Week 18/19/20 – Talihau/’Utungake

The number of weeks in my blog post titles have been off because I started in the MTC on a Wednesday and had P-Days on Friday, but then P-Day changed to Monday once I got to Tonga, so since I didn’t post last week I’ll just get back on track by saying this is Week 20.

I’ll talk about how the work is going first. In my previous posts I talked about how we worked with President Makai to baptize Tavina. He told us to go ahead and start teaching her older sister Heilala, but the mother Lekina wants us to wait until her husband Ioane returns this week. We still visit them often though. We extended a baptismal invitation to our investigator Liu, which she hasn’t immediately accepted but we asked her to pray about it and everything we’ve taught her. We’ll check up on her this week and see how that commitment is going. There is a lady named Ofa who has gone to church twice now but both weeks we were in the other ward. We’ll work with the branch mission leader in ‘Utungake to coordinate teaching her. There are also lots of youth and young adults in Talihau that we have taught. Two in particular have taken multiple lessons and are very interested in our message. Elder Kau and I have set a goal of six baptisms for the zone baptism on December 24th.

My companionship with Kau has been pretty good. We get along really well and my Tongan has exploded since we’ve started working together. The language is getting so comfortable now I often start conversations with people and understand almost everything. I can also ask someone to explain a word and usually understand their response, which really helps. My main problem now is being able to hear all the separate words someone says when they speak quickly and blend words together.

Kau grew up in Vava’u but moved to Tonga when he was fifteen. In high school he ran track, then he got into wrestling, and finally bodybuilding where he won the Mr. Tonga competition. Naturally Kau describes himself as a ‘sports boy’. He decided to serve a mission when he was 24 and now he’s almost a year in. One of the members here, Sefo, is Kau’s best friend from his youth, who he hasn’t seen in 8+ years. Kau was instantly comfortable being back in Vava’u and with his friend, which I think has helped me speak the language since he started making friends with everyone from the start. Kau actually speaks English pretty well but we speak in Tongan more than half the time.

Honestly the mission just keeps getting better and better. I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else right now. Happy Thanksgiving, hopefully you all followed the Tongan motto, “kai ke mate” which means “eat until you die”. Tau toki sio e uike kaha’u.

Week 17 – Talihau/’Utungake

Transfers came in yesterday and I’m… staying in Talihau! Elder Hopoate is moving to Ha’apai on a little motu called Ha’afeva. Apparently it’s a 45-minute boat ride just to the main islands of Ha’apai so he’s as much in the middle of nowhere as you can get. My new comp is Elder Kau. I wanted a Tongan comp and I got one. It should be a bit of a refiner’s fire for me having to speak mostly Tongan but I want that experience. I don’t have much to talk about this week but I should next week once I meet my new comp! Ofa lahi atu.

Week 16 – Talihau/’Utungake

I had a lot of cool experiences this week. First was Tavina’s baptism on Tuesday. In the moment it felt like a disaster though. First I slipped getting into the font, then she didn’t know where to grab my arm so a member of the bishopric had to help us get our hands positioned. Also the water level was so low I almost had to lay her down in the water. It was definitely embarrassing in the moment but I got over it pretty quick. Even if it wasn’t perfect, the ordinance was performed and that was all that mattered to me.

Before we left our MQ for the baptism I said a quick prayer thanking Heavenly Father for all the opportunities I’ve had to teach and share the gospel and now to perform the ordinance of baptism, and asked that I’d receive a witness of the truth of it. On the bus ride to the chapel I definitely felt that confirmation through the Holy Ghost. It’s funny, I think Heavenly Father knew I’d mess up and just feel embarrassed during the actual baptism so He gave me that witness beforehand instead.

Another cool experience was witnessing at the Toula sisters’ baptism. I got called up suddenly and didn’t know why, but then I realized they wanted me to help witness. After the baptism one of the sisters told me “You are a representative of Jesus Christ”. From that I gained a better understanding of the significance of my calling and the importance of staying worthy to the title of ‘Elder’.

Last thing, I had my first companion exchange on Thursday/Friday. The rule here is senior comps go together and junior comps go together, so I got paired with an elder only a transfer behind me, meaning he just arrived from the MTC five weeks ago. We taught two successful lessons together in his area, and I led both of them. It was evidence to me of how much I’ve grown and improved in my first twelve weeks, even though it might not seem like it day-to-day. Thanks to my trainer Elder Hopoate for doing such a good job.

We haven’t taken pictures in forever but I finally posted some. Tau toki sio uike ka ha’u.