Monday, December 21, 2015

I hate the smell of dead puppies. 12/13/15

If that subject line doesn't grab your attention, i don't know what will. Hah. So if you don't know by now, there are TONS of dogs everywhere in Tonga. They bark all night long, so I sleep with earplugs :) BUT lots of dogs means LOTS of puppies. They are usually pretty cute! Except when they are dead. There was a dead puppy on the side of a road that we frequently walk down, and i think it will take a long time for me to get the smell and the image out of my head. yeah. Okay done with that. 
My time is running very short, but I just want to share a few things with you all this week-- Christmas is just around the corner! Which means, even in Tonga, there is a special spirit in the air. I think that spirit is perfectly captured in the new video that the church released for Christmas #ASaviorIsBorn. If you haven't seen it already, check it out :) Most valuable learning experience for the week- some people have closed hearts and some people have open hearts. I love the children here, because I can see the innocence and openness in their eyes and I can feel the love Heavenly Father has for them in my heart. However, many adults have very closed hearts and I felt that this week. The power of the spirit is SO real and there is no point in teaching someone with a cold, closed heart because the spirit cannot be with them. I know the message I share is so important, but it really has nothing to do with me. The spirit teaches these people (especially because my tongan is bad.) BUT my invitation to all of you is to ponder what it thinks to "become as a little child" and evaluate what you can do to open your heart and allow the spirit to be your teacher and your guide. See Book Of Mormon for further insight-- Moroni 10:5. 
Sorry its so short, i hope you like the pictures! 

Ofa LAHI Atu <3


Sis. Piva


the flower growing outside our MQ :) one of our Vilohoa girls thought it was cute so she named it after me-- yes, say hello to Piva, the flower.

little boy we used to teach-- only palangi in this town besides us... haha... we don't teach him anymore because his dad thinks Mormons are crazy and only talks to us because we are palangi and he feels bad for us. hah. BUT Nila (featured in pic) is a cute kid and I just loved seeing him sitting on the side of the road selling cooked corn! haha :)

Kalisimasi 'i Tonga'ni 12/20/15

We had early transfers! I am still here in Navutoka, but I have a new companion- Sister Emisi (Emch)!! She is very sweet and cute and she is from Riverton, UT. She has been here for just about 6 months and she switched areas with Sister Wunderlich (my last comp). Neither of us are very pro at Tongan, so I am taking the lead in most of our lessons so far, but I can already tell that Heavenly Father has put us together for a reason to help both of us grow. She is very dedicated to being obedient and we hope to set an example to the rest of our district so that they will do the same. 
I super excited to skype on Saturday, but before then, we have quite a few other exciting things planned too! But, before I forget, I will skype on 12/26 here (12/25 there) at about 8pm your time PST. It will be about 5pm my time. I think we are only 3 hrs different right now because there is no daylight savings here. 
So, this week i finally got a taste of true Tonga summer weather, and people tell me it will still get hotter! I guess January and February are pretty bad. It is AFU AUPITO! that just means very humid/hot. I love the rain here though because it cools down a ton and the air is much drier after the rain. 
blah blah blah, enough about the weather!
This week we will have a musical fireside on Wednesday for Christmas, and we hope to have LOTS of mamalohi's and non members come. Sister wunderlich got permission from the mission pres to come back to navutoka for the fireside because we are singing! hah. We also have a zone baptism! There should be at least 3 investigators getting baptized, and maybe a 4th. We taught a young guy a while ago named Toni ( i think he is like 22) and he was the most disinterested investigator I have ever seen, but then he moved into the home of one of our members and he started coming to church regularly with them, and when we started teaching him again last week, he was really sincere and we set a baptism date for him! Woohoo! If he is ready, he will get baptized this week, or we will postpone until the next week. My FAVORITE thing ever is to witness a life changing. Toni is yet another example of that. We gained a few other investigators this week, but none close to baptism yet.
Lesson learned this week: Be REALLY REALLY careful teaching kids. This last week, a member in our ward had a lot of family visiting from out of town and she was really excited because there were some older kids who had "been to church before" and "all of their parents gave them permission to get baptized." So, we went over and started teaching these kids. Turns out, most of the them had never been to church before, and our member was trying to set of this papi for them and then I go talk to the dad of one of the kids and he had NO idea any of this was going on, so I reapeatedly apologized and we are NOT doing a baptism for those kids. I learned that from now on i will always go STRAIGHT to the source first. This actually happens a lot around here because the members want to help with the missionary work, but so many of the adults are already baptized. We are now working on talking to the members about the importance of Baptism and how it is a serious covenant, and we will only baptize those who are prepared to make it. Anyway, thats my rant. done.
Spiritual thought:  
With this new transfer happening and Christmas this week, i have been especially aware that the Lord is constantly putting me in places where I can grow the most! My new assignment to work with Sister Emch is an example. This morning I was reading in my Tongan scriptures in 1st Nephi when nephi beholds a vision of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus and I realized how much I love that little baby, born in a manger so long ago. I would not love him so if I was not called to this mission at this time where I have been forced to rely on him every day. I take a lot of comfort in this Christmas season of Miracles. If there is any place on the planet with enough faith for miracles to happen, it is Tonga. I will see them if my faith is adequate. 

Thank you to everyone for the continual prayers, love and support. You really have no idea how much it means to me. I love you all. Merry Christmas <3 <3 <3

--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission


The lizards in our house had babies. exhibit A.


a faiva at the Siasi Tonga right next to our house. we are not allowed to go inside of other churches, but this was outside so we just watched for a few minutes and took a picture! They practice a lot for these things and there are TINY little kids that memorize their little routines that last for like 10 minutes.


Sister Emisi!



Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas on the Island!

