Sunday, July 9, 2017

Winter Break!

Lepeka and Elder Pakalani (one of the APs)
Zone conferences were held this week in Tongatapu and we attended each one and spoke for a few minutes.  They are held in each zone during the 2nd or 3rd week after transfers. 

Lepeka spoke on exact obedience especially as it relates to health (cleanliness and nutrition).  She used a few different methods to illustrate her point.  You can see Elder Pakalani holding scripture bags in outstretched arms during one of her demonstrations.  

Lepeka stresses the need for proper hydration, nutrition and cleanliness as talks about the blessings that can come from talongofua kakapo (exact obedience). She does a really good job of keeping it on point, brief and interesting.  She references D&C 130:20-21 (see if you can remember what the scripture is about prior to clicking on the link).

I think she has made lots of progress as we definitely see fewer issues with the missionaries.  She is so responsive to their needs and always follows up to make sure things are better and not just dropped.  I know how much they appreciate her concern and willingness to address whatever comes up.  We have become quite good at getting around and know most of the back-streets and shortcuts to every MQ on the main island now.  Lepeka also does a good job of bringing in some of her best Tongan into her lessons.  She studies every day to learn and helps teach me when we're driving around by looking up words.  It can be a little bit hard as words can mean different things depending on how they are used in a sentence.  We learn a little bit more each week.

Elder Takelo and Elder Enos 
(zone leaders in Hihifo zone
West end of the island).
I try really hard to keep my part short and to the point ... basically, follow the rules and repent if you need to to get back on track.  My focus is with internet and telephone use.  I told a story from my youth that relates to following the plan that is there for us and not thinking we can do as we want.  You can read that story by clicking here or by selecting "Stories of Faith" from the top menu, then "Herding Bulls".  It is a simple true story from my youth that has meant more to me through the years as I have tried harder to learn and live its lessons.  I love looking back on my life at some of the things that stand out as vivid memories and try to learn the lessons they teach (I guess I'm a slow learner).

The eight elders that were in attendance from 'Eua sang for us and I captured it on video and uploaded it to YouTube (click here to view).  I did share this on FaceBook as well so no need to revisit if you saw it there (unless you just can't help yourself).  It's so much fun to see and interact with the missionaries as we get to know each of them on a very personal level.  We love hearing their stories.  We have some missionaries on other islands we won't get to see this time around but we do hear from them when the need arises. 

Sister Trainers, Sister Ramsay and
Sister Matakaiongo both from Tonga
The zone leaders set up the meeting and prepare and teach as well as President and Sister Tui'one, the Assistants to the President and the Sister Trainers.  Lepeka and I took a few minutes at the beginning of each meeting as well).

The weather remains extremely pleasant with an occasional patches of perfect (67-74 deg F)!  We get the occasional rain but they are pretty light for the most part this time of the year.  Most of the locals are complaining about the cold temperature or are all bundled up in coats and scarves.

We also had a couple of training sessions as we installed new computers and moved a Family History Center.  we find people extremely willing to help and they all seem to want to learn.  I can be a little bit challenging to communicate with some as cell phone use is expensive for them and some of them don't have the means to travel much (even to the next town).  If they have to, they will walk.  It is a little bit disappointing to some that we don't have community classes.  We have done a few but we could easily get swept up into teaching the public full time is we started.  We are careful not to let that become an expectation.

This represents about 1/3 of the young men that attended the
American Football camp.  We didn't get to see them scrimmage
but we did see them during warm-ups and several of the training
They also had a mini "American Football" camp this week featuring two-a-day work-outs and training.  They did it here on the large field behind Liahona High School during a school break (no High School this week).  Lepeka and I took some time to go watch and boy were they enthusiastic and they just soaked in every word the coaches told them.  The boys came early and stayed late as if they couldn't get enough of it.  It will not surpass the popularity of Rugby here anytime soon but there were certainly smiles all around even though it was hard physically.  It started out pretty well on Monday and by the end of the week they had over 100 local kids attending and really enjoying themselves.

We picked up Elder Jacob Lundskog at the airport on Saturday, July 8th (yes we're a day ahead).  He is just finishing up his mission and his father is coming to join him to visit some of the areas where he served.  He is related to our good friends Gary and Cheryl Lundskog (now in Hooper - again).  As I understand it, Gary and Elder Lundskog's father are cousins.  We have talked to him on the phone several times for one reason or another but it would have been fun to get to know him better as he has quite a personality.  He has not served on this island since we have been here but has been in some pretty remote and interesting places.  He told us about some of the living conditions he experienced on his last assignment and it seems like not too much has changed there since Elder Kolipoki  (Groberg) was here some 50 years ago.  We provided him with a loaf of bread and some water on the way back from the airport and he was so excited since it had been a long time since he had tasted bread.  He said he has really enjoyed his mission.

Some photos from zone conference and around the island.

Just prior to starting the meeting.  Elder Teh and Elder Mafi
(Center two)

A room full of missionaries (one of the eight zone meetings)
We currently have 193 total missionaries serving in Tonga
(Elders, Sisters and Seniors)

Sister Kapp and I eating lunch with President and Sister Tui'one.
The four Elders in the foreground from L>R are: Elder Pakalani (Tonga),
Elder Kau (Tonga), Elder Soaki (Florida) and Elder Malimali (Tonga)

Elder Mafi (Washington State)
We love this guy and were happy we got
to see him again as he is now serving on
the island of "Eua.  It's a short ride on a
fast boat but a couple of hours on the ferry.
Elder Mafi is one of the soloists in the
YouTube video linked above.  He also plays
the Ukulele quite well.

Sister Taumoepenu (Tonga) and Sister Pupunu (Draper, Utah)

One of the beautiful homes and settings across from the
Stake Center in Mu'a (taken from just outside the door).  

Liahona Stake Center across the street from the High School campus.

A couple of sows ... just in case you're weary
of all the photos of the piglets.  These two weren't
even spooked as I walked over to take their photo


  1. Winter Break seems to just be for the High Schools as the younger kids still had classes. Campus has been pretty bare and our ward is decimated when the students are away. They make up about 3/4ths of the ward membership.

  2. Never a dull moment. Joyce is home!! Doing well and we all miss you. So many have moved from our neighborhood. Brother Gadd passed a couple of weeks ago and bless Nellie. Great job you guys!! We are hot here now!! God bless.

    1. Good to hear that Joyce is home. We'll find a time to call her. We heard about brother Gadd and hope Nellie is doing well. We're in the best part of the year weather wise and still loving Tonga!

  3. I learn so much from your posts! You both are such a blessing to the mission. And that picture of son! Heck ya! Good to see him smiling-we consider you both Mafi's now. Thank you for loving him:) Enjoy that weather, should we send scarves? hahaha