Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birthday party and Primary Program

Sister Hoagland and I have been able to do some walking exercise this week. On one of our walks we trekked up a rather steep hill to the view point we had taken pictures from before. This is a view of the Tasman sea and the Grey District Hospital. It looks pretty good from the outside, but is rather old on the inside.
From this picture, when you blow it up you will see a big yellow tent where the circus has moved from Hokitika to Greymouth. You can also see the High School complex just beyond the left corner of the rugby field. A new swimming pool is being built to the right of the school and their lawn hocky field is just this side of the swimming pool.

While Sister Hoagland was teaching a reading class inside, I snuck out the back and watched them prepare a couple of pigs prior to cooking. When I got out side this one was still twitching. They were washing off the blood.

You cook a pig and Tongans come from everywhere, members and non-members alike. I do not know who this person is but they have spread gasoline on the pig and lit it to burn off the hair and first layer of skin. The occasion is the birthday party for two 18 year old girls.
This is one of our seminary students, Pony Langi, washing the pig after the burning. You see paint on him as well because he was painting their kitchen earlier. The Elders painted the ceiling a couple of days before.
The next morning several men came to cook the pigs. This was a seven pig party. Wow!
Someone has to constantly turn the pig by hand. This was done at the Cobden beach. The surf was 30 yards behind me. The men just love getting together and talking and laughing. They all work together in the forest.
Here is another pig cooked in the Kinikini yard. This is George, the latest from Tonga. A very good man who is faithful and looks to be a talented leader. He left his wife and four children in Tonga to see if he couldn't make a better life for them. He is very homesick so we hope he can stick it out before he can bring his family over. The branch could use his strength.
While at the Kinikini's thought you would like an update on the tomato plants. They seem to be doing very well and from the looks of the structure built for the vines to climb on they expect them to be very tall. This is like the end of May in Oregon.
All this for about 75 guests. They had the food in their garage and then most took it outside. We sat at the table in the back. We did not over due this time except Sister Hoagland had two bites of her ice cream and "made" me eat the rest. The was taken before all the food had been brought out. To get meat from the pig all you need do is pull some off with your fingers. The happy birthday strip also played a very high pitched happy birthday over and over and over.
The birthday girls cutting their cake.
All that food and cake and ice cream too. Aho Langi with a little ice cream for desert.
Our primary gang. These are good boys who worked hard to learn their parts for the primary program. Maui & Taufa Kinikini, Nuku Langi, and Salesi & Lesili Langi.
Sunday we had our primary program. Sister Hoagland has worked very hard on this program and we have helped a couple of the boys who can not read to do their part. We were surprised at how they came dressed for the program. Three of the boys came in while we were singing the Sacrament hymn and Sister Hoagland was so amazed at how they looked that she forgot where she was in the hymn. The big guy in the back is Sione Langi, second counselor in the branch presidency. He is so shy and self conscious of his English that I have never had a conversation with him.
Two best friends, Hola Langi and Mele toli, who go to school together. Hola lives with the Toli's during the week to go to school with Mele. Their fathers have been best friends since Single adult days.
Sione Langi family. Sione, Eleni, Iriah, Pony, Sione, and Nuku. A friend of Ana Langi's, Ofa Lamipeti, and Ana. Ofa is a beautiful girl, who was raised by her grandparents who are Catholic. She has a mother, who lives 4 hours from here, and is active and she was baptized as a child. Grandparents want her to be catholic and are very anti. We teach Nuku reading three times a week. He is doing very well.
This is the Aho and Manui langi family. Front row is Mele, Meleani, Salesi, and Lesili. Back Row, Hola, Manui and Aho. We work with the two boys on their English. Lesili has a hard time but is progressing.
This is the Emili and Ola Langi Family. Ola is the primary president and Emili teaches the Tongan Sunday School class. The boys are 'Apolo, Richard, and David. Ola's parents sent these outfits from Tonga last week. As you can imagine, we love these little children and are thankful we are able to work with them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

