MOTHER'S DAY REFLECTIONS:
Dad to his daughters: Thank you for living righteously as you meet the rigorous challenges of motherhood. Your examples influence eternity. Your teachings will fortify those around you, particularly the children, just as the teachings of the mothers of the Book of Mormon stripling warriors. Happy Mother's Day with flowers, hugs and love from Tonga to Kimberly, Yvette, Jeanene, and Laura!
Elder Hawley and I love the people here on this beautiful South Pacific island of Tonga. But as Dorothy yearningly exclaimed in the Wizard of Oz, "There is truly no place like home!" Especially this Mother's Day, our thoughts turn to home. At times, raising four sons and a daughter seemed more like the Wild West of frontier days, but it was also a time for building a foundation based on Gospel principles. Now we look at our precious children and grandchildren think, “When did such a thing happen?” As you stay strong and true you will know joy and a sense of peace in this life and the next.
I miss my parents and those times where we'd gather 'round the table for cheerful talk and thick slices of homemade buttered bread. I miss those intimate times with my mother. Mother loved all things beautiful--music, books, gardens, painting, writing, and baking. I remember a simple life with the bare necessities but never felt deprived.
Dad left this earthly existence July 9, 1996, and Mother joined Dad three months later, on October 22, 1996 [Blaine and Edna Heaton Stapley.] Mom and Dad served a mission in the California Los Angeles Temple Visitor’s Center from September 13, 1974 to September 12, 1975. This excerpt from her missionary journal is even more meaningful to me now:
5/25/75: This mission is a wonderful experience. We recognize, humbly, that we are instruments in the hands of the Lord. We never leave our room to go on duty without praying for help and guidance. We never take a tour without praying silently for help. . . . He has helped me so many times. I have said and done things I have never expected to. I have had the power to discern the needs of the people I am taking on tours. I have been able to reach out to them because I was an instrument in the hands of the Lord. It is a humbling experience, an unforgettable one. Like seeing a glimpse of Heaven. How grateful we are for this privilege of serving Him.
Now it's our turn. A beautiful Hibiscus shrub in the Garrett's yard next door is covered with double blossoms of white in the early morning hours. The flowers gradually change their colors to a shell pink by afternoon. A village home and garden: The Young Women from Liahona 2nd Ward surprised me with a homemade chocolate cake just for Mother's Day. Of course, Elder Hawley loves chocolate cake! We invited these three cute Liahona students to Sunday dinner. Sa'ane, Rosi, and Polo come from the islands of Ha'apai and Eua. They will live here 2-3 years not returning home until they graduate. Parents sacrifice so much to send their children away for a good education. It was a bit puzzling for them to eat a dinner of honeyed carrots, string beans, and baked chicken breasts for the first time. They do love ice cream best!Ofa teaches Keyboard at Liahona and displays such a joy for life and the Gospel. She gave birth to a beautiful little girl a few weeks after this picture was taken. Ofa is a wonderful Gospel doctrine teacher for our student 2nd ward: Yes, students here are taking finals in basket-weaving with coconut palms--a Tongan class Liahona style. We love these baskets to store coconuts: [Across the street from our house] CES Pakilau Middle School teacher Foloa Ukakala helps students create lovely flowers from tapa cloth made from the bark of mulberry trees: Note the talented toes.Folola made this beautiful hair ornament for me: We love Vika, Liahona Middle School Principal, who came by the ITEP offices one morning with fragrant ginger flower leis for Sister Sing and me: Lavenia, an exceptional CES Havelu Middle School principal, invited Elder Hawley and me to be guest speakers for their PTSA Awards Assembly. It was early April and one of the last hot days of summer! Our leis were made from the blossom end of the pandana fruit I understand:
TALE OF THE STARFISH: One day a man walking along the beach noticed a young boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll all die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t possibly make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.” [As missionaries for our Savior we hope to make a difference in the lives of those we teach.] Elder Hawley and Sister Ten Hoopen (health missionary and friend) prepare to throw their starfish into the surf.
TALE OF TWO HERMIT CRABS: One Saturday evening after gathering some seashells from the beach I discovered 2 hermit crabs who would not give up their home. Actually, it's rather surprising to gather shells, put them in your pocket, and discover they're inhabited! I haven't the heart to feed them to an adopted "missionary cat."
The comical pair remind me of a marvelous lesson taught by those who live in the islands. When they catch crabs, they place them in a small, flat basket. If you place one crab in the basket, it crawls right out. If you place two crabs in the basket, every time one crab starts to crawl out, it is pulled back in by the other crab. Elder Hales once said, " Would a true friend be like the crabs? True friends are people who make it easier to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. If our friends lead us away from the right path, no matter how popular, fun, or smart they seem, we should ask ourselves, “ Do they make living the gospel easier? Do they help me out of the basket? Will they leave with me if I sense a trap?' " (Robert D. Hales)One little guy finally got tired of hauling his larger shell around (above right) and occupied a new shell (see below). They climb on top of each other, rocking back and forth until they both tip over and start again. SINFUL CENTIPEDE: These centipedes in Tonga can be up to 10 inches long and their bite is excruciating! It reminds me that I certainly don't want to be caught in the clutches of "Satan" whose vicious venom destroys souls. Many times we conclude with a sunset. Today, however, we'll show you a quick way to close a security guard station at the Liahona High School entrance--with a loaded cement truck, of course! The guards are now working under a tarp nearby:)