Hi from Tonga,
It’s been such a busy week, the office couple left on Monday so I’ve been on my own in the office for 4 days now. So far this week we had two elders reassigned to another mission, they came to our mission for a few months because they didn’t have their visa’s approved to be able to enter the Papua New Guinea mission. We had two elders arrive; they are also temporary elders who are waiting for their visas before going to the Australia Mission. My responsibility is to complete the paperwork for all missionaries who are coming and leaving…there are many little steps to remember. Missionaries come and go in the office all day so there is quite a bit of confusion as they enjoy talking, laughing and just being together…that makes it fun but noisy. I answer all phone calls and try to assist anyone who comes in to the mission office. There is also a new finance person in the office so we’re just he has eaten for a week…he is living on a small island with no medical care available. I’m responsible to orient all new elders in the mission as well as provide medical inservice for Zone Leader meetings each month. As you can see, I’m very busy but the time has been going by quickly. I love being with the elders most days when I come to the office a few of them are there doing their scripture study and then they always sing a hymn, it is just beautiful.
I especially love being with President Tukuafu each day. He is such a spiritual leader, very soft-spoken and kind, the elders all truly love him. Today I was talking with President, he talked about how the missionaries are fed every day by the members and that one of the sister companionships were being fed by a non-member family, the husband is a member and several of the children but the mom has never joined. I told him how very generous the people here were to do that because it is a financial hardship for them. He said that it is also a blessing; the sisters always leave their testimony and a blessing on the family when they leave. He is going to visit this family soon. He said “the door has been opened and I just need to knock”. He also remembers as a young child having the missionaries come over, the best food was always given to the missionaries and the children had to wait until they were through eating before they were allowed to eat what was left. What a spiritual experience that is for a young child and a memory that will always be with them. Tongan children are very respectful of their elders.
Right now, I’m in my room and I have a friendly gecko that keeps me company. I don’t really want him here but it’s pretty common to have them in homes. I guess they eat bugs so that’s a good thing, I’m trying to take that approach. The homes all have air conditioners but the electricity is about four times as expensive here as they are at home. A small home like mine would be about $750/month if I used it even part of the time, most couples just go without. I try not to use it; I turn it on for about 30 minutes before I go to bed and then turn on a fan in my room. It’s too hot and humid here so a sheet is all that is needed on the bed. Every morning when I get up I see dead bugs on the bed and floor…at least they’re dead. Earlier this week I had an ant party at my house. A couple that was leaving gave me two cake mixes, when I got up in the morning I opened the cupboard door and there were hundreds of ants in it. After taking everything out I noticed that one of the cake mix boxes had spilled so ants were everywhere. I cleaned everything and sprayed with bug killer, so far it seems to have helped because I’ve had fewer ants in the house. It sounds like all I talk about is bugs, it’s probably the most difficult thing that I deal with and my grandkids can vouch for me in saying that I’m not afraid of bugs so it is pretty bad here.
The senior couples get together about twice a week for some type of activity. We have family night together once a week, and then there is a movie night once a month, a dinner twice a month, temple night once a week, and we all go shopping on most Saturdays. This Saturday they have planned to go snorkeling at one of the nearby islands so that should be fun. The couples are really nice and we have a great time together.
I love and miss you all. Please keep Jenny and her family in your prayers. She is truly feeling the love that you have for her during this difficult time.
Love you all,