The spiritual moments on a mission together are incredible. In an earlier interview with President McMurray, he encouraged us to experience something spiritual each day. And, it happens--again and again. When we are on the Lord's errand he blesses us in every little thing. Through the difficult times—yes, Satan does all he can to interfere-- it’s those spiritual moments that help us work even harder to accumulate oil for our lamps drop by drop in Gospel living so we may represent the Savior in all we do.
On a Sunday evening at the Senior Couples monthly missionary potluck and fireside, President and Sister Shumway--temple president-- and President and Sister McMurray--mission president--say farewell to Sister Kinikini at the close of her 4th mission. She was on her way home to Utah. In a period of weeks, Tongatapu has experienced a major earthquake, a volcano erupting, the formation of a new island, and a hurricane. We acknowledge that the message was sent and received! We're thankful that our Father in Heaven watches over us all here. These blowholes are a few miles from Liahona just before the hurricane: Looking towards Liahona campus from the Navu chapel. Conference meetings were postponed because of the hurricane warning.Storm from heavy rains and high winds damaged crops in the bush--the plantations--especially the banana trees (see the bananas?) Breadfruit trees were uprooted: The Church cattle on the plantation were fine. Our heart hurts to see the suffering of the people here , but they smile and go on. This house is boarded up for the storm. However, our sad-looking palm tree in the front yard is already sprouting new fronds.It was clearly time to talk about emergency preparedness! So this week as 17 of us gathered in our home for family home evening, Sister Heimuli demonstrated how to make a candle with cooking oil, cotton string and a metal nut from a bolt. She took apart a piece of string from an old necklace to use one strand and then cut it into pieces about 4-5 inches long. The string was then threaded through the metal nut so it protruded about ¼ inch above it. Next, she filled the shallow dish with a bit of oil, lit the string with a match --and voila! A beautiful flame. When she lights it as a candle by her mirror in the evenings, the light is multiplied in the room to create ambience. This dish will burn 3-4 hrs. in the evenings for about 2 months.
Then I saw that Sister Heimuli had placed the dish on her scriptures and Preach My Gospel book to elevate it during the demonstration. And I wondered, “Am I ready and prepared to receive His light? Do I have enough oil in my lamp to be led from the mists of darkness and storms in life onto the narrow path of Gospel truths that will guide us to happiness? I thought how we must each light our own lamps with oil enough to be prepared for His coming.
Michelle McMurray, 15 year old daughter of President McMurray leaves home for BYU Provo where she has a four year scholarship and isn't old enough to drive yet! So, the McMurrays came to enjoy a family home evening in our home while she said goodbye to her missionary "grandparents." With lots of laughter too! Elder Sperry does haka, New Zealand's Maori war chant. Michelle holds her niece while standing in front of their "noni" tree.Our 6:45 a.m. walk on campus the day Elder Richard G. Scott arrived: The young elder and sister missionaries on the island of Tongatapu sing Tongan hymns as they wait the arrival of Elder Scott: We missionary couples love hearing them sing:Elder Scott shook the hand of every young elder and sister missionary and the couple missionaries before he began his talk:Tupulu, newly baptized member and second in command of the Tongan police force waits to shake the hand of Elder Scott. (Elder Sperry guiding him forward is 6 ft. tall :)Elder Scott related the following tale to the missionaries there: Once upon a time there was a cat who didn’t have anything to do and was dying of hunger. “What’s wrong with you?” asked the well-fed cat. “I’m dying of hunger. There’s a rat in the hole and it won’t come out,” said the skinny cat. The well-fed cat said, “You are not hunting the right way. Let me show you.” He put himself to the side of the hole rather than in front of the hole so the rat couldn’t see the cat. “Woof, woof!” he said. The rat thought that the dog had chased the cat away and came out........That was the end of the rat! Can you see the advantage of being bilingual? I would love to speak Tongan, but YOU OUGHT to perfect your English. Why? (To raise their standards of living, to gain an education, to listen to the prophets in English; we can never translate all the materials of the restored Church that are in English.) He then asked, "How many of you will make a greater effort to learn English on your mission? Be grateful to do that!"
Elder Scott emphasized that one can’t be inspired by the Holy Ghost if commandments are not obeyed so that the individual and families will be blessed. "It is much like opening a combination lock with 4 numbers. If you put in three numbers just right but not the fourth, the lock won’t open. We learn guidance from the Spirit through the Lord's way. "
Afterwards, Elder Scott met with the Prime Minister of Tonga. Elder Hawley and I drove Brother Fulou Kioa (interpreter for Elder Scott) to the airport where he prepared to fly to Vava'u with Elder Scott and the McMurrays. Fulou is the high priest group leader in our Liahona student 2nd ward. (Remember, he roasted the pig for the Principal's Conference.) What a kind loving servant of God Elder Scott is, and we are so thankful to learn from Him:Elder Scott invited this sweet missionary returning home to Vava'u from a mission in Guatemala to have her picture taken with him and President and Sister Makemaili. He visited with her and Sister McMurray in Spanish while they waited for the plane. Sunday has been a spiritual feast of teaching, serving and listening to Elder Scott. We missionary couples helped Sister McMurray feed about 30 adults and children who had come from the remote islands of Ha’apai to spend a week going to the Nuku’alofa temple. Cinder block shelters are built behind the mission home where the people can stay when going to the temple—single bare concrete rooms with bathroom and shower. These people sacrifice much to bring their children with them to be sealed together in the temple, and they have so very little by way of worldly goods, including food. They take shifts going to the temple and caring for the little ones. This time on the 6 hour boat ride to Tongatapu, a 3 month old baby got sick and died at the hospital that first night. It was a heartbreaking situation.
Tonight they were invited to the McMurray’s backyard to eat and meet with Elder Richard G Scott just back from Vava’u. As they sang hymns we mingled among them serving lots of sandwiches, ice cream and cake. They don’t have ice cream on their island. Most don’t speak English but are so grateful and humble. With President Makemaile (McMurray) interpreting, Elder Scott paid special attention to the children and then pronounced a blessing upon them all before going to speak at a multi-stake young adult conference in Liahona. He is a wonderful story teller full of humor and wise counsel. This gracious apostle of the Lord radiates "a certain testimony that Christ lives, that He expresses his love so intensely that it is impossible to describe." He bore witness, "I know He lives because I know Him." Elder Hawley and I also testify as witnesses of our Savior Jesus Christ that he blesses us in every needful thing as we serve in the Kingdom of Tonga.