As I am here in Samoa and continue to grow, I notice how much Samoa is growing and changing as well. It is amazing to see the differences when comparing Samoa to when I arrived a year and a half ago. It is getting busier, more roads are being built, landmarks are changing and much more.
In the rural village we don’t see as many changes. Sure, there are a few more cars, but it is so few that it won’t stop us from walking in the middle of the road to get where we are going. They are trying to make improvements, in which we see much construction equipment lately, such as new water pipes being put in, roads being improved, and ditches for runoff of the water to make sure the unpaved roads stay in better condition.
Our bustling city of Salelologa is going through small improvement changes. New bigger stores are being built on the way to the marketplace. A few months ago, a second nightclub was built, making the bar count on the island up to two. Even though there are small changes, it is still the same slow city I have come to love. There is still only one store to buy our groceries outside of the marketplace. The traffic light (the only traffic light on our island) has been out for several months, and has not caused any problems.
I notice the changes when I come to Upolu. Every time I am there it seems to be busier than the last. There are more and more cars that actually create traffic jams. After sometimes going for weeks without going in a moving vehicle, I go crazy seeing all the traffic. I sometimes get startled when crossing the street. And the bus ride to town from the wharf seems to take forever now. (I guess it doesn’t help that I travel at the time that would be considered rush hour in other countries.)
In the past year, buildings have been torn down on Beach Road (the main road through town) creating sometimes new infrastructures, or just empty space. Actual buildings have been built to house the different ministries that look completely modern.
The biggest shock came to me when I was in town last. One of the Samoan landmarks was in the process of being torn down. This landmark is so well known, as it is on postcards, and even featured on the money. It is the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church in Apia was the first church I attended in Samoa. Our first Sunday in country, we all dressed in our best white clothes to go to church for White Sunday. Many of us attended the Catholic Church. It was such a beautiful building, and when I look back and think about it, I think of all those smiling children that I saw singing and dancing that day. Whenever I walked around Apia, I would look in to see what was going on that day. Sometimes I was able to witness weddings, other times school celebrations, and just other events. It was always full of such beautiful music, that the memories I have of it will live on.
While I was walking, I noticed a big fence, and could not see to the other side to what was happening. It took me awhile to walk past some of the restaurants, such as Italianos, to see what was actually happening. The bell tower looked as if a wrecking ball had hit it. My next time passing, I looked through the cracks and noticed different sized bells just sitting on the ground.
There are more changes, that some think are for the better, while others think it is for the worst.
I know many of you that are reading this have connections to Samoa, and if I am able to notice these changes from a different island, I am sure it will look completely different for you when you return.