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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 2017

Our Sunday, July 23, 2017 / His Monday, July 24, 2017


Mom,

Wow a musical sacrament meeting. That actually sounds very cool. If I had to choose a song I would probably choose hymn number 227 “There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today.” I like that one just because it has a very positive message. That we should be happy and positive always. But it also has a line in the chorus I think it says something about seeing Jesus' smiling face, there is sunshine in my soul today. Just thinking about seeing our Redeemer’s face smiling at us should bring us the greatest joy in this life. I read Bruce R. McConkie's talk about the atoning sacrifice in Gethsemane and it gives a pretty good description of all the pain and suffering that the Savior experienced just so that we could all have the opportunity to repent. It is truly a great talk. I think that it was actually the last talk he gave before passing away. It helps us learn more about the Savior. So I recommend it to all. Unfortunately we were unable to baptize our investigator last week. It is really sad because Lile, she really wants to be baptized and I believe that she has a true testimony in our church. The only reason that she wasn’t baptized was because her mom doesn’t want her to be baptized. Which is hard. The thing is Lile's mom has already been to the temple but she has fallen away from the church. So it is a very unfortunate thing. But we are not giving up on her, I still believe in her. But other than that, this last week was good. I miss you and love you all very much. I hope all is well.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Hey there pops,

I’m doing well. I get to stay another lovely transfer in Vaotu’u. That will make it 5 transfers. The Book of Mormon really is a special book. Like Joseph said, there is no other book more perfect than that one. I often find that as soon as you open the Book of Mormon and read, that you immediately feel the Spirit. It just proves that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and is true scripture to help guide us in these latter days. Ever since President Monson gave his talk in General Conference about the Book of Mormon. I've made sure I read that book every day even if I’m studying something else. So just because you are reading the D&C doesn’t mean you stop reading the Book of Mormon every day. I've just started studying the life of David from the Bible and David was truly a righteous lad when he was young. He had such great confidence in the Lord that he knew the Lord would protect his people from the Philistine armies. And because he had such great confidence in the Lord, he was willing to take on Goliath. That is a great story that everyone can learn from. We each have our own Goliaths in our lives whether it be school, work, family or whatever but as long as you have confidence and faith in the Lord, you should have nothing to fear. That is my spiritual thought for you today. I hope it helps in some way. Remember to hire me when I get back haha.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Missy!!!! Yay for getting a job! I’m so proud of you! Does this mean you are moving to Utah? Does this mean you won’t be home when I get back? Elder Enos was happy to receive his can opener he thanks you very much. He thinks that you are the coolest person ever because he sees the postcards and stuff you sent. And he's right, you are the coolest sister in the world. There is nothing in particular I need in my box. I do ask though for the flaming hot cheetos. But you can choose everything else. Transfers just happened and you’ll never believe where I’m going... I’m staying again haha. That is 5 transfers in Vaotu’u. I’ll be in Vaotu’u for 8 months of my mission. Impressive aye. During this transfer I hit my year mark!!! August 24!!! I’m excited. Time has already flown so fast and people tell me that the second year even goes faster. Love you lots, good luck on your new job.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke 

"Us working on the primary program. We spent like half a day working on it. We were making activities and stuff for the primary kids so that they can learn the 13th article of faith. It was fun and after the program we ate a special treat...cinnamon rolls! it was really fun."

"Us being goofy at the beach."


"I got someone to carve my hymn book and put Tongan designs and stuff on it to make it look cool."



Our Sunday, July 16. 2017 / His Monday, July 17, 2017


Mom,

Happy p-day mom! Let me recount some things that have happened this past week. Let's start with last Thursday. Last Thursday I saw some miracles. Last Thursday we did a zone fast. We fasted for our investigators and to help us achieve our goal of getting 15 baptisms in these last two weeks. We started our fast around noonish. And I started to see some miracles just that night. One, we met up with an old investigator and were able to teach her again. Two we were able to find three new investigators just that night. And it has been wonderful teaching those people. I’ve learned a lot and I can surely testify that fasting works and there is a special power when one does fast properly.

The work out here is starting to progress. We were able to get 5 new investigators last week. What we've started to do with the ward mission leader is set up a teaching every day with a family. We walk around with him and go to houses and commit them to a day that we will be able to teach someone. It's been pretty effective because we have new investigators. So I’m glad to say that the work is improving. Everything is great out here on the island.

There aren’t any mountains on this island but on Eua and Vavau there are big hills.

