Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Friday, May 9th

After we got a few things done this morning, we took some time off and went into town to get our hair cut. This will be the last hair cut that we will get in Tonga, so we went to see Baby. She gives the best hair cuts on the island and we really wanted her to do the last one. Besides that, we love that woman and we wanted to be sure that we saw her one last time before we go home. She has given us lots of hair cuts while we have been here and she has become a dear friend. We will miss her.

When we got home today there was a Bishop from Vava‘u waiting to see us. He was sitting across the street from our house in the shade of a tree, just waiting for us to come. He is the head of the PTA at the Government Primary School his children attend. He was seeking our help to put a new roof on the school. There are big holes in the roofing and when it rains, the children sit in the rain. All the water has also ruined the floor. It was hard to tell him that we can’t help him. We are not allowed to do any more projects, but we gave him a form to fill out and told him to submit it and if a new couple comes maybe they can find a way to help. We don’t think that will really happen because it is a government school and the church doesn’t want to get involved in fixing the government schools. They know if they do, then more and more will come for help. It is so sad that the government will not budget money to help with the upkeep of these schools. They just say they don’t have the money, yet today and tomorrow there is a huge celebration going on in town. The king is celebrating the 1st birthday of his 1st grandson. He will be the second in line to the throne so it is a big deal, but they will spend tens of thousands of dollars on a birthday party for a one year old while the common children are being educated in schools that are deplorable! Sometimes this country makes me crazy!!!
When the bishop left, we called Jake. It is his birthday in America today. We had such a good visit with him tonight. We know how busy he is and yet he took some time to just sit down and talk to us. It was good to hear about what is happening in his life and at home. How grateful we are that Tiffany found such a wonderful man to be her eternal companion. We are so blessed to have him in our family!

We were finally able sit down and watch the Priesthood session of conference tonight. It didn’t download correctly the first time and we missed most of it. This time we got the whole thing and it was wonderful. What powerful talks! I’m so glad that they put it out on the internet now so that the women can hear what their husbands heard at that meeting. They are always soooooooo good!

Thursday, May 8,

Today was Jake’s birthday in Tonga. We went into the office and started cleaning out the files. Alan is paranoid that we aren’t going to get them all cleaned out before we go home, so he started today. I have been saving it so we will have something to do the last two weeks but I guess it won’t hurt to start now. He barely made a dent today, so maybe he was right. This might take longer than we thought. Other than that, it was a pretty much “as usual” day at the office.

We spent the evening at the temple. I LOVE THURSDAYS!! It is the perfect way to end the day.

Wednesday, May 7th

When I got on CHAS this morning I found a new report has been added that has to be filled out before we can close out our projects. I thought I had everything done so that all I had to do was push the submit button when the finances had all cleared on these projects but now I have all of these reports that need to be submitted to the area office and to Salt Lake. WHAT??? How can this happen? They have to email us a copy of the report from Salt Lake before I can even start on them. It had better be easy! What if I hadn’t looked until the day I went in to close them all? Who thinks up all this extra busy work??

We went to the airport to pick up the Van Den Akkers this afternoon. They flew back from their son’s wedding in Hawaii. It will be good to have them back in the office, we have missed them. They had a great time in Hawaii and they brought us back some macadamia nuts covered in dark chocolate. I’m in heaven!!! I love those things!

We were able to get Mikolo into school today. In fact, we were able to get him into 3 schools today. Everyone went over their waiting lists and they found room for him. We chose Havelu Middle School. It is the church middle school that is the closest to his house. It’s the one we really wanted him to go to. We are so relieved. We were afraid that they would have to home school him and he needs a good education in a good environment. This will be perfect. Alan went over to the finance department and paid his school fees this afternoon. He will start school tomorrow.

Sila, the man in our Sunday school class, brought his girl friend over to our house this afternoon. We have really wanted to meet her and he wanted us to meet her. She is a wonderful woman. She is a doctor at one of the clinics on the west side. She is very intelligent and has a good job working for the ministry of health. I am a little concerned about those two but they seem very happy together. She is not a member of the church, she is 32 and she has never been married or had any children. Sila is 51, divorced, the father of 7 children and the grandfather of 12.

