Thursday, March 28, 2013

I was able to get it cleaned up but the whole thing just gives me the creeps. All that stuff growing in my closet. How long have we been here??? And how long do we have to go???

I found this in the closet this morning when I went to put my capris on. YUCK!!!!!

We went out again today to look at more water projects. Today we were able to visit 7 and we plan to take two more days next week to do the same thing. It has been so helpful for us to be able to actually see some of the work the church has done and evaluate the sustainability of those projects. It will help us as we put new projects together in the future.
Speaking of projects, we haven’t heard a thing about the project that we submitted so I emailed the office in New Zealand today to see what is happening. This afternoon as I was trying to download that church video again, I checked the email one more time and they had written back. They got the documents that we sent, they hadn’t asked the lady who has the pictures to send them over to them and they said that the project sheet that I sent was BLANK!!! I wanted to cry. I can’t imagine where that project went when I hit the submit button. We have been waiting all week to see if it was approved and it hasn’t even been put together yet! Now I have to start all over again on Monday. I spent hours, days, actually weeks working on that project and we have people in the village fasting and praying for it to be approved. They will all be dead by the time it get submitted!!! This is just so depressing!
We had Elder and Sister Szoka over for dinner tonight. I was glad that we had asked them, I needed a diversion. I made some brownies and then made a pizza. We had pizza with a cabbage salad and then brownies and ice cream with chocolate sauce on top. It was a good evening. We had fun.

I took this picture after the baptism. Everyone not wearing a missionary tag was baptized, all 5 of them! It was a wonderful evening. I also thought you would like to see the outfits that the sister missionaries wear. I still don't know how they stand to wear those long sleeved tops but they don't seem to mind a bit. They look like they would be sooooo hot!!

We took Ana Ika out to visit water projects this morning. We went to see two that we have had requests for and then two more that were done 6 or 7 years ago. When Elder Colson comes next week we want to take him to see some of the projects that were done by the church years ago, so we are checking to see where they are and what they look like. We are also making arrangements for the water masters and village leaders to meet with us when we come again in two weeks. It was an amazing experience in many ways. First, because Ana can work magic. She didn’t know where the water tanks were in these villages, so she just had us stop and she would go talk to someone and find out who the water master was. Twice we discovered that it was the very man she was talking to. Then we would take him with us or follow him to the water tank where we could have a look at the pump and ask him questions about how it is working. Some were in great condition and had been well cared for, others were in pretty bad shape. I took pictures and wrote up a little report about each one. We gathered some valuable information for our return trip.
Ana and I decided that when we do this again tomorrow we are wearing pants and better shoes. We were walking through long weeds and mud in our best clothes.
In the afternoon I tried again to get some things done on the computer but with no success. We were going to the temple tonight but President Tukuafu asked us to represent him at a baptism down town. When we arrived we found out that he was scheduled to speak, so Alan had to put something together FAST! He did a great job and the Spirit was strong as he spoke. We couldn’t understand what the Stake President said in his talk after Alan’s but he referred to “Elder Webb” 4 times, so they must have been thinking about the same things. I was proud of Alan. It’s hard to do such an important talk on such short notice. 5 young people were baptized. It was a wonderful thing to be there and witness such a special event in their lives. Another tender mercy in our behalf.
Wednesday, March 20thI slept a little better last night. I still look awful but I am moving a little better today. Alan took the long way into work today so that I wouldn’t have to endure all the bumps. It is a much better road but then you have to deal with all the traffic. We hardly ever go that way.
Today we had a meeting with the representative from Australia-Aid. We are going out to talk to all of the different country representatives to see just what kind of projects they do. It seems silly to overlap each other instead of working together. We had some business cards made and now we can meet people and leave our card so they can get in touch with us if they need to. We are starting to feel quite professional. Too bad we don’t know much!! We had a great meeting and they are very anxious to work with us. They seemed very pleased to know what it is we do and we were happy to know what they do. We look forward to working with them in the future.
I spent the afternoon working on our Sunday School lesson. There are some great videos on to go along with the lessons but it takes a minor miracle to download them with our internet. It took 2 hours but I got one done. I never could get more than the first 2 minutes of the second one, so I gave up trying for today.
We were able to go for a walk tonight. It is starting to cool off a little at night and it feels so good to be able to get out and walk. I am still moving very carefully because of my back but the pain is getting a little better every day. Movement really helps.

Here are a couple of pictures of the people we meet when we go out to look at the water projects. That is a generator donated by the church in 2006. They have taken very good care of it. Our Welfare Manager is the lady in the red shirt. We learned that we had to wear pants to get to these pumps.

Bet you can't guess which one isn't a member of the church!

