Much of our time this past week was spent visiting the homes of missionaries, delivering needed household materials and checking on the cleanliness and safety of the mission-owned missionary houses. Some of their houses are a wee bit less than spic and span, as in, "How can they live this way?" We find a lot of illness due to mosquito bites. Some missionaries develop boils. It is our job to help improve the health and living conditions of the missionaries.
Fifty years ago we did not have indoor plumbing, and I think things were much more sanitary. Back then we bathed at the village pipe outside, or in a river, and we used the outhouse back in the woods or out over the ocean. I would rather bathe under a public shower pipe with water coming down from the mountain top than stand in a moldy shower stall inside a tiny missionary house.
|Elder McBride 1963|
I would rather sit on an outdoor toilet house out over the water than in a fale palagi with a moldy, soggy, sagging floor.
The other day we took a team of three sister missionaries and four elders to clean two houses. Alicia and the sisters took one house; I took the four elders and we did the other. It is not our job to clean houses, but we do instruct and supervise the young missionaries on what they should be doing. (One of the elders is a son of a BYU football coach. I leave out names here on purpose, out of privacy considerations.)
|Sister McBride and Team|
Afterwards, we thought it proper to take this team to lunch at a nearby beautiful little place, “Seabreeze Resort.”
The food was good, and the chocolate milk shakes were great. It was a little pricey, but worth it. Almost all of it was new, having been rebuilt after the 2009 tsunami.
|Dining at SeaBreeze|
Just around the corner from the resort was a scene I remember well from 50 years ago. It is a burial chamber – I guess you could call it a sepulcher -- built on a tiny islet about 100 yards from shore. It is about 10 feet in height. I realized we were still in my old first proselyting area. (It was a cloudy day; picture could be better.)
|Sepulchre near Vavau|
We had one more delivery, one which took us to the south west side of Upolu. As we drove along, we passed by several LDS chapels. It was so nice to see that the gospel has continued to spread since I was here. I was not sure what the names of the various ward houses were.
We came to one chapel where a man apparently dressed for a church meeting was standing out front. He wore a white shirt, tie, black lavalava, and sandals – standard dress for a Mormon here on Sunday, but this was Saturday. It turns out that that weekend was their stake conference, and he was on his way to a priesthood leadership meeting.
I asked him the name of the village we were in. It was Lotofaga (“lo-to-fong-ah”), which was my last proselyting area and where I was district leader 50 years ago. Things look so different now. I asked him if a missionary house had once stood where the outdoor basketball court now stands. He said yes. I asked him if the river in which Elder Peter Hardman and I had bathed almost every day was still there. Of course it is.
Then he asked me if I remembered the names of anyone in that area back then. I tried to remember the name of the branch president. I couldn’t, but I described him to the man. “His eyes were a bit droopy; it was as if he were always sleepy,” I said.
The man grinned. “That was my father,” he said proudly. I was sorry to learn that he passed away some years ago.
I can’t express how thrilled I was! Not only had my friend stayed strong in the Church, but he had gone on to become the stake president. And now his son, born about 10 years after I left there, was in a leadership position in the area.
We usually put in 10 or 12 hours a day in our calling. The other day, for example, we had an 8:00 a.m. meeting with President Hannemann and his assistants; then two trips to the nearby Falealili Airport; two trips to a local gas station (for two cars); a trip out to Lufilufi to pick up the belongings of a sister who is being transferred; then did downtown shopping for supplies for missionaries; took a car in to get it washed; and even spent a few minutes doing paper work in the office. We got home at 8:00 p.m. Another very full day! Another wonderful week!