Posted by: monsonmadness | September 18, 2011

Leaving the island

Michael has been here for 4 months. We have been here for 3. It feels so much longer than that, so it is with great excitement that we have made plans to leave the island. Ok, so it’s just for 24 hours, but we are thrilled.

One of the sad parts about living in American Samoa is that we don’t have a temple close by. The nearest one is in Apia, Western Samoa, another island. Living in Utah we were able to go to the temple at least twice a month, this was an important part of our life, and something that we knew would be a huge void for us when we came here. We weren’t sure before we left how often we would be able to afford to go to the temple here, nevermind what we were going to do with our children!

The good news is that we have made our arrangements, and on Friday afternoon Michael and I will be flying to Apia for 24 hours so that we can attend the temple. Our friend Sharon who is a teacher at the school with me will be sleeping over at our house and taking care of the kids. We are so grateful to her.

Most people from here who make the trip go for several days because of the expense and the effort it takes to get there, but because of the kids, we don’t have that luxury. This short trip will cost just over $500 for flights, car, accommodation and babysitter, but it will be worth every cent. Let me tell you why.

I LOVE the temple. The temple has been such a huge part of my life, especially over the last 12 years. For those of you who are not too familiar with our temples, you can click here to find out more about why we build temples, what happens in temples, what temples look like inside, and some of the blessings that come from going to the temple.

For me, the temple gives me strength. Strength to continue trying each day to be the best person I can despite whatever trials, temptations, or challenges I may face. I feel peace when I am in the temple, and I feel calm when I leave. In the temple I have received answers to my prayers, and guidance to problems I have been facing in my life. I can put things into proper perspective and learn what I need to do to progress in my life.

The most important events in my life have occurred in the temple, including being sealed to my husband for time and all eternity instead of “till death do you part”, as well as having our two eldest boys sealed to us as well. I find so much joy in knowing that if I am faithful, I can live with my family forever. I have had tremendous experiences with my family and with Michael’s family as we have served our ancestors in the temple, giving them the opportunity to progress in the same way if they so choose.

I love the temple, and I hope that those of you who are not members of my faith will want to learn more about our temples, and those of you who are members truly appreciate the blessing of being close to a temple and make it a priority in your life to serve there on a regular basis.

I have to tell you about an experience I had as we were planning this trip. It might seem like a small deal to you, but to me it was a tender mercy of the Lord to show me that my Heavenly Father was aware of me and loves me.

We wanted to spend as little as possible on this trip, and were excited to find out that the Apia temple is one that has temple accommodation for the patrons who serve there. We called up and were able to find a vacancy. These rooms are very inexpensive, I believe the small amount they charge is enough to cover housekeeping, utilities etc. Anyway, when I called Samoa to make the reservation, I was told that the cost for one night would be $35. I was instructed of the place in American Samoa that I needed to go to to make my payment and secure the reservation.

You have to understand a little bit about American Samoa to know why going to this place to make the payment was a big deal. First of all, places close randomly, even when they’re supposed to be open. I’ve experienced it several times, I’ll go somewhere and they just decided to close early that day, or take a 2 hour lunch or something. This particular place is only open for a few hours, and their schedule is different each day. I went on a Monday once and it was closed. I went at 9am the next day, but they didn’t open until 11am. You get the picture. They close at 4pm every day and are not open on Saturdays, which makes it hard for me now that I am working.

Anyway, I juggled my schedule and get the kids quickly out of school to drive over there when I am “certain” that they should be open, and as I’m on my way over, I realise that I don’t have that much cash, but since I had been there before, I thought I remembered that they accept credit cards (very rare over here, most places don’t). I leave the kids in the car with the air conditioner running and go inside to pay. I am taken into the back office to fill out paperwork and after a few minutes I remember to ask, “Do you take credit cards?” to which the lady apologised and said no.

I was bummed, it was my fault, I should have gone to the ATM the day before, but that’s hassle in and of itself, there are only a few on the island and I just couldn’t fit in that many errands between school and places closing. I knew I’d have to go to the ATM the next day and then try again at this place later in the week. It really wasn’t such a huge deal, but it would have been inconvenient for me to have driven 20 minutes out to this place, then have to do it all over again in a few days with a trip to the ATM in between. I sighed and got up to leave, and the lady said, “How much do you have?”. I said I had less than $20 and I knew it cost $35, but she told me that the $35 was Samoan tala, not American dollars.  I was suprised. I had no idea how much the exchange rate was, but the lady started plugging numbers into her calculator and then told me that a room for two people for one night would cost $15.72 in US dollars.

I opened my wallet and started counting. I started with my notes. I had a $10 bill, and five $1 bills. “Wow, what a coincidence” I thought. I opened up my purse to see how much change I had. There was a bent quarter which I set aside as I counted the rest of the coins. They totalled 72 cents. I am not kidding. I was carrying with me exactly $15.72 and one old, bent quarter. I wanted to cry. Such a small miracle where the Lord wanted to let me know that he was aware of what is going on in my life, such a small blessing which to me testified that Heavenly Father was happy with us for the sacrifice that we were making to attend the temple. I think that what some people call coincidences are God’s way of letting himself be known in our lives if we can just recognise that, and I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who truly WANTS to bless us, even with small things.

There are so many blessings that come from serving in the temple. Enjoy this 3 minute video about some of them. I can’t wait for Friday!


  1. Sooo glad you get to go to the temple! That was an awesome experience you had- thanks for sharing!

  2. What an awesome experience, Helen. Heavenly Father is watching out for you.

  3. My mum always said there was no such thing as coincidences. x

  4. thats a lovely story. thanks for helping me see the bright side.

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