Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hello family and friends!

Here are some updates on the 2 investigators that I talked about last week--Soni and Niutei. Soni and his 2 younger sisters, Moala and Koela, were baptized on Saturday!! It's been very rewarding to see the change in Soni's life from the time we started teaching him to his baptism and I'm even more excited for him to receive the priesthood next week and get his temple recommend, as well as Moala his little sister, who is apparently 13 but looks like she is 9.  But anyways, when we first started teaching Soni, it was pretty hard to find him to teach because he was always out drinking and smoking with his friends or working. Regardless, we kept teaching and committing him to live the commandments, with the help of his fellow-shipper who helped us find him quite a bit. His mom, Lia, is the less-active woman who hadn't been to church since she was a little girl, but has recently come back to church with 3 of her kids who were baptized on Saturday. During one visit awhile ago, we asked how Soni was and she went off about how he was never home because he was always out drinking with his friends and would come home completely wasted quite a few times a week. But she realized as she explained that she couldn't think of a time that he had come home drunk that week and the week before that it was only a couple times. We were really excited to hear that because it had been the week before that we committed him to live the Word of Wisdom. After we explained to her that we had been teaching him next door and because she hadn't known this until that moment, a look of shock and happiness spread all over her face. To her, it was a miracle and she looked so grateful. It made sense to her that the gospel was helping him live a better life, which is what she wanted for him. Since then, when he isn't working we can almost always find him at home with his younger siblings and cousins, helping her mom take care of their crazy kids. Although he couldn't keep the commitments perfectly at first, when he finally did he said that it was really hard but that he was happy and free.
Niutei unfortunately didn't come to church this week because he was apparently to shy to come to stake conference with that many people and we are pushing back his baptismal date. But we had a couple awesome teachings with him this last week. We learned that the only reason he started listening to us was because he felt bad for us. And look what came from it! We had actually been teaching his younger sisters and their friends for awhile and one day when we visited, he was there and asked us what we were doing and if we could share whatever it was with him too. The first time we sat down with him and invited him to be baptized, he knew that the invitation we extended couldn't be denied--When you know that these things are true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized. But he didn't want to make any big decision, but instead just learn more. After inviting him to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon, he read it and came back with a chapter that was all marked and highlighted, EVEN THOUGH it was an unplanned lesson on a P-day because we happened to run into him in the street and he HAPPENED to have his Book of Mormon with him. He knew the Book of Mormon was true, he knew the church was true, and when we re-invited him to be baptized, he said yes with no pause or hesitation. From that point, his desire to learn has grown and his willingness to keep his commitments (besides attend church last sunday.. ahem) has increased. Which is awesome because he is the youth leader in the Wesleyan church which is huge and he is willing to give it up. After all this, we come to find that the only reason he started listening to us in the first place was because his younger siblings kept lying to us and he felt bad. But when we started teaching him the lessons, he felt something and he knew that there was something bigger to it all and he had a huge desire to learn more. It was so cool I got the chills listening to him. His fellow-shipper was able to explain how faith, repentance, and baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is just the beginning. There is SO much more to learn and there is so much more we all continue to learn after we are baptized. And this statement is very very true.

Love you all!
Sister Petalisi

Papi a Soni, Moala, mo Koela

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dear Family--

Work this week was on point and our focus has been mainly towards our investigators with baptismal dates and TRYING to find new investigators on our own efforts and through the members. But the good news is that the 4 investigators that are preparing to be baptized this Saturday all came to church yesterday! It has been very rewarding seeing the change and the progress of those we are preparing for baptism. I think just as much joy comes from seeing the shock of the members. Two of these investigators that have baptismal dates in particular come from backgrounds that have unfortunately caused lots of judgement to come in their direction from members and nonmembers. Nutei, who has struggled with his sexual identity, and Soni, who has struggled with drugs, drinking, and smoking for years. As we first started teaching them, we'd get lots of comments like--Good luck with that sisters--or--don't waste your time. But as we have focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our discussions and asking inspired questions, we've been able to see changes in their lives and they've both received a hope that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. The spirit can truly change ANYONE. It was fun to see the shock on the members faces when they learned that they'd be getting baptized within the next 2 weeks and when they showed up to church. 

One thing we have been working on as a mission is asking INSPIRED QUESTIONS. Sometimes as teachers or missionaries, it is easy to get carried away and start talking too much. But when we talk too much we are only getting in the way of the spirit who is the real teacher. As I've worked on getting out of the way by talking less and listening more through inspired questions, I've noticed a huge huge difference in the results of the lessons. This is not only an important lesson for missionaries, but teachers in every aspect--missionaries, teachers, parents, friends. Because the spirit is the only teacher that can truly change someone.  
Love you all tons and have a stellar week. 

Sister Petalisi
The 2 girls hiding behind the book are 2 of the 4 getting baptized on Saturday.  They belong to the half Tongan/half Indian family and they are the cutest!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hi Family!

