Saturday, February 23, 2008

Samoa Part 12: TV Repairs

I discovered that in the small village-setting of Samoa, it is relatively simple to quickly make a reputation for oneself. For example, while visiting a family in Salelologa, I accidentally fixed the reception of their TV. Subsequently, other families heard about it and I was thereafter labeled as a competent TV repairman.

Not long after my initial stroke of luck, I was asked to fix another family's TV, and this time it was actually broken. As the mother brought the TV to me, I felt like melting into my shoes because I don't know a thing about a TV's insides or the least about fixing them.

I saw a wire that appeared to be missing its connecting plug. I said that that was probably the problem but that I couldn't fix it unless I had another plug. But then I saw a fuse inside the TV and decided to check it to see if it was broken or not. I reached in to take it out, and Whoa! The fuse was live! My hand jerked back out of the TV casing faster than lightning. Elder Seumalii, who up to this point had been enjoying a succulent Samoan pineapple, rolled on the floor laughing at my misfortune. Afterwards, Seumalii and I laughed about the episode for a long time. I later learned that I was fortunate that the voltage in Samoa is 240 rather than the standard 110 in America.

On yet another day, another family asked me to fix their TV. Apparently, my most recent lack of success hadn't resolved the initial success that I'd had. I looked at the TV and poked in the insides and finally said that I couldn't do anything for it.

But a few days later, we saw the tiny daughters of the family (maybe 3 and 4 years old) and they said that the TV was fixed. I asked the older of the two girls, "O ai na faia lau tivi?" ("Who fixed your TV?"), to which one of the girls replied, "O Iesu" ("Jesus."). I was stunned. I knew that Jesus saves, but I had never thought that Jesus fixes electronics. Later, I found out that nobody had fixed the TV--it was still as dead as I had left it.

It was much later that I figured out why the little girl had told me that Jesus had fixed their TV. Samoan parents very frequently ask their children, "Who created you?" to which the children are taught to reply in one of two ways: God or Jesus. The word which I used for fix, faia, is the same word a parent would use to say create. Thus, the little girl probably couldn't understand my broken Samoan enough to realize that I was asking about her family's mysterious TV repairman and not about her Creator.

Fortunately, my unsuccessful-attempt-at-TV-repair-number-2 killed the villagers innocently false characterization of me as a skilled TV repair technician. I liked it better that way. I much preferred anyway to teach the people about their loving Creator and His gospel message--the message that fixes lives.

No comments: