Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Friday, May 9th

After we got a few things done this morning, we took some time off and went into town to get our hair cut. This will be the last hair cut that we will get in Tonga, so we went to see Baby. She gives the best hair cuts on the island and we really wanted her to do the last one. Besides that, we love that woman and we wanted to be sure that we saw her one last time before we go home. She has given us lots of hair cuts while we have been here and she has become a dear friend. We will miss her.

When we got home today there was a Bishop from Vava‘u waiting to see us. He was sitting across the street from our house in the shade of a tree, just waiting for us to come. He is the head of the PTA at the Government Primary School his children attend. He was seeking our help to put a new roof on the school. There are big holes in the roofing and when it rains, the children sit in the rain. All the water has also ruined the floor. It was hard to tell him that we can’t help him. We are not allowed to do any more projects, but we gave him a form to fill out and told him to submit it and if a new couple comes maybe they can find a way to help. We don’t think that will really happen because it is a government school and the church doesn’t want to get involved in fixing the government schools. They know if they do, then more and more will come for help. It is so sad that the government will not budget money to help with the upkeep of these schools. They just say they don’t have the money, yet today and tomorrow there is a huge celebration going on in town. The king is celebrating the 1st birthday of his 1st grandson. He will be the second in line to the throne so it is a big deal, but they will spend tens of thousands of dollars on a birthday party for a one year old while the common children are being educated in schools that are deplorable! Sometimes this country makes me crazy!!!
When the bishop left, we called Jake. It is his birthday in America today. We had such a good visit with him tonight. We know how busy he is and yet he took some time to just sit down and talk to us. It was good to hear about what is happening in his life and at home. How grateful we are that Tiffany found such a wonderful man to be her eternal companion. We are so blessed to have him in our family!

We were finally able sit down and watch the Priesthood session of conference tonight. It didn’t download correctly the first time and we missed most of it. This time we got the whole thing and it was wonderful. What powerful talks! I’m so glad that they put it out on the internet now so that the women can hear what their husbands heard at that meeting. They are always soooooooo good!

Thursday, May 8,

Today was Jake’s birthday in Tonga. We went into the office and started cleaning out the files. Alan is paranoid that we aren’t going to get them all cleaned out before we go home, so he started today. I have been saving it so we will have something to do the last two weeks but I guess it won’t hurt to start now. He barely made a dent today, so maybe he was right. This might take longer than we thought. Other than that, it was a pretty much “as usual” day at the office.

We spent the evening at the temple. I LOVE THURSDAYS!! It is the perfect way to end the day.

Wednesday, May 7th

When I got on CHAS this morning I found a new report has been added that has to be filled out before we can close out our projects. I thought I had everything done so that all I had to do was push the submit button when the finances had all cleared on these projects but now I have all of these reports that need to be submitted to the area office and to Salt Lake. WHAT??? How can this happen? They have to email us a copy of the report from Salt Lake before I can even start on them. It had better be easy! What if I hadn’t looked until the day I went in to close them all? Who thinks up all this extra busy work??

We went to the airport to pick up the Van Den Akkers this afternoon. They flew back from their son’s wedding in Hawaii. It will be good to have them back in the office, we have missed them. They had a great time in Hawaii and they brought us back some macadamia nuts covered in dark chocolate. I’m in heaven!!! I love those things!

We were able to get Mikolo into school today. In fact, we were able to get him into 3 schools today. Everyone went over their waiting lists and they found room for him. We chose Havelu Middle School. It is the church middle school that is the closest to his house. It’s the one we really wanted him to go to. We are so relieved. We were afraid that they would have to home school him and he needs a good education in a good environment. This will be perfect. Alan went over to the finance department and paid his school fees this afternoon. He will start school tomorrow.

Sila, the man in our Sunday school class, brought his girl friend over to our house this afternoon. We have really wanted to meet her and he wanted us to meet her. She is a wonderful woman. She is a doctor at one of the clinics on the west side. She is very intelligent and has a good job working for the ministry of health. I am a little concerned about those two but they seem very happy together. She is not a member of the church, she is 32 and she has never been married or had any children. Sila is 51, divorced, the father of 7 children and the grandfather of 12.

It was nice and cool tonight so we were able to have a nice walk.

Tuesday, May 6th

I forgot to write down one thing I heard last night. I was talking to Sister Beckstrand, the dentist’s wife and she told me about a little 4 year old girl that came into the clinic to have her teeth worked on. She sat in the chair and didn’t make a fuss at all. When Dr. Beckstrand had to give her some shots and pull two of her teeth, she didn’t cry or even act unhappy. When Sister Backstrand commented on how good she was to her father, he told her that his daughter had fasted the day before, on Fast Sunday, and asked Heavenly Father to help her be brave and not to feel the pain when she went to the dentist. Once again, the faith of these children is amazing and what wonderful parents they have to teach them to have that kind of faith.

Mamana came in today to bring some more wheelchair evaluations to us. We were so happy to see her again. She did the Hygiene training on the west side of the island and she did a great job. We were afraid that we might not see her again, but now she will have to come back and pick up the wheelchairs so we will see her at least one more time. She is one of the most faithful women we have met in Tonga. What an example of Christ like love and service she has set for us. She will be one of those eternal friends that we will leave behind in Tongan and look forward to meeting again in the next life.

Alan had to put the medical supplies and some wheelchairs on the boat to Vava’u this afternoon and Ana was busy with a lady, so while I was waiting to help her on CHAS I decided to get on and look at the pictures I found at FHE. I found pictures with life histories of my great grandparents on the Riley side today. I have only seen their names on the pedigree charts. I knew nothing about them until today. I can’t wait to get home and get back into genealogy again!!!

We finished up our plans to go to the Royal Sunset Resort this weekend and sent an email out to the other senior missionaries. It should be a really fun final trip for us ---- if we can just stay well. We have 3 senior missionaries not feeling well right now but they just have colds. Dengue Fever has hit the island and people are getting really sick with that. It is carried by mosquitoes and it wasn’t in Tonga at all last year. How do those things fly across the ocean? It was on a lot of the other South Pacific islands last year and somehow it made it’s way here. If you get it, you not only get a fever but also a rash that looks like measles and your joints and bones just ache like crazy. We have had between 30 and 40 missionaries down with it and when you get it you can plan to stay in bed for a week. We are praying that we don’t come in contact with it. We have so much left to do and so many things planned.

Monday, May 5th

At our devotional this morning, Aho told a good story that made me think of Bryan. Aho and a friend go fishing early every morning. They catch the fish to eat, but they also love the thrill of catching fish. They always go to the same place, everyday. Sometimes they catch a lot of fish and sometimes they don’t catch any, but they keep going back because they know they can catch fish there. He said that even though he has caught a lot of fish over the years, every time he catches one he feels the same thrill he felt when he caught his first fish. Then he compared it to us reading the scriptures and praying everyday and going to church every week. We know if we do that we will feel the Spirit in our lives. Sometimes it is a strong impression and sometimes just a quiet feeling, but we are just as thrilled to feel the Spirit in our lives as we were the first time we felt it. That is why it is so important to keep doing the things the Lord has asked us to do everyday, so we will learn to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and then act on them. Then we will continually have the thrill of knowing that we are on the Lord’s errand doing what He wants us to do. I really liked that analogy.

At work today we started putting our office into shape. We are cleaning out the files and putting a ton of stuff through the shredder. Alan did an inventory of the wheelchairs to see how many and what sizes we have left. I even started cleaning out my desk. I can’t close out the projects for another week or two, but I am starting to write the final reports. I truly can’t believe that we are to this point!!

Ana didn’t come into work until later today, I think she hates Mondays! Since we had a little time, we decided to call the kids. We got a hold of Kimi and Mike, finally! Kimi’s phone hasn’t been working so we couldn’t face time with her, but Mike was there today so we got to see all three of them. Of course we spent most of the time watching Grace, but we did remember to wish Mike and Kimi a happy anniversary. 2 years today! What a blessing those 3 are!~! Then we called Greg, but no answer. We got Dave and Alisha and had a good visit with them too. Hendrix was trying to wake up so we were able to see his big blue eyes. He is growing and changing so fast but he looks content and happy. Parx was taking a nap or playing in his crib, so we didn’t get to see him but Alisha said that he is doing great. Although he has decided that our house is his house and grandma and grandpa can go live some place else. Bless his heart. All this moving around is hard on him.