District Conference

On Wednesday we went to Hokitika to locate some of the less active members of the branch. It was quite a success as we found some lost and information on others. On our travels around town we came upon the circus that just came to town.
On Thursday we traveled to Nelson again for a zone conference and two days of district conference. On the way we came upon this accident where a truck hauling this huge mining truck did not make it around a corner. Of the six trips made to Nelson we have seen three serious accidents. That is not very good in as much as there is not that much traffic on these roads.
We stayed at President Rob Venables new home for the three nights we were at zone and district conferences. Sister Venables was on a four day hike that she had scheduled way before when the conference had been originally scheduled for the previous week. They have lived in NZ for 2 years and came from England. The children are just wonderful and smart as whips. Ten year old Ashley reads better than most adults and has read all the Twilight series books. The last book is 750 odd pages and she has read it twice. Ashley and Joshua took to us as if they had known us all their lives. After this picture Joshua and I went and read some books he had from the library. One of the charming things about the children is they have a most wonderful (posh) English accent. Their father is an executive at the Sealord Food Co. We sat with them during conference. Ashley read the last 150 pages of this book during conference, with permission from her father.
During lunch at our zone conference Sister Jolliffe taught us how to make paper boxes using old magazine or greeting card pictures or designs. Great fun.
After our zone conference we took Elder Bair to the emergency room as he had an infected scratch on his rear end. He had a hard fall on some rocks over a week ago and it was really causing him some pain. We passed the Tasman bay front on our way. Elder Bair only received antibiotics then and I took him back Saturday after all the conference activities when the doctor finally lanced it and cleaned it out. He was one sore young man. Felt better today.
On Saturday morning before conference we took the children on a walk to their school. Our first stop was right next door where a new home was being built. I took this picture because I was intrigued that the first thing up after the frame was the gutter system.
Before we headed off to the school we walked up this road for a view of the neighborhood. It turned out to be not such a good day as it started to rain just as we got back. Ashley and Joshua on the left.
A view from the neighborhood we walked through to get the school. A fairly new middle-class neighborhood.
After conference sessions ended around 3:30 pm we ran down town to see if we could locate a discount office supply. Not having much time before other conference activities we did not locate the store but we stopped at this beach briefly as it was rainy and windy and just took a picture and we left. This is the Tasman bay at Nelson.
After the Saturday sessions of district conference, the district had activities for the children. It was going to be at the beach but the weather did not cooperate. Instead they had the children dress their teachers in newspaper costumes. They even had a pilgrim. If you look closely you will see some pretty intricate work.
While the primary had their activity, the youth had fun outside with some Frisbee games. That is President Venables taking another picture.
Here are the primary children having a great time with a tug of war. This was the first one for many of them. We have European, Tongan, Maori, and Indian children.
Following the adult session of conference and primary and youth activities the district put on a wonderful dinner. This is just one of two tables of food where Sister Hoagland is cutting pizza in smaller pieces for the primary children. They had their own table with food more to their liking.
Here are some of our faithful members from West Port. President Vandenbosh is in the jacket, Bonnie Stack and Lynette Maugham are to his right.
Our last night at the Venables Sister Hoagland took this picture of Ashley and her bedroom. Pink is the order of the day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Service and Sorrow

Our work with our Tongan families is going very well. Lesili is making progress in his language, and Nuku is doing well with reading. We have our ups and downs with all the students but we are seeing progress. We have a new piano student who will start next week. She is a member of the Tau family with only the mother being a member. They all attend church but currently are not ready to move forward with baptism. They are a wonderful family.

Our Elders live next door to a house where the owner has a private WWII weapons hobby. They retuned from doing service this week to find all his large guns etc. outside. Here are some pictures they put on my computer. This is Elder Bair with a 20 mm gun.
Elder Palanite having fun.
On our walk we noticed this nicely kept yard accross from the high school. They have built a lot of homes in the last many years in older neighborhoods leaving quite a contrast between houses.
With a slight turn to the right we see this house right next door.
Sister Paula Carpenter, our relief society president lost her son this week in a boating accident. She called and asked if we could take her to see her son at the morgue. His body was not found for four days and we took her just a few hours after it was found.

