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 :).