As in wards around the globe, our ward has "assigned seating." We were very blessed to get the second row in our ward in Mapusaga Fou....what can I say, I know a guy. When people use to sit in our seat on Sundays my grandmother would inform them that she paid extra tithing for that seat :)
On our row there is a man that sits next to us. I don't know his name - shame on me - but he sits on the end of the row by himself. He is an older man. Matthew and I guessed in his 70's. He doesn't come every sunday but he is there very often. He usually beats us to our seats and is there early waiting for the meeting to begin.
He is always armed with his songbook, though he does not sing, but he faithfully turnes to the page and holds his book up to follow along. I've never seen this gentlemen talk to anyone, or anyone talk to him for that matter. He simply sits quietly.
I don't know how he gets to church, or how he gets home. He often leaves a bit early, before the closing hymn. It takes him a little while to get to the door a few feet a way because he slightly drags his right foot. I've never seen him use his right arm, which usually just sits in his lap or by his side. He always uses his left hand to take the sacrament which he does reverntly. His revernce is also manifest in his dress. While not the best kept, he always wears a white shirt, tie, and a formal lava lava. I can only imagine the labor it must be for this man to get dressed for the sabbath.
Today at church a little girl, probably not even two came to our row and looked up at him. He looked down at her, took her hand, and tried to lead her into the bench. She quickly retreated to her mother but came back soon afterwords. This sweet man, once realizing that this was now a game, looked down and smiled. The small girl smiled back and ran away again.
This sweet, gentle man has taught me so much. How often do I complain about getting ready for church here in samoa. While he is dedicated to being at church no matter the obsticals he faces. How often do I murmur at the busy children that play during the speakers while this man reverently takes joy in their innocence.
Thank you old man for your silent example. Your quiet faith has spoken loudly to me in our commen language of the spirit. I pray we may share a bench again soon.