It is great to hear about the wedding and that some people remember me out there. I can't believe that they picked Danny and Sean to DJ... must’ve been something special. I’m glad to hear that Bern and Carlos are doing well, and that they are going to go honeymoon in OC. There's no place like it. And Spencer is deciding to get married. hmmmm so that makes Alfredo, Danny, Bernadette, and soon to be Spencer, all married while I'm in Tonga. Alrighty then.

I hope everyone is doing well out there in Maryland.

Love you,
Elder Bethke


Miss,

I got the package, it was wonderful. This week was pretty interesting, we had to sing in the stake fireside this past Sunday. Let me say the fireside was great, but maybe our song wasn’t that great haha. We sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and it was alright. I very much enjoyed eating the candy in the package. Also the sweats were like wearing a cloud. Thanks very much!! Oh I sent a package home! It doesn’t have any shirts in it but it does have some other cool stuff. It has stuff from Tonga and from Fiji in it. It might take a while to get home though. I gave it to the zones today so they might’ve already given it to the office to send. This past week has been good for work. We found a couple new investigators this past week. I'm trying to have a baptism with my son (Max's trainee, Elder Hafoka) before transfers. We have re-met up with the one of the girls we have been teaching and set up a baptismal date for this week! So I’m hoping everything works out well for that one. Be happy.

'ofaatu,

Elder Bethke








Our Sunday, July 9, 2017 / His Monday, July 10, 2017



Hello Mom,

How is everything at home? This past week was better than last week. This past week we had the ward mission leader come and go door to door with us. Since he knows everyone really well and lives there it made it way easier to work with the other people. We set up a lot of new goals with the ward. We set up that we are going to have 2 baptisms every week which is a high setting goal. We also set that every family will invite someone to be taught before ward conference which is in August. So I believe that the work here might shoot up these couple of weeks. We went door knocking and from what I’ve been able to see I haven’t seen any success. But who knows aye.

When I go to church, I usually go to Sunday School with the old people but then I go to the young men’s priesthood class. But sometimes I switch it up. But if an investigator comes I usually teach them during Sunday School. So it just depends.

I haven’t got my package yet, but I figured out that my cord still works but my comp used all the battery on my camera sending pics home, so I might be able to send pics later, but I will for sure send pics next week.

I hope everything is going well. Wow I can't believe Jacob and Daniel got their mission calls. I’m really excited for them. That means when I get back that Evan, Daniel, and Jacob won't be there. That's almost my entire family from deacons on up. At least I’ll have David still around, if he hasn’t gone to his mission yet.

I’m working hard and am happy. Obedience can be hard but I see the blessings of when one is truly obedient to the Lord’s will. I’m doing my best. I love the Lord and I’m trying to become like him one step at a time. I learned yesterday in church to not have a casual relationship with the Lord. Just like with our friends, we should be excited to talk to them and see them and hear from them. We must not have just a casual relationship with Heavenly Father. That means that we must pray every moment and have the desire to meet with Him someday. We will only have that desire if we obey his commandments and follow his rules. Read the scriptures often, you will find what the Lord wants you to do on that specific day and hour. I love you lots!!


"Here is my companion trying to be the saint in the pic."​ 
"We took pics at the Catholic church in our area. It was pretty cool."



"Here is the man who makes the cake I eat everyday​."

"Me and my companion just being silly on top of our member's fence​."


"​This kid is named Juni and he is from America.
I never realized that the kids in Tonga and America are so different. but they're both great."

"These are some bomb burgers that someone made foe us. It was super good and it tasted like freedom."




Our Monday, July 3, 2017 / His Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Hi Mom,

Happy 4th of July!!!

Next transfer I hit my year mark...and they say that the first year is the slow year. If that is the case this next year will fly by. I’m doing well.  I’m still trying to do my best. I know the people in this town very well. I’ve lived in this town for almost a half a year now so I should become a citizen here. I’ve asked the stake president to give me some land if I ever decide to live here. He said no. But that is ok. I’m sure that if I actually came back he would give me land. But everything is great.

It is still good to here because there always things to improve on. I always worry about the weather. If it rains that means my feet and slippers will get muddy and also my tupenu and that is something that I’m not a fan of.

Let me explain why I was unable to email you yesterday. Yesterday I was at a zone conference for 7 hours so President Tuione told us that our p-day is today for this week!! Yay. The zone conference was very good. I would say that I learned a lot from it and got several reminders to remember and be obedient. So that is what happened yesterday.

