Friday, February 28, 2014

Tuesday, Feb. 11th

Before we went into work this morning, we drove out to Ha’utu to check on the project one more time. Our contractor had come out and replaced everything that was not shipped with the new engine and pump. Now everything is brand new, working properly and the machines are filling the tank in less than an hour and a half. That is a huge change from the last system that took over 6 hours to fill the tank --- when it worked, which wasn’t often. After we checked the equipment and took some final pictures, the people we saw as we were leaving thanked us over and over for our help. They are so happy about this water project. It makes all of the work worth it.

I spent the morning working in CHAS. Once a month or so I have to go in and update the journals on the projects we are working on. While I was on the internet I saw the Esplin's name show up. We decided to Skype them. We had a good connection and we were able to have a nice visit with them. They looked good and they seem happy working with the young missionaries in Arizona. They are really thrilled with the new temple there. We are anxious to see some pictures of the inside of that temple, the outside is beautiful. They have enjoyed being able to take people through the temple and also volunteering at the temple site. It was good to connect with them again.
When we got home I started making cookies. I need to make 200 cookies for our Valentines Day Social. I made chocolate chip cookies because that is what I have. The people here don’t make them so hopefully they will enjoy them. I don’t know if I will ever get to 200. Alan seems to be eating them as fast as I can make them. I will have to make more tomorrow.

We ended the day with a walk. We waited until 8:00, but it was still too hot to walk. There just isn’t a breeze anywhere to be found. I am having a hard time breathing!

The zig-zag beam is the new support beam that we had shipped over from Australia to stablize the water tower at Lavengatonga. The small ones were made in China and they weren't strong enough.

Those guys were pretty high up today, working on the support system of the tower.

Ana went with us Lavengatonga with us.  We needed to talk to the project manager and we aren't sure that he understands everything we are saying.  She makes sure he does!

I couldn't believe how quickly he climbed up the tower.  He is just like a cat and he is no spring chicken!  It was amazing to watch him.

Monday, Feb. 10th

Before our weekly devotional we stopped by to say good-bye to the Forsyths. Sister Forsyth sprained her ankle a week or more ago and it was really swollen this morning. I hope she does alright on that long flight. It needs to be elevated.

We received 3 more requests for water projects today. It is so sad! There is so much need here and we just can’t do it all. We finished up the Nukuhetulu project today and submitted it. Now we have to wait for all of the approvals to go through. That takes forever!! We are really hoping they will let us do this one last project. I will be a real push for us to get it done.

We had lunch in town and then took Ana and drove out to Lavengatonga to check on our project out there. The ministry of health did an inspection on the tower put up there and they want more supports put on it. It was made with steel that came from China and it wasn’t strong enough. We had to have some braces shipped in from Australia and they are putting them up today. We wanted to go out and see the work and check to see if it would pass inspection. It looked good to us, but then the last one looked good to us. We talked to the project supervisor and he said that this will be much better. The engineer will be out to inspect it before they can put water in the tank. We are really hoping to be able to close on this project by next week! This has been our “eternal project”.

FHE tonight was very interesting. President Feahoko and his wife came to talk to us. He is a master carver here in Tongan. He is well known in the South Pacific and now in the world. His work is amazing! And he does a lot of it with a chain saw. I will have to take some pictures.

He also told us some fascinating stories. The Tongan Stonehenge, an ancient stone formation here, is “where time begins”. Tonga is the first country in the world to see a new day and the stone formation is on the corner of the island where the sun comes up first. It is “where time begins”.

He also told us about the Tongan fish hook. It is a symbol of Tonga. Everyone in Tonga fishes and when you go out fishing you must bring your catch home and share it with your neighbors. It is how the Tongans live their lives. They are not selfish. Whatever they have that is good, they share it with their neighbors. It teaches them the principles of the gospel, love your neighbor as yourself. In this country, the people truly live that commandment.

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Sister Mitchell and I went into church early for our presidency meeting. We planned the last details of our Valentines Social next Friday night. I will be making cookies, probably just chocolate chip, I’m not sure how sugar cookies would turn out with this humidity. We also found out that our speakers won’t be able to be there, so now Alan and I are the speakers. I am not to happy about that, I just spoke at the Visiting Teaching Seminar. Enough already!

Elder and Sister Forsyth came to our ward today. Our bishop has been up in Vava’u and he asked them to speak in our Sacrament Meeting today. They talked about the importance of education and both of them did a really good job. It was another good meeting. Kristi Tuita also talked. She is an American, married to a Tongan and they have 5 beautiful children. They came here to live for a couple of years to give their children the Tongan experience. They have been here for almost 7 months and they are leaving tomorrow to go back to America. He could not find a job that would support his family. We are glad that we got to know them, what a wonderful young family.

Sunday School was great. Our class is really more involved now in the lessons. We keep getting new people and they are not so afraid to speak up. That is the best part of Sunday, teaching that class. Every church job should make you feel like that! Relief Society was a different story. I want to tie those ladies to their chairs and gag them! I can’t believe how many people walk in and out during the lesson and how many talk during the lesson. I was a wreck by the time the meeting was over. I don’t get it. How can you feel the Spirit when there are so many distractions??

When we got home I made a meatloaf and put a salad together, then we went to our senior missionary choir practice. We sing at missionary firesides a couple of times a month and we meet on Sunday afternoons for 1 hour to practice the songs. Alan is in the choir. It is his first time ever to be in a choir and he is doing a really good job. We aren’t the best choir ever formed, but we do alright and the people love to hear us sing in Tongan.

When we came home I finished dinner. We had the Forsyths and Elder Berger come to dinner. It was good to be able to sit down and visit with the Forsyths before they leave in the morning. Elder Forsyth is Mini Hall’s brother so we hope to see them again after we get home.

I have left the geikos alone since we got here. We were told that they eat bugs so not to kill them. Tonight one crawled up on my bed. NOT ALLOWED!!! He is no longer living. I don’t love watching them crawl along the walls, but they are definitely not going to be crawling on the bed!!!

Saturday, Feb. 8th

When we got up this morning, we were able to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. WOW!!!! They were very impressive! It was fun to see how beautiful it all was, but a little hard to watch it on a channel that is not pro America. We didn’t even get to see the American athletes come into the stadium. That was sad. So far they haven’t said much about our athletes. hopefully they will do really well and then we will be able to see them.

As soon as the opening was over the TV channel shifted to Rugby. It is the World Cup Rugby tournament and Tonga is all about Rugby. Seriously, the Olympics are on and we have to watch Rugby! I can’t stand it!!!!! So frustrating!

We ran to town to pick up some food. They were coming to spray our house for critters so we didn’t want to be here. When we were done with the shopping we stopped for a doughnut. What??? That was our third one this week! We have got to have a little more self control. Well, maybe not quite yet. We have to at least try each kind they make to see which one we like best.
When we got home we did the usual Saturday chores and then went out to dinner with the Forsyths, the Alands and the Meyers. The Forsyths are on their way home. They have served in Vava’u, working with the teachers up there. They are leaving almost a month early. They said that they were done with everything they could do, so they decided to go home just a little early. She has had a lot of health problems while they have been here so I think they will be happy to be home.

