Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dear Family,

This week we moved out of our MQ (Mission Quarters) because it is getting a complete makeover!! We are very excited about that because it needed some work haha. I will try to send some pics after it is done, but I wish I had taken some for a before and after! We moved in with another set of sisters nearby. Sister Faux, a palangi sister, and Sister Pakalani, who is from here. Last week, I said I wasn't worried about gaining weight. I spoke too soon. I have eaten more food this week than I think I've eaten in my life! The members love to feed the missionaries and we have enough left overs in our kitchen to feed an army. This week I ate ota ika (raw fish) and octopus and I thought that I wasn't going to survive through the night. It wasn't bad, but it didn't treat my insides too well. But that is all over and done with and I am feeling great now! Hopefully no more digestive problems and sickness in the future! 

Mission life for the sisters is very particular and traditional! If we go out in public, we have to have our hair braided, tupenu's and ta'ovala's on and we cannot wear makeup. The first couple days I felt like a little kid because my companion would braid my hair every morning. It was awesome. haha I decided that they purposefully make it like that for protection. Because who would pick on a small kid? It's awesome though, I love everything about it. It's comfortable and everyone recognizes us as sisters instantly. They have tons of respect for us, even if they are non-members or less active. Most people speak Tongan to me, but if they are more comfortable speaking english, they will just speak english. There are a few in our ward who are from New Zealand and speak only in english to me. 

One day, my comp and I were very discouraged because we had just lost all of our investigators and one of our potentials. As we walked down the street, I thought to myself--Where are the people I am supposed to teach?? I felt like I was doing all I could and trying so hard. My companion even voiced out loud--God, Where are you?? Kidding, but not really. I felt reassured just to keep the faith. Endure with faith. Literally, a few minutes later on that same small road, a 10 year old girl walking home from school asked us if we could teach her english. She led us to her house and we met her family. Her grandma interrupted us as we were trying trying to teach her english and said that we were welcome any time to come teach them the gospel. Her son who lives in New Zealand is baptized and she loves the missionaries. She said she would love it if all her family could be baptized one day. It was an amazing experience because we knew that God wanted us to know that he was there. That as long as we continue to seek His help and try our best, he would guide our footsteps. Yesterday, the little girl and her sister came with us to watch a baptism and this week we will start to teach them. I love the work! I know that despite the weaknesses and imperfections of man, the work will go on! It is the Lord's work and he stands at the head of this church. A couple quotes that I found this week that I love...
"We have been privileged to be born in these last days, as opposed to some earlier dispensation, to help take the gospel to all the earth..." (Howard W. Hunter)

"Let there be cultivated an awareness in every member's heart of his own potential for bringing others to a knowledge of the truth. Let him work at it. Let hims pray with great earnestness about it" (Gordon B. Hinckley).

Love you all! Have a wonderful week filled with positive attitudes and happy hearts (:

