Monday, January 5, 2015

Gimme a sign!

Today is a good looking Thursday.  One that comes with flip-flops, cool Chanel sunglasses, Nitrogena sunscreen and a cooler of vino.  The only thing missing from this picture is a white sandy beach and some acoustic music.  This was the morning mentality until my well designed black top went through the Human Resource Department's newly painted door and came out blue! Oh the drama.  While the poor officer's face went from a morning smile to an expression of horror, in slow motion, I knew something was wrong.  She mouthed and pointed 'paint, paint'.  

I slowly closed the door and said out loudly (in a calm manner) "where's the bloody sign!".  The poor officer immediately wrote not one but two 'wet paint'  signs outside the door.  Action.  I went straight to my office, replaced my top with a scarf and washed out the paint.  "Shux they should have put out a sign! How would I know that the silly door was freshly painted".  Flashbacks of  'Bridal Wars' came to mind when Anne Hathaway painted Kate Hudson's hair blue.  Another flashback of our last Leadership Study Tour came to mind, Samoa Tourism's presentation on some of the areas of tourism that continually needs improvement.  One of them is proper signage.  

 Proper signage should not be limited to just the tourism industry.  We need proper signage in all sectors.  Different industries are slowly understanding the benefits of adequate and distinctive signs.  Signage help  find places, promote businesses and simply get the buy in for many destinations.   Samoa is slowly connecting and understanding the importance of such.  Too little signage and too much signage can be equally confusing.  A balance must be struck between the needs of the individual, businesses, the environment and road safety (Warwickshire County Council, 2014) 

As 2015 comes with great expectations so must we expect much from ourselves.  Set yourself a few goals (no new year resolutions, they end with the empty motivational Oyster Bay), spend time with your loved ones, drink a glass of Fireball whiskey with your friends and hold on tight, 2015 will be roller coaster ride.  Enjoy it, it will fly by without a warning sign.

.
photo by Lars.Cronin

Etsy, 2014
(all remaining photos from dailyhaha.com)





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Don't let anyone dull your sparkle!

Yesterday as I was gathering leaves and rocks from the garden, my new housemate reminded me that our people do not lack creativity but they lack  platforms from which to propel ideas and turn them into extraordinary works of art.  In his case, his creativity has been padlocked,  limited because no one wants to give him the space to dream and make it happen.  Like me, he lives on another planet that is filled with dancing flowers, floating materials and mixed permanent paint.  The world we escape to in the middle of the day, where we tap into our creative side.  My housemate needed that desperately to be able to express himself not only as an individual but also an artist.

Our Wednesday project involved an over-size glass champagne vase, sea shells, spray paint, flowers, aqua crystals, palm tree leaves and white sand (sago).  We were testing a few center pieces for an upcoming event.  The aim was to create something authentic, hip, local and cost effective.  An original piece that can be placed in the middle of a marble table and ignite some creativity.  A center piece that can connect to the creative side of any onlooker. 

Mr Pink as I will call my housemate, was open to all ideas.  There we were, in the middle of our dining room, spray painting, cutting stems, shaping leaves, collecting thoughts to be put on display.  Mr Pink talks more than me, surprisingly and that added to the busi-ness of the House of Elle.  "The problem with us (meaning them not us) is that  we are scared to let other people create something better than our creation.  Instead of encouraging other like-minded people to create, we tell them not to do it.  It will cost and will not turn out the way we (they) want.  These are the people that want to dull our sparkle!" Mr Reef complained as we were working away.  

"Shux, my sparkle is already gone or misplaced as I haven't touched paint in the last three to four months.  I haven't written or created in too long a time.  I need to get this sparkle back!" I mused.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me to please write about food and wedding planning (how to plan a wedding from the very beginning)! First step to wedding planning..get a groom?. Yes to food because I love to eat, not so sure about wedding planning as of now, she has red hair, purple lipstick, a mismatch outfit and just refuses to comply with any theme.  In other words, the wedding plan is somewhat cheeky and all over the place.  I keep telling myself that I have another year or so to go and as long as we set the date, book the venue, buy the dress then everything else will fall in place (absolutely not).  Planning is time-consuming and accompanies confusion, information overload, salesman syndrome but if done effectively, it will save the couple from paying money towards a one day event that some end up paying for dearly.  There is no perfect way to plan unless you sit down and discuss what kind of wedding you want, whether you want  an extravagant wedding, to impress the crowd or a backyard barbeque with close friends and family.  I prefer the latter but being the favourite daughter (sorry sisters) the bbq stance will not work for mother dearest.  If men were left in charge of the planning, things will happen faster and one just might end up with no tables and more alcohol.  I can see where this wedding planning blog is going.

 Anyway, as we were creating center pieces, the underlying theme was:

Do not let anyone dull your creative sparkle.  If you decide to do something, do not hesitate.  Hesitation will only lead to confusion and safety.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Work with your budget, if there is no budget then work with the concept you have in mind. Do and then re-think and change things around.  There are no rules to creativity.

The end product was a beautiful vase full of things and a whole lot of laughter at how ridiculous we were.
It was good therapy and we have another Wednesday project lined up next week.

Beach wedding centerpieces turquoise stones.  Love the turquoise and white together.  Without the shell it would work for a landlocked reception
Beach Theme Party / Wedding Decoration / Centerpiece

what if all the centerpieces aren't the same, and we just do random 'structures' similar to this that we find at thrift stores, etc. throughout the year?
Photo(s) source: pinterest.com

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tiny Samoa and its vision

I was selected to be part of the Leadership Samoa Program 2014 intake with the objective to create a network of emerging and future leaders of Samoa.  My journey, along with 15 other promising members of the 2014 class has begun.  I must say, it is challenging, interesting, multi-coloured and resonating.  Our first session was about- what it is to be really be a leader.  Is it a special characteristic that one possesses or can everyone be a leader?  The answers were different, vibrant and mostly positive.  Leaders are fearless in the face of opposition, they are compassionate as well as humble, loyal, loving and so forth.  There are many attributes and processes involved in leading and there are many types of leadership. 

I have been a leader for as long as I can remember.  In Sunday school, primary school, college, university, church, organizations and  in the workplace I have held leadership positions.  Most of the time I was placed there by a vote or a decision, under no fault of my own (I try and not get noticed when a vote is up).  Maybe they liked my ponytails in primary school or my skinny legs in high school, no matter the reason, responsibility is no fun but it forces you to grow!  Leaders have an aura around them that is sometimes unexplainable, I don't have this aura.  To me, leadership is having a few or many believing in your vision and are willing to work with you to achieve it.  Sometimes, the leading vision align with the vision of many so in achieving the main vision, the vision of many follows suit. This is but one part of leadership.

