Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tuesday, November 19th

I think my brain is going to explode!!! There are so many things to think about and so many details to nail down. I am too old for this kind of pressure. Using my brain this much in ways I never have before had better stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s or I am really going to be mad!!

To top it off, the people in Salt Lake are sending us lists of things they want done before they get here on the 30th. I wrote at the first of the month and told them how busy we are right now and asked them to give us plenty of time to prepare for their visit. Now, with one week left and no time to devote to that project, they are overwhelming us with things that need to be done. Somehow it will happen, but today I am frustrated and trying not to panic.

Alan is experiencing the same thing. The closing ceremony is in two days and there is still so much to do to have the pharmacy ready. Tongans move at a very slow pace and he is going crazy!! Tomorrow we have to drive from one end of the island to the other working on other projects. They will put the tank up on the stand in Lavengatonga tomorrow and we want to be there to see it happen and take pictures. We don’t have time to be at the pharmacy or in the office. I sure hope that people will follow through on what still needs to be done without us there to motivate them.

Monday, November 18th,

We had a meeting today with the Minister of Health. He didn’t actually come, he is out of the country, but we met with people from his office. We also met with the head administrator and surgeon from the hospital and the head physical therapist. It was a meeting about the wheelchair shipment that will be arriving in Tonga later this week. We needed to work out some of the problems that we have seen in giving out this last shipment, so that we don’t have the same problems with this next one. The people in Tonga have a hard time keeping records but we found out today that the records for wheelchairs are way to complicated. Hopefully with this next training things will be simplified. It was a good meeting. We learned a lot and now we should all be on the same page when the shipment arrives.

Alan has been working to finish up the painting at the pharmacy and I have been putting the closing ceremony together. At the same time I am trying to find 16 people to attend the wheelchair training and find all of the supplies that they will need to do the training. In the midst of all that, the call came to tell us that they will be putting the platform on the stand in Lavengatonga TODAY!!! On days like this I wonder how we are going to get everything done and be everywhere we need to be. Somehow, with the Lord’s help, everything comes together. We are living these next 3 weeks, one day at a time and praying that we have the stamina to see it all done.

Our FHE tonight was done by the Alands. They are serving their second mission. They talked about their first mission to Russia. They served in Siberia. As we looked at the pictures they showed, we were shocked. The city they served in was a step up from where we were in Ukraine. I always thought that Siberia was like outer darkness but this city was very modern with lots of stores and shops. The experiences that they had were very similar to what we had. Hearing them talk about their mission made us homesick for the people we love in Ukraine. It was a good night.

Saturday and Sunday:

Because Alan is the District Leader for the senior missionaries, we were asked Friday afternoon to put together a dinner for Elder and Sister Tukuafu and Elder and Sister Hallstrom for Sunday Evening. It will be a fireside just for the senior missionaries. We should expect about 34 people. I went to work organizing that. Everyone agreed to bring something and we all went shopping on Saturday to get what we needed. By Saturday night -- after the stores were all closed --- the count was upped to 44. What’s 10 more people??? (and Tongans can really eat!!) Bless the senior sisters. Everybody rallied and on Sunday night we had plenty of food. In fact, one member of the Mission Presidency brought a pig. It turned out to be a great evening.

  President Tupou talked, Elder Tukuafu talked and then Sister and Elder Hallstrom talked. By the time it was over, all of us felt very needed and appreciated. At the end of his talk Elder Hallstrom left a beautiful blessing for the senior missionaries. He told us how much the Lord loves us. He promised that we would be blessed, our children and our grandchildren will be blessed for our service, and we will continue to see those blessings for many years into the future. He told us that if we have worries or concerns about our families to give them to the Lord. He knows our sacrifice, He hears our prayers and he will answer them. Then he told us once again that senior missionaries are a very elect group in the church today. He encouraged us to continue to serve. Perhaps another mission or in any way we can when we return home. I came home feeling loved and appreciated. It made all of those moments of frustration and anxiety over these project worth all the time and effort we are putting into them. This is the Lord’s work and He will send angels to assist us.