Kalisimasi Fiefia Atu Moutolu! (not a tongan saying, but thats as close as I could get to "Merry Christmas")

This week was all over the place! BUSY days and DEAD days. I love being a missionary when I feel like I am making a difference, but some days when all of our appointments fall through and we walk a lot, its a little harder to be excited... but I received a lot of comfort this week when we had MLC on Wednesday and a taki faifekau temple trip on Tuesday!! Last time I went to MLC was my 2nd day in the mission, so I was brand new and I hardly understood any of the tongan, and I was disappointed in the other missionaries. This time was MUCH better! We have a new AP who is maka (rock... like a really strong missionary) and even his Tongan is not pro so that made me feel better about myself :) and there are a lot of new goals for the mission for the new year that everyone is a little overwhelmed by, but mostly excited for. Next year marks 100 years for the mission in Tonga, so Pres. Tupou has prayerfully set a goal with all the Stake Presidents in the mission to baptize 100 new converts in every stake between January and June. I am glad that it is an inspired goal, because we are gonna need some MAJOR heavenly help to accomplish it. We are over 2 wards here in Navutoka, so we will have 6 new converts each month! wow! I have a lot of faith, and I a working on getting even more of it before January rolls around. Yesterday was fast sunday and i love fast sunday because I understand pretty much everything people say in their testimonies and there are NEVER awkward pauses between people who go up to talk. EVERYONE wants to share. There were a lot of powerful testimonies borne about missionary work and so I think the wards are really wanting to get on board! I also went to my first ward council meeting yesterday. We are working on explaining the importance of having those 2x a month but its a process... hah. 
As for investigators and teaching this week, it was a little slow, but I am really excited about a progressing investigator named Sela, and a new family we just found-- the Fuahala family. Sela is hard to get ahold of, but she is a super nice young single mom who has a lot of sincere desire to do what's right and she is starting to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit telling her that our message is true. She is very active in another church though, so she will need strong faith to follow through with a baptism date and leave her other church. The Fuahala family is very promising! The dad grew up in the church in Hawaii but fell away as a teenager. He came to Tonga in 2011 and got married. his wife is Catholic, but wives here pretty much always follow whatever religion their husband says even if they dont agree with it. The kids are all non-members and most of them are little. So, our task is to help the wife receive a testimony and the husband already knows the church is true, he just feels unworthy to go back. I know the lord can work major miracles for this family! If you are looking for a way to help out, please pray for these people :).
I love this Christmas season, and i am glad I am on a mission during this Christmas, because I can't think of a greater gift to give the Savior for his birthday than to try my best to serve him by feeding his sheep with the gospel her in Tonga. A lot of the "sheep" here struggle to understand that it DOES matter what church you go to. I think Christ is probably just as unhappy about this issue as I am. There is a great scripture in 3 Nephi where he explains the answer to this dilemma very clearly, and its a good reminder to all of us: 
3 Nephi 27:3-10 
It pretty much says... what should we call the true church? duh, take upon yourselves the name of Christ. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one true church of Jesus Christ on the earth, but not only should the church take his name, but as followers of Christ, each person individually can take the name of christ upon themselves and do everthing as he would do it. thats what im working on now, and probably will be working on forever... haha :)
Anyway, that's all for now. Love you all! Remember what's most important this Christmas and make some gingerbread houses for me!!


Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

I drank my first fresh coconut! Then someone turned this one into a monkey (ngeli) :)


Me and the Beautiful tahi (ocean) today :) i love seeing my favorite color every day.


okay this is not my best photo personally, but this is a cute family we had an efiafi fakafamili (FHE) with! The mom is a member, but thats all, and the little girl wants to get baptized :).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

my lea faka-tonga gonna fakalakalaka

This week was one of GREAT learning experiences. Tuesday- thursday were slow and I hate coming home after not talking to very many people and feeling like I could have done more.... so I was kinda down on myself and everyone keeps saying how my comps tongan is so good and mine will be good "next year" haha... I don't really care, but it gets annoying when you hear they same thing all day. So, because Heavenly Father knows me and loves me and knows what I need, we were blessed with an AMAZING opportunity on friday to go to Liahona for a mission meeting (at least all missionaries on Tongatapu) to meet with Elder Pearson of the Seventy-- yep the same guy who came to our stake conf a few years back. He is in charge of the pacific now. Anyway, he is a VERY powerful speaker. Especially to the missionaries. He said the things I needed to hear, or maybe I just felt the spirit a lot... anyway, it was just the spiritual boost I needed. THEN on top of that, we had a zone temple trip on Sat. Morning which was great because after walking out of that beautiful place, I was 100% committed to be hit the ground running with all the new things I learned from the spirit and from Elder Pearson. So yeah. BUT that's not all-- on Saturday we had scheduled to Vilohoa (take a member around with us) with a girl named Nia from the next village over. She just returned from her mission in Hong Kong last month. She is a ROCK SOLID missionary. I guess her whole mission was just super solid because its sooo hard to work there. Anyway, she gave us some really good new ideas of how to see more miracles in the work and she really encourage me that we are doing well and that we can be really successful. I mean holy cow. This isn't Hong Kong. I am so thankful to be learning Tongan instead of Cantonese. Hey, but I gave a talk yesterday in Church and I am actually almost confident talking to people in tongan! That's a pretty big "almost."
From now on, we will be praying before we go into each lesson and we will be saying a "gratitude only" prayer when we come out of lessons. 
Oh yeah, and a lot of you wished me Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you :) That is not a holiday here, but we did have some hot dogs that day. I am just thankful every day though, so it's okay if everyone didn't try to give me even more food... haha :) 
My spiritual thought this week comes from the words of Elder Pearson:
We are AGENTS, not objects. We act and should NEVER be acted upon. You and I ALWAYS have a choice in every single thought or action. No matter what anyone else says or does to you, your reaction is always a choice. The companionship of the Holy ghost leaves us when we CHOOSE to feel angry, annoyed, sad, or frustrasted. My new goal is to think to myself: "Wow. what you are doing is annoying, but i CHOOSE not to be annoyed." The spirit's companionship is too important. How can you change to become an AGENT all the time, instead of a, object? 
I love you all. I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior. I am so blessed to know that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in only found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I only know all of those things through the spirit. through prayer. If you want to know too, the invitation is always open. 

OFA LAHI ATU MOUTOLU <3
--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

This is a picture of Emily at the temple and shows one of the elders who fell...it was funny :)

Ahhhh I'm 20!! No time for a more creative subject.

