Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dear Family,

This week has been busy with excitement due to the mission president seminar that is taking place this week until Sunday! And guess who got to meet Elder Holland!! Not me..Yesterday afternoon we received a random notice for all of the sisters in the MTC to meet in building 19m, where all of the devotionals and big meetings occur. Of course, we were all letting our thoughts run wild, trying to figure out why they needed to gather us so suddenly. Naturally, we got our hopes up thinking an apostle or prophet would come talk to us. Then they brought out a big fancy chair and sat it in front of the stadium seats and we thought FOR SURE the prophet was coming to talk to us. The meeting began and a sister sat in the chair and started signing for those needing sign language. They told us that bats had been found in 17M, the building that they had just moved ALL of the sisters in because it's new and big enough to fit us (the one we just moved into last week). I thought it was a joke for quite a bit, but sure enough, there were bats found by some of the new sisters this week. So our glorified time in the new building with awesome showers and no prison sheets would be short-lived unfortunately. They needed to move every sister back out of it before our evening classes and appointments so the entire campus came together to make the big move. haha Despite the craziness, we were efficient and it only took a couple hours. No wonder people LOVE it when Mormons come and help clean up natural disasters!! We get the job done! (: 

Our lessons this week have been improving as we continue to get better at the language. Far from perfect, but there is improvement. Many of our lessons are quite humbling as we realize how much work we have to go. But humility is awesome! It allows us to rely on the Savior. Sister Emch's mother sent her inspirational quotes this week and one of them that I really liked was "The same rain that grows weeds for a pessimist, grows flowers for an optimist." I love it and it is so true. We must let our tears strengthen our spirits and our testimonies. One particular lesson that humbled me was our first TRC. Volunteer Tongan members come to the MTC so that we can share with them a message on any principle of the gospel. An older sister of Sister Mo'unga (my first companion) was one of the members we taught so that was neat! We talked about how we can increase our faith through obedience and used examples of prophets, such as Nephi and Abraham. We felt very prepared, but even then, I went out of there feeling like a failure because I couldn't say everything that I wanted to say in Tongan. Our teacher talked with the members that we taught, however, and asked them how it went. They told her that it didn't matter what I said or what I said wrong because they could feel the spirit when we taught. The first lesson that we taught without taking any notes into was last week to our teacher Brother Fisher. It amazed me how much it affected our teaching. Even though we were terrified to speak in Tongan, going in with no notes allowed us to actually LISTEN to our investigator and teach BY THE SPIRIT. The spirit is the best teacher after all and we cannot convert anyone without it! After the lesson our teacher was so proud of us that he started crying, saying that was the best lesson we had ever taught. It was a good moment. 

Sunday was, by far, the highlight of my week. We taught Relief Society on the gift of the Holy Ghost and studied scriptures together on how we can receive the blessings of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Devotional Sunday night was amazing. What touched me the most was a message on spiritual gifts. It doesn't matter how much we are given, what matters is how much we do with the gifts we are given. Then, those gifts can be multiplied. I felt that this applied very well to receiving the gift of tongues. It doesn't matter how talented I am at learning the language or what I already know. If I work as hard as I can to learn it and invite people to Christ, God will give me that gift. We sang a beautiful arrangement of "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer" by Brett Stewart. As we sang, the spirit testified of the reality of the Savior and His atonement. I know that through the atonement, our sins can be washed clean, our weaknesses can be made strong, and our burdens can be made light. I love the spirit and the fruits that it gives.

Well it sounds like life is well at home and University Place is getting the appreciation that it deserves for it's beauty. That story of Tiger Woods is AWESOME. Haha It is too bad our renters didn't want to buy us new furniture as well. Caleb looks awesome in his get up! Keep it up and smile for the cameras (: You are all amazing and every day I thank my Heavenly Father for the wonderful family that He has given me. I have such good examples to look up to and strong support. Have a wonderful week! 

