A Well-known Storyteller, Author and Inspirational Speaker

For the Beauty of May-time on the Island of Samoa

This is the 22nd of April and I have decided that I will do the May blog and get it out of the way, just in case of eventualities.  One never knows when one is 99 just when the Lord may bring things to pass that will cause these fingers to stop writing, and there are many things that He will want me to say while I am still able to use the fingers and the brain is still there with the mind still hitting on at least enough of the cylinders to get by.

I’ve been turning this one over and trying to decide what it would be about and at this moment, I will start as I feel directed and if I change in the middle of it, don’t be surprised, for I have several things of interest that I want to write about. Nevertheless, when I get started telling a story from my heart, as well as from my mind, I may get carried away and keep going!

First of all, since I am a storyteller, and dearly love such authors as Robert Louis Stevenson, I will begin with him and tell you about the island of Samoa where he spent his last four years.  He loved those people and he had a boat that he loved sailing away to far off places. Sure enough such a voyage brought him to the beautiful islands here in the South Pacific somewhere between Hawaii and New Zealand. This is a series of lovely spots where the earth has located some of the friendliest of native people!  He simply loved them and chose the island of Samoa as his headquarters.  He built a splendid home there, living out his remaining years as a friend to these precious people!

One day as I read this from his biography I fell in love with the idea of visiting there and if the Lord had allowed it, at that time, I would have gone there and spent some time right on the spots that he occupied.  The name they learned to call him was Tusatala, which in the Samoan tongue is “teller of tales.”  That was their name for Stevenson.  There was a story that I loved reading and that was of one of the natives who was ill and had to go to the clinic, so they were trying to communicate with him as to his name.  He kept saying, “I belong to Tusatala” and that was how he identified himself—to indicate that he was a friend of Stevenson!  This story was so meaningful to me that I loved it and thanked the good Lord again for the writer of such great books as Treasure Island andThe Child’s Garden of Verses” that my children wanted to hear over and over!

At that time I was preparing a story for a sixth grade literature class and their favorites, I had found, was when I told interesting biographical stories out of the lives of authors as well as other famous people they were studying about.  Consequently, some of the favorites were of Schweitzer, Edison, Jane Addams, Clara Barton, and at that time I had decided to go with Stevenson.  How I loved telling, and they loved hearing these great stories.  Steffon told of his “Most Miserable Merry Christmas!” and the fourth graders were entranced when I brought it to them.

I decided to go back and revisit the place for, unfortunately, I do not find that original story in the files. It was probably done on a legal pad with pen and ink!  I did not start composing on the computer for quite a while!  I thought I could not imagine without a pen in hand!  Finally, a dear friend said, “Mackie, you ought to use your word processor!”  We argued back and forth and she convinced me that I would enjoy writing and using the word processor.  Therefore, many of my stories were on yellow legal pads and I did not believe I could have the same inspiration with the keyboard!  Well, we live and learn!  I began to write on the computer and discovered that my creativity was not hindered. My name is Tusatala, and in English that is “Storyteller.” I have many who know me in that way! I have decided to tell you about my imaginary visit to Samoa, which was right there waiting for me and a tourist’s heaven!

I began thinking about that story a while back and trying to recall it.  I set sail about a week ago on the good ship “Google” and I was delighted when aboard to discover that I was invited to sit at the Captain’s table!  Then to find sitting there, in the position of Captain, was my dearest and most revered friend! Needless to say, with that person in charge of the “vessel” we landed at the port of Apia promptly, because with his expert guidance he charted the voyage without the usual stop at Hawaii.

The “King” is actually a Prime Minister, but it is what amounts to a constitutional monarchy!  He has been P.M. since 1998!  I was given a Royal Welcome and was escorted to the “honored guest house” which is located on the grounds of the Prime Minister’s home.  I was shown every courtesy and was told the dinner hour at the Prime Minister’s home.  After dinner we had a lovely evening of conversation about the impact that the native Scotsman had on the culture and the people of the islands.  I slept soundly in the comfortable bed and was awakened early in the a.m. so that I could view the Royal Samoan Police, sporting their tropical uniforms and marching sandals, as they march every morning down the Beach Road to the Apia Government Building, where the Samoan flag is raised and National Anthem is played.  Then they march back to police headquarters past the beautiful cathedral.

