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Welcome to Samoa President Nelson. Thank you for your generosity

Rejoice with those who rejoice. In Samoa today, it’s undeniable that thousands of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are rejoicing in the arrival of their Prophet and Leader, President Russell M. Nelson.In scenes rarely seen in this country, thousands of church members braved the hot sun yesterday to welcome their leader who is here just to meet and speak with them. At a devotional service at the Pesega temple grounds last night, close to ten thousand also braved the rain to hear from their Prophet.We live in a religious country. Which is why it is easy to understand the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the members of the L.D.S. Church to such a high profile visitor.You see being isolated from the rest of the world, these visits don’t come around often and in the eyes of L.D.S. church members, President Nelson’s visit is the equivalent of the Pope coming to Samoa for the Catholics. The same as other denominations would view the arrival of their most senior leader.Today is obviously an exciting time for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And rightly so. The visit is the culmination of countless months in preparations as well as the dreams for many church members to rub shoulders and see their Prophet in person.When the President arrived yesterday, he made a direct trip to meet with the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II at Vailele where he was officially welcomed to Samoa.Today, the Samoa Observer News Group joins the Head of State and all the people of Samoa to extend a warm welcome to President Nelson, Sister Nelson and the rest of their delegation. We hope they take back plenty of wonderful memories about their short time on our shores.The truth is that not everyone agrees with their doctrines and all the beliefs of the L.D.S church. But that’s life. Just like the fact that not everyone agrees with the doctrines of the Catholic Church, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, Methodist or the Assemblies of God for that matter.But then that is the beauty of freedom of religion and freedom of expression, which is alive and well in this country. It allows people the freedom to choose the religion of their choice and where to worship.What’s important is the amount of good works that all these churches are doing to improve the lives of our people. Today, it’s a fact that for many people who are not members of the L.D.S church, their humanitarian work is the public face of their ministry.Since 1863 when the church’s first missionaries arrived in Samoa, the estimated value of the church’s sponsored humanitarian work is $18.4million. That ladies and gentlemen is not a small amount. It’s fair to say it is perhaps the highest of all the churches in Samoa and it is something to acknowledge.When President Nelson arrived, I had the privilege of sitting down with him yesterday. The church’s humanitarian work was part of the conversation. I was curious about what drives such an effort. Is it merely for church growth? Or what? “We are humanitarian because Jesus taught us to be a caring people,” President Nelson said.“So wherever we go, whatever the country is, we are caring for the needs of the people.”At that point, President Nelson remembered 1992 when Samoa was hit by Hurricane Val.“We saw palm trees like matchsticks on the road, and many homes and schools and churches had no roof,” he said.“Our humanitarian aid was about the first that came in here in Samoa to help out. It could be anywhere.“We are helping the children of Yemen right now, nobody knows about it because we don’t like to talk about the good things we do but our people are generous. They contribute freely to the humanitarian needs of other people. When box loads of supplies come in there is not one box that is labeled for Church members only. They are for everyone.”Well isn’t that wonderful? Wouldn’t it be awesome if all the churches were to adopt this mindset in terms of helping our people?Folks, you can fault and criticise the L.D.S. church all you want but at the end of the day, thousands of Samoans are better off today because of that humanitarian work. People have gotten homes, they have food and clothes, water tanks, wheelchairs, medical supplies, dental care and much, much more.It’s often a thankless job.But today while President Nelson, Sister Nelson and their delegation is in the country, we want to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the generosity of the L.D.S. Church not just for our people who are members but for the thousands of other Samoans who are non members who have benefitted one way or another. Thank you. Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

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Street Talk

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Public question $20m to partially write off loans for hotels

To me if they had a loan and refuse to be honest and pay it back, then they deserve to be jailed. I don't loan as I know I don't have the ability to pay back the creditor. I am not saying this because I don't loan but because I can feel what the creditors feel. I know everyone knows the feeling too when someone borrows something, especially money and they don't pay you back. If that's the case then that is just plain dishonesty. I had a friend who owed me money that I saved up for almost half of the year. Up until now, he still hasn't returned the money to me. From that experience, I know the feeling and I support throwing them into prison for punishment. But in this case, I think there is favouritism involved which I think it is very wrong.I don't think it's fair if that's the case. It's ridiculous. What kind of decision is that? I know money don't just fall from the sky but what is wrong with Samoa and this Government and these wealthy people? I have heard about this case before and I tell you I am really mad that people are being treated this way. I hope God helps this country and these people get what they deserve.This is what we call favouritism. It is different treatment of rich people and the poor people. I am sure those who have loans of millions of dollars either have connections with the creditors or something. I don't know what others think but to me that is just wrong and unfair. If it were up to me, I would've treated everyone with fairness because after all, we are a Christian nation and that is what we're known for around the world. I know the reason these companies or creditors are doing these sorts of things is because they are also developing their own businesses and finding their own money. But I don't support this.  Starting from the Government officials and those rich people and the creditors. I understand they're looking for money but if people loan just a few hundreds and get thrown in jail, the same thing should happen to these hoteliers. That's what I think:Money can do anything. Money can make things worse, and that is the case with this loans and people being thrown to jail. It is not fair that people who loan only a few hundreds get punished if they don't pay their debts, while those Government officials and those rich people who loan millions of dollars get off easily. Where is the fairness in this country?

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Letter to Editor

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U.S. Ambassador tries but no one is fooled

The photo in Wednesday’s Samoa Observer of the American Ambassador and his good lady with Imam Laulu Mohammed Stanley is very touching. Such fake empathy and compassion! If Ambassador Brown is truly sympathetic about what happened to the Muslim community in Christchurch, why not do something real like telling his boss in the White House and his former employers at Fox News to stop demonizing the Muslims with lies and fake news? And while you’re at it by the way, do the same with the evangelical so-called Christians of America.Because when you have such power over how people think and behave, you can’t go on preaching hate against other peoples and then not expect your followers and admirers somewhere to act on it. Words have consequences, the more so when they come from leaders. And what good is wearing a hijab in Samoa other than to take people here for fools, and to copycat the incomparable Ms. Ardern? The big difference is that Ms. Ardern wore the signature Muslim women dress with panache, compassion and most importantly sincerity. The whole world saw that in her, and with the exception of you know where, applauded. She also backed it up immediately afterwards with concrete action.  So please don’t add insult to injury and desecrate the hijab.  Your current employer in the White House and former employer at Fake News continue to empower killers like what’s his name in the Christchurch massacre. Wearing the hijab at this time is nothing but hypocrisy of the highest order and fools no one here. E le valea uma ValeGasa Lefa T. Vailima

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