Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Thursday afternoon, September 15, 2016, we flew to Samoa.  Elder and Sister Best met us at the airport at 9:00 p.m. and took us to our hotel, Aggie Greys.  We usually always stay on campus but Dean said we could stay at a hotel this time and Reed had always wanted to stay here.  It is in down Apia right by the harbor.  They have been closed down since the cyclone in December of 2012 when they got flooded out.  They just reopened in August of 2016.  They are still working on some of the rooms and areas but the lobby, restaurants, pool areas and where we stayed were very nice.  Reed is snorkeling in the pool.  This is the view from our room.
They have hotel rooms and bungalows.  This walkway leads to the bungalows.  It is so beautiful and Samoan.

On Friday we were told we would speak to the student body of the high school but there was no school.  The students started their two week break.  Miscommunication.  We spent time with Elder and Sister Best and Duke, the Institute Director, talking about getting people signed up for the English language exam to be part of the English pilot program they are putting together.  We visited with teachers and administrators that were still around.  It was nice to see them again.

Saturday we went with all the senior missionaries across the island to a place they call Clam Beach.  For the 18 months we served here no one ever talked about this place.  You can actually go snorkeling in this clam preserve.  There were fabulous clams all in this closed off area in the ocean.  They were, blue, green, purple and about four to five feet in length and two to three feet wide.  The first one I swam over squared me because they move in an interesting way.  They were something to behold. 

Everyone brought some snacks and shared with each other.  It was really fun to meet everyone and see something new.  It was a beautiful day for snorkeling.  Today, September 17th Reed and I have been married for 43 years.  What a wonderful way to spend our anniversary.

Sunday, September 18, 2016 we went to the Moto'otua ward for church.  Everyone was so surprised when we walked in.  It was so nice to see all our very dear friends again.  We did not understand much of what was said but we loved being there.  We sat by Ingrid, Leon and ReeNada during the meeting.  ReeNada loved playing on our iPads!  This is ReeNada and Ingrid.  ReeNada has grown so much and she understood us much better this time.

Some of the YSA and the Wilson, Taavao and Lesa young ones.

After church we went over to Lei Lesa's family home.  We brought some books and treats for the children.  This is Lei, with her three daughters, Jane, Janice and Janettsa with AnnLynn her niece in the blue and her two nephews.

AnnaLynn with her baby.  He has a long name after her father but the shortened version is Tonga.

The kids all wanted to be around Reed the whole the time.

We took a family picture before we let.  It was so nice to visit with them and see all the children again.  They have really grown up a lot.  Lei's oldest boy is in university and her baby is now almost five.  My where has the time gone?

Nada, Tonga, AnnaLynn, Reed in back and in front Janettsa and Janice.

We then went to the Taavao's for a visit.  These are the two families we have stayed the most connected with.  Sister Taavao, Faamagalo, Brother Taavao, Lilley, Oredyna, Leon. ReeNada, Ingrid, Nada
Front row, Lilley's boy Lu, Three youngest Taavao boys.

The family with Reed added.  We love these people.  Faamagalo is headed to BYUH at the end of October.  We are excited for him  Ingrid has always been so kind to us.  We are so grateful we could spend some time with them again before we finish our mission.  Hopefully we will see each other again one day.

Sunday evening we had a tri-stake devotional on Self-Reliance Through Education.  Mostly about the new book Reed has written on "Success in School Begins at Home."  Elder Fata, the Area Seventy, was there and said that after listening to Reed he better  understands the importance of this book and why the Area Presidency is really promoting it.  We talked about how the home should be the most important educational gathering place, which is a phrase Elder Clark and our Area Presidency want us all to use.  We had about 160 leaders and members in attendance.  There was a lot of good feedback after the meeting

Monday morning, September 19, 2016 we decided to walk to McDonalds for breakfast and enjoy the harbor.  This is looking across the harbor to the newly finished Catholic church ad government building.  Oh so many memories for us of such a beautiful country that we love.

Reed couldn't resist taking this picture of the bus full of people sitting on each others laps.  We saw this everyday when we served our first mission here  We never did ride on any of the buses.

This building was built by the Germans in the early 1900's.  It is one of the oldest buildings in Samoa.

Couldn't resist taking a picture of the clock tower.  It is a landmark for downtown Apia. 

Nada standing on the rock wall in Apia Harbor on our walk back to Aggie Greys.

Monday morning we went to Pesega and met with Leo, Sister Schmidt and Brother Elisara.  We talked to them about working  more closely with Bruce and Elder and Sister Best with the Self-Reliance Through Education Initiative.  Especially with this English language pilot and the new book "Success in School Begins at Home."  They were very excited about these programs and said they would encourage the teachers to be involved as well.
We then went over to Brother Lepule's home.  They were very excited to see us.  They were all looking good.  They have opened a gift shop at the Aggie Greys out by the airport as well as their craft booth at the downtown market.  He is still teaching Samoan at Pesega.  This is another family we have stayed close to.

