Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 16th,

We had a scary picture of our sweet grand daughter, Lori, show up on our computer today. She had been thrown from a 4 wheeler and she looked tough! She had road rash on her chin, elbow and legs and she had chipped her two front teeth. She was wearing a sling to protect her broken arm. But the hardest part to see was the sad look in her beautiful eyes. It about broke our hearts to see her like that and not be there to love and comfort her. She’s a tough little muffin though and we know she will be alright. Her mother said that she is loving being so popular. Everyone is concerned about her and bringing her treats and presents. Who wouldn’t love that??

Just have to say how proud we are of Tiffany. This last week has been a huge one in her life. Lots of changes, lots of emotions, lots of trials, lots of prayers and lots of blessings. We are grateful that she can step back and see the Lord’s hand in her life and know that she is in His care. Life is so much easier when you realize that you don’t have to do it alone. The Lord is always nearby. We know that He is watching over all of our children and grandchildren and that Angels are watching over them. We especially know that when we think of how much worse Lori’s accident could have been. She was truly blessed.

By Saturday, August 17th, Lori had been to the dentist and had her teeth fixed. She had been to the doctor and her arm was not broken in a growth plate, a huge blessing! She was sporting a sparkly cast and showing a toothy grin in the picture we received today. Even the scrapes on her chin looked lots better. She should be ready to start school next week after all.

Thursday, August 15th

I heard a wonderful missionary experience today. Elder Makasini, an American Tongan who lived in California, told of this experience. He was preparing to go on his mission to Tonga when he met a Tongan missionary who was serving in California. His name was Elder Hamala. They became friends and when Elder Makasini was ready to leave for Tonga, Elder Hamala asked a favor of him. He told him where his mother lived in Tonga and explained that she was a widow and not a member of the church. His greatest desire was that one day she would be touched by the Spirit and join the church. He asked Elder Makasini to promise him that if he was ever serving where Sister Hamala lived, that he would look her up and bear his testimony to her. The promise was made and the two friends parted.

Elder Makasini didn’t serve anywhere near where Sister Hamala lived for the first year of his mission. He forgot all about the promise he had made to Elder Hamala. Then one day he was on splits with another missionary that took him to the far side of the island from where he lived. They ended up in the humble home of a widow. During the course of the conversation they discovered that she had a son serving a mission in California. Elder Makasini asked her what her son’s name was and the memory of the promise came back to him as he learned that this was Elder Hamala’s mother.
Elder Makasini told this sweet woman about his friendship with her son and then shared with her the message that her son was taking to the people of California and he was taking to the people of Tonga. He bore his testimony to her, the Spirit was strong and then they left. Elder Makasini didn't see her again.

One day, late in his mission, Elder Makasini was walking down the sidewalk across the street from the Tongan Temple. He heard someone call his name and look up to see Elder Hamala running to meet him. After a sweet reunion Elder Makasini said that he had kept his promise and then asked about Elder Hamala’s mother. With tears in his eyes, Elder Hamala told of his mother’s conversion to the church and pointing to the temple he explained that she was in the temple at that very moment doing baptisims for the dead. They were anxiously awaiting the day that she could go through the temple and receive her own endowments. He expressed his gratitude for a good friend that kept his promise and bore his testimony to his mother, starting her on the path to full membership in the church.

                                                      LOVE THAT STORY!!


I no longer have the time, the energy or the desire to write every little thing that happens everyday. There is to much repetition of unimportant details. I have decided to just write about the things that are important to me while we are serving. Hopefully it will be less time consuming for me and make for more interesting reading. (Just in case someone other than me ever does sit down and read this novel).

Wednesday, August 14th

We were supposed to have a meeting with a Stake President and one of his Bishops today, but they never came. One of us stayed in the office pretty much all day to make sure we didn’t miss them but it didn’t happen. We have got to be more specific about time. We just said “morning” and obviously that doesn’t work.

We did get a call from the FM people though. They delivered our new mattress! When I was home for lunch I made the bed and laid down on it. Whoa, it is FIRM!! I am a little nervous about how hard it is, but they say that a firm mattress is good for your back. I am praying that this will help and not make it worse. While they were at the house they also hung a new shelf in the bathroom for me. I am so excited and grateful. There is no counter space in the bathroom and we have had to keep all of our “stuff” in the bedroom. This will be so nice!

I received an email from the Manager of the Service Center today. It was a notice that there is an Outer Islands Travel Restriction for All LDS Employees and All Ecclesiastical Leaders and Missionaries. For safety reasons we are not allowed to travel by air to any of the outer islands until further notice. Tonga has just put a new airplane into operation here and it doesn’t pass the safety regulations from America, New Zealand or Australia. Therefore, we are not allowed to fly on it. (The Forsyth’s children just flew on it on Monday and they will have to fly on it again in order to get off the island of Vava’u and get home.) Until further notice if we want to travel we have to take the ferry. That trip to Vava’u is 24 hours on the “barf boat”. If the seas are rough, everyone gets sick! I am so grateful we went on our trip earlier in the month. We will be staying put!

We have Dr. Williams, the dentist, and his wife scheduled to fly on that plane the end of the month. We are hoping we can get our money back. This has really messed our dental project up. We aren’t sure what will happen with it now. It is interesting, Sister Williams kept putting off booking their flights, she said that she just didn’t feel good about it. Now we know why.

Alan had to go into town this afternoon to get some wheelchairs and deliver them to the hospital. I wanted to go with him and do a little shopping but I had to stay in the office and wait for the Stake President and Bishop that never came!!! Frustrating!!!

Tuesday, August 13th

Alan went with one of the men from the FM last Friday to pick out a new mattress for our bed. We thought we might have it on Saturday and for sure thought we would have it yesterday, but nothing! We are still waiting and in the meantime my back and leg are not getting any better. I am really praying that this will help and I am anxious to have it arrive so we can try it.

It rained a lot today. We are hoping the weather is better in Vava’u. The Forsyth’s have waited so long for their kids to arrive and we all want the weather to be good for their visit.

The internet was working well today so I was able to post a lot of things on the Blog. It’s kind of fun to go back and read about what we have done. I don’t even know if anyone is still reading it. I post on it so randomly and then I put on a ton. Oh well, it will be worth it when we get home and I can print it all out.
My legs and hips were bothering me so much today that I had to leave work and go for a walk. I know part of my problem is that I don’t get to walk enough. My body is used to me walking at least 3 miles a day and that just doesn’t happen here. I also have never sat at a desk like this, especially for so many hours every day. I will try to be better at getting up often and moving around more.

We were able to get in touch with Tiffany this afternoon. She told us all about their experiences this past week and how Sunday went. It was so good to talk to her and to hear all about it. We were sorry to miss hearing the beautiful blesssings that Jake received from his dad and from the Stake President, but we know that those blessings will sustain Jake through the coming years. He will be leading his ward through some trying times in the world’s history. Tiffany sounded good and we are grateful that she is getting a handle on all of this. She will be a great Bishop’s wife, the people in the ward already love her.

I made a tin foil supper yesterday so dinner was easy tonight. We just heated up the leftovers. It still tasted really good. We ate a little early so we could go for a good walk and I think that helped. I am also going to take a muscle relaxer before I go to bed tonight and see if that will help. It’s not my muscles that hurt but I know that the muscles are pinching the nerves. Hopefully I can get them to ease off.

Monday, August 12th,

This is a huge day for our family. About the time we were getting out of bed this morning, Jake was being sustained as the new Bishop of the 19th ward. He will be wonderful in this calling. It will definitely be a challenge because he is so young and he has such a young family, but he is certainly equal to the challenge. We know that he has been called by the Lord and that the Lord will always be right beside him. Jake is a very spiritual young man and he has the pure love of Christ in his heart. The people will love him and he will magnify his calling. We are so proud of him and Tiffany. They have done everything the Lord has asked them to do and we know He will bless them and their sweet family. They will be a good example for the other young couples in the ward and we already know that the older people love them. We are hoping and praying that everything went well for them today. Starting tonight -- the real work begins!!

Ana is in New Zealand this week so we aren’t able to meet with some of the people we need to talk to because they don’t speak English. We are catching up on the details in the office and getting everything set to start the Hygiene Program when Sister Uai gets back next week. We will also be able to make some phone calls that we need to take care of and some filing too. We needed this week to catch up!