Tuesday, March 19thI had a terrible night and now Alan feels just awful. I could not find a comfortable position where something didn’t hurt. I am black and blue all over and now I’m having a hard time trying to find clothes to cover it all up so people won’t think that my husband abused me. This whole thing was just ridiculous. I’m sure one day we will laugh about it, but that won’t be today! My leg is more numb now than it was before and my back is hurting inside and out. I am praying that there is no permanent damage.
The ride into work was excruciating! Every bump hurt. Once I get settled in a chair I am alright, just don’t ask me to move. In spite of the pain, we had a very good day at work today. We had a project that we were looking at that we wanted to go back out and evaluate. It was for several villages but none of them were named. We did find the name of one man in the records and Ana knew him. She called him and he was able to give her the names of all of the villages. We will start visiting them on Thursday. We are so excited to have her as a resource and she is so excited to be able to help. We will be really busy from now on!
When we got home I went to the Service Center and was able to post a few more things on the blog. Then it was home for dinner and my visiting teachers came for a visit. One of them, Siutiti, is going on a mission the 9th of April. She will be serving in the Huston Texas Spanish speaking mission. I am so proud of her. She has learned English and now she is ready to learn Spanish. She is a beautiful young woman with a strong testimony of the gospel. She has been teaching Relief Society lessons to help prepare for her mission. She will be great!
Monday, March 18th,
After our devotional at the Service Center we had a meeting with Ana Ika, our Welfare Director. She is such a blessing for us. She knows people all over the island and she wants to work. She has been making phone calls to the people that we couldn’t communicate with and now we have appointments to go out and see some of the projects that were done years ago. We want to see how the people have been taking care of what they were given. Elder and Sister Colson will be here the first week in April. He is a water specialist for the church. We will take him to many villages so he can help us decide which ones to help and what the best way is to meet their needs. He also knows what the church will approve and what they will turn down. It’s good to be busy, the days are flying by!
The roads in Tonga are just one big pot hole after all that rain. I can’t even describe them they are so huge. You never see anything like them in the states, if you do they call them sink holes! It takes us 15 minutes longer to get to work in the morning because one stretch of the road is so bad. Well, all that bumping around has taken a toll on my back. For some unknown reason I let Alan talk me into going back to that Chinese man for another massage. The last one actually helped me once I recovered from the pain. Well, when we got there he and his father had decided that his father, ‘the master” would work on me because he knows more than his son. That presented two problems, his definition of “gentle” and mine are hugely different and he doesn’t speak a word of English and I don’t speak a word of Chinese. The situation went from bad to worse very quickly and the miracle is that I survived an hour of TOTAL TORTURE. When I tried to tell him he was hurting me he didn’t stop. He was trying to open up circulation in a part of my leg that has been numb since I was had my accident at age 16! It wasn’t going to happen and now my ankle is black and blue! He also worked on my back until I literally couldn’t breath. When he finally quit trying to drive his elbow through my body, he put some kind of suction cup things on my back to improve the circulation. They hurt even worse than what he had already done and I now have the black and blue marks to prove it! My whole body went into revolt. I seriously have never in my life endured such pain for a solid hour. Needless to say, I AM NEVER GOING BACK!!!!! Alan wanted me to keep an open mind until we could see if it helped me, but my mind is firmly made up. He has changed his mind too now that he has seen all of the bruising appear. Really, that man should be arrested! I have learned my lesson. 1st time, shame on you. 2nd time, shame on me. 3rd time --- you deserve what you get!
I came home, took some pain pills and a muscle relaxer and went to bed.
Sunday, March 17thAlan and I got engaged 39 years ago today. It was a good decision!! The people of Tonga don’t know anything about St. Patrick’s Day so it was fun to teach them a little about the customs. We had a good day at church but I had a headache all day so I was glad to come home and rest after church.
In our Sunday School class we were talking about gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. When I asked if anyone would share how they received their own testimony of the Book of Mormon, our sweet young woman from Fiji, Tipika, raised her hand. She said that she was reading the B. of M. and just started to cry. Tears were running down her face and she didn’t understand what was happening. She asked the missionaries and they explained to her that the Holy Ghost was testifying to her that the book was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. She said that when she reads the BofM all alone in a quiet place she almost always feel the Spirit telling her that it is true. She is such a wonderful young woman and she has such a pure heart. We truly love her!
We had our dinner and fireside with the Mission President today. We always eat to much because everybody brings such good food. I made a huge cabbage salad this week because I wanted to make something green to celebrate the day. Then the president told the senior couples about the mission goal for March. We already knew about it because of our work with the missionaries but they were all excited to hear about the work here. Our mission president has enlisted each stake in Tonga, 18 of them, to do missionary work along with the elders. Each Stake is trying to baptize 12 people during the year. The mission is trying to get as many baptisms as Alma did, 204, during the month of March. President Tukuafu was worried about making that goal because of all the rain that we have had these last 2 weeks. But in the areas where the flooding was the worst and the missionaries couldn’t get out and work, many people were being put up in the Stake Center, so the missionaries taught them there and they got 9 baptisms out of that one Stake in one week. The Lord always provides a way!!
Since the Jensen’s went home we needed to have a new Zone Leader for the senior couples. President called Elder Szoka to that position. The Szoka’s have been here the longest now and they will be here until October. He will do a great job. They are a fun couple and they will plan lots of interesting things for us to do.
We slept in until almost 7:30. It felt good!! We spent the morning cleaning the house and I sprayed for bugs. We have been very blessed so far and I hope to keep it that way. I want to stay on top of the bug problem. Sister Mitchell, the mission nurse has ants in her house. She will open a cupboard and there will be hundreds of them climbing on everything. She has had to keep all of her food in the fridge. The FM came and sprayed and then she would come home to hundreds of dead ants everywhere. She would clean them up and the next day the live ones would be back again. We moved her to a different house today. She moved in to the house that Elder and Sister Coles used to live in. Hopefully things will be better there.
Alan and I took snickers out to the elders in Nuku’nuku today. Their MQ was really in good shape when Alan made a surprise visit the other day. They were thrilled to get “snickered”. Sure wish we had more elders that would put forth the effort to keep their MQ clean. We’ll keep working with them. They are just kids and they are boys at that. It makes me wonder how my boys did when they were missionaries. You can’t be spiritually strong and live in filth. The Spirit just won’t abide in a filthy MQ.
On the way home we went to see the blow holes on the west side of the island. It was a cloudy and kind of stormy day so the waves were big and they really came crashing in while we were there. That made the blow holes shoot way up. It was beautiful but I didn’t have my camera so I missed getting pictures of it. I need to have it with me all the time, there is always something to take a picture of in Tonga. Too bad it is so hard to get them posted on the blog!!
We talked to Kimi on the phone as we were driving around. She and Mike are getting ready to move to Colorado so we wanted to know how everything was coming along, plus we have to have constant updates about our precious grand daughter. Everything seems to be going well with the pregnancy. We feel so blessed and we will be grateful when they are safely in Colorado and she can get set up with a new doctor.
We also talked to Clint today. It is his birthday here and will be there tomorrow. We had a good visit with him. It is fun to touch base with the family on their birthdays. It’s good to know what is going on in their lives.
We ended the day with a movie. We watched “Wild Hearts”.

Monday, March 25, 2013

When we got home I started cooking right away. I made 48 rolls yesterday and 48 more today. The R.S. party started at 7:00 so we drove about 1 block to the school cafeteria so we could get all those rolls there in one trip. We had a huge feast complete with the pig. The only problem is that people here don’t care about time. All of the senior missionaries were there at 7:00 along with the RS presidency and a few others, but the majority of the food didn’t arrive until 8:00 so we didn’t really get started until about 8:10. It is just the way it is done here but it is only when food is involved. We usually start Sacrament Meeting about 5 or 10 minutes early. No one, except the starving missionaries, cared one little bit that we ate so late so the party was a great success. There was a ton of food and they ate every roll in sight. (there was one bag in the back that no one saw so Alan removed it to the truck once dinner was over. I know they would have eaten all of those too.) After dinner we had a program. We had girls from different islands do their native dances. Along the way some of the men got involved and they all scream and yell and even put money down the neck of the girl’s dress. Then at the end the men danced and tried to teach the Senior Missionary elders how to do a Tongan dance. It was fun to watch and I got some great video of it. It was really fun. The Tongan people really know how to have a good time but what I liked best was when they sent us home and said that “the boys” will clean up. We got home just before 11 and we were exhausted. It was a great night!

We had a great turnout for our Relief Society Birthday Party.

These are some of my Relief Society sisters. Starting from the left, Ana, she is the one who built her own house by reading a book. Next is the bishop's wife. She is also the principal of Liahona High School. Elani is next, I ham her visiting teacher. Sister Harris in the blue is a real individual! Mele is next and she is the oldest sister in the ward. She turned 81 this month. Siutiti is on the far right. She is my visiting teacher.