I had a pretty sad experience last week that made me pretty angry. Fortunately my anger doesn’t last more than an hour. So let me recount the story. We have been teaching this investigator named Liliana and it has been going really well. We have taught her 3 full lessons and we invited her to be baptized and she said yes. We also invited her to come to church and she came last week. The thing that made me angry, when we went to go talk the one of the members that was helping to fellowship, she told us that our investigator had a bad experience at church. She told us that when she went to young women’s class, some of the young women were making fun of her and the way she dressed. She also got yelled at by the teacher to sit down. She was pretty sad after she went to church. When the member told me that, I was pretty mad at the ward. It made me not want to work as hard because if I was going to work to help bring others to Christ and then others destroy the work that we do, then there is not much of a point to it. So at zone conference I talked to President about it and he told me that what I was going through was a tough situation. He told me not to get mad at the ward and to remember that everyone isn't perfect. As a missionary you really come to learn that everyone isn’t perfect including myself. Then President told me how important love is. And how much more important it is to love others that don't love you back. Basically President reignited my will to work hard and not be angry anymore, so I’m grateful for that. I still haven’t seen Liliana since then but I’m working on a plan to be able to meet with her again.

I still eat cake every day. It is really good. Oh, I started a new challenge. It is the challenge that Russel M. Nelson gave during last general conference. It is to read every single verse in the topical guide under the topic Jesus Christ, and all of the subtitles of Jesus Christ. Russel M. Nelson said that it changed his life and he became a different man. I've only just started the challenge and haven’t even finished the first title and I can see that the way I think is already starting to change. I'm becoming a better person by reading and pondering the life of Christ. I think that would be a great challenge for everyone to do. I’m doing well in Tonga. It is cool here but not cold. Thanks for all that you do for me.

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke


Zone Conference










Monday, June 5, 2017

June 2017

Our Sunday, June 25, 2017 / His Monday, June 26, 2017


Hello Mother,

I cannot believe that our family has a grill. Do you know how long that that has been debated and shot down?? For at least as long I’ve been alive. This week was actually a very productive week at work. We got two new investigators and we set baptismal dates for both. So that is super exciting. It’s rough in this area because from 10-4 everyone is gone to town or work or gone farming so it is hard to do much in this small area during that time. I’d say that this area is a great studying area during that time. This week I had to do my first baptismal interview for someone, then I also did their baptism because it was the sisters’ investigator.

I didn't do anything crazy this week like eat bat or anything but I have eaten cake every day for the past 10 days. It has been a lovely week because of that. Chocolate cake with some coconut on top and it is delightful. It is one of the best cakes I have eaten.

I’ve decided I’m going to try and exercise seriously, maybe. I might get to eat burger king this Saturday because one of the members is going to New Zealand and they said that they would bring me back some!!! So I’m excited.

The dogs at our house had babies. So now I get to play with two new puppies. The weather here is cold. It maybe gets to like 65 degrees at night. Man that is so cold. I don't even know why because in Maryland it gets to 20's and such. But I think it is because we always have to wear slippers so my feet are always cold.

Being a district leader is fine it just means I have to do more things. And my philosophy for training is this... I'm not going to make my son do anything. I'm just going to set a good example for him by doing what is right. And I’ll help him become a fully prepped missionary. Sounds easier than it is, but it's not that hard.

Thanks for telling me about the Book of Mormon challenge. Sounds interesting and something that we might try out here!

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke



"A crab."

"Pics of the new pups."

"My companion, Elder Hafoka, at the ocean."

"My companion pretending to be helpful while building a shower."



Our Sunday, June 18, 2017 / His Monday, June 19, 2017


Hey Mom,

Missionary is so much more work now.  My companion is Elder Hafoka and he is from Hunga, Vava'u. He looks Tongan because he grew up in Tonga and is Tongan. So he already knows Tongan. He has six brothers and sisters and he is also the youngest in his family like me. I know that his older sister served in Misiona Tonga but I’m not sure about the rest of his family. His dad is an engineer. He plays rugby and his dream is to play for the Tongan team. Training is a lot of work though. It is a little different being a leader but not too much. I'd say the main difference now being a leader is that I serve other missionaries besides my companion like before. District Leader isn’t that bad. It's pretty easy but training is way important. My area, you would think it consists of all of those other towns but nope. I just cover the town of Vaotu'u. It is super small. I heard it is actually the smallest area in the mission so that's cool. I feel that the work is going to progress a lot in Vaoutu’u because the old Stake President became our new ward mission leader. It will be way fun to work with him. What he told me today is that we are going to have every family in the ward invite someone to be taught by us, the missionaries. He wants every family to be part of a baptism before this transfer ends. So this will be exciting.

We had Elder Groberg, Kolipoki, come to Tonga and talk to the missionaries. It was pretty cool, he told us about some of the cool experiences he had on his mission. The things he expressed to us were mainly to love everybody, be obedient, serve everyone, and be happy. So that is what I’ll do.