This week was one of miracles, and patience. Here are just a few of the many miracles I saw:

- We got hot water in our shower this week!!! woohoo! everyone is getting it, but we were the first missionaries in the mission to get it because we are 2 palangi girls... lol.
- I got my birthday package from mom just in time in the mail!! It came much faster than most packages do  i think. 
- Pistra brought fruit and a fruit cake for my birthday! That was soooo nice. I couldn't even wait to take a picture without eating some. 
-Kasaia (a daughter of a local church member) also brought us more fruit and veggies because she was returning to Australia. I will miss her. 
- We taught a lesson in "tonglish" to a man named Lau who we have been trying to track down forever. He is really searching for happiness in his life and I know he is sincere. The spirit was in our first lesson SOO strong. he moved here from Australia and he said that God wants him to be here for some reason. Anyway, we committed him to be baptized when he receives an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. He is diligently reading, so I know he'll get an answer. 

Other stuff I want to talk about:
Getting investigators to church has been HARD this week. There is sooo much social pressure for them to go to their old churches. One woman has been taught by the missionaries for 1.5 years and she is supposed to get baptized in February, but last week she went to preach at her other church instead of coming with us. Another investigator (a younger boy) is excited to learn from us and go to church, but he had to sing at his other church last minute and we just found out he is illiterate so I don't know how we are going to teach him. 
On the up side, the primary program was yesterday and it was SOOO adorable! they try to sing in english. i wish i could have recorded it. 
I have also been reading in "Our Search for Happiness" by M. Russel Ballard. I recommend it to everyone. Anyway, I have been thinking about eternal perspective. Our existence is like an infinitely long string. Our life on earth is a dot on the string, sooooo small. but it's a very important blip of time. What we do here and now determines our eternal destiny. Make sure you are using your blip wisely. Scripture for the week: Alma 34:32. Look it up :)   love you all, but I have no time. thank you for your prayers <3 <3

-Sista Piva 

Birthday cake from home.


"Lord of the Rings Food"


Finally, a Surplus of Fruit!!


Birthday cake from Bistra. I was so excited, 
I ate a lot of the fruit before remembering to take a picture!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

'Oku Mo'oni ae Faingata'a (stolen from Sister Faux-- "The Struggle is Real")

Thank you everyone for the Birthday wishes! Yes. I will officially be 20 this wednesday. Sometimes I tell people I am 20 when they ask my age, but I am not going to do that at all tomorrow because it's my last day to be a teenager :'(. BUT I am expecting to have a great day on Wednesday. AND it will be even better because I GOT MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE TODAY!! Woohooo! Thank you mom. It came just in time. We have a lesson tonight with a great new family and the restoration DVD came in the package (i only opened that. the rest I will save for wednesday) and I think that will be perfect to bring to our lesson as an option if the spirit directs of course :). They speak pretty good english, so I think it will be good. Hmmm.... there is quite a lot to report this week. I'll just paint a picture for you of what the work is like here: yes, tonga is a very religious country, and I just heard the new statistic that 65% of Tonga is baptized into the LDS church, but don't let that stat get you too excited. There are many active members, but there are more mamalohi's (inactives). I am trying to figure out how to approach this problem, because SOOO many of the people here are already baptized, but many have virtually no testimony or knowledge of the gospel, so they shouldn't eve count as members, but at some point, some missionaries came along and said: "hey. you are my cousin. help me out and come get baptized this saturday." UGH it is sooo frustrating. Plus, our mission's focus now is Baptism. I know that they lord doesn't care about numbers on a spreadsheet, he cares about getting souls to his kingdom, so this is something I am praying to figure out-- how to help the mamalohi's but still have numbers to report to help our president understand that we are working hard out here. I guess the answer I have right now is: if the spirit is directing us is everything, then nothing else matters. We will continue to teach those who we are directed to. 
Here are some tender mercies I have seen this week: 
-We have a promising new investigator! His name is Sione, and he always seems like he is joking around, but he is actually serious about the gospel, so I am excited to see what happens with him... more about our lesson with him later. 
- Vika Kaufusi (lady who runs the town) has a daughter who lived in hawaii for a while and is pretty americanized, so we had fafanga with them this week and Kasaia (the daughter) made us a big bowl of fresh green lettuce salad and she had thousand island salad dressing! It was a beautiful thing. There is a picture of it. AND she sent us home with all the left over salad and 2 lesi (papaya). I love that girl. And we got a pizza from a different family yesterday... haha. Nothing like american pizza, but they try really hard :) there is a pic of that too.

Okay so here is the explanation for the subject line: 
Yesterday. holy cow. Sister Wunderlich had been losing her voice for a couple days, but yesterday we woke up and it was GONE. And it was stake conference and we were supposed to sing together. So, we didn't worry too much. The choir could just sing all the songs. BUT NO. We got to the church (and our investigator who was supposed to come did not come) and the bishop, who is also the choir director, says: sista piva, you can just sing. it was more of a command and not a question. So, yep. I sang a SOLO in stake conference in front of hundreds of tongans. and all the senior couples in the mission. yikes. i haven't had a public singing performance since i was 5 at Ethan's baptism. Okay yeah. that was crazy. BUT the conference was really powerful and I could understand a lot of what people were saying! AND they had our dynamo convert, Viliami, bear his testimony. It was so great. He also got the melchezidek preisthood! He is already such a good example to other members. Then after the conference, we were invited to a nice lunch with the senior couples. They really went all out for all the senior couples. It was so cute. Some of the leaders bore their testimonies. The palangi couples were all very humbles by the experience. they are all so cute :). After that, we had to go to our appointments. Most of them fell through, but we had to rely solely on  my limited language to teach because my hoa had NO voice. We taught a lesson to Sione, which was AWEFUL if you ask me, but i think the spirit was there and he was really geniune, so i think it was meant to be. We went the rest of the day struggling to talk to people, but i just kept praying and we survived. I hate being pitied, but it happens a lot here so i get over it. That's all I have time for. I love you all and I hope you all celebrate like crazy for me on the 18th!! 

Ofa lahi Atu!!!