That was the beginning of my visit as guest of the Prime Minister of Samoa.  Each day I was escorted to all the places of interest.  First of all, I wanted to see the home of Robert Louis Stevenson.  They have it made into a Museum now and that is a sight-seeer’s place to spend hours just browsing and admiring in the house; such things as the fireplace which is a magnificent piece of mason’s artistry of that century. The museum is filled with a collection of cultural and historic artifacts.

I must confess to a lump in the throat as I thought of his homey dwelling that he made in the style of his Scottish heritage. I imagined his daily routine there with the natives who have inhabited that island for some 3000 years!  The islands were formed by volcanic eruption and then, in the course of time, they cooled off and the natives arrived, as the guide informed us, in the outrigger canoes they call, “poapoa”and that’s another sight that I was allowed to take in while there!

Here I will tell you that I did take the time to visit the burial place of my wonderful author.  This is in a natural garden place on Mount Vaea and to reach it we followed “The Road of Loving Hearts.” You know I would have to linger there and pray as I read the inscription which reads:

Under the wide and starry sky//Dig the grave and let me lie.//Glad did I live and gladly die//And I laid me down with a will.//This be the verse you grave for me//Here he lies where he longed to be, //Home is the sailor; home from sea,//And the hunter home from the hill.

I had read that in the biographical material and I was filled with awesome and joyful loving thoughts as I also saw the bronze plaque with the name of Fanny Stevenson his wife, and the Samoan name for her they have engraved there, “Aolela” which means “Flying Cloud” in Samoan!

I think the market was one of the most interesting places.  I spent several hours there and found all sorts of fabulous things!    There is something there for everyone.  You can sample the native food, and you can shop for souvenirs.  I found unique wood carvings and coconut jewelry that I thought I must have!

I must also mention the Botanical Garden where I was amazed at the variety of colors of the Samoan marine life!  You can buy sea food and take it to the hotel where the cook will fix you an unbelievable “seafood platter!”  I came home  rested and revived in spirit as I was led by the  “Captain” in worship of God in the beauty of holiness, and thank Him for the fact that He has made everything beautiful in His Time!  Think of the volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, when those islands were formed, the mountain where Stevenson is buried extends on down for two miles under the surface of the ocean!  And it drifts at the rate of about three inches a year toward China! I think of how empty and barren they must have been when they formed but now the Lord has made them lovely and peopled the islands with friendly faces!  They are the “loving hearts” that responded so sweetly to the storyteller!

How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of those who bring good tidings!  Who publish peace!  Who publish salvation!  Who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  We can thank the good Lord for causing the sails of Stevenson’s vessel to take him into the harbor of Samoa!  Think what a difference that storyteller made in the lives of those people!  Think what a light bearer he was!  They made his home a museum and they honor him by keeping it a national shrine; as well as his resting place which they have caused to be found by following “the Road of Loving Hearts.”  Yes!  I must repeat, “How beautiful indeed!”  Home is the sailor! Home from the sea, and the Hunter home from the hill!

And now I am back in my home in Garland, and my health is improving so that I am able to work on the document that has been a project that went off-course with my health problems and the resulting weakness, so that I have failed to finish the work as needed.  I am now able to live up to my motto to “look up, laugh, love and lift.”  That means, back to a routine of going for a walk, coming back and working diligently for a while, resting, and finally to tackle it again.  If the dear Lord allows, it will be completed before the Lord beckons!  I praise Him for His mighty works in bringing me back—getting the pacemaker back in sync and, finally, healing my body of the side effects of the medication.  My life is hidden with Christ in God!  Thank and praise Him for as the song goes, “Someday the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing, //But oh! the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the king!  //And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story, Saved by Grace!//  And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story, Saved by Grace.

Maxine Bersch-Lovern.

2 Responses to “For the Beauty of May-time on the Island of Samoa”

  1. Pat Miller says:

    I enjoyed your trip. I think it’s interesting that the end of the Samoan word for storyteller is “tala.” It sounds like “teller.” I’d love to go there, but probably never will…

    Love you!

  2. Maggie says:

    Mackie, I enjoyed reading this blog very much and learned so much!! You take me right into the fun and adventure filled places you go and I am inspired and continue to be amazed by you everyday!! Love this post and love you!!

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