Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hello family!
The highlight of this last week was the MUSICAL FIRESIDE! Nobody in the ward had faith that it would be successful, so we were feeling very happy when we proved everyone wrong! haha It was a very nice program and more people came to it than there has ever been at church on Sunday. Very cool. Sister Moala and I don't have many issues to worry about, but one that we do have is singing together. One night during planning we decided to make it a goal to start singing to the people we teach. It started out as a great idea because we both love singing and harmonizing, but for some reason, we can't make it through 2 verses without bursting into laughter. It starts out great and invites the spirit so we feel confident enough to go on to the 2nd, and then always, ALWAYS we start laughing. Either I screw up a Tongan word or our voices crack or we miss  a note and we just lose it. Well, we decided anyways that we had to sing at the fireside because we needed more numbers--we just never learn. We knew we would laugh if it was just us so we had Seini Tauelangi, one of the members we're very close to, sing with us because she's on point and we THOUGHT she wouldn't laugh. Well, I don't know what happened, but all 3 of us couldn't finish the song. So we've learned to stop singing completely for other people because we just can't. Other than that tidbit, the fireside was amazing!! Everyone was socializing and eating together after and I am so excited to plan the next one!! (Without Sister Moala and I in the program).
This week we hope to finally accomplish our goal and meet everyone in Pea! That is exciting. We also just found out that they are getting 3 new cars for the sisters! Sister Moala should be getting one soon so that will be a big change for us and probably a few more pounds too..Transfers are this week which is exciting. There are 3 more palangis coming this week and one of them is being trained by a palangi, Sister Faux. That should be interesting and we are all very nervous about it, especially Sister Faux!
Love you lots!! Have a great week
Sister Petalisi
Dear Family,                                                                                                  August 16th.  

This week was exciting for a couple of reasons..One being that Fapiola was baptized yesterday! The service was beautiful and my experience with meeting and teaching her taught me a lot! It taught me that the Lord really does prepare people to receive the gospel and that I must do all I can to find those people. It also taught me that I must be patient and let everything happen in the Lord's timing. We were doing all we could to find people with no luck and when we asked God to help us find those ready to receive the message, He gave us Fapiola who was already waiting to be taught. He prepared her by giving her that desire to learn English. And he prepared her through her uncle, who her family has deep respect for. Her uncle, who is a member of the church, lives in New Zealand and came to visit for the weekend. It's a miracle that the weekend her uncle was planning on coming to visit from New Zealand is the weekend that she is ready to be baptized because her Mom didn't want her to be baptized otherwise. I hope and pray that all of her family will also be receptive to the gospel, but I also must be patient because everyone has their agency. Fapiola stood up to bear her testimony after she was baptized. Her emotional and simple testimony was SO powerful. I sometimes forget how blessed I am to have the gospel in my life. Seeing others receive it reminds me of how much it blesses me and how much it changes lives. It also makes me even more excited to share it with everyone. 

Another exciting event of this week was with one of our other investigators. Dominika has wanted to be baptized since we first started talking to her, but her parents are anti-Mormon so we haven't been able to teach her because she's 17. So we've just been visiting whenever we see her on the street and checking up on our commitment to talk to her parents. Other than that, we've kept our distance so she isn't hurt by her parents. We walked by the house and her mom smiled at us and acknowledged us. That was very strange and so we felt like we should go talk to her and ask about Dominika. Dominika came out and said her mom gave her permission to talk with us! She still needs to talk to her Father about it, but we are very happy with each baby step!

Well I love you all and I love this gospel! The message of the gospel is so amazing and beautiful and TRUE. 

Sister Petalisi

(Sorry I'd send a picture of the baptism but we can't where we are emailing)
Dear Family,                                                                                                        August  9th

OH MY GOODNESS!! I'm glad you are all okay and no one was harmed in the accident, what a miracle. And it sounds like the canoe trip was wonderful and beautiful! It's been very wet and rainy here this week! The streets were covered in puddles and there are many flooded areas on the sides of the road. We were so excited for today because we were going to go play in the rain with the little kids, but of course it all cleared up today. I was very grateful when it started raining for multiple reasons. It gets very hot walking around in the sun and the rain is refreshing. My personal motto for the mission that I picked up in the MTC is "Firm in principle, flexible in procedure." It can be applied to many aspects of the mission, such as adjusting lessons to meet people's needs, being patient with others without compromising your standards, etc. Since I have been in Pea, I have found a new application for it. I'll just say that standards of living here are slightly different and our water likes to shut off at very inconvenient times. Many times, it has decided to shut off while I'm showering or brushing my teeth which makes things slightly awkward. Thankfully, we've had a water-bottle around to somewhat finish the job. Other times, showering or brushing teeth just never happens. I'm pretty sure God made it rain here because he knew I needed it and man I was SO grateful!
We have mostly been working with less-actives here and trying to meet more people! It can be challenging to be selective with who we work with because almost EVERYONE is open to our message. They are all very religious and love to listen to the message we have about Christ, let us in their home, and feed us. The joke is, though, that there's always 1 house in every village that reacts negatively and yells at you if you try talking to them. Well, we finally found that 1 house!
Sister Moala and I decided to start teaching an english class to anyone who wants to learn on Thursdays. We told a few kids about it and gave them hand-outs to pass around and man the whole village showed up! It was awesome! I think I counted 20 or so. We talked about emotions and had a fun game prepared that we couldn't play because there were too many. So we instead created an obstacle course for them outside the church which they loved. This week we will teach them an English Hymn so that they can come sing it at the musical fireside we are putting together in our ward and they can invite their families as well. I am super excited for it!
Well I love you all! I am glad that everyone is safe and alive. You are always in my prayers <3 Ofa lahi atu kiate kimoutolu.
Sister Petalisi

My vahe (district) at zone conference!