-Sista Piva

P.s. scripture for you this week: Helaman 14:31. We all know what's right and wrong. We all know which side will win. Choose the winning side. 

--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

salad!!


bye bye to the cute mission nurse going home


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fakalakalaka (Progress)

Hello All!

Jeepers this week was all over the place, but it ended on a good note so that's what's important.
Last monday i was SO excited for tuesday because we had MLC and we got to meet with all the other leadership in the mission, learn stuff from pres., and go to the temple!!! BUT a peaceful happy time was not to be had. :( I was sitting in the temple and I had to leave in the middle because I was sick. Turns out I was really sick and it wasn't just something I ate that day. I went home and puked, and then i felt better, but i was really weak and I had no appetite for at least the next 3 days. Fortunately i am feeling much better, and I know my body is just a little messed up right now as it adjusts, but it will be just fine in no time. So that was a downer, but then on Thursday, we had a training follow-up meeting and I got to see most of my old MTC buds :) that was happy. Oh! another random thing: I went to the dentist today because all these good dentist are here for 2 weeks from AZ and i had a cavity so i got a filling. hopefully now I will be good for a while. I think the food here is terrible for teeth. But, then the mission nurse brought us back and we got icecream in the way home :) that's why this email is coming later again.
Viliami's baptism was on Saturday!! YAY :) It was amazing. He even bore his testimony at the end and it was sooo powerful. We had quite a good turn out (mostly because they give out free icecream at the end) but I know the whole ward already LOVES him and none of them had a clue who he was 3 weeks ago. He received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday, and they also gave baby blessings to his two youngest children! I can't wait to hear about his family getting sealed in the temple in 1 year. 
As for other progress with investigators, we got 6 to church yesterday! woohoo! BUT that was not easily done. We walked all over our area to pick up people and paperwork for ordinances and the great thing about Tongans is they hate to say no, so if you go to there house 1 minute before church starts and remind them that they said they would come, and you walk with them, they WILL come to church. it's just a pain in the butt. 
We are still working with the Hafoka family-- gosh they are adorable. They are getting their baby blessed at church hopefully in 2 weeks if they don't show up late again. (surprisingly church always starts on time.)
I also wanted to share a story about another less active family that we are working with and a spiritual thought that goes along with their story: 
Just to be safe, i'm changing names. This is about a woman named L and her boyfriend named A. L has lived in the area for a long time and she has 5 children. She was once VERY active in the church and happily married to X, but her sister-in-law did not like her, so the sister-in-law spread a rumor that X had cheated on L with another woman, so in angry, clouded judgement, L decided to be unfaithful as well. X left L and now lives in another country with all 5 children who are still active. The rumor was uncovered, but it was too late and the damage was done. Now, L is inactive and lives with A who is also very inactive. L has decided to come back to church, and A is working on overcoming some word of wisdom issues and he recognizes the spirit that he feels when we teach him and the blessings the gospel can bring. Both L and A were inspired by a scripture we shared with them, and i think it will be a good reminder to you all as well. D&C 58:42-43 "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins-- behold he will confess and forsake them."
Remember: part of repenting is forsaking our sins. That means forgiving yourself, forgiving others, and letting it go. If the Lord doesn't remember it anymore after you repent, you shouldn't remember it either. 
Hmm... I think that's all for this week. It sounds like everyone is leading exciting, successful lives back in the states, so keep it up, and know that I LOVE YOU ALL VERY MUCH!!

Sista Piva
--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission


Old MTC "buds"



Viliami's baptism was on Saturday!!


Giant nasty spider in our nasty shower!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Feinga pe :) ("just keep trying")

Where to begin??! It has certainly been a week of ups and downs. To start, as Sister Training Leaders, my comp and I get to go on Vilahoa (exchanges) with sisters in another area every month. So, we went to an area called Mu'a on tuesday and wednesday. There was a sweet MQ and the area is huge, and much more urban than my area so i was slightly jealous at first haha :) but they don't have the incredible ocean views found in Navutoka. I I learned a lot from the exchange, and i one of the members there fed us american style pancakes and french toast and lemonade for breakfast!! i almost died. But i don't want to make this a travel log. Moving on. Here in Navutoka we have had some great progress! Viliami (or Pila) is getting baptized on Saturday and Niki is leaving for Australia for a month in a few days... BUT he is really excited about the gospel and he wants to get baptized as soon as he gets back after Christmas. We also met a new investigator names Mele (everyone is named mele) and she was really touched by the spirit and she has family members who are active members so she has some positive feelings about the church already. We will teach her again this week and I am really excited about her. I am sending a few pictures from this week. One is of some cute kittens. As mentioned before, there are TONS of cute kittens and puppies here, but i have to resist picking them up because they are crawling with flees... same with the little kids... haha. The other pictures are of this ADORABLE family we started teaching. The Hafoka famly. They were super inactive, but since we have visited them and talked about the blessings of eternal families in the temple, they have come to church!! They want to get sealed in the temple, and their baby was blessed this sunday. Oh! and there are other tongan girls in those pictures-- they are our dynamite vilahoas that live the the next town over. They are preparing to go on missions, and they have such strong testimonies! they walk all the way from there town to vilahoa with us every wednesday. We get vilahoas a lot because they help us explain things in Tongan and they help us to have members in lessons. 
This week we also had the opportunity to work with the senior couple that serves in our stake, the Va'enuku's. They are the sweetest people. Both from Tonga. Sister Va'enuku is very passionate about charity and service, so she bakes all day and then goes around with her husband and they drop off food and clothing and other necessities to investigators and other people who are in desperate need. They often ask us if we have people they should visit, and we always do, so we get to go drop off food and talk to people and make their day! One of the families we visited this week was the Liu family. They are very poor, there is often a drunk man sleeping on their floor, and they have about a dozen kids running around with dirt and snot caked on their faces... haha. The kids LOVE us of course, but it's totally superficial because they just like touching the really white skin on the inside of our arms. They ooooow and aaaaaww and then hug our arms. it's hilarious! and 2 of the girls who are almost the same age did this dance show for us which was SO FUNNY. They know how to say a few word in english, so they try to sing english songs while they dance and i am kicking myself for not having my camera with me that day to take a video. I will get them to do it again so I can record it. They always walk around saying "excuuz mee!" because that is one thing they know in English. We are working on teaching them "I am a Child of God" but the "ch" sound is a struggle. ANYWAY, the adults in there family are warming up to us so we might be able to teach them and get them to church. Okay... a valuable lesson I learned this week: 
I read "The 4th Missionary" (look it up and read it if you haven't) and it is all about how to become a missionary who gives everything to the Lord. I have been trying all this time to forget myself and be completely consecrated and all that jazz, but that talk helped me realize that I just need to focus on 1 thing and not worry about ANYTHING ELSE. Literally nothing else. If I give my whole heart to the Lord, everything else will work out and i won't have to try to forget about the things i left behind because everything that I will want will be what he wants. It's easier that way than trying to fight with yourself in your brain about all the things that you miss. So, what I want now, is to love the people of Navutoka like the Lord loves them, and I think i am getting there... slowly but surely, as noted in the subject line. 

