Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today I was the voice for the conferring of the Aaronic Priesthood upon Murray Paterson and ordaining him a priest. We have big hopes for Murray and he has demonstrated some real faithfulness. We hope he can go to the temple for baptisms in September when the branch has an excursion planned. It is very expensive to travel to the North Island because of the ferry cost. Our youth are beginning to do fund raising so they can go.

We are pleased that the branch president has called a new primary president. She is a very capable Philippino Sister who will makes us relieved that when we go home the primary will be in good hands. We visited a less active Maori Sister this week, hoping she would be willing to teach in the primary. She works with an agency, teaching Maori culture to school children up and down the west coast here. We explained that we had at least 20 children at primary each week, but she was not willing to help. I think if we have her teach a weaving class or something like that she may be more willing. She has not been to church since we have been here.

Sister Hoagland has been working a while on the primary program scheduled for September. She has also been working for a very long time to help Nuku Langi, a 9 year old (now 10) learn to read English. He is now a pretty good reader and is excited to see Sister Hoagland come to his house.
Nuku is in the back right. His siblings are older and in our institute and seminary classes. They are Mafi 18, Pony 17, and Sione 14.
The youngest sibling is IraPia 3. He is now attending primary and starting to enjoy it. At home he is pretty much left to his own devices, wandering the house and yard with no real supervision. He is still in diapers and when we asked if he could say a part in the program, Mafi and Sione said he can't even speak Tongan let alone English. This week we went for Nuku's reading lesson and we asked little Iraia to say his part as we read it to him. With no problem he repeated his part and was the family surprised. We have never heard him speak either. We were so pleased at how proud his siblings are that he could say his part.
This is a picture we took on the road to Blenheim not far from Greymouth. We were on our way to inspect the missionary flat there. It is an 8 hour round trip and by the time we are through with the mission it will get pretty old.

The above pictures were taken on the west side of the mountain range. It is not unlike the difference between the west side of the cascades and the east side.
These two pictures are of the east side.
We liked this pictures because of how the snow cap is like frosting on a cake.

We are teaching Romans right now in seminary. In Mondays lesson where we were talking about Paul's declaration that he was "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." I asked our students if they had problems with people at school making fun of their beliefs and standards. Our Moni spoke up and said "no, they are all afraid of us". They are at least a head taller than their peers and considerably wider. That is funny because these kids are most tender-hearted. I have never seen them really angry at any one.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Baptisms and Fun

This has been a fun and exciting week for us. We have found another Sister who was on the lost sheep list, had three baptisms, and a wonderful branch activity in honor of our Mission President and his wife, who came for their first visit to Greymouth Branch.
Murray Paterson is 55 and on medical disability. He has a form of leukemia and has lost a leg from complications. He has been attending for over a month and has been participating well in priesthood class. Because we are so far from the zone leaders, I was privileged to do his baptismal interview. It is wonderful to see people change their life styles and accept the gospel. He should be a strength to the branch.
These two beautiful children were re-baptized because there was not record of them being baptized on the church rolls. Their families were not able to find any record either so it had to be done. Lesili is 11 and Hola is 10.
The baptisms were held on Saturday late afternoon and immediately following we had our branch activity. Above Moni and Tupou, two of our seminary students are dancing with Tama'a, their young womens president. The girls also take piano lessons from Sister Hoagland.
This is the entire young women group from the branch. Polohiva on the left is twelve.
Here is a group of our primary boys learning the "Haka," a Moari war dance. On the left is Sister Morgan, who is teaching them the words and movements of the Haka. This picture is in the multi-purpose area of the building where they are just learning.
In this picture they have come out to show the other program participants what they have learned. We loved them. Taufa Kinikini is in the middle and has just turned 9, and was the lead dancer.
Here they are doing the performance. They were a little intimidated and failed to do as well as during their rehearsal, but never the less a BIG hit. Front row left, Richard 7, Taufa 9, Salesi 8,
David 6, back row, Lesili 11, Lopeti 11, Maui 11, and Nuku 10.
Here is Sister Morgan with her two daughters, Memphis and Milahn singing a Moari song. The girls were baptized last month and are contributing to the primary. They sing and read and are a big help to Sister Hoagland. We were pleased when President Kinikini called a new primary president whom we have great confidence that she will carry on when we are gone.
We spent some time every night this week practicing for the activity. I took up the challenge to learn a Fijian dance with the priesthood brethren. They were already familiar and I never quite got the hang of it to perfection but it was fun. Here we are at practice. We had the older guys on the left and the younger on the right.
Here we are lined up ready for the final performance in our costumes. The skirt like apparel is called a "Tupenu." The one I am wearing we had Sister Kinikini buy for us when she went back to Tonga a few months ago. I was concerned about wearing a floral Skirt, but when I saw what the others were wearing I relaxed considerably. The little boy running around is one of 4 three year olds in the branch.