It was nice and cool tonight so we were able to have a nice walk.

Tuesday, May 6th

I forgot to write down one thing I heard last night. I was talking to Sister Beckstrand, the dentist’s wife and she told me about a little 4 year old girl that came into the clinic to have her teeth worked on. She sat in the chair and didn’t make a fuss at all. When Dr. Beckstrand had to give her some shots and pull two of her teeth, she didn’t cry or even act unhappy. When Sister Backstrand commented on how good she was to her father, he told her that his daughter had fasted the day before, on Fast Sunday, and asked Heavenly Father to help her be brave and not to feel the pain when she went to the dentist. Once again, the faith of these children is amazing and what wonderful parents they have to teach them to have that kind of faith.

Mamana came in today to bring some more wheelchair evaluations to us. We were so happy to see her again. She did the Hygiene training on the west side of the island and she did a great job. We were afraid that we might not see her again, but now she will have to come back and pick up the wheelchairs so we will see her at least one more time. She is one of the most faithful women we have met in Tonga. What an example of Christ like love and service she has set for us. She will be one of those eternal friends that we will leave behind in Tongan and look forward to meeting again in the next life.

Alan had to put the medical supplies and some wheelchairs on the boat to Vava’u this afternoon and Ana was busy with a lady, so while I was waiting to help her on CHAS I decided to get on and look at the pictures I found at FHE. I found pictures with life histories of my great grandparents on the Riley side today. I have only seen their names on the pedigree charts. I knew nothing about them until today. I can’t wait to get home and get back into genealogy again!!!

We finished up our plans to go to the Royal Sunset Resort this weekend and sent an email out to the other senior missionaries. It should be a really fun final trip for us ---- if we can just stay well. We have 3 senior missionaries not feeling well right now but they just have colds. Dengue Fever has hit the island and people are getting really sick with that. It is carried by mosquitoes and it wasn’t in Tonga at all last year. How do those things fly across the ocean? It was on a lot of the other South Pacific islands last year and somehow it made it’s way here. If you get it, you not only get a fever but also a rash that looks like measles and your joints and bones just ache like crazy. We have had between 30 and 40 missionaries down with it and when you get it you can plan to stay in bed for a week. We are praying that we don’t come in contact with it. We have so much left to do and so many things planned.

Monday, May 5th

At our devotional this morning, Aho told a good story that made me think of Bryan. Aho and a friend go fishing early every morning. They catch the fish to eat, but they also love the thrill of catching fish. They always go to the same place, everyday. Sometimes they catch a lot of fish and sometimes they don’t catch any, but they keep going back because they know they can catch fish there. He said that even though he has caught a lot of fish over the years, every time he catches one he feels the same thrill he felt when he caught his first fish. Then he compared it to us reading the scriptures and praying everyday and going to church every week. We know if we do that we will feel the Spirit in our lives. Sometimes it is a strong impression and sometimes just a quiet feeling, but we are just as thrilled to feel the Spirit in our lives as we were the first time we felt it. That is why it is so important to keep doing the things the Lord has asked us to do everyday, so we will learn to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and then act on them. Then we will continually have the thrill of knowing that we are on the Lord’s errand doing what He wants us to do. I really liked that analogy.

At work today we started putting our office into shape. We are cleaning out the files and putting a ton of stuff through the shredder. Alan did an inventory of the wheelchairs to see how many and what sizes we have left. I even started cleaning out my desk. I can’t close out the projects for another week or two, but I am starting to write the final reports. I truly can’t believe that we are to this point!!

Ana didn’t come into work until later today, I think she hates Mondays! Since we had a little time, we decided to call the kids. We got a hold of Kimi and Mike, finally! Kimi’s phone hasn’t been working so we couldn’t face time with her, but Mike was there today so we got to see all three of them. Of course we spent most of the time watching Grace, but we did remember to wish Mike and Kimi a happy anniversary. 2 years today! What a blessing those 3 are!~! Then we called Greg, but no answer. We got Dave and Alisha and had a good visit with them too. Hendrix was trying to wake up so we were able to see his big blue eyes. He is growing and changing so fast but he looks content and happy. Parx was taking a nap or playing in his crib, so we didn’t get to see him but Alisha said that he is doing great. Although he has decided that our house is his house and grandma and grandpa can go live some place else. Bless his heart. All this moving around is hard on him.

