Sunday, January 31, 2016

telinga veli (itchy ear)

We had lots of ups and downs this week... ran out of time to write about it all, but highlight: we started teaching a new family and they actually LOVE listening to us! This is very new for me... we'll see. I'm all suspicious of them because they are just too willing!! we will figure out what their motivation is this week. :) Here is what i spent my time writing this week- an answer to a question from dad-
In case you didn't already figure it out, in Tonga, church is LIFE for  everyone... in the USA, Mormons are some of the more committed people as far as living your religion goes. Here, every church is like that. Many tongan missionaries spend a lot of time trying to convert people from other faiths using all these different bible verses to prove some doctrine right or wrong... kinda the same as bible bashing?? but they probably do it because thats what they grew up seeing other faifekaus (ministers/ missionaries) and even members doing. Lots of people even get baptized because of that, but their conversion is not true. They really only need the plain and precious truths and it really doesn't matter all that much what someone's interpretation of revelations is if they have that. 
The truths are...
God is our Heavenly Father
Jesus Christ is his only begotten son, our Savior and Redeemer
The Book of Mormon is a true and powerful testimony of him
Joseph Smith was a true prophet who restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth
We have a living prophet today-- Thomas S. Monson
All these things can only be known FOR SURE through a personal witness from the Holy Ghost. When someone receives that witness, nothing else matters and they know this church really is God's Kingdom on earth. 
I personally don't spend much time memorized bible verses to combat people's attacks with. I just do whatever I can to have to spirit with me in abundance to testify of truths. 
Quick experience from a week or two ago-- we came out of a lesson with a less active and these old ladies were sitting outside by the road, so i started talking to them and it turns out they were Jehovah's Witness faifekaus... but too late, I already asked them if they knew anyone in the area who we could go visit... oops. Sooo this lady proceeds to open up her bible and without me saying anything else, goes on and on and how we believe in 3 gods and there is only 1 God and all this other stuff... (the language for explaining the Godhead in Tongan is always confusing to me, but yeah they just understand it as 3 gods). I just stood there for like 10 minutes with my comp smiling at her and she reads all these bible verses, but i did nothing... partly because i was a little shaky on my understanding of her tongan and the conversation was pointless. Every conversion that I have seen has happened without any proof from this verse or that. It has happened through a PERSONAL, POWERFUL WITNESS from this spirit to the heart of the investigator. I don't care who they are or where they come from. The only sure knowledge is the kind that only God can give. 

Challenge- think this week about what your testimony is built on... search for a confirmation from the spirit if you really want to know for sure. D&C 8:2-3. 

Ofa LAHI Atu Ka Moutolu.
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

the road from our house to the store (little grey building)... also the same road where Sis. Emch got bit by a dog...

Cute Sister Emch, and me tripping as I took the picture...

the kids at the house we went to today for fafanga :) this is one of the best houses for fafanga! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fanga ki'i me'a iiki mo faingofua-- small and simple things

Today I am emailing a little later because we went to kolo (town) today!! We got fabric to make new tupenus and i got a new kafa (thing to tie the ta'ovala) because mine was made of yarn and that is just sad. We also got icecream cones :). BUT it was a huge blessing that we were able to do that today because it is SUPER hot today and we got to ride around in a car with AC and we did all our laundry in the morning when it was still cooler. Oh! and I also got a new kofu (dress) this week because Vika Kaufusi gave us fabric as a Christmas present and the sewing was finished this week! We wore our matching outfits yesterday and got a bazillion compliments. Hmmm... other updates from this week-- we are struggling to get baptisms to reach our goal, but i have faith that if we are doing our best, and I feel like i am REALLY trying, that the Lord will make up for all that we lack and provide a way. We had one baptism last week and we need 5 more for the month and we have 1 week. FAITH :).
 I have been thinking a lot this week about small and simple things. There is a scripture about it in Alma that I love.( btw we finished the 30 day challenge and now we are on a 60 day challenge to read the BOM... I am trying it in Tongan.) Oh yeah, so Alma 37:6-7. Look it up. It talks about how the Lord works through small and simple things to bring about his great and eternal purposes. This week i realized that sometime I feel like a VERY small and simple thing. We were contacted 2 new investigators on 2 different occasions, and sometimes people only speak at me because they are not sure how much Tongan mu comp knows, so we went to contact these 2 people and their families told us that they don't like us and they don't want us talking to anyone in their family. This has happened before, but sometimes it still gets to me because they are rejecting something that is so important to me and when their words are directed only at me it's also a little more personal... but the morale of the story is: I felt like a very small and simple thing in those moments, but God works best through small and simple things. he always has and always will. That is my testimony to you. If you put yourself in the Lord's hands, he can do great things with you know matter who you are or where you come from. I love you all!!!! Have a great week, and help your local missionaries :).

Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

random china store- "fale koloa"

everyone thinks they should only give us soda because it is nicer than water, but neither of us are huge fans of the stuff, so we have a pretty stocked fridge! We find hard-working sweaty people outside to give it too :) we have lots of friends :)... if only they were all investigators!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sorry I'm late! Still alive :)

Sorry this is coming a day late. We had Zone conference yesterday, so P-day was moved to today. Zone conference was pretty great, and since we are all pushing to accomplish the mission goal of 100 baptisms per stake before June, we needed to re-evaluate our teaching methods to make more of the lessons result in baptisms- for our new teaching method, we are just supposed to ask a lot of questions that lead into discussing each principle in the lesson. Each question is supposed to be "inspired" so it's a little challenging because i don't know when my questions are inspired or not and at the same time, i want to make sure i know how to clearly express myself in this language... still far from fluent, but it's coming along :). So yeah that's enough about zone conference. Lots of food, lots of missionaries, and lots of opportunities to feel the spirit.
Updates from this past week- hmmm well mom sent me a picture of Ellie (our dog) and I realized this week that I am scared I will return to America with a warped perception of dogs! I got bit by a dog this week! Ahhh! but it didn't even break the skin because i kicked it away real quick... luckily that dog was small... but bad news is, it lives at the home of a potential investigator family and we REALLY want to teach them, so i'll have to get over the fear or get myself a good stick. Oh! one of our old investigators came back from Australia this week and we began teaching him again and we have a baptism date set for him for February when his wife comes to Tonga and maybe we'll teach her too! Today we have a baptism of a little boy who is also from Australia. A lot of his family is active in the church, and he is so smart and interested. Sometimes I am scared for little kids who get baptized without support from a family because most of them end up inactive like 1/2 of Tonga, but I know this one will be okay and I am happy for him :). Little miracle this week- we have been teaching a very inactive family for a while and they keep promising they will come to church, but they never do, but this week we finally had a really good lesson with the wife and she opened up, and the dad took the babies on a walk so that she could have some peace and really ponder the message. I know she felt the spirit and it was one of the first times I have taught a 100% tongan lesson without the help of my trainer and felt like I was really able to express myself and help someone open up. 
Hmmm... funny side note, there is a man in our ward who just retired from teaching at Liahona and he wants to start farming in Uta (the bush) now that he has free time. He REALLY wanted some seeds to start with, so I gave him the seeds mom sent me that Sister McGary wanted me to have :). He was SO excited! 
Spiritual thought- I don't know if i already explained this, but the whole mission is reading the BOM in 30 days right now. We are almost done. It has been a great experience. Towards the end, in 4th Nephi, it describes the begining of the downfall of the nephites about 200 years after Christ came to them. I really realized there that the pattern of apostacy is really the same among all people throughout all of history. The adversary is really smart. If the whole world could deny the OBVIOUS HUGE MIRACLES in just 200 years, what can happen to just one person in 2 years? Human beings are such malleable creatures. We change a little every day. If we are not always seeking for more light and more strength through Jesus Christ, the forces of darkness are undoubtedly working on us. I see that with the people we teach here and I have seen it in my own life. If you are not doing it already, buoy yourself up EVERYDAY. Read your scriptures. pray. and do it with sincerity. Love you all :) Out of sight, but not out of mind. Until next week <3.

