Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ready to Leave soon!

Hey everyone. I am heading to LA tomorrow to go to the wedding. I am so looking forward to it. I think I need a nice break. School is getting busy, and just some other stuff that I cannot really post on my website. If you want to know email me.

I am looking forward also to seeing my mom. As some of you know my grandfather passed away last week and it has been hard being away from family for all of that. He was close to his 102nd birthday! Mom and I are still going to Mexico, and when she gets back they will hold a funeral for him. I am glad that he went peacefully and was flirting with the nurses right up until the end. I knew that when I left it would possibly be the last time, but it doesn’t matter how well you think you prepare yourself for someone’s death. It is still hard when it happens. So, it will be nice to see my mom and share some time with her since it was her father. I am lucky he passed right before I am coming to see her than right after I headed back to Samoa. So, in that regard I am doing okay. Sadness comes and goes.

I cannot wait to spend some nice time in the sun on the beach and seeing some friends. I am especially looking forward to seeing Mary and Bruce. It will be nice to be apart of their wedding and just relax in the sun. Even though I am in the sun all the time here, I am still working and don’t get to relax all that much.

Until next time…


Claire hunting for eggs

Our painted eggs. Not bad.

Me and my easter basket

Coloring eggs the night before.

La La watching our most beloved show, Arrested Development.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Easter Festivities

La'i. One of the kids on our compound.

Wayne and Faiga. Two of my Tech students.

Laupama, Luatasi, Leah, and Bob during the festivities.

The Easter skit that the students out on.

The Year 13 and Tech students dancing during the Easter Festivities.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Weekend Activities

I hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend. My Easter was good. Easter is one of the biggest holidays in Samoa. My Easter festivities began on Thursday the 13th. We did not have classes that day, but our students (primarily Year 13 and Tech2, seniors) put on a big thing including songs, dancing and a play for their parents. They sang songs in Samoan and in English. One of the students from Year 13 has an amazing voice and sang a few solos. I really enjoyed the whole thing. I felt like a teacher that was really proud of their students. I liked seeing the students in a setting other than inside the classroom, and they were having fun. I don’t know the student that played Jesus very well (he’s not in my class), but he did a good job. After Year 13 was done, other classes or groups of students could do a skit or song or dance. The rugby team did a drill team dance that the parents loved. One mom got up and danced with them. Year 12 put on a skit called You the Choice of my Parents. A few of the boys from Year 13 got up and dressed like girls and danced and sang a song like girls. They were so funny. I took a lot of pictures and a few videos of the whole thing.

Good Friday is a public holiday here. I got up early and headed to church. It was a good service. I don’t always understand everything, but I am so thankful to be a part of this community here and experience this part of Samoan culture. When I first arrived one of the faletua (pastor’s wife) called me over and said she wanted me to walk up with her today at church and do communion with her. It was nice to share that with her and like I mentioned above, feel like a part of this community. Afterwards Meaalofa stopped by and gave me some of the to’ona’i that her parents had made. (That’s the huge meal after church). We chatted for awhile and I spent the rest of the day reading a good book, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and figuring out what I was going to bring with me to Mexico. I cannot believe that has come so quickly. That evening I graded the first of many country wide tests that year 13 has to take.

Saturday Bob headed out on the first boat to Apolima-tai (another island in the Samoan chain). He went for the day with one of our co-workers. Our co-worker’s brother got married that Saturday and Bob has a nice manual camera he brought to take pictures with him. I cooked key-lime bars and got some goodies ready. In the afternoon I biked over to Claire’s house. That night we spoiled ourselves. We ate the key-lime bars, made a pineapple chiffon pie thing… and ate that too, drank real good hot cocoa, watched our favorite thing on DVD here, the show Arrested Development, with La La and painted eggs. La La lent us a set of her acrylic paints to paint the eggs. We didn’t have a brush, but we used our fingers, toothpicks and q-tips to paint the eggs. We went to bed pretty late still awake from all the sugar.

