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.
Tuesday, April 1st

We had a huge day at the office today. Things just never seem to slow down around here. We had truck loads of root crops and seedlings delivered to the office that we are shipping over to Ha’api. We also had to get some wheelchairs on that same boat. That took most of Alan’s time.

I had to write up a project for the dental clinic and try to get in touch with the head doctor at the hospital in Vava’u. That project has been approved and we have not been able to contact him to get the process of ordering the equipment for the hospital started. We emailed him last week but he didn’t respond. I worked on that all morning.

By 1:00 we could see that we weren’t going to make it home for lunch, so we ordered take-out from Wave’s restaurant next door. I had fish and chips and Alan had a hamburger. It is WAY MORE than we are used to eating for lunch! Alan was ready for a nap and I was ready for a walk but we had to keep working.

Dr. Reynold, from Vava’u emailed me this afternoon. He has been down with the flu. He is thrilled about the project passing and he sent me the phone number of the lady that we need to contact here to get the ordering started. I talked to her and she said that the equipment from New Zealand was already on its way. REALLY!! Sure glad this project passed or someone would have had a hard time paying for that. This is a $100,000 project. We don’t have that kind of money just laying around. We will get an invoice for the stuff from New Zealand tomorrow and get that ordered. Hopefully it will come quickly and we can finish this project before we leave. We would love to make one more trip to Vava’u.

Alan and Ana were able to get all of the crops and the wheelchairs on the boat by 5:00 and then we headed for home. That was a LONG DAY!! We were still full from lunch so I didn’t make a big dinner. That was nice. We ended the day by delivering the April calendars to all of the senior missionaries and then writing in our journals.

The Kamala and ofi had to be bagged and then we sewed the bags shut. We did this with 5 truck loads of crops.

When the root crops arrived, they all had to be bagged or put in Tongan baskets to be shipped to Ha'api. These are seedlings that can be planted in Ha'api.

Monday, March 31st

We weren’t in the office very long today. Ana had a couple of meetings and we needed her help to work on the plans to send food crops to Ha’api tomorrow. I finished up our financial report that is due today, (just 2 more to go!!) and then we put the April calendar for the mission together. We didn’t think that we would have to do that again but I guess that joke was on us. The President hasn’t done anything about replacing us as district leaders.

When Ana hadn’t come by noon, we headed for home. We needed to go out to a couple of villages to see which beach we wanted to go to tonight. We are going to have a picnic on the beach for FHE.
After lunch we took a quick drive to the western side of the island. Both of the beaches we looked at were beautiful, but one was a little harder to get to and we have some senior sisters who can’t get down a difficult trail. Both of the roads to the beach were BAD!! Every road in Tonga is bad during the rainy season. Even though it was a nice day today, thank heaven!! there were mud puddles and huge ruts all along the roadways. It wasn’t easy but it is doable. We will just have to wash the car when this is over.

We met with the other seniors at 4:30, had a prayer and headed to the beach. It was a beautiful evening. The tide was coming in so we could wade and still stay in the sand, not have to walk on the corral. The clouds made for a great sunset and it was so relaxing to have a picnic on the beach and enjoy being together. Everyone had a great time. It was a very successful FHE. We planned it and did all the work, but Alan called it a 5th Monday FHE and we still have to come up with another one for our turn in April. What’s fair about that?????   

We had a great time at the beach with an amazing group of senior missionaries. This is one of the special blessings of serving a mission as seniors!

Everyone brought their own sandwiches and drinks, then we shared salads and desserts.  It was just fun and relaxing.

The tide was coming in, so we could just stand in the sand and let the water come up to us.

And then to end it all, we were able to see another beautiful sunset over the ocean.  I never get tired of that.

Sunday, March 30th

I had a bad night last night. Now my knee hurts. I am falling apart!!! I think I have been walking funny, trying to protect my left hip and now I have done something to my knee. I just need to have a good massage and get this pinched nerve loosened up and I should be fine. I don’t have time for all these aches and pains. I’m starting to feel OLD!!!

Church was a spiritual feast today. The 4 boys were confirmed today and they asked Alan to do one of them. All of the blessings were beautiful. The cousin’s mother came to church today and she said that she wants to learn more about the gospel. The rest of the relatives are now shunning the boys. They are all Wesleyan and it is getting very difficult for them to all live in the same house. Lopeti doesn’t have room for all of them in his house but he is trying to find a way to build on a piece of property that he owns. If he can swing it, then he will have room for them to come and live with him and he will formally adopt them.

We gave each of the boys a Book Of Mormon of their own today. They were so thrilled and grateful. They are just so humble and they can’t thank us enough for every little thing we do for them. Because they sincerely appreciate everything that is done for them, it makes you want to do more and more.

