Thursday, March 26, 2009

We had a special sacrament meeting Sunday. Puta Langi married Tama'a in November and this last week they were able to bring Puta's 5 children to live with them. These children have been living with Grandma in Auckland until Puta was able to bring them here. They are such beautiful children, ranging in age from 3 to 12. It so happened that Puta and Tama'a were assigned to speak Sunday and between their talks they surprised us with a song sung by them, their children, and grandma. Grandma set the 3 year old on a chair in front and facing them. That little guy directed the group flawlessly. Poor Puta just wept and there wasn't a dry eye in the congregation, including 6 visitors from the US. They sang in Tongan, "Help me dear father to freely forgive."

Tuesday we were taken to dinner by David Bell, the CES administrator from Christchurch. After our Chinese dinner, he gave us his training until about 8:00 pm. He visited our seminary class in the morning. Wednesday afternoon I accompanied the Elders to two missionary lessons. We have some hard working missionaries.
Puta's mother, Tama'a, Sister Hoagland and our institute student Mufi enjoying the Pacific Islanders Day program at the elementary school in Cobden. While there we talked to the Principal and set up tutoring for our Tongan children. That should be fun and hopefully helpful to the kids.
Here are our branch men and students taking the food from the in the cooking pit called "umu." They cooked chicken, pumpkin, sweet potato (kamara), potato, cabbage, mutton, but no pig.
While they waited for the food to cook the young men played rugby. Facing us is 14 year old Sione and on the left is Tim and Poni.
Here, some school children are learning to shred coconut. They had little island themed activities all around the school.
Here is a class just waiting to start a project. In the middle is our Lesili. Next week we will show pictures from the entertainment portion of the day.
Our Grandson, Jeremy is home for a couple of weeks from the air force. He had his 19th birthday while home and was ordained an Elder last Sunday. Here he is with his step sister, Katelyn, 14.
Jeremy with his step brothers Elliot and Tyler.
Here is airman Hoagland at home in Tualatin. He will spend the next two weeks in Utah with his Sisters and mother then on to his permanent station in Mountain Home, Idaho.
Here is our little Taylor trying to see the bump on her head after colliding with her brother.
Our seminary students arriving late again.
This is the home of the Wilson's. Sister Wilson is a less active who's teenage children the Elders are teaching. Because there is no man in the home they have me come with them.
Here we are sitting with Sister Kinikini's sister just before she and daughter Lisa returned to Tonga.
Last Saturday we attended a community activity some 25 k's from Greymouth. Here they are throwing lolly's (candy) to the children.
We came because we heard there was inexpensive food available. Here is my steak sandwich. A nice piece of steak between two plain pieces of white bread. YUM!!
They had walking, running and cycling events as part of the day's activities. All who enter are eligible for prizes by drawing. There is a large amount of prizes donated and range from small to new bicycles. While there we met a couple of the women who exercise with us at the gym each morning.
On our way home we took a tour of a small town called Blackball. It is an old mining town up the Grey river valley. Our first stop was at the cemetery.
They do not have pubs here but the equivalent is the hotel. They were stopped from calling this hotel the Blackball Hilton by you know who, so now it is formerly the Blackball Hilton.
As we got back to Greymouth we stopped at the bridge to see if one of our students was fishing. He wasn't but here are Aho and his best friend Manase. Aho has to fish to feed his family. Manase must have got tired as you can see his rod and bucket a little ways forward.
The Kinikini tomatoes. We have enjoyed a number of them now. We have a 1/2 dozen ripening in our kitchen now.
This is what Sister Hoagland got for her trouble at the activity. Sand fly bites are awful. They don't bother for the first day, but then for the next three days they really itch and some blister and weep.
This is my bite and my wrist is swollen.
Here it is again after four days.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Helping Hands activity

This weeks highlight was the beginning of our institute class. We have two wonderful young ladies taking the Book of Mormon. Ana (Muffi) Langi, and Ofa Tau, the oldest daughter of the dry Mormon family. We are holding it in our flat. They are really excited and so are we.

Sunday March 15 was our turn to speak in Westport. They have a very small but faithful group there. Following the meetings they always have a meal for us together. They usually have sandwiches, soup and muffins or cakes for desert. While we have not yet acquired a taste for pumpkin (squash) soup, we enjoy the visit and spirit of these fine saints.
On the way to Westport, at about 9:00 am we stopped to take this picture. I liked the way the sun was shining on the surf. It was a very beautiful day, especially on the drive home.

These three boys are grandsons to two of the members. Their parents are inactive. The two boys on the right are brothers and attend each week.

Last week we got Jenni hooked up with video calling. It is great!!! We had a video call with Jenni Monday morning before seminary to set up a call so she go talk with our students. While we were talking their fire alarm went off. When she called to talk with the students she told us what had happened. Zach had turned on the micro wave oven to warm some pizza and set it for over an hour. It was burned to a crisp and smoke fill the house. If you want to see the results check out her blog spot. By the way, our students had a blast doing the video calling. They loved Zach.
With some effort, we were able to set up with Jeff's family as well. It was great to see them and especially Jeremy who is home for a couple of weeks leave from the airforce. He is now stationed at Mountain Home Airforce Base in Idaho.
This area has several little walks up into the bush on the east hills. This picture was taken from the steepest walk in the area. On the right is Cobden which is on the north side of the river from downtown Greymouth. This is where many of our branch members live.
This was taken from the first view point on the trail. It is facing southwest over the city center. On the right is the main shopping area of town. You can see a race track on distant left.
Again you can see the main shopping area of town which is right next to the river. Within the last 15 years or so they built a flood wall to protect the area from high water. The road by the river is just an access road on top of the wall. The Tongans fish from the strip of land in the river a ways to the right of the picture.
Sister Hoagland made it to the first view point but I went on by myself to the second (there are four). It was a very difficult climb for me as I had to stop several times to catch my breath. I was pleased to learn later that people much younger than me don't get this far. This is also looking south west but much higher to see over the ridge in front. The road on the left is the main road out of town and the first large building is the new swimming pool that is to be finished next month. It is about three blocks from our flat.
Behind the tidal lagoon is Blaketown where the Elders have their flat.
When I came down from the second view point I took this last shot of town.
We were asked by President Kinikini to arrange a project for the branch's participation in the Nation wide "Mormon Helping Hands" day. I went to the district counsel and they said beach clean-up was all they had for us so we went and looked it over. They gave us plastic "rubbish" bags and arranged to have them picked up after our service on Saturday.
Right next to the beach clean up area was the airport. We were able to see one of the few flights taking off from this airport. Most are helicopters.

