Week 65-66 – ‘Utulau

Hello, hello! Transfers came and I’m staying in ‘Utulau. Elder Vakautakakala went back to Vava’u to be a zone leader there. My new companion is Elder Mohulamu from Niutoua, Tonga. We actually came in to the mission at the same time and went to Vava’u together so I’m already familiar with him.

On Sunday night we had our big musical fireside which we’ve been planning for a couple weeks. The week before we didn’t have many teachings because of MLC and planning the fireside but it was all worth it because it turned out great. Tons of nonmembers came and the speakers and musical numbers were all excellent. This week we’ll be busy following up with all the invites who came. There was one girl we ran into the day before actually while we were inviting people to the fireside. I asked if she had ever talked to the missionaries before and she said yes, she had been taking lessons from the Sisters in Matangiake. They both moved this transfer though so we’ll take over teaching her now in ‘Utulau. The Sisters said she was progressing really well so we’re excited to follow up with her.

Last week WordPress wouldn’t load so here’s my blog post for last week:

There were a couple days this past week where I felt pretty down. I felt like I wasn’t being social enough and not being a part of conversations even though I understood perfectly. It felt like my mind was just empty when talking to people. I think it’s been something affecting me for a while this transfer but until then I was still trying to talk. The day or two last week though I just stopped trying. My companion and I went to go check out the beach one day when a couple teachings fell through, and I gained the courage to ask him for help. He had noticed a change in me too and gave some advice, but I think the most helpful thing was just letting him know what I was facing.

At first I told him I felt like I couldn’t have conversations or care about what people were talking about, but by talking with my companion I realized I had just hit a slump during this transfer which wasn’t there before. I remembered back to Lapaha when I was with
Elder Hirinuki where I always talked to people and loved doing it. A few days later I even ran into a missionary I hadn’t seen in a long time and, commenting on the improvement in my language, he said that Elder Hirinuki told him I always loved talking to people. That actually really helped me feel better because it reinforced that I hadn’t always been in this slump. Elder Vakautakakala also added that he felt bad because with him being close family with a lot of ‘Utulau, more attention was given to him than me, so I had less opportunity to talk.

Whatever the reasons were, being open with my companion was the best solution. Now I can talk openly without feeling like I’m messing up or slowing down the conversation because my companion knows I’m just trying to talk more. We also agreed that if I ask a question that he already knows the answer to, then he should let the person we’re talking to answer instead of him so I can have that conversation, which is really more important than getting the answer. I think what I learned the most from this experience is that it was only painful while I faced my problem alone. When we have the humility to seek help from our Heavenly Father and those he has given to help bear us up, then although the burden may still be there, it will be lighter and no longer a cause of stress.

‘Ofa lahi atu kiate kimoutolu.

P.S. P-days are on Wednesdays now!

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Week 64 – ‘Utulau

Malo e lelei! Mou fefe hake?

Our open house program this week was pretty successful. An open house can be lots of things, but the way we ran ours we started the program in the chapel, then divided the congregation into two halves and had them go through a rotation of rooms where the presidency from each houalotu (can’t remember what it’s called in English) did a 5-minute presentation on what they do in their houalotu. For example the Young Women talked about the Young Women’s purpose, Personal Progress, Mutual, etc. Then everyone returned to the chapel and two nonmember attendees were asked to give a short talk on what they learned.

The first lady talked about what she learned from the Primary program as a teacher herself in the kids’ Sunday school class in the Methodist Church. Then she praised the 72-hour-kit displayed in the Relief Society and the work the Church does in preparing its members for natural disasters. The next speaker was pretty for special for us, but especially my companion because it was his grandpa. We’ve been visiting him on his farm at least once a week and just talking but haven’t started teaching him yet. Everyone was pretty surprised to see him show up to the open house; apparently it was the first time since the chapel was built 30+ years ago. Hopefully this opens up the opportunity for us to start sharing our message with him. It’s a pretty special opportunity serving in Tonga to be often working towards the family members of my Tongan companions.

To finish off the open house, a missionary who just returned from Australia gave his testimony and then the bishop did the closing speech. The RM that spoke, his family is part-member so they’re a great family we’ve been working towards. Similar to the story of my comp’s grandfather, it was the RM’s sister’s first time in our church. She came again on Sunday and even stayed after sacrament meeting for classes. I think the lesson I l learned from these experiences is that inviting friends and family to church can be the best way to spark their interest in the gospel. Often times the hardest step for an investigator is going to church but if they can knock that out before even being taught then that makes them much more receptive to the lessons. It also provides an excellent environment for them to feel the Spirit while singing, partaking of the sacrament and listening to talks. My advice for anyone wanting to introduce a friend or family member to the gospel is to simply invite them to church, then let them decide if they want to learn more from the missionaries.

Ko ia pe ‘eku fakakaukau. Ofa pe te mou ma’u ha aho fiefia! Ofa atu.

 

Week 63 – ‘Utulau

Malo e lelei! This last week was pretty busy. A lot of time was spent teaching and preparing three of our investigators for baptism on Saturday. On Sunday night we were finally told the topic we would be teaching on in zone conference the next day, so we hurried coming up with a plan for that. It actually turned out really good though. We taught on Chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel, which deals with how to find people to teach.