George and Sila were the only ones in our Sunday School class today. We have been talking about the Priesthood and today Alan brought a new bottle of oil that needed to be consecrated. They both hold the priesthood, so he had them help him do that. It was very special to watch. Then we continued with the lesson and when we were just about finished, Alan turned to me and said, I think we need to give you a blessing. I agreed. I needed a blessing and Alan wanted those two men to have that experience, so we did it right there in our classroom. Sila did the anointing and he had a hard time getting through it. Not because he didn’t know what he was doing, but because he was so emotional. The Spirit was very strong and Alan gave me a beautiful blessing. It was a very powerful experience for all of us. Afterwards, Sila said that when he placed his hands on my head this wonderful feeling filled his whole body. He could feel the power of the Priesthood in his hands. I don’t think he has given a blessing in a very long time and the Lord was using this experience to strengthen his testimony of the priesthood and the power of blessings.

Tonight we had a fireside at our ward. It was a musical missionary fireside. The senior missionaries have a choir and we sang two songs. The new converts bore their testimonies. We had 7 new members, including the 4 young men, share their testimonies. We had told the senior missionaries a little about the boys and they were really touched when they met them. The Spirit was very strong in that fireside and a lot of that had to do with the humble testimonies of those 4 young men. It was another very special experience.


Saturday, March 29th

We didn’t go into town today because we had a huge afternoon planned. We did the wash, cleaned the house and caught up on our journals.

We went to the viewing for Brother Walters this afternoon. They had it at their home. When we got there, there were so many people sitting on the floor in their house that we couldn’t get in the door. They were all family members and they were sharing memories about their father and grandfather. We wanted to pay our respects to Tuilia, his wife, but we will have to do that later. We went to the church for the funeral. The church is about 2 blocks from their home. They took the coffin in a van to the church and the family walked behind. That is how they do it in Tonga. The viewing was only for 2 hours because they don’t embalm the bodies here. He has been in a cooler for 10 days while all of his family flew in from America, Australia and New Zealand.
Bishop Niu, a carver here and a relative of the family, made his coffin. It was very nice, but just a wooden box the same shape as in the western movies. It had handles on the sides, but they were only for decoration. They carried it from underneath. It was covered with a pretty white cloth and there were beautiful flowers everywhere.

The funeral was very nice. Some of it was done in English and some in Tongan. We learned a lot about John Walters that we didn’t know before. He has 9 children and it was nice to be able to meet them. After the funeral we went to the cemetery. They had dug a new grave for him and lined it with cinderblocks. If his wife lives at least 5 more years, when she dies they will open his grave. The box and the body will have decomposed. They will put the bones to one side and bury her in the same grave. In the grave next to where he was buried there are 8 members of Tuilia’s family buried in the same grave. Her great grandparents, grandparents, parents and I’m not sure who else. This is an island and there is a limited amount of space for cemeteries

After a song and the graveside dedication of the grave, they placed his coffin on a large mat which they lowered into the grave. Then they covered the top with large slabs of cement and covered it all with a mound of ground coral rock. It was all very interesting to watch and they were fine with us taking a few pictures. Tuilia and her daughters all looked like they were worn out, but it is a custom not to wear any makeup or do your hair in a fancy way. That would make anyone look tired. I look forward to having a good visit with Tuilia when her family has all gone home.

We went out to dinner with all of the senior missionaries tonight as a farewell dinner for the Cutlers. He has been a visiting dentist here for the last 8 weeks and they have been great. But then they are from Idaho, what do you expect?? We went to the Waterfront, a really nice restrauant here. We both had a steak because it has been so long and we heard that they had really good steaks there. It was just OK. For the price we payed, I want better than just OK. I was a little disappointed in the food but the company was great!

At the cemetary, everyone stands or sit on the ground. Brother Walter's wife is sitting in front of his coffin, with her daughters standing beside her.

After the coffin was lowered into the grave, these men covered it with slabs of cement.  They picked them up and gently placed them where they needed to be.

Then they covered it with ground coral rock --- by hand!

Friday, March 28th

We went into work a little later today. We knew that we would be there all afternoon and into the evening. We were able to do some work at home where it is nice and quiet. I should stay home more often, I get more done, there aren’t so many interruptions.

At 11:30 we went into town and met Ana and the Beckstrands, the new dentist and his wife, at Café Escape. The Beckstrands will be part of the Welfare team, so Ana wanted to take them out to lunch. It was nice to get to get to know them a little better. They really have their work cut out for them, being the first missionary dentists in Tonga. They will have to organize the clinic and then be the directors over the work here. They expressed the need for equipment and supplies to upgrade the clinic at Liahona. We will work with them to make that happen.

This afternoon we had a conference call with Elder Reynolds in New Zealand. We talked about all of our projects and getting them closed out within the next month to 6 weeks. We also talked about two new projects that we will write up but not be here to see finished. Sure hope they find a couple to replace us! I will be writing up a project to upgrade the dental clinic with a budget of $25,000.00. The Beckstrands will be thrilled about that! At the end of the call, Elder Reynolds asked us to go home in June, submit our papers again and come back to serve in New Zealand in the Area Office as the Area Welfare Managers for the South Pacific. It was a huge compliment and New Zealand would be a dream mission, but we would have to come back in September for another 18 months. That would only give us 3 months at home with our family. We aren’t prepared to leave them again that fast, plus I have got to figure out what is going on with the pinched nerve in my back. It was tempting, but we just didn’t feel right about accepting it. We will be going home in June to stay a little longer than 3 months.

