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.In 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]THE 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…Our 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. 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. On 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? 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!
Friday, February 19, 2010
Palm tree in front of our Liahona house #24
House in village of Popua before Cyclone Rene: After Cyclone Rene: Most of the banana crops, mangoes, and breadfruit on the island were destroyed. The bush from our back yard: Many homes lost roofs: Huge trees over 50 years old were uprooted: Ferry is pushed up onto the reef by Category 3 Rene: Old Tonga is severely damaged:Very sad pig! Where are the little piggies? 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.Lolo is certainly a “Mr. Fix It” Albert and Mary’s narrow beach with protuding coral rock BEFORE the great storm: Albert and Mary’s beach is transformed AFTER Cyclone Rene: Who 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!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Summer Break : November and December 2009 brought graduation, Awards Assemblies and Summer Break for the CES schools in Tonga. Nia, superb principal of Havelu Middle School, leads her teachers and students with a Christ-like love. [BYUH Interns with Nia.]Lovely twosome, Monalisa and Ina, smile greetings from Havelu Middle School: The Havelu Middle School Christmas party, prior to summer break, was celebrated in fine style. Nia surprised Elder Hawley and me with a “Running with the Bulls” Award! Hmm! Wonder why? Lutimela Ahokovi, the gifted newly appointed principal of Pakilua Middle school, held an outstanding end-of-the year Awards Day for students and parents. Elizabeth Ramsey was Student of the Year 3 times at Pakilau Middle School. She is now attending Liahona High School as a scholarship recipient. Lavenia (honored guest and principal of Havelu Middle School) gives her a Tongan kiss: Some of our talented Pakilau Middle School teachers at the closing awards program in November--Kalisi, Vaivalo, Tupou, Folola, Mele and Satini:Inoke and Moana Kupu were honored guests at the Pakilau Middle School Awards Assembly. Pres. Kupu, formerly the CES Country Director in Tonga, is newly appointed principal of Liahona High School. Moana, a caring teacher, is now counselor for the three CES middle schools.Mele and Lita smile greetings at the Form 7 graduation dinner sponsored by the Liahona Alumni: Meanwhile, Sione Tafuna, Liahona HS principal, danced his farewell prior to teachers placing leis on him: A goodbye to our dear friends Semiti and Sera Leqakowailutu now retired school teachers. Sera is a superb English teacher. They were here at Liahona for 6 years and have now returned home to their family in New Zealand.Liahona graduates of 2009: Tapa cloth and beautifully woven mats provide ambience. The talented Jorgensens taught at the high school for three years and were soon to leave us. Inoke and Sione award the graduates their diplomas:JANUARY 2010 BROUGHT BACK-TO-SCHOOL PRECIOUS MOMENTS: [ITEP missionaries enjoy an evening out]During summer break in November and December, Elder and Sister Checketts invited us to help them develop a career guidance program for the Church Education Schools of the South Pacific. They are highly qualified to develop programs and train counselors. The pre-school training sessions for about 100 teachers in the CES middle schools and high schools of Tonga were a success. What a joy it is to work with these gifted principals, teachers and students whom we love so much. We hope to make a difference in the lives of those we teach.I especially like the school theme chosen for 2010 Pacific Area schools. Joshua 1:9 Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord they God is with thee withersoever thou goest.
The last weekend before school began at a secluded beach near the blowholes…no need for swim suits when it’s more convenient and modest to swim in their clothes. Sister Checketts and I shouted for joy when the blowholes spouted during low tide one Saturday: A beautiful pathway leads to Umu beach. Ofa ‘atu to Elder and Sister Checketts who are now serving in Vava’u, then Samoa, Kirabuti and Fiji as they continue training counselors for the CES schools in the Pacific. [Elder Checketts performs his silly magic to the delight of the Liahona students at the farewell party.]