We attended the funeral today. Her son was not active and there was no religious service, just a farewell. He had a lot of friends, and a nice family. It was not what one would call an uplifting event. A very interesting cast of characters, as he had lived a pretty wild life before settling down. All his old pot smoking and drinking mates were there too. Following the funeral our Tongan Sisters put on a great feed for everyone there. There was much left over.

I took a quick picture here of the morgue. It was located on the hospital grounds between the boiler room and the railroad tracks. The police indicated they were not happy to bring people to this uninviting location. The places I have had to go on this mission, the jail to visit a member and now the morgue. Who knew.

This is pretty much the extent of Sister Carpenters yard. Elder Palanite mowed her yard while Elder Bair and I washed her car. While we were were at the morgue the Elders washed her windows. They are fine young men.

We drove to Kumara, about 20 minutes south of Greymouth. Here is a rhododendron we saw as we were leaving town. They grow massive here and it does not appear that pruning is a favorite past time here. Some are of course but shrubs in most cases are allowed to grow together and make unkept hedges. Of the fives months we have been here, rhododendrons have been blossoming in four of them. That may be due to our very cool spring.
This is the north side of the Powell's front yard. The blue covered box is a sand box. Directly across is the body of an old Land Rover which has been a thorn in Linda's side since marrying Clark 8 years ago. He has to take the transmission out and then it will be ready for the dump.
Linda Powell and her youngest daughter. We had a very pleasant visit with them. She had a very interesting wedding album as they were married at a replica of an historic mining town. It is one of the local attractions here. It so happened that a national tv station was filming weddings around the country and they had scheduled their wedding when the tv station wanted to come and film. They took film all day and they received a copy.

We have been trying to find a way to spend time with her husband and thought we had the answer. He drives a little racing boat and we thought we could go see him race. We asked her about that and found his boat was not working now and the races are on Sunday. So much for that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Baptism and Birthday

Monday evening we went to the Toli's to celebrate Mele's 10th birthday and to give them another marriage and family relations class. As we were about to leave at 8:00 pm Aho and Manui Langi and family showed up with more cake and ice cream, potato chips and drinks. Here is Aho with his daughter Meleane and the Toli's baby Lamai. Those two are best buds.
Here Mele is blowing out the candles from the Langi cake. She said she received 5 cakes. No celebration is complete without potato chips
On the left is Puta, Aho's brother and his bride Tama'a. They are looking at their weding pictures. I printed a couple for them on our printer. Aho and Manase who are long time friends. They were buddies in a single adult group in Samoa. They are both Tongans who through separate routes ended up in Greymouth. Aho came two or three years ago to work in the forest industry. Manase has been in NZ at least 12 years and just moved to Greymouth 7 months ago.
The sister sitting next to Sister Hoagland is Manui Langi. We are teaching her and her son Lesili (big eyed boy) English, we hope. Sister Hoagland teaches piano to Hola Langi, second from left and Mele on the right. Hola lives with the Toli's during the week so she can go to a better school on this end of town. Hola has progressed so much, learning English and New Zealand culture. Sister Toli should be given a lot of credit for that. Their school is all European except the two girls.
Here Mele is blowing out the candles from our puny little cake. They saved it for school lunches. They must have known the bigger cake was coming later because they put the cake and ice cream we brought away while we gave the lesson.

Here is our beautiful Mele after her confirmation. The next day she voluntarily participated in a fast for Sister Carpenter who had lost her son in a canoeing accident. Her mother was rightfully very proud.
Here we are with Manase Tole, Mele's proud and happy father before the baptism.

We took the Elders to the community gym following Mele's baptismal interview. Everyone here is a member except the girl on the far left. More adult men showed up before we left and the smaller kids went and played hide and seek. Note the climbing wall at the end.
I put this picture in to show you one of the best tasting potato salads we have ever tasted. You will see two identical bowls of salad. When we told Ola how good it tasted she said she used 1 1/2 trays (45) of eggs in the two bowls. With that and the mayonaise there wasn't much room for potatoes.