We left the office at 5:00 to do a little shopping and then headed to the church. We had the baptism of our 4 young men tonight. Leopeti baptized all four of them. They were so thrilled and they all came up out of the water just glowing. After they had changed, they came into the chapel and bore their testimonies. Michael, the oldest one, thanked “Elder and Sister Webb for feeding us breakfast and lunch everyday.” That about ripped my heart out. Those sweet boys have been through so much at such a young age and they still have a long ways to go. Thank heaven Leopeti found them and we can help make life a little easier for them. What a blessing to have them in our lives!

Lopeti and the 4 precious boys that he baptized tonight.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thursday, March 27th

When we got into the office this morning, Sister Tupou was there waiting for us. President Tupou has not been feeling well this last week. At first he thought he must have sprained his ankle but then his other leg started hurting too. He has been in bed for a week and now he is in such bad shape that he can’t walk. Sister Tupou came to get some crutches for him. He needs to get out of bed and start moving. We sent two different kinds of crutches and a walker to him. Alan also told him about the Chinese Master and his son. He has had this problem before and massage really helped him. We are worried about him. This is no place to have a serious problem.

Today is CADE’S BIRTHDAY!!! We tried to call him and talk to him but we had a really hard time. The internet connection was not stable and we kept losing him. We didn’t get to talk to him for long and we felt really bad. We look forward to calling and talking to our grandkids on their birthdays. We will make it up to him soon.

We didn’t stay at the office long today. Ana wasn’t there and we had a conference call with New Zealand at 1:00, so we left a little early to give us time to get home and eat lunch first. Our conference call was interesting today. We talk a lot about the new houses that need to be built for the people that have lost everything. The ones that the Tongan government wants everyone to build are so small and they don’t have a bathroom, a kitchen or any electricity. They say that once they get a shelter like that built for everyone, then they will come back and add on to it later. The church does not like that idea. The Area Presidency said today that we need to do better than that for our members. Originally we were going to try to build the same thing as everyone else, but it just doesn’t meet the needs of the people. We are trying to come up with a basic house that is cyclone resistant, that will be the model for future needs, when other damage is done in the South Pacific. We think we have a good plan now and the Area Presidency will present it to the Presiding Bishopric when they are in SLC next week. If they agree, we will start building in April.

I came out of the meeting today with a renewed gratitude for the Church and the Lord’s plan here on the earth. I know the Lord loves all of His children, but His church has a plan set up to care for them in times of emergency. It is very comforting to know that when things are bad, the Lord will reach out to help quickly, not 3 years down the line. I am so grateful for my membership in the Lord’s Church!

When that call was over we headed to Ha’utu. We needed to talk to the village leaders about setting up a separate savings account for the money they are collecting so they will have money saved when they need to purchase new equipment years from now. It is part of the training we do with the villages. We were meeting with the Water Master and the Town Officer. When we got there, the village chief was there as well as the Wesleyan Minister. Alan and Ana had a good visit with them. I spent most of the time in the car. They met in the town hall and there are no chairs. They sat cross legged on mats on the cement floor. My hips are already killing me, I wasn’t going to make it worse. They met for almost an hour and when it was over, Alan could barely walk. Not a good situation for two old palangis! Two of the men we met with are older than us, but they have been sitting like this their whole lives and they don’t even think about it.

When the meeting was over they came out to the car and brought me gifts. A large Tongan plaque and a beautiful Tongan fan. The also brought out 3 baskets full of food. We were embarrassed, we still had the back of the car full of the food we received yesterday. Good Heavens!! We are having a hard time finding people to give all of this stuff to. They cut a whole bundle of bananas off the tree, bring out a basket full of coconuts and another one full of papaya. Then they add apples and oranges that they buy at the market place. (because we are palangis) It is just to much food!! Ha’utu is so grateful for what we did for them that they just keep giving us things. We love them, but we hate to have them sacrifice so much for us. They have done enough.

We missed going to the temple tonight. We stayed home to watch the Nukuhetulu closing ceremony on the news. We hate missing the temple session, but we want to see the coverage the church gets on these water projects. We never know what they are going to say ahead of time. We got good coverage and Alan did another great job on his interview. He really represents the church well at these events. He should have been an actor, he looks good on TV.

This is the food that we added to the food we got yesterday. MERCY!! What are we going to do with all this food???

This is where the honored guests sat for the closing ceremony. We felt a little awkward. This is what they do for royalty.

I have a new Tongan Grandson and he has a new name --- Sione Webbey!  So much fun to hold a baby!!

