Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pride over Money

Tonga Rugby Team
I'm not sure where to start as this week has been absolutely crazy (in good ways).  I suppose I'll start with the major excitement around the island.  After Tonga won their match with Samoa last week in their round one match of the  Rugby League World Cup tournament, they moved on to meet New Zealand this week and defeated them in and exciting match held in Hamilton New Zealand last night (Saturday for us).  This week has been filled with excitement as advertisements were posted almost everything.  Pride over money was the main theme as several players (Tongans) qualified to play for two countries in the tournament (their choice).  As I understand it, five players (Tongans by blood) choose to play for Tonga instead of a tier one team (NZ or Australia).  The significance is that they could have made $50,000. playing for a tier one team instead of the $30 per day they get playing for Tonga.  Tonga (along with Samoa and Fiji) is considered a tier 2 team and no tier 2 team has ever won a game over a tier 1 team in World Cup Rugby (which started in 1985).  You can read a brief summary of the match by clicking here.

It was too dark to get a good photo so this is a stock photo
from the internet that gives you an idea of what I am trying
to describe.  Both lanes (in and out of town) were packed!
This led to pandemonium here in Tonga .... EVERYBODY was out in the streets dancing and running around or driving around in their cars packed with people (inside and out - yes people on top of their cars!) displaying Tongan flags, hooting and hollering blaring music and honking horns.  They kept this up until the wee hours of the morning (as we heard).  Having those pictures in mind, the people were not destructive at all and were just celebrating this momentous occasion for Tonga.  I have included one of our photos below ... it is pretty dark but you can definitely get the idea from it.

Photo of celebration night in downtown Nuku'alofa.  Becky
took this photo as we were trying to work our way through the
spontaneous party. 
During this celebration, we had a fun trip into town to take care of a sister missionary who had been bitten by a Molokau and traffic in town was bumper to bumper and at a standstill.  We were fortunate enough to find our way through so we could get to the MQ but coming back was a little more dicey.

There is also an election coming up this week so on top of all the hoopla surrounding rugby, there is also the spectacle of all the political propaganda with posters and flyers tacked up everywhere.  This is a special election as the King disbanded the Parliment several months ago as he wasn't happy with some of the things that were happening.  The government here are elected officials but everything can be changed by the King who has absolute power (the people here are very loyal to their royalty).  There's a short wiki page on the government and general the election on Nov. 16th you can read by clicking here.

Tongan Molokau (6-8 inches long)
A little about the Molokau.  It is a centipede-like creature that is really the nastiest creepy-crawly that exists here in Tonga.  Their bite is incredibly painful, and they will chase you - yes chase you - across the floor looking for a fight.  Perhaps they ride Harley's in their off time.  There is a story of a local trying to kill one with some bug spray and it actually chased him down the length of the hallway.   They're aggressive little buggers and appear in the strangest places without warning. Becky saw one out in front of our apartment one morning and gave it a wide berth but other than that we have been spared the battle.


Lepeka and Elder Grant (Utah) looking
through her bag of potions for some
eye of newt.
Treatment for the bite was successful and the sister is feeling great.  Treatment?  White vinegar applied to the area, ice and elevate ... and two Benadryl (to neutralize the bugs venom and provide a good nights sleep) ... and of course, a Priesthood blessing and some prayers (that was probably all that was needed, but I let Becky think she was helping by doing all the other stuff first).  

The missionaries continue in good health with a few bumps and bruises and some sickness but so far they are of the standard garden variety and pretty easily treated.  

We have some area authorities coming next week for a mission tour.  President Haleck (Pacific Area President), Elder Cardon (Pacific Area 1st Counselor), and Elder Uceda (Member of the Presidency of the Quorum of the Seventy who assists Elder Neil L. Anderson with supervising the Philippines and Pacific area).  We have several meetings with them during the week and expect it to be a real spiritual high for us.

We are getting an unexpected surprise as we have a new senior missionary couple that will be arriving this week.  Elder and Sister Coombs.  He is an oral surgeon and our current dentist couldn't be happier.  He had put in his plan to request a second dentist and voila ... he's on his way.  There must be some master planner in charge somewhere.  We had a chance to speak with them last week as we worked out some of the logistics and we think they will love it here.  They know our good friends the Prestons (currently serving in the Marshall islands) who give them glowing references.  That's good enough for us!

Exhibit B
Exhibit A











The new Dentist has been organizing the clinic by putting in some adjustable shelving and bins.  He had to do this on weekends and after hours as the clinic is open every day and he was the only dentist here.  He did get some help from the previous temporary dentist before he left town.

There is also an election coming up this week so on top of all the hoopla surrounding rugby, there is also the spectacle of all the political propaganda with posters and flyers tacked up everywhere.  This is a special election as the King disbanded the Parliment several months ago as he wasn't happy with some of the things that were happening.  The government here are elected officials but everything can be changed by the King who has absolute power (the people here are very loyal to their royalty).  There's a short wiki page on the government and general the election on Nov. 16th you can read by clicking here.

We had a couple more hot muggy days last week and when it gets like that there's not much relief (at least outside).  It even gets pretty muggy inside but at least we have A/C.  Our missionaries hardly miss a beat and it is amazing to talk to them as they don't even complain, they just keep on working.

Love to all from Tonga!


Becky trying on her Pule Taha.  The dressing room is a three-sided
curtain in one of the aisles.  The patterns on the dress are Tongan






We ordered some custom made clothing from one of the shops in Nuku'alofa.  It took about a month for them to make our clothing but the custom work and fit made it worth the wait.  I had a shirt made from the same material with a mandarin collar.  You can see it on the hanger behind Lepeka.  I won't get to wear it much here as I am always in a white shirt and tie but it will definitely get worn when I get back.  I tried to get a tie made from the same fabric but they don't make ties and wouldn't sell the fabric ... I'm not sure why.



The way or data closet looked after the internet provider left.
We are making progress installing the new Family History Center
computers but it is slow.  We have to download some configuration
files from SLC that take about 13 hours to download at our current
speeds.  Having the internet stay up for 13 hours in a row is another
challenge.  I hope we are able to get someone's ear to look at our
network design.  Until things change it will always be a struggle.

Elder Mateale (Arizona) and Elder Grant at their MQ in Folaha.
Zone leaders in the Vaini Zone.

No back windshield and no wiper blade but the wiper motor was
running full speed back-and-forth.

Just in case anyone needs a Lawyer in Tonga who has Tonga skills.
Youth Mission Book Shop in Vaini.  All of the white papers
are special book deals.

Looking out over the ocean at the West-most point on the Island
at dusk.  The beach is called surfer beach.