Sunday, August 20, 2017

Gift of Tongues?

Well, it was bound to happen and has probably happened frequently as I have tried to pick up some Tongan here and there. It appears that when you are learning a foreign language sometimes what you think you are saying is not what you are actually saying. Well, I had a big "Oh crap" moment this week (for those of you offended by the oh crap ... Becky has worked hard to get me to say "crap" and "manure" so please be thankful for that).

One of the cute little guys that adopted me
 as his chosen guardian.  He is "faka'ofo'ofa"
As we are out and about among the people of Tonga I am often trying to communicate with people who don't speak much, if any, English.  I break out all of my best Tongan small talk and have told many mothers that their child was "faka'ofa" thinking I was saying pretty or beautiful.   I have received several strange looks from parents and children as I proudly displayed my Tongan ignorance.  Well, I learned today that "faka'ofo'ofa"  actually means beautiful, handsome, or lovely (genderless).  Which is what I thought I was saying ... notice the difference?  My version, "faka'ofa" means; pathetic, sad, wretched, or pitiable.  I guess if nothing else I now know that all those strange looks I was getting was not because they were impressed with my command of the language or even my accent.

See ....  we do have extreme weather conditions  in Tonga.  (I guess
you can't believe everything you read on the internet.)
A few of you may have already seen some of the stories I have posted in the "Stories of Faith" section above.  I suppose I could have titled it a little bit different as many of the stories are life lessons learned through the years. We don't really have a lot of time to focus on writing but when we are home waiting for the next appointment or phone call I can write a little bit and it seems to add up.  It also give me something to do when I am awake at night.

It has been fun to reflect on my life and relate some of those experiences.  I think I am the master of the , the... and (parenthesis) but I guess since they are not being published anywhere besides here I get to do whatever I want, so I write how I think (which is full of -'s ,'s ... and (parenthesis).  If some of you have suggestions I am willing to listen and learn.

We had zone conferences this week and Lepeka and I spoke in each of them.  She continues to extol the virtues of drinking vai (water) and the importance of cleanliness in all aspects, personal hygiene, Missionary Quarters (inside and out - including spraying for bugs) as well as not eating undercooked meat or food that has been sitting out.  The missionaries are getting much better but some still have a ways to go.  We have bribed them with candy and cookies and most are improving.

Sister Matakaiongo and Elder Pakilani sing.
We also did a quick activity with them where we had an Elder and a Sister stand back to back and each sing a different hymn at the same time.  This would cause quite a bit of confusion as you might imagine especially when I gave the rest of the room the cue to join in.  We would then stop and have them both sing a different hymn, this time the same one.  Of course, when we gave the cue to join in this time everyone knew what to do.  We talked about how this is what happens when the missionary and their hoa (companion) aren't getting along.  How it can be confusing to everyone they teach and how much better it is if they can work through their differences.  And emphasized the importance of praying, studying and planning together.  The missionaries are amazing and we quickly develop a deep love for each of them as we get to know them.

The three white shirts are our guys,
from L-R,  President Tui'one, Elder
Waddoups, and Brother Parr. 
There's always many groups here in Tonga from various parts of the world performing service projects.  The LDS Charities group recently participated in the renovation of one of the primary schools (grade school equivalent in the U.S.)  You can read more about it in the Churches News release by clicking here.  This is where President Tui'one attended primary school prior to his family moving to New Zealand where he resided until his call as Mission President here in July 2016.  The village of Fasi is about as close as you can get to downtown Nuku'alofa.

Fasi Primary School
The School also raised funds to help with the renovation by holding their concert.  This school is one of the government schools and is not sponsored by any of the religious organizations here in Tonga.  Children wear uniforms to school here and schools have their own colors.  This photo does not represent their school uniforms.  This was special dress just for the ceremony.

We have mentioned the one of the other projects sponsored by the LDS to build homes for some of the local families.  The photo below is the final home being built for this year located in Puke (Pronounced: pooh kay).  This was taken on day three so they are about half-way done at this point.  They are not large homes but frequently have large families living in them.


This was the last of four home that were built this summer by the Youth
organization.  They bring in a group of about 12 youth and a few parents
and leaders.  Each group spends one week and completes a home from
start to finish ... assisted by a few paid workers.  Lepeka is talking with
the  Stake President who had stopped in to assist.