We called Tiff and Jake tonight to see how things went today but they were already out visiting the members of the ward! Wow, I’m impressed! We had a great visit with Morgan. She’s a doll. How we miss her and all of the grandkids. We will call Tiff and Jake tomorrow. We also called Kimi, just to check on her and see how Grace is doing. It seems that Grace is waking up a little more and making her wants known. Kimi has been spoiled, Grace has been such a content baby. Now that she is acting normal reality will set in.

We had FHE tonight. Elder and Sister Bean were in charge. We played Jeopardy with the categories being: The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon, D&C and the Pearl of Great Price and Church History. We divided into 2 teams and then all worked together to come up with the answers. It was really fun and we learned a lot!! Our team won, but we bet just the right amount of money on the final question so that it would end in a tie if we both knew the answer. It ended in a tie and everyone went home a winner. The Beans had gone to a lot of trouble putting it together. It was a great FHE activity.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sunday, August 11th

Because it was Stake Conference today, we were able to sleep in again today. Ohhhh that felt good!!
Our Stake Conference was wonderful. Elder Thompson, the Area 70 from New Zealand, was our visiting authority. He and his wife did a great job, but in reality I felt like the Stake President and the Stake Patriarch did every bit as well, if not better. These Tongans have such faith and such a beautiful way of expressing their testimonies. They really go straight to my heart. The Spirit was strong. The Lord loves the people of the isles of the sea!!

The music was also BEAUTIFUL! They asked us to come and sit on the front row, probably because no one else would, but it made it so that when they sang the music just surrounded us. It really is breathtaking and I love every minute of it. I really cherish every minute of the time I get to spend listening to the Tongan’s sing the hymns in their own language. There is just nothing like it in America.

When the meeting was over Elder Thompson came down to meet the people. He walked over to talk to us as we were talking to Henli and his wife Akata. Henli is the young man that went through the temple for the first time the other night. We introduced them to Elder Thompson and as we were visiting Elder Thompson asked them if they had any children. Henli said, “not yet”. Elder Thompson casually said, “keep practicing.” I about died! Alan’s mouth dropped open and Henli and Akata both turned scarlet red. We were all speechless --- AWKWARD!!
After church we spent the rest of the day catching up on our journals and wishing we were home so that we could go to church with our kids tomorrow!!!!! While I was feeling sorry for myself and thinking about “Sacrifice” and how serving a mission really is a sacrifice when you miss out on these very special moments in the lives of your family members, I had another “Tender Mercy.” I have been praying for comfort and peace. The impression came into my mind of the Pioneers and the sacrifices they made as they crossed the plains. I also thought of Emma Smith and suddenly my sacrifice seemed so small in comparison to burying children on the plains and losing so many babies and your husband, all for the gospel. I was humbled and I repent. I hate not being there to see Jake ordained a High Priest and set apart as a Bishop. And I miss spending that special time with my family, but we are so blessed to be able to call them and talk to them about it and love and support them instantly from half way across the world. It is no fun to be chastised by the Lord. I will do better.

Saturday, August 10th

We were able to sleep until 7:00 this morning. I can’t believe that is sleeping in, but it is and it felt so good. We spent the morning doing laundry and cleaning the house. In the afternoon we bought the rest of the food we needed for the Forsyth kids, took it to their house and made sure everything is ready for them when they arrive tonight. They will be so tired, all they will want to do is go to bed!
Tonight was movie night. We watched McClintok with John Wayne. That’s a good one and we all enjoyed it. Tomorrow is Sister Bean’s birthday and Elder Johnson’s 70 birthday. Sister Johnson had a cake made for Elder Johnson, since it is a milestone birthday. After the movie we all had cake and ice cream. It was fun.

Elder and Sister Johnson went to Eua this last week to do some work at the school there. When they went to catch their flight home they found out it had been cancelled. The Bishop drove them to the warf to see if they could catch the boat back. Luckily they made it just in time. It is about a 2 hour trip and the sea was pretty rough. They didn’t get sick but they did have an interesting experience. About an hour into the trip, when they were right in the middle of one of the two deepest channels in the ocean, somehow a pig went over board. They stopped the boat to try to rescue it but nothing was working. Suddenly a man dove into the ocean! He just about made it to the pig when a huge wave crashed over them and took the pig way out to sea and the man gave up on it and tried to swim back to the boat. The sea was so rough he couldn’t make it. They started up the boat and went back for him. It took about 15 minutes to rescue him. Sister Johnson said how scary it was, Elder Johnson said, “Only in Tonga!!”

Friday, August 9th

We had a special devotional with Terry Oaks this morning. He told us what he does as the Director of Temporal Affairs. He takes care of all the “stuff” so the bretheren can focus on the spiritual aspect of the work. He told me he received 185 emails yesterday from people throughout the Pacific. That is a full time job itself. I can’t begin to imagine how he does it. He told us that he and all of the leaders in the South Pacific have felt a “REAL URGENCY” to move the Lord’s work forward. They feel like there is about an 18 month window when there will be an influx of new missionaries and then it will slow down again. He said that we can’t waste this window of opportunity to push forward. We are thrilled to be apart of the work at this historic time. He also talked about a seminar about Hastening the Work. It was a Mission President’s Seminar that was put online so that all of the members could view it. We had not heard about it, but it is online so he told us to watch it. We all just smiled at him. He got the message, he understands the internet here now that he has experienced it, but he said that somehow we need to be able to see it. Hopefully the Service Center will be able to make a copy of it so we can all watch it. To end, he challenged us to do what he has been asked to do. Go to the topical guide and look up and read all of the scriptures that are listed under the word WAY. He has found it to be very enlightening. We will accept that challenge. The two songs we sang at the devotional were my two favorite Tongan hymns. I have got to record the people singing them before we come home. They are so powerful!!!

We got a letter from Morgan today!!~! She sent it on June 7th! Her mom has got to learn what the words “Air Mail” mean!! Still, it was fun to hear from her. How we love and miss our sweet Morganna!!! We also got an email from Greg. We knew he had an appointment with the eye doctor and we had written to see how that came out. Evidently, not so good. He is near sighted and he needs glasses. That will mean he has to give up a couple of golf games to pay for them so it might be winter before he gets around to it. Other than that, he sounded good.

We saw Pate’, a man from the FM group, on the way home from the office today. Alan stopped to talk to him and asked him if they had any mattresses in storage. Our mattress is so bad and we know that is not helping either one of our backs. We had barely gotten home when he came to tell us to go pick out a new mattress and the FM would buy it for us. These mattresses have been here for years and they need to be replaced. The people in FM love Alan and they would do about anything for him. Alan went into town to get a haircut this afternoon and he picked out a mattress. We might have it today, but for sure by the first of the week we will be sleeping on a much better bed. We wanted a pillow top but there are none on the island and it could be months if ever before they get one. We will take what we can get, it can’t be worse than what we have now. Another tender mercy. Heavenly Father is taking care of us!

While Alan was in town I wrote a couple of emails to New Zealand and then started our Friends and Family letter. I will finish it this weekend. I am glad that it is Friday, I am ready for the weekend. I’m tired!!

We were FINALLY able to make contact with Alli for her birthday. It was almost 10:00 their time by the time we reached her but it was fun to visit with her. She had a good day and she is excited to be 12! Going into Young Women’s is always a great experience, we know she will love her years there. We are so proud of her and the beautiful Young Woman she has become. Our grand daughters are amazing, beautiful on the inside and the outside, every one of them!

We went out to dinner with the Beans, the Johnsons and Sister Mitchell tonight. We were celebrating all of the August birthdays. We went to Little Italy and once again had a really good meal. That is a good place to eat, but tonight it took over an hour for them to serve us. They weren’t that busy. I think they think that drawing it out that long is just part of the “fine dining” experience. But when you don’t get your food until after 8:00 it is hard for Alan to enjoy his meal.

After dinner we took Sister Mitchell with us and went to another Stake Dance. It is our Stake Conference this weekend and this dance was part of the weekend plan. There was a ton of security at the parking lot and all around the Stake Center. They must have had some trouble in the past. We have not seen security like that anywhere we have been in Tonga. The dance was very nice and we had a good time. We were able to make an appearance, dance a couple of dances, say hello to everyone we knew and be home by 10:00. That works. We learned and participated in the Tongan Line Dance tonight. Evidently it is a tradition at special occasions. We have not seen it done before. It was an interesting experience and fun to be apart of.

Thursday, August 8th

Happy Birthday to Alli --- in Tonga! We are thinking about her and missing her, but we won’t call her until tomorrow.