We are still wading through all the paper work, plus Elder Halversen asked us to look up 3 projects that have never been closed and see if we can close them out. We couldn’t find them on the CHAS program on the computer and there is nothing in the file about them either. There is serious need for better record keeping here. We are trying to document everything we do so others will not have this same problem when we have gone home.
A lady named Tita came in to meet with us today. She was trained in 2011 to access people for wheelchairs. She knew all about the wheelchair project and she was able to answer a lot of our questions about how it was put together and how the implementation is going. She is a member of the church and this is a volunteer calling for her. She is wonderful, so compassionate and caring. She will be a great help to us in the future. She thinks that we have been too trusting of the people in Tonga. We will need to have a paper trail for each wheelchair from now on. We have given out 92 chairs since we got here. Now we will go to the hospital and make them give us an accounting of who received them. They have told us over and over that they keep track of each chair but we have never actually seen the documents.
We spent our time at the office going through files and trying to decide which ones we need to go out and check on. The church likes to know how well the villages do at taking care of what they have been given. It will take us some time to sort these all out.
We had to leave early today to do a new missionary orientation. We have two Tongan missionaries that will be going to other missions that are waiting for their visas. We don’t know how long they will be here but we want them to take care of their MQs as long as they are here.
Alan spent the afternoon checking all of the MQs in the west zone. Sioeli, the FM manager, went with him. It was a good chance for them to get to know each other a little better and develop a relationship. Alan also learned what the FM does when they go out to work on each MQ. We only had 1 MQ out of 12 that got snickered today. Some were close, some were not and one was TERRIBLE! Alan left a strongly worded note. We will go back and check on those missionaries!
I made half of the rolls for the RS party tomorrow night. Cooking in the afternoon is an endurance test. It was so blessed hot in our house. Even the air conditioner couldn’t stay ahead of it. Just thinking about doing it again tomorrow makes me sweat.
We left it all behind and spent the evening in the temple. They asked us to be the witness couple so that made it extra special.
When we came into the office today it smelled so good. Clean and fresh, not damp and musty. It was deep cleaned last night! Anna Ika really knows how to get things done. This is so good!!!
We had a conference call with the Halversen’s this morning. We sent our water project to them on Feb. 26th and haven’t been able to get in touch with them since. They have been in Samoa. They haven’t been able to put the whole project together yet. We told them where to find the pictures and they have the project and the documents so hopefully it can be submitted and reviewed next Tuesday. We are continually praying over this one!
Anna brought in a whole armload of files when we got off the phone. We didn’t know that there were files in her office of the projects that have been sent in before. It will take us days to go through all of this stuff, but at least we will know what went on before we came. I can’t imagine why they are all in her office and not in ours. Tara never said a thing about them. Maybe she didn’t know either.
We had a R.S. presidency meeting to put the final touches on our birthday party this Friday night. I will be making 100 rolls for the feast!!! Most of our ward members don’t have ovens, so they never get home made rolls. I will be cooking all day Friday!!!
We knew that Morgan would be getting braces this week, so we called to see how she was doing. She just got the top ones put on this week and she will get the bottom ones a little later. She said the first night was painful but she seems to be doing well now. She and Amberly text all the time so she has had a lot of support. Amberly got her braces before we left so she is an old pro at them now. She could answer all of Morgan’s questions. Alli had two teeth pulled to make room for her permanent molars. They just weren’t falling out. It sounds like Tiff’s family has spent a lot of time at the dentist’s office this week. We will come home to 3 beautiful grand daughters with beautiful teeth.
The sun came out today so I hurried and did some laundry. I couldn’t believe it, when I went to take it down it was totally dry! We haven’t seen that in the whole time we have been here. There wasn’t much humidity in the air today.
Today was Parx’s birthday. How did he get to be 2 so fast? We were able to Facetime with Dave for about 2 minutes, but we got to see him and hear him talk a little. He is growing and changing so fast. We worry that he will forget us if we can’t make facetime work. We were able to talk to David on the phone and Parx said a few more things to us. It made me a little homesick. I need to hold my babies!
We went for a walk tonight and it felt so good. Now that the rain has let up we are able to get out more. We miss being able to exercise outside.
After the Monday devotional at the Service Center, we were introduced to our new Welfare Manager, Anna Ika. She worked at the Service Center until she retired last year. She knows how everything works here and she knows all the people we work with, both on the campus and in the community. She will be a great help to us!
We went to the airport to see the Jensen’s off and it is a good thing we did. Elder Jensen had the mission credit card in his pocket and if he had taken it home with him we would have been in big trouble! It was fun to see them so excited to be going home. Up until today they have been really sad about leaving but now they feel finished. It was all good.
At FHE tonight the Cahoon’s were in charge. He is one of the dentists here on a service mission. He has been a Mission President and he brought a video that the Pacific Area Presidency put together about the importance of Senior Missionaries. It was very well done and we now have a copy of it that we can share with other couples when we get home. It was a good night.
We already love Anna Ika. She is a real take charge person. We had a meeting with her this morning and she then had a meeting with all of the other area managers at the Service Center. We told her about our internet problem and she said, “I will get one of the technical support men and put him in the car with me and bring him back today!” We smiled and told her that we had been trying for 9 months to get some changes made but with now luck. Then she actually saw a student trying to use the internet in our office. It will be fun to see what she can do about it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

As we were out driving around to get these pictures, Alan was worried that we would have trouble with the truck because we ended up in some pretty deep water.

I am writing this on Tuesday, March 12th. The weather caused havoc on the island this last week. We have not had internet service for almost a week. Once in a while it would come up but it was gone before we could get anything done. I had to copy and paste anything we wanted to put in an email and then that only worked if we could actually get to “compose”. We don’t know if the emails we sent were actually sent. It was quite a week.
We had hurricane strength winds, unbelievable rainstorms and several earthquakes. So much of the island is under water that school was cancelled from the 6th thru the 11th. Many schools had water damage and the school grounds are either flooded or they are pools of mud. School was even cancelled at Liahona and we are one of the highest spots on the island.
We have driven around to different villages and taken pictures of the flooding. We are hopeful that we can put together a project that will help elevate this suffering in the future. It was heartbreaking to see conditions so many people were living in.
Along with the rain and the flooding came the high humidity. Everything we had was wet and there was no way to get anything dry. Our towels were wet, our clothes were wet and we went to bed in wet sheets. YUCK!!! I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. But the worst was yet to come. After days and weeks of that kind of humidity, everything starts to mildew. We smelled it before we actually saw it and by then it was too late. We had to wash everything we have, including our pillows, but when we did, we couldn’t get them dry so the problem didn’t go away. We went to the fair in a downpour of rain to try to find a can of Lysol to spray things with but no such luck. Most of the people at the fair were packing up and going home when we got there at 8:45 AM. We found some spray disinfectant at the store but we don’t know how well it will work. After our experiences in Ukraine I should have thought to bring Lysol with us. Oh how I wish I had!!! We took Alan’s suit out of the closet and it was just alive with mildew. What a mess! Our luggage was also covered. I feel like I am living in a pitree dish!
We had church on Sunday, in between rain storms. We had a wonderful experience at church. A young man from the ward is going on a mission. When Sacrament Meeting was over and the closing prayer had been said, the missionary stood at the front of the chapel and the ward stood and sang “God Be With You Until We Meet Again” to him. It was so beautiful and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The spirit was strong and this young man left on his mission knowing that his ward would support him and that they love him. I loved it!!!
We ended the week with a farewell dinner for the Jensen’s. They will leave tomorrow for home. They have been the office couple here and they did a wonderful job. They will truly be missed.