'Ofa lahi atu,
Sister Betteridge

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dear Family,

Holy cow this week went by way fast! We lost more than half of our zone on Sunday, which was really sad. The Samoan, Marshaleese (??), Samoan, Kirapitz (??) and 2 Tongan missionaries left for the field! Leaving only my district and 2 Fijian sisters. It was very sad that we could not fill up our entire lunch table and four-square was also not as exciting. But that's okay because 11 Samoan missionaries came on Wednesday and filled the gap. There were 4 international elders from Tonga and Vanuatu and one of them was able to go through the temple this morning for the first time!! He needed a translation and the only available translation was a SUPER ancient video. In Sacrament Meeting on Sunday our district sang God Be With You Till We Meet Again in Tongan as a farewell for all of the missionaries. It was very emotional for them and I had a hard time keeping it together as I sang...but I did!! I love singing as zone which we do occasionally after long days when the presidency comes to visit. Polynesian songs and voices are so beautiful and it makes me excited to be singing with an entire congregation of them. 

So to answer your question Mom we have been doing a bit of singing and what not. Sister Moreno and I were called to be the ward music coordinaters on Sunday so that is pretty fun to find all of the missionaries with musical abilities. We forced everyone to go to MTC choir practice this week and sing at the devotional. LOVED it!! But I forgot to write down what arrangement it was that we sang. Sorry Mom!! I'll make sure I do that next time. Too bad they don't broadcast them to BYU TV as well as the other MTCs! Elder Evans and his wife came and spoke. They both talked about using our gifts as we've promised and church callings. As members and especially as missionaries, our callings change pretty rapidly and we should do our best in each calling because God has personally called each of us. We will get something out of it and those we serve will also be blessed as we do our absolute best! This spoke pretty strongly to me as I have been struggling with patience this week. I now have a stronger determination to be more loving and selfless. Back to music though...I will be accompanying Sister Moreno on the piano on Sunday. She has a BEAUTIFUL voice and I insisted she sing so we are doing an arrangement of Come Thou Fount. 

As we have been getting better at speaking the language our lessons have gradually been getting better! Brother Fisa is nice and lets us speak Tonglish because we all know that God is fluent in Tonglish as well as Tongan. Sista Fotu, however, is a little more hard-nosed. Love her!! But if we speak even the slightest bit of Tonglish in class or in our lessons, she makes faces and says "Heh?? Don't understand faka-palangi (english)" in Tongan. So that's a struggle, but it is pushing us to learn it faster! Dad, I LOVED the quotes you sent me, especially the one by Nelson Mandela. I read it to the class as a spiritual thought and they loved it too so we wrote it on the board for a little motivation (: The quote is "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart." It relates to us as we teach in a different language, but it also relates in the sense that we should be teaching people and not lessons! Earlier this week we had an awesome experience with an investigater (gold-tag progressing investigater) outside. We were studying outside and a lady from Guatemala came up to me asking about what language I was studying. It then turned into an hour-long conversation about the places we were from, why I decided to serve a mission, and I was able to bear my testimony to her about my purpose in life and share with her a scripture from the Book of Mormon. She is a devout Catholic and was trying to convert me haha. But we asked if we could meet with her again on Friday (today). Well, this morning she didn't show up..We were pretty bummed, but we saw her later on today and I don't know what happened, but she wants to meet with us again next Friday! Apparently the Fijians that were here before we came met with a hispanic catholic and she is getting baptized next week! I'm not getting my hopes up, but I'm excited for this experience to teach and talk with her.

To answer some questions.. As far as my Tongan name goes, no it does not have any special meaning haha I WISH! It is just a direct translation. Since the Tongan alphabet has only 16 letters, they just don't know how to pronounce english letters so they substitue their own letters with certain English letters. That's where Kolipoki comes from. It means Groburg in English. Tricky because we have to learn all of the Tongan translations for any name. Like Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, etc. So my zone calls me Petelisi, but I am still Sister Betteridge so letters should still be addressed to Sister Betteridge (: And we are not allowed to wear our Tongan uniforms yet (unfortuantely). MTC dress code is very strict about that kind of thing!