Handwritten license plate.  Not uncommon here.

Mission Presidency L-R,
President Fatani (1st Counselor), President Makai (2nd Counselor), President Tui'one (President)
These next few photos are pictures of one of the local artist, Tevita Pola'apau, we purchased few of his paintings and he gave us permission to take a few photos and share them on our blog.  Tevita is headed to an art show in San Francisco in about 2 weeks to display some of his work.  We have been helping him develop a simple website and business cards.  Something he  has never had previously.  You can learn more about him by visiting his website (which is still under construction) at TongaArtist.blogspot.com  Tevita is LDS and has an interesting history which you can read on his website.  He does most of his work on Tapa cloth prepared by his wife Uku who also runs the business side of things.  Tevita feels it is his duty to capture the history and culture of old Tonga so that it does not get lost.  Tevita and Uku are wonderful giving people whom we have grown to love.

Tevita Pola'apau Art
Pounding Tapa cloth and typical Tongan design patterns.

Tevita Pola'apau Art
This is one of the photos we purchased from Tevita.  You can easily see the texture
created by using bits of Tapa in his paintings.  This painting represents how the
missionaries used to be treated.  They were allowed to stand in the front of the
boat with the pigs and goats as they traveled from island to island.  There would
be no place for them to sit. We love hearing the stories being his paintings.

Typical Tongan patterns used on large Tapa Mats.  Different patterns may represent
a village, an event, or perhaps a specific family.  Tapas are prized possessions and
one is considered poor unless they have a large collection for different events.

You can see the texture of the Tapa cloth quite well in this painting.  The ink
is made from the mango tree by cooking the sap and providing a few additives.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

*** Disclaimer

Full moon behind cloud cover in Tonga on
August 9, 2017 (Dad's birthday)
Well it was bound to happen sooner or later.  I think I may have gone over the edge and Lepeka wasn't able to save me.  She just keeps shaking her head and covering her eyes with her hands.  I think she's worried I might try to actually sing this somewhere.  I've assured her that posting the lyrics here is as far as I'll take it.  The good part is that they can't prune me from the family tree (though I wouldn't be surprised if someone has researched this from time to time).


***  DISCLAIMER  ***
This is just some fun lyrics I wrote (since I couldn't get the tune out of my head) after listening to a Simon and Garfunkel YouTube clip of the classic song "The Sound of Silence".  This is their reunion version from 2009 and it's worth a listen.  This coupled with our Mission President's family getting ready to have three missionaries out at the same time (one in Fiji - comes home in Dec 2017, one currently in the Provo MTC  and his twin sister just opened her call to Tahiti this past Tuesday).  My version of the song is all tongue in cheek and not intended for a Missionary farewell.  I hope no one is offended.  You are welcome to stop reading here ....  Now I know you can't stop.

If you have never heard the tune perhaps you can have your parents (or grandparents) sing this to you.  You may have to work the meter of the words around just a little bit but I made them work so it can be done (i.e. make Australia a four syllable word and Pitcairn three syllables as in: Pit caw urn - and yes, Pitcairn is a real place).  The text in black is not part of the song, it's just instructions.

The Saints of Zion
LDS Missionary Parody
(sung to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence")

Hello Bishop my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.
Since I fin'lly caught the vision.
Submitted papers for my mission.
Now I’m waiting by the mailbox every day - so I can say,
Come join the Saints of Zion.

I was nervous as could be. Everyone kept telling me
I could end up in Siberia,
Japan, Brazil, Shanghai, Australia.
Even Utah … they say, “This is the Place” - it’s my home state.
To join the Saints of Zion.

Still not knowing where I’d go, I opened up the envelope.
Quickly scanned to see where I would serve.
Never heard ... some place called Pitcairn? look it up (spoken in the background)
But the Spirit pierced my heart in such a way - I’m bound to say
Come join the Saints of Zion.