Sister Lepul Spenda, Brother Lepule

Reed with his name sake Spenda.  He will be three on New Years Day.  They call him Spencer but named him Spenda because they wanted to name him after both of us, Spencer and Nada.
We spent a lot of time with Elder and Sister Starke, the ITEP couple, to help them understand the files both in the cabinet and on the computer.  We had met them and done some of the training with them in New Zealand.  They were very grateful for our help and it was time well spent  We wish all the things Bruce had set up for us had not fallen through but at least we used our time wisely helping other missionaries. 
Monday night we had dinner with Elder and Sister Best and then went to FHE.

Tuesday morning, September 20, 2016, Reed went snorkeling at Palolo Deep.  He just could not be in Samoa and not enjoy the water.  I walked over for exercise and watched him for a while.  It was a beautiful day.  We met with Bishop Huch at the Mangiagi chapel to talk to him about the pre-school he and his wife are running.  They are using the recreation hall for now but have got permission from the family that owns the land behind the chapel to build a building for the pre-school.  They have mothers help and have 57 children that attend regularly.  They are both members and nonmembers.  What a great man.  They really believe in the Self-Reliance and Education initiatives and are doing everything they can in their ward to promote and encourage them.
We visited some of our favorite places and talked to as many of our friends as we could find since school is out for their two week break.
That evening we had a training with the Apia Central Stake.  It went very well and they asked some very good questions.  We sure hope they will embrace these wonderful opportunities that Self-Reliance Through Education has to offer.  They all act very interested but putting those thoughts into actions is where it is not happening.  We again have planted a lot of seeds and now Bruce and Elder and Sister Best will need to keep weeding, watering and helping them to grow.
We went up to Taavao's to say our final farewells.  We love this family and want only the best for them. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016, we got up packed and checked out.  We then headed to Sauniatu.  This is the fale that we passed every time we drove to Sauniatu and one of Reed's favorite.  We had to stop and get one last picture of it.

Elder and Sister Best were doing some presentations to a youth conference on self-reliance and how they can prepare now to be self-reliant.  They took four lessons out of the "My Foundation" book and helped them understand by living those principles now will help them be better students, missionaries and leaders as they grow.  They did it three times and definitely got more comfortable by the third time.

The youth sitting and listening during the opening devotional.  How they can sit on that hard cement floor for so long is amazing to us.

Elder and Sister Best talking about "My Foundation, Principles, Skills and Habits."

Beautiful Sauniatu!  It had been raining but the sun was trying to break through.

The Sauniatu church camp.

Nada walking down the new concrete street of Sauniatu.  The chapel is on the left and the library and office is on the right. 

We then went into the office to sit through part of a reading group for ITEP.  We knew most of the people but some of the teachers are new.  It was good to see these good people again..  Sister Foley is teaching and her and her husband are the first assigned ITEP couple to live there on campus.  They are loving it and it is great for a couple to be there at that school full-time instead of driving back and forth from Apia.

Our final view of the new concrete street, office, and library of Sauniatu  This is such a beautiful place and we will miss it so much.  We always feel at peace when we are here.

The papaya and breadfruit trees were really loaded right now.  The mangoes were also starting to produce.

We walked down to the Sauniatu waterfall but did not go swimming.  We were running out of time.  It looked very inviting and refreshing.  We made so many wonderful memories here.

Elder and Sister Best and Nada on the stairs leading down to the waterfall.  These new stairs are so much nice and safer than when we served here.

The monument on the left is where President David O McKay stopped and delivered an Apostolic blessing upon the land and people of Sauniatu in the early 1900's.  This is right as you enter Sauniatu.  Good-bye maybe forever!

This is a new farm on the very bad, bumpy, torn up road to Sauniatu.  They were growing, taro, pineapples, bananas and coconuts.  It was very well maintained.  These are the sights we remember and love so much.

Wednesday was a beautiful evening.  We went to Swashbucklers for our last meal in Samoa.  We sat on the deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean and enjoyed good fish and chips, the clouds, the sounds of the waves, looking over at Apia Harbor and just enjoying our last couple of hours in Samoa.

Doesn't get much better than this!

As we were eating there were a few boats that went rowing by.  Reed would love to do this.

We watched the sun set then headed back to the Self-Reliance Center where we met Bruce McCarthy, our Self-Reliance Manager, and he drove us to the airport.  What a wonderful trip down memory lane.  We feel so grateful that we have been able to return to a land and friends that we love so much.  We will truly miss this peace of paradise and all the wonderful people that live here.
We left Samoa at 10:00 p.m. probably for our final time.  However, we will never say never because we thought when we left in 2013 that would be our final time and we have been back three times since then.

We hope you enjoyed seeing our wonderful friends and the country we love so much.  We truly hope they will embrace the principles involved and taught with the Self-Reliance Through Education initiative and become more educated and independent.  This initiative will truly help them be better missionaries, students, parents and leaders both in the church and the community.

Our hearts are full.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)


At 20 November 2016 at 14:53 , Blogger Ingrid and Leon Roache said...

I love the photos, and the best memories of your last visit to Samoa. Hoping you could visit once again.

with much Alofas


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