A Nod from Heaven

We said good-bye to another group of missionaries. They leave with the love of Samoa in their hearts, increased faith and greater love for the Savior. They have touched lives and boldly shared the good news. We will miss them, but are confident that they will continue to influence others for good. The Lord loves them. We love them and miss them already.

Tofa Soifua

We also received our first big group of new missionaries. They come from all over the United States. We also have one from New Zealand and one from here in Samoa. It was energizing to be with them and feel of the spirit they brought from the Missionary Training Center. Every one of them was positive and anxious to get to work. We kept them for a couple of days in the mission home to allow them to rest and recover from their travel. As we interviewed each one, we heard stories of faith and devotion to the Savior. We are thrilled to have them; they will be a powerful force to move the work of miracles forward in Samoa.  Be sure to check the Life with Missionaries page for more pictures!

Talofa Lava!

Our new missionaries and trainers

One of the sweetest doctrines of the gospel is the doctrine of personal revelation. We are told in scripture:

"If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you." 1 Nephi 15:11

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26

We have seen over and over again how mindful God is of His missionaries. We had such a moment this week. When we consider transfers and placing new missionaries we diligently seek His help.  These new missionaries are unknown to us, but what is very apparent is that they are very much known by Him.  President Tolman assigned one of the new missionaries, Elder Anderson, to serve in American Samoa in an area that covers the small island of Aunu'u. Aunu'u is significant in the history of the mission because it is the landing place of the first mission president, Joseph Dean. (See the Mission page) Aunu'u is remembered as the place where the church had its beginnings. What we did not know until two days before the new missionaries arrived is that Elder Anderson is the great-great grandson of Joseph Dean!

As we labor to makes sure each missionary has faith-filled experiences we strive to listen and be mindful of His will. Sometimes things are very clear; sometimes we wonder if we have heard correctly. And then every once in a while we receive a little nod from the Heavens that He is there in every detail.

Elder Anderson and the monument honoring his great-great grandfather

Are You In, Or Are You Out?

Last week brought some great experiences. We had another Mission Leadership Council. It is always a treat to be with the mission leaders. They are enthused about and dedicated to missionary work.  They are trustworthy. They take responsibility for those in their zones and sisters whom they lead. As we use this time to counsel together we learn much from one another. Each one of them brings a unique perspective to this work. We learn from them and appreciate their willingness to work together to bring about miracles in Samoa.

Be sure to check the Life in Samoa page for more pictures from the day we spent together!

The Mission Leadership Council

President Tolman shined shoes before the council meeting began; everyone got a new shine!

President Tolman organized his presidency this week. We are thrilled to be working with the Lesas and the Masoes. Unfortunately, we did not get a picture when we were all together. President and Sister Lesa live in American Samoa and President and Sister Masoe live in Savai'i. The missionaries will grow to love them.  We felt of their strength and their love for God when we met with them. We look forward to a great friendship as we work together in the hastening the work! Thank you Lasas and Masoes! Alofa tele atu.

President Gifford and Sister Wendy Nielsen from the Area Presidency visited us this past weekend. They helped us understand more clearly the vision for the mission and counseled us to be patient as it unfolds. Wise counsel to two of the most impatient people in the world!

President Gifford and Sister Wendy Nielsen

They spent time training some of our missionaries. Sister Nielsen reminded us that we need to live a balanced life--socially, spiritually and physically. It was a good reminder for our missionaries. Living in a hot, humid climate it is often easy to let exercise go. Being busy missionaries, sometimes breakfast may be neglected. Studying in a hot, stuffy house can prove to be very difficult. Balanced missionaries are better prepared to do the Lord's work in His way.

President Nielsen explained the process of assigning missionaries. Each mission assignment is made by a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He testified that it is through the revelatory process that each of our missionaries was sent to Samoa. He asked them why they were on this mission. What did they view as their purpose? There were dozens of good answers; his answer was "to learn to become good husbands and fathers, wives and mothers." He admonished them that there will be no other time like this in their lives. This is a time set aside by the Lord for their growth and development, a time that provides them with the sweet opportunity of being in His service 24/7. And then he asked "are you in, or are you out?" Will you serve this mission with dedication and great effort or will you float along as the months drift by.

There is something each of us can learn from that question "are you in, or are you out?" So many times the days pass us by and we live below our privilege. God needs us in this work of His; he needs warriors who will stand for truth and righteousness in all things and in all places. He needs angels who will reach out in love to bless the life of another through service and the peace that comes through the gospel. He needs moms and dads who consistently teach their children that He is the source of all good. He needs these great missionaries of ours and around the world to sound the clarion call to join His ranks in the battle for good. So I ask you, "are you in, or are you out?"

I'm Late, very, very late!

We were in Savai'i last weekend, so I didn't get a chance to post. Savai'i is the biggest of the islands here in Samoa. It is more rural than the other two major islands and incredibly beautiful. We went over for meetings and to do the "run." Each Monday morning, some of our wonderful senior missionaries drive the islands and deliver supplies, mail, etc. to each companionship. The couple who does the Savai'i run was in Australia for a couple of weeks. So since we were going to be over there on Sunday, we decided to stay and do the run on Monday and visit with each of the missionaries. It was joyous to see them. The pictures are scenes of Savai'i.