One such visionary leader is our very own Prime Minister.  When it was first announced that our tiny island will host the first United Nations conference to be held in the Pacific Region, bringing 3,000 delegates to Apia on the first week of September.  you can almost hear the panic, heart flutters behind some of the concerns.  How much will it cost? How will we do it? Do we have enough rooms? Can we even do it? This government is mad!  Our Prime Minister raised his hand and said "Yes". He said that Samoa is committed to facilitating a successful outcome of the conference and will do everything to ensure the meeting  is enjoyable.  He hopes those visiting will get to experience the world famous Samoan and Pacific hospitality (Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi,2014)

Right now behind the scenes, our people on the committees, sub-committees and all other catalytic committees are scrambling around like ants to get things done, sorted, signed off, approved and polished.  We are pressed for time as always as there is much to be done.  There are only a few weeks left and we must not despair.  The key to pulling this off is co-operation, communication and a lot of action towards the same direction.  We may be small and scattered, working in our own little corner but together we are a thriving force.  The ocean after all is made up of tiny drops of water and when it speaks, we listen.
"Many drops make a bucket, many buckets make a pond, many ponds make a lake, and many lakes make an ocean"
 ~Percy Ross

This conference will be showcasing our unity or lack thereof.  Samoa might not have this chance again and so regardless of what we think, we should stand together with one accord to prepare ourselves.  We will be exposed and the world will put us under the magnifying glass, will we not be proud Samoans when we pull it off? When we tell our children, yes we were part of that vision and for one week, the world saw Samoa. Like other leaders before us, we too must stand out and take risks!



"Many drops make a bucket, many buckets make a pond, many ponds make a lake, and many lakes make an ocean"
 ~Percy Ross

Sunday, May 4, 2014

JUST SMILE


Talofa and Welcome to Samoa with a smile!

I was invited to the Samoa Tourism Sector Plan Draft Consultation Workshop last Thursday and Friday.  The turn out was encouraging and the discussion highly relevant to the future of tourism.

The Tourism Sector Vision:

"By 2019 Samoa will have a growing tourism sector, which engages our visitors and people and is recognized as the leading Pacific destination for sustainable tourism"
 A realistic and attainable vision I say, if everyone works together to achieve it.  The participants included members of the private, public and communal bodies.  We all agreed on the main focal areas of the strategy consisting of the following:
  1. Marketing and Research
  2. Investment and Business Enabling Environment
  3. Product Development
  4. HRD and Training
  5. Infrastructure and Access
 These are all equally important as they go hand in hand if we are to compete at a higher level with other more developed islands in the tourism arena.  While there were many technical terms used, one area that was highlighted by most groups included the need for our educational systems to include tourism and hospitality subjects in school curriculum starting from the primary level.  Due to the high importance of tourism to our GDP, it is crucial that we teach our children the value of tourism.  Tourism contributes to more than 20 % of our GDP and plays a leading role in foreign exchange.  It is a catalytic industry as it creates both direct and indirect employment for our people.  Tourist spending give rise to 'government revenue, encourages entrepreneurial opportunities, helps promote, revive culture and branding' (SDS, 2012-2016).

Moreover, there were points also raised about engaging with communities more in terms of tourism product promotion, enjoyment and partnership with many government agencies to improve the services and products offered to visitors.  Village communities are the keepers of our historical and cultural sites, they set and monitor the costs to be paid by tourists for these sites and therefore should be kept in the loop regarding tourism affairs continuously.

My favourite point of the day was the 'Samoa Smile Campaign'.  Not the Digicel smile campaign but a whole of  Samoa smile campaign including one and all.  One lady suggested that Samoa is still the Pearl of the Pacific and therefore our faces should say the same.  Whether we are working in hotels, restaurants, markets, gardens, schools or communities, whether we can engage with tourists on a professional or basic level, one must smile doing the work that we do.  Samoa has come a long way and will continue to develop with the tides of change.  What remains is the Fa'aSamoa hospitality, whether we understand English or not, smiling is just like music.  It is a universal language understood by all, so just smile and stay true to who we are.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bromeliad me!


The brain has  been silent in the past few weeks but this week it was jump started by great sites. important one.  Monday was a very exciting day at work.  My team and I had the opportunity to visit a few green houses in Samoa.  It was a day for shiny eyes, a nice change from the pink eye disease! (I I have been resilient thus far) There were soft pinks, peach, dramatic burnt orange, sweet lavender, gutsy black, earthy browns, royal velvet blue and misty white plants to covet.  You can imagine the 'ooohs' 'ahhhhs' and 'wow wows' from my team when we feasted our eyes on the beautiful plants. Interestingly, there were not many native  plants under the green nets.  Perhaps the native plants can grow easily, requiring less assistance from the growers unlike those that are imported.  Imported plants require more attention and care so they can adapt and grow successfully.

One plant that is new to Samoa, taking up residence in all the green houses is the very flamboyant  Bromeliad.  If it was a person, I'd compare it to an unpredictable designer of futuristic things or creator of  impracticable outfits that can never be worn with a normal face.


The Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads) are a family of monocot flowering plants of around 3,170 species originally from the tropical Americas, with a few species found in the American subtropics and in west Africa.  The most well known bromeliad is the pineapple. The family contains a wide range of plants including some very un-pineapple like members such as Spanish Moss (which is neither Spanish nor a moss). In general they are inexpensive (not in Samoa), easy to grow, require very little care, and reward the grower with brilliant, long lasting blooms and ornamental foliage. They come in a wide range of sizes from tiny miniatures to giants (Bromeliad Society International, 2014).   Like Samoans, Bromeliads have learned the art of adaption which means they can grow in a number of different climates. 


Within the last hundred years, bromeliads have become more widely used as ornamental plants. Originally only found in royal botanical gardens or the private greenhouses of wealthy Europeans, their popularity has spread to the masses. Today bromeliads are more available to the enthusiast than ever before. New species are still being discovered and plant breeders are developing ever more stunning hybrids to choose from(Bromeliad Society International, 2014)

 I have a few of these plants in my garden and I have to say both the leaves and flower compete for attention.  A well painted plant that is great for pot plants or shaded gardens around the house.  Similar to my other favourite plant, anthuriums, bromeliads enjoy mild sun shine and a lot of shade, depending on the species. 

Some of the common species of bromeliads include Earth Star, Urn Plant, Scarlet Star,Flaming Sword, Blushing Bromeliad, Pink Quill (Booth, 2006)We had a great time visiting the green houses.  The day ended too soon with a brilliant sunburn and we were still discussing the gardens two days after.  Since Easter is upon us, this visit reminded me that the end result is not necessarily the best reward.  Think of the hard work that goes into creating and tending to all these gardens.   Robert Louis Stevenson said  “Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” While so many of us are out smelling the flowers, we do hope more people are planting some.  If we don't plant, we'll have nothing but grass.   As much as we'd like to find out the purpose for most  things, I'd like to think that plants exist for our enjoyment.  Happy Easter everyone.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I AM STAYING RIGHT HERE!