We tried Greg again but still couldn’t get him. We were able to reach Bryan and we had a good visit with him too. He was sitting out in his back yard looking relaxed and happy. The weather there looks beautiful. We are wondering how we are going to handle the dry heat when we get home. Hopefully we won’t shrivel up.

Family Home Evening was really good tonight. We went into the new program that the church has set up for Family History. Everything has changed so much since we left on our mission. I will have to go back and move a lot of information around when I get home. I had so much fun looking at the pictures and reading some of the stories of my ancestors that I had never seen before. I loved it!!! I can’t wait to get started on that again. I think that is my next mission, Family History. I could be very happy doing that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sunday, May 4th

Our Sacrament meeting was very special today. It was Fast and Testimony meeting and as always all of the testimonies were really nice. Today, AJ Fonua bore his testimony for the first time. He is 8 and his mother had told him that it was alright for him to write his testimony down and read it because he was so frightened to get up and do it. He started out pretty well and then he got emotional. He was feeling the Spirit for the first time as he bore his testimony. Pretty soon he was sobbing, but he didn’t quit, he kept going until he had said all that he had written down. It was a sweet and powerful testimony and there wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation when he finished. We all felt the Spirit testify that what he was saying was true. It was a special experience. All of the adults learned a great lesson from the sweet and humble testimony of a faithful 8 year old boy. I wish I could put into words the faith that these people have. It really is amazing.

The Governor of Vava’u and his wife were at our ward today and they both shared their testimonies. Sister Fulivai talked about the funeral they had been to yesterday and how sad it was that the widow, the Governor’s Auntie, wasn’t a member of the church and didn’t understand the Plan of Salvation. She just can’t find peace with the death of her husband and the Gospel would be such a blessing to her at a time like this.

We had a few people missing from church today. There is a lot of sickness on the island right now. Somehow the mosquitoes that carry Dengue Fever have managed to find their way to Tonga. It is a viral disease and you can only catch it from the mosquitoes, but a lot of people have been infected. They get so sick and it lasts about a week. We are praying that we can avoid that illness.
Elder and Sister Beckstrand, the dentist and his wife, came to our ward today. They really enjoyed the time they spent with us and we enjoyed having them. We sure hope that someone from the mission will come to our ward when we go home. The people down there need the influence of the senior missionaries.

After dinner we watched the Priesthood Session of General Conference. We hadn’t been able to see the whole thing and tonight was a good night to sit down and see it. We both really enjoyed it. The talks that the brethren give in the Priesthood Session are really, really good. I am glad that it is broadcast now so that I can see it.

It is cooling off at night now, so we try to walk every night that we can. We have to wait until after dark on Sundays. No one changes out of their Sunday clothes on Sunday until later in the evening.

Saturday, May 3rd

We did a little laundry this morning and then headed into town for a quick shopping trip. We had so much to do today we didn’t have time to waste. When we got home we took our Tongan woven mat and our Tapa Cloth outside to air out. We hung the tapa over the clothes line and put the mat on the ground. We were told to leave them out in the sun for a couple of hours and then spray them with a special spray that will kill any bugs that might be on them. We did that and then folded them back up and brought them in the house. On Wednesday we will buy some special plastic and then Beastra, our Tongan neighbor, is going to call some of her friends and they will come and show us how to fold the Kava bowl in the middle of it all and pack it to send it home. We are hoping to be able to check it as extra luggage. It will be cheaper to take it that way than to try to ship it home. It took us most of the day to get it all aired out and treated. The rest of the couples went to the beach today, but we had to stay home and get things ready to pack.

We went for a walk tonight and then watched the movie Serendipity. I liked it, Alan thought it was a chick flick. He didn’t hate it, but he didn’t love it either.

Friday, May 2nd

I have been trying for two weeks to find a time to sit down with Ana and teach her how to use CHAS. She is going to have to close out a couple of our projects after we are gone and she needs to know her way around CHAS. The biggest problem is just getting her to sit down and work on it. We spent an hour working on it today and she took lots of notes but she is scared to death of it, so hopefully we will have time to go over some of it again. It can be pretty intimidating until you get used to using it.

We have booked our tickets to Vava’u for the 13 thru the 17th of May. We wanted to go up next week, but one of the planes had to do a belly landing at Eua this week and now it will be out of commission for a long time. As a result they are making most of the flights to Vava’u in the M-60 and we are not allowed to fly on that one. We had to wait an extra week to get a flight on a plane we are approved to fly on. The only problem is that this airline is so totally undependable and we won’t get back until the night of the 15th. Ana is leaving for her son’s graduation in New Zealand on the night of the 16th. We are praying that everything will go smoothly!

This afternoon we went out to the blow holes. I love that place! I never get tired of watching the ocean out there. I had asked a woman who sells Tongan crafts out there, to make something special for me. It has rained all week and they don’t sell in the rain. Today it was cloudy and humid, but not raining, so we went out to see if we could find her. Yep, she was there and she had everything I had ordered. She did a really nice job for me. I am happy with her work. I will show these things to the other senior missionaries and I’m sure others will want her to make things for them too.

We were able to have a nice calm evening at home tonight. We even did one load of wash so that we could get a head start on the day tomorrow. We have been running all week and we really have a lot to do tomorrow. We ended the day by going for a nice walk around the campus. There was a nice breeze and it was a little cooler. Perfect walking weather!

It sounds like there is a dance in the neighborhood tonight. They play the music so loud that it seems like they are across the street, even though they are actually at least a block away or more. We have had dances for the last 3 weeks. I think now that it is cooler they are picking up again. We went a long time without one. They go until about 11:00 so it will be a late night of reading a good book. We have to leave the windows open, so there is no going to sleep with all that music.

I am really going to miss the Blow Holes!!!!!

Thursday, May 1st

I turned the last page on the calendar today. We have June on the calendar we brought from home, but we won’t hang it on the wall --- we will pack it!! I really can’t believe that we are on the last page. In so many ways we will hate to leave Tonga, but now that we are starting to wrap things up, we are beginning to feel like it’s time to be done. It’s funny how that happens. I remember getting this feeling when we were in Ukraine. Just like when you know it is time to go on a mission, you know when you have done what the Lord sent you on that mission to do.

Today at the office I was able to catch up on some emails that needed to be answered and catch up on all the financial entries that needed to be taken care of. It was a good day to get a lot done.

We went to the temple tonight and we saw another new movie. That was a real surprise. We were thrilled that we got to see one of the new movies while we were here, but we didn’t even consider that we would be able to see both of them. I really liked this one. I especially liked the voices of the deity. It has been interesting to see the different movies and see the scenery, hear the music and feel the emotion. It’s good.

Wednesday, April 30th

We hurried into work today. I needed to update the spreadsheet for Cyclone Ian and check on a few things before we had a conference call with Elder Reynolds. I really appreciate that man. He has been such a help to us and such a support to all that we do. I am so grateful that we were able to serve under such an outstanding Area Welfare Manager. I know other couples have not been that lucky.

The technical guys came to the office today to hook up our desk top computers that we used at Liahona. I am sad about not having an office there anymore, but I’m glad to have access to everything I need again. I will have to take some time tomorrow to organize this office again and get everything put away. We now have two file cabinets and we need to get everything into one before we leave. It will take us this last month to get the files straightened out and all of the information put together for who ever comes to replace us. Elder Reynolds told us today that no one has been called yet, so it will be awhile before anyone comes to Tonga. So sad!

We were supposed to have a missionary musical fireside tonight, but it has rained hard all day and at the last minute they called and cancelled it. We were glad. We haven’t had a night at home in a long time and we really are just fine with being home and catching up on our journals.

