Latter-day Saints Charities - Helping Samoa, the World
A year ago, a Canadian couple set out on missionary work to Samoa on what they referred to as an “adventure of faith”.
Elder and Sister Cameron are missionaries and the face of the Latter Day Saints Charities, which is the humanitarian arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that is serving the people of Samoa.
L.D.S. Charities has served and catered to numerous families, people and organisations in Samoa with water tanks, wheelchairs, vision care projects, including schools with furniture.
“The major projects, handovers for villages, schools, I think 95 percent of the donation is done to other organisations rather than our church members,” Elder Cameron said.
“People donate from all over the world, even those who are not part of the church because 100 percent of the money goes to the humanitarian work, so the overhead is paid for by the church.”
The compassion and drive by the organisation to change the lives of ordinary Samoans — irrespective of faith and religion — makes the L.D.S. Charities a nominee for the Samoa Observer’s People of the Year 2018.
In Samoa, the couple works underneath the welfare department and supervised by Elder Fata, who is the country welfare manager.
Elder Cameron said people approach them with requests, and while they help in areas which they can, at times they have had to turn down some.
Emulating the pure of love of Jesus Christ is what drives the couple to carry out their work every day.
“We are not here to convert, we are not here to preach, we are just here to help those who are in need,” Elder Cameron said.
“We work close with One Touch Ministry and Nobesity Samoa. One of our focuses is to help teach self-reliance, so if you need a tank, maybe the best answer is not for us to provide for you, but to work with you on how you are going to get the tank.”
Sister Cameron said they feel great to help people and also gives them a feeling of satisfaction.
“We can never get more than what we get back. The blessings come to us, we find the blessings come to our home and just spiritually it strengthens our relationship with God and people,” she said.
Through the charity work, they have met some amazing people and have created lasting friendships with people they serve, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor.
“To be able to work with these kinds of people is a humbling experience for us. It is a blessing in our lives as well,” Sister Cameron said, adding in the work they do, language is the biggest barrier when out serving in the rural areas.
“Next year our focus is diabetes awareness and education, but we will still carry out our area initiatives. We have another 330 desks coming from New Zealand schools for donation here.
“We’ve just started distributing water tanks in American Samoa. We have a lot of people who we work with here and we have support here at the Service Centre.”
Elder Cameron said they decided 41 years ago when they got married that they were going to go on a mission to volunteer.
The couple were both brought up in a Christian family, with Elder Cameron’s mother used her time to serve others, and Sister Cameron’s family were involved in the charity of the church.
“The idea of being able to serve others is important. Elder Cameron grew up in a home with a mother who served all the time, and I grew up in a home too where service was important. So to have that opportunity to be able to come and to serve others was a blessing.”
Sister Cameron was into the church, while Elder Cameron was baptized when he was 19 years old.
“This really is a faith based adventure. It really is about Jesus Christ at the center,” Elder Cameron said.
“We were serving in our own churches, we had our own calling, and we had our own responsibilities. We have our family members there. I retired two years ago and we decided to come on the mission.
“This will not be our last mission, whether we do humanitarian, but we will probably serve another mission sometimes. We will be here until May and back home to Canada.”
Because they miss their home, especially their six children and 12 grandchildren, the senior missionaries try their very best to stay connected with them.
“We send newsletters every week to our families about what we do to help us stay connected. For 56 weeks I have been sending letters home,” Elder Cameron said.
“Until you are here doing this work, I don’t think you have an idea really. It is a lot of work, but it brings a lot of blessings,” Sister Cameron said.
“We don’t always know someone’s story, we don’t always understand, and sometimes to go into some of these villages, people from the outside may say, they don’t need that, we don’t always understand.
“If we see as the Savior sees, we see things differently, and that is something I’ve really learned, and you love unconditionally.”
Elder Cameron said there is so much more that can be achieved when people work together.
“You don’t serve to be recognised, that’s not the point. Our work here is possible with other people’s initiatives as well. Working together is important.”