Tongan Beach

Tongan Beach

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Week 29: Vava'u- Putting down the spiritual hammer

Dear people of earth,

So let's get down to business (to defeat the Huns ;) This week had some serious ups and downs, and not just the road! Haha (another joke)
          This week has been seriously challenging due to the language. On Tuesday I had this experience when I was sitting with my comp in the swamp talking to some old fart that spoke the weirdest Tongan I’ve ever heard and I didn't pick up a word of it, even when they were making fun of me. There were like 1 billion and 62 flies crawling everywhere! I had several fly into my mouth while I was breathing, they were stuck in my hair and down my shirt, eating my wounds and just being miserable. I sat there sweating like a long eared cow for two sucky hours and at the end I decided I was going to put down the spiritual hammer and learn this freaking language because I have never been so frustrated and miserable. I swore to myself that I would literally pull down the heavens to help me, this involved much prayer and study and I created a plan to learn the language. You want to know what God told me I had to do to learn? He said simple read the Book of Mormon in Tongan everyday and you'll learn. When I had that feeling I was like, really? That’s it? But I can truly testify that God will keep his promises and when I read from the Book of Mormon and try to feel the Spirit during the day I have consistently improved and understood more and more and been able to participate more and more. I'm still far from conquering the language, but I can truly say I have divine help with it.
This week I had some great experiences with giving priesthood blessings. The spirit is very evident when we give them and I have faith and confidence that we are using the power of God for the good of other people. My comp is kind of new and never knew we could do that and so now he offers it to everyone, I talked to him a little bit so we don't use it willy-nilly and be disrespectful, but yeah that is always a good part. We had a instance where we blessed this old man who was always shaking and really sick and last time I saw him he was able to actually speak kind of and he looked a lot better. Still didn't want to come to church, but hey, at least we helped him.
Another fun thing we did was go to zone conference with president. There was a lot of fun on the road there, Vava'u has lots of mountains and the guy taking us was hauling down and up them; it was pretty much a roller coaster. We were in a van with a bunch of other missionaries, there were two sisters, and one of them got major car sick and puked out the window, which was amusing. My comp got carsick but didn't puke. I thought it was super fun! It was all of Vava'u, so two zones. President started out by ripping us a new one, actually he wasn't very angry but he talked to us how the numbers we reported were really terrible and he had us all bear testimony and asked us if our testimony was really or fake, because the numbers showed that it was fake. I am making him sound really harsh, but it was an awesome meeting and after the call to repentance we had a lot of fun and I think it helped a lot. I got to do an interview, probably my last, with him. We made a lot of jokes and I really enjoyed working with him. I try to live worthy of his trust and I think I have been a better servant to the Lord because of him. We stayed there forever; it took our whole night because president did interviews afterwards so we didn't get back until 8:00 and we were starving so we found food then went home.
We had a cool thing we figured out during a comp study, we received an idea to use the first missionary lesson with candles, candles representing a prophet, then Jesus Christ, then the 12 apostles and then the new prophet and 12 apostles with the fire being the authority and priesthood of God. 
I had a bad experience when we went to a feeding. So the Tonga way is the Tongan people are always ready to give to people in need, like missionaries I guess. So we went to our feeding, (first the guy made a lot of jokes about me and I couldn't understand, but that happened everywhere so I guess it's not biggie) but then he took us to all the stores, basically door to door and told them that I was hungry and asked for food to give to us. It was really embarrassing and I was really uncomfortable, but my comp told me it was the Tongan way and no one was mad at me. I guess I should just get used to it; it happens everywhere anyways. 
I'm out of time and because there is only one computer my comp is just waiting for me. The two pictures are of a woman doing the lalanga (weaving that all women do in Vava'u) and me doing this thing to prepare the material to lalanga.

