> Malo e lelei!
We went to town with the zone leaders last week and got a few blocks of cheese and tortilla ingredients, so we make quesadillas from time to time. At first they weren't very good (we were using some pretty sharp cheddar which kind of threw things off) but now that we've gotten the tortilla making technique down and the cheese balance right they're a thing of beauty. Cheese is by no means a part of the Tongan diet, so our members and investigators haven't had anything like it before and they love it. The members will remember me as the guy who introduced Mexican food to Tonga!
We spent a lot of this week doing zone conference related stuff, and (unfortunately) spent a lot of time waiting around at the house.
We were told at P day on monday last week that President Tui'one would be interviewing us the following day. Our phone had been broken so we were told to stay in the house and wait for him to show up. We normally leave at 10, so we waited and waited till 2 and got sick of it so we went out and got something to eat and waited at a member's house by the road. We ended up peeking out the window every five seconds to see if President and the crew would come through, and by about 6 o clock we ran out of steam and called president on a member's phone, only to find out that he wasn't coming.
The next day was Zone conference, which was a very good and rousin' meeting. Once again, president told us to go home and wait at our house for the interview. The meeting ran a little long so we got home at 4 and waited for president, but no one showed up. Eventually it got dark and we're out of money so we had to go steal (borrow) a box of crackers from our neighbors so we wouldn't die.
Then we went out and did our thing on Thursday and got interviewed! I had an awesome conversation with president and although he was short on time I felt like I got across exactly how I was doing/feeling in less than 5 minutes. He gave me some promising transfer news (secret!) and told me he'd put me in a situation where I could go out with a bang! Tu'anekivale has been great.
This week Friday my last 12 weeks start, which is surreal. The last couple of months have flew by so I know this will be done before I know it.
We've been teaching and visiting a less-active man named Sione. He and his wife have already been sealed in the Temple but a couple weeks afterward he started smoking and drinking kava again. We've shared a lot with him and last week his wife shared with him the parable of the prodigal son, and for the first time since we've started teaching him regularly he's opened up to us and told us he needs help. He shared that he feels like he's eating with the pigs and he's too embarrassed to try coming back to church. It was a really emotional lesson and we got to sit there while him and his wife had a good talk and sione promised he'd quit smoking. He wasn't here for church yesterday but hopefully he'll start showing up. He's a good guy and we love him.
Good week this week! I'll be on a little later to email family!
'Ofa lahi atu!
What a treat for Elder Brown to meet Elder John Groberg and his wife Jean. Elder Groberg's experiences serving as a missionary in Tonga inspired the film "The Other Side of Heaven".
He returned a few year later and served as Mission President, organizing the first stake in Tonga!
The population of the Kingdom of Tonga is now 107,000, with 65,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Malo e lelei!
I missed last week so I knew I had to make this letter super good, but I'm low on time and a little under the weather so the creative juices aren't flowing the way they should. We had a good week and got work done!
On Saturday we went on splits with the district leader, Elder Nonu. He is done in three weeks and this was his first area so he was really excited to come here. We'd hoped that he'd be able to make it for fast and testimony meeting on Sunday, but president said no. He was super excited to come back and I swear he opened like 5 doors to us that we haven't been able to get in before. Normally when we visit a referral or go knock on a door they tell us to come back next week, that they're busy, etc. and this game seems to go on indefinitely. Elder Nonu was here for over 7 months so he taught a lot of people and I'm really happy he got to come here. He only got to stay from like noon to 8 in the evening, so we get to go again on Tuesday. Him coming here was an answer to prayers.
I'll probably be able to get on in a few hours in Ta'anea to read any responses, sorry I'm short on time. I love you all!! Thanks for all the support!
Malo e lelei!
Another fine week in paradise!