Today we have to move all of our stuff into a new building which is kind of a pain. That's okay because we are upgrading from living on the 4th floor to living on the 3rd floor! That will be very nice especially as it is getting extremely hot here!! Oh and I ran into Rozi (Sister Larsen) and we are living on the same floor! It's so nice to see a little bit of home here at the MTC through her and Elder Lybbert. She is going to be on some documentary. I'm not sure when it will be coming out, but they started filming her and her companion, who are both going to Australia, today! So look out for her on BYU TV!

Well I love you all so much. Thanks for the love and support!! Oh and don't worry mom about not sending me packages. Sister Stokes gets packages at least once a day and among the sisters we have already accepted the Tongan culture idea of sharing everything. We are very blessed with love and goodies (: 

'Ofa atu <3
Sister Petals

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hello Friends and Family! 

Lots has happened this week and I don't know where to start! It has been an emotional roller coaster for my district to say the least!! Two of the sisters had to miss out on class because they were sick and throwing up. Five of us elders and sisters have had random breakdowns during class or what not, which has been a little emotionally draining and challenging! Last Saturday particularly, was a very emotional day for my district sisters  We all just felt like we were dragging and not as energetic as usual. Sister Fifita wisely pointed out that it was most likely because of our 10 minute late start that morning. Everyone had slept through their alarms. It taught us the importance of exact obedience!! It truly does bless you. Pres. Willes said that if God can't trust you to do the smallest of things (like wake up at 6:30 because you wake up at 6:40instead), He can't trust you with bigger things. Like bringing His children to the gospel!! We have not slept a minute past 6:30 since then! In our Sunday devotional, one of the speakers talked about this as well. He called it "Mind Over Mattress." He said, at 6:30 the bed is now OUTSIDE of the misson boundaries. We of course laughed knowing oh too well how it felt to sleep in.

Last week Sister Mo'unga and I were having a hard time feeling comfortable with our lessons. But our teacher gave us some really good advice. He said that the gospel is so simple that a small child should be able to understand it. So I pulled out a picture of Lance and James from the photo album I brought and since then, we've "taught" the picture of Lance and James in our role plays. It helped a ton!! haha. So thanks Carli and Amberly for bearing children that could help me with my teaching (: 

So Sister Mo'unga and Sister Fifita received their flight itinerary this week and they are leaving for Tonga on Sunday :( We are all pretty sad because they help us so much and we feel like it's tearing our little family apart. haha But I'm excited for them cause I know it will be better for them to be in the field. There were also a few issues between a couple sisters in our district. President Willes came Tuesday night and changed the companionships after talking with each of us. So my new comp is Sister Moreno! She's serving in New Zealand and is from California. She is so awesome and I'm excited to serve her and serve with her! 

The language is coming along great! I LOVE learning new things. I know that personal study should be the best part of my day, and it is pretty close to that, but I love studying the language. It's crazy how fast it comes when you are in the classroom almost all day EVERY DAY. It's awesome. We taught our first Tongan lessons this week!! It was pretty challenging because it's really hard to make lessons personal and teach to their needs on the spot when we can't really speak the language. The first one went way better than I thought it would! We weren't able to understand a lot of the things our investigator said to us, but we made it through. Our second lesson, on the other hand, was more stressful! We were way unprepared and I can truly testify that the spirit does not help you teach when you are unprepared. My hoa (companion) started crying in the middle of the lesson and when we left we were both in tears. It's okay though because we learned from it!! And we will NEVER go into a lesson as unprepared as were were for that one. On the sunnier side of things...we nailed our last lesson to a new investigator we taught last night. We were teaching the first lesson about the restoration and when I talked about the first vision the spirit was super powerful! I knew that everyone else in the room was feeling it too because the investigator started tearing up. Maybe his eyes just happened to turn really red, but I hope not! 