Well that's all folks! Or, as the Tongans say: "ko ia pe."
I love you all <3 <3. Also, here is a fav scripture of the week for you all: Isaiah 41:10 
Bye :)

--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission


The town of Mu'a 


On exchanges (Vilahoas) teaching the Hafoka famly



Cute kittens with lots of fleas

Monday, October 26, 2015

When you can't speak, SING!

Hello Everyone! 

Thinking back on this week, I have seen the hand of the Lord a lot. I still struggle with the language, and the food still freaks me out a little, but I am happier because I am trying to focus on becoming a consecrated missionary. I read a talk on it by Tad Callister. It pretty much means to be willing to give up anything if it will help you serve others and accomplish God's will more fully. So yeah :) 
Fun Tongan facts for this week:
- Tongans take the Sabbath day of rest very literally, so after church, visiting people and teaching is hard because almost everyone sleeps ALL DAY LONG. I really don't know how they do it, espeically because it's hot in the middle of the day and I have the hardest time sleeping if I am too hot. 
- The churches here have services throughout the week at weird times.... like early in the morning, and late at night so there are always bells ringing to tell people when to come, but they pretty much sing the whole time and because they can sing very loudly, we hear it and it is actually very beautiful. 
- I think everyone secretly watches us all the time... this week a lot of people said they had seen us fakamalosino (exercise) and they know what time we go, and watch when we leave our MQ and where we have fafanga (meals) and yeah... so i guess it's really important that we are always being obedient and Christlike, because we are ALWAYS being watched... pretty much everyone is always up in eachother's business.... and they also spread rumors a lot, but that's a different story. 
Hmmm now time for some investigator stories!! First of all, let me introduce you to Viliami! He is married to a member and has 3 little kids with another on the way. He has lived in Tonga his whole life, but has visited NZ and AUS and he speaks really good English which helps me a lot. He avoided us for a long time, and then one day we caught him! Over the past 2-3 weeks, he has become a new person! He used to deal drugs, smoke, drink, do drugs, and he was mad at God for allowing his father to die when he was a boy, but now since he has been reading the Book of Mormon, coming to church, praying, and pondering it all, he has decided to get baptized! Not only that, but he has given up all of his substances, he realizes that he shouldn't hang around with his old friends anymore, and he even said he wants to go to New Zealand and get his Tatoos removed! The last one was completely his idea and its super expensive so idk if he actually will... but He is just such a determined guy and I am so inspired by the changes I have seen in him. He just looks so happy now! He is getting baptized next Saturday. We also found this guy named Niki. He has lived in Tonga and Australia but he speaks mostly Tongan. He is catholic, but he has really never had a conviction to his religion, and we have only have a couple short lessons with us, but he is so eager to learn and he understands that it's really all his choice to progress or not. After our first lesson, he was like:"so if I want to come to church, where do I go?" My comp and I were thinking: "Is this guy serious?? we have to usually have to beg people to come to church." It's a really big deal around here for someone to switch churches because everyone knows which church everyone goes to and they all gossip about it. BUT Niki just has soo much desire to learn! He doesn't know very much yet, and he actually couldn't come to church yesterday :( but I still have a lot of hope for him and I'm praying for him like crazy. 
This week were are going on exchanges because we're sister training leaders... we are going to a place called Mu'a... we'll see how that goes. 
Okay last thought: I am very thankful for the scriptures this week and this is the one I have been ponderizing, so I hope you gain something from it! 
1 Tim 4:12
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." 

I love you all more than you know. Remembers what's most important :)

Ofa Lahi Atu Moutolu!!

Sista Piva (Sister Skirt)

p.s. I almost forgot! because we can't speak very well, we sing a hymn in Tongan as part of a spiritual thought, but now word has gotten around and they want us to sing in front of everyone at stake conference coming up... ugh. 
--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission


Emily with her companion, Sister Wunderlich and a local sister.


Sunrise

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sista Piva 'eh!!

Male! (shortened hello)

