Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Joyful Reunion With Gifts and Talents

Elder Hawley and I have never experienced anything quite like the Liahona Alumni  celebration held every 3 years in Tonga with hundreds of alumni from all over the world.116And of course we love the Liahona Brass Band!078When a musical program includes performers, it is traditional for Tongans to spontaneously join in the dancing right along with the performers, including this brother from Ogden who sings in the  Tabernacle Choir!  His daughter was one of our talented BYU-Hawaii interns.  The Liahona  HS band majorette is a delight.088  Many of the students are dressed to perform traditional Tongan dances.  Anyone can join in to show their appreciation give them pa'anga (money) on their lavishly-oiled arms.   090Winnie  bows to the queen after leaving the field.  Inoke rewards the majorette as well.Sister Nau bows to queenInoke gives Pa'anga for the danceLiahona student dances a welcome to the queen mother 113 These lovely students wear dresses made from colorful leaves on the island: 075Giving is an tradition of the lower rank to the higher rank,  and the Tongans give liberally and appreciatively.   The celebration for the afternoon concluded with more gifts for the Queen Mother:  several dozen homeade quilts and long lengths of beautiful tapa cloth (bark cloth pounded from the inner bark of the  mulberry tree.)  According to the booklet, Making Sense of Tonga, "Tonga is the king of tapa.   People use tapa as gifts at weddings or funerals, as blankets, wedding clothes, dancing costumes, and to decorate their homes.  Typically, Tongans are wrapped in tapa when they are buried.  Tongans measure their wealth in their tapa and their mats.  If you are Tongan, you can have a million dollars, but if you have no tapa and no mats, you are poor. "  118125 129155 135 152 New Zealand performs for the Queen:163 A Maori warrior:164 166 Goodbye to the Queen Mother, Halaevalu Mata’aho. 170LIAHONA EDUCATION EXPO IN DOWNTOWN NUKU'ALOFA:  Silu (PBO) and Ministry of Tourism, Fineasi Funaki, open the Liahona Alumni Expo:073_thumbSister Fehoako and  Sister Hawley pose at the Old Tonga display wearing the woven hats with flowers she made.    Her husband is the stake president who has re-established Old Tonga to preserve the Tongan heritage and traditions of the islands.047_thumbMaking a canoe:055_thumbBeautifully woven and embroidered materials are fit for a queen:067_thumbThese cute home economics students model the dresses they sewed from Tapa Cloth.  Red dirt is mixed with coconut oil for the color.  And the black is done with charcoal.  Impressive, right?068_thumbCan't believe these are the same girls who wear pigtails and uniforms to school each day!  076_thumb

069_thumbHand-carved Kava bowls:048_thumbHats are always stylish:060_thumb

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Liahona Alumni Celebration 2009 Begins with a Queen

Elder Hawley and I love our calling as ITEP couple missionaries (International Teacher Education Program) for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Tonga.  It was a delight to be invited to the Liahona Alumni Celebration for 2009  where we could learn to appreciate the Tongan people and their culture:

Inoke Kupu, Liahona stake president and CES Country Director, welcomes the alumni and Her Majesty, Queen Mother of Tonga to the opening fireside of the Liahona Alumni Celebration 2009: Inoke Kupu speaks at the Liahona Alumni fireside Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Halaevalu Mata’aho,  speaks to alumni:  Queen mother speaksMoana Kupu, our stake president's wife enjoys the parade of alumni around the campus square:Moana Kupu President Inoke Kupu is one very busy man!Inoke KupuThe flag raising ceremony on Liahona campus begins another day of celebration:  1000's attend the 9 days of festivities across the island.  Our Bishop Vaitai and his wife Ola smile greetings.Bishop Vaitai and Ola Ana, secretary at Havelu Middle School, and  Bishop Vaitai are Liahona alumni.Bishop Vaitai and AnaElder  and Sister Hawley with Sione Tafuna, Liahona High School's principal: 018 Vika Kaufusi is a delightful Liahona Middle School principal:Vika Kaufusi Our friends, Sera and Simiti Leqakowailutu, stand by the Fijian flag.  Sera teaches English at Liahona HS and Semiti is a retired school teacher, a temple worker, and member of our bishopric.Sera and Semiti The Tongan flag ceremony begins in front of the high school:046The Tafuna family displays wreaths in memory of their son who died with 5 others in a tragic car accident on graduation day 2008.In memorial to their son who died graduation day Tongans wear black with woven mats as a sign of respect for those who have passed on (Bird of Paradise wreath)030 057 058Tongan flag  Spontaneous dancing is common when the band plays:064 Luncheon is Served--and this was only the beginning!  After lengthy ceremonies on the Liahona front lawn,  we were seated at the tables near the Queen Mother who was served queenly dishes.  We were fed the best of Tonga---lobsters, huge shrimp with bulging eyes, fish, pig, lupulu, ufi—(large yams), cakes.   Dinner--Yum! President Nau's wife, Winnie, helps prepare the tables.  Sister Nau We would have enjoyed spending more time  with ward members including Elder and Sister Heimuli:022 Everyone awaits for the Queen Mother to arrive before luncheon is served.  The Queen's table Sila, a cute gal who works at the Liahona bookstore fans away the flies:  044 Here comes the queen. 049 Let the feast begin:  President Nau, a cousin to the king, sits by the queen.Pres. Nau and the queen

A student welcomes the Queen Mother to Liahona: 055Here come the gifts for the queen mother.  A large pig in a crate, with ufi (root vegetables)  as a traditional gift to royalty:042A Kava tree is presented to the Queen.Kava tree is a traditional gift for royalty