Saturday, June 3, 2017


Even our new Bishop is thinking
about us in Tonga.  Bishop Reed's
version of Tonga.  Love it!
(900 North chalk-art - woot!)
We were able to spend some more time teaching some of the locals computer classes this week.  We are now working with several Stake Technology Specialists as we train them in some of the details of what they need to know.  We are also teaching an artist, a couple of farmers and someone who works in some type of land resource management for Tonga.  It is a pretty wide spectrum of computer knowledge just with this small group so we end up spending a lot of one-on-one time with them.  One of the farmers is a ward clerk and wants to help his ward better utilize technology in teaching so it fits in nicely with my focus.  We will feature the artist in one of our future blogs with a link to his website so you can see some of his work.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week we figured we saw over 60 missionaries for one reason or another.  Not because they were all sick or injured, we were helping do some of the office tasks as they are down a few couples and really needed some help delivering funds and supplies.  It was a pretty hectic couple of long days but we really love everything we're doing here ... especially meeting and talking with the missionaries.  They are so uplifting to be around.

Real map of Tongatapu (for next time Bishop Reed) clipped
from Google Maps.  Nuku'alofa is the Capital City, we are
located in Liahona (see the star on the map .. that's us)
I thought I'd take this week to focus a little bit on Tongan culture and society.  I have found it to be a breath of fresh air coming from our North American society of entitlement, narcissism, and general selfishness.  Now I am not trying to trash our society as there are also so many great things about it but as I look from a different perspective here those are the things that jump out at me.

The four main values of Tongan Society are:
  1. Faka’apa’apa (Respect – let’s see Aretha put that to music)
  2. Lototo  (Humility)
  3. Tauhi va  (maintaining good relationships)
  4. Mamahi’I me’a  (Loyalty)
These value are taught to their children (and others) mostly by example and learned by observation. 

Many of us (myself included prior to coming here) think of Tongan as great and ferocious warriors.  we see them battle on the football field (especially those of us close to BYU and UTAH sports).  We see the dynamic haka's performed by many (its origin is actually Māori not Tongan).  We have found the opposite to be true.  The values listed above seem to permeate every member and facet of their society.

The following excerpt (blue text) is taken from Wikipedia and condensed:

Men and women hold unique roles in Tongan society. A man usually holds the power and is considered the head of his household. However, a man has an obligation to care for his sister and her children. 

In Tongan families your paternal aunt is the highest-ranking member and is referred to as mehekitanga or Fahu.  Men hold power and women hold rank.  In ancient Tonga one would inherit titles, land and people from their mother, after Christianity this was changed to mainly inheriting from ones father.  Until recently it was Tapu (taboo) for any male that has passed puberty to be in the same room with his sister or girl cousins alone.  This was done under the notion of respect or faka'apa'apa. 

Other key members of Tongan kinship are the 'Ulumotu'a or the oldest male in ones extended family on your father's side, they are usually called upon to be in charge of funerals and other family events.  They do not out rank a Fahu but they have power to direct events.  Also noteworthy is all of your maternal aunts are called your mothers, likewise you paternal uncles are your fathers.  Your cousins on either side are called your brothers or sisters.  Similarly if you are female and your sisters children are called your children also because you are a mother to them.  Same applies if you are a male and your brothers children will refer to you as a father.

I think this helps explain why everyone seems to be brothers and sisters aunts and Uncles, or cousins here.  Every time you mention someone you always hear, "That's my sister", or something like that.  At first we thought it was just because the families are large.  Now we know that yes they are large but the actual relationship might not be exactly as we think of them.

I have provided a diagram of the family ranking in Tonga to help visualize (that still may not help but it's the best I can do).  In my family (since all of my father's aunts have passed on) the ranking family member would be Janice Kapp Perry our Fahu.  So if you want to be famous in Tonga, you just tell them that JKP is your Fahu (kind of like in Utah or any other gathering of Mormons).  

It has been our experience that they live the four values listed above.  They treat us with the utmost respect.   They are very humble people who genuinely love one another.  They are open and genuinely friendly and they are very loyal.  We hope they feel of our love and respect for them as well.  We are doing our best to emulate their good qualities and make them a permanent part of our personalities.

I have added a few more Faith promoting stories to our blog that can be found by clicking here and, for family members who may be interested, I have finally been able to find a few minutes to finish converting the "Ruth Saunders Kapp's poetry collection to text.  You can view that collection by clicking here.  There are over 400 poems she kept in her book (I'm sure she has more elsewhere too).   I hope you have as much fun reading them as I did.  We did our best to proofread but if you find something needs correcting please let me know so I can fix it (including credits).

Ofa lahi 'atu from Tonga!

Auditorium (gymnasium or whatever) on campus at Liahona High School
Many of the large meetings are held here including Stake conferences.

View of the airport from the Domestic terminal.  Many of the smaller planes
that fly from island to island land on the grass rather than the runway.
Entrance to the domestic terminal.  Road is on the left.

One of the many interesting trees seen from the backroads of Tonga.

Tree at the domestic terminal at the airport.  These are some really interesting trees.
I have posted a few photos of these types of trees before.  The branches hang down
and if the get to the ground they develop roots and become new trunks supporting
the entire tree.

Also at the airport.  The canopy from these trees can be huge.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry there are no action photos this week. We were so busy running around it slipped my mind to take photos. I'll do better.