I love you lots and hope everything is going well in America.

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke


Max's new trainee, Elder Hafoka.

Max meeting his new companion and trainee, Elder Hafoka.


"This is me throwing a knife at a tree, but the handle got stuck in the tree instead."

"This is me holding a dead bat. It smells really bad."

"This is them cooking the bat...the end result is me eating the bat. but it tastes a lot like steak."

"This is my companion Elder Hafoka, really excited because he's going to eat a lot of food."



Our Sunday, June 11, 2017 / His Monday, June 12, 2017


Hello Mom,

I have some pretty exciting news. Kolipoki, or Elder Groberg, is coming to Tonga to talk to the missionaries. Elder Groberg, the one who the movie The Other Side of Heaven is about, he's coming to talk to all the missionaries and it's pretty cool. He has already come to Tonga and I helped our next door neighbor make food to cater to him.

To let you know for transfers, I’m staying again in Vaotu'u. But only this time I will be training and I’ll be the district leader. I will say I’m excited to train but I’m not as excited to be district leader. I'll have to do a lot more work because I’m training someone new and the work isn’t the most lively in our area so it will be a lot of fun trying to restart everything in Vaotu'u. Because this is now my 4th transfer in Vaotu'u, I will have at least spent a quarter of my mission in this one area. Which is interesting.

As of right now I’m waiting for my companion to come to Tonga, I’ll meet with him either Thursday or Friday. So right now I’m staying with the zone leaders. So that is fun. I’m not quite sure what else to share right now but I’ll let you know that I’m doing my best out here!

Here is a true fact about Tongan animals, mainly about chickens and eagles (even though there are no eagles in Tonga). So back in the day eagles and chickens were best friends and they couldn’t fly. The eagles got a magic needle from the gods and they used it to sew their wings so they can fly. When the chickens saw the eagles soaring around, they were really jealous. They asked the eagles for the magic needle so they could fly too. The eagles didn't want to give it because they feared the chickens would lose it. But after lots of begging, the eagles finally gave in. But they said to the chickens if they lose the needle, the eagles will hate them forever. So the chickens got the needle and almost instantly lost it. Since then the eagles hate and hunt chickens and the chickens are now in constant search, scratching the ground and pecking around to find the magic needle. True story.

I hope everything is going well in America!

'ofa atu
Elder Bethke



Our Sunday, June 4, 2017 / His Monday, June 5, 2017

Hi Mom,

Well it seems that another member of the family has decided to have a wedding while I’m gone... hmmmm I’m picking up a little trend.

Today is the last p-day of two sisters in our district so we are planning to celebrate that today, by eating dogs, pigs, and having a water balloon fight. So I’m looking forward to this upcoming day.

This week is the last week of transfers. I think I’m smelling a little bit of the outer islands this transfer. At the end of this transfer I will have spent 4 and a half months in the Vao. If I do move I will miss eating all the food at the next door neighbor’s house. Oh snap I forgot, we also had stake conference yesterday and our Stake Pres got released so now it is weird not calling him President. Because he was released we had to members of the 70 come and release him. One of them was Elder Tukuafu who is actually from Tonga, and the other one was Elder Cardone. After stake conference, the missionaries in our stake got invited to a special little gathering and had a feast with all the bishops, new stake presidency, and the old stake presidency and also the two members of the 70. It was really a special experience. The love of Christ and Heavenly Father was very present at the feast. It felt as if it was sacred ground. It was very beautiful. One thing Elder Cardone talked about at stake conference was actually a very interesting topic. He said it was the first time he has talked about that at a stake conference. He talked about patriarchal blessings. He emphasized how the blessing would strengthen us spiritually and will also give us certain blessings as long as we are obedient and keep the commandments. He also emphasized that it is very important to know your Abrahamic tribe. It was a very fun experience.