Once again we went home with a car full of food.  The other senior couples love it when we have these closings.

Wednesday March 26th,

We went into our office in town today, to try to catch up after not being there for two days. The first thing we always do is check our email and today we got one from Tiffany. Suddenly I had the strongest desire to call her --- so we did! It is always good to talk to Tiff. She sounded great and everything is going well at home. Tomorrow is Cade’s birthday and we needed to set up a time to call him. She said that it was 65 degrees in Smithfield today. That’s perfect!! Can’t wait to get down to that temperature again.

I started working on closing out some of our projects on CHAS today. It will be good to get that done and all of the reports submitted. There is a lot of busy work on CHAS. I guess that the information needs to be there in case anyone needs those details, but I really doubt that anyone ever reads it. But since being obedient is a Christ Like Characteristic, I will do it.

We had the closing ceremony for Nukuhetulu this afternoon. The town officer’s mother died and he had a funeral that most of the village went to, the Bishop and the Stake President both have good jobs, which is WONDERFUL!, so we didn’t have the ceremony until 5:00 PM. I spent the whole day praying that it wouldn’t rain. It was nice this morning but it clouded up this afternoon. The Lord heard and answered my prayers. We did the whole thing with no rain but it started raining on our drive home and when we got to Liahona we could see that it had been pouring there. Another miracle!

The closing ceremony turned out to be lovely. The village had set up a shelter and they put down mats and a beautiful tapa cloth. Then they put two chairs in there with mats on them, just like they do for royalty. It was for us!! We were embarrassed that they had gone to all that trouble but we felt like the king and queen throughout the ceremony. The Bishop conducted, the Wesleyan Priest gave the opening prayer, the water master talked, Alan talked, Ana talked, the Stake President handed the project over to the village, they started up the engine so we could all hear it running, the town officer accepted it and the district officer was the concluding speaker. There were lots of village people there and everyone was so happy and grateful for all we have done. The radio station ran a report on it and the TV station was there to cover the ceremony. All in all, it turned out great!

A few interesting things happened during our time in Nukuhetulu. During the ceremony we heard 3 gun shots. Someone was killing dinner. Right behind the Stake President, as he was speaking, a coconut fell out of one of the trees. It didn’t hit anyone but that is the first one I have seen fall all on it’s own. It happens all the time here, that is why so many cars have huge holes in their windshields.

The best part of the afternoon was after the ceremony I was talking to some of the people and I met the Bishop’s wife. She has a baby boy that is 6 months old. I was tell her how cute he is when he reached out for me. I picked him up and it felt SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD to hold a baby. ( It was a tender mercy for me to hold a baby, since I can’t hold Hendrix.) I tried to give him back to his mother but he didn’t want to go, so I just held him as I walked around and talked to other people. Everyone decided that he should be my Tongan grandson, so now I have two! His name is Sione, but they nick named him Sione Webby. I love it!! I gave him to his grandmother and he reached back to go to me. I kept him with me until it was time to go. It felt so good to feel him snuggle up to my neck. I miss my babies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When we left, they loaded our car with bananas, oofie, sugar cane, papayas and coconuts. We have so much food to give away! It was another good day in Tonga.

Some of the villagers who arrived before the closing ceremony began in Nukuhetulu.

This is a close up view of the beautiful Tapa cloth that is hand painted.  It was used under the canopy where we were seated.

All of the men who spoke at the ceremony gathered around when they started up the new engine.

The Town Officer is a sweet man.  His mother died this week and he is dressed in the Tongan mat and black that is worn here when people are in morning.

Tuesday, March 25th

It rained HARD, HARD, HARD last night! When we got up this morning everything was flooded, it was still dark, still raining and it showed no signs of stopping. We went back to bed. When it rains like this in Tonga they cancel school. Many, many homes are flooded and the roads are flooded in lots of areas too. The school grounds become a lake or a mud hole so people know that school will be cancelled. It is like a snow day at home. The kids love it. You can see them everywhere out playing in the rain. People take rain baths and wash their hair in the rain. It’s really quite a sight to see.

We stayed on campus today. Ana said that our office parking lot is a lake and you need a canoe to get to the building. We are so grateful that we have given away so many wheelchairs so that none of them are getting ruined in this water. The building where we keep them always floods on days like this so everything we have left is up on pallets. Ana had a meeting at Liahona this morning so she came to see us at our office here. We have a closing ceremony planned for tomorrow. We will just have to wait and see what it looks like in the morning. We can’t do it if we have another day like today.

Everyone took the day off today. We all just stayed around home and relaxed, read books and I got a lot posted on the blog. We did go over to the service center and called Kimi to say good-bye before they leave for Hawaii tomorrow. They were at the Madsen’s, so we got to see Lowel and Bonnie too. That was fun. Kimi and Mike are excited about the trip but Grace didn’t seem all that thrilled. It will be fun to see the pictures they send home to us. We hope they have a great time.

