Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas in Samoa & Getting to Skype with the family

A message from mom and dad:
We were able to Skype with Justin on Christmas Day from LA for about two hours off and on.  It was so great to see his face and be able to have that interaction with him.  I think he was a little overwhelmed with the whole situation and so were we.  We miss him so much.  We were able to ask him a bunch of questions and he got to tell us what he has been doing.  He was sweating so much the whole time we talked to him because it is so hot and humid.  He eventually started fanning himself which helped and there were a lot of loud birds in the background too.  At one point, he had to walk over to the church building to fill the font for the baptism so we got a good look at his little house, some surrounding jungle areas, and the church building.  He bore his testimony in Samoan which was really cool.  We couldn't understand any of it, but he did a really good job and we definitely felt the spirit of what he was saying.  I think his Samoan is getting better than he thinks it is and he continues to work hard to grasp the language.  We are all so grateful for the opportunity we had to spend talking with him and seeing his face.  It was the highlight of our Christmas day.  We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that the New Year is filled with good health and happiness.

Manuia le Kerisimasi ma le tausaga fou!!

My White Christmas was successful! Three awesome baptisms. It was such an awesome experience. When they come up out of the water there is just a different spirit about them. I could tell they were different and I know they felt the spirit so strong. Sometimes days are really hard but seeing people come unto Christ and me being able to say I was able to help them just a little bit, there is no better feeling.

This week was a lot different than any other week. Tuesday and Wednesday night we had a zone sleepover in one of the chapels because we had to be up super early to go to the backside of the island for a service project. The backside of the island is way less civilized but it is SO beautiful. We woke up Wednesday morning at 4 and we had a devotional on the beach at 8. We had some koko Samoa and buttered bread for breakfast and then we headed to the school where we completed the service project. We painted the whole school and it looked really nice when it was finished.

Our one shower for the three days was interesting.  We got to shower in a natural pool thing right by the ocean. There is a little funnel that lets fresh water come in and out with the tides. When President Hannemann was checking it out, one of the AP's pushed him in!!

After that, each zone performed a skit and the whole village was supposed to show up. Apparently, one of the really high chiefs passed away and they were doing the funeral that day so nobody showed up. It was kind of a bummer but still really fun. After that we went back to the chapel and slept.

The next morning we had a song practice for our performance in front of the Parliament Building. After that we had our Christmas lunch which was really good. Then we went to the chapel and hung out there for a while until it was time for our singing thing. We did our songs and it went well. Everyone said we did a good job. Then we went back home and got to bed around 11.

Christmas in Samoa is pretty much just like every other day. The only difference is that kids are running around with toy guns and just a lot more volleyball is being played than usual.

This week we have three more baptisms. So'o is one of them and the couple we married Christmas morning are also getting baptized.

I want to invite everyone who reads this whether you're a member of this church or not to read the book called, Our Search for Happiness. It is such an awesome book and if anyone wants to learn more about the church or has questions about something pertaining to the gospel, this book will answer it. I've read it twice already and it has strengthened my testimony and my knowledge of the gospel so much. It's just a really good book and I know anyone who reads it will benefit from it.

Hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and hope you all have a fun, safe New Years.

Alofa ia te outou!

Elder Sterner

Meeting up with my group from the MTC at our Christmas Dinner.

It was such an honor to be a part of the baptisms
of these three new members of the church.

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