After two months of time out from work, life and New Zealand,  my sister and her family returned to Auckland yesterday morning.  Arabella, my 3 year old niece who has been on planes more than me had a completely different agenda to her parents.  She knew that after the beaches and nana's house, she would be in Auckland for school again.

She started crying before she left the house begging her parents to leave her in Samoa.  This has been the pattern since she could make out paragraphs.  Usually, children are excited to go 'on the plane' except this one.  I guess because like me, she loves the hot weather and mangoes.  She dislikes the cold and Auckland in general for some reason.  Auckland represents winter clothes, changing weather, sleeping alone in her room and parental controls!  It also means there are no cats, personal swings, four changes of dresses a day, shopping with grandma, running around outside with the dogs, dancing with her friends at Mrs Gabriel's or going to the market to help lift pumpkins.

When the time came for her to enter the Departure lounge, she ran to the top of the stairs at the airport and just stood there looking down.  She just did not want to leave.  There was a moment of deep agony, tears running down her pretty face which almost made me beg with her.  I felt for her because I have felt like that many times when I was studying overseas.  No matter how long or short the visit was, home is where the heart is. Arabella knows where her true home is and that is not in Auckland. I warned my sister that soon her child will belong truly to Samoa despite her skin colour or her secondary home. 

The last time Arabella left Samoa which was only a few months ago, she sat on her personal couch and persistently said "I am not going anywhere, I am staying right here (pointing to the couch) right here with nana/papa and Jack (her cat)!" We had to bribe her to go on the plane.  We told her she can go visit her baby sister as well as seeing all her other favourite people in Aotearoa. It also helped that her grandma was going with her.



There is a pattern with this longing to 'stay here forever' with our people who have been living overseas for decades.  I know friends who are highly successful in their jobs, living a great life and making the most of overseas opportunities who have left their hearts in Samoa.  They still have family here and long one day to return and retire.  They have not been lured wholly by the lifestyle that they could live and enjoy overseas.  Those things are immaterial  compared to what home really means to them.  It is somewhat bitter-sweet to know that they have broken their backs to give their all to other countries and at the end of the long journey they come home to rest and die.

It is evident that despite the changes, the call of Samoa is still loud and clear. It is hopeful to know that the younger generation of Samoans do not all want to move to the land of milk and honey.  There are those that want to stay and work for Samoa.  Arabella will come back in June, another few weeks away but I predict the same pattern will play out when she leaves Samoa again.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Roadworks

I enjoyed the lovely drive to the airport this morning. There were less potholes the size of my house  and now that the rainy season is slowly creeping out, Aleisa road will look better after  maintenance. This is a well traveled road as it connects people from the west to their livelihood (jobs and schools).  Two epiphanies slapped me in the face while I was enjoying my new paved road.  One, the road is nice and smooth isn't it? Which means my poor shock absorbers will suffer less each day.  Two, while enjoying this little luxury and smiling like a dork at passerbys/drivers, it is enjoyed at what price? Luxuries are not free except for the air and sunshine so which side of my pocket will the cost of this road come from? 

Before I start spelling out the negatives and the superlatives, today on Fretbook (Facebook), the following quote was splashed out in capital letters

"By 2025 THERE WILL BE NO POOR COUNTRIES" ~Bill Gates, Philanthropist








The question is: HOW? And how does this Bill Gate quote relate to my new paved road?

The simple answer is, I don't know how this will be achieved as I have yet to read the full article.  I can say that currently there are no poor countries, it is the people within those countries that are poor but the countries themselves are not poor.  Not really.  Governments are not poor.  They have their peoples' wealth at their fingertips; resources, man power and so forth.  They have been entrusted with the people's best interests by the people with the belief that they are the best candidates to bear these responsibilities.

The Samoa Observer has been publishing many requests for help by families who cannot provide for themselves over the last few weeks.  People with families who cannot cater for themselves financially, those seeking help for a few resources, some asking the public to help build their houses so they can have more space to house growing families.  Poverty is a reality in Samoa, is it really? Poverty : the quality or state of being poor or indigent; want or scarcity of means of subsistence; indigence; need; any deficiency of elements or resources that are needed or desired, or that constitute richness; as, poverty of soil; poverty of the blood; poverty of idea.  Agree, we have people who are in stressful financial situations but who isn't in these times? Some of those asking for help look able.  They are able to work and find means to help themselves.  If we look at Samoa, no one is truly poor in terms of land, family and love.  Financially, we might be poor and if we are to compare ourselves to our neighbours, Samoa is better off. Samoa today is a much changed Samoa compared to twenty years ago.  

I remember the old market near the police station and the rubbish in town littering the streets by the non-existent side walks.  I remember the big waterholes inside the market and the seawall that was not there, where one can stare at the fish mixing with rubbish all day.  We are not stationary, we are moving forward.  The infrastructure and knowledge are both advancing.  The roads are better. We have clean running water and electricity (yes these are problematic at times).  We have internet and computers.  We have school systems in place. We have a new hospital to care for our sick. We have graduates that will build or tear down Samoa.  We are hundreds of complaints to hurl at government when all these systems break down or muck up but we are not the same Samoa as we were.

Cases of people dying from malnutrition are rare in Samoa and almost unheard of.  However, Fiji child malnutrition is expected to increase to epidemic proportions. A 2004 report by the Food and Nutrition Committee indicated that over 40% of Fiji's children are malnourished. The situation is rather acute in more disadvantaged areas, particularly in squatter settlements where around 104,000 people currently reside (Nourish Fiji Children Project, 2014). Our poor health and sanitation are the consequences of our negligence or prioritizing other things and overlooking these. What we eat and do determine the kind of lifestyle that we live.  There are lists of contributing factors leading to poor health (physical poverty) and they all start with us.  Our soils are rich and our lands are plentiful.  They are enough to sustain us if we choose to lean on them like our ancestors did before us.

We don't know how sweet we have it until we go to other third world countries.  Yes, the cost of living is rising but are there countries in the world with a constant living cost?  That is the price one must pay for development.  We complain about the roads, the government fixes them but at what price? The government coffers are not always full and it's the people that put those people in power.  If we do not like something- change it, improve it, work on it diligently until it is better.  Not sit around road corners begging for money, writing to Observer to publish cell phone numbers in the hope that some good samaritan will save us from ourselves. 

We have enough negative stories to fill our beds and heads.  I, for one am a great believer in hard work.  When one works, one has control over their finances and other aspects of life.  We are not poor of soil or blood or ideas. We are a people that toil on and believe in a God that gives hope.  We want luxuries and so we must be prepared to pay a certain price to enjoy that luxury.. to an extent. Like roads that need improvement/maintenance continuously, so are the days of our lives.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Looking for a job?

