Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sister Sister Anderson Arrives, and Other Things

If, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, then this blog entry has just about 35,000 words, They will tell you a lot about what Elder and Sister McBride are up to. So we’ll not add more words than necessary to this one.

Samoa is beautiful! These few photographs try to capture that beauty, but none of them do so fully.

We see rainbows at least twice a week here.

We love our missionaries. We take pictures of them wherever we go – on the road, in the office, at meetings.  The images of those white shirts and ties and name tags carry with them a unique spirit that can’t quite be matched by anything else in the world.

To be sure, our elders and sisters do have their fair share of illnesses and diseases and dog bites, etc., to cope with in Samoa, such as:

We are looking forward to the arrival of a mission nurse later this month!

The English-speaking Pesega 5th Ward sang recently in stake conference. Sisters were to wear white skirts and pink and white blouses.  For the men, white shirts, pink ties, black lavalava.  So that day I wore a pink tie and a skirt to church. (!)  That is our ward bishop on the far right.

We did do a good job, and a few weeks later were asked to sing as part of a locally televised program seen throughout Samoa.

Speaking of special shirts, Alicia and I were simply thrilled on Father’s Day to “Facetime” with our son Scott and his wife Madisen who were married last August – with Scott wearing this T-shirt!  How special is that!

Samoa (the western islands of the chain) achieved independent status in 1962, and Samoan Independence Day is celebrated by parades and shows and all kinds of excitement. Under the leadership of President and Sister Hannemann, we joined in.
Sister Hannemann on left; President Hannemann on right

One of the missionaries to arrive recently in Samoa is my Sister Darla (McBride) Anderson, one of my four younger sisters. She served a temple mission here about seven years ago, and how exciting it is to have her here again!  She is an assistant in the office, along with Elder and Sister McBride.

Not long after she arrived, Sister Anderson was called upon to make a trip over to the large island if Savai’i. We were privileged to accompany her.

Recently the Relief Society of the Pesega 5th Ward held a sunrise service at the chapel across the street from the temple. With candles surrounding the group, Sister Anderson is giving the spiritual thought.

Speaking of traveling to other islands, recently some of the senior missionaries made an excursion over to the small islands of Apolima (population about 120) and Manono (population of about 800). We took two boats for the 16 of us. The owner took the time beforehand to decorate the boats with flowers and green leaves to make it nice for us.

Their boat:

Our boat (the waves make it look like we are getting swamped; we are not):

Wait! No life preservers anywhere?

Our boat captain
This is a picture of the one village on Apolima.  It was nice to be somewhere peaceful, without cars, dogs, or noise. It is probably one of the most remote spots in the world. Everyone who lives there is related to each other in some manner.

We also visited Manono Island, where I served 50 years ago and where our grandfather served 100 years ago. It is like Apolima, but with a larger population.

Manono is in the background as Alicia and I sat in a lovely beach restaurant a few days later.

In Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, we find the Missionary Purpose:

"Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

The ultimate goal of this work, of course, is for every one of Our Heavenly Father’s children to receive all the blessings of the temple. We are grateful to have one of those temples visible from our front door.

The Samoa Temple at night (temple housing in foreground)

The Samoa Temple (just before sundown)
Inspired by the spire
The Samoa Temple faces East
But before one can receive those temple blessings, the person must accept the invitation to repent and be baptized and become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Recently we staged a “mock” baptism photo shoot for possible use in a future web site. This was held at the village of Sauniatu. high in the center of Upolu Island. Sauniatu 2nd Ward Bishop Tausiga brought members of his ward to the beautiful water falls there for the event. So this picture is not really a baptism, but just a representation of one.

At the Waters of Sauniatu
Sauniatu is a special place. It was here that the Church provided a safe place to which early members of the Church could resort when they were banished from their own homes and villages as a result of anti-Mormon sentiment. Today the Church is strong in Samoa – approximately 25% of the islands are LDS – but Sauniatu remains a sacred place in the hearts of the Samoan saints.

Adding to the wonderment of the day was the drone camera one of our senior missionaries, Elder Schaefermeyer, brought with him.

Elder Schaefermeyer working his magic
That white thing floating above another of our seniors, Elder Vellinga, is the drone. Amazing shots!

Spy in the sky
Drone shot from opposite angle
We again thank Our Heavenly Father for this opportunity to be of service in this beautiful land, among these beautiful people.