We fed a lot of people on short notice, but it all turned out really nice.

Friday, November 15, 2013

On Friday we went into town in the morning. Alan went to the pharmacy and I went to the office. Alan was encouraged. A painter came to do some of the doors and the man with the spray painter was supposed to come in the afternoon to do the ceilings in the part that isn’t finished. We will be anxious to see how much they got done next Monday.

I went into the office and tried to get everything put together for the wheelchair training. Hopefully the wheelchairs will arrive in Tonga next week. We have a meeting with the Minister of Health on Monday. Ana and I went into town to pick up a present for the Beans. They will be going home in 3 weeks and we will have a farewell lunch for them next week. We bought them a really nice Tongan Crest. I think they will enjoy having that in their home when they get back to the states.

The Tongan Rugby team came back to Tonga today. Thousands of people met them at the airport and thousands more lined the roads from the airport clear into town as they made the trip into town. There was a huge crowd down town and they blocked off most of the main road when they arrived. Tonga comes to a stand still for this team. It is a huge celebration and the whole country came out to support them. There was a parade of cars, trucks and vans covered in red and white balloons and people all dressed in red and white. People were standing on the roof tops to watch them go by. It was quite a sight. We saw it from afar, we didn’t want to get caught in that traffic jam!

In the afternoon we went to the Nauvoo Stake Center to a Missionary Fireside with Elder Hallstrom. He is visiting the South Pacific and came to Tonga to do Firesides and speak to the missionaries. He is a member of the Presidency of the 70. He and his wife both spoke and they did a great job. Sister Hallstrom talked about obedience and Elder Hallstrom talked about how to receive personal revelation. Elder and Sister Tukuafu and President and Sister Tupou all bore their testimonies. It was especially touching to see Elder and Sister Tukuafu and hear them talk to the missionaries, many of whom served most of their missions under them. At the end of the meeting Elder Hallstrom bore his testimony and told all of the missionaries, including the senior missionaries, that he meets with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles every week. He told us, “You are loved, you are prayed over, you are treasured in this church.” He also told us that the missionary work of the church is a “miracle”. He told the young missionaries that they would be able to tell their children and their grandchildren that they were a part of the greatest wave of missionaries in the history of the church. It really is a thrill to be a part of this great missionary experience. We are certainly blessed to be able to witness it first hand.

One of the super rugby fans showed up in our office today. He is a returned missionary getting ready to go to school next year. His outfit is mild compared to what most people were wearing today.

This is what we see all over Tonga. People just lay down where ever they are and take a nap.

Monday - Thursday,

At work we are just doing more of the same. I am starting to worry about Alan. He is working so hard at the pharmacy that he is exhausted. He comes home every night and just drops into the chair. His leg is starting to bother him again and I know it is because he is on it all day long and up and down painting. He won’t let me go help him but on Tuesday 10 missionaries showed up ready to paint. We talked to Elder Hamblin, who works in the mission office, on Monday at FHE. The missionaries need to do service and this is a great place for them to help. They got a lot done but there is still a lot to do.

   On Tuesday, the bishop asked us not to have the missionaries come back. Evidently a couple of them had a paint fight in one room and there is paint all over the floor in there. Now the bishop has to organize a Young Women’s service project to come in and clean the floor. MERCY!! Missionaries should realize that their actions reflect on the church. That left a bad impression with the pharmacy staff, who are all non-members. The bishop has 3 men that come just about every day now. They are working hard and they do a good job. He told Alan to let them work on it. They might be slow but they do it right.

Last Friday, the staff showed Alan a room that we didn’t even know existed. It is off to one side of a long hallway and it goes the whole length of one wing of the building! It is huge!!! Nothing has been done in there. Now we have to get someone with a spray painter to come and do the ceiling. This project will never end!! We have learned our lesson. It is just about impossible to do a service project in Tonga. People don’t see things thru to completion. Basically the church has done the whole building. The other churches who said they would help and the town officer and district officer have never shown up. We have had a few non-members help, but they came with our people. We can’t believe that they would pledge to help and then do nothing! Especially since it is their pharmacy, a building they should really care about. They are just perfectly happy to let “those Mormons” do it all.