Tuesday, April 29th

My main job today was to finish up our financial statement for the month of April. I did that first thing this morning and turned it in this afternoon. WHEW!! I always feel a great sense of relief when that is done. Only one more to go!

We met the senior missionaries at Waves, a little café by our office, for lunch today. The Alands had taken the new couples to get their driver’s licenses, to exchange their money and to buy some food. They stopped by to have lunch and called to have us meet them there. It was fun to spend a little time with these new missionaries. They are all in shock at the prices here, but they will adjust. If you want it, you have to pay the price.

While we were eating lunch, we found out that one of the Nobles on the island has passed away. Evidently, President Shumway, when he was the mission president here, promised this noble that when he died the missionaries would come and sing at his home before the funeral. That meant that we had to go and sing. Actually we were pretty excited to have the opportunity to go to the home of the Noble and he just happens to be the uncle of the Governor of Vava’u, a man we have come to know and love. It was a big thing. This Noble was not a member of the church, but he loved the church and he has read the Book Of Mormon 8 times. His wife is a devout Wesleyan and he did not join the church out of respect for her. The Governor of Vava’u is a member and he will do the work for his uncle as soon as he can get his Auntie to agree to it. Anyway, a lot of members of the Central Stake came and then most of the senior missionaries. We did a family home evening type program for the family, only we had to go through the talking chief, because not just anyone can talk to the Nobles. When we sang, “As I Have Loved You” the widow was very emotional. When the whole thing was over, she asked the talking chief if she could talk to us. He was a little confused but he said yes. She then told us how humbled she was that we would come and how much her husband would have loved it. Then she stood up and walked toward me. I went to her and hugged her. She again expressed her gratitude and then shook hands with all the missionaries. She even said that she wanted a picture of us with her grand daughter. When we left, we found out that that kind of thing is just not done. You don’t hug a Noble’s wife, or even shake hands with her after one of these ceremonies, let alone take pictures. Well, she started it and she stayed around until we had all talked to her and left. Hopefully her heart will soften towards the church now.

Monday, April 28th

After our devotional this morning I talked to Enismore about the Johnson’s house not being cleaned yet. She about died. She thought it had been done last week. She went into fast forward and started making phone calls to get it cleaned before noon. I told her I would check it when we go in to put the food in, just before the couple arrives.

We went into work for a couple of hours and then headed to the airport to pick up the Woods and the Simmons. They are both going to be great additions to our mission. Sister Wood was so excited to finally be here after waiting such a long time, that she was jumping up and down at the airport. She will be a lot of fun. President and Sister Tupou took both couples out to lunch and we took their luggage back to their houses on campus. When we got there the houses had been cleaned, not as well as they would have been if there had been more time, but they were in pretty good shape. We were able to put the food in and have everything ready for the new couples when they arrived.

FHE tonight was really interesting. President Hopoate and his wife came and talked to us. They are the former temple president and matron. They were released last November. They have been pillars in the church here. He was called to be a Stake President when he was 29 and the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission President when he was 33. Sister Hopoate had 3 children while they were serving. He told us the first baby, a boy, was born 3 weeks after they started that mission so they named him Stamis, a combination of “stake” and “mission“. Up to that point they had had a boy then a girl etc. The second baby that was born while they were serving was also a boy, which threw the sequence off. President wanted to name him “mistake” but Sister Hopoate wouldn’t let him. His next calling was to serve as an Area Authority, then an Area 70 for 13 years. Now that they have finished serving in the temple, they will be leaving to serve a mission in Papa New Guinea next month. There has to be a special place in heaven for this couple! 

Elder and Sister Wood will be working in the ITEP program at Liahona. Her name is Susan and she is full of life. She will be a lot of fun.

Elder and Sister Simmons are going up to Vava'u to work in the ITEP program up there.  We just received two more wonderful couples!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sunday, April 27th

Our Stake Conference today was a satellite broadcast. It was just for the people of the South Pacific. It was great. Elder Robins of the Presidency of the 70 was the first speaker and his talk was so good for the people here. He talked about controlling anger. Sister Merriot was next and she told her conversion story and talked about how important it is for the members to be missionaries and support the missionaries. We also were able to hear from Elder Bednar and Elder Hales. We loved the talks, the Spirit that we felt and the opportunity to hear the Tongans singing in Tongan. We really look forward to Stake Conference because the music is soooooooooooo beautiful!

We were able to watch the movie “Frozen” tonight. The Van Den Akkers brought it with them when they came. The other couples watched it last night, but we went into town to our conference and then we were invited to a feast just for President Tupou, the Stake Presidency and us. Sister Mitchell was with us and so we invited her to watch the movie with us tonight. It was cute, I really enjoyed it.

We planned to take the food into the new couple’s houses tonight, but those houses haven’t been cleaned yet. The plane arrives at noon tomorrow!! Someone had better get right on that!

Saturday, April 26th

We went to the beach again today. We have been to the beach more in the last few weeks than we have in our whole mission. We just stayed for a couple of hours, but it was fun to see the land bridge again and then to wade in the low tide.

We had our Saturday night session of Stake Conference tonight. President Tupou was the main speaker and he was talking about missionary work. Right in the middle of his talk, the bench we were sitting on started to vibrate, then I saw the ceiling fans start to sway. Next the building really started to move A LOT! Then there was a huge jolt with a loud noise that scared us all. President Tupou had to grab the pulpit to stay on his feet. About this time we all thought about getting out of the building, but then things started to slow down a little so we stayed put. There was more wave like action and then more vibration and it was over. The whole thing probably only lasted a couple of minutes, but it was scary. That was definitely the biggest earthquake we have had since we have been here. We are kind of used to the little ones, but the big ones really get your attention. My first thought was about a tsunami, but people were checking their cell phones and there was no warning. The funny thing was, President Tupou didn’t miss a beat. He didn’t even mention the quake, he just kept talking. I don’t think anyone heard a thing he said for at least 5 minutes, I know I didn’t.

When we got home we found out it was a 6.5 earthquake. It wasn’t very deep and it was only 45 kilometers away from Tongatapu. That is a little to close!! We haven’t heard about any major damage.

I can't go to the beach without taking a few more pictures. Alan wonders if we will ever look at them again. I truly hope we do! Everything here is so beautiful.

There are cliffs on both sides of this beach so it is quite a hike to get down to it, but it is well worth the effort.

Mr. Crab wanted to go home with us and be our dinner, but we left him in the water.

When the tide is in you can't tell that this huge rock is balancing on the two smaller ones.  It is interesting to see it when the water is out.

Friday, April 25th

Today is another holiday in Tonga. It is Anzac Day, the day that they honor all of their military men and women. There was a lot going on down town, but we saw it last year so we decided to stay home and get a few things done. We got all of our luggage out and took it outside to air out. We are really in the rainy season now, so the mold and mildew are back with a vengeance. We had sprayed them with Lysol the last time we aired them out, so they weren’t to bad. Alan wiped them off and we sprayed them again. We also got his suit out and hung it out. It looked good. Putting it in a plastic suit bag has made a lot of difference.

We also started weighing the things that we plan to ship home. We thought they would be a lot heavier than they actually are. If we can figure out how to pack them all together in a suitcase size box, we can take them as an extra piece of luggage a lot cheaper than trying to ship them home. We are hoping we can work that out.

We called David for his birthday today. I can’t believe that my baby is 30!!! For this year, all of our kids will be in their 30’s. WOW, WHERE HAVE THE YEARS GONE??? I feel a little bit old, but not as old as I will feel when they are all in their 50’s!

We went into town this afternoon to see the wood carvings that President Fahoko did for the Anglican Church. We went to his shop first, to look at them and take pictures, and then we went to the church and watched them being delivered and put into place. It was amazing to see the work he had done and then really fun to see the looks on the faces of the people at the church when they arrived. They were so thrilled and rightly so, he is incredible. I will post the pictures. He did all of these carvings in 60 days. They just told him what they would use the pieces for and he designed them all. Sister Fahoko’s father used to be a minister in this church and her mother is still a member there. President Fahoko wanted this to be his tribute to them.