Here we are practicing one part of the dance. In this part we make fast movements to the music up and down and left and right. Quite a site.
Here I am just before my Tupenu fell to the floor. Fortunately I was in a spot where most people did not see what happened. Sister Kinikini was there quickly to tie it back on and get me back into the dance. One of my mission highlights.
Here are our seminary boys, Poni and Tim with Elder Vaioleti enjoying the dance as the audience gave appreciative screams, laughs, and applause. As you can see I am back in action between Tim and Elder Vaioleti. The boys had just returned from Christchurch a half hour earlier where they had a school rugby match. They had to drive through the mountains to get home and there was lots of snow up there. They said they stopped and had a good time having a snowball fight.

Three or four weeks ago the Elders went to Westport to speak and took this picture. Elder Vaioleti is a convert of a few years and has a beautiful testimony. He is very soft spoken and it is hard for us to understand his English, but his spirit shines through. Elder Schipper is from South Jordon, close to the new Oquirrh Mountain temple. They have been blessed to finish the work of some great missionaries that preceded them.

President and Sister Jolliffe came with their 17 year old son, following a couple of days vacation visiting some attractions on the west coast. They are not social butterflies so we only saw them at our activities and meetings. Each time, leaving before we knew they were gone. We didn't even get any pictures of them. They gave great talks in sacrament meeting today and we were grateful they were able to come.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Happy birthday

Last week and this week are school holidays. We are missing our students. They were all sick the week before so it will be three weeks before we have class again. Sister Hoagland was ill all last week too so we were pretty well shut down. We did have institute class with Mafi and Ofa. They are so faithful.

Today was our monthly visit to the Westport branch. We missed last month as district conference was held on the second Sunday which is our scheduled day. The day was gorgeous with clear sky's and the Tasman Sea was was a brilliant blue and like glass. The congregation consisted of 8 adults, 3 primary age boys, and us. Sister Hoagland had selected the topic of hope and had a wonderful story she found in an old "New Era magazine." I chose a topic based on 2Nephi 2:25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." Sister Hoagland had people asking her for copies of the story. I had people falling asleep. That's a good trick when we only have a 40 minute sacrament meeting. Oh well.

The Elders had a baptism scheduled for today in Greymouth. Unfortunately, Murray had a bout with flu this week and was in the hospital. We learned that he is also battling leukemia. We hope to have the baptism next week. Speaking of next week, we are looking forward to the first visit to Greymouth from President and Sister Jolliffe. Hopefully we can combine our branch activity Saturday with his baptism and confirmation on Sunday. The mission is having some great growth with our baptism rate at about 3 times that of previous years.

This Sister and her daughter came from Christchurch for the first birthday of Lou Ann Kinikini, the adopted daughter of President and Sister Kinikini. Lisa is 10 and will soon be taller than her mother and father.
Here is the Kinikini family, Moni, Taina (dad), Tim, Lou Ann, Taufa, Atu (mom) and Maui in front. Maui is the families official "Milo" maker. Milo is a chocolete flavored grain drink. He makes the best cup.
Lou Ann got the first bite of cake. Was she excited

The Sisters and Dad and mom.

This is a cake for the July Kinikini birthdays.

Here are Puta Langi's children braving the cold after church. Left to right Polohiva 12, Lopeti 11, Katalina 9, Osaka 5, and Etuini 3. Last winter we did not get into the homes of the Tongan families during the really cold weather. We are in each home vertually weekly now and it is interesting how they cope with the cold. They move matresses in the room with the stove in it, and they all lay around basking in the warmth watching TV. They have sheets over the door openings, they have no doors, to keep the heat in the room.
Last Sunday was a great day too. Our dry Mormon family blessed their eighth child. She is the only one with a record in the branch. Some of us thought that Mother, Noila, was a member, but the area membership department was not able to find her baptism. They did find her as the mother of her son who was baptized in Australia a year or to ago but that was all. Pray for this family that their father's heart may be softened so they can be baptized. Above is Tupou with her little sister.