We had movie night tonight. We watched “Second Hand Lions”. We like that movie, it is a feel good movie, so it was a fun night.

Friday, Feb. 7th

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KIMI!!!!! That is one child that will not let you forget her birthday! We called her today and it was so fun to see her and see little Grace. She is growing and changing to fast but she still reaches for us when she sees us on Kimi’s phone. We hope she will reach for us when she sees us in person --- but we aren’t counting on it. She will be old enough to be afraid of us by then. Kimi looked great and was planning to have a fun birthday dinner and party when Mike got home. She asked for an APRON!! for her birthday. Who would have guessed. She has turned into a great cook and she enjoys it. Way to go Kimi. We hope she has a wonderful year and that we get to share part of it with her. She is trying to plan a summer get-a-way for the family. We are really excited about that!!

I had to work on the Cyclone Ian spread sheet this morning. It needed to be updated and sent to New Zealand before our phone conference this afternoon. I also continued to work on the Nukuhetulu Project. I just about have it done in CHAS now. I just need to finalize the budget and attach some documents and we will be ready to send it.

After we talked to Kimi, Alan called Morgan. We call the grandkids from time to time, but they never have their phones on. He got Morgan today and we were able to facetime with her and show her and Alli the view from our office window. They loved seeing the ocean and the palm trees. It was so fun to talk to them and see them again! They are BEAUTIFUL!!! Wow, they have really grown up in this last year. It will be fun to sit down with them and hear all about their lives when we get home. We also got to talk to Tiff for a few minutes. She showed us the snow in her back yard. It has been snowing since they started their fast on Sunday. That is great news! We hope it will keep piling up in the mountains. I really want to be able to have a garden this summer.

When we got home I made a cake for a Faetu’ui that we were going to tonight. I had to do it fast so we could make it to the phone conference on time. I made a German Chocolate cake.

The phone conference went well, but was stressful for me. I have been able to keep up with what is going on the spreadsheet so far, but today they started talking about building houses for the members who lost everything. We went from $25,000 to $100,000 in the first month and now they are talking somewhere between 5 and 6 MILLION dollars. That is WAY out of my comfort zone, I don’t deal with that many zeros!! I need Bryan to come for a visit and stay for 4 months.

A Faetu’ui is a Tongan custom that deals with taking care of a family after the death of a loved one. A man in our ward lost his mother a few weeks ago. She lived in the states, so he and his family went there for the funeral. When they got back, the ward planned a Faetu’ui. The sisters in the ward made cakes to take and then we all met at the church and went together to the Kaufusi home. We presented them with the cakes and then all gathered in their living room to have a Family Home Evening. We had a song, I gave the opening prayer, Alan gave a short talk, the wife and the husband both gave a brief thanks and then the councilor in the bishopric gave a concluding remark. We sang another song, had a closing prayer and left. It didn’t last long but the Spirit was so strong and it really bonded the ward members to that sweet family. What a great idea! Some of the Tongan traditions are worth looking into.

We took a group picture in the backyard after the FHE at the Kaufusi's. They are renting a house here and it has a lovely back yard.

There is a giant avocado tree in the back and Pua is holding a couple of the huge avocado that grow on that tree.  I LOVE the avocados over here!!

Sonni and his wife Cesi.  It was his mother that passed away in January.

In the yard of this home, there was an old mail truck.  No one knows where it came from or why it is here.  They don't have mail delivery in Tonga.  I had to have a picture of Alan by it.

Thursday, Feb. 6th

It is Kimi’s birthday in Tonga, but we will wait to call her on her birthday in America. I am thinking a lot about her today and giving thanks that she is part of our family. She has brought such joy and happiness into all of our lives. We are so grateful that she is finding that same joy and happiness in her own life now, with Mike and Grace. It is amazing how life comes full circle.

A lady came into our office today to ask for some help with office supplies. She is from Ha’api and her office was severely damaged and all of her equipment was ruined. She told us that she rode out the cyclone in a cupboard in one corner of her office. She stayed in there for hours, praying that she would not die. She was all alone and scared to death by the noise. She couldn’t see it, but she could hear things hitting her building and then parts of it just blew away. That had to be terrifying! She works with family services up there and is trying to organize a youth group to go out and help with the clean up. She said that people are just sitting around waiting for someone to come and do it for them instead of standing up and doing the work themselves. She is a little disgusted about that. We told her about our missionaries and she is going to try to organize some youth to go out and help them. We talked to her for most of the morning.

On the way home we stopped for a doughnut. Yummy!!! It is not good that they opened this business. We let that suffice for lunch and then I fixed pulled pork sandwiches for dinner. I am going to have to go back to the store and see if there are any pork chops left. They were really pricy, but they have tasted sooooooo good to us.

We went to the temple tonight. It was so good to be able to go back to the temple. It has been closed for two weeks for cleaning and they laid some new marble floors. They are beautiful!!! We were wishing and hoping that the new film would get here, but didn’t really think it would happen. No one seems to know how long it will be before it is translated into Tongan. We are really anxious to see it.

Wednesday, Feb, 5th,

I put a few more detail in on the Nukuhetuku project while I was waiting to call the Grays. Today is Dennis’s birthday in Tonga. (not until tomorrow in America) We decided to call them today. We had a great visit. They had lots of news to share with us and it was really fun to hear about what is happening at home. We hear from our family and keep up with them, but other than that we just get little bits and pieces here and there, not a complete report like we got today. Dennis and Carolyn are great friends and it was good just to hear their voices again. It made us a little bit homesick. We look forward to doing some fun things when we get home.

On the way home from work we stopped at the “Family Doughnut” shop and bought some doughnuts. This shop is run by the family at Liahona that has adopted all of the kids and is trying to put them through school and then send them on missions. It is the family we gave the “Christmas Jar” full of money to. They have opened a business where the kids can work and it is doing great! They are way ahead of what they projected they would make and going strong. There is a real demand for cheap food here and their doughnuts are well worth the money. They cost $2.00 but they are huge and the closest thing we have ever found to the spud nuts we used to have in Logan. We love them --- which is not a good thing.

I bought some pork chops at the store last weekend. We don’t see them here very often, twice since we have been here. I cooked two in the crock pot today. They were huge! We shared one tonight and it was plenty. YUMMMMM, boy did that taste good!!

I had to go back into town tonight. We had a visiting teaching seminar that I had to speak at. We just planned it and announced it in church on Sunday and Sister Mitchell and I were afraid that we wouldn’t have a very good turn out. We were right. We only had 8 sisters there. 4 of us from the presidency, 2 from the stake RS presidency and 2 ward sisters. I felt bad. We really needed to build it up more but Diana wanted it tonight so we went ahead with it. It was kind of a wasted effort. We were preaching to the choir, not the ones who needed to hear it.

