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.
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.