Sunday, February 5, 2017

Yea Metric System!

Uike ua (week 2) and all is great in paradise.  I think I could actually learn to like the metrics system as well. Without really much effort I have already lost about 22 grams (just my best guess) and I am right close to 173 cm tall.

This week was a busy week.  The Area ICS manager from New Zealand flew in to work with us this week.  We had several meetings with local people to lay the ground work for the work we will be doing related to meeting-house technology.  I will be working closely with the FM group (Facilities Management) as we inventory, add/update/repair and train.  Our main focus for 2017 will be on the main island of Tongatapu.  We are anxious and excited to begin this work and see how we can meld the medical and technical missions together as we support each other.

This week we were able to handle everything for the most part on our own.  We did have one medical issue with a young Elder cutting himself while opening a coconut that we were unavailable to help.  Becky put in a quick call to her backup for the week and she took care of it for us.  Becky was great to cover everything medical this week even though she was in meetings with me.  For the medical stuff, I'm mostly just a driver and missionary companion but she dove in and was doing it all.  This led to some long days but we are happy to be here and want to do whatever we can to cover our responsibilities.

Becky, Ian and Paul during one of our precise survey visits.
We are trying to get a feel for the set-up and equipment that
currently exists in most of the meetinghouses through out Tonga.
(Becky just eats this up.)
The Area ICS manager (Paul) is a great guy and we had fun getting to know him.  He has a great sense of humour and a humble manner about him.  He has a great vision and there is some experience  to draw from now from couples that have served similar missions in Fiji and Samoa.  Both of them are now home so we are the lone couple in the Pacific islands as serving ICS missionaries.  Ien is the local IT manager and has been a great resource for us.  He is working on getting us keys to the buildings, smart phone access and also helping us get our internet at home connected (still not there but we are assured it is close now).

Also, the internet is all prepaid with restrictions on usage.  There are serious overage fees so you have to watch closely.  I still don't have it at the house but I think we're getting close.  Most meeting houses are capped at 1GB per month so there is no wireless provided in any building.  One of our first technical assignments is to start working on circuit contracts and see what can be done to get better pricing and options.  Hmmm ... deja vu ...

During one of our lunch discussions, we were discussing a lady that had just been bitten by a dog.  We asked Ien what they typically do about dog bites here.  He matter-of-factly told us, "If a dog bites me, I mark that dog and give my friend $10 TOP  (about $5. US) .. and he will provide if for my dinner tomorrow night".  Evidently, he really likes dog as anytime he speaks of it you can feel his excitement.  Most of them seem to run wild and they can get a bit aggressive (I don't thing they are as ferocious as Cinco is John).  We haven't had any problems and we try to make sure we have an umbrella with us if we walk up to a door where dogs are out.  I don't think it's a big problem though and we've been told that there are no rabies here in Tonga.

I also got a message from a frustrated Bishop that he was having printer problems.  This would not typically fall under my todo list but we were home in the evening and it was only about a 20 minute drive so Becky and I decided to see what we could do to help.  I called him and told him we would be there shortly.  When we got there around 7:30 pm he was there (still in his work clothes) with his young son.  I could tell he was frustrated at not being able to print but he was still happy and friendly.  When I looked at the print queue, it was backed up with print jobs going back almost 2 months.  Lots of tithing settlement documents.  I can only imagine how we would be in the U.S. if this same thing happened there.  He has been a bishop for almost 7 years now and is hoping to be released at the next ward conference ) in 6 months.

Typical Missionaries Quarters in Tonga ( Church owned)
I think I mentioned that there are no addresses here in Tonga and few, if any, road signs.  One of our biggest frustrations is finding the MQ's (Missionary Quarters).  Instructions include, look for the old brown boat in the yard on the right and then you should see a blue house with  brown stairs on the right ... turn left down the alley and you'll see the MQ behind the house with the blue canopy.   The trouble is that old boats in yards disappear, houses and stairs may get painted and blue canopies have been taken down.  We have had to just sit back and relax while we call the Elders and find some common landmark so they can guide us there.  Frequently, they just come out to some main road so we can see them.  I have been marking them with GPS coordinates so we can find them the next time.  I think Nate said that one we get them all marked we can send them to him and he'll generate a map for us.  That will be so handy!


Typical Meeting house in Tonga.  I'll show much more in a later post as they are definitely unique.
Gymnasiums are out doors.  Often there is a tennis court as can be seen.
Most Baptismal fonts are outdoors, many are covered but not all.
For any chicken lovers out there.  We see her frequently on
our morning walks with her brood (we think there are 7 chicks)


  1. Love the pictures and the descriptions. Love you and see that you are more than equal to this great opportunity.

    1. We're hoping for internet in our home this week Right now I can get it on my phone but it is expensive to use. Would love to talk with you guys soon!

  2. The Lord is incredible. As I read through your blog, I am 100% positive you are supposed to be there. I loved my mission, and I know you will love yours too.

    1. We are really loving it here. lots of very long days so far but it's all good. We loved the video of Isabel.

  3. I see similarities to our mission in the Dominican Republic! No addresses, dogs running wild and we watched the police drag the dogs they had shot into a public square where they piled them up and later cremated them. The roosters were crowing at the crack of dawn every da ybut it was a great learning experiences and the church buildings were different but a blessing to the members. love you both so much. keep writing mom

    1. I'll get into the culture and living conditions as we get out and about. The main thing for me is how wonderful the people are to everyone. I wish I could bottle that up and bring it home. We are staying very busy but loving every minute of it. Love you mom!

  4. 2 months of print queues? Wow. I can imagine the frustration. The people of Tonga are so blessed to have you both to bless their lives!

    1. And we are blessed to be here as well. We have already developed such a love for the people here and their spirituality has really taught us. We admire their focus on families.