Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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!