Tuesday, Feb. 4th

We picked up the boys at the hospital that put the wheelchairs together for us and took them into our office. They are so much fun. Now that we know them better, they have really started to open up and talk to us. They are great young men and they work hard. They put 24 wheelchairs together this morning. Our assessors are doing a great job of getting these wheelchairs out to the people who need them. We are really happy with how this new shipment is being given out. That is until today, when Alan lost one of the assessment forms. He had it in his hand and then when he went to give it to the boys it was gone. We searched high and low for that thing and never did find it. It was sooooooooooooo frustrating! It’s tough to get old, some of these senior moments can drive you crazy!!
I worked on the Nukuhetulu Water Project this morning and again this afternoon. I just about have it ready to submit. It will be our last water project. We have two other villages that are deserving and we may do the ground work, but we won’t submit them because we won’t be here long enough to see them through to completion. We may not get this Nukuhetulu one done either. I hope that won’t stop them from approving it. We can get most of it done and Ana can finish it up if she needs to. If another couple comes some time soon after we leave, they can pick up where we left off and get the other villages submitted with the information we will leave. But if no one comes for awhile they will probably fall through the cracks. That is so sad!

We are going to have Elder Andersen come to Tonga the end of February. They hardly ever get a General Authority to come here, so it is a huge thing. All of the youth on the island are preparing for a cultural celebration. There were about 300 youth out on the field tonight doing dances that they will perform for him. It will be fun to be here for that.

Monday, Feb. 3rd

We had another phone conference with the Area Presidency and SLC today, so I had to finish adding all of the current charges to the financial report. I’m ready to kill the Hamblins at the Mission Office. They are the worst ones for getting the information to me. I even had Howard email them today to get the receipts sent to me, but by noon I still didn’t have them so I just sent the report in without them. I know the Area is going to be mad when they see some large amounts show up out of nowhere, but I don’t know what else to do about it. I’m tired of worrying about this, I have other things to focus on.

As I was trying to finish up that report, Alan was standing over me, pressuring me to hurry because the Super Bowl was starting. Once I was done, we jumped in the car and headed for home. Last year Elder Johnson said that he was able to watch it on the Tongan TV channel. No such luck this year. Alan turned the channel a dozen times, (we only have 2 channels!) hoping it would magically appear, but it never did. He was so disappointed. It’s probably a good thing, our phone conference was at 2:00 and that would have been right at the end of the game.

The phone conference went well. There was a lot of talk about housing this time. The church is going to build some basic homes for the members that lost everything and help rebuild the homes of others. I thought it was really interesting until they started talking about how much it would cost. When they got up into the millions of dollars I panicked! I am praying that I don’t have anything to do with that part of the accounting. Hopefully it will all be done by the contractors. I didn’t dare ask.

We had a wonderful FHE tonight. Elder and Sister Funaki were in charge. They are both Tongan and they graduated from Liahona High School back in the 60’s. He was a professor at BYU Hawaii until he retired and came here on a mission. They had a lot to do with the Tongan village at the Polynesian Cultural Center. They just had their 50th anniversary over there last summer and Elder and Sister Funaki were in charge of the Tongan part. They showed us a video of the music and dances that they did in the show and then we talked them into dancing for us. They are both wonderful Tongan dancers and they sang as they danced. Sister Kinikini’s father wrote the music that they were dancing to, so she sang along with them. It was wonderful -- truly an authentic cultural experience. The only bad thing about it was that I didn’t have my camera!!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

OK, first come, first serve. I am bringing this DARLING Tongan baby home with me. Who wants to adopt him????? His name is Pauloa and he lives in the house right behind us. I am now officially his Nana and I love him!! He has filled the ache in my heart for my own grandchildren, especially Grace. He is 4 months old, he sleeps through the night and we have only heard him cry twice! What a precious, happy baby.

Sunday, Feb.2nd

We have decided to have our RS presidency meetings on Sunday mornings at 9:30. Sister Mitchell and I have to drive into town to get there, we hold them at the church. Today the president didn’t come until 10:00. Really! It’s not like we can just run home and come back later, we live 30 minutes away!

Fast and testimony meeting was good as usual. We are having a special fast this month, joining our family and friends at home in fasting for moisture in Cache Valley. We are hearing that there hasn’t been enough snow in the mountains to fill the rivers, lakes and reservoirs when it melts this spring. Without more snow it will be a dry summer with severe water restrictions.

We have 10 people in our Sunday School class now. We have a few more that are talkative now and our discussions are a lot more fun. Before, everyone was so shy and quiet that there were only one or two that would answer questions. We had a great discussion about the life of Christ today. 3 of our class members are getting ready to go to the temple. We are really excited about that!

I conducted RS for the first time today. We had combined opening exercises with the Young Women. Everything went well and I felt good about the changes our new presidency has made to make the opening excercises run smoother and be more concise. We need to give the teachers more time to give their lessons. Sister Mataeli, the president, gave the lesson today. She hates to talk in front of people so she talks so quietly that we could hardly hear her. I hope I can help her to feel more confident.

We had a great time with the missionaries today. The Zone leader, Elder Steele and his companion came for dinner. They work in our ward so we were able to talk to them about some of the people in our Sunday school class. They baptized a couple of them so they know some details that we were not aware of. It was good to get to know about their backgrounds. Elder Steele is a great missionary. He reminds me of our boys. He doesn’t want to be a zone leader. He is tired of having to take care of all of the problems of the other missionaries, he just wants to go out and do missionary work. He plans to go to USU in the fall. We are excited about that. Hopefully we will be able to see him again when he comes home from his mission. I fixed them some spaghetti and garlic bread. They seemed to enjoy it, they ate a ton! Elder Steele’s companion is Tongan, I can’t begin to spell his name. He doesn’t speak much English, but he is a great missionary and we really enjoyed getting to know him better.

While we were eating dinner, Sister Aland called and wanted us to come to a special singing practice for the musical firesides that we are doing. They were learning two new songs. When dinner was over and the missionaries left, we went over to see if they were still practicing. Sadly they were, so we joined them. Most of the mission couple here are looking for things to do, but we aren’t!! For us, it is just one more thing to do!!

When we were watching the weekend news, we saw the story about our Ha’utu Water Project again. We are excited about that. No only because we got to see Alan on TV again, but because they felt like it was important enough to include in the weekend review of the weeks news. It is really good publicity for the church!
Saturday, February 1st, 2014

It wasn’t raining when we got up this morning, so we hurried and did some laundry. The things we washed last night still aren’t dry, but we are hoping we will have a little sunshine today and we will be able to get everything dry before night time. It could be an adventure -- sleeping in wet sheets!

We ran into town and did some shopping. It was a circus. All the rest of the schools on Tongatapu start on Monday so there were crowds of people everywhere!! We only went to the stores we really needed things from and then we headed back home. We have enough food to get through the weekend and we can add what we need next week.

It has been 3 weeks since we have had a chance to really clean the house so we did that today. I sprayed poison all over the place. I like to do that every two weeks and I was behind schedule. I hate seeing cockroaches but when I do see one I want to see it dead, not running across the floor!!!
In the afternoon I was able to go to the service center and send our Family and Friends letter and post a few more things on the blog. It is really frustrating. Now that I have a minute to do something, we have no office on campus to go do it in. There are so many people working in the Service Center now that we never know when we can find a room with internet that we can use. We really miss our office here and we haven’t even moved out yet. But they came and took the air conditioner and we can’t work there without it. We heard today that they are taking all of the air conditioners over to the Nauvoo Stake Center so that when Elder Anderson comes, he can use that building for his training center. After he leaves they have told us that they will put the airconditioner back in our office and we can use it again. That came from the FM and not Howard, but we are hoping it is true.

