Monday, November 16, 2015

4 weeks in Samoa

Preachin' in Paradise

Talofa Lava outou!
 This week was really good. One funny thing that happened was we went over to visit a family in one of the new areas we were assigned to cover. The previous Elders in that area said the whole family wanted to join the church. So we went over and we see this old guy sleeping and right then I had a pretty good feeling either we were at the wrong house or this family with the baptismal date doesn't exist. We started talking to him and it became pretty clear that there is no way this guy is getting baptized. It was funny but frustrating at the same time.

You get no breaks with the weather here. It's either sunny and really hot and humid or it's cloudy and like a sauna it's so humid. When it rains, it pours. Sometimes we can't even hear what people are saying during visits it's so loud. When it rains, the roads get really steamy. The worst is when it clears up and everything is wet. That's when the humidity is through the roof. Walking on the black gravel roads is miserable. I start sweating the second I walk out of the house.

 One thing I love about the people here is that they don't judge people. There will be kids passing the sacrament with no shoes on with a white shirt that probably hasn't been washed in six months and you don't see anyone giving dirty looks. It's just something that I think is awesome about Samoa and the loving people here.

 Another thing I think is interesting here is the cars. They remind me of cars you would customize in like a 2004 Need For Speed video game. They have these massive spoilers, crazy lights all over the place including under the car, and the rims are exotic, plus all the random badging and stuff they put all over the car. I just keep thinking I'm in a Tokyo drift movie or something.

 Most nights there is either volleyball or basketball being played at the church building. For relief society they come and play basketball together. It gets intense. I just picture the relief society in my ward and I just start laughing. They play all night too.
I'm starting to adjust to the food a little bit. Most nights we just get fried chicken and karo. Karo is basically like a potato but it's way better for you. When you see all those massive Polynesians walking around that are just ripped out of their minds, it's because they eat karo. Sometimes they bring out fish that they just fry and you can still see the eyes and stuff. Ramen is another thing that everyone eats. I usually have ramen for lunch every day. Luckily, they have tons of flavors.

 I'm just so grateful to be here as an instrument in the Lord's hands doing HIS work. I know that if I just teach by the spirit it doesn't matter how good or bad my Samoan is. All they need is to feel the spirit and then they'll have that desire to learn more.  I know this is the Lord's work. I can't believe I've already been here for a month. It's gone so fast.

 Alofa ia te outou

 Elder Tana (what we tell people now just to make it easy)

Me and my companion in front of the Chapel

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week 3 in Samoa...I left home exactly 2 months ago...

This week was super sekia!

 I have my first baptism Saturday and I'm doing the baptism!!!!! Super stoked! We also have two other investigators committed to be baptized on the 28th.
I can't believe I've already been gone for two months.  It's gone extremely fast. I still can't believe I'm actually here getting to share the gospel (the very little I can in Samoan) in such a beautiful place.
I'll just kinda keep doing what I've been doing, running through each day. Hopefully everyone is okay with that.

Tuesday was long. We didn't get back to our house until 9:45 because we finished a lesson late and then had a 30 minute walk in the dark back to our house. During our lesson, I saw my first centipede. It was really freaky and a sibling of the people we were teaching (probably 4 years old) just smashes it with his heel. It was about the size of my whole hand and they are really poisonous but I'm sure he's an experienced killer. Then that night during planning there was a spider the size of my palm and we smashed it with a flipflop and its guts splattered everywhere. It was pretty gross.

Wednesday we had a conference for the entire Island. We talked about how we can better teach the important part of the lessons and how missionaries need to follow the rules better. Our mission president, President Hannamann, announced that he wants to open every island in our mission boundaries including Tokelau which everyone should look up. It's crazy beautiful. That night we gave a blessing to an elderly woman in our ward. I did the first part in English and my companion did the blessing in Samoan. Even though I could understand very little of what he said, the spirit was so strong.  The next night we were walking back to our house and were asked to give a blessing to a sick little baby.
Sunday was really good. For Sacrament meeting it was the primary program. Little Samoan kids sing really loud. They all memorized their parts too, which was impressive. That night during planning, one of the Assisstants to the President called us and said we now cover two more wards which tripled our area. He said that there are a lot of families that want to meet with missionaries so I'm really excited for that.

We pretty much walk everywhere but last night we got a call form the AP saying we're now covering Sale'imoa village (which kinda translates to the chicken hasn't yet come) which has two wards so our area kinda tripled in size.  We're gonna ride bikes now.
Other stuff that I think is really funny is that Samoans can't say Sterner. They look at my nametag and don't even try and just start laughing. I just tell them Stana and they still struggle to say that.

The language is still my biggest struggle and concern. I just need to have faith that I'm here at this exact time, learning this language because the Lord knows I'll do my best work as a missionary here. I'm so blessed to be here and to feel the Spirit constantly. I'm so grateful for its guidance.
I miss you all so much and think about you guys daily.

Elder Sterner

This is my lunch. The pineapple is sooooo good here

This is the rest of our sweet pad!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Samoa Week 2

This photo doesn't do the water color justice...

Malo Soifua y'all,

This week flew by! I still have very little to no idea what's going on all the time but it's okay. It's been super hot this week and we walk probably 5 miles each day half of it up hill.

Tuesday was extremely hot and we walked the most that day. Almost all of our appointments fell through so we would walk somewhere far and they wouldn't be home. Sometimes when you're setting an appointment with a Samoan, they could say anything and then they won't remember what they said when you show up to their house. Island life is real and I'm still adjusting to it.

Wednesday we contacted a lot of referrals and set appointments. We have a lot of investigators which is awesome. Our goal this week is to set 6 baptismal dates for the month of November. I definitely think it's possible. Here in Samoa, in almost every family there is at least one person who is a member of our church.  Most of the time they are inactive but often times they are very helpful with the lessons.

Thursday was rough. Every lesson we had that day we had to sit cross-legged and it is SO painful. I'm not a flexible person. Each lesson is usually an hour long and my legs are aching within 5 minutes. It's extremely disrespectful in this culture to sit any other way so I just have to tough it out. When the lesson is over I can hardly stand up to give them a handshake. Everyone says it takes like 5 months to get used to it - so yay for me.

Friday we had a zone meeting. That was in Samoan too so I had no idea what was said. Elder Anderson and Elder Redd from my MTC group are in my zone so it was good to see them and know that they're struggling just like I am. Then we had to go to a chapel 25 minutes away and we had to walk because one of our bikes doesn't even have a rim which I was bummed about. I do enjoy walking right next to the ocean watching the waves crash a mile out because of the reef surrounding the island. Saturday was Halloween but Samoans don't celebrate it. They just play volleyball instead. It's what they really love to do.

Sacrament meetings are awesome. Everyone sings so loud. A Samoan woman singing alone sounds ok, but when they sing together, it's amazing. My companion and I are the only ones wearing actual pants and shoes. Everyone else just wears lava-lavas and flip-flops. I'm so jealous.

Samoan kids are the best and they love Palagi missionaries. A funny thing is they don't usually wear pants. They just wear a big t-shirt that hangs low. You don't realize it until they sit down. I was totally shocked the first time it happened but I'm already used to it...ha! ha!

I'm so grateful to be here. It's so hard, by far the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but seeing these people make a change of heart is so beyond rewarding. I can't wait to be able to truly connect with these people when I can speak their language. I'm working so hard every day to get better and I'm exhausted after every day.

Alofa ia te latou!!

-Elder Sterner
The main road in our area

our bedroom - pretty tight quarters