I wrote up the journal of what we did in July and got it off to Elder Reynolds. That’s pretty good, it’s only the 8th of August after all. It scares me, I’m starting to function on Tongan time. “No worries, you can always do it tomorrow.” I also recorded our progress for the month on all of our projects on CHAS. That is a relief. All of this detail work lays heavy on my mind. I’m not used to working in an office.

We had a surprise visit from our DTA, Terry Oaks today. He is the Director of Temporal Affairs for the South Pacific. It was nice to sit down and visit one on one with him. We were able to tell him about our projects and we asked him about the internet. We did not like his answer. He told us that Fiber Optics has now made it to the Liahona campus but the church has a contract with the Satalite provider and they need to get out of that contract before we can hook onto Fiber Optics. We still have 2 years left on the contract and we pay $50,000 dollars a month, so it might not be easy to get out of that contract. The Area Presidency will have a meeting about that next week. So it is a wait and see deal for now. We were really hopeful that we would have better internet access soon. Now we’re not so sure.

After lunch I finished up what needed to be done in the office and Alan picked up the tickets for Dr. Williams, our dentist. He and his wife will be going to 3 islands to see about dental clinics. We did the ground work for him in Vava’u so we are hoping he can make that agreement work. It would be great for the church and great for the people of Vava’u.

It’s Thursday so we headed to the temple tonight. It is our Stake Conference this weekend so there were many of our ward members at the temple tonight, including our Bishop, thank heaven!!! I had my new temple recommend, but the Mission President had not activated it. No one could figure out what to do but since my Bishop was standing right beside me, they let me in. I will have to work that out this next week. Nothing is as easy as it is at home.

We were asked to be the witnesses for the session tonight. Alan was a little nervous about that because of my back but I said we would be happy to do it. I’m so glad I did. It helped me to be able to get up and move a little and one of our ward members went through the temple for the first time tonight. He is in our Sunday School class and we love him. It was very special to be there with him. He has been a member for a year and he has really worked hard to get himself ready to go to the temple. When we met him in the Celestial Room his comment to me was, “I feel like I am in heaven!” He almost was, that is as close to heaven as we can get in this life. What a special, Spiritual night!

Wednesday, August 7th

When we got to the office this morning there were some darling pictures of Grace waiting to greet us. That is the best way possible to start the day, pictures of the grand kids! Once we got through all of the emails we decided to focus on what was at the top of our priority list. We called Tiff and then we called Bryan. It helps to be able to talk to the kids and we both felt better when we got off the phone. Tiff is a little overwhelmed but we know she will be just fine. It just takes a minute for all of this to sink in. Bryan is fine with his new calling, it is his job that gives him stress. We are praying this will all balance out.

Alan worked on the Fahefa Project this morning. He needs to get the details from the Bishop of Fahefa before I can finish writing up the project. He only speaks Tongan so we need Ana to help us or his Stake President. That will take some time to work out.

I got an email about another ship that is coming to Tonga. It is called the Sea Mercy and it will be here on Sept 6th and stay until the 23rd. It will mostly be on the outer islands but they will be doing some education about diabetes and wanted to know what we want them to do. How do we know that? We didn’t even know that they were coming! The communication with these ships is TERRIBLE!! If there weren’t members who have volunteered to come we would never even know that they are here. I’ll start working on that tomorrow.

After lunch we went into town to do some shoping for the Forsyth’s kids. 8 of them, 4 couples, are coming to see their parents this weekenf. They will stay at Liahona for 2 days and then go up to Vava’u for 5 days. They need some food in their house here so we are taking care of that for them. They fly in Saturday night and everything is closed on Sunday.

I had a massage today. I have been having a lot of pain in my back and hips and it doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t seem to get it to let up. Ying really worked me over today. Either she has been lifting weights or she has been holding back because she went REALLY DEEP today. I felt like I had gone back to the Chinese Master! When I got home everything was sore to the touch and I hurt all over. I can’t decide which is worse, the sickness or the cure!

I made Taco Soup for dinner and Corn Bread Muffins. Ying told me to stay home and relax so we didn’t walk tonight.

Tuesday, August 6th

Today was Ana Ika’s birthday. She still has family here for the wedding of her nephew. It will be this Saturday in New Zealand. They did all of the Tongan wedding traditional stuff this last week and all of Ana’s relatives, who have been staying at her house, will be leaving on Thursday. She was not going to the wedding because it is just to much money. This morning she woke up to find an envelope on her pillow. Inside was a ticket to New Zealand! Her sisters and cousin bought it for her. She is thrilled to be able to go. She has two sons that live in New Zealand and she will be able to spend some time with them. We are really happy for her, but she will be gone a week so things will slow down a lot in our work. We use her a lot to talk to people that don’t speak much English. Alan has remembered a lot, but he never knew the language of water projects, wheelchairs, dental clinics or hospital supplies!

We went to the Satellite broadcast from New Zealand today and it was interesting. It was set up to introduce us to the newest member of our Area Presidency. The connection was so slow that the speech was all broken up and we missed a lot of what was being said. The picture never did work, but we did get to hear the last part of our new Area Presidency councilor’s talk. Fiber Optics still isn’t here and it looks like it will be awhile. MERCY!!!

When I went back to the office after lunch, we had an email from Bryan. He and Lisa had come back from a visit with the Stake President. Bryan is the new 1st Councilor in the Bishopric. REALLY!!!??? I wonder if Heavenly Father thinks it will be easier on us if Bryan and Jake are both sustained and set apart on the same day instead of drawing out the misery. THIS IS REALLY HARD!!! I called Alan, he was meeting Elder Maile and going into town to buy supplies for the MQ’s. He felt exactly the same way I did. Stunned that such important events are taking place and we are half a world away. We are not surprised that Bryan was called, we knew the Lord had something in mind when he was made a High Priest. Missing that ordination was very hard on Alan. We know that everything happens in the Lord’s time and that it is always right, but somehow that doesn’t make it any easier to not be there. We know we are where we are suppose to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing and that our children are being so blessed because we are here. I guess this is a part of our sacrifice that we just hadn’t thought about.

We are so proud of Bryan. He will be a great influence for good in this calling and we know the Lord will bless him and his family while he serves. We also know that having this important spiritual responsibility will be the perfect balance for the stress he has to deal with at work. The Lord works in mysterious ways, his miracles to perform. Despite being frustrated that all of this will happen without us, we are sooooooooo grateful for the amazing family that has been sent to us. Our children, their spouses and our grandchildren are amazing! Heavenly Father certainly took a chance on us when He entrusted them into our care. We will continue to try to set a good example for them and live worthy to have them for all eternity. (I guess that means that I should stop murmuring.)

After dinner we went for a nice long walk. We talked about our family, how much we love them, how much we miss them and how somehow it seems harder to be away from them this time. Hopefully we can both get a good nights sleep and then get up, forget about ourselves and go to work!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Monday, August 5th

We didn’t have a devotional today because we are having a broadcast from New Zealand tomorrow welcoming the newest member of our Area Presidency to the area. He and his wife have arrived in New Zealand and this broadcast will introduce them to all of the employes of the church in the South Pacific. The missionary couples who work on the Liahona campus are invited too.

When we got to the office we had a wonderful surprise ----- a letter from Alli! It was so fun to read about her summer and what she is planning to do in the fall. I can’t believe that school will be starting up in a little over 2 weeks! Where did the summer go? It is her birthday later this week and we are looking forward to talking to her.

We also had an email from Tiff letting us know that they were home safely from Park City. Caden had a soccer tournament there last weekend and they came home the champions! He has become quite the little soccer player and he LOVES IT!!! It is so fun to know that our grandkids are doing things they really enjoy and having such a good time doing it. Tiff also asked us to call her when we had a minute.

We received an email from Pauline Esplin too. They were supposed to leave on their mission in September but she is having some health issues and they will now be leaving in October. We are hoping that she will heal fast and be feeling much better by then. She told us that they are going to release Bishop Pitcher, Tiff and Jake’s bishop, next week. Suddenly we knew why Tiff wanted us to call her. We left the office and headed straight home.

Jake and Tiff both picked up the phone at the same time when we called. We asked Jake if he had anything he wanted to tell us. They were both a little shocked that we were so ‘in tune’ to know that something monumental was happening in their lives, when we were so far away. Sure enough, just a few hours before our call they had met with the Stake President and he had called Jake to be the Bishop of the Smithfield 19th Ward. He is totally overwhelmed but we know this call came from the Lord and that the Lord will qualify him for the work He has asked him to do. We are not surprised at all. Jake is so capable and we know the ward members will love him. We also know that Tiff and the kids will be a great source of strength and support for him. We are so proud of all of them.

