Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hard to Kidnap

Sione (John).  He has tattoo's completely covering
his right arm and his hair was not pulled back.
We thought he looked just like the character Maui
from the movie Moana. 
Some weeks just seem to develop a theme of their own.  As I was looking through the photos we took in the past week, the Tongan men jumped to the forefront.

We pulled into the gas station to fill up the van and saw this man sitting there.   I told Becky that I would love to have his photo and she told me to go ask.  I wasn't sure but what's the worst that could happen????  So I ventured over and asked, "Are you okay if I take your picture"?  His dour face lit up in a smile as he said, "Sure".   I told him why (see photo caption) but he insisted that I be in the photo and had one of his friends snap the shot. Unfortunately, by this time he had pulled his hair back and he is turning a little bit sideways, and you can't see his right arm, so it really doesn't do justice to the way we first saw him (this Sione is not a member or the Church). 

The very next day we were walking down the hallway in the building where our old office was located and we ran into this very large Tongan.  We loved the shirt and thought it was one of the most appropriate "meme's" we had seen in a long time so of course we had to take the photo.  He is about 6' 4" and as you can see, pretty solid.  He also had the Tongan scowl ... which lights up into a smile for any photo op.   I probably should have had Lepeka stand next to him so you could see his size as well. 

Left, Elder Timote Kau (Mr. Tonga 2015) Right, Pres. Tui'one
Not a small man himself.
Next we have Elder Kau one of our missionaries who has been out for about 18 months now.  He earned the title of "Mr. Tonga" in 2015 and has put his bodybuilding career on hold to serve a mission.  He has lost some weight as a missionary but he exercises as much as a missionary should to try and keep in shape.  He is a very humble man with a fun personality.  We were able to spend about a week getting to know him quite well.  He's standing next to President Tui'one in the photo who is no small man.  I think Elder Kau is around 6' 6" so you can tell thy are both good sized men (maybe just average in the Mike and Jenny Wilson family).  As a side note; all of the missionaries have a tremendous respect for President Tui'one and he leads the mission with faith in the Lord and bears a strong testimony in his words and actions.  He has a great sense of humor but is always dignified.  He and Sister Tui'one are certainly spiritual royalty.

I added this just to give a little more perspective to Mr Tonga 2015 (far left)

L-R, Elder Lavaka (Australia) and Elder Takelo (Tonga)
We just had a new Elder arrive from Australia last week, Elder Lavaka.  He is a professional Rugby player who decided to put his career on hold to serve a mission.  You can read a short article about him in the Mormon newsroom by clicking here.  It is a neat story and when you meet him in person you find he is a humble man who is very sincere in his desire to serve the Lord.  His trainer is Elder Takelo from Tonga.  Elder Lavaka is 6' 5" so it is quite a site to see the two of them together.  

Elder Lavaka (near)
Elder Takelo (far)
I snapped a sneaky photo of them from outside the room at the zone conference on Tuesday as I saw Elder Takelo standing on the chair next to his Hoa (companion) with his arm on Elder Lavaka's shoulder (I did tell them and get their permission before posting).   In the first photo they are holding blow-pops (known as lollys here.  I frequently pass them out as we visit the missionaries (especially if their MQ's are neat and clean).  *** disclaimer ***  Elder Lavaka wanted me to make sure that everyone knows the lolly he is holding does not constitute an official endorsement of the product.  ;-)  What a great personality which is so representative of so many of the Elders and Sister we enjoy serving with here in Tonga.

I mention these men in this blog for a few reasons; I have found them all to be very humble soft-spoken men who have one purpose in life right now and that is to serve the Lord.  From large to average to small, the Elders and Sisters here in Tonga are serving because they have testimonies of the Gospel and want to do the right thing.  I have seen them in action, they are bold and yet respectful.  Their real desire at this time in their life is to bring others to Christ.

Loto Road ... one of the main roads that runs
right in front of the Liahona campus.  This tree
is about 1 mile East but as you can see, it hangs
over the road.
About 2 months ago while I was driving one of the main roads, a huge coconut fell onto the road about 20 yards in front of me.  Several of the palm trees bend out over the roads and there is a risk of coconuts falling from the tree and doing some damage or maybe even injuring someone (especially when the wind is blowing).  Ever since I witnessed this first hand I have been just a little bit nervous when driving under one of these trees (even if the risk of one actually hitting the car while driving is very low).

You frequently see cars with dents and broken windshields  (from falling coconuts) everywhere.  Most of these occur when the cars are parked in an area where the trees are unavoidable.  It is not uncommon to see cars driving around with these broken windshields as long as there is still some clear spot for the driver to see where they are going.  I'll try to get a few photos to include in a future post.

