we came up behind a line of cars stopped at a ford because the water was moving too fast and deep for cars to safely make it across. Sooooo…, you just wait until the water subsides and it’s safe to start across, sometimes ten minutes, sometimes an hour. You can’t just go around another way because there is usually no other way. We hit a ford once just down below Vaiola, and decided we’d just go around the back way and miss the ford, and found there was another ford on that road too, same stream of water, just down the canyon lower. We’ve learned our lesson about just being patient and waiting.

Once we had arrived at the beach, we met the other missionaries and had a wonderful barbeque with charcoal broiled hamburgers and Polish sausages and all the trimmings. It was a cool, rainy day, so only a few of the guys went snorkeling and the rest of us stayed up on the beach and just spent the time helping with the food and visiting. It was a nice relaxing day for us.
This is the group at the barbeque: the Tolmans (who are in charge of the Institute at the University in Apia, and will be finishing their mission in February), the Kroghs, the Webers (who just arrived a couple of months ago and happened to be in our ward in Los Angeles more than 50 years ago. He is the mission dentist and they’ll go home after we do), and the Squires, who’ve taught us a lot about snorkeling and become great friends as well.

After the barbeque, we were pretty well rained out, so we headed back to Apia, and made our way to the guest house where we would stay for the weekend, unpacked and got settled and then went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner, another special meal that we can’t find in Savaii. We got to bed early and had a nice sleep-in the next morning because our meetings at the English-speaking ward don’t start until 11:00 p.m. After church the next day we spent about an hour making tortillas to take to the Mexican dinner we were invited to at the Squires home right across the street from our guest house.
We’ve gotten the tortilla making down to a science with me making the dough and dividing it up into balls, and then John rolls each ball out to tortilla size and then I slap them in the first pan to cook for several seconds on one side, and then turn them over into another pan to finish baking on the other side. We can usually keep two pans going at once to keep up with the rolling pin. Once I had made the dough and allowed it to sit and cool (you make them with boiling water), we were able to roll out and cookaabout 30 tortillas in about as many minutes. (Maybe we should go into the business.) The dinner at the Squires was such a treat, because Elder Squires made his wonderful Chile Rellenos from scratch and taught me how in the process. (He’d made them for us a couple of times before and promised he’d teach me how to make them before they left to go home.) We had the Rellenos, plus our tortillas and all the fixins for soft tacos, chips and homemade salsa, and a chocolate pudding cake for dessert. It was our third great meal of the weekend. After we finished the dinner at Squires, we went over to President Hanks’ home (Temple President) to visit for a little while and look over some music Sister Hanks was going to lend me for one of our elders, who is playing a piano solo at a fireside in Savaii in December. They’re probably just a little older than we are and have 11 children and tons of grandchildren (almost 60 I think) and great grandchildren. This is their third mission to Samoa together, once as teachers, once as mission president and now temple president. President Hanks also served his first mission in Samoa before he was married, about the time Dad was here. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that he is the brother of our good friend from Kirksville, David Hanks.

Monday morning, after a short doctor appointment, we spent the rest of the morning doing our usual Apia shopping for those food items and things we can’t find on Savaii. We’ve got the stores pretty well plotted out as to where to find what we want, so we don’t spend as much time just hunting like we did at first. One store over there has started stocking quite a few things from Sams and Costco since we were here the last time, so it was fun to find some of our old favorites. However, the price is significantly higher that what we paid for it them home, so we decided we could live without some of it till after we get home. At 2:00 we met up with the Squires again for one last snorkeling trip before they go home at the end of the week. They had been telling us about a place just a little outside Apia called the Pololo Deep. Just the ‘Deep’ part of the name made me nervous at first, but they told us there were no bad currents and you could either stay around the edge or venture out into the middle where it was really deep. It’s like a big deep underwater bowl inside the reef. I stayed pretty close to the edge at first, but as I got used to it and everyone else was moving out a little further, I felt better about doing the same. It was just a wonderful place, where you can see more varieties and larger sizes of fish than you can in the shallower areas. We didn’t stay too long because we had to get back for our Thanksgiving dinner, but the Squires felt we’d do better going out the first time with someone who knew what to show us. We really appreciated their time that day, because they have so much to do to finish packing up and getting ready to go home the end of the week, and still keep up their busy missionary schedule right until the very end. Their last obligations are on Friday I think, and they leave Saturday. They are going to go down to visit New Zealand for a couple of weeks before they go home, since they’re already this far south. We’d really like to try to head down that way on our way home, if we can work it out financially. We’ll never be down this way again I’m thinking. Some of our kids have talked about maybe coming down around Thanksgiving next year, which will be about two weeks before we finish up. Our first thought when we thought they were coming right at the very end of our mission was that we’d probably want to fly home with them; but since the Thanksgiving week is easier for them, they’ll be gone before we finish up, so we may plan to go the other way first. That’s still a year away, however and a lot can happen to all of our plans before then.