While Alan was at the pharmacy all week, I was in the office trying to submit the asbestos removal project and get things set up for the wheelchair training that will be held the first week in December. Elder Schnebly wrote and said that he wanted the training materials translated into Tongan. WHAT??? They are coming in a couple of weeks and he wants pages of training translated! This is Tonga, that could take months. Ana is trying to find someone to help me or she will have to do it. We are also hoping to get the tank up on the stand next Monday in Lavengatonga. Life is busy in Tonga! This was a huge week.

Yahoo!! The pharmacy is starting to look soooooo much better!

It is so hard painting around all of the supplies in the pharmacy. On the far wall you can see how far we went and then we had to move all of the boxes.

This is the room where the missionaries painted for us!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


We had a man, they say he is a member of our ward but I have never seen him before, talk about the signs of the Second Coming in Sacrament meeting today. He did an amazing job and he gave us a lot to think about. Sister Mitchell said that he is in the Gospel Doctrine class sometimes and he is very knowledgeable. It was an interesting meeting.

Our Sunday School class was great today. We had lots of discussion about “the Gift of Choice”. Vince and Peaou did not come. His mother flew in on Friday. I hope she isn’t anti-Mormon! We have been making such good progress with him.

Elder and Sister Funaki arrived in Tonga today. What an impressive couple!

The stand is up at Lavangatonga and it is looking great!!!

Saturday, November 9th

We made two trips to the airport today. This morning a new couple came, Elder and Sister Funaki. They will be working with the Young Single Adults. He has been a professor at BYU Hawaii. They are originally from Tonga so they have a house here. They will be living there, not at Liahona but they want to be involved in all we do. They are very impressive people and we know they will be a great blessing to the over 8,000 YSA on this island.

After we met the plane, we drove out to Lavengatonga to have a look at the new stand for our water project. It was set up this last week. It looks so much stronger than the old one. We are excited to have the new tank up too and hope that happens this next week. We took pictures and then headed out to President Nau’s beach. He has a private beach on that end of the island that we had never been to. We didn’t have time to go in the water, we just wanted to see where it was. He has invited us out there for dinner in December, we just haven’t set a date yet. We walked along the beach and took more picturs, then headed home.

along the beach and took more picturs, then headed home.

This afternoon we went back to the airport to meet Elder Berger. He is the father of Sister Hamblin, who works in the mission office. He lost his wife to cancer this last June and he wanted to do something productive with his life. He is here on a service mission. He will be driving the missionaries around and checking some MQ’S. He is 75 years old, full of life and I think everyone is going to love him. He is from Ashton Idaho. He got off the plane wearing a white shirt and tie, a white cowboy hat and cowboy boots!! YEA IDAHO!! I love him already. He is living in the house right next to us, right thru the wall. It will be good to have him as a neighbor and I am glad that we are close so we can help him if he needs anything.

On the way home from the airport we stopped to watch a member of our ward play a soccer game. He is really good and has been asked to play professionally, but he is married and he feels it is more important to stay here with his wife. He is hoping to coach young kids and get them started. This was a village against village game. The coach had him play goalie today because the other goalie hasn’t been doing very well. Henili was embarrassed that the game we came to see, he really didn’t do much. They have a good team and most of the game was played at the other end of the field. Henili’s team won, easily.

We finished the day at movie night. We watched Ephraim’s Rescue. It is a great movie! All of us really enjoyed it and we all learned things about Ephraim Hanks that we didn’t know. The church did an excellent job putting that movie together.  It is one I want to buy when we get home.


President Nau and his sons have been doing some carving on the fallen trees on his property.

All of this area of the beach belongs to the Nau family. They are donating some of it to the church for a place where the youth and single adults can come to have camps and activities.