We felt just a little sad though. It is hard to be so far away and not be able to be there for such a special occasion. Heavenly Father is teaching us lessons that are a little bit hard to learn. Nothing is harder for me than not being able to be with out children when they need us and when these special experiences happen. I am working on keeping the faith and enduring to the end.

I met with the Mission President today to get a new recommend. I love that man. He is so excited about being here, about the mission and about his vision for Tonga. He loves to share his feelings and ideas and we had a great visit. He couldn’t find an English recommend book, so I now have a Tongan recommend. I am thrilled, it will be a treasure. It also only has two signatures on it, his and mine. A Mission President can give you a temple recommend and no one else has to sign it. I didn’t know that until today. I am so glad to have that taken care of. Since the day I first went to the temple, I have never been without a current temple recommend.

We had a game night for FHE tonight. We had two couples that were gone, so we met in the small conference room and played The Great Dalmoody. It is a fun card game and we all had a really good time. When we play games Alan always moans and groans because he doesn’t really like to play games, but even he had a really fun night. We all bring treats to share. I took some purple grapes. They were a huge hit. They are super expensive and very hard to find here but it was fun to share them and they were gone in a flash.

Sunday, August 4th

It was Fast Sunday and once again a very spiritual meeting. The people here love to bear their testimonies and we always have visitors in our ward so there is no down time. The member of our Stake Presidency bore his testimony today and told of a project that was done for a family that lives in the swampy area of Tonga. There is an area here where poorer people live that is flooded every time the tide comes in. It is the only place that they can afford to get land. This family was living in a shelter, not a home and with the help of a group of young people who came from America, a new home was built for them. The father has liver damage, I’m sure due to diabetes, and he has prayed for help to be able to take care of his family. The house was finished on Friday and the visiting group got on the plane to go back to the states on Saturday. Saturday afternoon the father died. He had lived to see that his family would have a place to live and he left them in the care of a loving bishop who will help them through this and get them back on their feet. The people here are amazing that way, they really rally around each other and support one another.

One of the men in our Sunday School class had a stroke this last week. He is only in his 50’s and seemed to be in good health. We aren’t sure what kind of care he is getting medically, but the ward will look after his temporal needs. Alan went to the hospital to see him and he said that he was in good spirits and that the stroke wasn’t very extensive. He works at Liahona and all of his children live in America. He is not married. In fact, he has asked us to help him find a palangi wife so he can move to America and live closer to his children. It has to be hard to be all alone and then have serious medical problems arise. We are praying for him.

Ana Fonua taught Relief Society today. She found out after Sacrament meeting that the teacher wasn’t coming so she would have to teach. She was teaching the Gospel Doctrine class today, so no time to prepare. She went to the Brad Wilcox fireside for the youth with her kids, so she taught the same things he taught in that fireside. That was great because we didn’t go to that one and now we know exactly what he talked about. She is an amazing woman. She can just look at her notes and teach a great lesson for 45 minutes. Her husband was doing the same thing in Priesthood because the teacher didn’t show up for that meeting either. They are the backbone of our ward!

It was a beautiful day today. A great day to read the scriptures, read the Ensign and write in my journal. After dinner we had some of my birthday cake with chocolate caramel ice cream. Alan loves that! He will miss it when we go home.

We will go for a walk at dusk and then come back and watch a movie. Another great Sunday!

Saturday, August 3rd

The music went late into the night last night and it is so close to our house, the bass makes everything shake. How can you sleep through that? Well, I can’t, but Alan can. He just closed his eyes and he was asleep. That makes me soooooo mad!!! But the kids had plenty to celebrate and I can read to music, so I kept reading and they kept dancing.

We slept in until 7:00 this morning and then slowly got miving. Alan’s back has been bothering him again these last few days and he could hardly get out of bed today. Once he gets up and moving he does better. We are wondering if the bed is what is killing us. I don’t sleep at night and he can’t move in the morning.

After I got the laundry done we headed into town to pick up a few things. It was a sunny day so there were more venders at the fair and we were able to get some of the things we needed. They tell us that there will be a ship come in September so hopefully we can get some things that we haven’t seen for a long time --- like DIET COKE!!! There hasn’t been any on the island for over a month and I am ready to have it back again.

When we got home and put everything away I could see that Alan was really hurting. After lunch he laid down for a little while and once again could hardly get off the bed. He went back into town to get a massage and see if that will help. We have got to decide what to do to keep this from happening again.

While he was gone I made my birthday cake. I love German Chocolate cake and when we were in Ukraine we could get such wonderful chocolate that I made it from scratch, but the chocolate here is waxy and very expensive so I found a boxed cake mix at the American Store and I used that. I did make the frosting from scratch though and with fresh coconut it tasted REALLY GOOD!! In fact so good that I kept eating it out of the pan before I frosted the cake.

Alan came home and rested but he said that he felt a little better. He couldn’t walk with me tonight so I went alone after dinner. I went a little earlier so it wouldn’t get dark and I was able to walk faster because Alan hasn’t been able to walk very fast for awhile. I did fine until a dog came up and went right in between my legs. I almost tripped over him. He wasn’t a scary dog, just too friendly and I had a hard time getting rid of him.

When I got back Alan was ready for cake and ice cream. It tasted really good. Now I have celebrated my birthday for 3 days running. I kind of like that idea.

Friday, August 2nd

We got up early again today but this time we weren’t the only ones. Everyone showed up on time and we were able to get the money out to all of the missionaries. I really feel sorry for Elder Fafita. He has to do the money because we don’t have an office couple yet and it is such a huge responsibility. We had 12 new missionaries come in this last week and just keeping track of them and getting money out to them is overwhelming. He will jump for joy when the Hamblins get here later this month and take over the office. Elder Fafita is looking forward to getting back out in the field and doing missionary work.

We had a great time with the Zone leaders of the West Zone today. They are both rugby players and both of them are from Tonga. They don’t speak the best English but they are amazing young men and great missionaries. We will really miss being able to spend time with the young missionaries in the future. This might be our last time to take the money out with the new couple coming. They probably won’t need us anymore.

When we got back to Liahona,we went into the office. Ana came in today. She has been so stressed and busy with this wedding, we haven’t seen here all week. They were able to get all of their gifts gathered and as a family they presented them to the Princess. Ana felt really good about it, well she felt good about how it turned out, not so good about how much money it cost her family. She still has a house full of relatives and they will be here until Monday or Tuesday and then they are all going to New Zealand to the wedding. Ana won’t be going, she just can’t afford it. Just the air fair alone is thousands of dollars and the pig for the dinner was a 1,000 pa’anga. I don’t even want to think about what the total bill would be for all of this. Ana is handling it well and she wanted to come in to work so she could be alone for a little while.

I called sister “Y” to set up the hygiene training for next week. She is taking her 89 year old mother to Hawaii to the doctor and she won’t be back for a couple of weeks. Once again it is hurry up and wait, although this last week she has been waiting on us!

I received some more fun emails full of birthday wishes today. Today is my birthday in America. I heard from all of the kids and some of the grandkids. I hope one day they will all experience how much it means to a parent to hear from their children that they are loved and appreciated, but I have to say, Greg really knows how to write a letter. He is so good at saying things that really touch my heart. I have been so blessed. What an amazing family Heavenly Father has sent to us. Kimi’s gift was two videos of Grace. She even turned her head to look at me in one of them. She is growing and changing so fast!

I made some ham fried rice for dinner tonight and then we went for a walk around the campus. They were setting up for a dance at the gym tonight. It will be a big celebration of their victory yesterday.

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! I am missing my family today but it is a very special experience to celebrate your birthday while on a mission.

We got up early and went to the mission home to take the money out to the missionaries. We waited in the parking lot for 15 minutes and no one else came. We began to wonder what was wrong so I called Sister Mitchell to see where she was. Her response was, “Didn’t they call you?” That is never good! Evidently the missionaries had made some mistakes in getting the money ready to go, so they decided to postpone for one day but no one got in touch with us. Since I had made muffins, I gave them to the office missionaries, the office couple and the Mission President and then we took the rest home. I won’t be making them again for tomorrow --- so to bad for those who weren’t there today!

We went into the office to check our emails and I had several from family and friends, along with 15 notices of face book posts. Most of those were from our cherished friends in Ukraine. That made for a great start to my day. Kimi sent us some more pictures of Grace and I was even able to print one off. She just keeps getting cuter and cuter!

