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. 

Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

This is a picture of Emily at the temple and shows one of the elders who 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


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