We saw house after house that looked just like this. We went out after the rain had stopped, but it rained again everyday for almost 2 weeks. All of the homes in this area were flooded. People either went to stay with relatives or they just stayed and delt with it as best they could. The church members stayed at the church and many non members joined them. It was a good missionary opportunity.

We went to a home of a widow who has her granchildren living with her. Her home was completely flooded.

This is where they are living now.

It rained most of the night and the wind just howled. I didn’t get much sleep. We had planned to go to another school today and then to go with the missionaries to check MQ’s this afternoon, but we had to postpone everything. The winds are about 40 mph right now and supposed to get worse this afternoon. Plus we are having heavy rain all day today. We won’t be getting much done.
The Forsyths were supposed to fly out to Va’vau this morning. It is a small plane that flies between the islands and it was very doubtful that they would be able to make it out.

We had a surprise visitor at the office today. The young man in the middle in the gray shorts, is Hebron Fangupo. I think that is how you spell his name. He is a former Seahawk and now he plays for the Pittsbury Steelers. He comes to Tonga on the off season to work on the plantation. He says it is better exercise than anything he can do in America. It was fun to meet him.

We went to the school in Vini this morning. It was sad. The man that asked us to come is the head of the PTA. He has children going to that school and he wants to make it better for them. He has asked us to help redo the bathrooms. The toilets are broken and the sewage runs everywhere. Only two out of 6 toilets work. It was awful! I can’t believe that they can keep the school open. We took pictures and told him we would do all we could to help, but it is a government school so we don’t think the church will get involved. This job is killing us. There is so much need here and so much we would like to do, but the church just can’t do everything and the government doesn’t do anything. We don’t hold out much hope for this project, but we will do all we can and hopefully they will know that the church really does care.
I had my hair cut today. Ooohhhh, it feels so good to get a hair cut! I have fallen in love with baby, she really does a good job and she is such a fun person to visit with. It’s so nice not to have to worry about hair cuts for the rest of our mission. My hair is so curly with all this humidity that it really doesn’t matter what I try to do with it, it just does it’s own thing. I have gotten used to that look now and I’m fine with it. It’s so easy, just wash, brush and go.
We did a little shopping after my hair cut. The American Store has been closed for 2 weeks because the owners were in America. They are back so we wanted to see what they brought with them. They shipped everything they bought so it could be months before it gets here. They did have tuna today so Alan is happy. We also went to Prima and I was able to buy a laundry basket! I have looked for one for weeks. Who would have thought that a laundry basket would bring me such joy? But today it did.
It rained again today but not like yesterday, so we were able to get around a little better. When we got back to the house I decided to go over to the Service Center and put some things on the blog. Good luck with that! After working at it for over an hour and only getting one picture on, I gave up. It must be the weather, nothing is working around here today.
We didn’t have anything going tonight so I hemmed Alan’s new temple pants and then ironed our new temple clothes. I still don’t have a dress but we have everything else. It will be good to have our own clothes from now on.
The wind is blowing, the rain is falling, I am going to bed.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When we got up this morning I washed my pillow. It was cloudy but I had to chance it because it was starting to mildew and stink! We went to prayer meeting at the Service Center and barely made it home before it started to rain. It rained, and rained and rained!!!!! We waited to leave for work because it was so bad but it just got worse. It was by far the worst storm we have had since we got here. They told us March was the month to watch out for and I guess we are about to find out why. Everything flooded. I took pictures because I just couldn’t believe how fast it all happened. It was a torrential downpour! We had
scheduled a visit to a primary school in the village of Vini but we had to change it until tomorrow. Most of the roads were under water and we weren’t about to wade around in that mess. It didn’t stop raining until afternoon and then we still had more short periods of rain. What a day!!
When we got into work all of the computers were down. The internet won’t work on a good day, in a storm like that there wasn’t a chance. We caught up on the paperwork we needed to do by hand and then went home. We were in charge of FHE tonight and I needed to make a dessert. I made some banana bars and frosted them with a cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese tastes a little different but I had plenty of powdered sugar so it turned out OK.
When we were at the store last week we met a man who is the radio broadcaster for Tongan Radio. He is a member of the church and he knows a lot about the history of Tonga. His ancestors were the first members of the church in Tonga. As we visited with him in the store we felt like he would be a good person to invite to come and speak to our FHE group on Monday night. He was thrilled to do it. President Tukuafu knows him. He was his younger brother’s best friend as they were growing up. President told us that he is not active right now and he thought that it would be a good experience for him to come and meet with the senior missionaries. We asked him to speak for about 30 minutes and then answer questions. He did a good job talking about the history of Tonga and the first Mormon converts, but his 30 minutes turned into an hour and he was still going strong. Plus the missionaries were asking him questions. It was good but some were more interested than others. It made it a little difficult to finish up the FHE. We stopped him, had a closing prayer and started to serve refreshments, but he started right up again. Then people didn’t feel like they could leave. Finally, Alan just had to stop him. He was a real talker!! But we learned a lot.
I came home exhausted. Nothing turned out quite like we expected it to today.

This is what it looked like in front of our house after it had rained for about 15 minutes! There is a road under all that water. It didn't get into the school but it went right up to the door. I took these pictures 5 minutes before we left for the office. We had to drive all the way into town in that much water. Life is an adventure in Tonga!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Our parking lot was totally flooded when we got into work.

Many of the streets in Tonga looked like this today.