I made a cake tonight for our dinner tomorrow. We are having the missionaries for dinner. That will be fun, we have missed being with the young elders and sisters. While the cake was cooling, before I could frost it, we went for a walk. At 8:30 at night it is still to hot to walk! By the time we got home I was miserable and then it takes me an hour sitting in front of the fan to cool down. It will be like this for all of February and maybe March. Then we hit the rainy season in March and April. Not much to look forward to in the weather department for the next 2 months.

On the way into work I took a quick picture of what the roads looked like today. Everyone in Tonga just takes their shoes off and walks in the rain. I don't know how they sit in classes when they are soaking wet but the Tongans love a good rainstorm.

Friday, January 31st

It rained hard all night and there was a strong wind. As a result the rain fell sideways and we had to close the windows on one side of our house. That is not good when it is so hot and humid! When we got up this morning the rain had stopped, but that was only a brief respite. By the time we were ready to go into work it was pouring again. As we drove into town we saw flooding everywhere. The Chinese are great to help with road work here but for some reason they don’t seem to know much about drainage. They create more problems than they solve. They build the roads up but they don’t add curbs and gutters. The water flows off the side of the roads and directly into yards and homes. It is tragic!!

I spent the day today working on things that other people needed done. I wrote a newspaper article for the Tongan newspaper about our closing ceremony at Ha’api for Ana. I itemized the list of supplies that we need for our emergency container for Silongo, so that he can send it out for bids. I put together the February calendar of events for Alan so it will be ready to hand out at FHE next Monday, and I wrote up a report, complete with pictures, of the Ha’utu closing ceremony to send to Elder Reynolds in the Area Office. Everything took longer than I had planned and we had lots of interruptions, so I didn’t get some of the things done that I really wanted to do. I am behind on that blessed spreadsheet of expenses for Ha’api and I wanted to take care of that, plus I really want to post some more information on the blog. I am so far behind!! I also need to write the letter to our family and friends. Hopefully we will have a calmer weekend and I can catch up a little bit.

The water man from Ha’utu came to see us today. He brought us an envelope full of cash, $2,500.00 to be exact. That is their part of the project. Every village has to commit to doing their share in order for us to submit their project. This village has been wonderful and so dependable. It took them over 6 months as a village to raise that much money. We took the money from him and then Alan told him that we would use that money to buy diesel fuel for their new engine for the next 6 months. I wish I would have had my camera ready, the look on his face was priceless. Through his tears he expressed his gratitude. He just couldn’t thank us enough. When their old machine was working it took over 6 hours to fill their tank. The new one can fill it in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The deisel fuel we buy them may last longer than 6 months.

We really needed to go shopping today. We are running out of food! We haven’t had time to stop and pick things up so we have just been getting by with what we had at home. It rained so hard that we didn’t even try to buy groceries. Our parking lot was totally flooded by noon and we left for home at 1:30. We had things that needed to be done at Liahona, so we will have to try to go shopping tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be a little better.

We haven’t been able to wash all week. Partly because of time and partly because of the weather. We washed tonight. We will just have to hang things in the house and turn the fan on. I draw the line at wearing dirty clothes!

The sign that was put up in Ha'utu. It is a little smaller than what we expected but it looks good and it marks the spot!

The villagers and the water committee had really done a lot of work at the site. they repaired and painted the pump house,spread rock all around the outside, and put up a new fence to keep the animals away from the water supply. It looked GREAT!

     Elder Webb was interviewed by the news media about the project.  He did a great job of representing the church.  He should have gone into movies, he looks really good on TV!

Thursday, January 30th

This was another VERY GOOD DAY in Tonga. We had the Ha’utu Water Project closing ceremony this morning. When we got up it was really cloudy, by 8:30 it was raining, by 9:00 it was pouring and the street and sidewalks were flooded. We needed to be in Ha’utu by 9:30 but we had to wait for the rain to let up a little to get out the front door and into the car. As we drove to Ha’utu, the rain started to lessen a little. The closer we got the better the weather. It had rained in the village, but then it stopped. The villagers and water committee were out at the site putting up a large white tent for us to sit under when we arrived. They got it all set up, put chairs under it and we had room for all of the invited guests to sit down for the ceremony. It started a little late, but that gave the TV channel a chance to take a lot of pictures and interview Alan and the water master. The Bishop conducted the ceremony. The town officer, the water master, the Stake President, Alan, Ana and the District Officer all spoke. It was such a touching experience for me to watch these big Tongan men, with tears in their eyes, express their appreciation for all we had done to make this day possible. They are so grateful to have the water up and running again. When they turned the engine on and the people could hear it running they all cheered and clapped. That is when I realized that there were many villagers who had come and were standing in the back. The people of the village are so thrilled to have water in their homes again. They told us that last night everyone in the village had a bath and did laundry!

The opening prayer and the closing prayer were given by members of our church, but they had invited a Wesleyan Minister to say a prayer during the program. It was a great way to make everyone in the village feel a part of the ceremony. We saw a miracle during the ceremony. When the Wesleyan Minister was praying, and we all had our heads bowed and our eyes closed, a table with a white table cloth, loaded with food, magically appeared. I truly did not hear a thing and I was sitting in the front row. But then, Wesleyan Ministers have a tendency to yell in their prayers. When I opened my eyes I almost gasp right out loud, I was so surprised to see that table and all that food appear right in front of us. It is kind of sad though that they would do that during a prayer. I was glad that nothing like that happened while our priesthood leaders were praying.

At the end of the ceremony, after we had all had time to have some light refreshments, it started to rain again. At first it wasn’t to bad, so everyone was able to make it to their cars, but then it started to pour again and the wind was so strong it got to you no matter where you were standing. In the midst of that down pour, I had to pause and give thanks that our prayers had been answered. Heavenly Father gave us two hours of calm weather. Just long enough to have an amazing closing ceremony, and then the rain returned. It wasn’t a coincidence, it was the answer to our prayers.

When we got back to our car we found it loaded with food. Coconuts, pineapples, watermelon, and huge papayas. This is a very poor village and they cannot afford to give expensive presents but they wanted to express their appreciation for all we had done. They gathered the best of their crops and gave them to us. We were overwhelmed by their generosity. It was way more than we could ever eat but it will be fun to share with the other senior missionaries.

We received an email today telling us that we need to move out of our office at Liahona by Monday. That was a real downer on such a good day. We knew that there were plans to turn our building into classrooms, but when it didn’t happen during the school break we thought we had dodged the bullet and would be able to stay there for the rest of our mission. WRONG!! We will have to stay in town all day or try to find another option here on the campus. Howard knows that we need to have internet access available to be on top of what is happening to aid Ha’api. If we are out of our office like we were today, we aren’t going to drive all the way into town just to check our emails. He is trying to help us find a solution.

It was fun to watch the news tonight. We made it to one of the top 3 news stories. Alan did a great job of representing the church in the interview he did explaining the project. The water master also did a good job and he expressed how grateful the people are to have running water again. The principal of the primary school expressed gratitude for the water and explained how the school had to close down when the water was off. All in all, we feel really good about the positive coverage we received.

