Bright Sons of Samoa

by Brian K. Kelly

Managing Editor

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    Few young people in Samoa ever miss the beauty of a morning sunrise. They are used to arising early. By the time the sun is up, they have stacked their sleeping mats neatly and rolled up the woven blinds of their faleoos, small houses where they sleep.

    Life for the young Latter-day Saints in Faleasiu, a small village on the island of Upolu, Western Samoa, is full of fun and hard work.

    Sosaia Fesolia, 17, and his brother Letane, 15 have finished their chores, eaten breakfast, and dressed in their school uniforms. They both attend the Church College of Western Samoa in Pesega. They ride a bus the 30 miles to school and back home again each day.

    Aioo Suisala just turned 19. He works to earn money for his mission. On Saturdays and during school vacations he works with Letane and Sosaia at nearby plantations with many of the other people from the village. They get to the fields either by walking or riding horses. At the plantations they weed the taro plants, fumigate, pick bananas, and check how the pineapples are ripening.

    In one garden-size plot you can see bananas, papayas, mangos, Taros, breadfruit, grapefruit, pineapples, cocoa, and watermelons, plus ordinary garden vegetables like beans and tomatoes, growing together.

    To climb a coconut tree, Aioo first twists his shirt into a figure-eight-shaped rope. He then puts a foot into each side of the figure-eight sling and hops up the tree (center), holding on with hands and feet. “A very easy job,” he calls it.

    The coconut palm fills many needs for Polynesians. Its fronds are woven into blinds and baskets and are used as thatching on the fales (houses). The trunks are used for poles to hold up the roofs of their fales. The coconut itself provides a sweet, delicious drink when it is green, plus a soft, almost pudding-like meat that is usually eaten with a spoon and is good either raw or cooked. The ripe nuts, called copra, yield a rich, creamlike liquid that is used in many recipes, and the husks and shells of the coconut are used as fuel for cooking fires.

    Fishing is a necessary and pleasant pastime for many Samoans. Molimaufou, Letane, and Aioo carry their dugout canoe (paopao) from their house to the beach a half a mile away. Molimaufou has placed the family wash in the canoe and will do it by hand in a clear, stream-fed pool while the tide is out. While she is doing the washing, Aioo and Letane try their hand at fishing using homemade spears and goggles. Today the water is murky because of a storm out at sea, and they don’t find any fish or shellfish.

    On Sundays Aioo, who is assistant ward clerk, Sosaia, and Letane attend Church meetings and take care of their responsibilities in the ward. Their chapel is less than ten years old, and the local Saints helped to build it. Aioo and Sosaia both remember working on it.

    The boys say their prayers in their faleoo before going to sleep at night. Then they spread their mats out on the wooden floor and sleep soundly.

    Samoan proselyting elders work in the village of Faleasiu. They are teaching the gospel to several families in the village. Most of the missionaries in Western Samoa are Samoans, and they are helping to spread the gospel in the South Pacific. Samoa was the first country to become completely organized into stakes and wards.

    Aioo stands in stake conference in Pesega as he is sustained to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. He has been looking forward to and preparing for this day for a long time because it means that he is almost ready to go on his mission.

    Photos by Brian K. Kelly