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. :)