Posted by: monsonmadness | December 2, 2011

6 months in American Samoa

Today marks six months in American Samoa. We are a quarter of the way through Michael’s work contract. I have been reflecting on this so much over the last few days, and here are my thoughts.

It seems wrong somehow that we are counting down although it’s true. We’ve been counting down since we got here! We long for the comforts of home and for luxuries that we somehow feel we deserve and are entitled to. We have spent so much of our lives taking things for granted, and although we can now see things from another perspective, we are still viewing this as temporary and something that we just need to “endure” for a time. Again, this feels wrong. Why should we get better health care, better education, better living conditions, better anything than anyone else? Just because we were born in a certain place…does that entitle us to special privileges for the rest of our lives? It’s easy to put on a brave face and deal with less than ideal circumstances when you know they’re only temporary. Question is…what would our attitude be like if this was forever? Would we be grateful for the things that we have, and the things we take for granted here?

It’s all relative I guess. It’s what you’re used to. The people here are generally happy with what they have, but they’ve never had a lot. I guess if I compared our situation here with other places in the world instead of our lives in the US, things would be different.

There are so many people around the world who don’t have homes. They don’t have food to eat. Their basic medical needs are not met, and many die from ailments that are preventable and curable in other places.

Right now I have a lot to be grateful for. In church last Sunday a couple spoke about learning from trials, how strong they had become and how much closer they had drawn to the Savior since their young son died. It was a heartbreaking story with triumphant testimonies, inspiring me to be grateful for what I have.

That same evening, I was visited by the Relief Society president who commented on some of our Living Scriptures videos that the kids were watching. She said that she used to have some of those, but they were lost in the tsunami. When I questioned her about it, she continued that everything was lost in the tsunami, all of her possessions, everything they owned. It was one of those miracle movie-like stories where they were literally speeding up the mountain in their pick up truck as fast as they could with the waves right behind them. They were able to save their own lives, but nothing else.

Even on a smaller scale, I feel grateful that right now I’m not living in a cold home with no power and a tree through my roof during the holiday season, like many people in my county in Utah are after the 102mph winds this week.

So is it easy living here? No. Are we glad we’re a quarter of the way through? Yes. Do I think we’re learning important things? Yes, but not as well as we should. I feel there are so many things that I am not learning well, not learning gracefully. It’s just too easy to murmur!!!

I feel a deeper commitment to reach out to the people here instead of staying comfortable in my home with my family. I need to interact more with the local people. I’m not sure what I can do, but I don’t feel like we’re giving enough of ourselves. We’re holding back somehow, and we need to do more to serve and to lift.

So…here’s to eighteen more months ahead. I hope that we can be led to those we can help and that our love for the people of American Samoa will increase along with more opportunities to learn and grow.



  1. I imagine that would be so hard. I’m sure you will soon find the silver lining!

  2. Amazing, already a quarter of the way through. It must seem to be going slow for you because you are enduring those hard conditions. But you are doing it! And you are managing to find the beautiful things around you while you are there. That is one thing I love about you. You don’t let the grind of daily routine and required chores rule your life; you always make plans for fun and adventure. As far as reaching out to the locals, because of the influence you had in our ward and neighborhood I am positive you are blessing many lives without knowing it. I am rooting for you in your resolve to keep an eye out for additional opportunities.

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