President Fahoko told us a little about his life today. He was born into the church and grew up as a member. Then he got a little rebellious and dropped out of the church and joined the 7th Day Adventist church. One day he got really sick, so sick that he thought he was going to die. He called the Mormon elders to come and give him a blessing. He immediately started to get well. He came back into the church and has been a strong member ever since. He has served as a Stake President here and now he is serving for the second time as a councilor in the Mission Presidency. He is a master carver in Tonga and his work is known all over the world. He is a wonderful man. He made a carving for President Utchdorf when he was in Tonga and when he came to the Fahoko home to see some of his work, President Utchdorf blessed his home. He has very tender feelings for and memories of President Utchdorf and President Monson.

When it was all in place it was beautiful. To bad the people of the Anglican church don't understand the symbolism that President Fahoko put into his carvings. The two dolphins under the table represent the importance of the family. There is a whale diving into the water under the baptisimal font. They use a sea shell to hold the water they use to sprinkle for baptisims. The whale going into the water underneath the shell, represents the need to be emersed in the water to be baptized. They will probably never know.

This is the church where the carvings were delivered. They have been working on the remodeling of this church since we got to Tonga. It is now ready for the grand reopening.

Some of the carvings with the senior missionaries that came to support President Fahoko.  He was so grateful that we were there and the members of the Anglican Church were very nice to us.

The mail items being put into place.

These are just some of President Fahoko's amazing carvings. This Eagle is the podium for the church.

President Fahoko and his grandson.  He is sitting in the chair he carved for the Bishop of the Anglican church.

Two Mormon Missionaries, sitting in the Bishop's chair.

Thursday, April 24th

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO DAVID --- in Tonga! We will call him tomorrow when it will be his birthday there.

Lapo came today and put more wheelchairs together. We are really getting low in wheelchairs now. Hopefully we can give them all away before the end of May. We took one back to Liahona with us today. There is a lady from Ha’api, that came with a group of people to go to the temple. They had to carry her from the boat to a car and then they carry her to the temple every day. We took the chair to the temple and met her. She is the sweetest little old lady. She is in her 80’s and she really needed our help. When she saw the wheelchair she was overcome with joy. It will be such a blessing in her life. I put my arms around her to give her a hug and she just clung to me and sobbed. It’s moments like that that make coming on a mission so worth the sacrifice.

I worked on little odds and ends for the mission today. We had to put the calendar for May together and then figure out who would take what food into the new missionary’s houses. We are expecting two new missionary couples next week.

This afternoon we went to the Dateline Storage warehouse to pick up the medical supplies that we ordered from Australia. We needed the lady from procurement at the Ministry of Health to meet us there and check the shipment before we could take it. We saw a Tongan miracle today, she was there right on time!! It was a very pleasant surprise. We have tried to meet with her a couple of times and we always have to wait. This was great. We took the supplies to our office to store them until we are ready to ship them to Vava’u.

We ended the day at the temple. I am still adjusting to the new movie.

Wednesday, April 23rd

We stayed at Laihaona this morning and worked there. We needed to go to the airport to see the Johnsons off and we didn’t want to drive all the way into town and leave from there. We went out to Lavengatonga first to check on that project one last time. We needed to be sure that they had put the fence up and everything was working well. It looked good. I will close that project out the first of May, as soon as all of the finances clear.

We went to the airport next, to say good-bye to the Johnsons. We have served our whole mission with them so seeing them off made us really think about going home. We will be the next couple to leave but we have two new couples coming in next week, so the mission just keeps going. We sure wish that someone was coming to replace us. When there is a big gap between humanitarian couples, things stop and it is hard to get them up and going again. It would have been nice to have a over lap with a new couple.

I fought a headache all day today, trying to keep it from turning into a migraine. Sister Mitchell had some medicine that she brought over and Sister Beckstrand gets migraines too, so she brought some pills over too. I ended up taking a Tylenol with codeine and going to bed.

Taimani with her grandmother, her mother and her nephews. She will be a great missionary!

Elder and Sister Johnson, all packed up and ready to leave for home.  We will miss them.

Tuesday, April 22nd

We had a devotional this morning and then headed into the office. We found out today that the shipment of medical supplies from Australia that has arrived in Tonga has been put in storage and now we have to pay a storage fee on it. We needed to get it out of storage and over to our office. We can store it here! While Alan was working on that, Lord Tulivia, the Governor of Vava’u came to our office. He wants our help with purchasing a boat for the outer islands of Vava’u. While I was talking to him about that, I told him that Alan was trying to take care of these storage fees for the equipment we were sending to the hospital in Vava’u. He knows all about our project, we have talked to him about it in the past. He about had a fit! He got right on the phone and called the Dr. at the hospital and then started making calls to the Minister of Health. He said that we should not have to pay any of those charges, the ministry should take care of them or just wave them. This is a humanitarian donation to their country and they are making us pay to store it???!!! He was really upset. He told us not to pay the bill and not to worry about it, he would take care of it. When he left, I had to smile. It was not a coincidence that he showed up at our office today and that when Alan went to pay the bill they had raised the charge so he didn’t have enough money to pay them. It really is amazing how the Lord works his little miracles. But I love seeing them happen and I will truly miss being a part of them.

When we got home we met with Taimani one last time. (I love her name!  It is so musical.  We should have a grand daughter named Taimani.  Just saying ---)  She is leaving on her mission to the Philippines tomorrow. She will be on the same plane that the Johnsons fly out on, so we will see her at the airport tomorrow. We just wanted to give her some money for her mission and I made her some hot pads that she can use when she comes home and gets married. It was fun to work with her at the office and she really helped us with some computer issues when we first got here. We will miss her but she is so ready to go. She has had her call for 4 months and she just wants to get started.

After dinner we were able to go for another walk. It doesn’t cool off enough until it gets dark, so we can’t walk very fast, but at least we are getting a little exercise.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Monday, April 21st

Today is Easter Monday in Tonga. It is another holiday but some of the Chinese stores were open today. All of the main businesses were shut down and there was no school. We decided to stay home and get some work done. We scrubbed the floor, finished the laundry and cleaned the house. Then we headed to the office here on campus to check our emails and send some out. We heard from Morgan and Alli today. It always makes our day to find an email from the grandkids. It made us miss them and since today is Easter, we decided to call all of them and see how their day was. We face timed Greg and he was home with Dave. We got to see Parx and Hendrix and talk to Greg, Dave and Alisha. Then we called Bryan and caught them in the middle of their Easter egg hunt. We got to see all of the kids and watch a little of the fun. Bryan sent pictures of the ribs he cooked for dinner. He’s KILLING ME!!! Addy promised that he would cook some for us when we get home, so I can live with that. We couldn’t get through to Kimi and Tiff wasn’t home, so we couldn’t facetime with them.

We had the Johnsons and Sister Mitchell over for dinner tonight. I like to invite people to dinner just before they leave, so they don’t have to worry about cooking or keeping food around. We had a great visit with them tonight. They have been here for our whole mission and we will miss them. We will be the next to leave and Sister Mitchell will leave two months behind us.

After dinner we went into town to have FHE with Lopeti and the boys. It was an amazing experience. Lopeti and his wife don’t have any children of their own. He is 30 and I’m not sure how old Luciana is. They took in a 20 year old young man who was kicked out of his home when he joined the church. Pahulu has something wrong with his leg and he has been to New Zealand for treatment twice since we got here. He will be going back one more time and then hopefully leaving on a mission. Then Lopeti is in the process of trying to adopt the 4 boys that were baptized a few weeks ago. He also has a 3 year old nephew living with him. So he has “6 sons”. Those young boys sat on the floor and read scriptures, bore their testimonies for us and thanked us again for all we have done to help them. They really are quite amazing young men. The 13 year old has won a math competition for all of the islands of Tonga and now will compete with others his age in Australia. Lopeti helps them with their homework every night and is trying to teach them English. They learn some English in school but he wants them to be fluent. He has it figured out that in 7 years Pahulu will be home from his mission and the boys will all be old enough that Pahulu can take care of them and then he, Lopeti, will be able to go back to school. Until then, he will just put his education on hold, work at the hospital to provide for his family and take care of all his sons. He and Luciana are the most selfless people I have ever met. We are thinking about doing some kind of fund raiser when we get home so we can set up a trust fund to help with the boys education. There has to be a special place in heaven for Lopeti and Luciana.