Ofa lahi atu,
Sister Petalisi

Food storage after a couple days of fafanga. Notice the milk in the back

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dear Family,

I made it safely!! After 3 flights, a 13 hr over-night flight, and an 11 hr layover in New Zealand, we landed safely in Tonga last Tuesday night. The first night we had a nice Tongan dinner with the mission president's family and stayed in the temple motel right across from the temple! There we met tons of other missionaries who had just flown over from the New Zealand and were all from Tonga. Wednesday morning Sister Emch and I attempted to dress ourselves in the Tongan attire and went outside looking for a trashcan and when we stepped outside EVERYONE stopped and just kinda stared at us like we were zoo animals. We gave up on the trash can idea and ran back inside. How's that for a first day as a missionary haha.. I have gotten pretty used to the attention and stares as I've walked around. No one is expecting the palangi sisters. Each person we met this week asked about it and they are really happy to see us which is awesome. Sister Emch and I met the 2 other palangi sisters at MLC, a training meeting, and they are SO happy more are coming.
So I am assigned to work in Pea as my first area and my trainer is Sister Moloa! She's from Indiana, she was the first sister to come from America and she's been out for 5 months. Pea is an area that's new to both of us so this week we have both had to learn a lot! When we got dropped off at our MQ, it was a huge mess! We had to clean for hours just enough to get settled in. We did lots of cleaning and yard work today and it is BEAUTIFUL now. haha I wish I had taken a picture when we first arrived to compare. And the last update in the areabook was from JANUARY. So we didn't have really have much to go off of. We decided to just start walking down the street to try and find the bishop and ward mission leader. After talking with some people on the street and much searching, we found them both! There are no addresses in Tonga because apparently people just need to know the family name and which part of the village they are's THAT SMALL. Our area is pretty big though. In Tonga, the work is mostly done through the members. Thanks to Lika and Mafi, two RMs in the ward, we were able to find the members and less-actives to teach. They are a HUGE blessing to us. We aren't allowed to be out of our MQ after dark (around 6:30), unless there is a member walking with us. So they walked with us on Saturday to invite everyone to church! One awesome thing about Tonga is that EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday. So of course there are no excuses for not coming to church. If you're not going to our church, you're going to some other church. Our ward is small. Many of it's leaders are very young! The members of the bishopric and ward mission leader are all in their 20's. I counted about 40 people in Sacrament Meeting, so we have LOTS of reactivating to do. I bore my testimony in Sacrament Meeting and I thought it was a success because nobody laughed like they did in The Other Side of Heaven. THANK GOODNESS. Although, a man did come up to me afterwards and say, "Well I think you will need a companion who speaks fluently to ever learn the language." I got the subtle (not so subtle) hint haha. Tongans are very straight up and open.
I'm not too worried about gaining weight, at least while I'm serving in Pea! Our diet has consisted of Chow (or Top Ramen noodles without water--of course hot water is not a thing here) and crackers for breakfast, and chicken for dinner every day. It is spicy so I'm thinking that by the end of the mission I will acquire the tongue for spicy foods! Hopefully! Last night was the first night that we were served real Tongan food (not Kolo food from town) for fafanga. We had Lu, meat wrapped in leaves, and Manioke. It was good, especially after a long day of walking!
We have 3 new investigaters this week! We went to one of the Chinese stores and started talking to the Chinese guy working there. I kept trying to talk to him in Tongan and he had to clarify that he doesn't speak Tonga. WAHOO!! I felt like Elder Calhoun, again. haha His english is very poor, but we have been teaching him through pictures and broken english. It is hard for him to accept that we did not evolve from monkeys, but I sense that he has a desire deep down to believe. Another one we met while inviting people to church. A Palangi school teacher!! I have been soo blessed because we can teach in English.
I love you all! God bless
Sister Betteridge


Our cute little abode.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

On our way!

Dear Family,

Well, time really flew and in 2 more days I'll be off and outta here!! I thought I was ready and I THOUGHT I could speak Tongan...before yesterday. A tongan elder (who is actually flying to his home with us to get his visa) said the prayer at in-field orientation yesterday and we told him to say it in Tongan so we could try to understand. He spoke so fast I couldn't tell one word from another and I could not even make out the "Dear Heavenly Father" that I was expecting to hear...He came and sat down and we all just stared at each other thinking the same thing. We asked him if he was speaking Tonga, hoping that he was trilingual or something, but yep he was. haha OH NO I felt like Elder Calhoun --"That's not what they taught me in the MTC."  

One really neat thing that I love about the MTC is how international it is! There are missionaries from all over the world and it's cool to see parts of each culture in such a small space. We've been able to meet many missionaries from Tonga also. Last Saturday we had a 4th of July celebration and in it they had a flag parade. A missionary going to the country and a missionary from the country got to hold each flag and I got to hold the Tongan one with a sister from Tonga. It was fun to get to know her and talk more about the mission from her perspective! We are getting pretty anxious to leave! They even let us stay up to watch the fireworks. But by the time we got out of the devotional/celebration I was super exhausted and wasn't super enthused by the late fireworks. You know you're a missionary when it's only 10:30 and you rather sleep than watch fireworks on the 4th of July. Or maybe that's just what being an adult feels like. haha. 

Last P-day we got to clean the temple because it's shut down for maintenance. We helped clean chandeliers and WOW I have a very deep appreciation for people who make, clean, or do anything with chandeliers. It took me 3 hours to take down and put together 3 of them while others were cleaning the crystal..and they were just the tiny ones on the wall! But it was cool to think about why we have to clean and take such good care of them so meticulously. It is the Lord's house and it deserves the utmost of respect. But next time anyone goes into sealing room #9 in the Provo temple, just think of me when you see how clean those wall chandeliers are. (:

It TOTALLY is a dream temperature in Tonga right now. That's how it was when we went for HEFY. But it is "winter" there, what they call the wet season. I've heard their summers are almost unbearable, so we'll see! Apparently it's been pretty rainy there the past week. It's down pouring in Utah right now so I think God is preparing us for the weeks ahead of us. Hence, the picture of us appreciating the rain at the MTC. 