I've made a reputation over the last week as 'elder Brown the fix-it man'. People often ask me if I am good at fixing cars or phones or computers and, up until last Tuesday, I would usually say no. But on Tuesday we were eating at a member's house and they asked me if I was good at fixing TVs, and I said yes. He needed help hooking up the dvd player so I did it and he was impressed and gave me a pat on the back. So ever since then I've been leading everyone to believe that I'm a master fix it man and they ask me to 'fix' all their stuff. When they say 'fix my lawnmower' it usually means that there's no oil, or when they say 'fix my weed wacker' it usually means they ran out of trimmer wire, all problems well within my area of expertise. The citizens of Tu'anekivale are all duly impressed and I've managed to find yet another way to leave my mark on the place! When mom and dad come and everyone's lawnmower's are running smooth and everyone's ceiling fans are properly wired you will be very proud.
President Groberg came to Tonga and came and visited us in Vava'u. He is like 80 but he's held onto his Tongan pretty well (If my Tongan is that good when I'm 80 I'll be a happy camper) and he's got all kinds of the craziest stories. He worked in Niuatoputapu and then spent the rest of his time in Ha'apai, so he never made it out here to Vava'u, but he said that Vava'u was somewhere he always wanted to work. He shared a bunch of cool experiences and he's a great guy. For a guy his age he's full of energy and he's a lot of fun to be around.
As far as getting any baptisms goes, we've hit a bit of a dead end once again. We talked about baptism with 'Ofa and he seemed very uncomfortable. We teach him with a member who recently returned from his mission in Australia, and he is pushing pretty hard for him to get baptized, so when we asked how he felt about baptism or what he thinks would be holding him back we had a long awkward silence party. We'll try to talk to him in his own house and try to get a feeling for where he's coming from.
My dad is the best! I didn't know it was father's day until today, but I love him so much and we're grateful for all he's done for us. He's a special man and I can't wait to see him again!
'Ofa lahi atu!
Malo e lelei!
The internet has been weird all over Vava'u over the past couple weeks so I'm glad it's back to normal, knock on wood. We don't have anything to do today but email since everyone's getting moved around today, so I'll give you two weeks worth of goodies! I even promise to email Ali!!!!!
We got a new investigator last week who's talked to quite a few missionaries over the years. He is the only one in his family who hasn't been baptized; his father was just ordained as the stake Patriarch and his sister got back last month from Korea. At first we could tell that he didn't really want to be there, so we asked him if he was really interested and he told us no, we joked around a bit and he asked "we all pray to the same Lord, why don't you leave us alone? I already believe in Jesus." We hear that question like every day so we gave him our best lesson 1 and he said he gets it now. He came to church last week but didn't accept the invitation to be baptized, we're good friends by now and we'll continue digging.
Yesterday was transfers, and my comp and I are both staying. I love my members and the people we teach so that was a happy phone call.
Yesterday president Makai and his wife came to our sacrament meeting. They brought with them a couple of their friends from Utah and they asked me to translate. I had a really hard time following along over the sound of my own voice. Every once in a while, I'd come across a phrase that I'd have to think about, so I would end up falling behind a few seconds; I would invariably end up lost. I would start out each talk okay but a couple of minutes in they'd tell a joke or use a Tongan idiom and I'd be lost, so I'd make up my own talk and my own jokes so now they think I'm a Tongan expert. President Makai was sitting right there and he gave me some quizzical looks, but then he realized what was happening and we started laughing. it was bad for my linguistic self esteem but it ended up being pretty funny and me and President have an inside joke that isn't going away anytime soon. Mom and dad area coming to pick me up in October, so they should be aware of this before asking me to be their interpreter. Go find someone that speaks Tongan :)
This is a small area, and we have a day or two a week that's full of cool stuff that the rest of the time goes by pretty slowly. Everyone's gone until 1 or 2 and its hard to find stuff to do, Teaching doesn't happen as often anymore and we only get 3-4 lessons a week with an investigator. When it happens, it's a lot of fun and I appreciate it a lot more than I did before. I hope I get to finish in a crazy area so I can get some work ethic lessons in me again.
I love the Lord and this church is true. Sorry the internet's been uncooperative; hopefully it won't be happen more. Thanks for all the emails and the support!
'Ofa lahi atu!