This morning my companion and I woke up early to email so that we had more time the rest of the day... so i think we will do this most mondays, so plan on hearing from me around 11 or 12am on Sunday mornings for you?? 
Okay, so to explain the subject line--- The palangi missionaries here usually change their names so that the tongans can pronounce them, and I thought Peva would be good because it sounds closest to Bever, but i told people that was my name for a few days until one day we were at the falekoloa (store) and I told someone my name and a bunch of people busted up laughing! So we went home and looked it up and apparently, Peva is the word for a sea snake/worm thing here. yuck. Now they call me sister piva which means sister skirt, but it's better than a sea snake. 
Oh! and the second thing I wanted to clarify from my last email: I think i was really shocked at the difference in living conditions when I first got here, and I think we probably visited some of the worst houses in my first few days because yeah, their houses are not nice, but most people do have 4 walls and roofs and at least 1 door. So yeah. it's not THAT bad.
Things I learned this week:1. PRAY all the time. When i get homesick, i pray. When i hate the food, i pray. When no one is home or they say they are "busy" and I am tired of walking in cheap flip flops, i pray. When i can't understand anything people are saying, i pray. It really helps. Heavenly father knows what is is my head and in my heart and I know that if I do what I am supposed to and try my hardest, he will send me comfort during all of those hard times. 2. I am getting good at french braiding (they call it "fi") and i can usually do a good job the first time without messing up. I'll have to send a picture of that later. 4. I wasn't taking my vinegar at first but I'm doing it now because the namu (mosquitos) love me a lot more than the tongans. I am not miserable, but I have a lot of bog bites. I got one on my earlobe yesterday and that's super annoying. 5. Vilahoas are the best! Vilahoas are our members that come around with us to teach people. They are usually young single adult girls who want to go on missions soon. They help us a lot and they are soo willing and cheerful! 6. They sell canned vegetables at our falekoloa!! so naturally i will probably buy out all of their cans. 7. I love and hate going to sleep. I love it because I can finally rest, but i hate it because i dream every night about being home and being with family and friends!! ugh. it makes me sad when i wake up... and I also hate sleeping because I wake up so many times in the night! the other churches here have a ton of service times where they have to wake up super early in the morning to go sing and they ring their loud bells every time and then there is the constant kakadoodledoo of the rooster and the dogs bark all. night. long. There are dogs and puppies everywhere!!! no wonder they eat them here. their population is out of control here. There are tiny new puppies everywhere, but we don't really pick them up because most of them have tons of flees and other gross stuff. 8. I am sooo thankful for my companion. She doesn't get annoyed when i ask her constantly what a word means and I know it must be hard for her to be training me when she is still pretty new herself. 

Scripture for the week: D&C: 84:88. I love this one because it promises that I will have angels around me to "bear me up" and that I am never alone. I am always being watched over. I know Heavenly Father loves me and he loves these people. I am supposed to be here. There is no more important work than this. 

Ofa LAHI kiate kimoutolu. ( lots of love to you all)

-Sista Piva

--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission


Saying good-bye to Sis. Hosea at the MTC


MTC crew traveling to Tonga


we stuck this note and card on the faikava building (where they go drinking)


the ocean here is my FAVORITE color

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Faifekau fo'ou

Okay, where to begin?? So much to say, sooo little time. 
First of all, it's great, but wow you guys in the USA are sooo blessed!! I knew there were some poor people here, but I guess since we are a long way from the city, this community is as little more poor. We live in an MQ (missionary quarters) in the yard of the Stake President. His family is very nice and they help us a lot they have a small home but they are better off than most because they have real windows, complete walls, furniture, and a front door. Many people here have a few walls, curtains for doors, and no furniture except maybe a bed and they sit on a mat on the floor. Our MQ is nicer than most houses, but it's just a small room with 2 beds, a sketchy little bathroom, and a mini fridge, but i like it :) although I did have to hand-wash my laundry today. That was fun. haha. Oooh and yesterday a friend of Wally and Teri Smith came to our MQ and brought us some hygiene supplies and bottled water! Her name is Pistra. She is my angel for this week.
The church members feed us all of our meals and they prepare WAY more than we can eat, then we sit down and pray and eat, and they just watch us eat, or sometimes they go in the other room, but usually they just watch us. We usually eat ufi or kumala or manioke (all things like potatoes) and chicken and maybe bread or rice. Yep-- carbs, carbs, and more carbs. But I think I will be okay because pulling the "little palagi girl" card REALLY works. They always say: "Kai ke fiu" which means-- eat til completely full, but they believe that we have really tiny stomachs so we don't have to stuff ourselves. 
Before I forget this important detail, my first area is Navutoka-- a small community on the East side of the main island, right on the beach. We exercise on the beach every morning. My companion is Sister Wunderlich. She was the 2nd palangi to get here! She has been here for 4 months and she speaks well enough to get along, but we are kind of learning together. She is from Layton, UT and she is a great companion because she really wants to be obedient and do the right thing, so we are on the same page there.
Miracles and cool experiences from this week-

first of all, I got here on a tuesday because i am one day ahead of you, but 4 hours behind on the clock... if that makes sense. 20 hrs ahead. there. So I have been here for almost a whole week. We have had lots of meeting and we went to the temple once, so we haven't had a single day to just work in our area.
BUT on friday, we went around telling people about the general conference broadcast that would be on sat. and sunday and we invited a lot of investigators and inactives to come. (they broadcast a week late here because it has to be translated). Sooo we went to the home of this very poor inactive woman, and she must have been very inactive, because she didn't know what prophets were... so I used a little object lesson and my very broken tongan to explain it to her and then I testified that we have a living prophet and his name is Thomas S. Monson and that she will be able to know that he is the true prophet if she goes to the broadcast and if she prays about it. The spirit was really strong in that little hut of a house and she even cried... so even if she didn't understand everything I said, I know she learned through the spirit.
Another experience--
I was pretty discouraged on Saturday night because we didn't eat all day because our member who was assigned forgot and we were at home in our MQ and we had some crackers and PB so I ate that, but I just wanted some vegetables sooooo bad. Oh i would kill for a good salad right now. And I was also feeling like a failure because I am so bad a speaking tongan, so i said a prayer and asked for some vegetables... and then what do you know!! Our member remembered and brought our food to our MQ and they happened to be a wealthier family so they went to town and bought us some stir fry looking noodles and rice and chicken stuff but it HAD VEGETABLES WITH IT!! GREEN ONES!!! So yes, I know God is taking care of me. 
Last thing, we have a new investigator named Viliami and I am really excited about him. I don't have time to tell you his story, but I'll update you next week. Please pray for him!! :)

Okay out of time. I LOVE YOU ALL. You are in my prayers.. they are usually broken tongan prayers, but you are in them!!

--
Sister Emily Bever
Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

First day on the job.


Sis. Bistra Latu and her family brought Emily and Sister Wunderlich 
some things to help them get settled into their new home




Friday, September 25, 2015

Te u ALU KI TONGA!!! (I am GOING TO TONGA!!!)

