Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thursday, Nov. 21st

We went in to work early again today. We had a conference call with New Zealand this morning and we needed to do some work to prepare for that. Elder Reynolds called at 9:00 and we were able to talk about all of the projects that we have going on. He is always really good to give us advice and support. We sent our contract in to the attorney in New Zealand 2 ½ weeks ago and we have heard nothing. Elder Reynolds put us on hold and went right up to the attorney’s office and made him look at the contract while we were on the line. He found a couple of silly things that he wanted us to do, so we will do them and get the process moving. He is a little frustrating to deal with but we have to go through him so we do. Elder Reynolds is really excited about the pharmacy project. When we told him how much time Alan has spent on it, he said, “ If you needed to hire someone to come in and do the hard stuff, you should have done it. We could have found the money for you somewhere.” I had to bite my tongue. It is too late now and a lot of good things have come from this project, so all of the frustrations will have been worth it in the end.

We left the office and headed to the pharmacy for the closing ceremony. We were pleased with all the work that was done last night. The pharmacy was ready for the walk through. It isn’t perfect and we hope that they will keep working on a few details but it really looks good and the pharmacy administrator and the Minister of Health were very happy with it.

We had over 100 people attend the closing ceremony. It was all done in Tongan, so I don’t really know everything they said, but they were very appreciative of the work that was done, the gifts that the church has given to Tonga, not just at the pharmacy but throughout the islands. They also honored Alan for all that he did. He has made some friendships that will last throughout eternity and set a wonderful example of the church for all of the non-members that worked with him. The pharmacy staff presented him with a Kava Bowl that was made just for him. It is beautiful and quite a treasure, but it is really big and very heavy. They also gave us a hand painted Tapa Cloth that we can bring home and frame. I was thinking “Wow, what wonderful gifts” and Alan was thinking, “How are we going to get that home?”

We had a great experience with the Minister of Health. He is a minister in one of the other churches, but he was very complimentary of our church and the work they do in Tonga. He couldn’t have been nicer to us. Usually at the end of the ceremonies, the Minister leaves. Today he stayed for about 30 minutes and just sat and visited with us. He has quite a sense of humor. He said to Alan, “What are you going to do with that Kava Bowl? You don’t drink Kava!” He knows quite a bit about the Mormons. He also asked us why we didn’t paint the pharmacy green. The Liahona colors are green and white and that is the color that the Tongans a associate with the church. He was grateful that we had gone with cream and blue. Blue is the color of the Ministry of Health. Before he left he told us that his door is always open to us and that he wants us to stop by and see him before we leave the islands. He doesn’t want anything from us, he just wants us to come and see him so he can show us around the hospital. We really liked him. After he left, we were told that he is a Noble in Vava’u. That means that he is in control of a the land in the village where he lives there. Because he is a Minister of another church, there are not many members of our church in that village. His heart is softening toward the church and now the work is starting to move in that village. We are hoping that one day soon he will want to know more about the gospel. He is the man that has to get our wheelchairs off the Warf so we might be seeing him again real soon.

We went to a Tongan home tonight to express our condolences to the family of a man who passed away this last week. He was 75 years old and he died while working on a job. He was a master electrician. He helped Alan a couple of time with some of the work on the MQ’s. His daughter and son-in-law are in our ward. Our ward was asked to bring cakes to the home. Everyone baked one or two cakes, we met at the home to deliver them. We all went in to the yard together, put the cakes on a long table and then sat down on a mat on the grass (cross legged - in a skirt). One man speaks for the ward. He expressed our sympathy and then we sang a hymn. Alan was asked to say the prayer and then we sang again. A ward member gave a spiritual thought and then a member of the family thanked us for coming. We sang a closing hymn and got up to leave. I was proud of myself that I was able to get up and walk after sitting there for about 20 minutes! The table of cakes was cleared and all of the cakes went into the house. As we left, another ward came with their donations. This man died last Saturday and the family has been doing this every night this week. They receive donations every night and then feed all of the relatives all day every day until the funeral. The funeral will be tomorrow. When someone dies in Tonga it is a huge burden on the family to feed all of the relatives for a week. Many families go into debt trying to feed so many people. The church is trying to do away with this tradition. They encourage members to have a funeral quickly and then it is over. Some younger members are doing that but traditions die hard with the older generation.