Henili is the man from our ward that we went to watch as he played soccer today. It made us miss Jake and Cade.

It was amazing to think we were watching a soccer game surrounded by palm trees.

At the end of a game the two teams come together, put their arms around each other and say a closing prayer.

Henili and his wife Akata.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wednesday thru Friday:

We pretty much did the same thing every day. Alan went in and worked all day at the pharmacy and I went to the office. This pharmacy project is starting to wear thin on all of our nerves. When a service project drags on, it is hard to keep volunteers coming. On Wednesday there was a rugby game. No one came in the morning because of that and then after Tonga won, everyone celebrated for the rest of the day. Poor Alan, he is working himself to death, with very little help! I went in to help in on Friday. The people that work at the pharmacy have kicked in and they are doing quite a bit of painting now. I only stayed until noon and I about melted. Alan handles the heat much better than I do, but I really don’t know how he does it. I was drained when I got home. It just zaps the energy right out of you!

This is such a huge building and we still have a lot of detail work left to do. We are praying that we can get it finished up next week.

Wednesday evening, Sister Mitchell and I went to the temple with a sister from our ward who was going through for the first time. We went through a Tongan session and it was a wonderful experience. We decided not to use head phones and just listen to it in Tongan. We were the only non-Tongans in the session. We both did just fine and I realized that I really love the Tongan language. It is so beautiful and musical. I learned a lot and it was really good for me to have to focus so hard on what was going on. Saelongi, the sister who went through, was glowing when the session was over. She and her husband are working to be sealed next year before we go home. We really want to be here for that.

The Bishop, the man in the back with the gray hair, is the one who arranged for the TV station to come to the site. He brought the "Helping Hands vests for the volunteers to put on. That was a nice touch, but they don't wear them while they are painting. The Bishop is there every day. He arranges for the workers to be fed a lunch and he is great support, but he never touches a paint brush. The two on the right are return missionaries and great workers and the one on the left works at the pharmacy.

The media showed up at the pharmacy today to do a story on our project. We were please with the way it went, they mentioned the name of the Church several times in the broadcast.


We went to our devotional this morning, then to the office to check our emails and then headed into the pharmacy. We knew that the TV station was going to come and do a report on the project today. We are watching that report on TV as I write this entry. We both look strange on TV. I guess I know now why they use makeup. I have LOTS OF FRECKLES!! Plus I squint a lot when I am out in the sun without my sunglasses. So I thought I looked a little goofy! Oh well, I never planned on being a movie star. Alan looked great but he didn’t think he did, so I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder.

People called tonight and told us what great representatives of the church we were on the news. We are really happy about that. Even though we didn’t look like movie stars, we must have said the right things and that is what really matters. We are glad that is over!!

OK, these little guys are creepy! They are bats that are called flying foxes, because of their faces. We were able to see these while it was still light enough to get a good picture. Usually the whole tree is covered with them.

Monday, November 4th ----- MORGAN’S BIRTHDAY!!

Morgan’s birthday is a national holiday in Tonga. We were planning to take the day off and sleep in. Ana called us at 5:45 AM!!! She called to tell us that Vuna and his crew wanted to paint today because it is supposed to rain all next week and be nice today. Alan said that he would go in and work with them. So we got up EARLY, had breakfast and then Alan ran into town. We can’t imagine why Ana had to call us so early. No one showed up at the site until 9:30! But we were so grateful that they would come that we didn’t complain. They got the outside of the building painted today except for the trim. Hopefully we can finish that up tomorrow.

We saw a miracle today. While Alan was gone it rained hard off and on all day long. We had a neighbor who went into town and he came back to tell me that it was pouring downtown. I called Alan and he said that he could see black clouds all around them, but that it never did rain at the Central Pharmacy. They were able to work outside all day long and they got so much done. We know that the Lord is watching over us and helping us get this done.