I want to share a common theme that has often randomly been popping into my head as I have been studying this week. It has come up multiple times this week and it is also something the President Thomas S. Monson has talked about last conference in priesthood session. He talked about charity, the pure love of Christ. For some reason I decided to read the story of Ammon yesterday and I was trying to figure out how he was able to teach Lamoni. And we all know the story very well. Ammon decides to serve Lamoni, he protects his flocks, he is very admirable in his service, the king starts to question who is this amazing man and why is he here and all that, and once Lamoni asks those questions then Ammon begins his lesson. But there is something before all of that that Ammon does to convert Lamoni. First, he loves the Lord, and then he loves his neighbor. It is because of those things he was able to accomplish everything else. Before Ammon left on his mission, he delighted in the scriptures and feasted upon them. He loved the stories of his ancestors and how the Lord’s mercy is bestowed upon them. He spent much of his time loving the Lord before he helped other people. And because he loved the Lord, he decided to help Him in his work. He loved the Lamanites, sure he was afraid at the beginning, but he was willing to risk his life to help them. The first way he showed his love to them was by serving them in whatever they needed done, whether it is protecting the flocks or feeding the horses. Ammon gave up his entire life to go and serve the Lamanites. And because he loved the Lord, and he loved the people around him, he had great success. I believe those two steps are the most important, and once you follow those, the rest of the commandments sort of follow those two important commandments. Jesus said it himself. The greatest commandment is love the Lord thy God. The second is like unto it. Love thy neighbor as ye love thyself. And if we do not follow these things "[we] will be nothing" - Thomas S. Monson, the book of 2nd Nephi, and in Moroni. I know that if we follow those in whatever circumstances we are in, we will be successful and be happy

'ofa lahi atu,
Elder Bethke

Hey Miss,

You will be excited for the news I have. I found a box. So what I’m going to do now is give some money to the Stake Pres's wife to go to town and but me a whole bunch of Tongan stuff so I can send it home and give stuff to you all. It'll be some pretty cool stuff. I’m hoping to send it this week.

The Vao is still the Vao. I'm still in the bush. There is a dog named Ricky and I taught him to sit down. Did you know the Strawberry poison dart frog from South America is poisonous??? So one skin of this frog is able to supply 50 poison darts, you know the ones that kill ya. There is my animal fact for the week.

Good luck in the job search! Is there anything you want to know about Tonga or anything because I basically know it all.

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke


"This is at the feast with Elder Cardone and I am about to inhale the puaka (pig)." 

"This was me getting my foot looked at by the doctor. My foot is now almost completely recovered!!"

"These are some super cool cookies I ate, it's been a long time since I've had any. It was like a rainbow in the mouth."

"This is me as of 15 seconds ago." 

"This is an underground cave and apparently there is fresh water which you can drink inside."

"Some elders in the district mucking around."

"This is me from the side because I wanted to see what I looked like."

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 2017

Our Sunday, May 28, 2017 / His Monday, May 29, 2017

Dad,

Thanks for your advice it is always good to just hear those sweet but simple things again. It sounds like you and mom are having a blast for your 30th anniversary. Although I’m sure mentioning all the good food you ate was unnecessary.  It has been a long time since I have even thought about a nice juicy steak. I’m having a good time in Tonga and I’m trying to listen to your advice as best I can but sometimes there obstacles that pop up and make doing those things hard.

I hope you are having a good anniversary.

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke


Missy,

Here is the news on my camera, I actually found it laying around in the MQ. Everything is going great here in Tonga. Sorry to hear that the job search is a little rough. I’ll be sure to keep you in my prayers. But I’m sure everything will work out in the end. What do you do for fun now?

I'll tell you something interesting that happened this past week. My next door neighbors have a book about animals and stuff so vie spent a little bit of time reading that past Sunday. I actually knew a lot about it already and some of the facts that I learned in the past conflict with some of the facts in the book. But overall I feel smarter than I did before. I read some about humpback whales because they come to Tonga in the winter to have babies. So I'm hoping I transfer to Vava'u next transfer because out there you get to ride a boat. And they often see whales out there.

Yeah the word “tapu” in Tongan means like it's not allowed or it can mean sacred depending on how you use it. [Missy: This week I told Max that I learned that the word “taboo” comes from the Tongan “tapu.”]

I haven’t sent a package yet because I’m still looking for a box but as soon as I find one, it will have two bags in it and necklaces. It’ll be cool. When I have three months left on my mission, I’m going to start asking members to make me nice things like ta'ovala's and lalanga bags and things like that so we can all have nice things from Tonga. I’ve decided I’m going to leave just about everything in Tonga except for Tongan things with a few exceptions.

Transfers either happen this Sunday or the following Sunday, I will try to keep you all updated.

Hey Miss, can you also send me a pair of sweats and a couple of shirts, and some Reese’s and Kit-Kats. Thanks you’re the best.

'ofa lahi atu,
Elder Bethke


"These are a whole bunch of watermelons. One of our members went to uta and picked up a whole bunch of watermelons and was going to sell them in the market. These are not even half of the melons."

"This is just me and Tavo mucking around at our next door neighbor's house."

"This is one of the investigators from the family that we have been teaching. It was way cool to teach this family. His name is Sione and after his baptism there are only three people left of the family not yet members.  It will be so cool if the rest of the family decides to join. But from what I've learned, as hard as we work towards a person it ends up to them deciding if they want to follow it or not."