The Young Women join us for opening exercises on Fast Sunday. We have LOTS of them. The girls that live at the school are far away from home and the Young Woman’s President asked us today to adopt some daughters. They are having their New Beginnings this week so I am going as the mother of the girls in my Sunday School class. Our family has just grown by leaps and bounds. There are 20 young women in our class!!! One day I’ll have lots of grandchildren living in Tonga!!
After church we had the Forsyths over for dinner. I made a meatloaf. The meat is “minced beef” and we aren’t sure what that is. I’m not asking. I had a package of Lipton’s Onion soup so it tasted good to us. My philosophy has become, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.” However I follow that up with a coke, just in case.
We had a good visit after dinner and just spent a relaxing day with new friends. I had finished my book so I started to play solitaire on the I-pad. That is addicting!! I was still playing at 10:30 at night. I will buy a new e-book tomorrow!!!
We got up early and went into the fair. The Forsyths are here on their way to New Zealand. We stayed with them when we were in Va’vau so we wanted to show them around our island. We were able to find some of the things we need at the fair today. You just have to close your eyes and pay the price. I paid $35.00 for a bottle of Tide and it isn’t the big one that you can get at Sam’s. It is the one you pick up at Wal-Mart. It kills me to pay that much but the laundry soap here is so bad. If we want our clothes to last we will have to pay the price.
When we got home we had the Forsyths come over and have some left over pizza. I will definitely make that again. They loved it too. Elder Forsyth bought some of the round ham today and left it in our freezer. He will pick it up on his way back to Va’vau. That was a lucky find. I wonder if we will ever see it again. We found out today that it came out of New Zealand, which is good news. They have much cleaner processing plants over there.
We ate the cake I was planning to serve with dinner tomorrow for lunch today, so I made chocolate chip cookies. Alan was so excited. OK, I am excited too. We haven’t had any for awhile and they sure taste good to us. If tomorrow wasn’t fast Sunday I would take some to our Sunday School class. Maybe next week.
While we were in the office today I called New Zealand to tell the Halversons about the flash drive and the documents I had sent to them. Surprise, they are in Samoa and Steve Stebbings the director in New Zealand is in Figi. There is no one there to attach them to the project. If it goes on to the Area Authorities without the pictures and bids, it won’t get approved. I considered having a nervous breakdown but decided to turn it over to the Lord. He knows where it is and that we have done all we can do. We are leaving it in His hands and praying -- A LOT!!
We were able to give out 10 more wheelchairs today so it was still a good day.
In the afternoon Alan went with the missionaries to deliver a bed and some supplies. I stayed home and did laundry and cooked. We are truly into the rainy season. It rains, at least for awhile, everyday. It is so humid that everything we have is starting to mildew. We took Alan’s suit out of the closet and there was mildew all over it. We washed it off and took it out to hang on the line. But there was no sunshine. When we brought it back in it was damp. We hung it in front of the fan and hope that will help. I don’t know how to stop mildew if you can’t get things dry. The moisture is really good for our skin but I am so tired of never being dry. Our towels don’t dry out and our sheets are always damp. Even our clothes feel damp when we put them on. It’s weird!!
I made pizza tonight. It is the first one we have had here. I found some “round ham” at the store and took a chance and bought it. I don’t know if they precook things so I fried it for a few minutes and then cut it up and put it on the pizza along with onions, peppers and pineapple. It was good!! I make my own crust with the recipe I got in Ukraine. Tara Smith gave me a Pampered Chef Pizza Stone before she left. I love it!! I would bring it home with me but it is soooo heavy. I had a little more dough than I needed so we ended up with a deep dish pizza, but it really tasted good to us. It was something different.
We got up extra early today because we had to be at the Mission Office by 7:30. We took the money out to the missionaries today. We went to the east zone, which is the largest zone, and it took us 3 hours to get it all done. Alan changed the water filters in each MQ and I inspected them. We had 3 MQ’s that were really clean. They got “Snickered”. We left them each a large Snicker Bar. They love to get them but they have to earn them. They cost $2.50 a each so I don’t give them out lightly. We had several other MQ’s that were pretty good, but some were just TERRIBLE! I don’t know how they can live in that kind of filth. Mold and mildew were growing everywhere and the bathrooms and showers were gross. They heard from me loud and clear and promised to do better. We will have those units deep cleaned and then check back to see how they are keeping them up.
When we got back we did a presentation for 2 new missionaries who are coming into our mission while they wait to get their visas for other missions. Even though they are only here for a short time, (although it has been as much as 9 months) they still need to do their part to keep the MQ’s clean.
In the afternoon we drove back into town so that I could get a massage. Since we have been here my right leg has gradually been going numb. It is down to my toes now and we decided it was time to do something about it. I asked the lady who cuts my hair if she knew of anyone that did massage therapy. She did. He is a man from China and he is working to become a Master. His father is here too and he is a Master. Alan might give him a try. Anyway, he worked on my neck and lower back. He seemed to really know what he was doing because he found all of the bad spots very quickly. The only problem was that he does deep tissue massage. It felt more like Chinese torture to me! He also had the electric shock machine, so I am hoping something he did will help. I sure am sore!!!
We didn’t go to the temple tonight. I was told to come home, relax and spend some time resting, reclining, not sitting. My new Chinese friend said that part of my problem could be sitting for so long at a computer when I am not used to doing that. Also the stress of trying to get this project off. So tonight I just took it easy and it really did feel good, although I hate to miss a temple session!