Two cute boys that love to follow us around on the streets. We gave them our coconuts.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Dear Family,

This week was amazing and FILLED with miracles!! Where do I start? Well first off, we moved back into our cute little house that has been repainted and what not because the mission president's wife made us. Probably because we were having too much fun in Veitongo with those sisters. It's okay, I was getting really lazy being in a car all the time (because they are the only sisters with a car and would drive us to our area every day and then pick us up). Also, now we are back to our regular eating schedule. Since there were the 4 of us, both companionships had 2 fafangas (meals) every day which meant we had twice as much food and it made me pretty sick. After learning our lesson, Sister Moala and I would hide in the back of the car so that their fafanga didn't see us because if they did they would make us come inside and eat. This girl can only hold so much food oiaue! The one down side is that our days are shorter. Walking takes much longer, especially from our MQ which is in another village, Ha'ateiho, next to Pea, where we are serving. President Tupou said that companion-ships that have a Palangi sister have to be walking home as soon as it starts getting dark, which is about 6:30 here. Not fun when there are SO many people we want to meet and teach.
It started off pretty challenging in Pea because the ward is small and the members weren't jumping on the opportunity to get us referrals, which is hard because this is a "working through members mission." People joke around about going to a random house like in America and will say things like, since when was this a proselyting mission? We would pass house after house to go visit the little amount of members we have and I felt like we were getting no where. No referrals, 1 investigater, and no less-actives coming to church. (50% of the Tongans are members of the church, but only about 5% actually go to church--at least that's what Sister Tupou said). I felt strongly that we should start "knocking" and when I brought it up to Sister Moala, we made it a goal to eventually meet EVERYONE in Pea. Taking it slowly of course. So many teachings and experiences have come of it! One lady from Samoa with 3 small kids, for example, let us in who was very excited to see us. She said that all of her siblings and family in Samoa has been through the temple and she is the only one that hasn't been sealed because her husband's mom is very anti. This is a very common problem here. Return missionaries,even, come home and marry someone of a different faith and then become less-active because they have to follow their husbands. Or teenagers that don't get baptized because their parents are strong Catholic. So we are focusing on a couple other families with this same problem. But she was different because I could see that it was a huge burden for her. When she saw us walking to her door, she said she saw angels at her door. We are having family night with her family later this week and I'm excited!
One night, we were walking home because it was starting to get dark, but we decided to stop at one last house that we were passing. A 17 year old girl, who was in mid swing in the backyard at some yummy meal she was cooking up, stopped when she heard us and ran over to us. She spoke in very good english and said that her cousin was serving in Vaini and asked if we knew him. He had given her a Book of Mormon to read and she was devastated because she had lost it. She went on to testify of the book and how much it meant to her. So, of course, she was so happy when we happened to have one that we could give her. She knew nothing else of the mormon church and knew nothing of Joseph Smith, yet she had a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon because she had read parts of it and prayed. We talked with her for a bit and then asked if she had any questions. It was the cutest thing in the world when she asked if there was any possible way for her to become a Mormon. haha OF COURSE. That's kinda why we're here. So we set a baptismal date, but the only problem is her parents don't want her having anything to do with the church. We invited her to bear her testimony to them and pray for guidance and strength. She is willing to do whatever it takes to do the right thing and I admire her so much for that.
So 2 of our goals this week was to get more referrals from the members and get more people to church! 2 hours before church yesterday, we walked around inviting everyone and making sure the people who said they would come were getting ready, in particular a few families we have been working closely with. When we walked into church 20 min early, the ENTIRE BACK ROW was filled!! 3 less-active families that haven't made it in a long time were sitting in the back row. And yes, that's only 3 families. But 3 families is a miracle for our small ward! The girl I talked about in my last e-mail who asked to learn english also made it with her mom, sister, and older brother who was baptized, but less-active. I watched the members faces as they saw the new families and could see the sparkle of hope and joy in their eyes. A Tongan man from America was also attending our ward and bore his testimony. He talked about how he was getting ready to come to church, when 2 sisters came to the door making sure that his family, who aren't all members, were coming to church. He talked about how happy he was when he saw us walking around and doing this. He went on, practically calling the members to repentance, saying that they need to help with the work because it isn't only our job. I know that God heard our prayers and sent us that man to help the members become excited about missionary work. The funny part of the story is that I only know this from my companion. When she listened to this man speak, she was so happy and was just feelin it. The spirit was so strong and she thought--Oh man I wonder if Sister Petalisi is feelin this too. And when she looked over at me, I was completely knocked out. Man, I was so tired I couldn't stay awake. (Thanks mom, I think I take after you). But I woke up and she and Fapiola and her sister were both leaning forward laughing at me. It got better though, and this part I was awake for! Two of the members got up and bore their testimony directly to Sane, Fapiola's mother, who is not too crazy about the whole baptism thing but only allowing it because her brother is like a father to them and is planning on baptizing them next week. Oh yeah, I don't think I mentioned that. But Fapiola is planning on getting baptized next week when her Uncle from New Zealand gets here. After the meeting, many members came up to her and welcomed her. I have never seen her so happy! She had a huge smile on her face and wanted to take a picture with us so she could send it to her brother in New Zealand. The members were so surprised by our efforts to find people this week. Andy the end of one day, we had 8 referrals! It was awesome (:
Well I love you all. I hope you have a stellar time on the canoe trip! But more importantly, don't forget to be a light to all those around you.
Sister Petalisi

Fapiola and her mother.