Friday, March 11, 2011

Taits in Tonga

Malo e lelei (Hello in Tongan)

We had a chance to fly to Tonga on March 1st, for a Principal's Conference. 
We learned so much from the conference.  Elder Hamula from the Area Presidency spoke to us on 3 different occasions.  He shared with us the goals of the Area Presidency for the church schools in the Pacific.  Their goal is for every student to complete high school and tertiary school.  This is a very lofty goal, but we caught the vision and are ready to do everything in our power to help the schools achieve this goal.  He shared with us how education is important for these young people, to make them better parents, community members, and leaders. 

We had a wonderful time in Tonga and had a chance to meet some of the other ITEP missionaries serving there.  We were surprised to learn that Tonga has a 46% LDS population, so they have many large church schools there.  Liahona High School, where the conference was held, has around 1,000 students attending. 

This picture was taken from the plane as we left Fiji.    
The reefs look so pretty and colorful from overhead.

The first day we arrived, all the missionaries drove down to the craft market.  The Tongan people were so kind and generous to us as missionaries.  We were just walking around the market "looking".  I walked in to the stall where this younger woman was selling her items and I spoke to her for a few minutes and started to walk away.  She calls me back and says you can have this.  (If you can see what I have in my hand, it's a handmade flower that you can stick in your hair as a decoration.)  I said,  "Oh no, this is for you to sell."  She gave me a big smile and said, "It's a gift!"  It just melted my heart.  She was so sweet and caring to me.  Then when she saw there were other missionaries she gave a flower to each of the other sisters.  We decided we would go back and buy something from her the next time we came.  But she wasn't there when we went back on Saturday.  Then on Saturday when we went back, as soon as we walked into the market, a woman stopped Mike and said, "You are from Fiji!"  We didn't recognize her, but she said she was related to a woman that is in our ward at church and had visited her.  Then she said, "You pick of gift because you are from Fiji!"  So we picked a pretty shell that I liked and then she also wanted to give me a necklace and bracelet.  I told her I would buy the necklace, so we gave her $5.00.  The people just have so little, it's hard to take their livlihood away from them.  But they just love the missionaries and would give them anything

Monday night all the senior missionaries get together for Family Home Evening.  We were very surprised to see someone we knew from Corona!  Those of you who are old timers from Corona will recognize Sara Fager now Sara Kenyon.  She is remarried and she and her husband just arrived in Tonga about a month ago for a mission.  We had a great time visiting with her that night, and then we also went to dinner with them another evening.  This is their second mission.  They served a mission in Africa a few years ago.

The Tonga Temple.

Some of the sights of Tonga.  This is the Tongan version of Stonehenge.  They are not sure what it is was for, but some think it was for astrolgical use. 

This was a really beautiful sight they call the blow holes.  It is a shelf of volcanic rock that has been eroded away by the ocean.  The places that have been totally eroded away shoot up when the waves hit under them.  The thing that is so amazing about this is the whole coast as far as you can see in both directions has these blow holes. 

More blow holes


These ladies were keeping cool while preparing their dinner of fish and clams.

A monument to Captain Cook.  This is where he first landed when he arrived in Tonga.


Pig, Pigs, everywhere.  Pigs just roam the streets all over Tonga.  There are more pigs than dogs.





The students at the church middle school performed for us the last evening of the conference.  They were really good.

They had made leis for everyone and they were all very unique and different.

All the missionaries went over to a resort and had dinner and saw a Polynesian dancing show.    This was the view out on the deck. 


  1. It looks like you had a wonderful fulfilling time. I liked your before and after pics of the pigs, kind of made me sick actually hehe.

  2. I heard that you saw Sara while in Tonga. I think their Goal is great, but has a long way to go. But it is not bad to reach for the stars either. Was the pig good? I loved the pictures of the blow holes along the coast. Just glue all these sights in your mind and they will always be with you, they can't be lost or deleted. The people in Chile loved the missionaries too. But had little to give except love.

  3. I laughed at the before and after pics of the pig. I thought that was so sweet of the lady that gave you a flower but you have a very sweet countenance so I could see how she'd want to give you something. Loved the blow holes and the ladies making dinner! What an awesome experience! So excited for you guys to see Tyler and Melinda. Sounds like it's going to be so much fun!

  4. Man you guys look like you are having a great time! I am really glad to see that the tsunami wasn't a problem for you! I like the pics of the pigs too, pretty funny. It's amazing how loving and generous people are even though they have nothing. It makes me more humble to think of what I could do too.

  5. Oh this reminded me a lot of The Other side of Heaven movie.. about the missionary who had been called to serve in the land of Tonga. I wish I could serve there too. Thanks for telling your trip story with pictures.
    with Love from Moscow
    Rustam (