Easter morning was great. I got to talk with my parents in the morning. After church, Claire and I dressed up in Easter-like clothing, skirts and pastel colors, and then we tried to find suitable Easter baskets. We decided to split the compound into 2 parts. I hid eggs on one part and Claire on the other. Then we tried to find the eggs we hid for each other. It took us awhile to find them because the grass was pretty high and there are a lot of trees and bushes around; we really could have hid them anywhere. The water soluble acrylic idea didn’t seem so good after awhile when the dew of the morning wiped away all the paint we had decorated the eggs with. It made them more of a spastic spattering of colors. After finally finding them all, we headed in to make breakfast. We made hash browns and blueberry pancakes. After breakfast we ate more chocolate Claire had and then a few Cadbury eggs my parents had sent out. After feeling a little sick, our own faults, my parents called from my grandparent’s house and I got the chance to chat with some of my extended family. It was so nice! Thanks for doing that dad.

Claire and I decided to rest and play a few card games after that because we had eaten way too much junk food and it was a day of rest, so we couldn’t go biking at least until the evening. I taught her Sweapie (the very popular Samoan card game), Speed, Egyptian Rat Sphinx, and War. She had never played these card games before, so we had fun.

That evening Claire and La La and I biked back to my house where we watched the movie Cool Running (very funny to watch while in a hot climate yourself), and made cornbread and deviled eggs from all the left over Easter eggs. I think I shouldn’t have eaten the last bit because I ended up feeling sick all day the next day. I brought it on myself though, so I can’t complain.

Easter Monday was another holiday, so it was nice to have a day to get a few things done. I went for a really long bike ride to try and feel better and work off at least a little of what I consumed from the weekend. The rest of the day was very relaxing and uneventful after a fun and unforgettable Easter weekend.

I cannot believe that I only have a few weeks left until I leave. I am trying to get my counterpart ready for the 2 weeks I will be gone right before midterms; I am writing the tests for Year 12 and 13 and I am tying to pack for the trip. These next few weeks will fly by and next thing I know I will be on a plane. I will try and get pictures posted from my school’s festivities and my Easter weekend with Claire and La La.

Until next time.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tafua Crater

Bob and his bird

Hiking back from Tafua Crater

La La and I at Tafua Crater

Meaalofa and Bob's bird

The inside of the Crater

Random Pictures

Church Service

Playing Sweapie with some of the women at Sarah's place

Me and some kids in Sarah's village

My counterpart, Meaalofa me and Sarah at my place

My gecko on my computer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Weekend with PC and Church

This last week has been refreshing in many ways. To start with, it was a shortened school week, which always helps. Friday was Election Day which is a public holiday and so all schools were closed. Since Fridays are usually our Field Day, we had to move that to Thursday. But, since people had to travel to their homes to vote, they vote in the district their families live, school on Thursday was just getting the field ready for Field Day, no classes. I had had a long week and was ready for a nice break. So, I biked over to La La’s house. It was nice having some chill girl time. We watched a few episodes of Arrested Development which is one of my favorite shows now. La La has the DVD of the first couple of seasons so as a treat we watch a few episodes every now and then. I never saw it until coming here, and I love it. I ended up staying over there that night. That night we had one of the loudest thunder and lightning storms I have heard in Samoa yet. I was defiantly awake most of the night. It is a little freaky to think that you are sleeping under all that metal roofing while you are in the middle of such a huge storm.

Friday morning La La and I got up early and headed out on a bike ride to Sarah’s house as soon as the sun started to rise. I like biking in the morning because it is still cool out and there are less cars on the road… not that there are a lot of cars on Savai'i to being with. It’s a good hour and 40 minute ride from where La La lives to Sarah’s house. But it is a nice ride that curves along the coast line with very few hills and a lot of beautiful beaches and a few waterfalls. I don’t ever mind biking out to her village. La La just wanted to come for the exercise and stayed enough to relax a chat a little and then headed home. I ended up staying out with Sarah at her place that night. It was a pretty relaxing day. It was super hot that day so we did a lot of napping. We baked a few goodies like cinnamon rolls and sweet bread and bread sticks. Then I helped Sarah do some editing for her grad school essays. That night we ate with the women’s committee and played Sweapie. (The card game in Samoa everyone plays).

