Friday, December 20, 2013
Monday was a holiday in Tonga. It is the day that they celebrate the birthday of King George Tupou the 1st. His real birthday is on Wednesday, but they have done what we do in America and turned it into a 3 day weekend.
We didn’t get a holiday. We needed to start setting everything up for the training. They brought a lot of their stuff with them, but we still needed to make a couple of trips to round up needed supplies. Lots of the stores were closed but the ones run by the Indian people and the Chinese were still open.
We got a lot done but there is plenty to do tomorrow before we will be ready. We were in town until after 5:00 then grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to FHE. The Beans were in charge of FHE tonight. This was their last one. I hate to think that they will be gone in a week. They talked about some of their favorite memories of their time in Tonga. Most of them were centered around stories that the students they were helping told them. A couple were really powerful.
One young man, who is now a member of our Bishopric, told them about how harsh his father was when he was growing up. He would hit his wife and beat his children. When Lopeti decided to join the church his father went ballistic. At first he was afraid of what he might do to him, but then he felt peace and no longer cared. He knew that what he was doing was right. Lopeti went into the kitchen, got a machete, handed it to his father and said, “You can kill me if you want, but I am going to join this church.” His father didn’t hurt him and shortly after Lopeti was baptized, his father died. One year later he appeared to Lopeti, dressed it black. He told him he wanted to be baptized. Lopeti got right to work and was baptized for his father shortly there after. Once again his father appeared to him, this time dressed all in white. He thanked Lopeti and told him he loved him. Lopeti is a man of great faith now and he and his wife have adopted many disadvantaged children here. They are helping them to get an education, to learn about the church and to get a better start in life.
The other story that they told that really touched me was about a young woman named Mele. She lived with her grandmother, who was in her 90’s. This sweet old lady was a very faithful member of the church. One day she told Mele that she would die soon. She asked her to go on the bus and bring her uncle home to her. Mele left for a couple of hours to find her uncle. When they returned they found the grandmother laying on her bed, dressed in her temple clothes, her hands folded on her chest, dead. In Tonga someone who is a member of the church and endowed needs to dress the deceased in their temple clothes before the burial. She didn’t have anyone in her family that could do it at that time, so she did it herself. It was a touching FHE. We all have met people that we love here that have similar stories.
After FHE was over we found a solution for the benches we need for the wheelchair training. The trainers came to FHE and we were able to put some wood on top of two chairs that they think might work. We will be glad to have that problem solved.