Saturday, November 05, 2005
Holiday in Samoa (Written Nov 4 2005)
Today was our first holiday in Samoa and if all holidays are like this we are definitely going to have to stock up on food beforehand. Back in the states, when a holiday comes around some places are closed but there are still a few key places that are open for business (i.e. stores and restaurants). Not so in Samoa – everything shuts down. And when I say everything, I mean everything shuts down. I have never seen the streets of Apia so barren in my 4 weeks here, it was quite amazing. It was like having a Sunday here except I couldn't go to a restaurant and watch a football game to break up the monotony of the situation. Fortunately for us the convenient store next to the hotel stayed open today so that we could get something to snack on for lunch – otherwise we would have gone the whole day without having lunch (because we usually go out to the market or a local restaurant for lunch). So if you think its bad in the states when a holiday hits, America has nothing on the holidays in Samoa. Heck, we were lucky that the trainers were here because nobody works on holidays. And which holiday was it you ask? Well it was one called Arbor Day where everyone goes out and does some planting of sorts whether it be the planting of trees or a garden. I'm not exactly sure on the purpose of this day, but I'm guessing its like our Earth Day. Anyway, while lunch was snacktacular a few of us (along with two current volunteers) went out to eat dinner at the Apia Yacht Club and trust me, its not as ritzy as it sounds. Its just a bar that's close to the sea and happens to have little boats docked next to it (not yachts, more like kayaks). While we were there I had a good conversation with Sara, a fellow trainee, about our different Christian backgrounds and how we're dealing with it in Samoa. She and I have both been Christians for about 2 to 3 years now so it was definitely a fulfilling conversation talking with her. We talked about the lack of accountability we feel here in terms of Christian fellowship – but we're both looking at these two years as a test of our personal walk with Christ. While we need others to help keep us accountable, in the end all we really need is him. We also talked about the love that the families in Falevao showed to us even though they had never met us before and Sara made the insightful comment that we're the ones that got the whole love thing wrong, not the Samoans. They got it right in that they love and share with all those who enter their house whether it be the first time or the thousandth time – everyone is welcome. But we, as Americans, look at it from the perspective of 'How can you just be so accepting of me and friendly to me without knowing anything about me?' we tend to always have our guard up, looking out for the next possible con or scheme. And that's just a byproduct of the culture that we come from whereas here, that's not a part of the culture – Samoans are just a really loving and accepting people. They got it right and its our job here, as both Peace Corps Volunteers and for us Christians, to learn to not only accept that love but also return it. Its easy to be cynical with the families and view our time there as a time for them to improve their own status within the village, but its much harder to just be accepting of the love they're showing us and return it in kind. Since Sara and I are the only Christians we know, right now, that are going to be in Apia (Julya's going to Savaii) we're going to try our best to hold each other accountable – each one teach one. But we also realize that our time in the village is also a time to share with these people what it means to have a personal relationship with the Lord and not just have a memorized line for a prayer. As a wise camp once told me, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31). This is definitely one of those times where we're going to have to hope in the Lord. On a little side note, we also talked about if it was going to be hard to leave Samoa in two years time and I have to say – its going to be hard, but its going to happen because I miss my home very much. Luckily, I have a watch with a compass on it that tells me which way home is at all times (NE of wherever I am) so while I might not miss home as much by the end of my service, home is where my heart is and man can only go so long without his heart. That's it for this week – we're going back to the village tomorrow (Saturday) so I'll post again as soon as I can once we get back. L8r.