Sunday was simply amazing so this post is LONG. Like I said before, the island basically shuts down for church services on Sundays. Api (one of our language instructors) came this morning and picked 8 of us up from VoTech to take us to his church. We went out to pile in the back of his truck only to find that he had a taxi come along with him. It had rained earlier in the morning and he was afraid that if we rode in back of the truck we might get wet. We drove along the cost until we got to the church in Fagatogo. When we got to the church we got a warm welcome from everyone. Api’s wife met us at the church along with the Minister, his wife, and their children.
I’m struggling to come up with a word to describe mass so I’ll try to describe it, but I’m sure I won’t be able to do it justice. Samoans can sing. All of them. And it seems so effortless. The hymns were all in Samoan and were gorgeous to listen to. The sermon was moving. The mass usually contains a small amount of English but is conducted mostly in Samoan. The minister knew we would be in mass today so he did the entire sermon in English so that we would be able to understand. He talked about how God puts us all on Earth so that we can find our calling and serve others. I wish I had recorded it because he worded it so eloquently. He then shared with the congregation that the new WorldTeachers had joined them in mass and expressed his gratitude that we had all found a calling in teaching the youth of American Samoa. He described the year we will be spending in the schools as Six Flags American Samoa – there will be ups and there will be downs. There will be turns along the way even when we least expect them but we have so many people on the ride with us who are all sharing the experience. He told us that we now have a home at their church and are welcome any time for anything – the congregation is there to help us in any way possible. Mass concluded with more singing and prayers in Samoan. I’m hoping to find an equally amazing church when we get to Ta’u. Based on what I’ve experienced in the past 2 weeks I don’t think that will be a problem.
Side note on church – Api’s dog likes to follow them to church. He is well taken care of and makes himself right at home in the church. As mass started he walked right up to the front of the church and made himself comfortable right in front of the stairs that lead to the altar. No one even flinched. Just a dog in church. No big deal. TIS
After mass Api said he would like to take us down the street for lunch at the local Chinese restaurant. We tried to all pitch in money but he wouldn’t allow it. The 8 of us, Api and his wife, and the minister and his wife and kids all enjoyed a feast of Chinese. Api kept ordering more food and drinks for us all and refused to eat until we had all had at least one helping and filled our plates with more. We all ate until we were stuffed, and there was still an equal amount of food left on the platters. Api insisted we take it back to VoTech to eat this week so our refrigerator is now stuffed with leftover food and drinks. After enjoying each other’s company for a while longer we loaded back into the truck and taxi thinking we were going back to campus. Next thing we knew they pulled into Samu’s and said it was time for ice cream. We were all stuffed but knew it was impolite to decline the invitation so we all went in to buy ice cream. We went to pay individually only to find that Api had already paid for all of our ice cream as well. I probably ate more for lunch today than I usually eat in an entire day.
We told Api that he is like the cool uncle who lets you do all the fun things mom and dad don’t. He and his wife are great. They both resigned from their jobs Friday so that Api can begin at the seminary school on island. We are going to church again next Sunday for Mass and his going away party afterwards.