When you are looking for a job,  there is a lot of preparation in order to ready yourself for the interview.  At times, you begin to doubt yourself.  Have I prepared enough? Did I go through the check list? Will the interviewers ask hard or easy questions?Am I wearing the appropriate outfit? Do I have the right look for the job? Will they like me?

Preparation for a job not only tests your character, intelligence but also your physical appearance. Let's face it, interviewers are well aware of interviewing procedures and the first thing they do is look at you when you enter the room, from head to toe.  They will mentally note your looks, then pick your brain. For those students who will be graduating soon (yes you Donna), securing a job does not start at the interview room, it starts well before that.  University is the grooming gateway to job searching. At my first graduation dinner, the Vice Chancellor shook my hand and asked  what useful lessons I learned during my time at uni.  My reply was 'nothing' with a smile.  He replied with a laugh and a 'you are so right'.  We understood the jest although there was a seriousness to the reply.  There exists an overload of information at university which we can memorize until our brains fall to pieces but it is what we do with that information that will make the difference in the workforce.

Good universities teach us about available information and application but great universities teach us to reach beyond what they teach us.  To be creative and stretch the boundaries incorporated within  that information. Great universities acknowledge the room for failure and put systems in place to counteract it.  Most of what we learn at university will not be directly used in the workforce in some industries but the foundations are highly instrumental.  

On the other hand, we have people that did not attended university experiencing the same or similar dimensional success.  Those are the people who take more risks because they were not taught by the book.  They are less fearful about failing, I've noticed this with entrepreneurial friends who skipped university classes for start up businesses.  “I am a firm believer in the reality that no one ever succeeds at everything – at least on the first try — and that the only real failure is one that you learned nothing from,” ~Cindy Padnos.

I had a professor that applied for jobs continuously throughout his contract with the university.  I asked him if he was unhappy with his job and wanted a change.  'Oh no I'm satisfied with my job, I just want to make sure my interviewing skills are updated and also have the satisfaction to turn down jobs when I get an offer!' This was firstly a humorous way of updating interviewing skills and also a more personal satisfaction from turning down job offers if he received them.

The interviewing process can be stressful but when you get that dream job, you will feel accomplished.  For others who find jobs for the sake of finding a job they will have to work up or down to the employers' expectations.  Those who are at their dream jobs will find it hard to leave or find something else while those who are just working for the sake of it will find it hard to stay.  I have been to interviews where the panel asked very absurd questions that had nothing to do with the vacancy advertised.

Questions such as 
  1. 'If you were to marry someone who would you choose? (irrelevant and highly personal)  My comeback? 'When you go home today, please kneel beside your bed and ask God who it will be and then you can tell me, because I don't know)
  2.  If you don't get this job what would you do? (Look for another job?)
  3. What is your 5 year strategy? (to do what? have a baby and look after my parents?)
  4. If you can be anyone in the world, who would it be? (someone with a job?)
There are no particular rules to be excellent at interviews.  The few I remember from my Human Resources paper and Organizational Behaviour mentor is that 
  1. One must exude confidence when you walk into the room regardless of how you nervous you feel
  2. Look the panel/interviewers in the eye and smile (this may be different depending on culture, some cultures regard this as a rude gesture and defying authority)
  3. Take your time to answer questions and don't rush it
  4.  Be prepared and expect varying questions
Other useful ways to prepare include reading and understanding exactly what the vacancy is all about, also read up on some history/background of the organization holding the interview.  Moreover, be flexible for out of the blue questions. Lastly and not the least, it also doesn't hurt to pray a little asking for guidance and confirmation of where your feet should go. Good luck to all those who are searching for a job or sitting in interviews soon!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

When I die

When a loved one dies, there is much sorrow and grief expressed in numerous ways.  Death is natural and yet there is something unfair about it.  Certainly, many will live perpetually if given the chance, immortality has been romanticized by vampire movies so much, some think it can actually happen (sappy Twilight sagas that are so slow, one can power nap, wake up and the two characters will still be staring at each other for a good 20 minutes, zzz). Everyone dies, eventually.  It matters how we spent our time on Earth, how many lives we interconnected with, those who we've helped, influenced or encouraged.  How we live matters.

Samoa woke up to two deaths today.  One of a prominent business man and one of a great leader. I am sure their loved ones are seeking comfort in each other as well as in the memories of those who have passed.  Their lives will be missing a father, an uncle, grand father, son, nephew and so forth.  I sympathize with those who know these two men, along with their colleagues and understudies.  To those who are left behind, this verse might be for you

"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on"~ Walter Lippman

I have worked with that great leader, he was a man of conviction and to some extent he inspired others as the task of great leaders is not to shine the limelight on themselves but to elicit leadership in others. Samoa may not mourn as the world mourned for the great Mandela however, it does not belittle the achievements of both men nor overshadows their influence on others.  I have a familiar relationship with death as one dear grandfather passed away not too long ago. Time does not heal all wounds, time does not make the grief lighter, time does indeed remind us of how loved we were by that one person.  Time has a way of reminding us how we used to be, how we felt when that one person touched our lives, how one must go on living without them here. It is a bittersweet sentiment; they will be dearly missed and at the same time we have them in our memories.

I had an interesting conversation with my 86 year old, lively grandfather some time ago.  We talked about life in general and the hardships one faces at old age.  We talked about the things he used to do effortlessly only a few years ago that cannot be done so easily now. The conversation then traveled down the road where my other grandfather lies now. Death. I asked him what he thought about the finality of death, no more, full stop part of life.  He acknowledged that it was a natural cycle and he is ready at all times to  go.  He had one very interesting request that I've never heard before.

He didn't care much about where he would be buried (his children will take care of that part). He was not entirely bothered about the people who will attend or those who will be giving eulogies. He did not have any special song requests.  He requested for a simple tea or lunch for the family when he dies and he specially request for a pair of white silk pajamas!! 

" I don't want to be buried in a suit, I'm not getting married
  I don't want to be buried naked, this is not a party (chuckle)
 I want a pair of white silk pajamas, I'm sleeping eternally and will go to be with my God. 
That's what I want when I die"

Trust my sharp grandfather to have such a request!It does make sense on a few levels.  No need for a fancy suit as there are no marriages in heaven (some might rebut this)  and nudity is a no no.  A pair of white silk pajamas will be best if one goes to heaven (eternal sleep). We will all one day be lingering at the mouth of Death valley, I wonder what absurd request we will have. On a more serious note, for those of us left behind.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”John 14:1-4

There is room in heaven for all of us. We just need to accept the gift of salvation.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Live in an ocean not a bubble!

The race is on again, working, making a living, striving for a better year than the last.  It is good to be back at work, amongst peers, under a cement roof with good weather outside.  It's time to put on a potful of coffee, bury our heads in words and do some work.  Why do I have a vision of Moses leading God's people out of Egypt, freeing them from Pharaoh, staff in hand pointing towards the heavens roaring  "Let us go out of this miserable place to the promised land!"