This one will be short, don't have lots of time! This week was a killer week and tons I wish I could share, but due to the time, I will share one experience that stuck out to me in particular. We had the chance to sit down with a man who has been a member for years, as well as his wife, but they go to the Wesleyan church. It became clear as we asked him questions that even though he may have forgotten some important doctrines in the fullness of the gospel due to his long absence away from the church, he still had a testimony. When I realized this, I asked him why he chose to start going to the Wesleyan church with his family if he knows the church is true. He then began to share his conversion story as a young teenager and why he stopped coming. His reasons stemming from a lack of friendship and love from the members and likewise from the missionaries who taught him, but stopped coming to visit after his baptism and completely lost contact. Yes, it's easy to sit down and point fingers and try to discern who was the real cause of his falling away from the church. Maybe it could seem like he was converted to the social aspect more than he was to the gospel. But as I listened to him, it nearly brought me to tears because I could just feel the depth of his pain that he had been inflicted with and it almost made me mad too! 5 years ago, his 10 year old son, Tevita, experienced something similar to what he had. And after a month or two of going to church on his own and receiving little attention, he made his way back to the Wesleyan church with his family, where he felt loved. It is so important to teach the doctrine to the understanding of others so that they can become completely converted to the gospel of Christ. But just as important, it is so so so important to LOVE. Because I have grown up in the church and my church family is all I've known, I haven't always understood the unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings converts have when they join the church and their STRONG need for love, support, and fellowship. I hope that we can all learn a lesson from this man's story and commit ourselves to look for those who need our love. Maybe we can help those who are still searching for the truth to find it through our love and support. 

Have a LOVEly week, ofa atu!!!
Sister Petalisi

Zone  Conference

You know your members love you when they give you a whole pizza and make you eat all of it.
Sorry,  Couldn't get this to rotate!
Angel neighbor helping us with our laundry.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dear Family,

Well you'll be glad to hear that the storms have disappeared and Tonga is back to it's wonderful humidity and heat. These past few days I have done lots of reflecting on the past few months that I've been in Pea and one of the biggest causes of my joy is seeing and experiencing the growth of this ward and how it has evolved over the past 6 months. As I sat in church yesterday, I felt nothing but pure joy as I thought back to my very first sunday coming to the ward and finding only a few families enter the chapel. One of the member's daughters who often visits from New Zealand came to visit this week and as we greeted her at the door she asked if we were combined with another ward because of how many people filled the chapel. It's been very rewarding spending this much time in one area and seeing it's growth over time. Two of our investigators that we are now preparing for their baptism were first invited by a member to hear our message and being strongly fellowshipped by them. Another member is helping us work towards her less-active husband and friend. To anyone, this sounds like a normal, but great thing. But one of these members is the 11 year old girl we taught and was baptized just 5 months ago. Another is a man that has come back to church from inactivity, rebaptized due to a lost membership, and now preparing to go through the temple. The last one is a woman that has also come back to church strong and preparing for the temple within the last few months. It gives me great joy seeing these 3, who weren't members or active not too long ago helping us work with these other 4 to come back to church or be baptized with their own personal experiences and strong testimonies. The power of bringing just one individual to the gospel is strong. The Lord's work is beautiful!

Another highlight of this week was an unplanned lesson that we just finished with Nutei, a couple hours ago. Walking from another teaching that fell through, we ran into Nutei at a little store on the side of the road and he was really excited to see us and asked if we were available then to teach him instead of our later planned lesson tonight. He came out of the store with his Book of Mormon already in his hand and we sat down outside of the little store to teach him. Before we even opened with a prayer and asked if he had read the chapter we asked him to read, he opened up his scriptures to the chapter which was all marked and highlighted. After the prayer, we asked him to share his thoughts about the reading and he shared a beautiful testimony about the baptism and enduring to the end. He also said that he knew the church was true and when we reextended the same baptismal invitation that he wasn't so sure to before, he said yes without hesitation!! And after we set the date he asked us what he should wear. One of his friends was also present in the lesson and he also said yes to baptism but it may have been due to some peer pressure because Nutei pretty much answered yes for him when we invited his friend to be baptized. But that's okay because he is at least a new investigator and we will keep teaching him! 

Well I love you all! The church is true.
Sister Petalisi

Vilo hoa with HOLA
(?? not sure what that means)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Dear family,

2016 is looking up! 1st week of the year was definitely a solid one and has set a good tone for a year of lots of hard work, sweat, and the rest of it. The New Year in Tonga was welcomed with a cyclone and power outage, which was very good for us because one, with the wind it was not super super hot. And two, EVERYONE was home! It was amazing. We were able to find some of our investigators that have seemed to fall off the face of the earth as well as everyone we have been working with. Everyone was kind of confused being that we were one of the few walking outside despite the storm and the normal response when we showed up at their door was--But sisters what are you doing? It's raining. Rain seems to be some Tongan superstition because when it rains, everybody stays clear of it. But being that I'm from Washington, a rainy day is just another day. More good news is that cyclones don't hit this island pretty hard so there wasn't much damage, just a few fallen trees. 

Other than everyone being home for most of the week due to the cyclone, my highlight of the week was with one of our investigators, Nutei, who is a fakaleiti if any of you know what that is. If not, that's okay! He's a child of God who we just started teaching last week and he's awesome! When we invited him to read the Book of Mormon and handed him one that I had in my hand he was so shocked. He asked to make sure he heard us right that we were giving it to him and not the invisible being next to him and when we gave it to him and smiled so big and I think he may have even hugged it a little. But just remember he is in his 20s so you can get the picture right. He said when he saw the book in our bag the first time we talked to him briefly, he wanted to ask for it but was just too shy. We left his house thinking FINALLY, someone understands! That's how everyone is supposed to react when they're given a Book of Mormon because if they don't they don't know what is inside! It was a little breath of fresh air from the usual response we get when we invite people to read the Book of Mormon because Tongans love love love their Bible and are superstitious to any other book that is professed to be as amazing as the Bible. 

Well I love you all! This church is true because is Christ's church and he stands at the head. I'm so so grateful for the wholeness and perfection we can receive in this life, despite our imperfections, because of our Savior. Each day is an opportunity to start new and make new goals to recommit yourself to the Savior and his gospel. 

Sister Petalisi