This sista just got her travel plans!!! I leave the MTC at 1pm next Sunday! The bad news: I am the travel leader so I get to be the nagging mom for day and a half for my group of 9. More bad news: We will miss the last session of General Conference. The good news: we get to spend almost a whole day in New Zealand!! (i think it will be mostly the airport... not sure what the rules are on that.) More good news!!!: I will finally get to serve those beautiful people in that beautiful country.

This next section will be a mixture of answers to everyone's questions, and cool highlights from this past week...
First of all, being a sister training leader is great because you get to be the first one's to greet new missionaries when they arrive at the mtc. This week we got a new batch of missionaries going to Fiji. Only 2 sisters, but they are both GREAT :). One is straight from Samoa, and the other is straight from Tonga! Our tongan speaking dormitory room had 2 extra beds, so they are both rooming with us for our last week. I know it will be a huge blessing to have Sister Lokotui (from Nukualofa, Tonga) in our room because she has agreed to help us all with our Tongan and we get occasional cultural tips from her too! Sister Hosea (my comp) is teaching me a lot about how to show love to the sisters in our zone. She is naturally more of an affectionate person than I am, so through her example, I have learned to give more hugs and not flinch when someone kisses me on the cheek! lol... only sisters have done that to me so no worries.
Dad asked about our ward/ branch- It is honestly the best one in the whole MTC. I may be biased but people who aren't in our branch think so too. We sing hymns in the languages of all the islands, our branch president is the closest living thing to Gordon B. Hinckley, and the poly's are all so loving (and kinda loud) but they have such strong testimonies and they sing beautifully. I have not had to give a talk in church yet, but the speakers are always called on the spot, so I prepare something to say each sunday. This Sunday is Fast sunday because of conference so i think i'll get up. I still need a little work on my Tesitmony in Tongan, but it will be fine. The language is going well, my sentences are still pretty broken on the spot, but if I have time to think, I can usually say something that sounds proper. 
Devotional this week- the Speaker was Elder Cardon of the 1st quorum of the seventy. He is one smart man. Almost the entire talk was given without notes and he just taught from the scriptures the whole time. Impressive. A little monotone, but impressive. And i felt the spirit.

Ahh yes. I am sure many of you heard about Elder Scott passing away. Kinda sad. But I am actually really happy for him. His adorable wife passed away at about the time I was born. He loved her dearly and has missed her terribly for 20 years. I know they are together and very happy now. 
Thought for the week--
I am trying to study the atonement more in depth. I am starting to read Jesus the Christ. Oiaue!! (oh my goodness!) good book. very long. BUT this week I was studying the concept of mercy specifically. I don't remember where, but there is a scripture that talks about how the atonement satisfies the demands of Justice and Mercy. Somewhere in Alma. So i looked for info on Mercy. It turn out, the Mercy Seat, on the Arch of the Covenant, in the Old Testament, was Jehovah's meeting place with his people (BD) and so I thought about that. Hmmm... Through the atonement, Christ meets us way more than halfway to cover our weaknesses with mercy. I am so thankful for that mercy. I have hope dispite my imperfections because of the atonement. 

Ofa lahi atu :) <3 

p.s. pics- the trip to the temple this morning, bethany Knighton and I (from BYU XC), Hannah Albrechtsen and I (from BYU XC)
--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission


With Hannah Albrechtsen from BYU XC team.


With Bethany Knighton from BYU XC 


Trip to the temple this morning


Love this picture :)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Week 4-Ngaahi Faingamalie (opportunities)

Malo e lelei!! I have been trying to come up with other ways to say hello in Tongan, but everyone that I've asked says they just use "Malo e lelei" or "hi." Ugh.

But for reals. I love the tongan language. Once you get past the fact that everything sounds like an awful swear word, it's really beautiful! :))

News for this week:
- One of our tongan elders left the MTC on Sunday to head out to the island. There is a picture of him attached. they cut his time in half because it turns out he was almost fluent already when he got here but he didn't tell anyone. Goodbye elder Nonu!!
- On Tuesday, there was a fantastic devotional and i sang in the choir again. The choir had over 1,000 missionaries. Rosemary Wixom, the general primary president spoke with her husband. 
- After the Devo, the branch president met with my comp and I, and we are now the Sister Training Leaders for our zone! Whoa. I am very humbled about that because every sister in our zone has such strong faith and I am pretty sure I will always learn more from them than they will learn from me. I really love them all. They are AMAZING. There is one picture attached of a group of those girls, mostly the fijians who are leaving on monday :'( and there is another picture of me with the two adorable sisters who sis. Hosea and I took to the temple last week. Sis. Vuvute (from Fiji) and Sis. Wamura (from Papa New Guinea). 
- The language is coming along, and my comp is very encouraging even though I still know she is can understand other people speaking more than I can, but that is super helpful when we teach lessons. I am SO grateful for her. I think the most helpful thing so far has been SYL (speak your language). We just try to use as many Tongan words as possible whereever we go. I can speak in full sentences now during lessons, but most of them are very broken. But I am juts happy i don't have to stare at notes the whole time anymore. 
-Our district hosted the new incoming missionaries this last wednesday, and i got to see Kenzie Weir and Hannah Albrechtsen from my BYU team!! I also met a Sister Makasini who came in! She is from Cali going to Kentucky and she said Tevita and Losepei are her great aunt and uncle! 
- Oh! I saw Zane yesterday! apparently he has some fancy job at the MTC that allows him to look up my profile and find out where I have class, etc. So he randomly popped in last night :).
That's pretty much all the news. Time is flying by. I can't believe I get my travel papers in 1 week!

Now for the spiritual thought of the week :)
So in the Book of Mormon, I have been reading about the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi and holy cow they were incredible. I kinda forgot about them before now. They not only turned their lives completely around to serve God whole heartedly, they vowed never to kill, fight in battles, or use their weapons ever again. Even when their enemies charge at them with a giant blood thirsty army, they remain true to their promise. They kneel down and praise God while the armies attack and kill them. Those people definitely earned their reward in the next life. Not only that, but their enemies were astonished by their faith in God and many of them were touched so deeply that they were converted unto Christ. I may not have to give up my life to help others come to Christ as those people did, but I know I will have to give up other things. That's okay with me. Sacrifices bring the blessings of heaven. 
I also found a beautiful scripture that kinda describes how I feel as a missionary- Alma 29:1 " Oh that I were an angel and could have the wish of mine heart, that i might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance to every people."