If I was a slave at that time and a life of bondage and servitude was familiar ground, I would not be pondering what I would do with my freedom once the order was given. I'd gather all my meager belongings and run for it! There were no bags or treasured ornaments to bring, if there were, Egypt can take them, run first and think later! Just grab what you have in case Pharaoh changed his mind and start running for the promised land. This is somewhat where we are right now.  The year is just beginning, there are no solid plans, run and think at the same time.

If you follow Samoa Observer and other news forum(s), the world did not stop and enjoy the holidays like the rest of us. No, the world went on being the world, the new year did not bring a sizable bubble big enough to conceal and fix its problems. 2014 did not bring the cream cheese for an instant sugar fix or a magic wand to magically make our street problems disappear.  Politics and shameful tactics still exist, our cost of living is still high (unreachable) on a minimum wage, we still have beggars hassling us on the streets and people killing each other. The world remains the world, we just have to endure and persevere in it.

From www.newscientist.com

Don't live in a bubble, live in an ocean.  As people of the sea, we know the fish swims, lives, plays, make friends, works, survives, endures in the ocean all its life and yet still needs to be salted after/before it's cooked.  A perfect example that we may live in the world among evil and beauty but we do not have to be saturated in it.  We do not have to conform to the ways of this world. 
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" Romans 12:2
If the world was all good then we will not experience a sense of longing for something better.  There will be no challenge to live rightly because it is it easier to do evil than to do good.  It is safer to turn a blind eye when someone needs help, in some cases deaf ears! We've read about abuse for far too long with no silver lining and children roaming the streets without education, closing our eyes and hoping that maybe 'this year' will be different.  That some Hercules/Samson/David will rise up to say 'STOP' and end the misery. Tough luck, if we, the living do the same thing day in, day out, nothing will change.  This is insanity as defined by Albert Einstein "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" (some are not so sure Einstein said this while his bombs were exploding in the garage)

Samoa does not suffer from warrior deficiency syndromes including the vocals and the opinionated.  We lack the do-ers, people of action, those who keep quiet and toil away.  Those who genuinely mean to do good, period.  Perhaps this year we will have more of those, we will face and drown in great things and not wallow in the muddy waters of yesterday.  First let us begin with ourselves, begin with the i with a dot on top and then the 'you' and 'we'.  Let us encourage, edify and motivate each other while the race is just beginning.  We have a whole year ahead of us, so fight the good fight and do not despair, keep swimming in salted waters!

From nationalgeographic

Monday, January 6, 2014

And then there was a proposal...


Seven days into 2014 already, back at work again with a list as long as the great wall of China (all in my head).  There are work goals, project objectives, personal decrees among the thistles to be obtained this year.  My new year was indeed a new year, I was proposed to in an astounding manner as the man was on both knees with a rock (diamond) worthy of a resounding "YES"! Too much excitement for one week and planning a wedding is not easy depending on the kind of wedding one wants.  The question that comes to mind is- What does a Samoan wedding REALLY look like?





My parents' love story is rather different from mine and have many amusing corners. One recollection from a relative of this included my father kidnapping mother dearest with "we are getting married today" in his levis jeans and hippie hair.  He then continued driving to my grandparents' house to inform them that they were getting married and if they wanted to come, mass was to be held later in the afternoon.  There were no invitations, no wedding bells, no wedding party and certainly no string band! I am sure one thing was present----drama!Today, with all the fluff and drama surrounding Samoan weddings, this would have been ideal for me but I have a feeling that mother dearest will not be amused by the elopement!

Again, what does a Samoan wedding really look like? No, it certainly does not look like Sione's wedding (rotten tomatoes).  With the tides of inevitable change, most of the weddings nowadays are westernized. I haven't been to a wedding where the bridal party is adorned with siapo, fine mats or partake in the old exchange of measina and extravagant gifts. In a well written  historical collection by  Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop, Sosefina-Josie, Phineas-Ioane tells of her own very traditional wedding to Momoisea with 1000 fine mats given by the village of Saanapu in exchange of marriage goods.  Her sisters wove her ie tu, ie avaga, fala lauie and pupugi siapo while the village received money with a laulautasi (a presentation of gift items ranging from handcrafts and toiletries to clothing goods).  This is unheard of these days, one thousand fine mats!

I am not one of those girls who has recurrent dreams of what her wedding day will look like or the dress that's supposed to cover the whole church floor (a little extreme). I do not envision a wedding party/bridal party with 30 bridesmaids and seven flower girls (too much). I have more dreams of flying a Boeing dream liner or painting my mother's white wall with splashes of nothingness. A marriage will start AFTER the wedding and the wedding day is certainly not the climax of the relationship, it shall be the stepping stone to marriage.  

The personal ambitions that I would want for my own wedding:
  1.  God to be present at the wedding and throughout the marriage
  2. A small intimate wedding (small meaning 80 guests max)
  3.  Have some colour besides white (turquoise nails/blue hair pins/red shoes?)
  4.  Ban ALL cell phones and Fretbook status/updates/blurry photos/locations/followers 
  5. Did i mention NO cell phones?
  6. A proper registry to avoid ending up with 20 dozens of the same Chinese made dishes and matching tea towels.
  7. For mother dearest to be seated and not run around chasing things or people 
In the end it matters whom you marry not the look or cost of the wedding (whether it's Samoan or multicultural).  The union of two souls will impact both spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally and relationally.  I and Him should go into this marriage with both eyes open so there is no misunderstanding or compromise after. 
"The effects are far reaching, long lasting, and either wonderful or difficult. True, there are no perfect men out there. But there are great ones. And it’s better to be single for life than to marry someone who will make your life a burden. Singleness can be great. Marriage to the wrong person is a nightmare.... Don’t be so desperate to get married that your marriage is a grief. If you’re not married, don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t marry someone whose leadership you can’t follow. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love you as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ"
The Christian Pundit, 2012)


So, with the whole year to enjoy, one must truly seek out what they truly need in order to be challenged. Sometimes, the greatest outcomes are achieved with the smallest steps.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Welcome to your new life!

"Every beginning is a consequence - every beginning ends something' ~ Paul Valery

New beginning (Naioth.com)
As we say goodbye to 2013 and all its joys, tears  and consequences, we usher in the new light of 2014.  The new year.  A brand new page, unstained with iniquity, unwritten, unplanned, unspoiled.  It is another chance for us to improve on the things while we still can, to maintain good friendships that have motivated and inspired us, to hope for wonderful things to come, to surround ourselves with people and thoughts that truly matter.  