This week has been amazing and I have felt God's love for me immensely. For starters, we watched Elder Packers funeral an hour or so ago. As I reflected on the idea of dying and the plan of salvation, I couldn't help but think of HOW COOL it is!! I have always known that death is only goodbye for now and see you later. But it hit me that death is so exciting!! Yes, we have to say goodbye to some people for short while, but we will be going to the spirit world where our parents will be and all of our loved ones will be that have already passed on. I think it relates somewhat to serving an 18 mo/2 yr mission. We will be pretty sad to be ending our mission wherever that may be and to leave the people we have grown to love, but really, we are going home. We are going back to the parents that brought us up and the people who love us tremendously. I'm so grateful for the knowledge I have of the Plan of Salvation. It is beautiful. 

Well, it is so good to hear from you! Sounds like there were almost some casualties at the island (; Be safe and don't fall in!! But if you do just get it on film so there is evidence when I get back! haha Love you all so much <3 Have a great week!

Sister Betteridge

Hard to say goodbye to teachers!

enjoying the rain

Sweet stranger took our photos in the airport to send to family!!
On our way to Tonga!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Male famili!

Well I thought I would be in the MTC forever, but looks like I'm leaving pretty soon! Time just keeps speeding up and I have no idea where it went. We leave SL next Sunday (the 12th) and fly to LA, LA to New Zealand, and New Zealand to Nuku'alofa. So we leave Sunday and arrive in Tonga late Tuesday night (due to the time change and layovers). I'm getting more anxious to leave now! I want to start talking to real people! Yesterday, our teachers admitted they are giving up on us. Since they feel like they have taught us everything they can (which I don't believe), they don't know what else to teach. Sooo they like to tell us Tongan stories about spirit turtles and what not.   I like to count the victories here in the MTC. And one of those victories was the realization that I've studied French for four years and Tongan for a little over four weeks and I feel more comfortable talking and teaching a lesson in Tongan than I do in French. The spirit is AMAZING. I know that if I had studied Tongan anywhere but here in the MTC for four weeks or even much longer, I'd be no where near where I am now with the language. Brother Fisher said that people study Tongan for YEARS to get to where we are now. Apparently agents have been skeptical and have come to visit MTC's in the past because  they want to know why missionaries learn languages so fast. I have always wondered that myself. I figured that the gift of tongues was magic. Now I understand what it takes. Lots of work. Lots of faith. And lots of heavenly help. I'm going to need a little more heavenly help, though, to help me say a new word that I learned this week from the scriptures. It's "mahuhuhuhu," which means piercing. Try saying that one fast! Or maybe it's just me. I can't say it for the life of me and so whenever we would come across it as we read 3 Nephi 3:11, of course it would always be my turn and then everyone would laugh at me. haha I'll keep working on it.

My sweet companion, Sister Moreno, went home earlier this week due to health problems. She worked so hard and after many challenging weeks, President Willes practically FORCED her to go home to get better. She is an example of courage and faith to me and I am so grateful I was able to serve with her. I am so excited to see her recover and join us again in the Pacific Islands. I am now in a trio with Sister Emch and Sister Stokes. Sister Stokes is serving in New Zealand and Sister Emch will be in Tonga with me (: 

We received 15 new Fijian missionaries this week, which DOUBLED our zone. There are 3 sisters from Papa New Guinea and Tahiti. The sister from Tahiti can only speak French and understands verryyy little English, which is a challenge! I can't even imagine having to learn Fijian AND English in an English training center. Heavenly Father really does have a sense of humor! When I heard that she only speaks French I thought WAHOO I can help!! It was pretty depressing to learn, however, how much I have forgotten after trying to speak with her. Hopefully it's been enough to help her feel loved and welcomed. The three of them are just the cutest. Within the first night, we received knitted bags from Papa New Guinea and blouses and necklaces. It is very much the polynesian way and it amazes me how excited they are to give. We realized how slow Americans are to give when we felt that all we could offer were Sister Emch's favorite SnapPeas. We will keep working on that. We need to tell them, though, that they should save their gifts for people in Fiji. 

Last week we taught another volunteer member, and we were able to teach a cute old Tongan lady about receiving answers to our prayers. I shared with her the story of how I decided to serve a mission. Barely into it, I started crying as I felt the spirit testify of the significance of that experience. It was a very tender moment because the lady then shared her own story and started to cry. Although I couldn't understand most of it, I felt the spirit as she talked about receiving answers to her prayers. It is that feeling and experience that I rely on when it gets difficult here. President Willes shared with us a good message on enduring to the end. It's discouraging and unimaginable sometimes to see the end and what we need to do to get there. Whether that's learning the language, completing a mission, overcoming an addiction, or making it back to the presence of our Heavenly Father. All we need to do is endure today. Work as hard as you can today. Then start over the next day. If we get discouraged thinking about the end and feeling that it will never come, we may let days go by where we aren't doing as well as we should or moving away from Christ. So just endure today. 

I love all so much! Have a wonderful week <3

Sister Betteridge