It rained all night last night. I don’t think we have seen the sun in over a week. It has cooled things off a lot but the humidity is unbearable. Last night it was 99%. On Saturday we took Alan’s suit out of the closet to air it out. In 2 months it had mildew all over it! Anything you don’t wear and wash regularly has to be aired out every 2-3 weeks. Our towels never day and by the time I get dressed in the morning I wonder why I bothered to take a shower. We are always soaking wet. Even our pillows and sheets are damp. I am going to start running the air conditioner more often. It’s expensive but we need to dry things out.
I spent the day at Liahona trying to submit our project. I never could get the pictures attached or the scanned documents added as an attachment. The Itep missionaries from Tonga are going to New Zealand tomorrow. I sent the pictures with them on a flash drive and emailed the description of the pictures and the scanned bids to the couple who work in the Area Office. They will attach them to the project on that end. I finally just pushed the button and submitted it. I have done all I can do with what I have to work with here. The rest is up to the Lord. We are praying that He will take it from here. I am exhausted!!
The AP’s called at 11:00 and asked if we would do a presentation at Zone Leaders Conference at 12:30. It takes a half an hour to get to the Mission Office from our office, so we had no time to prepare. I have to keep reminding myself that these are just kids. But seriously, they have an agenda for these meetings. They could give us a little warning.
I had a Relief Society Presidency meeting tonight. The other counselor didn’t come so it was just me and the president tonight. We met for over an hour and I was able to encourage her and share some experiences with her. She is 37 and the mother of 3 children. She teaches seminary at the high school. She has been serving in the Stake Relief Society Presidency and as Relief Society President of the ward at the same time. Needless to say, she is overwhelmed! They released her from her stake calling this last Sunday. Now she can focus on her ward calling. She just needed a little love and compassion. It was a good thing that we were alone tonight. We really bonded and now I know what I need to be doing to support her. She is a very spiritual woman and she will do all she can to take care of the needs of the sisters in our ward.
It rained all day today and it was still raining when we went to bed. We are going to float away!
I went into work today, I feel much better. Thankfully it was just a one day thing. I spent the whole day trying to put our project into CHAS. That is the church program that was developed to submit projects to the church. It’s a good program ---- if you can stay on the internet long enough to submit something. There are 6 pages of questions to answer. Even if I answer the questions in my word program and copy and paste, I can’t get it all on before I lose it all. I worked on it for 4 hours at the office and then almost 3 more at the school and still didn’t get it submitted. I will have no hair left when I get home, I am pulling it all out!!!
One of the college students that the Beans are working with came into the office today. I have helped her with her English class several times. I didn’t have time to help her today but she brought us some freshly picked bananas. I made banana bars tonight. They tasted good, but after all this frustration what I really need is CHOCOLATE!
I had a bad day so I spent most of it at home. Some how I came down with the Tongan curse and I needed to be close to the bathroom. I wasn’t sick and I didn’t feel all that bad, I just couldn’t go anywhere. Alan had to give the Spiritual Thought at Prayer Meeting this morning at the Service Center. One of the Tongan ladies that we work with told him to give me breakfast crackers and coke. (I knew I liked her) I tried that and then went back to bed.
Alan went into work without me and I caught up on my rest. There really isn’t anything to watch on TV, so I read a book for part of the day and then worked on my journal. By the time Alan got home I was feeling better, so I tried a little food. I did fine and after that I just needed to build my strength back up.
We went to FHE tonight. Elder and Sister Fellows did a presentation on Family History and it was delightful. It is so much fun to listen to them speak with their cute Australian accents and their fun sayings. Elder Szoka was giving Sister Fellows a bad time about something and she looked right at him and said, “Don’t get cheeky with me young man!” I just love her!! She told about trying to find one of her ancestors and traveling all the way to England to do it. She explained how she learned all about this man. Some of it was good, some was not. Then she smiled and said, “Now you know why I am the way I am!” Such fun!!! She challenged us all to do more family history work and really got us excited about doing it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sunday, February 24th, 2013
Another good day at church. I taught Relief Society today. It was the lesson out of the Ensign but no one ever told me which one the bishop wanted taught so I chose Elder Ballards and Sister Burtons. They went well together. The sisters in our ward were great to respond to my questions and we had a really good discussion. I was a little worried about that but it wasn’t a problem at all today. As I was preparing the lesson I realized that the people of Tonga are amazing at keeping the 1st and 2nd commandments. They all Love God, weather they are members of our church or another church. They truly keep the Sabbath Day Holy. Everything is closed here and it is against the law to sell things. They attend church, they spend the day visiting family and they love their families and neighbors as themselves. If things go bad for you over here there is nothing to worry about. There are people in line waiting to help you in every way. It’s amazing.
Our Sunday school class is down to 19 people now. It is much better and they are starting to open up a “little bit”. We think there is hope.
After church we had a home teaching appointment with our home teacher. Then I did my visiting teaching, well half of it, we will finish up on Tuesday. We go to the dorm mother at Liahona. She is responsible for 50+ girls, 24x7 for 9 months. I would be pulling my hair out in 15 minutes. She is a saint!
Next we went to dinner at the Johnson’s. They invited us and Sister Mitchell, the mission nurse, for Sunday dinner. It was fun and the meal was delicious. They had meetings in the evening and we had invited the Szokas to come watch the rest of National Treasure 2 at our house. We were hoping that if we watched it on the computer we could get it to work. We had the projector from the office that we used to show a movie in our Sunday School class today. We rearranged the furniture and projected it on the wall in our front room. The only problem was that they couldn’t find the movie. They don’t know what happened to it so we don’t know if we will ever see the end of that movie. We just pulled up another movie and watched the Return to Snowy River. Our front room isn’t that wide so it was a little close when those horses took off across the Australian countryside, but it was beautiful. What fun! We now have our own theatre room in our little house in Tonga. Wahoo!! It just keeps getting better and better.
Alan had to get up early to go to a priesthood leadership meeting, so I slept in until 7:30. It felt soooo good. It has been rainy here lately and that has helped to cool it off a little bit. When I got up I started the laundry and cleaned the house. We wanted to be done early because we were going to the beach today. I also needed to bake a batch of brownies so we would have something for movie night tonight and for tomorrow.
To bad --- so sad --- it didn’t just rain today, it POURED! We didn’t go to the beach. I was able to put a few pictures on the blog though, so it wasn’t a totally wasted day. That thing is going to drive me crazy and Kimi is going to put me up for adoption if it keeps giving me this much trouble. One time it works, the next time it won’t and even the computer guy here can’t figure out why. IT’S SO FRUSTRATING! The funny thing is, it seems to work the best when it is raining really hard. Maybe because I am the only one on the internet. Who knows//!!
We had movie night tonight and watched “High Society”. It’s a very old musical, but fun to watch, anyway I liked it, Alan --- not so much.
It rained hard most of the night and then off and on all day today. I am so grateful that Alan was able to get those wheelchairs up off the floor. Now I don’t have to worry about them so much when it rains like this.
I worked on the water project again today. I finished the rough draft, but every time I reread it I change something. I could go crazy! I sent the draft to Reed Mellor, our water specialist in SLC just to see what he thinks. Hopefully he will send it back by Monday and we can get it off to the Area Authorities. We are praying all will go smoothly and this will be approved.
We were hoping to leave the office a little early today but the hospital called and said that they needed to come and get some wheelchairs. I told them we were leaving at 11:30 and they said they would be here by 10:45. AT 12:15 we left. Oh these Tongans! Alan called them three times but no one would answer. They will just have to pick them up on Monday.
We went with the Zone Leaders of the Helamani Zone today. I was inspecting the MQ’s and Alan was changing the water filters. I really like these Zone Leaders and we had a good time with them. We stopped at a little store out on the east side of the island to buy some cinnamon bread but they were all out. We found some tuna fish there though and they had ice cream cones! We bought one for each of the elders, Alan had a strawberry one and I had an apricot ice cream cone. It was delicious!! I loved my first ice cream cone in Tonga.
While we were out it started to rain again. I told the elders I was to old to be out climbing over things in the mud. (They have pig fences at every MQ that you have to get over in order to get in.) Elder T. my sweet Tongan missionary said, “You’re not old Sister Webb. Women age like fine wine. Men age like old milk!” I love that kid. He is from the Salt Lake area so we can still connect with him when we get home. I’m so glad. He is an excellent missionary.
The missionaries knew that we were coming today and most of them did a good job of cleaning their MQ’s. Some were GREAT but a couple were BAD. At least we know there is hope. Most of them are at least trying. We ordered a deep cleaning for a couple of them. They had a real mold and mildew problem. It is starting to give some of the elders allergies.

One of the bishops from Aoa came to the island to hear the visiting authorities speak. He docked his boat across from our office, took the motor off and carried it to our lot where we have a gate that locks and a guard. These people are amazing!!