It rained hard this afternoon and the forecast is for more to come. We hope this will help with the water problems in Ha’api. It should dilute the salt that is in the ground from the huge waves that covered the island. After this rain, when they plow the ground up it should be good to plant again.

I just found out that when I add a bunch of pictures at a time, they come up in the order that I took them, not the order that I wanted. Oh well. The first one is of the table of food that magically appeared while the Weslyan Minister was praying.

     After the closing ceremony was over I was surprised to see how many of the villagers had come and were standing in the back.

These are the men that took part in the closing ceremony.  The one in the middle is the Ha'utu Ward Bishop and the one to his right is the West Stake President.

When the ceremony was over the ladies started singing and dancing and pouring water on themselves and each other.  They are so thrilled to have running water again.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The cyclone hit Ha’api on a Saturday. Early that morning Howard Niu, the Service Center Manager, called Elder Hamblin at the mission office and told him that he needed to get the missionaries off of the outer islands in the Ha’api group and that he only had 6 hours to do it. At that point Cyclone Ian was headed for Vava’u and their outer islands, including Hunga, where Alan served as a young man. It was expected to miss Ha’api altogether. By this time it was too late to get the missionaries off of Hunga, the seas were to rough to send a boat out. There are places to go on Hunga, the worry was for the missionaries on the small, flat islands with no protection. The mission sprang into action and evacuated the missionaries from the Ha’api smaller islands and took them to the main island where they could stay in the church. Gradually Cyclone Ian began to change direction and pick up speed. It missed Vava’u and Hunga but headed straight for Ha’api and those smaller islands. On one of the small islands every house was destroyed except one and the church. All of the missionaries were safe and accounted for because a faithful priesthood leader followed the promptings of the Spirit and got them to safety. There is no doubt that the Lord watches over his faithful missionaries.


One Saturday we purchased 500 loaves of bread along with 3 cases of butter and sent them up to Ha’api on a chartered flight. Later that night I thought about what we had done. Was it really worth the money we spent? It would be gone so fast and it couldn’t be replaced time after time. Why did we do that????

The answers came about a week later when we met with Elder Tukuafu who was at the airport when they unloaded the bread from the plane. The few loaves that we couldn’t get into the boxes and sent up as carry on luggage, were given to the employees of the airport by Elder Tukuafu. He said that they were so thrilled to have their own loaf of bread and the smiles that accompanied their gratitude were a memory to be cherished.

As the bread was given out to the people of the islands, spirits were lifted for the first time since the cyclone. It truly was comfort food. Bread is a familiar food, they love it and they associate it with happier times. It was a gift of love and it brought great comfort and hope to those who have lost so much. The missionaries and church members gave out the bread, strengthening testimonies by confirming that the Lord is aware of his children and he will find ways to strengthen them and let them know of His love. Once again we saw that through inspired priesthood leaders, the Lord had blessed the lives of his children in Ha’api ------ as well as those of us who had the privilege of being instruments in His hands.

Wednesday, January 29th

Tiamani is doing some substitute teaching at Liahona this week, so we went into the office alone. When we got there everything had changed. Verna Tukuafu, the new Self Reliance Manager had done a little decorating in our building. She had her Area Manager coming for a visit today and she really went all out to impress him. We had potted plants in every room, fresh flowers on the tables, new computers and desks in two of the rooms and new tables and chairs in the interview rooms. She even spiffed up the lobby by adding plants, a table and some new chairs. We thought it was a little over the top, since we have done without any of those things all these months, but it will be interesting to see how much of it gets used by the new Self Reliance team. We still have our same old desks and chairs in our office, but they have served us well so far so we will just keep using them.

Paul Reed was here from the Area Office. We have met him before so he came over to talk to us today. He was very complimentary about the work we have been doing in Tonga and with the Cyclone Relief. He indicated that the Area Presidency is very pleased with how things are going in Tonga, so that made us happy. We are just doing the best that we can do and the Lord is making up the difference. Still, it is always nice to be appreciated.

I finally got Alan and Ana to sit down and go over the list of items we need to put in the emergency container to restock it. I think we have a pretty complete list of items now and I will type it up and submit it for bids tomorrow. We need to get that container cleaned out and restocked as soon as possible.

We are having the closing ceremony for the Ha’utu Water Project tomorrow, so we needed to come up with an agenda for the ceremony and get the food ordered. We already have the paper products so all we needed to do was pick up the water. Ana will pick up the food on her way out to the village in the morning. The forcast is for rain right now, but the Lord knows this is going to happen, so I will pray for a little window of nice weather until we get it done. I can’t wait to meet some of the villagers and see how they feel about the water being back on in their homes and in the school.

I finished up the financial report for January this afternoon. JUST 4 MORE TO GO!!!! I am able to do them all by myself now, but I still stress over them and I really don’t like doing it. I will not miss that part of this job. ( Although I do feel good about the fact that I was able to learn how to do them. It’s good to know that I still have some brain cells left that work!)

We went to our office this afternoon hoping that the airconditioner had been fixed. When we got there the man was just finishing up the job. He said that all of the air conditioners in that area had gone off with the power surge we had the other day. Most of them are in class rooms. Those poor students!!! I don’t know how they stood it. I’m glad that he fixed the ones at the school first. We could go home but the kids couldn’t.

Today is Judy’s birthday in Tonga. I called her to wish her a happy birthday. We never could get the Skype video to work, but we were able to have a good visit on the phone connection. It was good to hear about what is happening in the neighborhood and in the ward. I miss our neighbors and it was really nice just to hear her voice and reconnect.

We haven’t had any time to shop in days so we are running out of vegetables. We needed some cabbage and tomatoes for dinner so we headed down the road to see what we could find. We ended up clear in town before we could find a head of cabbage. It is so hot now that good produce is getting hard to find. The cabbage is scarce and more expensive and so are the tomatoes. I remember when this happened last year, it will be awhile before we have a good supply again.

While we were in town we decided to go out to eat. We never do that so we stopped at the Precious Stone and had Chinese food. It was just ok, but at least I didn’t have to cook. That felt good!

Our lobby, our new office and the new conference room. The beam in the cealing in where they knocked the wall out to enlarge the room.

Wow what a change in our office!! Verna should have come on board a long time ago. We don't know how she gets the money to do all this but she has really spiffed the place up.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tuesday, January 28th

It was another FULL DAY!! We didn’t make it into the office again today. Ana had meetings here at Liahona, so we decided to stay and work in our office here. I had my monthly financial report for the Welfare Department to work on. It was a bad decision to stay. Our air conditioner is still on the blink and we couldn’t stand it in the office for more than 2 hours, even with the fans going full force. It got so hot in there that I literally couldn’t breathe. I hate doing that report in the first place and to do it under those circumstances was unbearable. I am about half done with it, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

We had a meeting with Ana this morning and we changed it to our house. The air conditioner is working fine there and it felt soooooooooooooo good! We are trying to keep up on all of our projects as well as the relief effort in Ha’api. That cyclone has tripled our work load! We need to get Sam moving on the Lavengatonga project. He has had plenty of time to fix the problems. We need to close that one out. The Central Pharmacy called and their floor is DONE!!! They are thrilled and so are we. Now all we need to do there is pay the bills and we are done with that one.