After we took care of what needed to be done in the office, we headed into town. Alan took me shopping but we couldn’t find anything to buy. I really need a cool shirt or two before we head into summer again, but everything here is so big. I’m not really sure what I am going to do. I need new sandles and cooler clothes but there is just no where to get them here.

We stopped in at our old office to see the Beans and give them some muffins. Sister Bean’s birthday is in August too and so is Ana’s, so we will plan a lunch for the welfare team sometine this month to celebrate. Then Alan took me out to eat. We went to the Precious Stone, a Chinese Café that is quite nice for Tonga. They have good food and I had sweet and sour chicken. It was nice not to have to cook today. We picked up a few groceries and then stopped on the way home to get an ice cream cone. I didn’t get a birthday cake, but I got the ice cream.

When we got back to Liahona all of the students were out on the front lawn. Our rugby team won the championship game today against their arch rivals. It is the biggest game on the islands, they compare it to the BYU vs. Utah game. It was sad this year though, because of the fights that happened here a couple of weeks ago, they didn’t let the student body attend the game. Only the parents were allowed to go. So when the team got back to the school the student body met the bus and carried the players on their shoulders into the middle of the students. Then they had a celebration like no other. It has been 22 years since they have won this game. As we were told today, every year there has been at least one boy on the team, sometimes many, who was not living the gospel as he should. Every year they would play well and come close, even go into over time, but they could never win the game. This year the boys have been helping each other to prepare to serve missions. They make sure everyone is living the principles of the gospel and keeping the commandments. They were united in every way and they were working for a common goal. Even though this is not the best team Liahona has ever had, and they were not as talented as the team they played, they played their hearts out and in DOUBLE OVERTIME, they won!! It was huge for this school and all for the right reasons. It was really fun to see.

To end my birthday we went to the temple. To my surprise and horror, my temple recommend expired today! It really isn’t expired in America but it is here, so I was not allowed to go to the temple tonight. I have never been turned away from the temple in my life and it was very humbling. It was a powerful lesson about always being aware of having a current temple recommend. I have never been without one since I got married. I will have to get an appointment with the Mission President and get it renewed fast! I was so sad to leave and walk home all alone. Alan stayed to go to the session. I thought, ‘I hope this isn’t the way my year is going to go. It wasn’t a good start.’ I hadn’t been home for long when Alan came through the door. He couldn’t stay without me, especially on my birthday. I was touched by his love and compassion.

We changed our clothes and went for a walk. It helped to ease the pain.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wednesday, July 31st

Ana didn’t come in today either, she is just overwhelmed. I had to finish up the financial report. The Area Office in New Zealand put the Vava’u Hospital Project on CHAS so that we would have a budget to work with before the project is approved, and they didn’t do it right. That fouled up my whole report and I had to go in and do part of it over again with all different codes. Why don’t they just do it the old fashioned way with a ledger and pencil?? It was a lot easier!

Carolyn Gray sent me some pictures of the Lawn Mower Parade today and I was so excited to see them. When I went in to open the folder, it was empty! I was so disappointed, but she is trying to find another way to send them. We have heard that it was a fun day in the neighborhood and we are anxious to see the pictures. I am also anxious to see the pictures of Grace’s blessing, but still nothing! Kimi did send me a picture of her and Grace though so I at least got to see her and I know the rest are coming. PATIENCE!!! You would think that I had developed that quality by now.

We got a call from Elder Maile about 10:00 saying that he wanted us to do the training for the new missionaries that came in last night. He has never done it before and he wanted to see what we did. That was all very well and good, but we gave him all of our stuff and we had nothing to work with. Oh well, we just did what we used to do, without the handouts, but it went well and know he has a feel for what happens. We have 12 new missionaries with more on the way the first of the month. These missionaries are staying in the housing at Liahona until they can find them places to live.

After lunch we went back to the office for a little while and Carolyn had sent the pictures a different way. I think I can get them now but it will take me over an hour to download them. I didn’t have time to do that today but hopefully tomorrow.

Alan had to go into town and get some wheelchairs for the hospital. He had to take the truck and he came home with his leg in bad shape again. The poor man, I don’t know what to do to help him.
While he was gone I made banana muffins for the missionaries for tomorrow morning. We will be taking the money out to all of the missionaries in the morning and I wanted to fix a treat for the Zone Leaders who take us. We don’t know how many more times we will get to do this.

Tuesday, July 30th

I hurried in to work today hoping to see pictures of Grace’s blessing but nothing came. I know that Kimi and Mike were really busy and probably exhausted, so I will give them one more day before I start to complain.

  I worked alone in the office today. Ana is getting ready for her relatives to fly in later today and Timoni, our secretary, didn’t come in today. I’m not sure where she was. Alan had to go in to town to meet with Sam and get the contract for the Lavengatonga Project signed. We are so excited about that! Once we get the contract signed we can put the money in the bank and Sam can order the materials and we can get started. We might actually see this project completed!!!

Alan also stopped in to see Sione, our champion from Lavengatonga. He told him about the contract being signed and he was THRILLED! Those people are saints, they have been so patient. Sione was excited to tell the members of the village that things are starting to move. Once the contract is signed, Sam only has 4 months to complete the project. So by the first of December it should be DONE!

While I had peace and quiet I worked on the money. I have to sign off on every penny we have spend during the month. It is all on a very complicated and confusing computer program and I HATE IT! I find this part of the calling very stressful and every time I work on it I think of Bryan and understand why he is always saying that he is stressed. And I am only dealing with 20 to 100 thousand dollar projects, not millions of dollars like he is. Sure glad that we had such a brilliant son. I really admire him for what he has been able to accomplish and what he can handle. I’m perfectly happy knowing that I only have to do this for a short time and then I’m done.

We have a thermometer in our bedroom and today at 6:30 am it said that it was 80 degrees in the house, with 88% humidity. I couldn’t believe how good it felt. At home I would have been dying to have it that hot at night. I hope that means that I am getting used to the heat and that next summer will be a little easier to handle.

Brad Wilcox came to Tonga today. He spoke at a fireside for the youth at Liahona tonight. There were young men and young women everywhere! They had filled the gym with chairs and put up tents outside but at the last minute they had to find more chairs and set them up in the cafeteria. Over 2,700 young people attended! The church sends lots of amazing people here to share the gospel with the people of Tonga and members of the church really appreciate it and support these meetings. He is speaking to the Young Single Adults tomorrow night, we will go to that one.

Monday, July 29th

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I went to bed thinking about the baby blessing and I woke up at 4:00 on the dot. That would be 9:00 on Sunday morning at home. I prayed that everything would go perfectly, shed a few tears and tried to go back to sleep. It didn’t happen. I was a little sad today.

We had a lot to catch up on this morning and then we had a meeting with Howard Niu. We went over our trip to Vava’u with him. He is the first person in our up line so we need to keep him up to date on what we are doing. He pretty much agreed with everything we are trying to do and told us to move forward on our plans to help the hospital. Then he told us that the Area Authorities wanted us to look into doing dialysis in Tonga. I’m sure that is because there is so much trouble with diabetes here. Ana had received an email from the Area about it and she had done some research. She said that it would cost over a million dollars just to get it started and then at least half a million dollars a year to keep it going. They tried it in Samoa but they couldn’t sustain it. She feels the same thing will happen here. There is no chance of getting a kidney transplant here, so really, what is the benefit? Her suggestion was, “I don’t think this is a good idea. When people get to the point that they need dialysis, we should start teaching them the Plan of Salvation.” You have got to love that woman!!!

Sister Mitchell was in charge of FHE tonight. She did a great job. She asked everyone to share a spiritual experience that had had a real impact on their lives. It was a very spiritual evening and we got to know the other

Sunday, July 28th

It was another restful Sunday in Tonga. Our Sunday School class continues to be awesome. How we love those people. Today we talked about what happens to us when we die. We were surprised at some of their questions, they really don’t understand all of it. We had a great discussion and we will have to finish the lesson next week. It is a topic that you can spend a lot of time on.

Our Relief Society was great, but the Tongan people really have no concept of time. Our teacher was not going to quit until she told us everything she wanted us to know. She was still asking questions at 20 minutes after the hour. Somehow we have got to help them understand the importance of staying within the time limits.

I cooked pork chops and baked potatoes for dinner today. YUMMMMMM!! Oh, the man who ate the pig’s head was not at church today, he is in the hospital with kidney stones! I can’t wait to see him next week and explain the dangers of eating pure FAT!!!

We were able to get in touch with David today. I am so grateful for our cheap little phone. It is the very best way to communicate with the kids. Other than the slight delay, it us just like talking to them on the phone at home.

