I Missed a Sunday

I don't mean that I missed posting last week, although I did. We missed the Sabbath. We were in American Samoa last weekend for a celebration commemorating the landing of the first mission president, Joseph Dean. We flew out of Pago Pago early Sunday morning and arrived here in Apia 35 minutes later on Monday morning. It is a tricky process to plan and purchase flights, etc., when we are a day ahead of American Samoa. It felt pretty awful to miss the Sabbath. It made me even more grateful for the blessing that the Sabbath day is.

Beginning with the Creation of the world, one day was set apart from all other days. "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it." Even God rested from His labors on this day and expects the same of us. Central to Sabbath day observance is worshipping God and partaking of the sacrament. We read in the Doctrine and Covenants: "And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayers and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High..."

In our family, we have tried to make the Sabbath a day different from the other six days in the week. It was a day for family and church. It has become our life-long pattern. I truly missed it last week. It seemed that there wasn't time to catch my breath. There wasn't time to stop and remember all that He has done for me. There wasn't time to ponder and find clear direction for the new week. There is great power in the Sabbath day; it is our time to touch heaven for just a moment.

The celebration in Aunu'u was a glimpse into old Samoa. We watched and listened to a talking chief as he greeted visitors and shared history. We ate and ate and ate. Elder Anderson was introduced as Joseph Dean's great-grandson. It was a remarkable moment to see history come full circle in the Anderson family. We were blessed to share the experience with him.

Boat ride to Aunu'u
Dock at Aunu'u

Following are pictures of the fafaga. 

All of this food was for me! There was more that I couldn't fit into the picture.

My day prior to the celebration was spent with Elder and Sister Saunders. They are a missionary couple who serve in Pago and take care of the missionaries there. They are incredible people who have bridged meaningful friendships with our missionaries and the people of Pago in the few short months they have been there. We rely on them and are so grateful for their willingness to always help.  It is hard having missionaries on three different islands; we worry about them. The Saunders keep that worry at bay for us.

Sister Saunders, Elder Anderson, Elder Haws, Elder Saunders

The Lesas joined us, too. They are part of our mission presidency. They serve with willing hearts. We appreciate the way that they help our missionaries understand the culture and customs as well as motivating them to work hard. They bring a spirit of enthusiasm to the work.

Sister Saunders, Elder Anderson, President and Sister Lesa

We started zone conferences this week. They will continue through next week as well. It always brings a sense of strength as we meet with the missionaries. When they are together, it seems nothing is impossible. These are God's soldiers. They live places that are primitive, do their wash in a bucket, work in the sometimes oppressive heat and humidity and yet they thrive! It is a sweet thing to watch their hearts change, to see them find God, and to understand how much He loves them. The pictures from the Upolu zone conference are on the Life with Missionaries page.

We welcomed a new missionary this week! Elder Wallwork was supposed to come with the group in August, but he broke his finger and had to stay behind and allow it to heal. We are thrilled to have him. He is the great-grandson of Percy Rivers, the first stake president of Samoa and a great disciple of the Savior. I am sure that Elder Wallwork will feel the presence of his great-grandfather as he continues his work here in his beloved Samoa.

And last, but certainly not least. The Samoa mission is now an emailing mission! When we carefully look at past experiences, we can clearly see the Lord's hand in His work and our lives. Emailing in Samoa just a couple of years ago proved to be impossible. Internet cafes are very scarce. Not all church buildings had internet and there was no network on the island. Now every church building has internet and computers. The stake presidents and bishops will be working with the missionaries to give them access to the buildings so they can email their families, send a letter to President Tolman and report their work electronically. We are thrilled and so thankful for the positive cooperation of the stake presidents. Parents, be patient; it may take a couple of weeks to work out the bugs. God is good, and we are sweetly blessed to witness how He is hastening His work.

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