Friday, April 2, 2010

The Rugged Beauty of an Ocean

There are so many uninhabited beaches and islands stretching across the Kingdom of Tonga, surrounded by clear brilliant blue water.  Most of the  beaches are virtually untouched, and  coupled with  salty air and extremely warm water, we senior missionaries find them hard to resist on our Saturdays.  Of course we swim in our clothes like the Tongans do!Warm ocean keeps us afloat  A favorite path leads to Umu beach near the  Blowholes:014 021  The children from the village of Hoema enjoy a dip at the little beach during their last evening of summer break (January) before school began:  Kids enjoy Umu Beach 077

075 059 A scenic view of the cliffs overlooking the ocean between Keleti’s and the Landbridge: road to cliffs above oceanCliffs over oceanWild Waves The same view on a stormy day:044  Cliffs near the Landbridge:107A Saturday morning breakfast at Keleti’s:001

063 Keleti's beach

014All things bright and beautiful.  The Lord God made them all. (A Sunset over the ocean in Eua.)Sunset at Blowholes

Cowboys and Gecko Tales!

Gotta Love those Cows                                                                            We senior missionaries enjoyed one Saturday visiting the Church cattle plantation run by Tevita and his boys.  They have about 350  fine head of cattle including some Brahma bulls grazing on  500 acres of pasture.  Tevita has only 3 men working with him to keep the operation going and it’s a big workload, particularly with the fencing.  High school students also help to gather in the coconuts, up to 30,000 a year that can keep the grass from growing.  Tevita and his wife take in boys who are going to Liahona HS and they have  adopted children plus 3 young ones of their own.  He said that before the missionary cowboys came to help, the Tongans would drive the cattle with sticks and throw coconuts at them—chaos!  Then, they were taught by the Pa’langi missionaries to treat the cattle with respect and love.  062_thumbTevita loves his cows and and his boys.  He is a very “kind” cowboy who would sure like some more “missionary cowboys” to help him on the ranch. 058_thumb Two of  Tevita’s little sons can call in the cows:074_thumb1Some of the plantation surrounds the Liahona High School.    Are these cow----boys?  Not!  They’re students preparing for Pres. Uchtdorf’s visit.IMG_2345_thumb2GEKO TALES:  We could write a book about the island gekos. I opened a kitchen drawer and one hopped into my hand. We both jumped! One sister put a piece of bread in the toaster. When she pushed the bread down to toast, a gecko popped up! Another was in the air conditioner chirping away and she took the vacuum hose after it—just got its tail.  When we open the screen door, they’ve been known to drop on us.  They like to skitter across our sheets at night when we’re mostly asleep.  But we’re glad they’re around to eat the less pleasant bugs!  I don’t mind the gekos much—they’re kinda shy and curious, but noisy at times with their chirp, chirping. I have less patience for the teensy ants that do zigzags on reading glasses or tickle the hair on our arms! 

Gekos do pop up or in this case plop down in the most unexpected places!  Not long ago a small geko was peering at us from an elegant white table in the temple.  Hmm…a gecko with a temple recommend?010 013_thumb1


010_thumb3Norotam’s sells a variety of Tongan and island fabrics and Gekos  startle me when they pop out of the tops of  fabric rolls.  [Jeanene and I explore material galore—need I say more?]IMG_2241_thumb3Jeanene had 2 tupenus and 1 dress made for her in few hours by Dany the tailor from the Philippines. 020_thumb

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Parable of the Mango Tree

While serving in Vava'u Elder Heimuli would get up at 4:30 a.m. to pick mangos from his farm so he could have some before the kids knocked them all down for themselves. You see, mangos are a delicious, highly desirable fruit on these islands. Yummy! Mango trees are huge with the fruit in the tops of the trees, and both adults and kids often throw rocks and sticks to knock down the mangos for eating. The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can be likened to the Mango tree bearing fruit. Some people pick the fruit and are nourished by it and others throw rocks and sticks to knock the fruit down, but the tree of life itself continues to flourish. The islands here lost a huge crop of mangoes to Cyclone Rene, and the trees took a beating from the high winds. They showed stress for a few days but within a few weeks the battered leaves turned green. New leaves sprouted and the tree put on its best smile again. [See any mangoes?]



