Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 13 Saying goodbye to Samoa

Day 13
Sierra: Lena! I am so excited we got to go back to the primary school and experience the culture and thank you presents that they presented us!
Lena: I know, it’s amazing how willing to give they are when they really don’t have anything.
Sierra: They gave us so many lava lavas, hand crafts, and jewelry. I think it was very emotional for all of us seeing their giving hearts.
Lena: We were all so grateful. For the little that we did for them, they gave us everything they could back. I think all of us reevaluated what we take for granite back home. We don’t even think when we sit down on chairs with desks at school, and computers are just there for us at our convenience. To see these kids overjoyed at those “little things”, urged all of us to look at our attitudes differently.
Sierra: Yeah we really are so grateful! We were so excited to have our beach day after meeting with the kids! Unfortunately it was pouring rain the whole drive up there! It was still so fun though because we got to give out T-shirts to the locals! I absolutely love doing that to see the looks on their faces! I think that also made us super grateful to see how happy they were to receive something as simple as a T-shirt.
Lena: That was one of my favorite things we did on this trip!
Sierra: Me too! On our way to the beach, we got to stop at that awesome waterfall and take pictures!
Lena: It was amazing! I was speechless because of the beautiful creations that God made for us. It was such beautiful scenery.
Sierra: I loved it to! We had so much fun on the Sinalei beach. Although it wasn’t very sunny, we still made it a good time! I loved jumping off the pier into the swimming hole and laying in the sand. I also enjoyed paddle boarding, until I fell off and cut my foot. Overall it was a successful beach day!
Lena: Oh yeah, I am sorry about your foot Sierra I hope it is healing fast! The Sinalei Resort was incredible. We all enjoyed all the fun activities. My favorite part was the snorkeling!! I think all of us collected some beautiful shells. I have to agree that it was one of the best beach days! But we ended the day perfectly by throwing shirts out to people on the way home. It was the cherry on top to an amazing day!
Sierra: Such an incredible day! To top it off, we had a nice team meeting reflecting on our trip. It ended up being so emotional and spiritual sharing thoughts and feelings about each other and how all of us had been effected by this amazing experience we got to share together. I think we all came to the conclusion we were all on this team for a reason and were very blessed to have an amazing coach that gave us this incredible rare opportunity to serve as a team. We all became a little more thankful for everything we had that day and will always remember this incredible experience.

Lena: It was an awesome meeting; each of us expressing our gratitude for what we have and also this memorable experience that we will always remember and hold dearly to our hearts. I think Sierra and I speak for everyone when we say that we are all sisters now and our bonds are unbreakable. We have each gained a new perspective and are eager to go back home and share it with our friends and family.
-Lena, Sierra

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 12 Deliveries and work are good for the soul

Day 12
            After another amazing handmade breakfast, we began our perilous journey on finishing up the container duties.
            Our first stop was to the nursing home. We unloaded our many donations and sat down to share with them the gift of our voices. I don’t know exactly how great that gift was but we gave it with our full hearts. They replied in song and we left swiftly after saying our goodbyes.
            Round 2 of the container, we prepared to go to the school. It rained but we pushed through the weather and prepared to meet the children.
            We pulled up to the school and a sound was coming from the building that was drowning out our radio. When we emerged from the vans the children’s voices overpowered even our thoughts. We sat in front of them as they sang and cheered and clapped.
            We sand and they tried to clap us off of the stage twice. But the stubborn team that we are, we sang threw the madness and they cheered even louder (didn’t think that was possible) when we finished. Some people were a little surprised when Lauren and I volunteered the team to come back tomorrow during beach day…woops.
            Lucky us, we got to cool off in a ride in the truck back to the house. Once again we began to unload the container and construct hygiene kits for the parents awaiting their sick children at the hospital.

            The halls were chilled and full of hope. Parents who had been there for days were beyond joy when we presented them the gifts. I have never seen pure joy before until that day when I handed the small 3 year old named Genevieve a teddy bear.
            Today was a monumental day. We as a team were the cause of so much joy. That is something that you will never forget.