"Another baptismal pic."



Our Sunday, May 21, 2017 / His Monday, May 22, 2017


Hey mom!!

This week was a pretty good week out here in Vaotu'u. We were able to baptize another member of the family this past Tuesday, and we are working really hard to get the rest of the family baptized. However it is amazing to see the mother of the family and how hard she is really working to get all of her family baptized. She is completely changing her life around and reading the scriptures regularly. She even gathers all of her family together on Mondays for family home evening. She really wants all of her family to be a part of the church but the cool thing is, is that she is letting them choose freely if they want to join or not. She is not forcing anyone but she pleads with her heart that they may join. Because of her devotion and her living the gospel, the family has seen several changes for the better and it is creating a greater loving environment in their home. 

Besides that one baptism, we have had trouble finding new investigators. We are in such a small area it is crazy. Starting to run out of ideas haha. But I got to just keep enduring. 

I’m having a good time, hope you all are doing great.

'ofa atu
Elder Bethke


Missy, I already knew that about jaguars!!!!! Thanks though, I do enjoy learning about animals. Missy you are going to be mad, but I ask you not to be mad. I lost my camera...haha. So now I can't send anymore pictures home. I’ll try and search for a camera in Tonga, I just need someone to go to town for me. I’ll send you an email next week if I need you to buy me a camera.

Thanks for the can opener!!!

'ofa atu

Elder Bethke 


Our Sunday, May 14, 2017 / His Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy Mother's Day from Max!




Elder Bethke and his zone leader Elder Enos.


Our Sunday, May 7, 2017 / His Monday, May 8, 2017

Hey Mom,

My foot is doing way better. Now it is just recovering from a torn tissue in my foot. So it's all good. I’m not doing office work thankfully, I’m staying in my area working just like normal. But seriously my foot is getting way better.

Oh I’m going to send home a package as soon as I figure out how. I’m going to send home a bag and some necklaces for you all. They are pretty cool, but as soon as I figure it out I’ll let you know when I send it.

The weather here reminds me of fall in America right now. No leaves are falling but it is really windy and is cooler than usual. It makes me want to drink apple cider and go trick or treating.

I have almost hit my 9 month mark on my mission! Time is flying by way fast out here, I hope it is going by fast for you all too. I just learned today that in Tonga it is against the Sabbath day to sit on the beach. If I did the things I did in America on Sunday like playing basketball and stuff everyone would think I’m a great sinner. So vie decided I’ll keep the Sabbath day holy more according to the culture. In Tonga I’ll do it the Tonga way, in America I’ll do it the family way. So yup.

I love you lots. I miss Mexican food. Thanks for everything you do. I’ll talk to you next week.


Missy,

My foot looks really good now. It is the same size as my other foot but it is just bruised and stuff. Apparently it is a torn soft tissue in my foot so it will take a little longer to heal than a sprained ankle, but it's fine. They just let me rest it off in my area and now I’m out moving around so it's all good. How is the job search coming by the way?

There is a zone conference this week and I will probably hear more info about the call home for Mother’s Day then. I might email once again this week to send you the time I’m calling or skyping.

I’ve just been doing a lot of resting this week so not a ton of pics sorry.




Our Sunday, April 30, 2017 / His Monday, May 1, 2017

Hey Mom,

I am reporting back to you from the island of...Tongatapu. Which I am glad for because the Ha'apai islands are very very tough for missionary work and it is hard to find food if you are not smart. So I am still am the same area of Vaotu'u, which I am very happy about. I also have the same companion Elder Tavo.

I have news to report on my foot!!! The toe has grown back a lot. However I sprained my ankle, I think it hurts really bad. I can walk on it very slowly so yeah. I injured it playing at a volleyball activity. I jumped up and landed on it wrong. So that sucks. I did it Saturday but it started to get worse so I called the mission doctor and she gave me some very hard to find ice. She says it's most likely a sprained ankle but it is really low on my foot so it could be a ligament. Let's pray it's not cause then I might be seeing you all sooner than I think. But I have faith that it is just a sprained ankle and anything is possible with faith! I believe every little thing is going to be all right. - Bob Marley. Don’t worry everyone. I might also just stay in the office if it happens. So it'll be ok. But for real my toe is doing good. It has grown back a lot. And it hurts less and less every day. So I am actually serious about that. I’m also sure that my ankle will be just ok in a couple of days.

But am doing my best to follow dad’s advice of being happy, being nice, and doing what is right.

I love you lot, and I do not have pictures this week sorry!