Alan came home about 2:30. He was exhausted! All he wanted was a shower and take a nap. I went for a drive around the west side of the island with some of the other senior missionaries. It was cloudy and rainy, but we still had a good time. We took the Alands out to see a couple of the resorts and the flying fox tree. They have only been here for 2 weeks so it is fun to show them new things. I remember when that was us!

We called and talked to Morgan.  She sounded so grown up!  I can't believe how much the grandkids are changing while we are gone.  It is much more noticeable than it was when we were in Ukraine.

We went for a walk tonight to try to cool off. Even though it is raining, the humidity is so high that our apartment is really hot.

We have an avacado tree right behind our house. It looks like we will have a bumper crop this year. We love the avacados, but when the wind blows and they fall on our metal roof, it can be a little un-nerving!

This is just one little section of the tree. We are going to have tons of avacados this year. YUMMMMM!!!!!

Sunday, November 3rd

We have been on our mission 11 months today! Time is flying by but at least now we are starting to see things come together. It is getting exciting!!

Today was Fast Sunday. I am fasting for my brother and praying for a miracle to happen that will make him want to use the power of the Atonement in his life.

We only had one person in our Sunday School class today, so we decided to all go into the Gospel Doctrine class and save our lesson for next week. It was nice to be in the Gospel Doctrine class. It has been months since we have met with that class and we enjoyed the day off. About half way through the class Vince and his wife came. They were late, but they came because they love the Sunday School class. We decided to invite them into the Gospel Doctrine class. It was about eternal families and they told us today that Vince’s mother will be coming to Tonga this next weekend and they will get married while she is here. We are excited about that and hope that will be the start of Vince’s path into the church.

I made a meatloaf last night. We had that for dinner along with baked potatoes, green beans and cucumbers and onions. It was a real American meal and it tasted sooooooo good!!! A great way to break our fast.


We headed into town to do a little shopping. It is starting to warm up now, so Alan bought a pair of shorts. The only pair we could find in his size was blue plaid! They are kind of bright but then you look at the shorts and not at Alan’s WHITE LEGS!! What happened to the athlete that I married? Now he has my dad’s chicken legs. How does this happen?????

I bought a couple of wrap around skirts. They are made out of really light material so hopefully they will be cool. Alan also found a good looking shirt that is cotton. He is getting sick of his white shirts. At least now he will have something different to wear on P-day.

Friday, Nov. 1st

Alan dropped me off at the office and then headed into the pharmacy to paint. Vuna Hala, one of the biggest painting contractors in Tonga, came to the site today. He is a member of the church and the brother-in-law of the bishop who is overseeing this project. He brought all of his equipment and 6 of his crew to volunteer his time today. We will pay to rent the equipment but he and his crew want to be part of this service project. He was a tender mercy for us. They painted the cealing in the whole building in one day!

I worked in the office downtown in the morning and then finished up at Liahona in the afternoon. We needed to get the calendar for the month of November finished up and handed out to all the senior missionaries.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Here is a picture of the children of our ward all dressed up for the Primary Program. We couldn't get them to sit still and look at the camera, but they are still so darn cute!!!

This little boy was my favorite this Halloween. He fit right in with being in Tonga. He looks like a Nephite, a son of Heleman. His outfit was great on so many levels!

We had a great time with these cute little goblins on Halloween!

More of the children from our ward in town that came to our house Trick-or treating

Thursday, Oct. 31st - HALLOWEEN!

This was probably the most frustrating day of my mission!!! I went into the office in town to work and Alan went to the Pharmacy to supervise. H dropped me off and once I got inside the office I found out that I did not have my glasses! I remembered having them at Lavengatonga yesterday, but that was the last time I used them. I am totally dependent on them when I work on the computer!! Therefore, I GOT NOTHING DONE!!! Well that isn’t entirely true. I was able to zoom in at 150% and then I could at least read my emails. The only thing I really accomplished was to give myself a doozy of a headache! I tried to print a letter off for our files and there was no paper in the printer. When I opened the new package of paper I got a paper cut!! I should have stayed home in bed today.