2013 was a great teacher, I started projects that I've only dreamed about.  I took risks that seemed a bit far fetched and I have learned much from the roller coaster that is or was 2013.  New year resolutions should be a thing of the past, how many people actually follow their list? By the time February rolls around the corner, people forget what they planned to do amongst the busy-ness and in time they move on to fill their lists with other goals. It's good to have goals and plans, it's also good to not be fixated on one horizon. Flexibility allows us certain freedoms and insights to our culture so that our youthfulness doesn't leave too soon.  "Youth is the natural time for revolt, experiment and for generous idealism that is eager for action" (H.E.Stearns) but it shouldn't stop there.

All our institutional life combines for the common purpose of teaching us what we ought to be, how we ought to behave, how one should watch themselves when interacting with others. Our education spearheads our success and there are certain interconnected paths and consequences in life that institutions do not have solutions for.  One of those is how to envision the future and at the same time deal with the past, the past year, the past week, the past relationship, the past tense. Thankfully, we are made to be breakable in order to learn.  I, myself struggled to understand the past, how unforgiving it can be especially for those who have been through the slavery of the past.  It's one thing to advise someone to 'move on' and quite another for it to be evident in daily routines.

Yes, we read beautiful quotes on how we learn from our mistakes and how the past should be left alone but it doesn't matter if the whole sky of books fall on you, dealing with the past and its consequences is a task, a daily battle for some, a thief waiting to sneak into the chambers of your heart to strike when you are at your most vulnerable.  There is this treasure box called 'memory' that is the enemy sometimes.  The past is extremely dangerous when we allow it to rear its ugly head in the 'now'.  Thankfully it doesn't really matter what other people judge your past to be.  It's the other great reason why we have a God who is not limited by people's opinions.

Paul wrote that he was not perfect or already perfected but one thing he could do was to press on, forgetting those things which are behind (past) and reaching forward to those things which are ahead (future)Philippians 3:13.  He knew that the Philippians were imperfect and were in the business of condemning themselves daily but he also knew that God is greater than the human heart. This is still applicable to us today.  We are imperfect and that's acceptable.  It is within those imperfections that we find lessons, joy over our weaknesses and self-humbling experiences. There is much to be said about the past, however there is more to be written about the future. 

We should be thankful that we are given a new chapter, to dream, make peace, strive for perfection (we do try though never obtained) start living more vigorously and diligently.  To shine in the places where there is no light, to succeed when the world tells us 'no', to soar above our problems and make the past look like a dead mosquito on the wall. We are responsible for OUR own future as this coming 2014 in another year will be the new past, so make the most of it.  Live like you really mean it! Actively choose to forget the past if it does not help your development. You cannot embrace the future unless you release the past.  The past is significant and we may never fully erase it from memory, there might be horrible happenings in the past but there are also great memories there.  Those are the memories we want to hold on to, to retell our own children, the excitement of the journey and the relief at a destination.  Dreams might be illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you but don't just dream, wake up because reality is so much better if you take your dreams and breathe life into them.  You will surprise yourself and even learn a thing or two.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The real meaning of christmas dear reader

 
Photo from Seattle Church of Christ


It's that time of the year, holidays when people reflect on the past year, eat, drink and be merry in preparations for the new year. It is also the time when people indulge in too much alcohol resulting to fights, disorderly behaviour and accidents.  While it's a cause for great celebrations, it is also a time when we have to be extremely cautious.  I have witnessed two car crashes in the last two weeks that were so severe, the cars had no way of recovery, completely written off.  One was a drunken driver, the other was a show off who was speeding and crashed/ fell in a ditch in broad daylight!  Thankfully, no member of the public or passengers was involved or hurt in the makings of these un-accidents.  The only people that sustained wounds were the careless drivers themselves and their poor cars.

Christmas is a time of giving in remembrance of the greatest gift bestowed upon mankind.  The real reason for Christmas is Jesus Christ.  In the middle of all the fire works, big bang theory, diamonds and ruby giving, we have to remember the reason for Christmas! We should be thankful to God for the greatest gift.  In addition, it is through this gift that we have received salvation through grace.  Where would be if God was indeed a man? If he was human, half of us will be gone by now, zapped, killed off with a wand each time we disobey, step out of line, misbehave and doing all those humanly things that we do.  I remember one reader who approached me to make the point that I have not talked on this blog about my beliefs, my Christianity and why i am not writing devotionals like i should. In my head I unsheathed my fiapoto claws with the retort 

"My blog is mine alone and you can't tell me what to write! The title of this blog is 'Samoa Aviator' not 'Holier than thou' blog'.  It is not 'MY' Christianity, it is the lifestyle that we live as believers.  It's not me me me.  Christian means-CHRIST that lives in me, the I-A-N in the end, is I am nothing.  In a whole phrase, this means without Christ I am nothing. At least this is my understanding of  what it is to be christian.  Being a christian is not to point the finger at others as 'they' or that we are better than them.  I've come across people who think and proclaim themselves as Christians but on the first note of doing something they don't view as christian behaviour, hell, fire and brimstone will fall down on your head. They will also use one verse from the Bible to justify this passing of judgement.  Let us not fall into the seat of judgement, let God be the judge. Proper judgement is used to discern what is good and bad, not WHO is good or bad,  this proper judgement is according to God's measure, not man's. 

As a christian, if we are to judge anything or anyone, we ought to judge ourselves.  We ought to search our hearts and minds if indeed we are living as Christ taught.  To love one another as we love ourselves and to love God with all our being. Are we really trying? Do we live as we are commanded and not based on our perceptions on how we ought to live.  What standards are we living by? We cannot know the mind of God and Christmas is the illustration of his ultimate love for us.  In his limitless power, glory and might, he became one of us and dwelt among us.  Now, we don't have a visible representation of him but as a believer we have faith in him and reading the scriptures to guide, correct, teach and sustain us.


I love what John Piper says about faith:

Believing in Jesus is a soul coming to Jesus to be satisfied in all that he is. That is my definition of faith on the basis of John 6:35.
Faith is “Seeing and savoring Jesus, being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, and trusting Jesus,” and that those three things are “equivalent realities.”
But those realities should also be apparent in our actions, 
When you treasure God in your soul, "you outwardly are set free from the slavery of sins, which people can start to see, and you are set free for the sacrifices of love, which people can see. So the root of your salvation glorifies God privately, and the fruit of your salvation glorifies God publicly."

I don't have to write in this blog of how christian I am.  After all, actions speak louder than words.  I can preach about the love and all the other amazing characteristics of God but if I don't SHOW that through my life, to the people around me, I will be wasting my time giving lip service.  I will be just another hypocrite joining the masses.  As for devotionals, devotion is a personal time you spend with your God.  You don't have to follow writings to be devotional! It can range from five minutes of praying to a whole day of meditating on the word of God.  For me, devotional is a personal, habitual must if we are to be living in Christ.  This is where God reveals himself to each person.