At one point in our teaching we led a roleplay where six missionaries became a mixed family of strong Church members, less-active members, and nonmembers. The other two missionaries had to share a message that would help all members of the family, despite the different stages they were in. From Preach My Gospel we learn that the first missionary lesson, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is powerful and should often be the first message we share with others. The manual also teaches that families are one of the most important topics we can talk about with people because they are something that everybody cares about. So we told the two missionaries to share a short but powerful message of the Restoration which relates to families. The result was powerful, even just as a roleplay. In President Tuione’s comments on the roleplay he said that we should always be talking about our own families; it is the easiest way for people to feel the power of our message – that it is really strong enough to temporally take us away from those we love so we can spread its truth. The inspiration for doing this roleplay came from a family we recently taught who are in a similar position. My companion and I learned a lot from this zone conference on the importance of not just looking for investigators on the outside but inviting members to help us share the gospel with their immediate family. After all, the family is the whole purpose of the message we preach.

‘Ofa lahi atu kamoutolu. Bye!

 

 

Week 61-62 – ‘Utulau

Sorry I don’t have much time to write but here are some pictures showing some stuff we did the past couple weeks. Last Tuesday we went to the temple with the youth in our ward and helped with baptisms and confirmations for the dead. The other temple picture is from when we went to the temple another time for MLC. The rest is pictures from when we helped Elder Vakautakakala’s uncle get the food ready for a program at the Methodist church. I’ll write more next week!

Week 60 – Tokomololo

We got transfer news last night. Elder Vakautakakala and I are still together, and we’re still zone leaders, but we’re moving to Utulau, the next village down from Tokomololo. I was a little disappointed because the work was starting to pick up here but also excited to get going in a new area with the same comp. The Elders coming here are hard workers though so I’m not worried at all. Right now one of the Utulau Elders is staying with us cause his companion left for the Ghana Mission, so we’re already learning about all their investigators and members.

Yep, we had a baptism in the ocean. We were at the chapel three hours before the baptism to fill the font but it was really slow for some reason. The next best option in that case is the ocean. It was a cool experience for sure. The water felt so good I wish I could do like Alma and Helam and go underwater together, haha. Our investigators Lu’isa and Alisi were both baptized and then confirmed on Sunday.

I can’t think of much to write today, except to ask all the members reading to invite their friends to listen to the missionaries. It makes our work so much easier! Or you can invite them to church, mutual, firesides, etc. Without the invitation nothing happens in missionary work. We can do it ourselves but the members are even more effective. Listen to the Spirit to tell you who would be willing to hear our message and then extend the invite!

Hope you all have a good week. Ofa atu!

Week 58-59 – Tokomololo

Malo ‘etau ma’u e pongipongi ni. Ko ha ‘aho fiefia ‘eni, he koe ‘aho ia oku fai ai e volipolo moe ta’o kuli. ‘I ha fakalea ‘e taha, koe ‘aho P-day ‘eni.

Something scary I realized this week: I only have ten months left. Even stranger, the sister missionaries I entered the MTC with are done at the end of this year. Time flies even faster when you’re both having fun and in the service of the Lord.

One of our investigators was supposed to get baptized on Saturday but tragedy struck Tokomololo! There was a putu (funeral) on Friday, and the way funerals are done in Tonga anyone can show up and tons of people usually do, often for the food. Apparently the hot dogs had been sitting around for a while after they were cooked and over forty people, mostly children, went to the hospital that day and night. Our investigator started getting sick as she was about to do her baptismal interview and eventually went to the hospital later that night, so we delayed her baptism to this Saturday. Thankfully nobody got too sick. My companion joked that it was an unfortunate coincidence that the food little kids get most excited for is, of course, hot dogs.

On Sunday the bishop asked us to give a talk and since I recently started the Book of Mormon over again, I talked about 2 Nephi 4:17-35, or the “Psalm of Nephi”. My favorite part is verses 26-27, as Nephi questions the reason of his own sorrow and temptation. It’s important that we recognize our sins and shortcomings. Then we should ask, “Why am I like this?” or “Why do I do this?”. I believe that if we aren’t constantly self-evaluating and actively trying to change ourselves, then we¬†will only be acted upon by other forces. Something I’ve realized on the mission is that one of my “spiritual gifts” is a self-awareness of my own feelings and emotional impulses, and easily recognizing and facing faults in my own logic. The reason I believe it’s a spiritual gift is that it undoubtedly must be one of the traits of Jesus Christ and a skill that helps us become more like Him. When we understand what makes us do what we do, we can better resist temptation and master control over our thoughts and actions.

Some members told me about the hurricane in Texas. Might seem odd but it makes me grateful to be on this little island in the middle of the Pacific. Hopefully it’s comforting for those affected to know that people here are praying for you.

Transfers are already coming up this week, so we’ll see what happens. Ofa atu!

Week 56-57 – Tokomololo

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The work has been pretty good the last couple weeks! One of our investigators named Lu’isa has been progressing really well. It’s been an amazing experience teaching her because I think she is the first adult investigator I’ve taught who went from no interest or understanding of the gospel to hopefully being baptised soon and becoming a strong member of the Church. Most of my other investigators had already received some lessons before or didn’t end up accepting baptism while I worked with them but this is the first time I’ll get to see the full progression.

This past week we received tons of referrals from the members, so we have a ton of potential investigators to visit this week. Some of them already go to church, but with us trying to make it to all three wards on Sunday sometimes we don’t realize a nonmember showed up to sacrament meeting. Yesterday I told my companion that was the busiest Sunday on my mission, or my whole life even. From 6:30am to 9:30pm our schedule was completely full with only an hour of rest. Big change from my last area with only one ward and hardly any meetings.

That’s all for this week. Ofa atu!