It was a cloudy, overcast day when we took the one-hour ride on the ferry recently to the big island of Savai’i. (Savai’i rhymes with Hawai’i.)
Savai’i is the second biggest island in Polynesia (not counting the two islands of New Zealand), with a population of about 50,000. It is bigger than the island of Oahu in Hawai’i, which has a population of about a million. It is about 40 miles in length (east to west) and 30 miles wide (north to south). We went there to check on the conditions of the houses of the proselyting missionaries and bring them needed supplies. We had Elder Gillette, a senior missionary from Idaho, with us, and he is a miracle worker when it comes to needed repairs.
We were able to circle the entire island in two days. We were pleased to find that, for the most part, the elders and sisters there have been doing a good job of cleaning and maintaining their homes. We did stop a few times to admire the marvels of the island, such as this blow hole,
and this waterfall and the pool at the foot of it.
Unfortunately for us, we were there on business, and had not brought our swimming gear with us.
Later that evening, however, we did find time to jump in the ocean, a few yards from our quarters.
It’s been about 25 years since there has been an original episode or a sequel to the ultra-popular television series, “Gilligan’s Island.”
(Elder McBride could never figure out just why Gilligan and his friends or anyone else would want to leave the island. He brought this up with one of his law school classmates whose father was Sherwood Schwartz, creator of the TV series. The classmate did not know, but he did give Elder McBride a photograph of the cast of the show signed by all of them.)
A lovely palagi woman on Savai'i who is rumored to be the real Mary Ann from the TV series allowed Elder McBride to take her picture in the shadows of some jungle bushes.
Many stories – some true, some very questionable – have been told as to what finally became of the S.S. Minnow. One such story is that the real Gilligan’s Island was actually one of the smaller islands in the Samoa chain. Support for this theory comes from an old Samoan we met on Savai’i. The man said the boat in this picture substantiates his story; however, we could not find the name “Minnow” on the boat.
We may never know the full truth of this story.
In contrast with the “big island” of Savai'i, Manono is one of the smallest. It has a population of about 900 and is so small you can walk all the way around it in less than an hour and a half. Elder McBride was a missionary on Manono 50 years ago, and we were excited to go there recently. You can see the island in the background, about 20 minutes across the water from Upolu, where we live.
We traveled there to help a team of Young Single Adults and a few missionaries as they canvassed the island identifying LDS people on the island.
We took their picture while they were there, and watched them depart back for Upolu as they left.
It was such a delightful place! It has no cars, no roads, no dogs, and no trash anywhere. We enjoyed the walking path around the island.
The path is lined with flowers and hedges except for the section that is narrow and cuts straight through the jungle. We saw a huge bat flying over head with a wing span of about 2 feet. There are no snakes or dangerous animals in Samoa, so a hike like this is pretty safe. This island has no or little crime. It looks like the Garden of Eden but feels like heaven. Sister McBride needed to go to the restroom and when she asked a complete stranger, the lady invited her in to use theirs. Another woman brought out a plate of bananas to share with us. About half the houses were open fales. We just walked up to them and started talking to them. We sat down in about 10 different fales that day and talked about the Church. We were never turned away from any house, and all accepted our offer of a Book of Mormon. The few LDS members that live on this island take the boat to the main Island of Upolu for church.
Some High Chiefs on Manono who control most of what goes on there say they don't want anymore churches on the island; they feel there are enough already. So someone who might go against them really can get "voted off the island" (or perhaps just get their water turned off).
Sister McBride especially likes this scene of the banana plant in a field of flowers.
We plan to go back before too long.