At church, we stand with our fellow believers saying "AMEN" to God but devotional(s) is where you write your personal story with him.  We may not be able to reveal in church our innermost secrets/ longings or shortcomings. You can do this via devotionals, here is where you are free to express these to our Creator.  It may not be words at all, a song, a poem, a line!It really depends on your spirit and it's condition. So my reader, this address is for you. 

I am a christian and I do not have the answers to everything, only God has and that's okay.  It's okay to not know everything, that will exhaust the human brain! It's okay to not be perfect, only God is, that will mean we are Gods, demi-Gods, Goddesses if we were perfect.  Oh how boring and colour deprived the world would be if we were perfect!How un challenging and distasteful, that will mean we don't need God, there is no salvation because we can save ourselves.  Fortunately we can't.  In the true spirit of christmas, do something worthy.  Even if you are not a christian, there is someone somewhere who needs a hand.  Be safe and try to look through Christ's eyes if we can't use our own.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Loved by Art





My sister Elizabeth (Lisa) EWEST ART

I've always thought of myself as a future academic since I was playing in the sandbox at Sogi kindergarten. I wanted to study and study.  In Primary school, I needed to top my class because I was told to.   In college, I had to top because receiving a prize at the end was rewarding.  Yes, I am competitive, I'm a little smart and still a student of life. There is greatness all around and within us because we are God's masterpieces.  A few months ago, I founded Pele Project after I fell out of bed and hit my head on the creative side! Now I dream of patterns, circles, colour combos running around my head. When I sit in a room full of academics, CEOs, head of government departments in a meeting, at a conference, in a general discussion, when the discussion gets a big repetitive my brain will switch to the artsy side. I will think dancing colours and lines and no I am not high! I was waiting for it to go away, to leave me be but it simply won't.  I was expected to be


  • be a civil engineer like my father
  • a farmer like my civil engineer-turned farmer father
  • entrepreneur like mother dearest
  • a writer because I'm good at it?
  • an aviator, a pilot because I flew planes as a student pilot for two years 
  • to make something of myself in the aviation world because that's where my passion lies
  • not to meddle in the arts because it's not in my genes, my genes are pre-dominantly Science-Biology, Physics, Maths --no chemistry
  • to work at a desk and fumble with papers all my life

This creative fall has given a girl some bizarre and crazy ideas.  One of them is to sit in the front row at a fashion show while models of all shapes and sizes  (no anorexic models) walk that cat walk with big island smiles on their faces! I read that models are not allowed to smile! For crying out loud, most people don't look at the models, they are just hangers? so why would any one be bothered if they smile or not.
If you look at nature, the colours are infinite which depicts the artistic mind of God.  The universe is bursting at the seams with art.  The very fabric of  the human race is made up of a myriad of colours. Most things that are magnified a hundred, thousand times have colour.  I believe there are colours in nature that we have not yet discovered or named.  Have you seen the ocean depth videos from Discovery Channel? Don't you wish you can touch all those fish? The plants and different species that live in the ocean are amazing.

Art is in our environment, our culture, our siva (dances), our people.  This is where artists draw their inspiration from.There is no limit to art and there is no fence or cage to keep it locked.  There are copycats, there are criminals, there are people with no original thought and lack the ability to think and create on their own.  There are greedy people in this world and we can't avoid that.  We all coexist. Have you counted the colours of starfish? Have you seen the different colours of the ocean? Yes yes, much for than fifty shades of grey! Have you felt the petals of frangipanis, bougainvillea, mosooi and their numerous forms?

Something truly amazing happens when you put paint on paper.  Something within us comes to life.  We cannot help but create beautiful artistic masterpieces because this is a gift from our Creator.  God put colour on this Earth so that people will enjoy them, so a conversation will start between Him and us.  He painted the earth and us so intricately, patiently, softly, marvelously thus we are so 'fearfully and wonderfully made'.  We forget at times that art is not just in paintings.  Art is in movement or action, a spoken word, written word, art is everywhere.  “The great hall was shimmering in light, sun streaming from the open windows, and ablaze with colour, the walls decorated with embroidered hangings in rich shades of gold and crimson. New rushes had been strewn about, fragrant with lavender, sweet woodruff, and balm... the air was... perfumed with honeysuckle and violet, their seductive scents luring in from the gardens butterflies as blue as the summer sky.”
~Sharon Kay Penman, Devil's Brood

Last week I was invited to Samoa Arts Council's Fashion and Art Show at Sinalei Reef Resort. It was a great night showcasing the arts.  There was dancing, fashion,speeches, collaborations, networking and glorious food! I wish more people were there and I wish more Samoans took interest in studying, participating, preserving our OWN art instead of complaining when non-Samoans do. Unless we take ownership of our own art and give it the pedestal it deserves, others will keep copying, exploiting, selling, cheapening our art.  We are proud when we hear of our tatau (tattoo) being discussed in international circles and we are proud of our Manu Samoa wearing tattooed jerseys on the field, we are proud to wear lavalavas for summer in New Zealand and Australia yet how little we know about the history! I for one know very little about the arts but I'm learning everyday.  I don't know where most of our artwork/siva/designs/movements are from.  There is room to learn, there is time to accumulate knowledge, there is time to wake up and take ownership of what's ours.  Are those forms of art truly ours? They must have originated from somewhere and we may never know.  I know all things start from the Creator so I can confidently say that art originated from the creator of the Universe!

How else can we explain the wonder, the mystery, the beauty of art?

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.
Georgia O'Keeffe”
Georgia O'Keeffe

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pacific Skies

Participants for 59th ASPA General session (Photo by Leata Alaimoana)


Last week was a stimulating week, definitely to the aviation senses! I participated in the 59th ASPA GENERAL SESSION, 5-6 December, 2013 at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apia Samoa. Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA) was established at the directive of the South Pacific Civil Aviation Council which met in Apia on 22-23 June, 1978. The first meeting of regional airlines, held in Suva on 7-8 March 1979 formally agreed to launch the Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA). The inaugural meeting of ASPA took place in Suva on 30-31 May 1979, when the Articles of Association were adopted. ASPA is a trade association, representing the interests of member airlines, and is operated on a not-for-profit basis.

The main theme of this session was 'Business First, Safety Always'. There were important topics presented and discussed at the two day session. ASPA Secretary-General, George Faktaufon said the theme for this year’s meeting is Business First, Safety Always—shifting the focus to the bottom line of any business which is making money. “The reason we have this theme this year is that we have always been safety driven and dealing with someone else’s needs while our own needs, to make money, have been neglected,” he said. “We can be safe as part of our business but if we cannot make money, then we will not have a business to run. We will try to change the focus to making money with safety being an important part of that process.”