Friday, February 19, 2010

Parable of the Great Storm: Who Will Man the Lifeboats?

At our Senior Missionary Fireside, Pres. Makemaile  invited us to spend time with President Hamula of the First Quorum of the Seventy and first counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency.018In a multi-stake leadership meeting, President Hamula  delivered a most inspirational message,  The Parable of the Great Storm, just one week before Cyclone Rene pounded the Tongan islands:    [Photos of Cyclone Rene before and after]Humpback whale in Vava'uTHE PARABLE OF THE GREAT STORM:   There is a great storm coming.  It is now upon us. Many are drowning.  We must lose no more.  We can rescue those who are drowning.  Many casualties come from those losing their way in the storm—in the dark clouds, the heavy rain, the raging winds, the floods, the earthquakes.  Prophets have been called to deliver the message of how to endure the storm.  In the Book of Mormon a family leaves their home, journeys through the desert, builds a ship and goes to sea;  a great storm arose for certain reasons. The people in the boat were not listening to the Lord…Blowholes018Our lives are like a journey across a great ocean. Our destination is the promised land beyond the ocean where we will find rest and eternal joy. On our  journey we find islands that provide safety and rest until we reach our destination. 027 Our journey in boats is with those we love. As we launch into the sea the waters are calm. Then a storm approaches. The waters become turbulent, stormy, dangerous. The little boats are specks tossed round about by the strong winds, the heavy rain, the lightning and thunder, the large waves.  The little boats are broken up, tipped over, throwing occupants into the water. The people are afraid and hold onto lifeboats, praying for rescue. Secluded beach at the blowholesOn shore there are people looking for those in danger. Who will get in the boats and go to rescue? Some stand by a boat unused and ready for those to go into the sea. Who will man the lifeboats and go to the rescue? Amidst the storms of life, danger lurks. Who will man the lifeboats and go to the rescue? There are stormy seas, the storm is upon us; who is willing to leave behind the comforts of home and family? Who will get into the boats and go to rescue? 025boats at Eua What has President Thomas S. Monson taught for forty years? Why has the Lord preserved this prophet now? He has proclaimed what we must do to rescue those in distress. Lifeboats sit outside our doors unused. Who will man the lifeboats? Everyone must pull his or her oar to be effective. Equipment needed is found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: the Plan of Salvation, priesthood ordinances, baptism, confirmation, endowments, temple sealings, and so forth.   No one else has this equipment. Only through our efforts can we save lives. Who needs to be rescued? Fathers, mothers, young adults, children, the elderly, all people who are in need. We are good talking about rescue but no rescue occurs by simply talking about it. We must do something. We must push out to sea in our boats.  No one can make it safely across the ocean without the ordinances of the priesthood that are found in the temple. Obedience to these Gospel principles  will rescue and save.  We must man the lifeboats!   We must save His children!044 032 042071 044

Part 2: Cyclone Rene Pounds Tongatapu

Palm tree in front of our Liahona house #24003

House in village of Popua before Cyclone Rene:047 After Cyclone Rene: 048 019052 053 Most of the banana crops, mangoes, and breadfruit on the island were destroyed.  The bush from our back  yard:  026 008 044_thumb1080 Many homes lost roofs:  039026050 027Huge trees over 50 years old were uprooted:064 096 003 094Ferry is pushed up onto the reef by Category 3 Rene: 091 Old Tonga is severely damaged:038_thumb[2]098033_thumb1Very sad pig!  Where are the little piggies?045 067 Mary Pope ponders the power of the ocean that brought five waves up to 90 feet high through their house, sweeping away gardens and depositing 2-3 feet of sand everywhere.  Caring villagers from Fatumu and our Liahona student ward went right to work to dig them out—Helping Hands to the rescue!   Albert and Mary Pope have reached out and rescued others many, many times on this island.124125Lolo is certainly a “Mr. Fix It”127 129 Albert and Mary’s narrow beach with protuding coral rock BEFORE the great storm:022 Albert and Mary’s beach is transformed AFTER Cyclone  Rene:107105   117Who will man the boats?  We must each be rescuers for those lost in the storm.  We must each be the life boats.  We are the armies of Helaman!   Missionaries 0382_thumb