Because it was raining and cooler today, I made taco soup for dinner and corn bread muffins to go along with it. It really tasted good. After dinner we were able to go for a walk. The rain had stopped and by the time we got home we could see the stars. Hopefully that will last through the night and all day tomorrow.

It was a very wet day in Tonga!! This is the view from our front door. Our house didn't flood, but it got right up to the door of the school.

Monday, March 24th

Alan was asked to give the spiritual thought at our Monday morning devotional this morning and I gave the prayer. Every time the FM managers are in charge of the devotional they ask us to do it. This should be the last one that we do. We don’t mind doing it but there are a lot of managers and they should take a turn too.

After the devotional, we had a meeting with Howard and Ana about the emergency container. We really want to get that thing restocked and no one is moving very fast around here. Toa, from the FM, came over -- after our meeting was over -- and we sat down with her and went over the list of items we need to restock it. She is going to get on the internet and see if she can get some of them cheaper for us. She is also going to check with some of her suppliers in New Zealand and see what she can do. (She is over purchasing at Liahona.) Alan just can’t deal with paying $597.00 for a wheelbarrow. It has to be cheaper to ship them here from new Zealand!

When we were finished with our meetings today, we called Greg. It is Sunday in America and we were finally able to reach him. He was watching basketball games on TV. Of course! It’s March Madness!! He and his dad had a good time talking about what is going on there and all of the upsets. He looked good, sounded good and he is getting ready to go on a trip to Detroit for his work. All is well with him. Then we called Bryan and we were able to talk to everyone in the family today. Funny how March Madness is a bonding time for the Webb clan. Poor Zach, he was pacing as he talked to us. That kid lives and dies the March Madness bracket challenge. Poor Grace and Addy, they are at the bottom of the heap because grandma wasn’t home to participate. Not to worry, next year I will be there to fill in that last place spot. I have never heard of some of the teams Greg was talking about! Oh well, it’s still fun and the family loves it.

We had a GREAT FHE tonight. The Aland’s were in charge and they invited Penni Tonga and his family to come and show us some Tongan culture. They are such a fun and talented family!! They played the drumbs for us, explained some tongan traditions and then danced a lot of dances for us. It was thoroughly entertaining and everyone loved it. We had banana splits for treats and they tasted sooooooo good!! It was a fun night.

We keep hoping that someone is going to tell us that they are the new District Leaders, but so far no one is saying that. We have only planned through next week but it looks like we may have to keep going. Hopefully the president will make the change soon. We have been doing this FOREVER and we are running out of ideas.

The Penni Tonga family is sooooo talented! Penny and his daughter played the drumbs for us. They are made out of old barrels and cow hides.

The girls danced many different dances for us.  Dances from all over the South Pacific.

This is a wonderful family.  They use their talents to do missionary work all over the island.  Via, the mother, was the Relief Society President in the Liahona Ward and I was her 1st councilor.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sunday, March 23rd

We had a lot of rain today and it looks like that will continue for the rest of the week. We are planning to have a closing ceremony this next week, so we hope there will be some nice dry times during the days, so we can get that done.

At the end of our Relief Society Presidency meeting this morning, our RS president said to me, “Elone said that we should give our talks today that we didn’t give last week, but I said no.” I just looked at her and thought, are you kidding? We MIGHT be the speakers in Sacrament Meeting and he didn’t even tell us? I went into the meeting not knowing if we were speaking or not. Gratefully, they had asked other people to speak and they all showed up except one. The Bishop filled in for the one that didn’t come. Evidently that is why Elone said that to Diana, he was afraid that none of them would come and he wanted all of his bases covered. ONLY IN TONGA!!

Our Sunday School class was really good today. Everyone was back to church today so we had a big class again. Lots of people have been sick and that bug is still going around. Paki is leaving for New Zealand tomorrow and won’t be back until after we have gone home. We will miss her!! How grateful we are that we got to know her and spend as much time with her as we did. Her husband is staying here so we will still see him every week and get to hear about how she is doing. She is going with some of her family members to pick kiwi for 7 months. She can make so much more money doing that than she can make doing anything here, it was an opportunity that she just couldn’t pass up.

I talked to Lopeti today about the 4 boys that he is working to adopt. The members of the ward were supposed to bring donations of clothes and shoes to help them this last Tuesday, but no one brought anything. We gave him some money to buy them shoes and next week we will bring school kits for all of them to help them with their school expenses. My heart just goes out to them and every time I see them I want to hug them. Lopeti and his wife are wonderful and they are doing all they can, but the people here just barely get by and they don’t have any extra to give away unless they sacrifice what they are using themselves. We are grateful that we are here and can help them at least get started as they try to pull these sweet young men into their family. We just wish we could do more.

We tried to go for a walk tonight but we only made it around once before it started to rain. We cut through the campus and once safely home we spent the night reading.

Elder and Sister Moon arrived today. They are from Salt Lake and they will be serving as the assistant auditors here in Tonga.