We ended the day with a long walk. Alan’s leg has been bothering him again. I am sure that it was irritated while we were in Vava’u and he had to drive the van with a stick shift. Hopefully we can get it to settle down soon, those nerves have really been on fire today.

We made Tongan baskets today. This is the one Alan and I made. It's not perfect but it's pretty good for a couple of greenies.

Saturday, July 27th

I hate it when we have to get up early on Saturday! But we had a big day planned for today and we needed to run a couple of loads of wash first. In order to wash the sheets, you have to get out of the bed!

Today we made Tongan baskets. Mele, one of the teachers at the high school is teaching us Tongan crafts. She is the one who taught us how to make Tapa and today we learned how to weave baskets. You see them all over in Tonga. People use them on the streets to hold their produce and they use them in their homes to carry garbage out or to carry laundry in. They are made out of coconut tree leaves so they don’t cost anything to make, however you have to get the leaves down trom the top of those coconut trees. Mele was about 45 minutes late starting our lesson today. She had to get her son out of bed and make sure he was awake enough to climb up the trees and get the leaves. We needed 10. Each couple made a basket. I took lots of pictures. It was fun but they are harder to make than they look. From now on I will appreciate those baskets I see all over Tonga.

We finished up the laundry and then went to the Service Center to see if we could Face Time with Kimi and Mike. We were able to eventually find a place where we could get some good time with them. They knew that we were calling and they had dressed Grace in her blessing dress. She looked so beautiful --- I cried. I know that we are where we are supposed to be, doing what the Lord wants us to do and I know that we are being so blessed, but even knowing all that, this is hard. We had a good visit with Kimi and Mike and we were also able to talk to Greg. He was in his room so we were able to see it. Not to bad really. He looked good and he seems to be doing well as long as he can golf. He is living a simple life, eat, sleep, work and golf. Really??!!! There has to be more to life than that. He needs his mother!

We had movie night tonight. Elder Johnson gave us 6 movies to choose from and the one that won was The Great Escape. Most of us had seen it before but I hadn’t seen it for a long time. We all enjoyed it but none of us remembered that it was 3 hours long!! It was late when we got home. We always have treats at movie night and tonight Sister Williams went over the top. She made doughnuts! She made some for their Sunday School class for tomorrow and decided to make some for us too. They tasted good. Probably too good, we all ate more than we should have.

This is Mele's friend. (I forgot her name) She is a master basket maker and she made this look so easy. They always make them sitting on the floor. We ended up using desks.

This is harder than it looks!! We were thrilled when we got to this point.

Alan and I worked together on our basket.

The proud senior couples and their baskets. It really was quite an accomplishment.

Friday, July 26th

I was hoping to get a lot more done today than I actually did. Ana stayed in town to work with Jeana Niu who is part of our Welfare Team. She is over employment and she is having a big workshop tomorrow that she needed Ana’s help with. We needed to meet with Howard Niu (Jeana’s husband) about the hospital project before we can start writing it up, but Ana wants to be in on that meeting so we will have to wait until Monday. I wrote a short report of our trip and sent it off to New Zealand and then just took care of the emails that needed answering. I am a little frustrated because this means that next week will be more hectic, but it couldn’t be helped so we will just deal with it.

While we were gone our cute secretary coppied all of the hygiene lessons off and put the packets together for our training. We will be calling Sister “Y” on Monday and planning a date to get started on that. I will be excited to finally have that training under way.

Ana was hoping to be in the office this afternoon but she never made it. We worked until 4:30 and then called it quits. After dinner we went for a nice walk. I am loving the weather in Tonga now. I sure hope it continures for a good long time!! We met a man on a bike while we were walking tonight. He was scary! He said that he had come through a hole in the fence out in the bush. Then he said that someone attacked him on the sports field and tried to beat him up. He wanted our help. We sent him to the security people at the front gate. He really didn’t want to go there but we weren’t about to get involved with him. We never see people like that on campus. There is security at every entrance and it is very well patrolled. When we walked by the security we asked them if they had talked to him. They said “no”, he had come by but just rode out the gate. They know him and all about him. They told us they would check out his story and find the place where he got on campus. He should not be here. I was sure glad that Alan was with me tonight. I don’t think I will walk alone any more.

We watched a couple more episodes of History Of The Saints tonight. We have really enjoyed those CDs. I will be sad when we have seen them all but they are borrowed and we need to get them back. It has been a nice way to pass the time in the evenings.

The Tongan Resort Cafe.

There is a resort on the far side of Vava'u. It is a beautiful spot but VERY PRICY!! We went to look at it and found out you can use the area if you buy your lunch there. That much would be doable.

This is the pharmacy in the Vava'u Hospital.

There is a new area in the Vava'u Hospital. It was donated by China-aid. There is a state of the art dental clinic in that new area.

Thursday, July 25th

I got up early to watch the sun rise over the bay. It was a little cloudy so I didn’t get the vivid colors I was hoping for, but it was still beautiful.

We picked Ana up, had a quick breakfast at another bay side café and then headed out to a small village at the other end of the island. Vava’u is a lot smaller than Tongatapu so it doesn’t take that long to drive around it. Ana has relatives out there that are in their late 70’s so she wanted to go see them. We were happy to be able to drive her out there. On the way back we found the church where Alan went to church when he was a missionary serving in Vava’u. He lived in a house right next to the church which they have now remodled and turned into the Family History Center for the island. They were working on the house so we were able to walk through it and take pictures. We are anxious to compare them with the ones Alan took years ago. That should be fun to see. We also visited the park right across the street from the church. It is the spot where King Tupou the 1st dedicated Tonga to God. I took pictures of the sign there, it explains what happened and why.

We went back to the hotel to pack our bags before we went to the hospital for our tour. The tour was very informative. They were woking like crazy preparing for our visit. All of the floors had been mopped and the doors that they didn’t want us to see behind were all closed. We were able to see a lot of the hospital though and it really is in dire need of assistance. Like I have said before, you don’t want to get sick or hurt while you are in Tonga! They give pretty basic care here and not only don’t they have the equipment they need, they don’t have the people who know how to use it. This project is getting more complicated every day!

The last part of the hospital that we saw was very modern and had up to date equipment. It was donated by China-aid in 20011. They have state of the art dental equipment and a lady dentist who is not very well trained and 9 months pregnant. We are trying to see if our dentists can use her equipment and give her additional training. They also have a new x-ray machine, donated by Austrailian-aid but the radiologist wasn’t well trained either. That’s a little scary. The head doctor and the administrator really would like to have visiting specialists come and work with the staff there for a few weeks or months at a time to give them additional training and experience. That would be a great blessing to the people of Vava’u.

When we left the hospital we headed back into town to grab a quick lunch and pick up our luggage. Once we checked out of the hotel we picked up the Forsyths and they took us to the Tongan Resort. Alan really wanted to see it before we headed home. It is a beautiful resort on a sandy beach. They have lodging there and a nice place to eat. It is about 15 minutes our of downtown Vava’u so if you go to stay there you are pretty much confined to that area unless you have your own car. It would be fun to stay there for a night or two but it is very pricy, 300-400 dollars a night. We were glad that we saw it but the view from our hotel was really better of the harbor and the boats.

From there the Forsyths took us to the airport and we flew back to Tongatapou. We were in the big plane and it was a smooth flight. The pilot flew kind of low and tipped the wing so that those of us on the right side could see the whales in the ocean below. It was fun to see them but we were still so far away that we didn’t get much of a look. We are really hoping to be able to get a closer look while they are this close to the islands.

Elder and Sister Maile picked us up at the airport and brought us home. It was a good trip and we were able to accomplish everything we wanted to do but we were exhausted so we headed for bed!


This is what the maternity ward looks like. Those that can afford it, go to New Zealand, Australia or America to have their babies.

The waiting room in the hospital. This is what all of the waiting rooms look like, no comfortable chairs with backs on them no matter how sick you are.

This is the office of the hospital in Vava'u. There are no computers, everything is done by hand on paper.

This is the sign that tells of King Tupou the 1st, dedicating the kingdom of Tonga to God. That happened on the island of Vava'u.

Alan lived on this very spot when he was a young missionary. It is now a Family History Center.

The church is helping villagers learn to plant gardens and grow healthy food. This is one of those projects.

This is the house where Ana's relatives live. They are lovely people who live a very simple life. (I took the picture from inside the van because I didn't want to hurt their feelings.)

