Barbed wire jump

In a recent meeting  (actually a Latter-day Saints testimony meeting) a young lady in our church shared a story of faith that involved praying for her car . . . which reminded me of two incidents where we did something similar years ago in Samoa:

In 1966 during my two-and-a-half-year volunteer service as a Mormon missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Samoa, I worked as the mission translator, which meant I supervised a staff of Samoan translators, proof read documents, and helped with questions on English meanings and connotations (although in reality they probably taught me more Samoan than vice versa). I didn’t have a companion per se, which meant I was available to go on special assignments from time to time. Two of these incidents involved praying for a miracle with mission trucks:

  • I’ve forgotten why and some of the other details, but one afternoon it was imperative that one of the missionaries be taken from mission headquarters in Pesega (near Apia, Upolu) to the wharf at Mulifanua, about a 20-mile drive, in time to catch the last ferry to the island of Savai’i (there was no airplane service in those days). I was asked to go along as a companion to the driver. Only one old pickup truck of questionable consistency was available for the trip. Before we’d gone very far, the truck stopped, and wouldn’t restart. We quickly expended our limited knowledge of what might get that truck started again, so we decided to bless it that we could get this missionary to the wharf on time. Sure enough, it started up and we just made it to the wharf moments before the ferry left. As the boat was pulling away, we hopped in the truck to return to Pesega, but it wouldn’t start…and we ended up leaving it there and catching a bus back. I guess we should have blessed it to make a round trip.
  • On another dark evening I was asked to go along on a task far inland from Nofoalii, Upolu, on a rocky dirt road. A group of us took two small pickup trucks, and when we had completed the task and were ready to come back, one of them wouldn’t start. One missionary who claimed to know a little mechanics looked at the engine…with no luck. We also tried pushing it to start by compression, but that didn’t work either. Apparently the battery was too low, and we didn’t have jumper cables. We decided to pray, and after the “mechanic” in the group said he had an idea: He stripped a couple of pieces of barbed wire from a nearby fence, and with a lavalava [Samoan sarong] wrapped around his hands, first connected the wires to the battery of the truck that could run, then to the dead one. They kept slipping off, so he grabbed them. He was getting shocked, the sparks were flying and the lavalava started smoldering . . . but the truck started again, and off we went. Thank heaven for Samoan mechanics…and faithful inspiration.


  1. Daddy, these are the best stories!! Thanks for sharing them. I really enjoy reading them to the boys. They think it is great. I laughed out loud to the truck being blessed to make a round trip. Too funny! The Lord really does hear and answer prayers, even in the most humble of circumstances.

  2. Loi Sagato says:

    I love your stories. I remember going back in ’87 and my fahter let me use his Toyota Stout and while on a trip around Savaii I heard the muffler dragging on the road. I got down and found out that they had cut the emergency cable and used it to tie the muffler to the rear axle.


  1. […] have called a miracle. Now, I experienced a number of miracles during my missionary days in Samoa, some of them even humorous, but you decide about this one, First, however, some […]

  2. […] when it came to repairing things. For example, in an earlier blog entry, I shared the story of how barbed wire might be used to jump a car battery. Now, I’d like to tell two more tales of creative mechanics — both […]

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