In case any are curious, I have gained some weight.. The Tongan elders in our zone always grab extra dishes and dessert so that they can give it to me when they are done eating. I soon learned that they are really just trying to fatten me up so I can be prepared for the mission! And I guess it worked because Sister Mo'unga and I found a baggage scale in a closet one day and weighed ourselves! 3 lbs in less than a week!! Don't worry I have learned from my mistake and will not accept any more food or dessert!!
Well I love you lots!! 
Sister Petelisi  
Studying in the Classroom

Sister Mo'unga and I jumping because we love being Missionaries!

The Island Zone

The Tongan District

President Wiles

Love Running into college buddies!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Malo e lelei! 

Well these first few days have been SUPER busy and tiring, but I'm still alive and SO happy! It's crazy to think that it's only the third day here because I feel like I've been here for weeks. No kidding. But like I guessed, my companion, Sister Mo'unga, IS Tongan, but she's not from Salt Lake. She's from Pleasant Grove so I was close! She is so awesome along with everyone else in my district. The Sisters in my district clicked really fast which was a relief because that was one less thing to worry about on my chaotic and overwhelming first day. Our district consists of 6 sisters and 2 elders. There are 4 of us sisters going to Tonga, 2 Tongan and 2 white. Sister Mo'unga and Sister Fifita are Tongan and from the states which is such a blessing because they already speak the language and have been helping the rest of us as we learn it ourselves. Sister Emch is the other white sister and apparently we are #3 and #4 to go to Nuku'alofa. The first 3 white sisters to serve in Tonga just barely left for the MTC 3 weeks before we came. The last two sisters in our district are Sister Stokes and Sister Moreno and they are serving in New Zealand Tongan speaking. I love working with all of them; they have been a HUGE blessing to me. We all are living in the same room so it's super fun! But it's no sorority..we're working really hard don't worry!
Last night we met our branch president, President Willes, and his counselors and their wives. President Willes (side notes: He is Pres Gordon B. Hinkley's nephew and looks sooo much like him!) talked to us about being an effective missionary and such. I have only met him once, but I already look up to and admire him a TON! He said something that really hit home for me. He talked about how we were called to this work before we were born. We promised God before this life that we would proclaim the gospel and that when we felt prompted to serve a mission (especially the sisters who needed to make that decision), the spirit was remindign us of the promise we had made. SO. COOL. When he said that the spirit confirmed his words to be true and the feeling was so prominent. I am so excited to to teach the gospel and be the Lord's missionary and disciple. I feel the love for my Savior on a regular basis and I know that he loves every one of his children just the same!
This morning we had the opportunity to go to the temple as a zone and wat ch Elder Perry's funeral. Our zone is the Pacific Islander zone so there are Elders and Sisters going to the Marshall Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga, and probably some others that I can't remember. It's cool to see our training leaders who just have one more week in the MTC and see how much they've progressed from where we are to 5 weeks in the MTC. They are awesome and great leaders!
Tonight Sister Mo'unga and I are teaching our first investigator! It's in English, thank goodness. Our Tongan lesson fell through, which is probably for the better since the only Tongan I know is numbers, bearing my testimony, and a few random phrases that Sister Mo'unga and Sister Fifita have been teaching us. Unfortunately, they might be leaving for Tonga in 2 weeks because they are so much more advanced than us. Well unfortunately for us, but not for them! They say they want to stay and help us, but I think they just don't want to hurt our feelings and really are dying to get away from us palangis and get out in the field! Anyway, the investigator who we are teaching tonight is named Ralles. We are teaching him about the Plan of Salvation and Christ's atonement. We'll see how it goes! And I'll try not to inflect my voice like an American missionary Ben. So far I've been doing solid though haha.
Well I hope life and preparation for the move out is going smoothly! Enjoy the beauty of Washington and Anderson Island for me since I am stuck to the scenery within the walls and boundaries of the MTC. haha I love you all!
Ofa atu,
Sister Petelisi (My Tongan name)