Mom and dad abandoned me, At the Provo MTC.
Eating food until I thought I’d explode.
Quoting scripture in a prophet-like mode.
And the language that I learned was new to me, not A, B, C.
Moru na ney te Zion. (made up words - don't lose any sleep over them)

Now my companion and I pray, That we will be safe every day.
As we walk and knock on every door,
Asking people if they’d like to hear more.
About the vision that restored the truth to Earth ... And brought new verse .
Book of Mormon (spoken in background)
Come join the Saints of Zion.

I’m up early every day. I exercise and read and pray.
May the Holy Spirit reach you.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Prepare for the judgment foretold by the prophets of old … now we’ve been told.
Come join the Saints of Zion.
Come, come ye Saints of Zion.

Okay, enough silliness now. This week was a good week. I think we made more progress on the Technology front than any previous week. We still have a long way to go but at least we seem to be moving forward now. A few weeks ago I wasn't too sure. The Stake Technology Specialists are starting to call us with questions and actually reach out to us rather than us having to initiate contact with them over everything. They seem to have good questions and are genuinely interested in learning. There are also other potential support changes that could help.

Meeting at Liahona with Steve
one of Gary and Diane Kapp's
neighbors.
The photo on the right is of one of the men (Steve - last name escapes me at the moment) sent to discuss a "go forward" strategy for possible implementation of a private Church network in Tonga.  It's very preliminary but at least it's a start.  He lives in Provo and used to be in Gary and Diane's Stake/Ward.  He still lives just down the street from them but is in an entirely different Stake now.

The missionaries are also enjoying good health almost across the board. What illness does exist is just a few minor upset stomachs and some diaharee, diare ... well you know. Lepeka continues to put a lot of focus on prevention and most seem to be trying pretty hard to follow her guidelines. We have Zone conferences coming up this week again so she will see how they report their progress. Let's see how you measure up:
  1. Drink a minimum of 6 glasses of water per day (approx. 1.5 liters).
  2. Personal hygiene (using an antibacterial soap daily shower).
  3. Cleaning up your leftover food properly (fridge or dispose - never left out).
  4. Quarters cleanliness (sweeping and wiping surfaces daily).
She provides a little more explanation with the missionaries (bugs are a pretty big problem over here).  We have to be mindful that the dogs are not vaccinated or dewormed so they all have fleas and mites.  Most MQs are fenced well enough to keep the dogs out of the immediate area if the gates are closed and screens for the windows and door.  Missionaries seem to like to feed the dogs their leftovers thus frequently creating a garbage pile for all kinds of little varmints.

We also like to reinforce President Tui'one's message to follow the mission rules!  It does seem that most (not all) injuries occur when someone is pushing the envelope.  Volleyball was a big culprit and it was an approved activity. Several blisters, ankle sprains, and even a broken foot. I guess that's the price of wearing flippers (flip-flops or whatever name you call them by). We're hoping these injuries taper off soon and we do remind them ... it's not to be competitive (yeah right).  We think their hearts are in the right place so we're not too hard on them.

L-R, Elder Akoteu (California), Elder
Lavaka (Tonga),  Elder O'Reilly
(Washington St),  Elder Kau (Tonga)
We do love the missionaries (Elders and Sisters)! What's not to love they are in the mode of service and not in the "me" mode so that's very refreshing.  We hope they can maintain that after their missions.  We miss the ones that leave but enjoy building the relationship with the new ones that come in.  If one of the missionaries get sick they all say, "Have you called Sister Kapp yet?"  They can't stay home unless she sees them.  We're frequently out early in the morning and late into the evening taking care of the bumps and bruises, tummy and headaches, but most of the afternoons are open to work on the technology side.

Earth Umu at Ancient Tonga
This is used for faster cooking
Real ones are just holes in the
ground lined with rocks.
We went to a place this week called Ancient Tonga in Nuku'alofa for some Tongan culture presentations and enjoyed learning more about the customs, food, dress, flora and fauna.  We prepared our own meals wrapped in banana leaves and placed in the Umu (earth oven). It was actually one made of iron surrounded by dirt so the food would cook more quickly but the effect was the same.

We have a few pictures to share from our experience there as well as a cute video of some piglets playing (or fighting), Lepeka pounding Tapa cloth from the bark of the Mulberry tree,  and some baby chicks thrown in for Lindsay.

Ofa lahi 'atu!




video
Video of cute little piglets playing (or fighting).
Video taken in Kolonga Tonga.