The End.

Ofa Lahi Atu!!!! <3 <3 <3

--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

Goodbye Elder Nonu!!


With Sis. Vuvute (from Fiji) and Sis. Wamura (from Papa New Guinea) who Emily was their escorts through the Provo Temple


Here is a group of girls in Emily's Zone, mostly the fijians who are leaving on monday :'( 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Learning to Listen

Male! (apparently that is the shortened version of hello)

HAH! a miracle just happened!! I figured out how to get pictures on this email because the nice sister next to me showed me that you need this memory card adapter to plug into the computer and she let me borrow hers. So to explain the pictures- most of them are just from trips to the temple and temple walks. I ran into Emily Kenney-- a friend from freshman ward who is going to japan and I took a pic with her. Other pictures were from my first day with my comp and sister reid and sister medina who are going to Tonga with me. The weird picture of two little piles on the floor is a really cute and funny story!...
There is a girl here at the MTC going to the phillipines and she came straight from Tonga. Her name is sister Saafi. She is SO sweet! And people have not been exaggerating about the generosity of Tongans. About a week ago, she found out that our room had 3 palangi girls who were going to Tonga and she has been giving us stuff ever since. One day she dropped off two tongan dresses for sister Reid and sister Medina because she knew they didn't have any. The next day she dropped of a skirt for sister reid. The next night, it was quiet time and we were about to turn off the lights and go to sleep when i heard a bunch of little knocks on the door. I opened it and sister saafi was standing there and whispering something in broken english and then she shoved a bunch 2 paper towels full of random treats into my hands. the paper towels were full of an odd collection of stale mini cookies, pieces of bubble gum. and a few red vines. It was sooo adorable! I know she didn't have much, but she just really wanted to give us whatever she had.
That's all for stuff about the pictures.
Other events of the week-
Bishop Causse of the presiding bishopric came and spoke with his wife tuesday. They were adorable and I love their french accents and he even played a piano solo as part of his talk. I sang in the choir for that devotional. 
Yesterday I was sick. Yuck, but thanks to a much needed nap, cough drops, and grandma's essentail oils, I am feeling a lot better. But i still sound like a man. 
Good thing I was feeling better today because I got to be an escort at the temple today!!! 2 new sisters who came into our zone this week came from countries without temples. (papa new guinea and fiji.... okay the fiji temple is closed.) They got their endowment today and it was such a good experience for them! I was honored that our zone president asked my comp and I to be their escorts. Those girls have sacrificed sooo much to be on a mission. They don't have much, but they give everything they have to the lord. One is the only member in her family and she was baptized 2 years ago, and the other left a family who relied on her for financial support and now she doesn't know if they have money for food anymore. I am so humbled to be around them. All they talk about is how much they love God and how much they love me and my comp and all the other sisters.
Okay I am out of time... but scripture for the week! Look it up: 1 Nephi 13:37 It's a good one and I don't have time to quote it. 
I love you all and miss you all, but really, there is no place else I'd rather be.

Til next week!!

Ofa atu <3

--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

Emily with her roommates Sis. Medina, Sis. Reid  and Sis. Hosea


Emily's companion, Sis. Hosea from Salt Lake who is going to San Jose Tongan Speaking Mission


With Roomies


I'm sure Emily is telling someone how to take the picture ;)


Gifts from Sis.Saafi who is from Tonga going to the Phillipines


Trip to the temple


With Sis. Kenney who is a friend from Freshman year at BYU

Saturday, September 5, 2015

8 days down and lovin' it!

Malo e lelei from the Provo MTC!

I had some camera difficulties... So i don't have that much time left to write, but hopefully i will figure out how to send my pictures next friday. I'll let you imagine the photos in your head instead- just picture me... the awkward Palangi with a bunch of fun, loud Polynesians and that's pretty much it! I had a lot of cool experiences this week... Elder Oaks came to our devotinal and I was sitting pretty close up! that was cool. I can now pray completely in Tongan! that's fun.... and I love having an hour for personal study each day. So now I'll give you a sample of some experiences-
My companion and I were teaching a lesson to our investigator "Elisapeti" who is really just our teacher pretending to be an investigator and I read a quote to her for the lesson in Tongan and i was just feeling like a failure because reading tongan takes so long for me because the words are wrong and I don't know how to pronounce some of them.. and then i said a prayer out loud to close the lesson. As soon as I said "E' Tamai Hevani" I just got this warm comforting feeling, as if someone was saying "it's okay. I'm still proud of you. You don't have to be perfect." and yep you guessed it. I lost it. the tears came and i'm pretty sure i scared "Elisapeti" because she had no idea why I was crying but I think the Spirit was definitely there so that can't be a bad thing. 
In personal study the other day, I was reading the Book Of Mormon in Mosiah  and it was talking about Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah. Mosiah 28:3 "Not they were desirous that Salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even even the very thought that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." I thought that was pretty cool because if I really believe that missionary work is the work of salvation, AND I DO, then this is literally saving lives in a spiritual sense and that is pretty cool and SO important. There is no way I am going to be that person who meets an old friend in the next life and has to answer for why I didn't tell them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that could have helped them in life SO much and I had it the whole time. Not gonna happen. I think we should all ponder that possibility every now and then and make a few changes if necessary. 
Other cool thing- when missionaries leave from my zone, the whole zone sings to them in every language! We sing in Tongan, Samoan, Mashallese, Kiribati, and Fijian. It is sooo beautiful. No offense to the other languages, but the tongan songs are seriously the most beautiful by far.

 Out of time. That's all for now. 

Ofa Atu <3


--
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thank You!!


 Thank you Bro. and Sis. Makasini (and cousin) for helping Emily
 with the clothing she needs to wear in Tonga.  We are so grateful to have you in our ward!


Here is Emily trying on her new clothes before she left.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Busy at the MTC


Ethan's friend, Kara teaches Fijian at the MTC and took these of Emily.