“Samoa is like a dream. A small village next to a palm-tree covered beach with a dark blue lagoon formed by a coral reef. Peaceful people living in harmony with nature far away from civilization...”
By Andre Butscher

I had the priviledge to live with a Samoan pastor family and to work as a teacher for grades 7 & 8 in the SDA primary school at Siufaga. Samoa is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and is called the cradle of polynesian culture. There are about 5000 Adventists and three Seventh-day Adventist schools. Ninety-seven percent of the inhabitants not only call themselves Christians, but they also attend church almost daily. Adventists attract attention because of the Sabbath.


Friday afternoon there are unusually busy activities announcing the Sabbath. Church members bring their nicest fruits and the biggest fish to the pastor’s house. “Talofa,” which means literally “I love you,” is the way to say hello in Samoa. But somebody who loves the pastor doesn’t talk about love, they show it by bringing food. For the opening of Sabbath there is a lot of “concrete love” on the pastor’s table.

As with every evening and morning, the family has a short devotion time. During the endless prayers however, one sometimes feels weak in the knees and the stomach. Then comes the day’s highlight: an awesome meal. In Samoa it’s good to be a man, since women and kids have to be patient and serve the men. After this event everyone is exhausted and goes to bed. There’s a saying: “if a Samoan isn’t eating, he’s probably sleeping.”

Sabbath morning begins less idyllic. Really early in the morning you are rudely awakened by the Samoan “bush drum.” This means a young and powerful Samoan is hammering like crazy on an empty gas bottle. This seems to be the only way to transmit a feeling of time. Europeans can’t think of a life without time, these folks can’t think of being a slave of time.

After morning devotions, the men start eating again! The bush drum interrupts them trying to say it’s time for church. At an unknown time, lovely voices start singing in the church and church members drift in wearing their white robes. Nobody is late since everybody is late. Worshiping God in Samoa means singing. It is an incredible feeling to experience—just to listen. It sounds like a crying from deep within their souls. However, watch out for the kids! When you’re too close to them you risk an earache.

Sabbath school is held separately for men and women. In the beginning the teacher is checking and noting who studied the lesson properly. The sermon is given normally by a lay pastor. It’s an extraordinary privilege for a church to have a pastor. A lot of singing closes the Sabbath services.

After this the guests and the elders go to the fale (open Samoan house) next to the church. There begins the big feast. Women serve food and kids chase flies with palm leaves. As one can imagine all this takes a lot of time. Finally some of the men lie down and take a nap. Europeans eat until they’ve had enough. Samoans eat until they fall asleep. Maybe that’s why these guys eat sitting on the floor.
In the afternoon, the day of rest is taken literally. The stomach really needs this break in order to digest all the food. Later on it’s time for the “youth meeting,” where everybody is welcome. Every family has to stand up and prove that they have learned the memory verse. The singing goes on and on until the sun is setting. This is the time when everybody leaves the church and takes a walk along the beach.

For the closing of Sabbath everybody is singing and praying while sitting on the floor in front of the church...

It’s pretty obvious what a Samoan is doing after closing the Sabbath...?
   
Top of Page Magazine Listing Contents Page Previous Page Next Page

 

 

Return to AVC Main Page