Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fair to Middlin'

Still shot of the baby pigs.  Some
of the pigs have the strangest markings.
Yesterday and Today was the Tonga Agricultural Show in Veitongo (similar to a State fair in the U.S. I suppose). They had all of their livestock, fruits, veggies, arts and crafts etc. on display.  Veitongo is a pretty central location on the main island (not that anything is very far).  We took several photos and I will use the photo captions to do my best to give you the local flavor of the Fair.

We spent about 2 hours walking around taking photos and just enjoying the atmosphere.  There was lots of music and some dancing and even an appearance by the King of Tonga with his entourage.  The people of Tonga do love and honor their King.

This first short video if of some suckling piglets.  You have probably seen some of the other photos I have posted of pigs (large and small).  The "dalmation" type of markings is not as unique as one might think.  I have never seen them in the U.S. but then I haven't been hanging out on many pig farms either.

Fruits and Vegetables display.  Notice the elaborate Tapa table cloth pounded
from tree bark and hand painted.  They display these tapa cloths everywhere,
as floor mats, as wall or fence decorations or as in this case, as a table cloth.

This photo shows one of the fish displays.  You can zoom in and read the
names of some of the fish (they are in Tonga however).  This was the only
display that had ice.
This fish display just has the fish laying out in the open.  Surprisingly enough,
it didn't smell bad even though the fair started yesterday.

One more fish display
Great vegetable display as you enter the fairgrounds.  If you click on the photo
your will be able to recognize some of vegetables on display.

More of the vegetable displayed.  Notice the handwoven baskets.  They are
also very common here and vegetables are frequently sold in the baskets.

These are some of the root crops grown here (along with some bananas
top left and right).

Hand-carved whale bone (towards the front) and cow bone jewelry (top 3 rows).
The whalebone jewelry can bet pretty expensive as the larger pieces sell
for $2,000-$3,000 (Paanga - $1,000-$1,500 USD) 

This is Tevita's wife Uku, she also handles the business side.  They told us to
pick out what we liked and we could pay them at our next class this week.

Our favorite Tongan artist, Tevita.  We have been training him on the use of the
computer and hopefully we'll soon have a website to better display his work.
His wife, Uku pounds the tapa cloth and he does the art work and framing.
Lepeka talking with Tevita about his art.  You can see Uku in the background.

Notice the large octopus carving.  I'm not sure if they found a piece of wood
that looked like an octopus or actually carved it but it was indeed interesting.

Dancers at one of the clothing displays.

Large bull tied to a pole.  You could walk right up to most of the animals
if you were brave enough and wanted to.

Chicken and eggs are also a big part of the culture here.  The organic eggs
can be pretty strong tasting.

Goat tied to the sheep pen.  Very interesting markings on this goat.

We haven't seen many sheep over here but they do exist.

One more short video clip of some singing while
others are pounding out a tapa cloth in the front.

The King of Tonga and his entourage.  He had lots of security and several
dignitaries with him.  The security detail would come through first and more
everyone over to the side so he could pass.
King Tupou VI (ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho; born 12 July 1959) is the King of Tonga. He is the younger brother and successor of the late King George Tupou V. He was officially confirmed by his brother on 27 September 2006 as the heir presumptive to the Throne of Tonga, as his brother (a bachelor) had no legitimate children. He served as Tonga's High Commissioner to Australia, and resided in Canberr auntil the death of King George Tupou V on 18 March 2012, when ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho became King of Tonga, with the regnal name ʻAhoʻeitu Tupou VI.
King Tupou VI of Tonga as he passes by us.  He is the one in the black shirt.

Not much else to report on from Tonga this week.  Becky and I speak and sing in Church tomorrow so we hope that goes well.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Now Lettuce Rejoice!

An actual head of lettuce!
It's funny how we react when the small things that you don't think you miss suddenly appear unexpectedly.  Normally, the lettuce here has been pretty sparse and what there is has been just a leafy version of iceberg lettuce .... until today!  You can imagine our joy and rejoicing when much to our surprise, we found an actual head of lettuce.  Oh happy day! (at least for Lepeka).  Now if we could just find two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun.

It's been an eventful week of service and we have learned much about ourselves and our testimonies.  We continue to love the people and our testimonies are continually strengthened by each of our experiences here.  I don't always handle things well but Lepeka keeps me focused and grounded.  I am so grateful for my relationship with her.  I really enjoy spending time with her, she is so gentle and kind with the missionaries while at the same time telling it like it is.  I have a lot to learn from her.

We think the missionary education system Lepeka has been working on in orientation and zone conferences, is starting to pay dividends with the missionaries.  The cooler weather here in the Winter may also be having an impact but in any case, we are receiving fewer calls and have noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of boils and infections.

