Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Friday, May 9th

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

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

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

Thursday, May 8,

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

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

Wednesday, May 7th

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 6th

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 5th

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sunday, May 4th

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 3rd

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

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

Friday, May 2nd

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 1st

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 30th

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 29th

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

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

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

Monday, April 28th

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sunday, April 27th

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

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

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

Saturday, April 26th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 25th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mail items being put into place.

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

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

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

Thursday, April 24th

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 23rd

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 22nd

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

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

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

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Monday, April 21st

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 20th

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

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

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

Saturday, April 19th

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

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

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

Friday, April 18th

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

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

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

Thursday, April 17th

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

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

Wednesday, April 16th

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

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

Tuesday, April 15th

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what it looks like up close.