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.


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