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.