When I was nineteen, I put in my application papers to fulfill a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After waiting seven weeks my call, or assignment, came back. I was to spend the next two years serving a mission to Samoa and American Samoa.
On March 21st, 2001, I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, to begin my experience with some language training. After two months of grueling days filled with studying Samoan, the Gospel, and the scriptures, my seven batch-mates and I traveled via airplane to Faleolo International Airport on the island of Upolu in Samoa.
Two months of language training helped but I was not prepared for the immersion that I was plunged into. Suddenly, I was the minority. I was one of but a handful of white people in a beautiful sea of brown. The Samoans spoke so rapidly I couldn't pick up even the few words that I'd managed to memorize prior to our arrival. The next 23 months were going to prove very interesting indeed.