Saturday, March 22nd

We had to get up early and get going today because we had a new missionary couple to meet at the airport this morning. We hurried and got ready, ate breakfast and put a load of wash in and then took all the food that the senior missionaries had donated, over to the new couples house and put it in the cupboards and the fridge. We hadn’t been able to take it earlier because there were still people in there cleaning and getting it ready until last night. Today I was shocked! In the bedroom, there was a bed and that was it. Not one hanger in the closet, not a night stand, a lamp or even a dresser! This will never do. They have to have a place to put their clothes. I will talk to Supi at church tomorrow and get her to help us find some more furniture for them.

Almost all of the senior missionaries went to the airport to meet the plane. The Moons are the new auditors that will be working with the Dasslers in the Service Center. They are from Salt Lake City. It was fun to meet them. They were so happy to see everyone there to greet them and they are a great couple. They will fit right in here and we know we will love them. We just hope they have enough to do to keep them busy. No one knows why they have sent a new set of auditors to Tonga, the Dasslers are complaining that they don’t have enough to do. But the Lord knows why they are here, so we will just have to wait and find out.

We had Movie night tonight. The room was packed! Almost everyone came tonight but we do have a couple that are sick so they didn’t venture out. Even the Moons came, which we all thought was amazing since they had been up since 2:00AM to catch their flight to Tonga. They are very friendly and it was fun to get to know them -- a little. We watched, “The Other Side Of Heaven” tonight. It has been a long time since I have seen it and it is so much more meaningful to me now. Even though it wasn’t actually filmed in Tonga, our island looks just like the one in the movie. The thing that was eerie about it, was the cyclone and the damage that it did. Here it is, 60+ years later, and the damage was exactly the same as what we saw in Ha’api. Even the shacks with tin roofs haven’t changed in all those years. At the end, when he was told it was time for him to go home, I began to realize just how hard it is going to be to leave these islands and these people. I don’t want to think about it.

Friday, March 21st

When we got to the office and turned the computer on we found our travel plans in our emails. Bless Elder Reynolds!! We will be flying home on June 2nd and will arrive in SLC at 6:11 PM that same night. On the way home we will live Monday, June 2nd, twice! That should be fun. It will be a long day and a long flight but the layovers are not to bad so we are happy about the plans. We thought we would be leaving on the 3rd, but the flights are not as reliable on Tuesday as they are on Monday. In Tonga, if the plane isn’t full enough, they cancel the flight and fill up the next one. That wrecks havoc with the rest of your connections. The missionaries seem to always fly out on Mondays. It is nice to know the plan and now we can work toward that date. Hopefully it will give us time to get everything done.

We had some sad news today. Siua, the man that puts our wheelchairs together for us, found out yesterday, that he will be losing his job the first of June. Australia-aid has been paying his salary and they are pulling out of the hospital. Donors are beginning to see that the money they are putting into this country is not getting where they want it to go and it is not making the difference they had hoped to make. More and more donors are starting to cut back or pull out altogether. We really feel bad for Siua, it is so hard to find a good job here and he is such a good worker.

Dave called to talk to his dad about taxes, but he was at work and we didn’t get to see Hendrix. That didn’t work for me, so we called Alisha at home and got to talk to her, Parx and Julie, as well as see our beautiful baby. What a miracle new babies are. He is growing already and even though we only get to get a glimpse of him and we are thousands of miles away, we love him sooooo much! Sure can’t wait to get ahold of him!!!!!

We did another musical fireside tonight. We kind of don’t look forward to doing those, because we are always so tired by the end of the day and it is just one more thing, but every time we go we come home glad that we did. The Spirit is so strong as the new converts bear their testimonies and tell their conversion stories. Tonight there was a young woman and a young man who had recently joined the church. They are both the only members in their respective families and they talked about the opposition they have faced from their family and friends. Then they went on to say how much they love their families and how they want to be faithful, go on missions and be worthy of the blessing of having their families see the truth and want to come to church with them. They want to have their families become eternal families. I thought about how hard this is for them and how much they are willing to sacrifice to follow the Lord’s plan for them, when at home, we so often take those blessings for granted. Those of us who have so many blessings should be constantly expressing gratitude for them and helping others to find that same happiness.

When the bishop, a young man who just turned 30 and has been the bishop for 5 years, got up to close the meeting, he thanked the senior missionaries for taking the time to come and be a part of their fireside. With tears in his eyes he thanked us for the sacrifices we are making to come to Tonga and serve the people here. He expressed his love for us and his gratitude for the example we are setting for him, his family and the members of his ward. How could you not feel good about taking the time to go, when you are so appreciated and loved for being there. (Another blessing from the Lord.)