-Sista Piva 

A road we walk on a lot...

cute little boys who we pass almost every day on the road! I think they one with the afro is part fijian.

Eating hoosi for the first time! aka... Horse meat... honestly, the flavor is not my favorite.

I asked a lady in our ward to sew collars on my dresses with the extra fabric mom sent! I just got them back :) this one is sooo much cooler than the other dresses!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The BEST is yet to come in 2016

Malo etau lava ae ta'uni!
Sounds like everyone's lives are resuming as normal after the holiday. Same here. kids here went back to school today. I was just full of gratitude this last week because there have been a few times when I have gotten a little discouraged and began to think there is NO ONE left in this little village to teach, but somehow, people have continued to come out of the cracks! I almost shed tears of joy yesterday because we worked sooo hard inviting people to church, and one of our wards which filled maybe 2 rows in the chapel last week, was almost full this week!! (although it's hard to tell because everyone tries to sit in the very back... Tongans... :) But, lots of VERY inactive people came and the whole ward was definitely excited. We also found a few promising new investigators this week. I know the Lord is watching out for us and answering prayers of faith. 
Other highlights for the week- sis. Emch got bit by a dog. they are gonna kill it. we might eat it. We had vilohoa with Sis. Reid and Vaa'i who came from Eua! It was sooo fun and one of Sister Vaa'i's relatives dropped off real pizza from the city! It was sooo good. Anyway, I'm out of time. Fav. Scripture of the week- Psalms 27:1. Sorry if i already used that one. I forgot.

Love Always,

Sista Piva

Tan Lines... Her poor feet!!

more tan lines

pizza from kolo!!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Cyclone Warning Shmyclone Warninig.... puhleez

Happy New Year everybody! Guess who saw 2016 first?! Me! Hah okay maybe not. I didn't stay up till midnight, but I'm pretty sure Tonga is the first country to see each new day :). New Year is a pretty big deal here, but that just means LOTS of church for the other religions and lots of feasts. This whole week-- I think they call it like week of prayer or week of church--- they go to church every day and have feasts every day.... so it might be harder to get our appointments with investigators... we'll see. I have a confession... I know this is kinda bad, but whenever I see a house having a feast or a church having a feast, i tell my comp we have to take the long way to walk around it because they ALWAYS insist that we come eat!
Other news for this week- ooh yeah. from the subject line, we had a Cyclone warning on Saturday and Sunday. Honestly i don't know what all of the drama is about. It was cancelled after a few hours and its really just a great time for us missionaries because A) Its really cool and lots of wind so im not sweaty B) Everyone is at home because they are all afraid of the cyclone coming and we can go visit everyone! Yay :) win win. As for our investigators, we set a baptism date with a cute girl named Fe'ilo leka. She is a very smart 9 year old who comes from an inactive family, but we are teaching her and working on reactivating her grandma at the same time, so we expect good things. Also, Toni, one of our converts bore his testimony for the first time in church yesterday!! I was soo proud of him :). I think my favorite experience from this week was a lesson we had with a part member family. The dad is from Hawaii and was raised in the church and wants to come back. We talked with them about the importance of following the words of the prophets and coming to church. Sister Emch shared her testimony about the importance of putting the Lord first and an experience she had with tithing. It was exactly what he needed to hear. Then i felt impressed to promise them immediate blessings that they are currently lacking if they will come to church. When I made them the promise, I felt the spirit SO undeniably. Unfortunately they didn't come to church this week, but I am not giving up hope because I know they felt it too :) 
Spiritual thought for the week-
2 Nephi 27:23 "For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." I read this today and it helped me because I have been worried about accomplishing our mission's goal to celebrate the 100th year of Misiona Tonga-- 100 baptisms in every stake by May 31st. BUT i know that God is STILL a God of miracles and if we have the faith, he will work a miracle and make the goal happen. 
Love you all more than you know! Happy 2016. 
Sister Emily Bever

Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission

Calm after the storm :)

kids playing in ocean... here in Tonga the kids swim in normal clothes or no clothes at all. They only people who wear swimsuits are the ones visiting from Australia/ NZ/ USA