Wednesday, July 24th

We packed our bags before we left for work this morning. We aren’t taking much but it seems that you still need a carry on, even just for over night. We are excited about our trip to Vava’u today. It will be fun to get away for a couple of days. We are hoping the weather will cooperate. It has been raining every day for over a week. It was supposed to be sunny and beautiful today but it rained in the night and it was pouring just before we went into work.

We found out when we got to work today that we had a meeting with the Area Public Affairs people this afternoon. No one told us!! We had to cancel it because we would be on our way to the airport at the time of the meeting. The Public Affairs people in Tonga are not really on top of things. We never did see any kind of a report on the Pacific Partnership from them, and that was frustrating after it took me 3 days to send my pictures to them!! We will try to schedule a meeting with the Area people when we get back. They will be here until Saturday.

We had a good flight to Vava’ on the old plane. We were happy to be flying on that one. One of the men from the FM group in Vava’u picked us up at the airport, took us to the hotel so we could sign in and drop off our luggage and then he took us to the Stake Center for our meeting. We met with all of the Stake Presidents on the island of Vava’u, their Public Relations people, Dr. Reynold, the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital and the Head Administrator from the hospital. We went over the list of their requests and tried to determine their most critical needs. We wanted the input from members of the community, that is why we invited the public relations people. Tongans are so shy about sharing their feelings. We didn’t get a lot of feed back from them but they did go over the list and indicate what they thought were the most important items. Dr. Reynold invited us to tour the hospital, which we will do tomorrow.

All in all we felt good about the meeting. We had a good discussion about why they wouldn’t be getting everything they had asked for and we were able to get all of our questions answered in regard to this project. Once again it was our privilege to meet with such outstanding people. Ana was a great help to us. When she felt that they might not really understand what we were saying she would explain it to them in Tongan. Then we know that we are all on the same page. We just couldn’t do this job without her!!

When the meeting was over we picked the Forsyths up (the missionary couple that lives in Vava’u) and we all went out to dinner. We went back to the Mango, the same café that we ate in the last time we were here and had a lovely meal while watching the sailboats out in the bay.

When we got back to the hotel we spent about an hour out on our deck watching a full moon rise over the water. It doesn’t get much better than that! Sooooooooooooo relaxing.

It was a full day but a good one.

We stayed in a very nice hotel in Vava'u. Our room had a deck overlooking the bay and the bed was very comfortable.

The Catholic Church on the island of Vava'u stands at the head of the main street.

It was a beautiful day in Vava'u and the view over the bay was breathtaking!

Tuesday, July 23rd

When we got to the office this morning, we had an email from Elder Colson saying that he supported everything Alan had told the attorney. He has seen the project, seen other water tanks and towers in Tonga and he said that he thought we should go ahead with it. We sent that information on to Elder Brown and Elder Reynolds. Alan is feeling a little better about it all now.

We tried to get things finished up in the office because we will be gone for a few days. The internet was actually working pretty well today so I put some more info on the blog. That thing is going to be the death of me. I don’t know if I will ever be caught up.

We had a big incident here last Friday night and it was all over the news last night and all over the school today. The high schools here have huge fights over rugby games. We didn’t get all of the details, but over 150 kids from one school went to the home of 2 boys from another school and beat them up. They are both in critical condition in the hospital. Then they burned the home down. As it turned out, the boys were basically homeless boys that one of the teachers took in, trying to help them get an education and a better life. It was the teacher’s home that was burned down. Somewhere between 150 and 200 students were arrested and taken to jail. Some of them could be charged with murder if these two boys don’t survive. There was a school assembly today and that was the topic of discussion. Evidently some of the Liahona students have been involved in fights in the past. It is a very serious problem here.

By the end of the day we had an email back from Elder Brown with the revised contract. He had added a couple of things for the protection of the church. We are fine with that, we know NOTHING about this stuff! We wrote back, thanked him and asked if we could sign it now and move forward.

I had my hair cut today. I can’t understand why everyone that cuts my hair thinks they need to cut it soooooo blessed short! I love the lady that cuts my hair but even though I tell her to leave the sides a little longer and cut the back shorter, she just won’t do it. The sides are so short there is nothing left and the back is wavy!! Mercy!!!

Alan was much calmer tonight when we walked. I think his blood pressure has returned to normal. Now I need to work on mine!

Monday, July 22nd

We had a very interesting and frustrating day in the office today. We received a call from Elder Reynolds in New Zealand. He had Elder Brown, the church attorney, on the line. Elder Brown had a few questions about the Lavengatonga Water Project. He is reviewing the contract for us. Alan was out of the office when the call came in so I talked to them, only they didn’t let me say anything. Elder Brown would ask a question and then Elder Reynolds would try to answer it. In the end Elder Brown agreed to send us his questions in an email and then we would try to sort it all out.

When the email came, I just smiled but Alan got angry. It was obvious that this attorney had no idea what a water project was all about. The questions that he sent to us had nothing to do with what I had heard him talking about on the phone. I was kind and tried to be patient, since he hadn’t seen the project and he has never done one of these before. Alan, on the other hand just got frustrated. To him it is just one more stumbling block on the way to getting this project finished. It was approved in May and we still haven’t actually done anything! Alan got on the computer and answered all of the questions and I sent a picture of our project and so he could actually see what we were talking about. Alan also emailed Elder Colson to get his support. I spent the rest of the day trying to get Alan’s blood pressure back down to a safe level! He has got to learn to relax and be more flexible.

After dinner we went for a nice walk and Alan was still talking about that contract. He just couldn’t let go of it. I sure hope tomorrow is a better day!

Sunday, July 21st

It rained all night long! I didn’t get much sleep. Because we have a metal roof, it is very noisy when it rains. We also had thunder and lightning and the wind howled all night. It was tempting to just go to church on the campus today, but because we teach a Sunday School class we can’t do that. So off we went.

There was a returned missionary who spoke in our ward today. He just got home from his mission to Colorado Springs, LAST NIGHT! He got released this morning and he was a little sad and lost. He did a great job though. I’m sure he was a great missionary.

All of our Sunday School class is now in the Temple Prep class. I don’t know who planned that, but we aren’t saying anything because we love our class and we know they will be back in 4 more weeks. Until then we will just have a little vacation. There was a baptism for the other ward this morning so we went to that during Sunday School time. We know the missionaries and we wanted to support them. Tavita, a man we work with at Liahona, is in the Stake Presidency and he was there. We don’t know if he was there as a Bishop or representing the Stake President, he is holding both callings right now. We also know two other men who are doing the same thing, serving as a Bishop and a member of the Stake Presidency at the same time. It is amazing!! That would never happen at home.

As soon as we got out of church I called Lisa’a house. Lisa, Tiff and Kris were having a baby shower for Kimi and Grace today. (It is Saturday in America) I was feeling sad that I wasn’t there so I called to say hello to everyone. They passed the phone around and I was able to talk to everyone. It was so fun to hear their voices again and know that they were having such a good time together. It made me a little homesick though. I guess it did the same thing to Kimi when they skyped her. Everyone got to see Kimi and meet Grace, but it is just not the same thing as being there. I am really glad that Tiff and her family are going out to see Kimi this next week. Kimi needs to have her family around her and be a part of such a special time in her life. Tiff and Jake and the kids will be there when they bless Grace. I am so glad that someone will be there to represent the family.

After I talked to everyone at the shower, I called Kimi to say see how she was doing. She said that it was fun to see everyone but hard at the same time. It really is hard on the phone or on Skype. You don’t know what to say and you say the same thing over and over. Kimi and Mike seem to be doing great and Grace is a great baby, very content and happy unless she is hungry. Ohhhh, I want to hold that baby!!!!!

Saturday, July 20th

We got up a little later this morning. It really feels good to be able to sleep in, even if we do wake up early. At least we know that we don’t have to get up. It has been raining off and on all week and today was no different. I needed to do some wash so after breakfast I did that and Alan started cleaning. The rain let up so we headed into town to do some shopping and go to the fair. It was so windy that there weren’t many vendors at the fair. I think they must be waiting for a ship to come in, because there wasn’t much there today.

When we got home Alan did the floors and I cooked some chicken for dinner tomorrow. I am making chicken enchaladas for the President’s Dinner. We also checked to make sure everything was set up in the conference center and that it is ready to go. Now that we are responsible we have to take care of all of the details. I liked it better when all we had to do was show up!