We tried Greg again but still couldn’t get him. We were able to reach Bryan and we had a good visit with him too. He was sitting out in his back yard looking relaxed and happy. The weather there looks beautiful. We are wondering how we are going to handle the dry heat when we get home. Hopefully we won’t shrivel up.

Family Home Evening was really good tonight. We went into the new program that the church has set up for Family History. Everything has changed so much since we left on our mission. I will have to go back and move a lot of information around when I get home. I had so much fun looking at the pictures and reading some of the stories of my ancestors that I had never seen before. I loved it!!! I can’t wait to get started on that again. I think that is my next mission, Family History. I could be very happy doing that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sunday, May 4th

Our Sacrament meeting was very special today. It was Fast and Testimony meeting and as always all of the testimonies were really nice. Today, AJ Fonua bore his testimony for the first time. He is 8 and his mother had told him that it was alright for him to write his testimony down and read it because he was so frightened to get up and do it. He started out pretty well and then he got emotional. He was feeling the Spirit for the first time as he bore his testimony. Pretty soon he was sobbing, but he didn’t quit, he kept going until he had said all that he had written down. It was a sweet and powerful testimony and there wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation when he finished. We all felt the Spirit testify that what he was saying was true. It was a special experience. All of the adults learned a great lesson from the sweet and humble testimony of a faithful 8 year old boy. I wish I could put into words the faith that these people have. It really is amazing.

The Governor of Vava’u and his wife were at our ward today and they both shared their testimonies. Sister Fulivai talked about the funeral they had been to yesterday and how sad it was that the widow, the Governor’s Auntie, wasn’t a member of the church and didn’t understand the Plan of Salvation. She just can’t find peace with the death of her husband and the Gospel would be such a blessing to her at a time like this.

We had a few people missing from church today. There is a lot of sickness on the island right now. Somehow the mosquitoes that carry Dengue Fever have managed to find their way to Tonga. It is a viral disease and you can only catch it from the mosquitoes, but a lot of people have been infected. They get so sick and it lasts about a week. We are praying that we can avoid that illness.
Elder and Sister Beckstrand, the dentist and his wife, came to our ward today. They really enjoyed the time they spent with us and we enjoyed having them. We sure hope that someone from the mission will come to our ward when we go home. The people down there need the influence of the senior missionaries.

After dinner we watched the Priesthood Session of General Conference. We hadn’t been able to see the whole thing and tonight was a good night to sit down and see it. We both really enjoyed it. The talks that the brethren give in the Priesthood Session are really, really good. I am glad that it is broadcast now so that I can see it.

It is cooling off at night now, so we try to walk every night that we can. We have to wait until after dark on Sundays. No one changes out of their Sunday clothes on Sunday until later in the evening.

Saturday, May 3rd

We did a little laundry this morning and then headed into town for a quick shopping trip. We had so much to do today we didn’t have time to waste. When we got home we took our Tongan woven mat and our Tapa Cloth outside to air out. We hung the tapa over the clothes line and put the mat on the ground. We were told to leave them out in the sun for a couple of hours and then spray them with a special spray that will kill any bugs that might be on them. We did that and then folded them back up and brought them in the house. On Wednesday we will buy some special plastic and then Beastra, our Tongan neighbor, is going to call some of her friends and they will come and show us how to fold the Kava bowl in the middle of it all and pack it to send it home. We are hoping to be able to check it as extra luggage. It will be cheaper to take it that way than to try to ship it home. It took us most of the day to get it all aired out and treated. The rest of the couples went to the beach today, but we had to stay home and get things ready to pack.

We went for a walk tonight and then watched the movie Serendipity. I liked it, Alan thought it was a chick flick. He didn’t hate it, but he didn’t love it either.