IATA presented a paper on the aviation and environment challenges and opportunities.  This was the first presentation about the role of the industry in addressing environmental issues such as gas emissions, carbon footprints and ways for airlines to look at some practical solutions. Then the state of the South Pacific industry was examined.  So far, our small and medium airlines are doing well regardless of the limited resources that we have.  Boeing of course came in with a positive outlook, everything is on the rise including South Pacific airlines looking to order new fleet,replacing old and dying aircraft. This also means there will be increasing upgrades to our current fleet as time goes by. Great for passengers and perhaps not so good for airlines as aircraft cost millions.  Several companies presented new technology that could be an advantage to airlines in the future such as ticketing systems and distribution models. Other presentations included those of air traffic services and the vision of uniting the whole South Pacific flight regions. This may look and sound brilliant however, there must be an incredible amount of dialogue as each island has sovereignty over their own airspace.  

Our South Pacific aviation industry is not independent, it heavily relies on other service providers for its continuous survival.  What I took away from this session is that no matter how expensive our aircraft is, how brilliant the customer service may be but if we do not put 'bums on plane seats' our airline business remains risky.  In addition, before we focus on controlling operations and adopting fancy safety management systems that will cost us time and money, we must know our standards first because we cannot improve on what we don't know.  Our quality assurance systems are never 100% full proof, they are unreliable as we do not have consistent auditing results.  Much work has to be done and this will not be done overnight.  We have to keep cooperating as small islands and learn in order to improve and keep our aviation industry afloat.  We may be small and isolated but together we are the South Pacific.  Together, we work for our people and this in itself should be a catapulting motivator to do better, to hope for the best.


"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." ~ Unknown



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

GOOD HEARTS

     
From Adokablesundies.com

     Today, I woke up feeling a bit better from last night. No, there was no hangover or panda eyes, just an appreciation for life and most importantly health, recovering well from a nasty flu bug that's been binging everyone on the nose.  I went to see the optometrist on Monday and my eyes are healthy, except that my left eye is slightly weaker than my right and my new specs will be adjusted accordingly.  While waiting for the optometrist to arrive, I sat in front of her office thinking how fortunate I am, to know about the health services offered at the Hospital including the Samoa Vision Services  and also the means to get there.  I have been in the hospital when the Emergency/Out Patient Unit with so many people waiting, babies crying, old men twitching nervously waiting for their daughters and very sick people complaining about the Health Services. Doctors receive the most complaints about how 'slow' and 'uncaring' they are towards their patients.  I have heard patients' complaints each time. I have heard people tell the doctor what they need because for some reason, the doctor was not smart enough to know their symptoms and appropriate medication?  Is the service slow? Yes, sometimes.  Are they uncaring? I think not.  Sure, health professionals take their time seeing patients and the outpatient probably receives more visits than any other section of the hospital on any given day.  They also receive the most complaints because of the number of beds available.  I have heard some rather absurd, funny stories while waiting in the same section.  Samoans love to exaggerate and are great storytellers.  One woman told me that she was dying and that she could hardly breath.  From what I could see, she was experiencing an allergic reaction to something she consumed or was close to.  With my Form 6 Biology class knowledge, I asked her several questions (playing the doctor), if she had eaten something she's never had before and if she was allergic to certain foods.  The poor woman did not know what 'allergic' meant and claimed she had eaten octopus in coconut cream. Bingo! Soon after, it was her turn to see the doctor and I was right, allergic reaction to octopus, she was not dying.
   
    November/December are thanksgiving months.  This is the time of year we reflect on the last ten months expressing thankful prayers for  God's protection and guidance in bringing us thus far.  For adding each new day to our lives despite the trials we go through and days where we just do not want to get out of bed, we are still here, air in and out of lungs, we are thankful. Today, I thank God for my health and even though I have been feeling under the weather these past few days, I am still here. I thank him for professionals such as doctors, optometrists, nutritionists, nurses and other health professionals that work in Samoa. 

Looking after peoples' health is not an easy job. I have five close friends who are doctors in different fields and I will never envy them.  Their job is hard, trying, challenging,sad and mostly rewarding. I have sat at dinner tables with them discussing the pressures of work.  I have listened to the horror stories about teenagers giving birth, patients' families telling them off, older nurses embarrassing them in front of patients and many dates we've missed due to their busy work schedules.  I have seen the toll that medicine life has taken on them.  These are the same friends I've had since primary school days, one I knew since I was 3.  I have one friend who was just ready to quit and change professions because of the pressures that our people exert on them.  They graduated young, only 23/24 and thrown into the Samoan arena without a life jacket.  They had to find their way and learning procedures fast including several defense mechanisms when people complain to them, about them and so forth. All these confirm that I should never be a doctor.  First, I do not have the patience and I don't have the stomach to cut people up. The only time I would want to be a doctor is when a close friend or family member is in pain.
     
    Doctors are some of the most hard working people.  They can work anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on the number of staff available.  If you are a student contemplating on being the cool doctor like the twitchy, old and limping guy in 'House', earning thousands of dollars, owning a brand new car/house after working for 3 years in Samoa, I promise you now that you will be sorely disappointed.  Then again, if you ask most doctors, they don't 'do it for the money'.  They do it for our people because we do not have a choice or the monetary power to attract first class medical professionals from overseas to look after our hospital all year round.  In addition, if you are a doctor you will be peed on, puked on,sworn at and at some point you will have all sorts of bodily fluids sprayed across your face. Let his blog be an encouragement and also an informative note to our people.

Samoans are people of courage and are very proud but somehow these attributes rarely drift to our health genes.  Most people wait until they think they are dying before going to the hospital.  Sometimes, they leave little infections long enough to develop into cancerous and elephant sized problems and by then it's too late.  Understandably, there are many contributing factors  such as poor diet, lack of exercise, bad habits that lead to poor health.  There are preventive measures we can take to be better at looking after ourselves.  We are hospitable people, we break out the fine china, the brand new sheets/towels when we have visitors while we use the broken dishes and the beat up towels with holes for our own use.  Why do we do these to ourselves? Why do we save the best for others? Today we should start using our brand new things for ourselves and our family.  Today we should look after ourselves better.  Today, we should be more patient with our doctors and health professionals just like they are with us.  Today, we should encourage those who have good hearts, healthy brains, who want to be health professionals in the future to do so.  People will always find something to complain about whether it's at the hospital or restaurant.  Today, we should be thankful that God exists and he is in control of everything regardless of what our mere opinions or lack thereof of him.  Take care of our bodies, it's the only place we have to live in and no wonder the bible says it's a temple. 

I leave you now with this beautiful quote;
'The thousand mysteries around us would not trouble but interest us, if only we had cheerful, healthy hearts.
~~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche~~


Ehhh..your grandmother was hot too!

My vision fulfilled When Dr A (fiancee) proposed 2 new years ago, I suggested a photo shoot of some sort. Of course being shy with ...