Love you all,
Elder Bethke

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 2017

Our Sunday, April 23, 2017 / His Monday, April 24, 2017

Hey mom,

I am glad to hear that you used advice from me that I never said. But a lot of it are things I would’ve said. Although there is one more thing I would’ve added in, make sure to wear slippers when doing garbage. Otherwise you could cut off a little bit of your toe. But other than that, I think you covered it.

As for this week, this is the start of week 6. The final week in the transfer...and I heard some rumors that I could be transferring to the island of Haapai. Which apparently has the nicest beaches in Tonga but also one of the most dead areas for work. So that sounds fun and all, but I like where I’m at right now. I can eat whenever I want, I know all the members, everything is just better. But I will be fine with whatever happens.

As of this past week, not much work has been going on. We only taught one person last week. But the good news is we are planning to baptize another member of the family this next Saturday. Sooooo pray lots so that will happen. 

Today, is p-day and we went and visited a lot of the sights with the zone leaders and the STLs we went and visited the west edge of Tonga, Maui's rock (which apparently he threw a huge rock from Eua to Tonga tapu to show off his strength), the blowholes, and we went to a resort and ate pizza at it. It was quite fun.

Oh, we also had an opportunity to go to the temple. And it was really nice to go back and experience the temple. There really is no other place that one can feel the spirit so strong. It was cool.

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke

Dad,

Happy week after Easter.

As of right now I’m the junior companion which is the best. If I'm lucky, I will stay this for the rest of my mission. But honestly like you said it doesn’t matter. In the end everyone is still a regular missionary. I'd be totally fine if I was junior comp my entire mission. But I am for sure glad I am not an AP. That one is just no fun.

Something I learned about the turtle is that Tongans believe the turtle is a sign of long life and good luck. That is a reason why just about everyone has some design of a turtle in town.

One thing that I've really learned about the mission is how much church songs make a difference in your life and I see why that is the only thing missionaries are to listen to. That just adds to the bag of my testimony. One thing that helped me to realize that was actually when you’d take us to seminary all the time. You’d play a conference talk or church songs but it was good because it sets a good mood for the day. So thanks for that.

But thanks for everything.

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke














Our Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 / His Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter,

I actually just thought of this question but why is the holiday called Easter? Because in Tongan it is Aho Pekia which just means the day Jesus died. So what does Easter mean?
Anyways, I had a fantastic Easter. But I'll start off earlier on in the week. As you know we have been teaching a family of 10 people and it has had its ups and its downs with them. Nonetheless it has been a lot of fun teaching them. Anyways I bring them up because a portion of them was baptized last week. But there was a lot that happened before we were able to baptize them. Let us go back to Thursday. On Thursday the mother of the family told us that she was already baptized... after a month of teaching her so we call the office and see if it is true and they say they don't have her record. So we told her that and then we proceeded to go on with baptizing her. So the baptismal day comes and we get a call early in the morning from the missionaries that live in their area and they tell us that she is already baptized. So we call again and the offices tells us they do have her record. So it turns out that she was baptized a long time ago. Which is great, she is now active in the church. So three of the kids were ready and wanted to be baptized so we baptized those three last Saturday. It was great, we rejoiced, and there was ice cream to be eaten.
So Sunday comes around and we get a call early in the morning that there is one more of the kids to be baptized. He was sleeping and his mom didn't know he was at the house. So we wake up quickly and are running around to get ready and prepare the baptism before Sacrament meeting starts so we can confirm upon them the Gift of the Holy Ghost. So we are running around, finish the baptism part 2 and we don't make it in time for Sacrament meeting. But, since the Stake President is the one helping us with the investigator he called the Ward and tell them to switch all the meetings around so that Sacrament meeting was later. So we do make it in time to Sacrament meeting. We give 4 of them the Holy Ghost, and give one kid a blessing just because he is still too young to be baptized. And it was wonderful.
Oh, the person we baptized on Sunday, it was also his birthday so we went back and celebrated his birthday after church and it was fun. So we had a very busy Saturday and Sunday. It was way cool. Half of that family is truly converted to the gospel. The Mom has had way cool experiences that has built her testimony even before we have met them and I am just grateful for the opportunity to teach them. I will send the pictures to Missy and tell everybody who is who so we all know. On my mission so far I would say that I am very blessed to have these wonderful opportunities to teach these such cool people. I learn new things from the experiences and the trials that they go through but then we see the blessings the gospel brings to their lives. It’s way cool.

