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.

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