Elder Sitaki

Week 28: Vava'u- New Area

Hello my dear family and friends,

How are you? I am doing great! I had this wonderful opportunity to fly to a new area; it's a group of islands called Vava'u. I was sitting in the office one day when I get a call from President, he tells me book a flight to Vava'u, and a flight back. I say, who is coming back? He said some Elder's name, and then I say who is coming up? He said, and I quote, "you". I was like, whoa.. Seriously, then he was like yep. You are going to work in Leimatua.
Leimatua is this sweet town, pretty big sized; it’s the first town from the airport. I prepared and got ready all that week and come Saturday morning I was freaking out a little bit, but I just went along with it and took off with the senior missionaries to the airport. We chilled and joked, and then it became my time to shine. I boarded the plane (this is a ridiculously small plane, there were 23 seats including the 2 pilots chairs.) I was scrunched up to one side of the aisle and had a good view of the wing and not much else. We took off and hauled over to one side then the flight was pretty straightforward and simple. I got to see all of Tonga from the sky; I realized how freaking small it is. Tonga is Tiny! We landed in Vava'u and I got out and went to find my new companion. His name is Elder A; he's a Tongan from a place called Hofoa, and he is way cool! He came in February so I am the senior companion even though I can barely speak the language. He is a beast, he can work so hard and loves to be doing missionary work, he loves to smile and joke and if I was a girl I’d be seriously crushing on him. He only has one working eye, the other one is still there but it's kind of clouded over and he can't see out of it. It got damaged from an accident with a stick when he was young. He has a lot of faith and he has the desire to work; I feel like with him we can do miracles. When I came here I realize I still can't speak the language and I am damaged from speaking too much English is my previous area. It’s really difficult for me to understand but I decided to take it as a matter of faith, I believe that God is real and He will help me to learn the language so I prayerfully set up a plan to learn and I’ve been doing better already. My comp speaks very broken English and so we can communicate a little. He said when I teach the lessons I have really good Tongan, better than when I talk normally. Either this is practice or the hand of God. I tend to believe the latter.
Vava'u is beautiful; it’s a big tourist spot so you can probably look up a bunch of pictures about it. I am nervous about the new area and new people and sometimes I get scared almost, but as I have been going around I see these people and I see that they are prepared to receive the Gospel. There are so many people here, it's a huge area full of non-members, and they all need the blessings from God, so I have a strong desire to help everyone right now. I am so excited to be here, its a faith factory. I can confidently pray and receive help from God, it comes only after we do our part and our work and if we are living worthy, but we have seen small miracles and I have only been here for 2 days. Sometimes it's awkward when I can't explain something to my comp and he doesn't understand but that's life ya know? The funny part about Vava'u is all the pigs. It’s just funny how many there are, like they are crossing the street all the time. I think there are more pigs than dogs here. Another cool thing about Vava'u is the hills, Tonga is very flat but Vava'u is full of hills and mountains. I mean I’m probably only like 200-400 feet above sea level, but to climb up and down that all day is really exhausting. Just a quick experience, I have this super amazing lesson with a guy named William, or in Tongan viliami, or even shorter, pila, and his wife. We taught by candlelight, taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and then we gave him a blessing to help him stop smoking. So far my favorite experience. Well, actually, maybe it was when we gave this kid named P, the gift of the Holy Ghost during Sacrament; that was seriously spiritual. I love being here and I will write more next week, promise.

Ofa atu,

Elder Sitaki

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Week 27: Office- General Conference

Dear People I Love, 

I am here, sitting in some island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, lots of people, smells, and green plants. Actually, psych; I’m in a nice air-conditioned office typing my life away in an email to you wonderful people. Kinda the same surroundings, not. But the exciting part is I get part of both worlds because if I take 10 steps to the door of my office I will be confronted with the sweaty, humid heat, the sweet perfume of burning trash and smoke, and the sounds of cars slowly driving down the roads of Tonga. In about 20 minutes Fafanga will come, which means I will eat some nice chicken, probably fried, but maybe if I’m lucky it will have coconut milk and onions and be wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in an underground oven called an Umu. Very delicious. If the people bringing my meal are feeling especially generous, it will have a thing called Ufi, which is also called yam, but it's nothing at all like the yams we have at home. It’s a starchy white root, usually about the length of your arm and about 2-5 inches thick. I love Ufi, but it's very expensive due to how long it takes to grow and how difficult it is to plant and harvest.
Today I received a little slice of home when I was able to watch the first two sessions of General Conference here in Tonga. In about and hour and a half I will go to watch the Priesthood session of conference and hopefully continue to learn. Today has been an exceptional day; I never truly realized, nor appreciated, how spiritual conference is and how wonderful the speakers are and how much you can learn and grow from conference. This will be a highlight in my life from now on. (I never gave it too much attention before my mission, a mistake I regret)
This week we have had a very slow week for missionary work. Every investigator has cancelled on us; every appointment we have set up didn't work out. Just one of those weeks you know? I am doing fine, not depressed or anything. I wish I had more to report but I accept that life isn't perfect. It's giving me a lot of time to figure out why I’m here on a mission and it made me realize something deep down. The thing I realized is that I want a family. That's my big goal in life. Everything I’ve done, wanted to do and learn and become, has slowly started to point to being a dad and having a family. I want to have an awesome family where we all love each other and we can stick together even during hard times. I want to be like my family back home (wink, wink) I don't know how this applies to my missionary work, but its what I was thinking about today. Good goals to become. As a missionary I can help other people have happy families that can live together forever so it gives me a little more purpose. Also, as a missionary, I can learn to receive revelation and become a good leader and get a long better with other people, everything that will help me become a good father.
I guess I can share some stories of the stuff the happened this week. First off, I got my Tongan license. President wanted us to give a senior missionary a ride to and from work everyday; he is a really humble guy and had been walking back and forth from his house to work everyday since his wife went to America. So I got the opportunity to get my license and now I can drive the mission truck when I have permission. It's a stick shift, which is great, very fun! Second, I drive of the left side of the road, which is weird! It’s a total shift and kind of messes with my head, but after a bit of driving I think I’ve got my head around it. Also, the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle, the gear stick is on my left and I shift with my left and everything is a little weird, but I like it. I didn't have to do any tests or anything to get it, just pay 60 bucks. They assume I can figure out how to drive I guess.
The other exciting part of this week was I got a ukulele. I have been learning to play it; everyone who lives in Tonga basically knows how to play it. It’s a natural instinct I guess. It’s really fun and easy to learn. I got a crappy plastic one, but it was still way expensive. Luckily, plastic doesn't go bad and I am stealing an idea from another missionary and having everyone I like sign my ukulele so I can have my Misiona Tonga ukulele, with signatures from all my favorite missionaries. An interesting item to take home, but I’m excited.
Transfers are next week! Maybe, just maybe I’ll be leaving, but maybe not. There are benefits to staying and leaving. If I stay I will be able to Skype home really easily, enjoy the air conditioning, speak English, learn the ukulele, and eat good food. If I leave, I will get to spend more time learning Tongan culture, learning the language, talking to people, new companions, no office stress, no teaching people how to use computers (I don't even know how to use them) so that's my life. Listen to me if ya want.

