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!!!
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