A Great Week!

10 Commentsby   |  06.07.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

June 7, 2011 – 9:45 a.m.

Wow! Our time here is just getting better and better…and busier as we go! This blog will cover an entire week from last Monday to yesterday Monday. Alright, so last Monday was Memorial Day so there was no school for the island. The interesting thing is that Memorial Day on the island means something different than in the states. Memorial Day seems to be a day when they remember ALL the dead. Not just soldiers who have passed. On Sunday, it was not unusual to see families cleaning their ancestors’ graves. One important thing to know is that there aren’t many graveyards here. It is cultural for the family to be buried on the family land…usually meaning directly in front of their house. It was quite interesting because I saw a family which I thought was washing their car. They had a bucket of soapy water, towels, and a water hose out. But then I realized the giant thing they were washing was a grave! They can be really big here! They don’t bury them under the ground like in the states, so it’s not just one gravestone. I think it is so interesting and really neat to see some of those cultural differences!

Monday morning we went to the store to find some material for puletasis. This is the traditional Samoan dress that I am SO excited to have! It actually worked out that we got enough material for me to have two puletasis, Dean have two shirts, and Danna gave me more material that I think I will get made into a dress. I’m pretty excited to see what it looks like when we pick it up this week!! We then went to the sewing shop to get measured and explain how I wanted my puletasi made. The lady making the puletasis seems to be wonderful! I can’t wait to see what she created!

Getting fitted for my puletasi.

Monday afternoon we went to Airport Beach for some real snorkeling. It was a short hike to get to the beach, but it was a beautiful one! We walked by the huge lava rocks that have blow holes in them to spray ocean water up at least 10 -15 feet! I wish I knew how big they can actually get! Snorkeling was beautiful! I saw so many neat fish and coral. There was one particular fish that would turn around and look straight at me, and then after a short staring contest it would turn away, but after a very short while, it came back for some more staring! Pretty funny. Dean and I saw 3 schools of fish. There was one that we could get pretty close to. I have no idea what kind of fish they were, but they moved amazingly together. It was really neat to see them all change directions at once! One of the other schools was some type of needle-nose fish. They swam right at the surface of the water in a line to travel to wherever they were going. At one point, I turned around to try to find Dean. I finally found him and started swimming towards him. Then I saw the needle-nose fish blocking my way to Dean. I know they would’ve moved if I started swimming, but I decided to just wait. Honestly, they looked a little scary to me.

The rest of the week really was pretty relaxing and calm until the weekend hit. Friday night we did another minute to win it game, but this one didn’t go nearly as well. It was funny to watch, and the kids had fun with it, but it didn’t stay very organized as the game continued. They had a pair of panty hose on their head with a baseball at the end of one leg. Then they had to walk while swinging the baseball until they knocked down the cups set out for them. It was really pretty funny!

Saturday was the best day we’ve had with the tweens. We had an obstacle course for one blindfolded person to walk through. The first two rounds, Steve was walking through while everyone was yelling incorrect directions. Ray was the only person telling him the correct directions. Pretty frustrating for Steve! Then we ended the activity with Ray walking through blindfolded while Dean was the only person talking giving him instructions. We then talked about how it is much easier to listen to God without other distractions and false teachings around you. Clear all the things to be able to clearly hear God. They really enjoyed it! We then continued the afternoon with worksheets about the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. We ended with making a sword and shield and then cookies and a Capri Sun before leaving. It really was a great afternoon, and the kids really seem to enjoy it.

Dean with the Saturday Tweens.

Sunday morning was also the best class I’ve had! This week, we taught the 10 Plagues of Egypt. All I did was sing some songs with them, read the story, and then give them a small book of the 10 Plagues that they could color. I planned on letting them color in class, but the story ended up taking the entire time. They were so extremely interested in this story! First of all, they had no idea what some of the plagues were. They didn’t know the word for gnats, locusts, and boils. They are familiar with them, but it was interesting for Manda…the Samoan translator for my class. She worked with the kids to help them understand what they were. And the think that was most interesting to me is that I had to explain what hail was. I’m so used to teaching kids in Texas who for sure have had hail, but these kids have never seen hail on this island. It was really fun to see their faces when they realized what some of these plagues were. They were amazed by the story and I really feel like they will remember this story forever!

Yesterday we had lunch with the leaders of the youth camp (Camp Alofa….Camp Love) that will go on next week. The camp will be for 7th – 12th grade and will be from 10:00 – 6:00 every day with VBS being from 6:30 – 8:00. Dean and I are entirely in charge of VBS and we are group leaders/counselors for Camp Alofa. Let me just say that we will be quite busy this week with planning and preparing and extremely busy next week with full days of work. I am so pumped! This is the type of stuff I love doing!

This Thursday night, we will greet people at the airport who will be our guest speakers for Camp Alofa and Lectureship. (Lectureship is what the adults will be doing while the kids are at VBS.) I can’t wait to meet them, and I sure hope they’re able to get used to the humidity and time change more quickly than I am. They begin on Saturday with a cookout to welcome them to Samoa, and then preaching on Sunday and the busy week of next week.

It is sad how quickly this time here has already gone by. We have this week of planning, next week of VBS, a few days in Western Samoa the next week, and then we’ll be off to Hawaii for a few days. I can’t believe it’s already this close to the end! Oh well, we still have a BUNCH left to do with the kids…great. I’m going to get even closer to these wonderful children, and then I’m going to leave. Wonderful. L I do not look forward to leaving these wonderful people and the beautiful scenery!

Thank you everyone again who helped us get here! We are so extremely grateful to you, and there really is no way we’d be here without your help! I have been so blessed this trip already, and I know God will show me even more the rest of our time here! I have had a wonderful time so far…and I’m ready for the busyness. Let’s go continue planning!

Don’t forget to look at my Facebook. I have many more pictures on there than you will find on my blogs. Also read Dean’s blog! www.deanwillis.blogspot.com

Alofa, Kristen


  1. Stephanie Frakes
    10:31 pm, 06.12.11

    I love reading your updates. It’s so great to see the amazing things that God is doing during your time there and the wonderful impact you’re having on those kids! I’m so excited to hear all sorts of stories when we see each other again in August. I’m praying for you as and plan and work over the next couple weeks!

    Wo ai ni (love you),

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