Elder Sitaki

Week 26: Office- April Fools!

Dear Family,

          I am very thankful for this opportunity to email you guys this week, A lot has happened and I’m a little rushed on time so I’ll get down to the nitty gritty details really quick. So something happened and I got in a lot of trouble. I basically gave some guy the keys to a mission vehicle, the mission credit card and a told him where the mission boat was. I got confused and thought it was okay, but it was NOT. I'm really busted and President is considering whether or not to send me home with church disciplinary action... I'm scared of out my mind and the only thing I can think of is: Just kidding. APRIL FOOLS! Haha! I had to do something! The best prank I pulled was stealing the other missionary’s pillows, which is hardly exciting.
Lets analyze this week's activities. We had a really awesome experience this week. I wrote a list of what our part was in this area, what we need to do to find investigators and work with other people. Then I wrote what God's part was, like if we are doing our part he will help with the rest. Then I wrote what I needed help with from God. When I looked at the list I was able to decide what we were doing not well and what we were doing good at. For example, learning the language, my part is trying to use it and putting in time to study it. And if I do that God will help me learn it faster than I would by myself, same with finding investigators. For our part, all we can do is go to members and ask for them to bring people, but we are working to set up activities they can invite people to and setting up dates for them to work towards and stuff like that. Well, we were going around doing our part, and what do you know, if we are doing our part, God will do the rest. We had this awesome experience. It was Wednesday and the youth were doing mutual in a field in the back. We were visiting a member and someone pulled up in a car and asked where the youth were. We said we'd show him so we hopped in the car and showed him where to go. What do ya know, he was a non-member guy. He had recently moved from New Zealand and his little brother was recently baptized. He didn't speak much Tongan so it was easy to talk because it was all in English. He was happy his little brother joined the church and would keep good standards and stuff like that. I started talking about church and we invited him to come; he was really interested because it is in English and not Tongan so he could understand and he said he would be there! Such a blessing!!! We were doing our part and God gave us what we needed. Just a testimony of the work, so happy! That was the crowning point of the week. Kind of simple, but exciting. 
A depressing point of the week happened when we found out one of our investigators can't met us again because she told her mom she was talking to the missionaries and her mom said it wasn't okay. Here in Tonga, the parents have control of the children until long after they are living away and married. A 30-year-old man is still loyal to parents as much as a 10-year-old boy is. You just respect your parents forever, which is great, except no one will listen to our message because stinking old farts won't let their kids find happiness! We have had 4 investigators now tell us that they can't listen anymore because of parents. It’s really frustrating.
The last part of the week I want to mention which was really awesome was when we did the baptism ordinance for the sister’s investigators. It was way spiritual; I got to baptize them in a skirt! Like what up! How many missionaries can say they baptized in a skirt. Haha! It was fun though; the guy that got baptized was awesome and solid as a rock!

Ofa lahi atu my friends and family,

Elder Sitaki