                                 **Maddy Wolford**

Day 11 Church, Sam's Tour, and games

Day 11
            What a beautiful, relaxing Sunday we had here in Samoa. We started off our day going to church at the Church College. Everyone was nicely dressed in his or her new lava lavas. We had sacrament meeting in the same place that we played our volleyball game on Thursday, which was a bit interesting but we were still able to feel the spirit. YSA Sunday School was held in the building with air conditioning, which we were all very thankful for. After church we walked around the school campus and Sam told us about his younger days when he attended that same school. Sam’s family donated the school’s land to the church to build that school, and spent many of his childhood days living in the housing around the campus. Sam even showed us the exact room he learned to type, and his teacher would smack his hands with a ruler if he wasn’t typing fast enough. We then headed home to a nicely cooked dinner brought to us by the bishop’s family. Boy was there a TON of food! Every type of food imaginable was on our table after church. Even in Samoa we had our usual Sunday naps after church, where most of us slept for over 3 hours. I think we were just a little tired. Finally we woke up and started tying T-shirts right away so we could throw some more out. We then made our way to Sam’s fathers grave to experience something none of us were expecting. Sam’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and father are all buried in the front yard of his cousin’s house. It was a beautiful gravesite. Sam had a few words to say and then told us about the amazing life of his father and how much he helped the Samoan people and community. Now we all see how Sam got to be so amazing, because his father was quite the man! Sam then shared a humbled prayer with us, and the spirit was strong. It was a neat experience to have Sam share apart of his personal life with the team. We all saw a side of Sam we haven’t seen before, and our respect for our coach, father, and friend grew immensely. Sam and his father have both done so much for the people here and for their family. They have given back everything they possibly can, and the people here are very indeed grateful for the Atoa family. Back to the vans we went to throw out more T-shirts. Seeing the smile on the people’s faces as we throw them a free shirt is something special we never expected to feel. As they smell their shirt and throw it in the air, we all have huge smiles on our faces knowing that we were the cause of so much happiness. Little do they know that they bring us so much happiness seeing them happy for something so little that we take for granted everyday. It was then dark so we headed home. Once we were home we had some great pani popo (which is rolls soaked in coconut milk which is our favorite), ice cream and cake. It was delicious!  It was then GAME TIME. Us girls all gathered around the living room to play games. This was a moment where we all could just relax and have a nice Sunday evening together. We became closer as not only a team, but also sisters. We were laughing the whole time playing signs (which Kalani is a boss at) and “werewolf” (which is the exact same thing as Mafia, but we tried making it a different version to make it interesting.) Tonight we made so many inside jokes and memories to last us a lifetime. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

**Lexi Thompson**

Day 10 The King, Beach, and giving away T-Shirts

Day 10

It seems fitting that today is day ten, because it was a ten indeed!
The morning started with us meeting at coach’s house, where we packed up the cars with shirts and computers for the Head of State (King) and his family, and headed up to his house.  When we arrived there, the speaking chief was in the middle of a gift exchange following a funeral that has previously taken place.  It was a fun experience to see how these things really happen in the Samoan culture, although we could not understand a word of the shouted phrases.  Once the exchange was over, the Head of State’s wife took us inside to meet with him.  Sam visited with him for quite some time, and then Maddy and Kisha were asked to present their gifts, and knelt down in front of the king which made things kind of awkward and we all laughed way hard.  Once all of our gifts had been presented, we took pictures, and hopped back into the cars to head back home. Back at the house everyone pitched in to stuff the vans with t-shirts to throw and pack lunches for the beach!  After we were all ready to go, it was back into the cars for the hour-long journey.  We threw balls and t-shirts to the people along the whole ride; they were all so excited to receive these small gifts and it felt amazing to be able to make someone so happy.  Finally we got to the beach!  We spent the day swimming, snorkeling, photographing, tanning, playing cards, and throwing around a rugby ball.  Lena stepped on a sea urchin, and one of the Samoan ladies nearby had to come help clean her foot up, but the spines are still stuck.  Coach taught us how to drink out of, and break coconuts, which made us pretty ecstatic. After a few fantastic hours at the beautiful beach, we ended our day and left for home, throwing out more shirts on the way.

-Kiahna Steiner and Kalani Norris

Day 9 Samoa: Victims Support and Hospital

DAY 9—

When it rains it pours—literally. We woke up today to the pounding of pouring rain on the roof. This seemed like terrible luck considering today was supposed to be the first day of unloading the container. Luckily, the weather here changes from one second to another, and we ended up with a clear day that was actually a lot cooler than all the rest. We unloaded and organized some things from the container, and then loaded up in the vans to go visit the Samoa Victims Support Group. This turned out to be one of the most touching experiences most of us have ever had. This group is a home to victims of abuse of all kinds. Both women and children of all ages are given a safe place to stay on a beautiful campus. We arrived expecting to see struggling “victims,” but instead were greeted by beautiful, smiling women and children who welcomed us with song and dance. Seeing how happy these people were brought a lot of us to tears—it was so amazing. We then got to hand out gift boxes to everyone, which was a huge hit. After handing out gifts, we treated the girls to a manicure and pedicure, and got to know them better. Seeing how strong they were, and how happy they could be after all they have been through was something I will never forget. It was so hard to leave our new friends, and many of them asked us to stay, but unfortunately we had to go. After we got back to the house, we unloaded more container items and went to the hospital to deliver medical supplies. Then we all piled into the back of the hospital truck, and drove around what seemed the entire island, while some us screamed “TALOFA!” at anything and everything. It was so much fun to see the island this way, but poor Jaramey got incredibly sick, so we rushed home before she could throw up out of the back of the truck. Today was full of great experiences, and we got a lot accomplished. I would say it was our best day so far!

Nakisha Wilden and Rachel Steele