On Saturday night, one of my vice principals invited me back to the CCCAS, which is the Congregational Christan Church of American Samoa in Leone. It was also the very first church on island...you can read more about it and see pictures of what the chapel looks like on their website: CCCAS Leone I had visited this church once before and had seen many of my fellow teachers and students. This past Sunday was the celebration of the 181st anniversary of CCCAS so eight other CCC churches from the west side came to the service in Leone. The chapel was packed - so many Samoans all jammed into one place. It was very hot, and I got a seat that literally touched the back of the church. All in all, it was 2 beautiful hours of Samoan and beautiful singing. I saw lots of my students and it warmed my heart to see their eyes light up when they saw me at their church.
Following church, I was invited to a to'onai (sunday lunch) by a woman who works for the Department of Education. It was so interesting to eat lunch in a traditional Samoan house. The adults and guests always eat first and are served by the children. This was a bit awkward for me as one of my students was putting food on my plate. After we finished, we sat outside with some coffee, and the kids got to eat. Following the coffee and digestion of all the Samoan food, Tui (the DOE woman) drove me all along the west coast of the island out to the village of Amanave. The views were breathtaking and also unsettling in some spots. Many villages on the west coast were ripped apart by the tsunami in 2009. Many FEMA tents still stand and it was haunting to see houses and churches literally ripped apart. By the time I got back to my house, it was 1:00 and I had left at 8:45. I had a great day!
Having Monday off from school was also nice. At this point in the school year, I am still so excited for each day with my kids, but I was happy to have a day off during the week to explore. Abby and I were up bright and early for a long run. We had to HALU a few times, but thankfully no dogs tried to attack us. Following that, our friend Khoa came over and from there we went to a local park in the village of Vailoa. The walk took us about half an hour and once we got there, we came across a massive cricket tournament. I know nothing about cricket, but it was entertaining to watch. We found a spot on the field where we could throw a frisbee and within 15 minutes, we were surrounded by kids that all wanted to play with us. The frisbee (thanks Kristine!) ended up being a huge hit. It was an absolute blast and the kids were adorable. Most of them were young, probably between the ages of 5 and 10. They could barely speak English so we spoke the little bit of Samoan that we did know. Once we told them our names, all they said was Quinn Quinn Quinn! Abby Abby Abby! Khoa Khoa Khoa! It was so precious.
Today happened to be hot. The kind of hot where you just want to lay down under a ceiling fan. There was no breeze and the sun was extreme. After about an hour and a half, we told the kids that we were going to go swimming and from there, they invited us to their private beach! We asked permission from the owners of the land, and within 10 minutes, Khoa, Abby, and I were standing on a white sand beach surrounded by palm trees and a whole bunch of kids. We splashed around and got hit by the big galu (nngaahloo - wave). The current was super strong and you had to use all your might to stand up. How these little 5 and 6 year olds could do it with no problem was amazing to me. There were also lots of lava rocks and they were extremely slippery, to the point where you could slide down them...Abby and I tried to walk on them and we could barely stand up. Even crawling was difficult because they were so slippery. The kids walked on them like it was no big deal. Samoans are so cool!
After lots of sun (almost too much - it was scorching every part of us) we headed home for a much needed shower. I had sand just about everywhere on me. Having sand in your pants is no fun. Later on, I played badmitten (how do you spell it?) with Mavaega for a long time. Now the temperature is finally cooling down and I just finished a big bowl of brown rice, chicken, and teriyaki veggies. Ahhh. Now on to lesson planning for the week.
P.S. I slept awful last night - couldn't fall asleep. When I finally did fall asleep, I remember waking up for about 3-5 seconds and I thought to myself, "Is my bed shaking right now?" before falling asleep again. Turns out it was really shaking! An earthquake hit around Tonga sometime after 10:00 last night and we felt it here in AmSam. It was a 6. something. Thankfully there was no tsunami warning. Our house is far enough from the water and it is also on a hill...I am also thankful for that.
So many little kiddos! Abby, Khoa, or I would throw the frisbee up really high in the air and all the kids would go running to catch it...so funny!
The only name I remember out of this bunch is Moi - the girl in the pink shorts. The two boys are clearly twins and I could not get enough of them. They were adorable in every way and they kept asking Abby and I questions in Samoan. We would just respond by saying "how are you" in Samoan. It made us laugh and they just gave us puzzled faces. Ha!
Another Moi and the twins. Once I brought out my camera all everyone wanted to do was take a picture and then look at it! Pictures are FUN!
The same boys again, two minutes later. Samoan pile up!
These two joined us right before we went swimming. They are brothers and obviously BFF's. That's another great thing about this culture...your brothers and sisters are your best friends. The older boy is a sophomore at Leone HS. He looks serious in this picture but he usually had a smile on his face.
Siaosi (the Samoan name for George) loved playing with the frisbee!
A few hours at a private beach surrounded by adorable kids? Perfect way to spend any afternoon. The funny thing is, this isn't even all the kids...there were still many more who hadn't gotten in the water yet.
Little, wet, cute Samoans
Two new friends of mine who loved having their pictures taken.
This is Sammy and her brother Vai. Their family owns the beach. Sammy is one of Abby's sophomore students.