Thursday, March 20th

I started working on the Niua project again this morning and faced the same problems as yesterday. No matter what I did I couldn’t get it to save on CHAS. Finally, after trying for 2 hours to find a way, I emailed Elder Reynolds and asked for his help. I really hate to bother him, he is soooooo busy but I didn’t know what else to do. Bless that man!!! He called us right up and asked Alan if I needed a counseling session. I think I might, I could go crazy before this is over! He was very sympathetic and said that he had experienced the same problem. He had to call Salt Lake to get help. The problem is that we have an old browser. I had the CHAS installed on Yahoo and some of the new changes in CHAS aren’t recognized there. MERCY!! Elder Reynolds explained to me how to install CHAS on Google and now everything works fine. By the time we got all that worked out I didn’t have time to enter the project. Oh well, we’re in Tonga, I’ll do it tomorrow.

Elder Reynolds also told me that he had given the church travel the OK to book our tickets home. I’m glad that someone will take responsibility for us. Then he told me that he explained to them that we wanted to extend for 5 more months. (That is when he and Sister Reynols will be going home) We should hear from Salt Lake soon. It will be interesting to see when we are scheduled to leave!

After dinner we went back into town to a Fahoko for Brother Walters. It was just like the other ones we have been to, only they held it at the hospital instead of at their home. They keep the bodies in a cooler at the hospital, because they don’t embalm people here. It will take a week to 10 days for all of his family to get here so the funeral won’t be for awhile. There were 3 fahokos going on at the same time, two were outside on the lawn and ours was inside a small chapel at the hospital. People gather to sing hymns, hear a spiritual thought and pray. In Tonga the people always sing really loud. It is hard to hear the spiritual thought when the 2 other groups are singing on either side of you. It is a lovely custom, but much more effective when it is held at the person’s home.

We went to the Fahoko for Brother Walters at the hospital tonight. They keep the bodies in coolers (on the right, covered by a mat), and then every night until the funeral, the family comes and they have a ceremony called a Fahoko.

Wednesday, March 19th

I was feeling a little better when I got up this morning so I got dressed and went into work. I did alright, I was just really weak.

I spent the morning updating the spreadsheet for Cyclone Ian and then working on the Niua project. I entered the information on CHAS and saved it, but once I checked out and then went back, IT WAS GONE. I didn’t feel well enough to play that game today, so I just left it for tomorrow.

We received an email today that there has been a big shake-up in the leadership in the Area Office. One of the managers there was called as a mission president. The Area Presidency decided to move people around, rather than just replace him. We lost Steve Stebbings, our Area Welfare Manager. We are sick about that. We know him, he knows us and he trusts us. He is crucial in approving our projects. Now we will have to develop that level of trust all over again and we don’t really have time to do that. Thank heaven Elder Reynolds is still in place. Hopefully he can help us get these last projects approved.

We also got another email about our travel arrangements to go home. The mission says it is not their responsibility, we are under the Area Office. The Area Office says that we are missionaries and that the mission should make the travel plans. Once again, no one knows what to do with us. We are starting to feel unappreciated. But not by Elder Reynolds. He stepped right in and emailed SLC to Church Travel. Hopefully someone will want to help us get home.

Morgan sent us an email and we had a little time so we called her on facetime. So fun to see and talk to our grandchildren!! Sure wish Zach and Amberly would turn their own phones on! We can never reach them.

We had a phone conference with New Zealand about Ha’api this afternoon. Things are starting to turn around up there. There has been a lot of rain and the crops that everyone thought were dead, are starting to grow and flourish. In 2-3 months they should have plenty of root crops to keep the people up there fed. That was really good news. The bad news is that it looks like a it will be a long wait for the people to get their houses rebuilt. Tonga is getting lots of donations from other countries and the World Bank has agreed to loan them 10 million dollars, but they won’t open that money up until Tonga comes up with 50%. Tonga is trying to get the Church, Red Cross, the Catholic church and other churches to commit money so they can do that. Everyone is waiting to see how much we are going to commit. We are not going to give money, we will go in and build houses. They were going to build houses for members and non-members and let the government build houses for our members and non-members, but now it looks like we will just build for our members. That decision will be made by the Presiding Bishopric and the First Presidency at conference time. Elder Tuku’afu will be in SLC to visit with them if needed.

John Walters died today. He was our home teacher when we were in the Liahona 1st ward. He was 85 years old and he had had a bad stroke a couple of weeks ago. It was a blessing for him but it will be hard for his sweet wife to get by now that he is gone. He was from Australia and I’m sure he must have had a good pension. She has children in New Zealand and in America. It will be interesting to see what she does now.

Every time we turn on the computer we see more bad news about Ukraine. It breaks my heart to think of the people that we love there and what they must be going through. We feel so bad for them. They are continually in our prayers. It will take a miracle to straighten out that mess. We are praying that it doesn’t end up in a war.