Lopeti is standing in back, the 4 boys he is adopting are on each side of Pahulu. Pahulu is holding Lopeti's nephew.

Sunday, April 20th

We went to the ward at Liahona this morning. The Johnsons were speaking at Sacrament Meeting and we wanted to hear them. Then we hurried home so I could put some funeral potatoes together for the President’s Dinner before we went into town to attend our own ward. We missed our Sacrament Meeting but we were there for our Sunday School class. Sila is getting married in two weeks and he wanted to talk about the wedding and his bride, so we had to really cut our lesson short. That’s OK. Sila has waited 7 years to find a woman that he wanted to marry and he is soooooooooooooo happy!! It just bubbles out of him, so we had to let him talk.

When I went to Relief Society I found out that the teacher didn’t come to church. That is after calling her 3 times this last week and then telling the 2nd councilor that if she didn’t come, it was her turn to teach the lesson. I taught last week! Ceci, the 2nd councilor was at church, but she left to attend her brother’s missionary farewell at another ward. Like she couldn’t have told me that was happening this Sunday??! So Diana, the president and I divided the lesson in half and I took the first half. As soon as I started talking Diana left the room and she didn’t come back until we were singing the closing song!!!! REALLY???!!! What are they going to do when I go home? I am going to kill Sister Mitchell. She bailed on me today too. She is the secretary and she decided to just attend all of the meetings at Liahona today and not come into town. Why do Alan and I always feel so responsible, no one else does.

The rest of the day turned out well. We had a very nice Easter Dinner, with ham, funeral potatoes and all the trimmings. It tasted soooooo good!!! We ate way to much! So when we got everything cleaned up and put away, we went for a walk. We didn’t walk far enough or fast enough to do much good. I have got to cut back on the eating or they will have to roll me out of here!

Saturday, April 19th

We did some laundry and cleaned the house this morning so that we could go back to the beach this afternoon. We went to a different beach today and collected entirely different kinds of shells. When we got home I put the white ones in a bleach solution and after a day or two they are supposed to come out beautifully white. We’ll see. Some of them were pretty dirty. The rest of them I put in a container and put it in the sun. Some of the shells still had creatures in them and if they are left in the heat, the creatures crawl out and then the shell can be cleaned.

Once we got cleaned up, we went out to dinner tonight. It was the farewell dinner for the Johnson’s, they will be going home next week. We held it at the Cottage Breeze, a small café right on the beach. It turned out really nice, the food was good and the company was great. It was a fun evening.

No matter how many times I see the ocean, or what beach we go to, it is always beautiful!

Friday, April 18th

Today is Good Friday. It is a very sacred holiday in Tonga. In America, people don’t stop to appreciate what happened on Thursday night and Friday before Easter Sunday. Here they have parades through the villages where they have a man carry the cross and the people in the village all dress in black as a sign of mourning. I am really grateful that we don’t focus on the cross, but it is sad that we don’t stop to ponder the Atonement more. In so many ways, the Tongan people have their priorities in the right place.

Sadly, all of the senior missionaries got together and went to the beach. Well, it wasn’t really sad, we had a great time, but I did feel a little guilty. Although we all spent last night in the temple, so that should count. It is against the law for any of the stores to be open and all of the other churches had services today, so the island was very quiet. Not many people were out and about until later in the afternoon. We went to a private beach, owned by President Nau, one of Alan’s old companions. He has given us permission to go there any time we want. There are beautiful shells that wash up on the beach there, so we had fun collecting shells and some of the missionaries went snorkeling. It was a beautiful day and it felt so good to just relax and watch the waves roll in. We all deserved a day off!

These are basically the same shot of Alan on the giant rock, but one shows more of Alan and the other one shows more of the ocean behind him. BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!

Thursday, April 17th

Today was the last day of the Sports Days for the high schools here. Liahona did pretty well. We haven’t seen the kids out training much and you could sure tell. When they ran a race and crossed the finish line, they all about collapsed. I don’t know how they do it in this heat in the first place and then today we noticed that there was a big box of shoes in front of the Liahona school section. When it was time for a new race, the kids would come over, pick out a pair of shoes that would fit them, put them on and then run the race. When the race was over they brought the shoes back and put them in the box for the next runners. I was thinking, “how sad is that”, and they don’t think a thing about it. It is just what they do. Another thing we noticed was that they have really old starting blocks for the beginning of each race. When the kids put their feet in the blocks and get ready to go, someone comes and stands of the back of the block so they will have something to push off of. I wondered how kids in America would react to racing under these conditions?????

We were able to see the new temple movie again tonight. We are so blessed to be able to walk to the temple. I will really miss that!!

Wednesday, April 16th

We are having an Easter Dinner this weekend for our President’s Dinner. Alan and I have been running all over town trying to find ham for that dinner. Villi promised us that he would have ham in his store but today we found out that he won’t. It didn’t come in the last shipment. GREAT!! We promised the senior missionaries ham! After going to every store that we thought might have some, we went to Molisi’s. They had two half hams! One cost $135.00 and the other one cost $159.00. Oh gosh, that’s only about $300.00 plus tax, just for the hams. I have a hard time asking people to bring food and then pay extra for the ham. So I called the Mission President and asked if the mission would pay for the ham. They haven’t provided one thing for any of the meals all the time we have been here. I figured, what did I have to lose --- maybe he would release us from this calling as District Leaders if he didn’t like the idea. But he liked the idea and the mission will pay for the hams. Yea!! That is a relief!

It was a beautiful day today. It has been a little cooler lately but today it warmed up again. We were ok with that, at least it isn’t raining. It looks like we should have a few more good days coming. Maybe we can do something fun over the holiday weekend. Jeana Niu called me this afternoon, she had her husband call the church attorney in Tonga, who just happens to be his brother, and ask him about it being illegal to go to the beach on Good Friday. He said that it was a crazy rumor and he didn’t know how it got started. Everything will be closed in Tonga on Friday and Monday, just like it is on Sundays, but it is not illegal to go to the beach. Maybe we will do that one day this weekend.

Tuesday, April 15th

Holy Cow! April is half over all ready. The days are flying by. I started to close out some of the projects this morning. Then the internet went off. When I work on CHAS I am always on the internet and if it goes off, you can’t save anything. After I lost everything I had done 3 times, I gave up. I will have to finish that up tomorrow.

We went out to President Fae’hoko’s today to check on some of the items they were making for us. We were hoping to be able to ship some things through them, but they only ship to California. Then we would have to find a way to get everything to Utah. We will keep looking to see if we can find a way to get it sent straight to Utah.

This afternoon we went to the village of Nukuhetulu to check the sign that has been put up on our project out there. The sign looked good, but they weren’t using the new diesel engine. When the water master came out to talk to us, we found out that their water pump is not working now. They are waiting for someone to come and fix it. Thankfully it is a small fix, but it is a great reminder to this village that they need to save some money so that they can buy a new one on their own, when it can no longer be fixed. We won’t be going back to replace that pump.

This is a slow week at Liahona. All of the kids are participating at Game Days. For 3 days this week, every school in Tonga will be competing in track and field events at the stadium in Nuku’alofa. Then Friday is Good Friday and it is against the law to go to the beaches or do those recreational kinds of things. It is a very sacred day here and everyone observes it. Monday is Easter Monday, so we will have a 4 day weekend but we won’t be able to do much.

We had a relaxing evening, we went for a walk, worked on our journals and then sat down to read a good book.

It is good to see the sign in place above the new engine that we gave the village of Nukuhetulu. It would have been nice if it had been a little bigger, but it will do the job.

This is what it looks like up close.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Monday, April 14th

Ana was gone all last week and we were looking forward to seeing her today, but she called this morning and said that she was not feeling well. Then she called back later and said that she will be going to Ha’api tomorrow to meet the shipment from Samoa. We were not invited to go! We were really hoping to go up with her when she went but now it looks like we won’t be going again. We wanted to see it one more time, especially since Cyclone Ian has been such a huge part of our work these last 3 months, but it is expensive to get there and right now it doesn’t look like it is going to happen.