I am making a change to the blog. The page entitled Life in Samoa will be filled with pictures of missionaries. After all, that is our life in Samoa! Stop by and see if there is someone you know.

Comings and Goings

This week brought us a new missionary, Elder Falema'i. We are thrilled to have him join our mission. He carries an incredible spirit and determination. Welcome Elder Falema'i!

We said good-bye to three remarkable missionaries this week. I told them we would feel a "loss in the force" as they return home. They have been noble missionaries and representatives of Jesus Christ. They have come to love the people of Samoa. We were able to witness some of the sweet farewells with those they had loved and served. What they have learned in Samoa will bless their lives. The Samoan people have taught them generosity, charity, friendship and faith. They will be missed by many. Tofa soifua Elders.

Left to right, front row: Elder Swenson, Elder King, Elder Massey
Back row: Elder Shepherd and Elder Si'ilata (our assistants)

Our shipment container from home came this last week. It felt like Christmas morning as I unpacked each box of belongings from home. I was anxious to find the box that contained my most prized possessions. Of course, it was the last box I opened! As I unpacked and arranged the pictures of our family, my heart was heavy. I miss them. And yet, I somehow know somewhere deep inside of myself that the blessings they will receive in our absence will be far greater than anything I could provide by being home.

Before we came to Samoa, we spent five days at the MTC in Provo being instructed by the twelve apostles, seventies and other authorities. Many times our family was mentioned and many promises of blessings were given. I am so grateful for those promised blessings.

Leaving family for three years was a difficult reality to accept. This kind of an assignment causes deep searching. Can we do this? Is it even possible? The bottom line is that we serve because we love Him; we serve because we have made covenants.

Bishop Caussé taught at the seminar that the Savior's invitation to "come and follow" Him requires two distinct actions on our part. Coming to the Savior requires sacrifice on our part, but following Him requires us to live the principle of consecration. When we follow Him the journey is likely to never be easy or comfortable. We must be ready and willing to face the same experiences that He faced as he overcame temptation and trials.

Elder Bednar taught on a different occasion, "The principle of sacrifice is a lesser law-preparation for the principle of consecration. Consecration includes and encompasses sacrifice and so much more." Bishop Caussé taught that we cannot be content if we limit ourselves to the law of sacrifice. He went on to teach that consecrated missionaries are valiant in their testimony of the Savior. They have no fear of being rejected or mocked because they know that the Lord will accompany them and protect them always. He went on to teach, "They are not satisfied with a reasonable effort, but work to the very limits of their strength."

These teachings have bolstered my faith and resolve to be a consecrated missionary. I want every promised blessing for my family. I want them to grow in power and testimony. I want them to feel the effects of the sacrifice and consecration that they make by supporting our efforts. They are amazing people. Each member of our family blesses our lives in some unique way. They reach out to us and find ways of showing support from 6000 miles away. Consecration requires the very best of what we have to offer. It requires that we do hard things like travel to a distant land very different from our own. It certainly requires finding faith we didn't think we had.

To our children, their spouses and our grandchildren: we love you. Thank you for who you are and who you are becoming. You motivate us to work a little harder and stand a little taller. Your examples inspire us. Your love for each other comforts and strengthens us.

The Title of Liberty

Captain Moroni was a man of valor and conviction. It is said of him in the 47th chapter, 17th verse of the book of Alma:

"Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

He led the Nephite armies through many difficult years of battle. A righteous Nephite commander, he led his people to victory over those who would see them suffer and die. At a point of dissension among his people, he responded in a way that inspired them to commit themselves to their God, their freedom, and their families. 

Courtesy Reign of the Judges Movie

"And now it came to pass that when Moroni...had heard of these dissensions, he was angry....
And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it--In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children--and he fastened it upon the end of a pole... He took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren...he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice...whoseover will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant...And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together...rending their garments...as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God..."

Moroni and his title of liberty rallied the people to goodness and determination to serve their God at all costs. When we were at the mission presidents' seminar in June, Elder Ballard taught "mission culture is what happens when you are not there."

This week we met with our Mission Leadership Council, which is comprised of all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders. We talked about Captain Moroni and his title of liberty. Could we rally our missionaries with our own "title of liberty?" Could we develop a mission statement that spoke of who we are?  It was inspiring to watch as President Tolman led a discussion about what it means to be a representative of Jesus Christ. He asked could our missionary badges stand as our title of liberty? How does a representative of the Savior look, act and feel? I was thrilled to see the dedication and devotion that these leaders hold for their sacred callings. Together we developed our "title of liberty"--our mission statement.

Samoa Apia Mission

Every day, when we put on our missionary badges, we declare we represent Jesus Christ. As His representatives and because we love Him:
We obey with exactness.
We earn respect and trust by the way we act and dress.
We govern ourselves.
We love and protect each other.
We teach as He taught.
We honor and live Preach My Gospel.
We prayerfully invite others to come unto Christ.
We rejoice in His service.
As we do these things, He will bless us to be noble missionaries. 

It is a privilege and a blessing to serve with His noble missionaries. We are so proud of them.

PS. It was such a busy day I neglected to take a photo of these incredible missionaries. I regret that you cannot see those who developed the mission statement. We meet again in three weeks. I will post one then.  So sorry parents.