Saturday, May 27, 2017


Poling his way across the inlet on his
home-made raft.  There was a pretty
strong current trying to take him out to
sea but he was obviously experienced
and made it across pretty quickly.
A red boat crashed into a blue boat leaving both crews marooned.  Okay, don't think on that one too long.  Becky and I were downtown in Nuku'alofa on Friday and we had a half hour before our next appointment.  Too short to go home but too long to just sit so we took a short drive to the end of Nuku'alofa (end of the tongue on the elf shoe - see map).  As we turned around and were starting to head back, a gentleman on the island just across the inlet caught our eye as he waded into the water.  He walked to a raft that was anchored with a big rock .... threw the rock on the home-made raft, grabbed his pole, climbed on and started across the inlet (even though it was low tide it would have been pretty deep to try to wade across).  I wanted to get a photo so as he got close I yelled to ask it I could take his picture.  He waved and said, "Yes".

Headed back home with his two young
daughters.  No life jackets, nothing to tie
them to the raft but they sat quietly as they
crossed on this home-made raft.  You can
see the island in the back-ground.
I took the photo and headed back to the car with my prized photo but what awaited was even more photo worthy.  As I climbed into the car, Lepeka had noticed two young girls that had started making their way toward the beach.  She told me she thought he was coming to get them from school. They had to climb down several big rocks to get there but with the man's patient help they did.  They all climbed on and started back across the inlet.  They waved but I missed that photo.  Here is the one of them on the raft headed home from school.

This blog is as close as I've ever come to writing in a journal.  I have started several times but never kept it up for more that a few days.  I suppose mostly because my life can be pretty stagnant at times. One of the things this mission has made me do is get out of my comfort zone and do something good every day.  When we finish our Tongan mission I want to try to keep that up.  I have really enjoyed looking for people to help good things to do  everyday.  I have also added a new feature on this blog listed under "Stories of Faith".  You can find them under the "Stories of Faith" tab on the upper right.  My intention is to add stories here that strengthen my Faith.  You can read my first contribution about my dad by clicking here as well.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  More to follow.

A few words for parents and families of missionaries serving in Tonga.

Elder Woods and Elder Purdy at our
home.  They cooked dinner for us one
night.  Burgers, rice, and baked beans.
We have a few parents and family members of missionaries that read our blog as we are friends on FaceBook.  We want you to know that we love your missionaries.  We care deeply about their health and general well being.  We do our best to respond immediately when they have any issues or questions.   We only post information and photos with their permission.  Also, President and Sister Tui'one are very good about letting missionaries call home if they have serious health issues (in this case, no news is good news).  Most of the issues here are pretty mild ranging from blisters, boils, diarrhea, headaches and general muscle soreness.  They are treated with medical care as well as mom medicine - general treatments may include a batch of cookies, blow-pops, laughter and smiles along with missionary appropriate grandma/grandpa hugs.

There are a few good practitioners here in Tonga that we work with on occasion as well as a Pacific Area Medical Advisor who is very responsive when needed.  Sister Kapp is so good at following-up on any issues with the missionaries and alway tries to make sure they feel good about the care they are receiving (they may get sick of seeing and hearing from us as they heal and the follow-up afterward).  I am at her side and am amazed at how much she does to take care of any and all missionary concerns sent our way.  She never lets anyone slip through the cracks and takes all of their health concerns seriously.  Some of the outer islands are difficult to get medicine to but we are constantly working to improve our processes.

We also inspect their MQs, when we visit them for any reason, and inspect them for cleanliness and encourage the missionaries to call in any issues they may identify with their MQs.  Most are pretty good but a few are still learning the finer points of cleanliness.

We really enjoy learning about their pre-mission lives and about their families at home.  We send photos and post on facebook as well.  You can find us on FB by clicking here if you are interested (we accept all friend requests).  In fact, we feel like we are good friends with many of you even though we have never talked or met.

There was an old man who was dying but wanted to do so at home.  He was not expected to live more than a few days as he was very weak.  As he lay there listening to his favorite music, just a few hours from passing on, he smelled the aroma of his favorite rolls wafting from the nearby kitchen.  With all of his strength he crawled into the kitchen and reached up onto the cabinet to just taste the rolls one more time.  As his hand got close his wife smacked it and said, "Those are for the funeral!"  ... That's kind of what I get here occasionally relative to cookies, brownies and casseroles ... "Those are for the missionaries!  (Okay, I'm just kidding she always makes plenty for me too!)

This is a missionary badge from one of our U.S. missionaries.  It is a good old
American name now adjusted for Tongan.  See if you can guess what it is.
Make your guess in the comment section below (please include your name too)
so we can have some fun - We may send your Tonganized name back to you.
Remember, the Tongan alphabet is A,E,F,,H,I,K,L,M,N,NG,O,P,S,T,U,V
 No B,C,D,G,J,Q,R,W,X,Y,Z ... Good Luck!
On the technology front, things continue to improve.  We are starting to communicate better and they seem to be pretty responsive to replacing old equipment.   Firewalls are being reinstalled as many were taken out to simplify connections.  Many of our internet connections have been repaired to the point of being usable now and training classes have started in many different areas.  I enjoy the teaching and building our relationships with the locals (as does Lepeka).  It is fun to teach people when they get so excited to learn.  They are so grateful for every little thing and have brought us lots of naaghi fo'i 'akau pea vesitapolo (fruits and vegetables) as payment.  It is very humbling to have them offer so much when so many have so little.

Keep your knees bent, arms folded and heads bowed!  ... We feel of your love and appreciate all of the prayers and any communications sent our way (oh say ... like email).

Ofa lahi 'atu kiate kimaotolu!  (We love you all!)

Early morning rainbow after it had been raining hard for two
straight days.  You can actually see some of the double rainbow
if you look closely.  It almost looks like the different shades of
blue are separated by the rainbow.

Central Kiwi Kai owned and operated by a woman from New Zealand.
  We occasionally go here for lunch.  They have a pretty good hamburger and Pizza.
They also have chicken sandwiches, chips (french fries and Moa (chicken) Sipi
(lamb) along with other local dishes.  Prices are listed in Pa'anga (about 2:1 USD)

This is an interesting tree they are finally cutting down.
If you look closely you can see that two of the main branches
grew together.  It was by their carport and needed to come out.


  1. I'm going with Elder Woods for the name tag... :-)

  2. I think I know this Elder Winward?

    1. What an incredible guess! You must have some special insight. Thanks for the comment. We love Elder Uiniuooti!

  3. Yes I have seen that tag, he loves it there. Thanks for taking care of him.

    1. He's a great missionary. I'm sure you are looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks. You should be very proud of Elder Woodward!

  4. I had no idea about the name tag, but I was talking to Dave over the weekend and because of your picture post finally found out what Lepeka means. Now I just need to know how to pronounce it.
    Best wishes to you both and keep up the good work! Sam

    1. One of the people we interact with at the local internet and phone company asked her name for the entry and told us it would be Lepeka in Tongan as they don't have an R, B or C in their alphabet.

      The "E"s in Lepeka both make the long a sound as in lane the "A" is the short a sound as in farm. The L is normal the P and K are pretty normal but softened (if that makes sense). Emphasis on the second syllable and there you have it.

      We miss you and hope all is going well for you and your family. Ofa lahi 'atu!