After lunch we had a conference call with the Area Office. We called them 3 times and each time the connection was bad. We had to go ahead anyway. It was almost impossible to hear them so it made for a very long hour. Somehow we got through it and made assignments for what needs to be done this week. The main concern is still getting clean drinking water to the people. We are sending 3,000 liter tanks up loaded with water on the boat. The fire truck will come and suck the water out and then put it in our clean church tanks. All of the people can come to the churches to get water. Then the empty tanks will come back on the boat and we will fill them again. Hopefully that will work until we can get fresh water from under ground and from the rain. It will be cheaper than sending bottled water every other day.

My financial report was well received and they are very supportive of my trying to get all of the receipts that are needed. They told the priesthood to set a hard line and get that information to me ASAP and make sure that others did too. Maybe now it will happen.

As soon as that call was over, Ha’utu called and said that they were ready to hook up the engine and pump. We jumped in the car and headed out to the village. We told them that we wanted to be there to hear it start and see it work. When we got there, there were a lot of the villagers there working on cleaning up the area and building a fence around the shed to keep the animals out. I took a video as they started the engine. It was so fun to see the excitement on the faces of those men. Then we watched them hook up the pump and start pumping the water from the well. When the first water came out of the pipe they all started laughing and jumping in it. Once the dirty water was out and clean water started to flow, they took turns leaning over and splashing it on their faces and into their hair. It was amazing to watch. We knew that they had been without water for awhile, but we found out today that it has been since before Christmas. They have been getting drinking water from the church and washing their clothes and taking baths in the ocean all that time.

We had to step back and realize that things are bad in Ha’api and everyone is trying to help those people, but some things are just as bad right here in Ha’utu and no one seems to care. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father prompted us to help this village. He cares! And He knew that we could make a difference in so many lives there. They will be celebrating tonight --- and doing laundry. Once again I am overwhelmed that the Lord would trust us enough to send us here to do His work. I just pray that we are hearing every prompting and doing everything that He sent us here to do.

We will have the closing ceremony for Ha’utu on Thursday. They were concerned about that and begged us to have it tomorrow. They thought that they couldn’t use the water until the ceremony was held. Alan and I just looked at each other and said, “No way! You fill that water tank and then send the water to the homes tonight.” There is no reason for them to wait any longer. Grown men, covered with mud and dirt, had tears in their eyes. They can fill their water tank in two hours with the new equipment and then they will send it to the homes. They were so grateful!!! This is the best part of our job - seeing that kind of joy in the eyes of the villagers. Hopefully the members and non-members alike will realize that the Lord knows them, He is aware of them and He loves them. He sent help when they were desperate. We know that this will be a missionary moment for many of them.

We came home hot and tired, but it was a VERY GOOD DAY!!!!!

The men in the village were so happy to see the engine and pump in place and ready to go! When they turned the engine on and the water started to flow, the party began! Meanwhile, outside some of the other villagers were working on building a fence around the water shed.

Monday, January 27th, 2014

We went to the devotional this morning and that led to a change of plans for our day. Once the devotional was over, Howard called a special meeting for everyone involved with the cyclone relief. That meeting lasted from 9:00am until almost noon. President Tupou and President Fehoko returned from Ha’api this morning and they reported on what they saw happening up there. It was really interesting to learn about what is going on. We thought that the churches had good water now, but that is not really true. We still have some work to do to make sure that there is clean drinking water available for the people of Ha’api. The weather forecast for the Ha’api group of islands for the rest of 2014 is not good. They will have a very dry summer and they rely so much on rain water to live. A drought now, with all of their crops ruined, will be terrible. They are desperate right now for rain to fill their sema-vis again. We are praying for rain for them.

We also heard about the missionary work. The missionaries are busy working to clean up the island, but they are talking to a lot of people along the way. There are many people who have become inactive who are saying that they will now come back to church. They saw what buildings withstood the storm and which church was the first one there to help. They know the church is true and this experience has solidified that in their minds and in their hearts. The missionaries are also having baptisms. People really want to know more about the church. They are saying to their preachers, “Why are you telling us that these are not good people when they have done so much to help us and ask nothing in return.” Most of them have spent a lot of time in our buildings and they have felt the difference there. Now they want to know more about the Mormons.

After our meeting we ran home for lunch and then back to our office here on the campus. I had to submit the financial report to the Area Office by today. While we were there we had a power surge that took our air conditioner out. We never could get it going again so we had to pack up and move to the Service Center. It was 115 degrees in our office! I worked until 5:00 on the report, never getting all of the receipts and information from other people that I needed to complete it. Finally, I just sent it in. I did all I could do to make people submit their charges. Someone else will have to put the pressure on them.

We had an interesting FHE tonight. Our temple is closed for 2 weeks and the men that are working on it came to FHE to talk about their work and their experiences. There were 6 of them and they have worked on various temples all over the world. They are doing some stone work on our temple and putting in new doors. Just some basic upkeep work. One of them told us about working on the temple in Nigeria. When they were finished and headed to the airport to go home, they were stopped on the road by a road block set up by 4 armed men. These men wanted a bribe to let them continue down the road. Their driver, who was a member of the church, refused to pay. He started yelling at the armed men. They pointed their guns at the car and the driver stepped on the gas and took off. They were all expecting to see bullets flying but as they looked back, all 4 of the men were pounding their rifles on the ground. All four of their guns had jammed. That story, plus others, made for a very interesting evening.

Sunday, January 26th

I slept alright last night but as soon as I got out of bed the Tongan Crud hit me. I had a terrible morning and had to stay home from church today. I hate that!!! Not only do I hate feeling so awful, but I hate missing church! Alan had to teach both the Sunday School lesson and the Priesthood lesson today. I felt bad that he had to do the Sunday School class alone. He said that it was a good day at church, but he missed me. Of course he did!

I slept most of the day, until our bed made my back hurt so bad I had to get up. By then I was really weak from being so sick. I have no energy at all tonight. I am hoping and praying that I feel better by morning! We have another big week ahead. I think part of my problem is the heat. It has been so blessed hot here lately and there is no breeze to cool things off. That plus all the sun yesterday is not a good combination for me. I have got to be more careful about the amount of time I spend in the sun.

When we got to the Warf this morning we decided to walk through the fish market and take a few pictures. We don't buy our fish here, but it is interesting to see. The fish is fresh every day. Then we got on the boat and headed to Fa'fa. I took a picture of the boat that goes to Eua. That is the boat that everyone gets sick on. It goes over the Tongan trench, the second deepest trench in the world, and the water is always rough out there. The last picture is our first view of the island of Fa'fa.

Saturday, January 25th,

We got up early so we could clean the house and do some wash before we headed out on our adventure with the other senior missionaries. We have all been looking forward to this day for weeks. We are headed to the island of Fa’fa. It is probably the nicest island in all of the Tongan chain and there is a wonderful resort over there that we have been dying to see.