It was a good day at work today. We have to meet 18 areas of criteria in order for our projects to be approved. I decided to write it up myself and then try to copy and paste it onto the CHAS program while the internet is up and running. Sione Tonga is the man who requested this project and I needed to ask him some questions to meet that criteria. Alan called him and he came right over to our office. We spent about an hour with him. He is a great man and we really want this to go through for his village. He is so appreciative of all we are doing and so willing to do anything we ask to help us. We asked him to get his villagers to start praying that this project will be approved. He was happy to do that.
I started working on the rough draft at the office and then brought it home to continue working on it. I need some quiet place to be able to really concentrate as I write it up. This is our first one to submit and we want it to work so badly. It has to be done right the first time. It’s a lot of pressure when over 500 villagers are depending on you. I’m to old for this kind of stress!
We went to the leadership meeting tonight. It was for 7 stakes. There are 14 stakes on the big island. They did the meetings for the other 7 last night. We went to the Relief Society meeting because of my calling in the ward. Sister Burton did a great job but I had to smile. She tried to get some participation from the people in the audience, relief society sisters, bishoprics, and stake presidencies. No one would volunteer to answer her questions. It was just like our Sunday School class. It is just the way it is here. She kept after them and gradually they did contribute but it wasn’t easy for her. We didn’t feel like we should answer for them, it was their training. Elder Pearson talked too. He is amazing! Alan thinks he could be a general authority some day. They are really focusing on councils. This is the Lord’s church, councils are the Lord’s way of doing it and if done properly they will work. Their whole message was about “rescuing the one“. It was a great meeting. We were blessed to have been here. Sister Wixom did a primary training in another building. We heard that was a great meeting too.

We have emailed the service center for over a week, telling them that the shelf in our office was coming away from the wall. Today it all came down, the computers and our printer were on the floor when we walked in. Maybe next time they will listen to us and move a little faster!

On the way into work today we stopped at a women’s clinic. It is for pregnant woman. There are no chairs there so they have to sit on the cement floor to wait their turn. We are trying to find some surplus chairs to help them out. It was sad to see. The nurse wasn’t there so we couldn’t get in and take pictures. We will meet her there another day.
There is a community hall in the back of the center. The Noble of this village died last week and
they were having a Tongan Traditional Ceremony in his honor today. The tradition is that the people in the village bring food every day for 10 days in his honor. They divide the village up in sections and one section brings the food each day. They take it to a central place and give it to the Nobles of the other villages. The Nobles divide it up, take what they want (the pigs and all the good stuff), and then give the rest away. Everyone that lives in the village is required to give food. Many of them are so poor that they give all they have and then go home and eat nothing. If you don’t contribute the other villagers turn against you and the Noble has the right to kick you off your land, since you don’t own it, he just lets you live there. He really doesn’t own it either, the King does, but as the Noble he has control of what happens in that village. Being a noble is passed down from father to son, so you are born into that role, just like the King is. There is no chance for villagers to work their way up.
We stopped in town and picked up some supplies for the MQ’s on the way to the office. Elder Jensen let us use his credit card, since ours hasn’t come yet. They are going home in two weeks. Sure hope ours gets here by then or we are in real trouble.
We were able to go into the distribution center and get our temple clothes today. Alan got everything he needed but they didn’t have a dress or slippers in my size. They ordered both and said that at the least it would take 2 weeks and at the most 3 weeks for them to get here. We’ll see. At least I have my own robe now and it is the lighter nylon, not the heavy, HOT cotton. I’m really excited about that.
The General Primary President, General Relief Society President and Elder Pearson arrived today. They were speaking at the stakes in town today and then they will be at Liahona tomorrow. They have a full schedule, speaking at the schools in the mornings, visiting less actives in the afternoon, going to feasts for lunch and dinner and then having training meetings in the evening. They will be in our area tomorrow. We are looking forward to hearing them. It has rained all day today and it doesn’t look like they will see much sunshine while they are here. That’s to bad. We were hoping they could see Tonga at its best. These poor people are exhausted from all the work getting ready for them and now they can’t even tell how gorgeous it really is.

The Havelu Clinic for women was funded by an organization from Utah. We need to find out who they are and if they will help us get this clinic some chairs and files.

When a Noble dies, the whole village is draped in purple and black and all of the villagers wear black for 3 months.

The women of the village loading the food they have brought to the funeral celebration of the Noble.

I had a frustrating day but Alan had a good one so I will focus on his day. He was able to clean out the shed at work and get the wheelchairs up on pallets so if it rains they won’t get wet. That is a good job done. We also had a girl from Australia come by to pick up some wheelchairs for children. She works for the Mango Tree and she was delightful. She is a volunteer here in Tonga who helps with severely handicapped children. It will be a pleasure to work with her and try to get those sweet little ones into wheelchairs.
I had a set back on our water project. The man we sent it to in Salt Lake who was going to help us write it up got it all messed up. I sent him pictures of the new water pump and water lines, along with the men who had installed them. But he wrote it up that they needed to buy a new pump and lay new water lines. Mercy!! Now we have to start all over again.
There was a nice breeze tonight so we went for a walk. It felt good to get out and walk again. It has just been to hot to do that. Sister Wixom, Sister Burton and Elder Pierson are coming tomorrow. They have been power washing the campus and all of our driveways and sidewalks. We are all about to go crazy with the noise. We counted 10 power washers going at the same time as we were walking. No wonder we don’t have any water pressure. They didn’t stop until 10:30 tonight!
Monday, Jan. 18th, 2013
We started the day with a devotional at the Service Center. Then we headed down to the office. We had a man come in today that was very impressive. He is the head of the fire department here. He wanted us to give him some computers and a file cabinet. Alan had to explain to him that the church is not here to give items to a government agency that should be funded by the Tongan Government. It’s sad. This is a critical need organization and yet the government won’t provide the funds to see that they are fully trained. We are crossing our fingers that we don’t have a fire anywhere near us while we are here. The fire trucks, fully loaded have enough water to fight a fire full force for about 10 minutes. Then with the pressure here it will take about 30 minutes to fill the truck again. They can be filled at the ocean but only if it is high tide. SCARY!!
We had dinner with the Szokas tonight and then tried to watch National Treasure 2. We got about half way through it, just so we were good and hooked, and then it wouldn’t work. It just stopped. I guess the Lord sent us here to learn patience. So far I’m not doing to well.
Sunday is always a good day in Tonga. It is so quiet and peaceful and church is great. Our Sunday School class has grown from the 18 we had when it was divided, back up to 23 today. I was surprised. I thought I scared a few away last week. We had fun today. I did an activity where I had some of them come up and then I told them what they had done in their lives. I let the class decide which kingdom they would be assigned to for all eternity. The first ones were easy, but as I made them a little harder we came to the conclusion that we are grateful that we don’t have to judge in the final judgment. We will leave that to the Savior.
This afternoon we had a fireside at the Mission Presidents house. We always have a dinner first. I took the chicken crepes that I made yesterday and a cake. They were both a big hit but I am glad that is over. I stress way to much over what to take and worry that it won’t turn out. I have got to learn to relax. The first councilor in the Mission Presidency spoke to us tonight. He is such a humble man and I think it about scared him to death to speak to so many palangi senior couples. He did a wonderful job and we all loved him. We don’t see him very often so it was good to spend some time with him.
We got to bed late last night. We didn’t get home until after 10:00 and then there was a dance going on at the school. On the way home from the party we were in a van with 3 other couples. Elder Johnson was driving and he didn’t see a large pig that was walking across the road. When he did see it he swerved and slammed on the breaks to avoid hitting it. I had a tray of food in my hands and no way to stop being thrown into the seat in front of me. No one got hurt, but it did jam my knees and jerk my neck. I was hurting in the night but hope that it isn’t something that will bother me in the future. I’m so fragile where my back and neck are concerned.
I was up at 6:00 making sweet rolls to take to the missionary breakfast. We have one each time a new missionary comes. It gave us a chance to get to know Sister Mitchell a little better. She will be a great addition to the mission. It is a comfort to have her here to take care of us as well as the younger missionaries.
I spent most of the day cooking. I have to take the main course to the President’s Dinner tomorrow. I made chicken crapes. I had forgotten how long it takes to make all those crapes. Oh well, they are done now and hopefully they will taste good. I also need to take a cake, but I haven’t got that made yet.
We wanted to relax and watch a movie tonight but when we put it in the machine it wouldn’t play. Wrong code for the country. Darn! We were disappointed but got out our books and read instead. We also worked on our Sunday School lesson.