She continually espouses the benefits of personal hygiene, missionary quarters cleanliness, healthy habits, drinking enough water (bottled or from a healthy source), and selective eating (by the Spirit of discernment).  We have definitely seen a drop in the number of and the severity of the calls we get to serve the missionaries.  We know that sometimes things will happen but in general, these are the best ways to avoid many headaches, boils, muscle soreness, heat exhaustion and various other maladies.  We pass out anti-bacterial soap (dial), wash-cloths and occasionally toothbrushes and toothpaste when needed (occasionally food and bottled water as well).

Some of our departing missionaries.
L>R, Elder Christensen (Utah), Elder
Nonu (Utah), Elder Teh (Malaysia),
 Elder Robinson (Utah)
Our relationship with the missionaries is by far the biggest blessing we feel each day.  We get to feel of their wonderful Spirit and enjoy their personalities as we get to know them on a much deeper level.  They treat us so well and always seem genuinely happy to see us.  I know it's Lepeka and her mystical healing powers but I pretend that the lollies I pass out are the real medicine.

We had a group of twelve missionaries leave this week and are expecting the new group to arrive early next week.  They have blessed our lives and we have established lifelong friendships.  We truly miss each of them as they depart and we sincerely hope that our paths cross in the future. 

Notice line two.
We have noticed that signs have been popping up everywhere (for the past month or so) along the main roads with directions and distances to some of the local landmarks and attractions (we are even seeing some street signs and house numbers in some areas).  We thought you might get a kick out of the Fishing Pigs sign (notice the second line on the sign to the left).  We have posted a photo of the pigs in the past but we'll continue to try to get a really good shot of them.  It may need to be a short video to capture the experience.

Tsunami Rock
We also were able to visit Tsunami Rock this week as we noted a sign had been posted for the correct turn-off (we tried to go there in the past but could never find the right dirt road).   Tsunami Rock is believed to be the largest tsunami rock in the world.  It is believed that this rock was carried 100 meters inland from the surrounding reefs by a massive tsunami that hit Tonga thousands of years ago (the sign below says approximately - hehe).

For the past six weeks we have run across various groups of youth performing ngaue 'ofa here in Tonga.  Ngaue 'ofa in Tongan, means service ... literally translated it means "work of love".    We love how some of the words or phrases are broken down when translated literally (i.e. fale lotu - house of prayer or church house).  It often helps give us a new perspective and insight (it also helps as we learn the language).

Three of the HEFY youth  - Luke Hughes (center - Bountiful),
Maddy (right - Farmington), name? (left - Colorado)
(if you have the other name I will edit and add as my
short-term memory strikes again).  
There have been several LDS youth working on humanitarian projects building houses for locals.  The group that sponsors them is called Humanitarian Experience for Youth or HEFY.  Each group of approximately 12 youth (young women and men ages 16 - 19) along with the program sponsors, and some parental supervision, spend approximately two weeks building simple homes for some of the locals in dire need.  They worked so hard but seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves.  What great young men and women! Luke Hughes took a couple of items home for us and is planning on serving a mission in the near future (he is 17 years old now). 

They are very organized and it takes each group about two weeks to build each home.  The last group arrived on Friday and will visit Sam's island (one of the local islands) on Saturday, then attend Church on Sunday and start building their home on Monday.  These youth are amazing to be around and they really catch the vision of hard work and service.  They do truly perform nague 'ofa ... a work of love for the people of Tonga.  We have been impressed at how organized they are and how much they pack into their tight schedule.  I've provided a link (click here) for anyone who wants more information.  There is not much out there for 2018 but it is worth looking into as it is a great experience for any youth.  You can also donate to help fund others.

One of the houses built by the HEFY organization.  This home is in
Puke (pronounced Poo-kay).  They are just arriving to finish the home and
clean up before going to the beach on their last day here.
We continue to have a great experience here and feel of your love and support and the impact of your prayers in our behalf.  For that we are so grateful.  We want you to know that we also pray for you and would love the opportunity to pray for any members of your friends and families or specific blessings in your lives if you will let us know.   God does hear and answer prayers.

Ofa lahi 'atu!

We met the previous Mission President who know's Aunt Netti (Annette Kapp Andersen)
from her time in Sitka Alaska.  We enjoy making any connection to someone at home
and this one was especially great as he talked about her incredible musical talents.

We threw this photo in for our own Chicken lover (you're welcome Lindsay)
If you want to give this one a name we'll let the owners know but there
is a real possibility it won't be there the next time we visit.

Last paragraph in English (in case you missed it).

Staircase on home in Houma
I particularly like the safety features on the stairs leading to
he roof or future third floor.