The next morning Sarah and I were feeling the need for some exercise after all that bread, and since Marques was in town visiting Josh, we decided to bike back to La La and Josh’s place. We got there just as everyone was getting ready to go for a hike to Tafua Crater. It is this old extinct crater near our villages that is part of a Rainforest Preserve area, so it is supposed to be a pretty nice place to see. Sarah headed to the wharf while Bob, La La, Josh, Marques and I headed out to find the trail to the top of the crater. It was a little difficult, but we found it and hiked up through the jungle to the rim of the crater. Then we hiked around the edge of the rim for awhile. It is so pretty. There are a lot of different types of birds that live only in that area. One is a near extinct Tooth-billed pigeon. I never saw it. But I saw a ton of butterflies and sparrows. I guess Samoa has 10 or 15 types of butterflies that are native only to Samoa. It was a nice hike. I think La La and I want to head back later when we have more time to sit and enjoy the area, maybe do a picnic one day. At least we know where it is and how to get there.

The boys headed out to the waterfall after that hike, but I was feeling sore from the bike rides so I headed home.

Sunday was good. I am starting to get used to and like the day of rest. It is a day when only sleeping, eating, watching tv and going to church is really allowed. I am starting to get used to and enjoy the church here. It is a Methodist church, since I go to a Methodist school. All of the faife’au (pastors) and faletua (pastors’ wives) that live on the compound with me and the students go there, so I know a lot of people in the congregation already. There is a place in the church where each group of people and age are supposed to sit. Like young kids sit somewhere specific, older men and women, faife’au, the choir… I usually sit towards the back in front of the Reverend Aufata because if I don’t catch the bible verses we are studying that day, he gives me the verses. I like reading along in English, so I have a better understanding of what they are saying. Actually, I understand most of the sermons pretty well. It is because the pastors speak in the proper language which is what we learned in training, as opposed to the k language (same language just pronounced a little differently).

A typical Church Service: Usually church starts around 8:30am and ends around 11. Sometimes it ends later if it is communion day, or a specific event. I walk to church; it takes about 10 minutes to walk there. I usually sit towards the back by the faife’au near Aufata. We start off with the same morning song every Sunday. I don’t know the song and it’s not in my song book, but I am starting to learn it. Near the front of the church is a list of songs we are going to be singing from our Tusi Pese (Song book). There are 5 songs each Sunday. We sing the first song listed after the morning song. Then we have the main prayer. It is long, and most people kneel for it. Then we stand and sing the second song. We stand for every song that we sing. Sorry dad, same here as back home.

Each sermon usually has 2 passages or verses of reference. One is from the Old Testament and the second is from the new. This week we read from Psalms 119 and Mark 9. So, we read the first verse and then stand and sing song 9. This is song 9:

In Samoan (without accents) (Roughly in English)
Ia tatou viia le tama We praise the Father
Ia tatou viia foi Iesu We praise the return of Jesus
Ia viia le agaga sa Praise the Holy Spirit
E oo i le fa’avavau Who reaches into forever (– not 100% sure here)

It sounds really beautiful when they sing it. After this song we read the second verse. Then we have the offering and the offering song. After that they either do announcements or read what the money is used towards in the village. If they have any special things like baptisms or communion we do it now. We have the fourth song after that. Then the pastor gets up and thanks people then begins his message. Like I said, I can usually understand it, and I like listening and following along. After the message we have the last song. Then, we wait until the pastor passes by our pews and say hello until we leave.

What I like about the church is that I know people in the congregation and that it is awesome to see people worshiping in different ways than I am used to. A huge part of Samoan culture is their beliefs, so I like experiencing different parts of it.

So it has been a good week/weekend. I have really had a chance to do some good exercise and hang out with friends and I had a good day at church. This coming weekend I am heading into Apia for a doctor’s appointment and for a girls night with a few other PCV’s. That should be fun. Until next time.

Oh, I forgot. This is funny. The little kids in the village don’t all know me, but most of them know who I am. They don’t really know my name, but they know what it sounds like. My name in the village is Juna. It sounds like Jew-na. So, thanks the name I respond to when I am bike riding. Juna. :)