Friday, May 13, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #15

Today was Monday . . . again.  The International Date Line makes for some interesting travel in this part of the world.  But there just always seemed to be something very wrong with having two Mondays in the week.

It had been 20 years since Jimmie or I had been in Western Samoa.  They've even changed the name of the country since we've visited.  Now it is simply called Samoa.  The changes are huge.  The first one I noticed last night was that they now drive on the left side of the road, just like New Zealand.  The second was how much the town had spread out.  We never even got close to the old harbor area where we used to walk along the water's edge to the open-air market for fresh fruit and vegetables that we couldn't get at home in American Samoa.  This morning the long taxi ride to the airport showed us that the long, lonely stretch of sand and palm trees that we remembered lining the coast is now filled with houses, stores and people. 

We arrived at Faleolo for our short flight to Pago and started all the details for checking in.  First, there's the weighing in - first our bags and then US.  This flight between the 2 Samoan islands is still the only ones I have ever been on where they make the passengers step up on the scale and then assign their seats according to weight.  But it's a small plane so I guess balance is important.  Then we went to the desk to pay the departure tax, followed by completing 2 sets of customs paperwork, one for Samoa and the other for Amerika Samoa.  FINALLY, everything was done and I wandered up to the second floor of the building to browse the handcrafts for sale there.  Suddenly, Jimmie dashed up to get me.  He just happened to glance at the boarding pass handed him by the airline agent and noticed that the departure time had been moved up by a full hour.  We had to go NOW!

Arriving in American Samoa is always like coming home for Jimmie and me.  There are chages each time, but the essentials are the same.  We were greeted by the smiling faces of dear friends from long ago, as well as new friends.  Unfortunately, we were also greeted with disturbing news.  The most heart-breaking was that the Leone congregation had just been touched by tragedy.  Seone, a faithful young Christian who was attending college in Hawaii, disappeared into the sea on Saturday as he was kyaking with friends.  His body was recovered on Sunday evening ending all hope that he might have survived.  Naturally his parents, Lomiga and Tala, were devastated.  Carolyn and I went with Sharon English and Debbie Pierce, missionaries here in Samoa, to take the family some food and our condolences.  As parents we never expect to be faced with the death of our children.  Please keep this family in your prayers.

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