Lapo came to get 9 more wheelchairs this morning. We are running out fast. It won’t be long until we are closing that project out.

With Ana not in the office, we left a little early today. We needed to stop at one of the stores in town and check on the hams that we ordered for our Easter Dinner. When we got there, Vili, the manager that we talked to, who promised that he had hams for us, was not there. The other man that works in the meat department said that they haven’t unloaded the whole container yet, but they haven’t seen any hams yet!!! We planned our whole meal around those hams. If they don’t have them we are going to have to scramble to come up with another plan for dinner. SERIOUSLY, can’t someone else have this job????????

We got home and had lunch and then while Alan took care of some things on the campus, I made another bread pudding. It smelled sooooo good! I had to try a little --- just to make sure it turned out alright. YEP! It did! Grandma sure could make great bread pudding!!

For FHE we talked about Ukraine and showed pictures of our mission there. We showed them the Crimea and explained why it is so important to Russia to have that area back under Russian control. We are just sick about what is happening over there. They are so close to war that we hate to turn on the news. We can’t bare to see that country torn apart. A lot of our mission is gone now and most of the Donnesk Mission is too. It is so sad. The missionaries have worked so hard over there. We are praying that the people are now strong enough to carry on without their help anymore. We know the Lord will help them and protect them. The Lord put a temple in Ukraine. He will protect it.

The bread pudding went over very well. I don’t think I have ever made that pudding that people have not loved it and wanted the recipe. We felt really good about how the evening turned out.

Elder and Sister Edwards are leaving early in the morning for 2 months in Vava’u. They will be working with the Seminary teachers at the church school up there. We will be gone before they come back to Tonga. It was hard to say good-by to them. They are a wonderful couple and we really enjoyed the time we spent with them. They live in Kaysville, so we will be seeing them again when they come home.

Saturday and Sunday the 12th and 13th of April

We spent the weekend watching General Conference and it was wonderful!! We were able to watch it at home this time. Elder Hamblin downloaded it on his computer and then put it on my flash drive. Going over to the Seminary wing and sitting in those desks all those hours really kills my hips and back. Sitting in our living room in a soft chair with a coke nearby was very nice. It was a quiet and relaxing weekend. The students are all gone for spring break and everyone else was watching conference, so there was not much activity on the campus this weekend.

Saturday night we invited Elder Berger over for dinner and to watch the Priesthood session. I think he was a little nervous about me being there to watch it. But right off the bat, Elder Oaks said that it was OK for women to watch or read the priesthood session. We were really enjoying it until it just quit in the middle of President Utchdorf’s talk. We will have to try to down load it again and watch it later.
I loved the Sunday morning session. There were so many good talks and the Spirit was strong. The music at all of the sessions was beautiful. The whole thing was just what I needed to refill my bucket for another 6 months.

In between sessions I made a bread pudding. We are in charge of FHE tomorrow night and I needed to make one today so I could make another one tomorrow. There are 25 of us now, if everyone comes and then 29 when President Tupou and his family come. It’s a big group but a great group of wonderful people. We have been so blessed with really outstanding people serving here. These friendships will surely follow us into eternity.

Friday, April 11th

This was a LONG DAY!! We took the Van Den Akkers shopping. We went to just about every store downtown and we walked miles!! They were so grateful for our patience and we were happy to do it for them. The Beans took us when we first got here and we were grateful too. After almost 5 hours of shopping, we met the rest of the people from our office at Café Escape for lunch. Alan and I are so done with that Café, but it is the only air conditioned one in town so that is where we always go.

While we were eating lunch we had an interesting experience. Two black cars with tinted windows drove up outside, preceded by the police and followed by a white van. Men in dark suits got out of the van and escorted a Navy Admiral and some other officers into the café. They had walky-talkies and they stood guard as the officers checked out the rest room and then the Admiral went in. We talked to one of them and he told us that they are here in Tonga working on a partnership with the military here. He was very nice to us and as soon as the Admiral came out, they all went back outside and got in their cars and drove away. No one bought any food or drinks, it seemed to be just a bathroom break. I didn’t know that Admirals traveled with body guards, but this one did. It was kind of fun to see it all happen and then we watched the coverage of their meeting with the Prime Minister and the head of the King’s Army on the news tonight. Very interesting!!

After having such a big lunch we weren’t hungry tonight. I just had a bowl of cereal but Alan wanted some soup. I told him to go ahead and fix it, which he did. Seriously, fixing one can of tomato soup, mixed with milk in one pan can’t really be that hard. But somehow it must be. When he was done, there was soup all over the stove, down inside of two burners, down the side of the stove and on the floor. Really!! How did that happen??? Alan has got to learn to cook. If I die first, he is going to be in a real mess --- literally!

We were able to go for a nice walk tonight and then we sat down and picked out the pictures of Ukraine that we want to use when we do FHE on Monday night.
Thursday, April 10th

We decided not to go in to town to work today. We stayed on campus and worked in our office until 11:00 and then headed out to the airport to meet the new couple flying into Tonga today. Elder and Sister Van Den Akker are the new PEF missionaries. They will be working in our office, replacing the Beans. They are from Boise, Idaho --- I like them already!!

We didn’t have as many couples at the airport to meet them as usual, because there was a retreat today for all of the teachers and the missionaries that work with them. But we did have 10 of us and the mission president and his wife, so it was a decent showing. They are a wonderful couple and they are going to fit right in here. Really nice people. What did we expect?? They are from Idaho.

We went back to Liahona and I spent the afternoon putting some more information on the blog. Slowly but surely I am catching that thing up.

We went to the temple tonight and had a delightful surprise. The new movie has arrived in Tonga! They showed it for the first time tonight. I’m sure that by next week our session will be packed! They are going to show it on Tuesday at 5:00 AM and then on Thursday at 7:00 PM. They don’t have it translated into Tongan yet, so everyone who speaks English, will want to see it now. We really enjoyed it. There are several things in the movie that are Tongan and the people here LOVED that! It was fun to see their reaction. I will love having that constant reminder of Tonga when I go to the temple.

The Van Den Akkers with President and Sister Tupou. This couple will work in our office. We look forward to spending some time with them.

Wednesday, April 9th

We had a good day today. I was able to write up three reports that have been weighing on my mind and Alan was able to get the Central Pharmacy Project ready to close. When he went back to the Pharmacy today the staff had cleaned all the mold and mildew off of the cooler doors and repainted them. It looked great!! All of the bills have been paid on that one so I will close it out. YEAH!!!

We were also able to talk to 3 of our kids today. While I was talking to Kimi this morning, Grace hit a milestone. Kimi put her on the floor and put the phone in front of her. I called to her to come to me and she crawled for the VERY FIRST TIME!! It was so fun to see her do that. Even this far away, we aren’t missing everything! Another tender mercy. We also talked to Greg for a few minutes before he headed out to the golfing range and then we called Dave and Alisha and got to see Parx and Hendrix. Hendrix is a carben copy of Parx. They are going to look a lot alike. What a precious baby. He is growing so fast. We have got to get home soon!!

These are the ladies that came for wheelchairs today. Both of them need to be walking as much as possible or they will lose the use of their legs.


This sweet lady really needs a wheelchair but would much rather have an artificial leg.  We are hoping that will be possible for her in the near future.

We only have a few surplus desks left, they are going fast!   We love to go to the schools and see the students using them.  They are so thrilled to have a real desk.  We take so much for granted!

Tuesday, April 8th

We had a devotional this morning and then we hurried to get to the office so we could call Bryson on his birthday. We can’t believe that he is 5 years old already. He was so cute. He loves pre-school and he is really excited about going to kindergarten next year.

We were going to feed the missionaries tonight, but they had appointments in town and we are so far away it is hard to make that work. We found them after work and gave them some money so they could go to a restaurant for dinner. They loved that! These two are both Tongan and they don’t really love American food. This way they can get what ever they want. It works for me!

