Monday, January 12, 2015

An Apostle's Visit - Feb 2014

In February 2014 Elder Neil L. Andersen and his wife, Kathy, along with South Pacific Area President James Humula and his wife, visited our little island of Tongatapu. As always, when general authorities visit, they are kept very busy. While in Tonga Elder Andersen attended a stake conference, met with perspective missionaries, taught stake leaders, and met with  all the missionaries serving on Tongatapu in the Navu Stake Center for several hours of instruction.

Some of the highlights of that missionary training were:
* After Elder Andersen shook hands with each Missionary, Elder Hamula remarked that shaking hands with a Apostle is a renewing of the charge to share to Gospel in all the world.

* Elder Andersen taught that we are the Lord's hands on earth and that mostly we are called to teach.

* Much of his instruction was on the Doctrine of Christ - Faith, repentance, ordinances, and enduring to the end. He also taught that commandments understood in the context of doctrine are more easily understood.

* Elder Andersen taught that desire to share the Gospel increases as we understand the Atonement.

* He concluded by leading a discussion about what to keep from your past experiences and culture and what you learn on your Mission and what to leave in the past.....what to discard from the Tongan culture and what to keep, as well as what to discard from our own culture, and what to share with our Tongan friends.

Elder Makasini, John, Elijah and Elder
Valikoula - Tongan temple
 At the time of Elder Andersen's visit we were helping two great missionaries, Elder Andrew Makasini and Elder Esafe Valikoula, teach the Gospel to two wonderful men from Fiji, John and Elijah. We were able to take John and Elijah to the Nuku'alofa Tonga North Stake Conference. A seat had been reserved for us near the front, just behind the primary children's choir. The children were all dressed in white and sang so beautifully. At the conclusion of the stake conference Elder Andersen desired to shake the hands of all those who were in attendance - approximately 800 people.

We talked with John and Elijah about their feelings of being able to hear an apostle of the Lord speak, and of being able to shake his hand. They felt Elder Andersen's spirit, and had the Holy Ghost witness to them that he was indeed a disciple and apostle of the Lord. Both John and Elijah were later baptized, and are both working on going to the temple. But, their's is another story for another day.
John and Elijah at the doors of the
Tongan temple

One of the stories from Elder Andersen's visit that I loved was the story he told of a man and his son whom he had met in South America. The son, age four or five, came to his father one day wanting to earn some money. After giving it some thought, his father told him that he could wash the family car. After working very hard at completing the task, the young boy once again presented himself to his father and asked for his payment. The father, a little perturbed and thinking that his son was too focused on acquiring money, told him he would give him everything he had in his pocket. He felt inside his pocket and found only one penny. He began to feel a little guilty that he had spoken rashly, and had only one penny to give his son for all his hard work. When he handed the penny over to his son, he expected to hear many complaints about receiving just one cent. However, the words that came out of the mouth of that young boy taught his father a great lesson. After looking at the penny for a minute or two, the young son looked up at his father curiously, and asked, "Dad. How much tithing do I pay on one penny?" His father later learned that this young boy had wanted to pay tithing so much, but he didn't have any money. So, he decided he would ask his father for a job, so he could earn some money....and then he would be able to pay his tithing. I LOVE that story. The lessons we learn from young children. I need to be more like this little boy.

A wonderful cultural event was also prepared for Elder and Sister Andersen where over 3000 youth from 14 stakes (all on Tongatapu) performed. The Prime Minster of TongaSiale'ataongo Tu'ivakano, also attended, and his son performed in some of the dances.

The stadium was very full. Many of the parents of the dancers could not attend because there was no room. And being February, it was also very hot and humid!! Several fans were placed on the stand where Elder and Sister Anderson and the rest of the dignitaries sat, and all the doors were open. But, with that many bodies in one closed room, we were pretty well drenched by the time the evening was over. But the youth danced with so much spirit. They practiced for weeks and weeks before the event, and were honored to dance before an apostle. 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from that night.

Three of my favorite people: Dad, Sister Mitchell and Sister Aland




Keeping the singers cool

Jesse Tupou - just left of center, wearing glasses.

Jesse Tupou - Pres/Sister Tupou's son

Senior missionaries - R to L: Garth, Thomas Tupou, Edward's, Johnson's
(back row) Sister Dassler, Elder Maile, Webb's
(very back row) relatives of Maile's, Sister Maile
(standing) _______, Elder Dassler

More senior missionaries: R to L (standing) Sister Funaki
(sitting) Tongan visitor, Meyers, Aland's, Sister Mitchell, Dad
(standing far left) official photographer for the area

And even MORE senior missionaries - L to R: wife of the official photographer, Dad, Sister Mitchell, Aland's, Meyer's, not sure, and Sister Funaki standing

Youth of the Liahona stake dancing the Haka

Captain of the Liahona youth

Listening to Elder Andersen

The official photographer "blending in" with the dancers

The Prime Minister's son sitting among some beautiful girls

The podium - notice all the fans?

Dancing the stick dance

Tongan Prime Minister
The "TV" screen - the kids loved watching themselves during the "pre-show," and laughed whenever they recognized someone.....or themselves!

No comments:

Post a Comment