Saying goodbye after nearly 40 years of wonderful memories is not easy. For Reverend Elder Kerisiano, his wife Laumata Soti and their family, Sunday was a teary and emotional day when after 38 years of service as Pastors of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Sogi, they are calling it a day.
“It’s the same feeling as everybody else’s when you say goodbye to the people whom you have been working with for a long time,” Rev. Elder Kerisiano says.
“We are sad and we will be missing everyone here, but this is part of the Church’s policy and we have to abide by it.” It was also a day to reflect on their journey at Sogi, remembering the pioneers, the struggles as well as the successes.
“Today (Sunday) we thought back to when we first came to Sogi in 1978, and all the people who welcomed us here and made us feel like home,” he said. “Most of them have passed on and most of the elders in the congregation are no longer here with us; and that makes me sad that they are not here for this occasion.
“But I am sure they are here with us in spirit.”
Looking back, Rev. Elder Kerisiano said there have been some challenging times.
“But that is common in any other congregation and anything in life,” he said.
“There are always challenges along the way, but the challenges are there to test our faith and to see how well we can handle such situations.
“And today, we are grateful to the Lord, for He has done great things for us. He brought us here, and He helped us through all the obstacles and challenges. We owe everything to Him and we will be forever grateful to His never-ending love and support.”
Of all the challenges they faced, Rev. Elder Kerisiano said the main obstacle they faced was when the Sogi residents were asked by the government to relocate.
“When we first arrived, the church building was at Sogi, but now we have two church buildings because we had to relocate to Falelauniu.
“But most of the people of the congregation wanted to stay near the area where we used to live, because it’s close to town. It was hard; having to move to a different place and different environment.”
According to Reverend Kerisiano, he was supposed to retire right after the Church’s Annual Conference at Malua this year.
“However, our congregation was working on building a new church building here at Fugalei and another one at Falelauniu, so we wanted to wait until everything is settled down before we bid farewell and retire.”
Said Reverend Kerisiano, being a retired Church Minister doesn’t mean that he will no longer continue his service to the church.
“I will go to wherever we will stay, either at my village or my wife’s village and I will contribute to the congregation there and be involved in God’s work,” he said.
The E.F.K.S at Sogi had been a Kerisiano and Laumata’s second family, as it was their home for 38 years.
“We’ve been living and working here for more than half of our lives and it has been our family and home, to me, my wife and children.” he said.
“It’s sad to miss them,” he said. “But this is part of the Church’s constitution and we have to follow it.”
However, Reverend Elder Kerisiano is now looking forward to having a lot of rest and spending more time with his children.
“I am now looking forward to what God has in store for me and my family.”
Besides being a church Minister for the Congregational Christian Church of Sogi, Rev. Kerisiano Soti was also Chairman of the Christian Committee, Secretary to the elders, and Chairman of the Elders Committee.
Reverend Elder Kerisiano wanted to thank everyone who has helped them during their time at Sogi.