Monday, July 22, 2013

Thursday, July 4th

Today is a holiday in Tonga. It is the day they celebrate the King’s Birthday. It isn’t the King’s real birthday, just the day they celebrate it. They had a big parade in town and the King reviewed the military troops, but we stayed home and watched it on TV. We did some laundry and just relaxed a little this morning. We have really been pushing it for such a long time that having a day off was a very welcome diversion.

I called my sister for her birthday call today. She told me all about her hot air balloon ride. She loved it and it sounded like such a wonderful thing to do, expensive, but she felt it was worth it. She now has a certificate stating that she is a certified ballonatic! What fun!

This afternoon we had a Senior Couple 4th of July Picnic. We wanted to go to the beach but the weather didn’t co-operate. It was cool and windy so we couldn’t build a fire to cook our hot dogs. We ended up having it at the Service Center. The Szokas came up with a scavenger hunt around the Liahona campus. We divided up into teams. I was the captain of one team. We didn’t have our spouses on the same team. To bad for Alan, my team won!! It was a little surprising how competitive some of the seniors are. We had a good time and learned a lot about Liahona.

President Tupou and his wife came to the picnic and participated in the hunt. They are great! Very down to earth and lots of fun. After we had dinner President Tupou talked about his vision for the mission and Tonga. He hasn’t lived here in the last 30 years and he really wants to see this country rise above it’s current level. He feels that in order for the church to move forward, the people of Tonga have to move forward. He has only been here 4 days and he already has made some major decisions. He is getting I -phones for all of the missionaries, including US!!! That will be fun, one more thing to challenge my old brain! I know my kids are laughing, but I am determined to figure it out. He wants to know where all of his young missionaries are and what they are doing at all times.

He has an office couple coming in August. A couple from Alaska that he knows well. He doesn’t want elders in the office, he wants them out working. He also has another couple coming that will be working with the housing. He is hoping they will be here by September. So are we, we will be getting 30 young missionaries in September and they all have to have a place to live. We don’t know if they will take over the care of the MQ’s but that would be fine with us. Just having one full time mission call would be nice. These 50 to 60 hour weeks are hard on old people!!! Sister Mitchell, the mission nurse has been working in the office. She will be happy to just have one calling too. President Tupou said that there are several couples that he hopes will come to our mission. There is quite a Tongan community in Alaska and he wants those people to come back and help in the work.

He was telling us some stories about the government and church relations here. King Tupou the 4th, (yes, our president is related to the current King of Tonga- distantly. He is of Noble birth, not Royal.) anyway, the King made an agreement with the church that they would lease the land that Liahona is on for $1.00 a year for 50 years. When that lease ran out the Tongan Government decided to lease the land for $13,000 a month and tax the church. We now have members of the church in Parliament and they said that if you tax the Mormon Church you must tax all churches. The Government wants money so they agreed. Our church pays the taxes but the other churches in Tonga are slowly going bankrupt. A Noble in one village decided that he wanted the land back that the church was built on, thinking he would have a wonderful building to turn into a town hall or something. (The Noble’s control all the land in their village and they can do that.) The church couldn’t talk him out of it, so they agreed to let him have the land back. When they turned it over, he got the land but the church was gone. They had torn it down. Very Slowly, Tonga is starting to realize that they need the church here to keep the country going.

We also found out that the LDS Church is the ONLY unit that has signed up for the new fiber optics! It is so expensive, no one else is committing to use it. Without us, it wouldn’t have come to Tonga. We had better get good internet service out of this!!!! They are now saying that it should be up and running by the middle of August. It did get here in June, so it MIGHT happen.

Our President also said that he wants a lot of interaction with the Senior Missionaries. He values our opinions and wants our ideas. We are feeling very good about this new president. With Elder Tuku’afu as the Area 70 and President Tupou running the mission, we are in excellent hands