Three women came in a truck today to pick up wheelchairs. One had had her leg amputated at the knee and really needed a wheelchair. The other two were walking just fine! One had had her toes cut off and could only walk short distances, the other one was quite old and needed help getting to church because it is to far to walk. WHAT!! Those last two don’t really qualify for wheelchairs. They had been assessed and approved, the wheelchairs had been assembled and assigned to them so our hands were tied. We had to give them to them but when Ana gets back, she is in New Zealand this week, we will have her check on this. There is such a need for wheelchairs here, we can’t just give them out to anyone that wants one! That was a little frustrating! But it got even worse when they folded them up, lifted them into the back of the truck and then climbed up in there for the ride home. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!!

This afternoon we were able to give out more surplus desks for the Government Primary Schools. We have been able to help a lot of schools with these desks and they are all so grateful. Now they are coming back for the ones that were really in bad shape. The seats are fine, it is just the top of the desk that is damaged. They are removing the top part and then fixing it themselves with new wood. It is pulling the parents and the teachers together to fix them and that is a very positive thing. Giving out these desks has worked out very well for us.

I am starting to worry a little bit about Alan. He forgot his wallet this morning when we went into work and we had to come home to get it. Then he left the Ipad at work and we had to go back to get it. As we started back to the office he realized that he had forgotten his wallet again! All in one day. I hope he is just distracted!!

We went for a nice walk tonight. That makes us both feel better.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I almost forgot to post the pictures of the desks we donated to the school in Hofoa.


There was an amazing transformation in the classrooms.  The parents and teachers had put down new flooring and painted the walls.  The feeling in the rooms had totally changed.  It was a place the students wanted to come to study and learn.

This pictures is a little blurry, but it shows the picture they presented to us as a gift for helping them with the desks.

It is a small school with about 120 students.  This is the entire staff.

We have developed a real love for this school, the teachers and the students.  We will miss seeing them every morning on our drive into work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 7th

Ana is in New Zealand, so we are alone at the office this week. As soon as we walked in the door the Town Officer from Ha’utu called Alan and wanted him to meet him at the bank. The village is opening a special savings account for their water needs in the future and he wanted Alan there to see that they were actually doing it. Alan decided to deposit the extra money that we saved out to buy them diesel fuel into that account. They can buy diesel from now on with the money they collect from the village each month. When he was done there, he drove over to the Central Pharmacy to see how they are doing. We know that they are having trouble keeping mold and mildew off of their cooler doors, so he wanted to take a look. They looked bad, so we will buy some special cleaner that hopefully will help. I sent the camera with him so he could take pictures, but he didn’t. I guess that is what I am good for, but I wasn’t there!

I stayed at the office where I didn’t accomplish much. I wasn’t under a lot of pressure today so I just took my time working on a couple of projects and some things for the senior missionaries. We have a new couple coming this week and we need to make sure their house is ready and then put some food in there to get them started. I also spent a little time reading about General Conference and about what is happening in Ukraine. We have a lot of things to get organized around here in case we take some trips to the outer islands, but I just couldn’t get with it today. It felt good to relax for a change. I have been waiting a long time for a day like this!

When Alan got back we started calling the kids. Conference was over at home so we were able to connect with Tiff and Jake and Bryan and his kids. It was fun to see them all and have a short visit. It was dinner time at home so we didn’t talk to long, just long enough to get the latest info and see those gorgeous faces!!

I was able to get some more on the Blog today, I might actually catch up on that thing. I have been behind since we left America!! I will be glad to get home and not have to worry about it anymore, although I do enjoy going back and reading about some of the things we have done. I’m glad I kept up with it. While I was doing that, Alan went over to the library and got another book. He is reading about two a week now. He reads a lot more when we are on missions. We never go to bed at night without taking a book to read. It is much better than having a TV in the bedroom.

FHE was really interesting tonight. The Vai’nuku’s came and talked about their experience in Ha’api when Cyclone Ian hit. They are the senior missionary couple that were serving there at the time. They are now serving on Tongatapu. Their home in Ha’api was severely damaged by the cyclone. They had put together a slide presentation of what it looked like on the island after the Cyclone. Elder Vai’nuku said that he couldn’t film it as it was happening because it was so dark and foggy you couldn’t see anything farther than a foot to 2 feet away from you. He expressed how grateful he was that it happened in the daytime. If it had come at night, many people would have been killed or injured. It was a miracle that only one life was lost. He said that the first part lasted for 2 hours and 45 minutes. That is a long time for winds of that strength to batter an island. Then there was a period of calm. The winds were gone, the sky was blue and everyone thought it was over. He and his wife went from the church to their house, about ½ block away. They started to access the damage and suddenly it got dark and the winds started again. They ran to the church and he truly thought the wind would just carry him away. They made it safely and this time it was much worse than at first.

Thankfully the second round only lasted for 45 minutes. He said that if it had lasted as long as the first one, there would have been nothing left standing on the island -- maybe the church --- but even it would have been severely damaged. As we watched the slide presentation they had put together, tears streamed down their faces. The expressed their love for the people of Ha’api and how hard it was to leave them in these circumstances. They told us how terrified they had been and how this experience has changed their lives. They will now be better to one another, be better parents and grandparent. They are so grateful for the protection they received and they know the Lord was watching over them. Elder Vai’nuku said how grateful he was for this mission experience. He is doing things he has never done before, washing, cleaning, cooking and scrubbing floors. He used to go to work and come home, never fully appreciating all his wife did for him. The Spirit was really strong during their presentation. What a wonderful humble couple these two are. They are a blessing to this mission!

Sister Vaiu’nuku prepared the treats, only they were not treats. She brought a full Tongan meal!! She loves to cook and she loves to share. It was a great evening!

Sunday, April 6th,

Wow, this has been quite a day. Another one of those “Only in Tonga” days. All this weekend I just had a feeling that we weren’t going to have anyone ready to teach Relief Society today, so I put something together about General Conference -- just in case. When we got to our presidency meeting today, I found out that I was right and that I would be teaching. Bless Sister Matilae’s heart. She could have called me!!

Our Fast Meeting was really good today. We had a man who was visiting for the blessing of a baby, bear his testimony. He used to be the secretary for the King, King Taufahau Tupou IV. He was the King when Alan was here on his mission. Anyway, one day Elder Groberg and Elder Shumway went into his office and asked him to set up a meeting for them with the King. He did and then he accompanied them to the meeting to be the talking chief for the King. The Elders talked to the King about the church in Tonga and this man said that what they said went straight to his heart and he knew it went to the heart of the King too. The King could not join the church because he is the head of the Church of Tonga, but this man did join. He claims that the King new from that day on which church was true and he felt like it would be easy for him to make the change in the next life. It was pretty interesting. Then he thanked us, calling us by name, Elder and Sister Webb, for sacrificing so much to come to Tonga. He has lived in America for a long time and he said that he knew what we had given up to come here. We were touched, we don’t even know this man.

Our Sunday School class went very well again today. We continued to talk about repentance. We have some class members that are very interested in the steps of repentance and they ask a lot of questions. It was good. If they are working through some problems we hope that our lessons can help them with the right process and the right information. We had a young married couple, Joseph and Josephine, who haven’t been in class for the last couple of weeks. Josephine was at church today but she cried all the way through Sacrament Meeting and then she left. They are having some problems and she is heartbroken. We are so sad about that.

Relief Society turned out great. The lesson went well and lots of the sister participated. All is well. On the other hand, Priesthood went a little crazy. The Elder’s Quorum President has moved to Australia and they haven’t called a new one. The High Priest teacher was sick today so after the opening exercises the councilor in the bishopric said, “Well Elder Webb, you take them.” They combined both groups today and left all of them with Alan. He just had to punt! We had taken some small bottles of oil with us to our Sunday School class so that the men could concecrate them and then take them home. Alan had one left so he showed the men how to concecrate oil and then talked about the duties of the Priesthood. It turned out great. We are both so grateful for the promptings of the Spirit.