We were worried about the weather yesterday, but today the sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful blue with white puffy clouds … perfect! 17 of us went by boat for the 30 minute trip to Fa’fa. The pictures will speak for themselves! They gave us a folly for the day so we had a place to change our clothes and somewhere to lay down if anyone wanted to do that. It had two bedrooms where people could change their clothes and a bathroom that was very interesting. It only had three walls and the shower was outside. It was in a fenced area and it was beautiful, but still it felt a little strange having it all out in the open. There was a bamboo curtain you could pull down if it was raining, but that just blocked off the sink and toilet, the shower was out in the open.

They had a huge hammock out on the beach and 4 wooden loungers, but we also took mats. No one spent much time laying around. We swam, snorkeled and walked the beach looking for unusual shells. It was hot and we all got a little sunburned, but the water was cool, the snorkeling was amazing and the setting was breathtaking! It was a fabulous day. We had a great time. Lunch came with the price of the trip and the food was amazing too. It is a pricy place to go stay, but the cost of the trip for a day was well worth the money. We won’t do it again before we come home but those that will be here next summer really want to go back again. They had a little gift shop where I found a t-shirt that I liked. I have been looking for one since we got here and I finally found it. Alan bought it for me.

By the time we got home, I was exhausted. The heat really takes it out of me. We both took quick showers and discovered that we got more sun than we thought we did. It doesn’t matter how much suntan lotion you put on here, the salt water washes it off quickly and everyone gets sunburned. I have some blisters on my back, so I will be sore for a few days. I guess I will have to wear a t-shirt if I want to snorkel. That seems to be when I get it the worst.

Our boat was to big to take into shore, so this man pulled his raft out to get us. The folly that they let us use for the day was amazing. That is where you would stay if you stayed over night. You can have dinner on the beach --- so romantic! The beach was white sand and the snorkeling was amazing! We saw such interesting fish and corral formations. I love the clouds in Tonga. They make a ocean view even more breathtaking. You can rent kayacks but we didn't, and there were lots of places where you could drop down for a minute if you needed to rest.

Friday, January 24th,

We stopped at the industry park on the way into the office to pay the bill for the chemicals to clean the pharmacy. Hopefully that will be all done this weekend. We have heard that story so many times now that we don’t know what to believe. We paid even more for the chemicals this time than we did the first time. This had better be the end of it!!

We didn’t see Ana at all yesterday. She went one way and we went another. We sat down for a few minutes to catch up on what we are all doing and then she was off to another meeting with the National Emergency Management Organization. I’m a little worried about her. She is really tired. She didn’t come into work today until almost 10:30. The stress is starting to show on her and all of us. Ha’api is almost out of food and the water situation up there is not good. They are so dependent on rain water there. It has poured all day here but they said that these storms are missing Ha’api. Sometimes you just feel helpless as to what to do to help!

Our office is starting to look much better. They finished painting yesterday and the new blinds are up. They also moved the bulletin board and the white board over, so now it is starting to feel more like an office. Alan is quite happy with it all. He likes it much better than the old one. The printer is still on the other side of the building and that is a pain. Whenever I print anything I have to walk through the whole building to pick it up. Hopefully they will move that soon.

Ofa stopped by. He is the contractor for our Ha’utu project. He said that they couldn’t put the engine and pump in today because of the rain and the Ministry of Health is behind schedule. Hopefully they will do it tomorrow. We are sick about that! We really wanted to be there to see this project come together, but we will be on another island tomorrow. We don’t want them to delay because of us, this village has been without water for almost 3 weeks. They need to get things up and running ASAP! Ofa said that he would take pictures for us if it happens tomorrow. After waiting all this time, it would happen on the ONE DAY that we won’t be able to be there.

I tried to get caught up on all of the finances and make sure we are ready for our meeting with the Area Presidency on Monday. It rained all afternoon and into the night. We are getting lots of needed moisture. This was a good rain.

Tiamani told us today that her friend that was going to Singapore on a mission, had to be reassigned because it is to dangerous to send missionaries in there. We had not heard that before and we don’t know what is happening over there. He was really disappointed. He wanted to go to Singapore but now he is going to New Zealand.

We were able to donate chairs to the night school at Fo'ui today. We have been waiting a long time to help these students who have to sit on the floor and write on the cement floor to do their lessons. These desks will be a great blessing.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

We were able to pretty much finish up moving into our office today. They have finished all the painting and we have new blinds on our window. Our carpet is nasty, but they are going to replace it in 4-6 weeks. That should be fun, we will get to do this all over again!

I was able to get everything filed that has been stacking up on my desk these last 2 weeks. That felt good!! I can see my desk again. I now have a million emails that I need to go through and put in folders, delete or respond to. That will take me several hours.

On the way home for lunch today, we asked our secretary, Tiamani, what she likes to eat for breakfast. She told us that she never eats breakfast or lunch. She comes from a poor family and they only eat one meal a day. We often give her treats at the office but we never knew that that was all she got to eat during the day. She would never complain and she donates all of her time to the Lord. She works for us - as a volunteer - in the mornings and then she spends most of her time in the afternoon at the temple. While the temple has been closed, she has been helping one of the teachers at Liahona get her room ready for the new school year. This young woman is amazing! She will make a wonderful missionary, but she is so shy, we are worried that she will have a hard time at first.

When we got back to Liahona, we went to the FM department and met two men from the village of Fo’ui. We have been working for months to get them some desks for the students that they help in a night school they have there. They tutor the students who are having a hard time to make sure that they can pass the state tests. We were able to give them 30 desks that Liahona is getting rid of. They aren’t new, but they are in pretty good shape and they will be so much better than sitting on the cement floor! That was a feel good project. I am so happy that we were able to finally make it happen.

After lunch I went over to our Liahona office and started sorting through the paperwork I keep there. Having two offices is hard but we love being able to be close to home in the afternoon. While I was working we got a call saying that they were taking the new machines to Ha’utu. We jumped in the car and ran out there to take some pictures. Quite a few men from the village were there. They are all excited to have the new equipment. We found out that they have not had any water in their homes, except rain water, for the last 3 weeks. Their engine died and could not be repaired again. This new one and the pump got here just in time for school to start. Without water, they could not start school out there. The installation will be done tomorrow so we will go back out and take more pictures. This is the fun part!

Alan had to drive back into town to pick up more chemicals to clean the floor at the Central Pharmacy. We bought them once, for $325.00 and the man who was supposed to do the cleaning took off with them. He used them on another job and has no way of replacing them. We have waited over a month for him because he kept lying to us and saying that he would get it done. This last week we found out that he had used them. Alan was so mad and disappointed. The Bishop that worked with Alan on the pharmacy has talked to the man’s Stake President and we will just let them take care of it. It has been sooooo frustrating! Today we had to buy more chemicals and go a different direction. Alan left two men doing the work and it should be finished tonight. We will be relieved to close this project out!!!

I went back to the office at Liahona and updated some of the journals on CHAS. All of our projects have had to take a back seat while we worked on the cyclone relief. Now we need to get them back up and going. We have a lot of work to finish up here. I also put some more information on the blog. Hopefully I can put some of the pictures of the cyclone damage on this weekend.

It’s Thursday and the temple is closed. We really missed going tonight.