Well, my fear of the falling coconut seems to have been supplanted by a new phobia ... the fear of the falling tree!  Let me interject here that no one was injured here even though it looks really bad.  We stopped to see if we could help anyone but they said they were ok.  You may want to click on the photo to get a better view of the damage and the downed tree.  This car was driving down the road when the tree (in the background across the road) actually fell on their moving car.  I'm not sure how they made it through or why no one was injured but now I look at every dead tree along the way in a different light.

Mother's day is almost here so I want to take just a few lines to publicly thank my mother for the wonderful person that she is (Yes, I will still call her on Mother's Day).  I love to hear her share her testimony which she does to me regularly now in email.  I am so thankful that when she heard the truth, she did something about it and was baptised.  Not once have I ever known her faith or testimony to waver.  I always felt so loved by her and dad (even when I may not have deserved it).  She always made my friends feel welcome and is the first one to include any and all who have touched her life into her family circle.  Step children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, ex-sons and daughters-in-law, neighbors, people she met in foreign countries that she grew close to and just about anyone who needs a friend.  She never speaks ill of anyone.  She has made and donated so many homemade products to charity and to the needy.  She built a house in El Salvador (she provided the way and donated thousands herself).  She has had to slow down a bit in recent years but she has not stopped giving.  I could go on and on because she truly is the most Christ-like person I know.  I want to emulate so many of her wonderful qualities and her example of service is definitely one of the main reasons I am serving a mission with my wonderful wife.  I love you mom!

I have also been blessed with a wonderful wife.  We have always been best of friends since we were married over 22 years ago but we have really grown close spending all day every day with each other.   We have had some others tell us that spending 24x7x365 with their spouse can really get to them at times.  I can honestly say that has not been the case for us (Lepeka may have a different take) but hey, I'm writing this.  I love spending time with her.  We laugh and joke, we share spiritual experiences daily that bring out tears of joy.  We kneel and pray together many times each day.  We see and take care of the sick and injured missionaries.  We also often see people in the Tongan community who have health issues and our hearts aches for them.  She helps me teach technology to others without complaint and even waits on me as I work to solve issues that can take hours in some cases.  We drive literally thousands of kilometers each month cooped up in a car together.  Yes, we literally spend 24x7x365 but we are never cross or irritated with each other.  I love her ... she is my eternal companion and I want to be worthy of her so I try hard to always do the right thing and do my best to become a better person every day.  I love you Lepeka!

I'll close this blog with a few random photos that I hope you enjoy.

The Health Fair (Diabetic screening) at the Longolongo ward on May 11th.
This was round 2 where they came back to see if they had made any improvements.
The large gentleman in the lower RH corner climbed on the scale (my station) and
discovered he had lost 2KG (about 5 lbs) and just started chuckling out loud.
No one is self conscious of their weight as they all share each of their screening
numbers with each other.  We are so glad the Waddoups asked us to help.  We have
thoroughly enjoyed it both times so far and hope there are more to come.

Lepeka's new hair dresser.  Haircut and style is $15.00 TOP (about $7.00 USD)
She always gets a tip too.  Hair color by Miss Clairol is a bit more but Lepeka
has been doing that herself at home (don't tell Heidi Raso).

Tongan sunset just outside our front door.  You can see the men's dormitory for
Liahona High School.

A photo of the open market held each Saturday along the
waterfront.  It stretches for several city blocks and you can
get almost anything under-the-sun (literally).  It gets so packed
that you can hardly walk around.  We are there fairly early in
the morning ... hence the long shadows.
Obligatory shot of a a Sow and her piglets (for Mother's Day) nearing feeding time.
Notice the spotted one.  We see some that look like Dalmatians.  We love seeing the pigs
roaming everywhere.  The little piglets are so cute as they scurry around after their moms.



  1. I can't imagine the damage a coconut would do falling from that height and with the car moving forward. You need to get a Humvee with steel plates replacing the glass and narrow slits for windows. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for your examples.
    Love Dave

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. The speed of the car wouldn't add too much to the equation. Most of the driving over here happens at 1/2 the speed of smell (30-50 KPH on the main roads). There's always someone who can't find second gear or a tractor on the road with not much opportunity to pass. We have learned to accept the slower pace and enjoy the ride (mostly). ;-)

  2. Kenny. So good to see you're having a great mission. We can't wait to go too! Larry and Lynette Penrod

    1. If you're looking for a great place to request, there are lots of opportunities for senior missionaries here. -)