We had meatloaf and ufi for dinner. Ufi is the King’s favorite food. It is a lot like a potato, only it has no flavor. I gues if you have grown up eating it, you like it that way, but I have to put butter and seasoning on it. The texture is really quite good it just needs to be dressed up a little.

After dinner we went for a walk. The moon and the stars were out, it was a beautiful night. I love to look at the stars at night. They are so different from the stars we are used to back home. It is fun to try to find some of the constallations that we are not so familiar with. There are not a lot of lights on at night here so you can see them very easily.
Saturday, April 5th

It rained all night and all morning. We needed to go in to the fair and buy some peanut butter and Tide, but it would be a muddy mess today. We decided to skip it and just make do until next week. We didn’t wash because we knew nothing would get dry, so we cleaned a little and then watched Land Line, an Australian show that Alan loves. They go all over Australia and talk about the farmland and the cattle and crops. It really is pretty good.

I wrote in my journal and we read a lot. We are also starting to decide what we will be taking home and what we will be leaving here. We need to make some arrangements soon to ship some of this stuff home. We want to be sure we find a dependable way to get it home. When Alan shipped things years ago, most of it never arrived in Utah. We really want to make sure this stuff makes it all the way home.

In the afternoon I did some cooking and made a meatloaf for dinner tomorrow. It is Fast Sunday and I want to be sure we have something we can put in the oven when we get home from church.

We had made arrangements to view the Women’s Meeting in the ITEP office tonight. Elder Edwards downloaded it for me. All of the sisters met to watch it at 7:00. OH MY GOSH!!! It was amazing! The Spirit was so strong and it was wonderful to see all of those women, young women and primary girls gathered together for such a special meeting. They had a brand new Beehive say the opening prayer and she did a fantastic job. Such a sweet prayer. No wonder the Spirit was so strong throughout the meeting. All of the talks were wonderful and uplifting. I can’t wait to go to that meeting next year with my daughters and grand daughters! It made me so anxious to see conference. It is really hard to wait that extra week!! I love conference!

Friday, April 4th

We went to the village of Hofoa on our way into work today. We met with Salisi and the teachers and administrator of the Government Primary School in the village. We took pictures of the desks that we donated to the school. The parents and teachers have really cleaned up the rooms and they put some new coverings on the floors. It feels so much better than it did the last time we saw it. Now it is a place where the students will want to come and work hard. The kids love their new desks. Before we left, they presented us with a beautiful picture that was hand painted on a tapa cloth. It is a picture of the school many years ago. This school is the oldest primary school in Tonga. The ocean used to come right up to the edge of the village and the picture shows a little inlet where the first baptism into our church was performed. It will be a real treasure for us!!

Ana is leaving tonight to go to New Zealand to her son’s graduation from college. We knew we wouldn’t have much time with her today, but she didn’t even get into the office until after 11:00. We needed to get the Dental Clinic Project submitted today, before she left. She has to approve it before it can go on to the Area Office and she will be gone for a week. I had the project all written up and submitted but she couldn’t get into her CHAS account to approve it. If you have an LDS account, you have to change your password every 6 months to protect your account. 

She just changed her password and today the new one wouldn’t work. It was so frustrating!! It took about 45 minutes, but we finally got her on CHAS and the project approved. Now she can enjoy her trip and I can relax!!

On the way home we stopped downtown and did a little shopping. It is supposed to rain hard tomorrow and if that is the case we won’t want to go back in. We need to pick up a few things at the fair, but that might not happen if the weather is bad.

We stopped in at the FM office and talked to Toa and Silongo. Toa is helping us with the finances on the Vava’u Hospital Project. She sent all of the information off today and hopefully the supplies will be sent next week. We found out today the the company in Australia sent theirs a long time ago and they are already on the Warf. That will mean that we don’t have to wait for a boat from Australia. It shouldn’t take too long to get stuff here from New Zealand. They send ships more often.

While I was talking to Toa, Alan spent some time with Siolono talking about the best way to ship things home. We are trying to find a way to get all this stuff home!!! We really need to get right on that.

After dinner we went for another walk. My knee is doing much better today. Hopefully that means that there is nothing seriously wrong. We have tried to walk more this week and I really think that helps me.

 We have got to be more diligent about that.

Every night this last week we have had spectacular sunsets as we have walked. Tonight I took the camera with me so I could get a picture of one.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thursday, April 3rd

This morning when I got on the computer, I had an email with a list of questions Elder Reynolds wants answered about the Niua project. It took me most of the morning to do the research and get them all answered. Once he received the answers, I was able to go into CHAS and change what needed to be changed and add what needed to be added to that project and get it ready to submit. Elder Reynolds sent a copy of the email he sent me to the Mission President and to Elder Hamblin too. The funniest thing happened. He said that he needed a letter from the Mission President in support of the project. I have been telling the president that for a month. Elder Reynolds mentioned it this morning and I had the letter by noon! REALLY????? Sometimes I feel like we are so unimportant in the eyes of some people. When the big boys chime in, they jump! OK, that wasn’t very nice. I’m just grateful that we finally got it. Now we can move forward with the project.

Salisi, the Talking Chief from the village of Hofoa came to see us today. We have been helping him get some surplus desks for the primary school out there. He said that they have the desks all set up in the classrooms and he wants us to come in the morning and take some pictures with the students and the teachers. We will be happy to do that!! While he was here we were talking about his job as a Talking Chief. He is a very important man here. There are only 8 Talking Chiefs in Tonga. They meet with the King and then with other government officials to tell them what the King said. They have to know a different level of Tongan to talk to the King. You don’t speak to him in the same terms that you would use with commoners. It was really interesting.

Alan has turned into his dad. While Salisi was in our office, Alan asked him if he could arrange a tour of the Palace for us. You can’t get on the Palace grounds unless you are invited by the King. No one lives in the Palace now, it is just used for special occasions. Kings, Queens, Presidents, people like that are invited there, not missionaries. Salisi said that he would be meeting with the King tomorrow. He will ask if we can go. The guard over the Palace grounds is from the village of Ha’utu, where we did a water project. He knows us. Who knows, we might just get to do it. We’ll see. I couldn’t believe that Alan would ask him, but then I remembered Ken and that is definitely something he would have done. Like father, like son.

When we got home I fixed a big spaghetti dinner to take to a family in our ward. Siosi just had a baby girl and Sister Mitchell and I took dinner to her tonight. We didn’t know where they lived until tonight. We only see them at church. She used to be the Relief Society President in the ward and her husband is in the bishopric. Their home is very humble, not even as big as our living room. There is a bed just inside the door. Lots of people here do that because it is cool there at night. There were mats on the floor where they sit and a table where they eat. They have a piece of material hanging down for a door that lets the air circulate and that is pretty much it. They have 4 little boys and now a baby girl. What a sweet, precious family.

Tonight was temple night. It felt so good to be back in the temple after missing a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, April 2nd

Because we had such a big day yesterday, we spent the day today trying to catch up on everything that we didn’t get done. I had a lot of emails to answer and we received the invoices for the equipment and supplies for the Vava’u Hospital Project. I was excited about that, now we can get the companies paid and hopefully everything will arrive before we leave and we will be able to do the closing ceremony.

Lapo came from the hospital to put more wheelchairs together. It is for sure now that either he or Siua will lose their job in June. Once we leave and there are no more wheelchairs to put together, there won’t be enough for two of them to do. Australian-aid is cutting off the funding to the hospital so a lot of people will be losing their jobs. We are sick about that!

I was able to finish up the Friends and Family letter and get it sent off today. I am always glad to get that off. I love to tell people what we are doing here, but I never have time to sit down and write it. It’s a relief to have it sent.

When we got home, Alan took the car in to have it washed. We have driven all over the island in this rain and it was a mess!! It looks sooooooooooooooooo much better!!

We were able to walk tonight. We just went slow but my knee is feeling a little better. It felt good to get out and walk. I think the reason that I have a hard time sleeping is because I am not doing enough physical stuff. Sitting behind a desk all day wears me out mentally but not physically. I am really looking forward to getting home and being able to walk around the block again.