Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catching Up - Part 2 - My Dad's Here!!!!

So.......My Dad's Here!!!! He arrived November 9 (Sarah's Birthday – Happy Birthday youngest daughter of mine!)

What a fun day. He got here at 3:00 in the afternoon. At the airport here in Tongatapu, you can go upstairs over where you check in and over Customs, and look out over the tarmac. There are no jetways in Tonga. The planes come in, stairs are rolled out, and all passengers have to walk on the tarmac into the airport. Which is really cool, because the observation deck is open air and you can not only see the people getting off the plane, but you can yell at them :) Which, of course, is what we did when Dad got here. Several of the senior missionaries were at the airport to greet him. We all stood on the observation deck watching for him. Then a man in a suit, white cowboy hat, and cowboy boots exited the front plane door.....It was Dad. I hollered at him.....”ELDER BERGERRRRRR!!!!” He stopped, looked up, put down his carry-on bag and waved to us. Then all the other missionaries hollered at him. It was so fun.

Then we had to wait...and wait....and wait...while he went through Customs. He FINALLY made it through and I got to give him a great big hug.
A little blurry, but Dad finally coming out of customs
Elder Aland, who is also a cowboy, said “I like him already!” He also said the next mission he goes on is going to be as a service missionary so he can wear his cowboy hat.
The Webb's - Dad's next door neighbors
The boots didn't last long, though. By the next day or so he was wearing his Keen's. It's too hot for shoes here. And, by the third day he was wearing his “skirt” (tupenu).

He discovered what all the other guys here discovered...... “skirts” are WAAAY cooler than pants! He's been wearing a tupenu ever since.

The first day he needed a little help with his kafa (the tie that holds the ta'ovala – mat – on), and Elder Makasini was kind enough to lend his expert help. Dad's been here all of 10 days now, and he's able to get his tupenu, ta'ovala and kafa on all by himself. I'm still tying Garth's ta'ovala on!!!

But, we discovered you can take the cowboy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the cowboy.....or something like that.

Dad's been very busy since he got here. He's had to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road, shift gears with his left hand (in reverse order, no less), and maneuver on narrow roads used by vehicles, pedestrians, dogs, pigs and chickens. He's also having to find his way around this island transporting missionaries all over. Only the zone leaders have cars...so when missionaries need transported, someone has to drive them......That's when Elder Berger gets a call.

Dad got here on a Saturday, and the following Friday he was picking up missionaries all over the island and bringing them to a fireside with Elder Hallstrom, one of the presidents of the Seventy. Elder Hallstrom was assigned to reorganize a stake in Mu'a (a village here on Tongatapu), but wanted to do a special fireside with the missionaries while he was here. So, Friday afternoon all the missionaries on Tongatapu gathered in the Navu stake center (pronounced Nauvoo – named after the City Beautiful) and listened to Elder and Sister Hallstrom for two hours. It was wonderful. The missionaries on the islands of Ha'apai and Vava'u were able to go to stake centers near them and watch and listen. We were able to send the signal to Salt Lake, who put it up on the satellite. Unfortunately, the six missionaries we have in the Niua's were not able to watch or listen, because we just don't have the capabilities to broadcast there yet. But, President Tupou has already talked to the area office about getting a satellite in Niuatoputapu and Niuafo'ou so church meetings can be broadcast to the chapels there. What a wonderful blessing that would be for the saints there.
Front row: 1st and 2nd counselors in mission presidency. Second row: Elder and Sister Tukuafu (just released as mission president and now serving as area authority seventy), Elder and Sister Hallstrom, Sister Tupou, President Tupou, Paul, Jesse and Thomas. Third and fourth rows: Senior missionaries. The rest - all the missionaries on the island of Tongatapu.
Sister Tupou and I have been teaching the elders two mission songs – both of them Sally DeFord songs (Thank you Sally DeFord) - “Arise and Shine Forth” (a great missionary song) and “A Believer's Prayer” (another beautiful missionary song). The first line in “A Believer's Prayer” is “Father in Heaven, teach me, I pray, to walk as thy witness on earth.” I know other missions have missionaries who walk....but literally EVERY missionary here in Tonga walks. Miles and miles each day proclaiming the truthfulness of the Gospel. You could hear their testimonies ringing in their voices as they sang this song. And you should have heard them sing “Arise and Shine Forth.” I wish I could have recorded it. They raised the roof!!! What wonderful missionaries we have.

Of course...Tonga IS the best mission in the world!!! :)

Saturday we took Dad to the beach. The tide was out, so we were able to walk all the way to the break. We gathered shells, got a little sunburned, but overall had an enjoyable time. And of course, Dad was dressed in his P-Day clothes - his onesie!!! Yes, he brought it.
Dad, the Aland's and the Meyer's out at the break

Elder Aland and Dad getting surprised by a wave :)

Napping under the palms

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