Here is the result of our efforts today.
Here are most of those who participated in the clean-up. Sister Scott, between the Elders, found a five dollar bill.

Sister Kinikini and sister Langi whipped up a little snack for us when we got back to the church. Fried bread and ice cream. Yum!!!

We were not locked out of the church, they just did not want to mess it up for Sunday.
Here we are enjoying the feast. Nuku in orange and Taufa walking on the right went into the sea and were quite cold but that did not stop them from enjoying ice cream.

Friday, March 13, 2009

"The Dance"

On Wednesday when we went to Cobden to teach Moni and Tupou their piano lessons, I noticed a very large crane in the next block. I walked over to investigate and found them trying to move a large house onto new foundation pilings. There were four cables hooked to the crane which came up from the bottom and up over the eaves. They put blocks between the cable and the fascia but I could not see how that would be strong enough to hold the weight of the whole building. I was right. When they tried to lift it the weakest point failed and crushed up against the side of the outside wall. Not sure how they solved their problem.

We finally got video skype up and running with at least Jenni's family. The first time was kind of exciting seeing all the grandchildren. One had just awakened from a nap and it was fun to see the look on her face when she realized she could see and talk to us. The next time was priceless. Jenni's 5 year old had snapped his eye with an exercise elastic and they had put one vertical and one horizontal bandage over his eye.

Jenni and Rob adopted a baby, named Zachary, almost ten years ago and he turned out to have cerebral palsy. While he can walk and talk, he is not very strong and his words are less clear. It also manifests itself with a lack of social inhibitions. Their computer and camera are located in their master bedroom. You can see the bedroom door and the master bathroom door in the background. While we were talking he was in the bathtub having a bubble bath. Just as we were about to finish our conversation in walks Zach through the bathroom door naked and covered with bubbles. He walked right up to the camera and then turned around and walked back to the bathroom. The whole time we were just laughing our heads off. A great start for our video talk experience.

On Friday we had zone conference in Nelson. It was a long drive up and back but one information sign caught my eye. There are several signs warning drivers of driving while tired and drunk. They call drunk driving here Drink Driving. The sign that caught my eye said, DRINK DrIvE.

Last weekend was branch conference. Saturday was our big dance and Sunday we had a meal for everyone following branch conference including our district visitors so that they could make the long trip home well fed. Here are our wonderful youth who cleaned up and washed the dishes. In front are Pone, Lisa, Moni, and Tupou. In back are Tim and Samu (Sam). Lisa is visiting from Tonga with her mother and will return within the week. She is a lovely girl and a delight.
Moni and Tupou after the dishes were put away.
On Friday we held our zone conference in Nelson. This is our new Elder in Greymouth, Elder Heywood from Gilbert, Arizona. We have only known him for a week but find him a very capable missionary. He is hard working and very knowledgeable. He even whistles while he works.
This was the sunset from our flat this week.

As zones go, we have a very small one. Four companionship's and us. Front row, Sister Jolliffe, Sister Hoagland, Sisters Wagstaff & Iva. Back row, Elder Tupou, Elder Tamale, President Jolliffe, Elder Hoagland, Elder Baguley, Elder Heywood, Elders Boster & Lorhmann our zone leaders.
The two children on the left are Tupou's little brother and sister, Ha'angana, and Lisa. Ana (Mufi) and Lisa had just finished one of the Island dances for our entertainment. Mufi wanted out of her costume as quick as she could.
We teach Manui and Aho Langi's son Lesili English. Here they are at the dance.
Fun for everyone. The children are free to do as they please and we don't bother them and they don't bother us. We had European, Hendi, Tongan, Phillipino and Moari represented on the floor.
That is Lesili running around on the left as Sister Carpenter, our relief Society president dances with 14 year old Sione. President and Sister Kohu of the Nelson district and Sister Scott dancing with Tim (16).

Here is part of our floorshow with our young women dancing some island dances. They were taught the dances by Sister Tama'a Langi on the left who is the young women president. She is doing a great job.Here we are with Tama'a and her husband Puta Langi just as the dance was getting underway.

We are seated here with Noila and Fatui Tau, the parents of Tupou and Sam. Fatui wants to be faithful to his Tongan Church but lets his family fully participate in church.
Here I am with my guys. The boy on the far left is a friend of Tim's. Next is Sione, me, Pone and the young men president, Puta.
We were happy the President Kohu was able to be here for the dance. He and his family are a delight and their oldest son is beginning a mission in South Africa.
Here are our two cousins, Lisa and Moni just coming to the dance as the sun is going down.
Hear are some video's of the dance. They had a great time.