All dressed up and nowhere to go.  This is us with the Waddoups (Idaho).
They go home in about 4 weeks.  Each outfit is used for specific occasions or events
The one I'm wearing is typically for a funeral.  It would be worn with a black shirt.

video
Lepeka using a tin can as a veggie peeler.


Herbs and natural remedies (Tongan Medicine)


video
Lepeka pounding Tapa cloth from the bark of the Mulberry tree.
The mallet has 4 sides with graduated depths of ribs.  The deeper
ribs are used first to spread the bark as it is pounded.  The flat side
is used last to smooth it out.  Bark can be pounded to 4 or 5 times
its original width.  Pieces are then glued together to form large mats.

Lepeka pounding Tapa from the bark of the Mullberry tree.

video
Chickens at feeding time.  They were fed the coconut
we scraped when processing the meat of the coconut.
It would normally be used in their own food.

Still shot of the chicks and chickens at feeding time.  They seem to love coconut
scrapings - who knew?  The little ones don't stray too far from mother hen.

Weaving for mats is common.  The smaller the weave the more valuable the piece.
These can be used for ceremonial clothing wall or floor mats and/or given as gifts
on special occasions.

Now for a few random pictures for our blog journal.


Lepeka looking over the medical supplies.  This cabinet is in our bedroom and
contains things from Aspirin to Zicam and not much in between.  Actually, it is
pretty well stocked for the things she regularly needs to care for the missionaries.

Thayne Andersen's brother Martin and his side-kick Fred visit for Sunday dinner.
They are in Tonga filming a documentary on the Saints of Tonga.  I'll provide
links if and when it becomes available.

Fourth and final home finished by the Youth groups that came to serve in Tonga.
It takes each team of about 12 youth and their leaders about 2 weeks to build
from start to finish.  They do have a few skilled and paid workers helping as well.

First Marshmallow Creme we have found here.  Happy Rice Crispy treats to me!

Lepeka with Monte's dad, he just received his new artificial leg and is up
and about and grinning from ear to ear.  Monte is the young man who had
 a  stroke and is now working with a senior missionary here who used to be
a speech therapist.  Quite a coincidence if you ask me (there are no speech
therapists in Tonga).

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hufangalupe

Hufangalupe or "Pigeons Gate" on the Southeastern
shore.  Natural land bridge formed by the collapsed
roof of a sea cave.
Over that past seven months (that's right, we've been out seven months now), we have collected several photos as we've traveled various places in Tonga that we have not posted.  This week we'll feature two of these places.  We visited them both on the same day a few weeks ago.  One is called Hufangalupe or "Pigeons Gate".  It is a natural land bridge on the Southeastern shore of the island formed by the roof of a sea cave collapsing.  Lepeka was able to creep close to the edge and get a few photos as I guarded the nearby road.  The waves crash here in dramatic fashion and we were lucky enough to be there on a day when they came in with gusto.

Secluded Southeastern beach.  It may
be secluded because it's hard to get to.
There is also a very secluded beach nearby of the same name but we haven't explored enough to find a way to reach it yet.  It is protected but the reef and a row of rock formations which can be seen in the photo.  It is at the foot of some pretty high cliffs and we were at the top so I didn't really search in earnest as the dirt road we took to arrive at here was pretty sketchy.  We would love to get to this beach but not if it involves ropes or a cliff-side trail.  We'll study the map a little more to see if there is a reasonable way down before looking again.


video

Video taken from Camp Makeke look-out area.  It is at the top of the
waterfront cliffs that are approximately 125 ft above the water level.


Elder and Sister Killary - Managers at
Camp Makeke.  You can see a Pavillion
and a few small bunk houses in the
background.  The rugby field is to the
left (we just caught the end of it before
the goal posts were put up).
Later that day as we stopped in to visit some senior missionaries (Elder and Sister Killary) that are managing the soon-to-open Camp Makeke (South-central shoreline on Tongatapu).  It will be used for Stake, Ward and family activities.  It has big open fields for activities like rugby and soccer, a couple of volleyball areas, two large pavilions complete with kitchens, and several small bunkhouses for overnight stays.  We were able to find another wonderful location onsite where we could again view the waves crashing into the rocks along the shoreline with spray exploding some 150-200 feet into the air.  We captured a few short videos from our perspective at the cliff-tops near waters edge where we were approximately 125-150 feet above the sea below.