Elder and Sister Bean took me home because Alan stayed to work at the pharmacy. After a coke and a little lunch I was ready to go again. I went into the office on campus and got a lot of work done. Then I headed home to get ready for the trick-or-treaters. Our primary and lots of the parents from our ward in town brought the children to Liahona to trick-or-treat The Liahona 2nd ward was sending their kids around too. We thought we had plenty of candy until the village across the street saw what was going on and they came running. We had over 100 kids come in less than 30 minutes --- and then it was over! Sure wish we could do it like that at home. The Liahona campus is the only place in Tonga where you can go trick-or-treating. That’s where the Palangis live. I guess we should be grateful that it wasn’t worse than it was. I spent over $30.00 for suckers! They are so expensive. I would never do that at home. Then we got a note that the Liahona 1st Ward is coming tomorrow night. I don’t get it. Maybe they decided to celebrate Halloween along with their cousins in America?? We will have to get more candy!

Alan got home just in time for the fun. I fed him quick and by the time the kids had gone he was asleep in the chair. He did physical labor all day today and it was really hot. It got up to 93 today with 75% humidity. It did him in!!! We were hoping to be done with these projects before the weather changed on us, but we didn’t make it.

After Alan took a quick shower we were off to the temple. It was a great way to end the day. I was so ready to get “out of the world!”

Saturday, November 2, 2013

We started by power washing the outside of the building. It was a little frustrating because the pressure was so bad, but with patience we were able to get a lot done.

Even the Missionaries came to volunteer their time. It gives them a chance to work side by side with the non-members.

We got one of the men up on the roof to clean the weeds out of the rain gutters. He did a great job!!

Tarps had to be put over all of the medical supplies before we could paint that terrible cealing!

We finally started painting!!!

Wednesday, October 30th

Today was a huge day for us. I went to the office at Liahona to work on our finances. Our report is due tomorrow and there is no more time to delay. It took me 1 ½ hours! I hate that report!!!!!! Next month will be murder, with all of our projects going at the same time.

Alan stayed home for a little while this morning to watch Tonga play in the World Cup Rugby match. It is a HUGE thing here. They lost by 2 points in the last seconds. SOOOO SAD!!!

We headed into town to check on the painting project. We knew that no one was going to come until after the rugby game, but even then half of the volunteers didn’t show up. The Bishop said that they were mad about the calls in the game. They will calm down and be there tomorrow --- we hope! We had to get some more tape and some rope. It has been raining a little today and the roof is slippery. We needed rope to tie around the men on the roof so they don’t fall off. We got everyone set and then ran to Lavangatonga to do the hygiene training.

We were so afraid that we were going to be late, but we made it just on time. Sister Uai, our champion, was there, but no one else. The training was supposed to start at 3:00 but no one came until 3:30, once again Tongan Time. It drives us crazy but it is just the way it is here and it doesn’t bother anyone but the Palangis. We asked her to have 6 sisters there for us to train, but 10 sisters and 2 brothers came. One was the Bishop, but he liked what he heard and he wants to be involved. The training went well. The Spirit was strong and Sister Uai did a good job ----- I think. She did it all in Tongan. Ana went with us and she translated for me. I was trying to simplify everything, but she said whatever she wanted to say, sometimes lots more that what I said. She talked a lot about the puppet show. By the time we were finished we had everyone set up with their own materials and they were ready to go. Hopefully they will all follow through and Sister Uai will keep track of them. We are anxious to see how this goes.

We found out today that it is going to be harder to change the habits of the older people than we thought. Some of the ladies we taught said that they only wash their dishes every 3 or 4 days and most of them don’t have a sink, just a bucket. But they all want to keep their children healthy. We showed them simple ways to do that, now if they will just try to do better.

We got home at 5:30. Once again --- exhausted!!

These are the ladies and two brothers that we trained to do the Hygiene Training in the Lavengatonga area. Pray for them to do a great job!!