When we got to the village of Ha'utu today, the new engine and pump had been delivered. The men in the village were so excited to open it up and know that this project is really going to happen.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

When we got to the office this morning we found out that we were being moved from one side of the building to the other. REALLY! Like we have time to deal with this right now. I had so much to do today, but no where to plug my computer in and no desk to put it on. Finally we just had to give in and make the move. It will take a couple of days to get everything organized and put away, but we like our new office. It is cleaner and we can see the ocean out of our window. We have WiFi on this side of the building so we will enjoy that.

When I finally was able to get on the computer to check our email, I found an email that said that our Central Pharmacy Project is 110% over budget!!! I knew that I hadn’t charged anything to that project for a couple of weeks so I traced the charge and found that when the Service Center finance department paid for the water pump and diesel engine for our Ha’utu Project, they charged it to the wrong project. I talked to Ladene in the finance department and she will take care of it. That got my heart rate up!!

Our champion for the Ha’utu Project came in to see us today. We are planning the closing ceremony for that project. The engine and water pump should be delivered tomorrow and installed on Friday. We can have the closing ceremony the first of next week. YEA!!!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Today when we went into the office we just did the most important stuff and then about 10:30 we started calling our kids. This last week, by the time we were able to stop and call anyone, they were all in bed, fast asleep. We really needed to touch base with them and find out what is happening at home. No matter how far away we are, first and foremost we are parents and grandparents and we need to know that all is well in our family!

We talked to Tiff first and found out that it is cold season in her house. That plus the inversion and they have had a bad couple of weeks health wise. Kimi, Mike and Grace are all well. They don’t have that inversion in Colorado. It was fun to watch Grace look at us and try and get to us. She is reaching for us now and wants to come through the phone to Tonga. Lisa said that Amberly is feeling better, but she still isn’t 100% and they still don’t know what is causing the problem. We are all praying that she doesn’t have any more attacks and that this will go away as quickly as it came. The rest of their family is doing well. We woke Greg up from a nap. It was a holiday, Martin Luther King Day, and he had been to St. George on a golfing trip. No surprise there. He got home late the night before, therefore he needed a nap. He must have been dead to the world because he had a hard time waking up. But we talked to him on Facetime so at least we got to see him. He looked good and we think all is going well with him. We have to guess because he is allergic to questions, he has an instant reaction that seems to be life threatening. We had already talked to Dave and Parx. Parx is a little chatterbox but we can’t understand much of what he says. He sounds so cute, it will be fun to see how much he has changed. Dave said that Alisha and the baby are doing great but she is starting to get uncomfortable. Just a couple more months and we will be welcoming a new grandson!!
In the afternoon I took some time to post some things on the blog. I am way behind on the blog and I want to catch up so that I can post the information about the cyclone. I know the kids want to see the pictures.

I kind of put things on hold today, so I had to make a long list of things that need to be done tomorrow. We ended thd day with a walk.
Monday, January 20th 2014

The Reynolds were at our house at 8:00 am this morning and we started our day. We took them for a quick look at the dental clinic here at Liahona. The Area Office wants to help upgrade the office here. Then we headed for the village of Tea’kiu. Mamana was starting her Hygiene Training at 9:00 and we had all of the kits she needed. When we got there she was all set up. She had tables with table cloths and flowers. (She is the Stake RS President!)

She had 9 people that she was training, 8 women and 1 man. As they introduced themselves they expressed how grateful they were to be a part of this training and how excited they were to take it back to their villages. Some of them are RS Presidents, one is a new convert of 3 months and the man is not a member. He was the last to introduce himself, after all of the women had borne their testimonies. 2 of them are from Ha’api and are so grateful for all the church is doing to help their families up there. This sweet man told us that when he saw all of those women he wanted to run away but he didn’t because he knows how important this is. He has 9 children and 8 of them are members. He, his wife and his youngest child are not members. His wife has had her leg amputated and he and the son have to carry her everywhere she goes. As soon as he said that, Mamana told him that she would come and assess her and get a wheelchair for her. He got tears in his eyes and said that he promised he, his wife and his child would all join the church. The Spirit was so strong in that room as our hygiene training turned into a missionary experience.
The Reynolds couldn’t believe what they were seeing. None of us wanted to leave, but after I talked to them about the training we had to go.

We next went to Ha’utu. It was raining buckets so we didn’t actually go in to look at the pump and engine that we are replacing, we just showed them the village and the school that use that water. The engine and pump arrived on Friday and should be installed some time this week or next.

Then we took them to see the Blow Holes. The rain let up a little bit but the wind was really blowing so the waves were high and they loved seeing the blow holes go up. It really is like watching Old Faithful go off every few seconds. They got quite a show today. It was one of the best days we’ve been there.

Our next stop was the Central Pharmacy. They knew all about this project but they had no concept how big the building was. In the project journal I had said that this had almost killed Elder Webb off and now they know why. They were so impressed with all that was done there, how well it was done and that Elder Webb survived the project. He has their profound respect now.

It was time to head back to Liahona for a conference call with the Area Presidency. We didn’t have time to stop for lunch so we ran into our house and I fixed them some sandwiches and off we went again.

We met with Elder Tulkuafu, Howard Niu and President Tupou before the call, just to make sure that we were all on the same page and we had all of the facts. Then we talked to the Area Presidency, the Director of Temporal Affairs and some of the key people in Salt Lake. (I don’t know their titles but they report to the Presiding Bishopric and the First Presidency.) My assignment is to be over the finances for this whole thing, so I had to report on how much money we have spent. They have allocated an additional $75.000 to be used for the short term needs. We will add more as we go along. I am finding that calling to be VERY STRESSFUL but with the Lord’s help, somehow I will do it.

When the meeting was over the Reynolds spent some time in the Service Center answering emails and then it was time to take them to the airport. Wow, those 4 days just flew by. We were happy to get a chance to meet them and spend some time with them. We talk to them on the phone once a month and now they are our friends. It’s amazing how the bonding is instant in the mission field. We look forward to spending some time with them in Utah when we are all home again. They live in Bountiful.

On the way to the airport we drove by Lavengatonga so that they could see the tower and tank. The leak still isn’t fixed so we felt bad about that. Sam is back from Australia now and hopefully it will be taken care of quickly. We really would like to see that project closed before we go home. We have been working on it for our whole mission!

After we got them checked in and knew the plane was flying, we said our good-byes and headed for home. I really needed to go for a walk. I haven’t had time to walk in the mornings since the cyclone hit and my back and legs bother me if I don’t walk everyday. Alan went with me. It was relaxing and there was a little breeze tonight.
Last week, I don’t even remember which day, Enismore, the lady who is over housing at Liahona, had a new air conditioner installed in our house. We just love her, she has been so good to us! The one we had before just wasn’t big enough to cool off the house and we never used it much because it is so expensive to have it on and then not really do much. The one we have now is WONDERFUL! It cools the house off in about half an hour and then we can turn it off if we keep the doors closed. I love it!!! I can’t believe we suffered all these months and didn’t ask for help. She was so nice about changing it for us and said that she felt bad we had not told her sooner.


One more trip to the blow holes. I just can't resist a picture of the blow holes.

Mamana doing her hygiene training. She is amazing and the training is going so well in her area.