Tuesday, March 18th,

I did fine all night, but as soon as I ate a little breakfast this morning, I was in trouble again. I had to stay home again today. It wasn’t a bid deal, because Alan was going to check on a project and he brought the folder home on the Niua’s so I could work on it here if I wasn’t feeling better. I went back to bed until I felt a little better and then got up and went to work. I got the Niuatoputapu Project all written up and ready to transfer into CHAS as soon as I am where there is internet.
Once that project was done, I decided to call Tiffany and Kimi and check in with my daughters. That’s what I really needed to make me feel better. Both of them asked me how I was feeling before I even told them I had been sick. Clint told them, when they wrote to wish him a happy birthday yesterday. He put it on face book! Good Grief!!! I hate that thing.

Alan came home for lunch and he was hyped up! He went to the village of Nukuhetulu this morning to watch the new engine be delivered and installed. When he got there, there was a tent set up, balloons everywhere and chairs for the guests to sit in. The Weslyean Minister was there to bless the new machine. Villagers started arriving and they were going to have a ceremony --- without us!! Ana called Alan and said that the bishop had just called her really upset. He and the Stake Presidency knew nothing about this ceremony and it was the Mormon Church that had donated the new engine! Ana was supposed to be with Alan but she was still in town. Alan was the only one out at the village and no one there spoke English. What a mess!!! When Ofa, our contractor showed up with the engine, they tried to stall as long as they could hoping Ana would get there to translate for Alan. It doesn’t take long to hook up a machine and by the time Ana arrived, the minister was already blessing the machine. The villagers sang hymns and they had a nice little ceremony. The Bishop arrived, dressed in his work clothes, because he had been at work and then the fun began. They found out that this had been arranged by the Town Officer, who isn’t a member of the church. It just turned out to be a misunderstanding. He somehow didn’t know that we had the closing ceremony planned for Friday. Alan had Ana translate for him and he tried to explain to the villagers what had happened and that we couldn’t close on the project until it was handed over to the village by the Stake President. He told them that we would do that on Friday and asked if they would all come back. They said yes, but we will see.
 The Mormons will but I’m not so sure about the rest. We hope they will. WHAT A MESS! Life is an adventure everyday in Tonga. Before Alan left, the villagers filled the car with baskets of food. Coconuts, avocados, bananas and papayas. I picked a really bad week to be sick. We have SO MUCH FOOD in this house!

Then Alan had to run into the office and get some wheelchairs on the boat to Ha’api that leaves tonight. Once I got some food in him and he had talked everything through, he calmed down and was fine. I bet his blood pressure was really up there this morning!

I got dressed and walked over to the Conference Center to call Dave and Alisha. I wanted to see my baby!!! He didn’t stop moving the whole time we were talking to them. Dave said that he did alright last night, he sleeps good, he just wants to eat every two hours. Yep, that’s what babies do. Sure glad you have them when you’re young and grandmas and grandpas just get to love them and spoil them.

When we got back home Ana dropped in. Howard had been in touch with her and he needed Alan to put 4 rolls of barbed wire on the boat to Ha’api by 5:00. REALLY??? How long had he known that? It was 3:45 so Alan had to drop everything and head back into town, buy the barbed wire and then get it to the Warf and on the boat. He had quite a day!!

After dinner we went for a walk. I needed to get out of the house and Alan needed to relax.

Monday, March 17th

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! Alan and I got engaged 40 years ago today!!! Wow, how the years have flown by!

I got up this morning to a great case of the Tongan Crud. I couldn’t believe it. We had our closing ceremony today for the Lavengatonga Water Project. We have been working on that project for our whole mission and today I had to miss the closing ceremony. I was so frustrated and just plain mad! How did this happen?? I don’t know if I ate something that didn’t agree with me or if I got the bug that the seniors are passing around. Either way, it is just the worst possible day to be sick. It about killed me to stay home when Alan left for the office this morning. I have only missed 3 days of work while we have been on our mission, why did today have to be one of them???

Alan called a couple of times, hoping I would be feeling better, but I didn’t dare leave the house. Lavengatonga is on the far eastern coast of the island and it is a very poor village. There are no bathrooms that I would want to go in over there. I just stayed home and felt sorry for myself.

When Alan got home he brought Ana with him. She had a car full of food that the village had given to us. She wanted to make sure that I got everything I wanted. It was all I could do to even look at it today. I didn’t want any of it, but we took some so that her feelings wouldn’t be hurt. We gave the rest of it to her and to our secretary, Tiamani, who went to the ceremony to help her today. The village also sent gifts to me. Tongan fans and Tongan plaques for Alan. It was a huge sacrifice for that village. They were very generous and very grateful for all we had done to help them get their new stand and water tank. That has been a long and often difficult project. We are truly grateful to have it to this point and be able to close it.

I had some chicken noodle soup and a little bread pudding for dinner tonight. It went right straight through me. I hope this doesn’t mean that I will have to stay here again tomorrow. This house is starting to close in on me!!

These are all of the people that participated in the closing ceremonies. Our Champion, Sione Tonga is standing to Alan's right. We love that man!! His heart is as big as his body and this village would never have the new water system if it hadn't been for him.

Alan was honored to be the man to turn on the water to the village.