Mission Leadership Council - I won't try to list all their
names but yes, we know (and love) them all!
We also had Mission Leadership Council (MLC) this week at the Navu Stake Center.  We continue to focus on health, cleanliness, and safety with a special focus on the responsibilities of leaders.  We passed our a small bag of Famous Amos cookies to each companionship where both had worked to follow the guidelines set forth in our last meeting which were: 1.  Drinking 6 glasses of water daily (1.5 L).  2.  Personal cleanliness including using an antibacterial soap daily.  3. MQ cleanliness daily  including hanging up or folding clothes at the end of the day so they stay neat and clean..  4.  Leftover food not left out to attract bugs or grow stuff (and not being fed to the dogs which attracts bugs too).   At the end only two sets of companions were left standing and got the cookies.  We know it is hard for them to do all of these things daily but they really are pretty simple and important to maintaining good health overall.  One of the two standing companionships at the end was the mission president and his wife  (yes they participated too).

The youth in our ward had a Ngaue 'ofa night where they came around to the senior missionary home to do service (Ngaue 'ofa literally translated - work of love).  It was kind of a scavenger hunt where different activities were defined for them with points given out for each task completed.  We had them wash our car and sing a song for us.   They also convinced Lepeka that they needed to sweep our back porch and clean our already-just-cleaned bathroom (for points I guess).

You can also find two new short stories that have been added to the Stories of Faith section this week.  They can be accessed by selecting "Stories of Faith" from the menu near the top of the page (or by clicking here).  One of these stories is about a humbling experience I had as a young father (story # 5).  The other is a story from my youth and a lesson I learned from it some 40 years later (story #6).  They are both experiences that have had an impact on the person I am today (sometimes I learn life lessons much slower than I should).

Photo from Holland courtesy
Steven Kapp Perry
In that same section, I have also added my Aunt Jani's personal account of her trip to Holland this past month to visit the land of our Kapp ancestors (shared with her permission).  I loved reading about her daily experiences as it made me feel more connected to my ancestors.  I am so grateful she shared not only her experience but her emotions as well.  I felt like I was able to share her feelings and emotions as a blessing for serving here in Tonga since I would not be able to make the trip with so many of the "Kapp" descendents.  I hope it will awaken the feelings for your ancestors as you read it and relate it to your own family.  I have come to love my ancestors deeply, many whom I never met or knew in this Earthly life.

Just because I know you are wondering ... it's 12:50 A.M. Sunday here and the dang rooster in our back yard is crowing!  KFC is sounding really good about now.

To all you professional photographers, please remember that we are just using our iPhones and just taking shots of what we see ... not necessarily trying to do anything more than just capture our memories.  Some photos are even taken through car windows as we do our best to capture our experiences in Tonga.  I have a dash-cam and maybe one of these next few posts will include the harrowing driving experience that is also Tonga.  We hope you enjoy our pics, videos and test as we document our mission.



video
This is a video of a popular Eastern beach.  It was taken
the same day as the earlier video but the waves to the East
were nowhere near what we saw to the South.


Elder and Sister Johns.  They have been serving in the Dental clinic.
They're headed to NZ for a short vacation before going to their new home
in Texas.  We'll definitely miss them.  Their replacement does not arrive for
about 2 months so there is a short term dentist here now to fill the gap.

This photo was taken on a popular East beach.  We took our lunch with us
so we could eat here after we visited some sick missionaries nearby.
It was during the day when school was in so it was very vacant and beautiful.

Lepeka near the edge of Hufangalupe (mentioned above).
Taking this photo was as close as I got to the edge.

Thayne Andersen's brother (my dad's sister's husbands brother) who we met in
front of the Temple on Thursday night.  They were looking for direction to a restaurant
 when we discovered the relationship.  He is here working on a Saints in Tonga article.
It is so much fun to run into people and make connection to our loved ones back home.
They are coming over for dinner on Sunday.

Lepeka communicating with the missionaries while we
wait for the others to arrive for dinner.  We're early ...
go figure.