The king has a home on the west side of the island and we were able to get this close to it. If he had been home we wouldn't have been able to drive down his private road.

The ladies meet in the town hall that we were looking at today. You can see how they have worked to paint it and put in new windows. We hope to help them get some tables and chairs.

The women of the village meet every morning to work on tapa cloths. They sell them at the market on weekends.

We didn’t go right in to the office today. Instead we headed to a little village on the west side of the island called Foui. The village leader, or mayor, came to see us and wanted us to come and see their town hall. They have raised enough money to repair the roof, put in new windows, a new ceiling and paint
the building but they don’t have any money left to buy a few chairs. The village holds all of its town meetings in this hall and they need the older people to be able to come to those meetings. They are starting to not come any more because they can’t sit on a mat on the cement floor. (I know that would keep me home!) He expressed the importance of having the older people there because they are wise and the village doesn’t want to lose their input or their traditions. All they are asking for are a few chairs. We so wish that we could just buy them and give them to the village but that is not how it is done. We will do our best to help them but the church does not encourage these small projects. It is so sad. They have done all they can do to help themselves. We are hoping to find some surplus chairs somewhere to help.
When we were through taking pictures of the village hall, the mayor took us on a little ride to see the western side of the island. It is the most beautiful area on the main island. The people here are poor but they take care of their yards and homes. There is no garbage on the side of the road and the village leaders make sure that people cut the weeds down, especially those who live on the main roads. The King of Tonga lives on the west side. We went to see his home. Because he was not at home and because the guard knew this village mayor, we were allowed to drive quite close to his home and even take pictures. Once again, a tender mercy from the Lord. As we were driving down the beautiful private road coming out of the King’s compound, the thought came into my mind, “every day is a gift from God. Live it to the fullest.” That is so true of every day that we have here. It’s hard to comprehend how blessed we have been to come on this mission and have the experiences that we are having. I am trying to treasure every minute of it.
We had a High Priest party tonight. Another feast! Once again we didn’t eat until after 8:00 but this time Alan didn’t eat as much. Hopefully he will be alright. We had the party at the home of Ana and Berry Feihati. Berry has been sick all week. His leg was all red and swollen and he cannot put weight on it. He has had a high fever for 3 days. He went to the Dr. and they don’t know what is wrong, if it was a bug bite or he somehow got an infection. Berry wanted a blessing and he asked Alan and Elder Bean to do it. Alan gave him a beautiful blessing and we are hoping that he will return to full health.
They live in a beautiful home. Berry was in the military and when he retired he and Ruth built their own home. They bought a book and studied every night about what to do next and then they got up and did it. I hope that I can go back in the daylight so that I can take pictures. It was amazing.
When I was helping Ana in the kitchen she was making guava punch and passion fruit punch. She asked me to taste them to see if they were sweet enough. They were great and tasted really good and refreshing. Then she mentioned that they only have rain water there, no filtered water. I looked at the water that she had used (when she wasn’t looking) and I couldn’t see anything floating in it. But just the same, Alan and I came home and drank coke before we went to bed. We have had a lot of homemade punch this week. Sure glad that I have a coke habit and that we always have some on hand. So far so good with stomach problems.

When the tide comes in it fills the pools and when it goes out they drain. It's really quite amazing.

The built a swimming pool out in the ocean.

This is where we they do the floor show. It's really very nice, but also very pricy!

We saw a resort on the west side of the island today. They have dinner shows here.

This is what a primary school assembly looks like in Tonga. They are outside and they all sit on the cement floor.

Today was Valentine’s Day. We had a lovely surprise. Larissa, they lady that we baptized in Zaporozhe, sent us an email, via the missionaries, to wish us a Happy Valentine’s Day and tell us how much the people there miss us and love us. She also wrote about how she often thinks about the things we taught her and the spirit she felt when she was with us. That is what keeps her strong in the gospel now. It was such a thrill to hear from her and it really made our day. We love Larissa and her family and it is good to know that she has not forgotten us. It made us realize that the work we did was important and so worth the effort we made to be there.
It rained hard today, most of the day. We are not complaining, it helped to cool things off a little. It has been so muggy the last couple of days. I had a feeling a big storm was coming. We were supposed to go with the missionaries from the central district today to check the MQ’s in that area. It was raining so hard that I decided to stay home and let Alan go with them. Only they never showed up. It’s sad when you get stood up by the missionaries! They could have at least called and told us that they weren’t going to make it. Elders!!!~
I used the time to make some banana bars. We have a High Priest party tomorrow night and we are supposed to take a dessert. I don’t know if it was the humidity or the fact that we are cooking at sea level, but they didn’t raise like they should. They tasted good, just the same, so they will have to do. I frosted them with cream cheese frosting, so that should make them tasty.
To finish off the day we went to the temple. We still haven’t been able to buy our own temple clothes but the shipment has arrived from America. We are just waiting for them to get everything unpacked and set out so we can see what is available.
Alan paid for dinner last night. He didn’t sleep well at all. He just can’t eat that late at night, especially that much food.
We had a conference call with the Halversens in New Zealand today. They trained us on our way to Tonga. It was good to talk to them again. They just wanted to check in on us, answer any questions we might have and help us in any way that they could. They are going to call us once a month which will be good. We were able to explain the internet problem to them and they offered to help us by writing up our projects on CHAS for us so we can get them done. That will be great!!
We left work a little early so we could go to the airport and pick up the new Mission Nurse. Her plane was an hour late but she finally arrived, safe and sound. I admire her already. Coming over here all alone would take great faith. Now she has to try to find these missionaries who live all over the island, and there are no addresses. It will be a real challenge until she gets familiar with things. We know the young missionaries will be glad to help her. She came out of Utah, where it has been so beastly cold, into this humidity and heat. It will be a hard adjustment for awhile. We didn’t get to spend much time with her but she seems like a fun and energetic person. It will be fun to get to know her.
The church is the same all over the world. I went to our Relief Society Presidency meeting tonight and it lasted two and a half hours! We got a lot done and had a good time doing it, but I was exhausted by the time I got home. It was a long day.

Elani's grandson had the job of keeping the flies off of the pig. He was so cute!