27 Nov 2015 MTC- Week Two

Malo e lelei again!

We began formal language study on Saturday. It's been great; I've learned a lot of Tongan by accident and my ability to understand Tongan speakers is improving. I'm getting there.

We've taught "Vili" 4 times so far. Vili is actually brother Diehl, one of our teachers. He's like 5'4", 140 pounds, super white, blond hair, blue eyes, etc. so It totally caught us off guard when he told us he wasn't actually Tongan. He sounds like a professor of Tongan, however; he was nicknamed "Shumway" by his trainer for his ability to speak Tongan pretty much fluently after only a couple months (his trainer was my district leader's cousin). We took three lessons to teach him about the restoration. The first one sucked; I had to read almost everything and my companion didn't bring any notes and started speaking English, which Vili didn't understand. He had perhaps too much faith in his Tongan abilities. Out of our 8 minute lesson, probably 5 minutes were spent in awkward silence. Our second lesson went better. We taught him how to pray (like we had tried to do the first time) and challenged him to pray for guidance. Bad, but not horrible. Our third lesson was better still; we taught him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, gave him a Book of Mormon and had him commit to read and pray about it. Our most recent lesson sucked as well; Vili must have figured out we were getting more confident, so he started speaking Tongan at normal speed and with unfamiliar words. My companion shared something weird and I found myself unable to cover for him, and we spent a lot of time arguing about the trinity. It sucked, just not as bad as the first time. As a companionship, we made a goal to do our next lesson without notes, even if it ends up being like 2 minutes long.

We are the only companionship without any Tongan speakers. My companion is half Tongan, but he might as well be white as far as the language goes.

The district is continuing to do great. We all want to be here, and most of us are completely focused on missionary work. My companion's lingering tendencies to 'pick up chicks' makes me slap him sometimes, however; he's made some pretty locker-room-type comments about some of the sisters over the last few days and it really kills the spirit. I'm adding it to my "what not to do" list.

I've been sold on the law of consecration. The other Elders in our district have received care packages and donuts from their loving parents, which are all thrown in a pile on the table and we all eat whatever we feels like. I have received no such goodies. I would appreciate some fishy crackers etc. from the bottom of my heart. Tongans love to share, but they aren't the biggest fan of aku birds.

I'm going to the Temple in maybe 15 minutes. We'll do initiatories and be back in time for breakfast.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We had elder Oaks come and speak to us about Thanksgiving type things related to missionary work. It was a great talk. I haven't been feeling especially well, so I didn't eat much.

I'm off to the temple, as soon as my laundry is done drying. I still have some family names , so we're going to do initiatory until breakfast starts. Then come back and do some more studyin.

'Oku ou ilo oku mo'oni a tohi a molomona. 'Oku ou ilo ko e palofita mo'oni a Siosefa Samita. 'Oku ou ilo ko e siasi 'o Sisu Kalaisi 'o e kau ma'oni'oni 'i he ngaahi 'aho kimui ni ko e siasi mo'oni pe taha 'ihe mamani. 'Oku mau fakamalo ki ho afiona koe 'uhi 'ae faingamalie ke ngaue fakafaifekau.

Ofa atu!

Elder Melomelo

20 Nov 2015 Malo e lelei! Week One in the MTC!

It's Peter! I'll give you the play by play

Ali, Clark, Jacob and Kyla greeted me at the airport. We had burgers.

I woke up the next day, we ate breakfast, and I had a companionship study with Jacob. It was eye opening and the spirit was felt. We threw around the rugby ball for a bit at a field near the power plant. We picked up a few other extras, to include my baptismal clothes, at the distribution center on campus. We attended a live session at the Salt Lake City temple, which was freakin great. Many a picture was taken.

Jacob and I tossed the ball around the next day, had a nice conversation in the car, and got all the touchy-feelies out of the way. We took pictures, ate at Los Hermanos, I got a massive nacho for free, etc etc.

Now down to bidness.

I got to the MTC early, so I was the first new guy there in my class. I watched a couple of orientation videos and filled out a quiz. There was an option to play the videos at triple speed, so I took advantage of it. That left me a lot of extra time to be harassed in Tongan by one of the language instructors there. I learned more than expected, though My understanding of the language is , surprisingly, not perfect. I may hear "qwojqkbfgeiohrivife Fakafaifekau piweufbpiqwef0di" and understand that whatever the heck he's saying is about missionary work, but all of the other gibberish associated with it still goes well over my head. I'm very anxious to begin formal instruction; our 12-hour-in-the-classroom schedule officially starts tomorrow.

There are 6 Elders in my district: myself, Elder Graham, Elder Tukuafu, Elder Siale, Elder Ofa, Elder Lutui. And we were brothers within minutes.

Elder Graham is from Canada, He's freakin smart, and his desire to learn Tongan makes me smile; he has a notebook in his pocket in which he writes down every single new word he hears and studies them every chance he gets. He has a wonderful understanding of the gospel and just loves people to death. Besides me, he's the only one in our district without any Tongan blood (or rugby experience). He's serving in the Honolulu, Hawai'i mission, so be sure to harass him if he shows up for dinner. I love him to death.

Elders Ofa and Lutui don't say a whole lot, and their Tongan language skills are only slightly better than mine. But boy are they humble. They epitomize the ability to invite the spirit and share a clear message with only a word or two. Both Elder Lutui and Elder Siale prayed for 20 minutes last night before bed; if you knew them, you'd know they weren't asleep on their knees or showing off; the simple relationship they've developed with God is downright insane. I admire them a great deal. They're both serving in Tonga, and I love them to death.

Elder Siale is from Texas. He's 20 years old and only decided to come back to church recently. He's a 'half cast'; he's half Palangi, half Tongan. He is my companion, and He's going to serve in Tonga. His understanding of the gospel isn't necessarily deep or complex, but his ability to be guided by the spirit and direct a discussion within the district or the companionship is incredible. We learn a lot from each other. He loves the Tongan people very much and loves to talk to people. He always has the spirit. I love him to death.

Elder Tukuafu was assigned our district leader last night. He will stop anything he's doing to teach us a little Tongan. He's happy, humble, loving, he loves the gospel, and his relationship with the spirit is unreal. He's full Tongan (notice a pattern?) and grew up hearing his parents speak Tongan to each other. His Tongan is better than ours so far, but I'm downright jealous of his relationship with God. He is going to do wonders in New Zealand. I love him to death.

We're teaching a guy named Vili tonight in Tongan. I now go off to play volleyball, translate my lesson, and do some laundry. Everything is going as expected except the extent to which I love my district. We're brothers already. We keep all the rules, we help each other every opportunity we get, and we all want to be here. We all REALLY want to be here.

I love the Lord and I'm grateful to serve him. My hour is running out, so I'll look forward to your email next week. I love y'all!

Mom, please forward this to everyone and have them contact me so I get their email addresses.