Man, so much happened this week it’s hard to know where to start. When the members heard about the zone baptism they worked super hard to find someone for us. We started teaching Tavina, a 9-year-old girl in a part-member family. Two of her siblings are already baptized and active in the church but she and the oldest aren’t. Their father, who went inactive and rejoined Siasi Uesiliana, doesn’t want his whole family converting, especially since he’s always gone serving as governor of Niua and can’t meet with us in person. We’ve gotten pretty close with the family over the past month and visit them often but whenever we tried teaching the kids their mother Lekina said to wait until her husband Ioane returned from Niua. She has always been willing for us to teach but without Ioane’s approval it’s difficult.
However at the beginning of this week the town officer Siaosi started asking Lekina about having Tavina baptized and she agreed as long as Ioane gave permission. Fortunately both Elder Hopoate and President Makai were in the same Tongan ward in America with Ofa, Ioane’s oldest brother. In Tonga the oldest brother has a lot of influence over the family, especially when the parents are passed away, so the Makais contacted Ofa about the situation. On Thursday afternoon right when we finished fasting the Makais drove by and handed us an email from Ofa giving permission to baptize Tavina. Now we had two days to get her ready for baptism. Thankfully she has heard the lessons before from the previous missionaries and gone to sacrament meeting a few times so that’s why we were able to set up a baptismal date so soon.
On Friday Elder Hopoate started calling around seeing if anyone else in the zone had a baptism ready for Saturday, and that’s when we found out the zone baptism was cancelled. The goal which we had worried so much over and which made us question at one point if we failed as missionaries if we couldn’t reach it, was now cancelled, but it was pretty funny because even though we finally had someone ready we weren’t disappointed one bit. We changed the baptismal date to this Tuesday and we got more time to prepare Tavina for the baptismal interview. Crazy how it all worked out.
While all that was going on we had three vilohoas which resulted in tons of new investigators and contacts. We finally got serious about our tukituki (door-knocking) and so much came from it. Everyone who has let us in to teach has been the best investigator you could ask for. They are sincerely interested in the message, follow up on commitments and are willing to meet often. That has been the biggest blessings I’ve noticed this week, just how promising all our new investigators seem.
We also had three service opportunities (‘ngaue ofa’ in Tongan, which sort of translates to ‘work of love’). On Wednesday all of the Vava’u missionaries got together and built an aa puaka (pig fence) for an elderly lady. We had a lot of fun chopping down trees with a hele pelu (machete). On Friday we did the same thing for one our kaingalotu (congregation) and then on Saturday there was a stake service cleaning up the police and fire station. Honestly Elder Hopoate and I were pretty pooped after this week. We really amped up the workload and the blessings from that and fasting were almost overwhelming.
In case anyone’s wondering, I’ve probably gained 10 pounds since arriving in Tonga, and it’s definitely not all muscle, haha. Nobody has called me fat yet so that’s good (Note: Tongans love joking about each other’s weight).