It was nice and cool tonight and we had a great walk. It sprinkled on us but it didn’t start raining until after we got home. We have been watching some episodes of the History of The Saints. One of the missionary couples brought them with them. We are loving them. They are short and very uplifting. It is a great way to end the day.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Friday, July 19th

I guess you have to take those pills a day ahead, if you want a good night’s sleep the second night. I slept a lot better last night and got up feeling a lot better this morning. I can finally think clearly and I was able to get a lot done at the office. We are making all of the arrangements for our trip to Vava’u next week. We also got word from Elder Colson that he thinks we should go ahead with another water project. It is a critical need in a village here. I hope I’m up to that one. Those water projects are so much work and they take forever! But they help so many people who are in dire need. I will start working on that on Monday.

Alan spent the morning checking on bids for projects and helping Elder Maile get started on the MQ’s. The people at the FM are really sad that they won’t be working with him any more. He has made some great friends over there.

Elder Reynolds called and wants me to write up a special project for his meeting with the Area Presidency next week. The work goes on!!!

We went to a High Priest party tonight. It is really hard to get up for these parties. We are tired by the end of the day and then we have to get ready and drive all the way into town. This one was dinner and a movie. We knew it wouldn’t start on time, so we did a little shopping first. That saved us from making an extra trip into town. When we got to the party we were pleasantly surprised to find that we weren’t the first ones there. Some of the food was there and they had it set up for the movie. I had baked some banana bars, so I put them in the fridge until the party started.

We actually started to eat by 7:30 and I put the banana bars out on the table. It was the only dessert. They were gone before most people had a chance to get any food at all. There were only about 15 people that came and I cut them into 28 pieces, but people just scarffed them up. They love American desserts!

We ate with the bishopric around a big table. The Executive Secretary came in with the pig’s head on his plate. I just kept watching him to see if he was really going to eat it. When he picked it up I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures. He ate it!!! The ears, the brains, it was DISGUSTING!! They were all laughing at me because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then they started talking about eating dogs and cats. Needless to say, I didn’t eat much at the party. I still get a little nauseous just writing about it.

We never did see the movie. The man that was supposed to bring it --- forgot it! Oh well, we had a lot of fun and they had a great time laughing at me. These people are really fun. They just have such a good time all the time.

I went right over and got a picture when Elone ripped the ear off. His wife was so embarrassed but everyone thought it was pretty funny that I was taking pictures. This is just what they do.

Our ward Executive Secretary is a hoot!! Elone ate the pigs head at the party tonight. It was disgusting!!

Thursday, July 18th

I took a pill to help me sleep last night. I just can’t seem to sleep and I am really exhausted. Well. I won’t be doing that again any time soon. I took it at 8:30 so for sure it would wear off by morning. I got up this morning, took a shower and then tried to fix breakfast. I was so dizzy I could hardly stand up. When it was time to go into work I knew I couldn’t walk across the campus. I stayed home and drank some coke while Alan went into check the emails and see what was happening at the office. By about 10:00 I was able to drive over and get some work done. We had to get the legal contract off to New Zealand today for one of our water projects. That’s the day you want to be goofy, when you are working on a legal contract! After that was done, I sent off a couple of email on other projects and came back home.

We ate lunch and that helped a little so we went back to the office to finish up what needed handling today. This time I walked over and back. The walking and the fresh air helped a little too. We went to the temple tonight. By that time I was feeling more like myself but my head still wasn’t clear. I am flushing those pills down the toilet!!

Wednesday, July 17th

Oh my goodness!! I just caught up on my journal today and realized that July is half over already. Where has the time gone? The weeks seem to just fly by.

I spent the morning working on projects. We have to keep a journal on each project, so each month I write what has been done on that particular project. We now have 7 projects going, which is amazing, but time consuming. While I was doing that a Stake President came in to see us with a critical need. It looks like we will be writing up project #8. They don’t want us to try to do too many projects at once but there is such a need here that when it is something we feel really good about and where we feel we can help, we will write it up. So far we haven’t had any turned down.

We bought out tickets to Vava’u today. We will be flying out on the 24th and returning on the 25th. We would have liked to have stayed a couple of days, but Ana is going with us and she doesn’t want to do that. We have been told that the whales come into the bay in Vava’u and you can really get a good look at them there. We are hoping that we get the chance to do that.

I received a call from Elder Reynolds this afternoon. He wants me to write a letter about our project requests to him, so that he can read it to the Area Presidency. He was just given the additional assignment of being the executive secretary to the Area President. He can now talk about some of the things we are doing and hopefully help the Presidency to understand a little better the needs in Tonga. He also said that he is going to include us in a conference call to Salt Lake about the Pacific Partnership. He wants them to hear our ideas about how to make the next experience better.

Alan was a little melancholy this afternoon. He didn’t have much to do. This could be a real adjustment for him. He is going to have to look around and find new areas where he can help.

Tuesday, July 16th

I needed to get some clarification on a dental project that we are working on, so I spent most of the morning working on that. Then after lunch I went back to the office to get some letters off to the grandkids. We have heard from Caden, Amberly and Zach in the last few days. What a blessing our grandchildren are in our lives. It has been so fun to hear about their summer activities and just reading their letters makes them seem a little closer. We printed the emails off -- Cade wrote an actual letter!!. Now we can read them over and over. We really miss them and it makes our day - week - month! to hear from them.

Alan got a call from the Mission President this morning. He released us as the housing co-ordinators for the mission. It was kind of a shock. We knew that there is a couple coming to do that calling, but they won’t be here until September. When the President asked Sister Maile to work in the office, he asked Elder Maile to be over transportation. Since we have 5 cars in this mission, it isn’t a very demanding job. He will also be taking missionaries to the airport and picking up new missionaries but that only happens once a month or so. Until the new couple gets here, the President has put Elder Maile over the MQ’s so that he will have more to do. It will also let us focus on our Humanitarian calling. Alan will work with him for now, showing him where the MQ’s are and helping him learn what to do when there is a problem. Elder Maile doesn’t even have a phone yet. We don’t know how the missionaries are going to get in touch with him. This should be interesting. With all the new couples that are coming the President is going to have a hard time finding something for all of them to do. This change will certainly lessen our work load. Maybe we can go from a 60 hour week to a 30 hour week, although Alan is a little concerned. When I had a lot of computer work to do, he could always stay busy working with the missionaries. I think he will really miss that and we will both really miss the people that we have come to love in the FM and spending time with the young missionaries.

I spent some time with Sister Mitchell this evening. She has a hard case that she is working with and it is really a worry to her. There is a missionary here that is having some mental problems and she is not trained in mental health. She has been getting help from the mental health specialists in New Zealand but she still worries about it a lot. I just want to be close by to support her in any way that I can.

We ended the day by reading the scriptures and the Conference Ensign.

Monday, July 15th

At our Monday morning devotional the new missionary couple, the Dasslers were introduced. We haven’t been able to spend much time with them yet, but they seem like a great couple who will really add to the work that is being done here. We are getting a lot of senior couples now, we have 3 coming in August. It has been a real change for us, since we didn’t have any couples around us in Ukraine. Soon we will have 8 couples serving in Tonga , 10 with the ones serving on the outer islands,

The hard part about serving so closely with other couples is that it is very hard when they go home! We took the Szokas to the airport and saw them off this morning. They were so ready to go by the time we got there. The Tongan people are so giving and they kept getting “one more gift”. The sentiment is wonderful, but you can only take so much stuff with you on the plane. They had to leave some of those gifts behind, which was sad and hard for them to do, but they had no choice. It was a teary good-bye but they have been wonderful missionaries and they did all that they were called here to do. They have served faithfully for 20 months.

After lunch we took the Dasslers into town shopping. I remember so well our first trip into town to get food. It is such a shock to see the prices. They looked like deer in the headlights but they handled it very well. It took us a couple of hours but they were able to get everything they needed to get started. It was nice to be able to spend a little time alone with them and get to know them better.

We were on a time schedule today. We needed to be home by 4:00 so we could call Tiff again. We had a great visit with her today. I had to smile, she is having such a hard time turning 36. Oh to be 36 again! No, I really don’t want to go back and do it all again. It was fun the first time but I’ve been there and done that. I like having every day be a new adventure. And it certainly is that in Tonga!

We had FHE tonight. It was the first one that we have been in charge of as the new District Leaders. It went very well. We are planning a dinner with the President for next Sunday and then we will be weaving Tongan baskets on the last Saturday of the month. We hope to get a whale watching trip put together soon. Alan will talk to a man about chartering his boat tomorrow. The whales are here and they are pretty close to the shore. We are all excited about going out to see them.