Because they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Samoa, the Senior Missionaries scheduled their Thanksgiving dinner for that Monday Family night on the 22nd, combined with a farewell party for two couples who were going home. The dinner was just wonderful, with all the traditional thanksgiving food we eat in America, plus some good Samoan food, because there are now several Samoan Senior couples. The Mission President’s wife brought turkey and ham back from American Samoa on her last trip, and everything else was taken care of by the missionaries. It all tasted so much like home.
Earlier in the day before we went snorkeling, we stopped in at the mission home and the ladies were all weaving little dining mats to use on the tables. I had a little time, so I sat down and wove a couple of them. We used strips of palm fronds and criss-crossed them in a simple woven pattern and then tied them off at the corners, just one of the many clever things the Samoans make with their hands from something they pluck from a tree or vine. They were used like we would use paper plate liners, to give a little strength to the plate, but also add the Samoan look to the festivities..
The tables looked so colorful with the dark table cloths, the mat and plates and colorful little corn candies sprinkled all over the place to nibble on before, during and after dinner. I love those corn candies and haven’t had any since we got here, so I put away quite a few during the evening. One of the sisters had made cute little turkey name tag/favors out of half a muffin, a flat cookie for a tail and a little corn candy for the head. It’s amazing what a bunch of old Relief Society ladies can put together.
It was so fun to be in the kitchen before the dinner to smell the terrific aroma of the meat and dinner rolls cooking, etc., and see everyone bustling around, carving turkeys and hams and making gravy and putting the finishing touches on all the other dishes. Two big buffet tables were set up and decorated with all the food and we carried it back to our tables on the mats and plates. Needless to say, everything was delicious and greatly enjoyed by all. That was our fourth special meal of the weekend, in about that many days. We’ve really been spoiled. (It sounds like all we did that weekend was eat, which is probably not too far from the truth. We’ll have to be good when we get back to Savaii and double up on our exercising to pay for all those delicious calories. Fortunately, we only get over to Apia once in every four to six weeks.)

After the Dinner was over, there was a special farewell program put on for the Squires and Pembertons, who were leaving the end of the week.

By tradition, each couple has to stand up and give a few thoughts about their mission experiences, and of course many tears were shed by those leaving and those seeing them off, maybe never to see them again.
The final ordeal for the two couples was having the group sing the traditional Samoan farewell song to them. It’s a beautiful song and a lovely way to end the program, but a real tear jerker for all involved. After getting everything all cleaned up, everybody just seemed to want to hang around and visit before heading home. We were so glad to have the opportunity to go over for that weekend and spend some precious time with the other Missionaries. What a tremendous group of people they are, and we feel privileged to have this association with them.

We finished our last day in Apia the next morning, by spending time in the Temple, which is always an uplifting experience. We had to head out pretty quick after we left the Temple so that we could pack up our belongings, pick up all the last minute mail and packages that we needed to carry over to Savaii for all the young missionaries, and then make the 45 minute drive back to the wharf to catch the 2:00 p.m. ferry. We got off the ferry an hour and a half later, raced home to unload the car, and then filled it up again with pianos, music and lesson books for our piano class that afternoon at 5:00 p.m. up in Moesavili. Our mission was back in full swing.

This looks like as good a time as any to end this section and continue with the rest next time around. I guess I'm including too many pictures in each blog and there's not enough space for them all. Rather than eliminate the pictures, I just need to make each blog posting shorter, in order to keep everything in that I want to have saved as our Mission Journal, which will include all of the blogs over our 23 months. I expect we'll have several volumes by the time we go home.
We trust all is going well with your families and we've loved hearing from you periodically. Please know how much you all mean to us and how much we look forward to seeing you all again.

Until next time around, much love from Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandpa, John and Karen, Elder and Sister Krogh