For example, the mother (Koloa) is a member of the church but the Father (Fatui) isn’t. I was talking with the mom at the birthday party and she was telling me how the area they live is almost all the Tongan Methodist church. And the reason Fatui didn’t join the church is because he is too embarrassed. He is scared what the other people will think and say if he joins. But Koloa she told me that it doesn’t matter what they say because she knows without a doubt that the church is true. She told me she doesn’t look around at what other people are saying, she only looks straight ahead. It is funny because there was a talk about just looking up in General Conference. Just look up (or straight as Koloa put it).

I remember the talk from this last conference about always looking up. And I thought about it in a different perspective. If I look backwards at everything I’ve done, I'd be happy with what I’ve done, but then it might also make me satisfied with what I’ve done and not want to work as hard in the future. If I look forward, I see a ton of time left on my mission and I don't want to look that way. If I look side to side and see what other people have done, that will make me think more or less about people based on what they have done, or even compare myself to others. Which is no good. So there is really only one place to look. That is up towards our Savior and Heavenly Father. They will provide a way to help others and myself be happy.

Look up.

This is the beginning of week 5 in transfer 5. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke

"This is the part of the family we baptized (only the girls), everyone is a member in this picture except the father."

"This is me about to baptize Peai."

"This is Eseta of the family. She is now preparing to serve a mission which is crazy exciting. The family is going to go to church in my area for an entire year, then go to the Temple, then Eseta will put in her papers and go on a mission. Crazy right, just baptized and already wants to go on a mission."

"Me, Elder Tavo, and Peai after the baptism."

"Me and Elder Tavo looking dashing."

"Yup."

"This is just a nice picture that I thought I'd share with everyone."

"Everyone in this picture is a member!!! It took a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun. This is after church on Sunday."

"This girl is named Pua. Also one that was baptized. She is very sweet and nice but also a little mischievous, but fun nonetheless."

"This is my companion blowing air into pig lungs like it is a balloon. I did it too and let me just say, pig lungs is not as bad as you think."





Our Sunday, April 9, 2017 / His Monday, April 10, 2017

Let us see............................... This week was kind of disappointing. The family that we were teaching, the one that seemed perfect, is now going through some problems. The father in the family thinks it is impossible for him to quit smoking and therefore has stopped taking the lessons and has given up hope. And because he won't go we haven’t been able to teach the others in the family. So this week was not very productive. We however have started teaching a different family as well. It is a mother and a father and their two babies. But it was really funny when we first taught them. We asked them what were there thoughts about the Godhead and the man said to me "The Wesleyan church doesn’t believe in the Godhead but I heard on the radio of a Wesleyan woman testifying there was 3 gods. Sooo I don't really know for sure." I thought that that was pretty funny. But it shows how he was prepared in that sense to hear our message.

This past week we had the wonderful opportunity to listen to conference. It was very good and I think a lot of the talks were a good reminder for us to do the basics every day because even though they be small things, they have a huge impact.

As far as Easter goes, my plans are basically the same as they are every other day. On Easter everyone stays home and sleeps and goes to church. So that is that.

'ofa atu
Elder Bethke

Hey Miss,

In Tonga it is really humid today, and it is just another p-day here. I have not received any packages yet but who knows I still might get it later today. I actually will send a package home once I receive one of the packages you sent me. I'm going to send home a bag from Papua New Guinea and a couple of bone carved necklaces from Tonga.

Sorry, no pictures today.

'ofa atu
Elder Bethke




Our Sunday, April 2, 2017 / His Monday, April 3, 2017

Hello mom,

My toe is doing fantastic it is 100% healed and you do not need to worry about it. It is the cleanest toe there is ever seen.

Last week was very good. We only have 1 set of investigators but that one set is a family of 10.  So it is very exciting teaching them. We invited them to church last week and guess what... they came. Pretty amazing eee. We are aiming to baptize them the week after this week. If everything goes according to plan, another family will strengthen the church with their testimony. It is very cool, everyone in the family wants to be baptized the only problem is all the boys in the family smoke. So that is the trial that must be overcome. But I have faith that they can accomplish it. Especially with the help from the rest of their family.

Thanks for all the support you give me. Remember though that you all do not need to worry because I will be protected as long as I do what I am supposed to do. That was one of the promises Elder Renlund gave to all the missionaries in misiona Tonga. So don't worry about it, relax, drink a cocoanut, it's all good.

‘ofa atu,
Elder Bethke

I'm jealous that you have seen the movie Moana. That is the Disney movie about my mission (actually all of the pacific). But I really want to watch it.


Oh I got the package with the Cambodian ties. I gave one of them to my companion.
"Here are some pictures of the family that we are teaching. Also the stake president's family. Yes there are identical twins in the stake pres's family. They are both very mischievous but I love them both."