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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January 2018

Our Tuesday, January 9, 2018 / His Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mom,

Oh wow I can’t believe that I’m going to be 20. It seems like I’m about to turn 18 in my books. Wow. That means I’m like almost kind of an adult. Wow. Transfers were this past week and it turns out that I’m staying in Longomapu haha. For 6 more weeks, oh well, I hoped to leave but I guess it is cool to stay. I did get a different companion though who is actually American. My companion’s name is Pahulu and he is from Rancho California. He came in the same time that I trained my last companion, so he is still pretty new. This means I got to do most of the work now. Should be exciting. I'm actually not too sure what to do now for work in this area now. I have to come up with a lot of new ideas and stuff. So I’ll try to work with our Bishop and see what he wants us to do. I would go to the Ward Mission Leader but we haven’t had one in the entire time I’ve been here. I’m not complaining but it just makes me more grateful for things. Tonga is going to make me a grateful person just because it does not have nearly as much of the things that America has. I love you lots and hope you are doing well. 

Elder Bethke


Hey Dad,

How are you? It sounds like you are sick one week from the next now. I’ll remember to keep that in mind for my prayers. As for prayer and reading the Book of Mormon, I’m doing a good job on it. The hard part is just staying consistent for the entire year even after the mission. I can't believe that President Monson died. In Tonga, the church cancelled all its programs for a week to show respect for President Monson's passing away. So that means no volley ball. Transfers took place this past week, I’m still in the same place haha, however I got a new companion. His name is Elder Pahulu and he is from Rancho California. He's Tongan but is learning the language just like all the people from America on the mission. He has only been out for a couple months so the new challenge now for me is having to do just about everything. Which should be fun I hope.  It is really hot right now in Vava'u. It's in the heart of summer here and it is humid. I hope all is well. I love you lots.

Elder Bethke


Miss,

Um no I’m not transferring unfortunately. But it's ok because my birthday is this month so I don’t have to make new friends to set up a party. I might hear about the plane ticket when I have three or four months left. So there is still some time before I find out. Missy I’m going to send pics next week. I’m not 100% sure what to do in this area anymore. Maybe you have some ideas for me? But I got a new companion that is from Rancho California. His name is Elder Pahulu. He is the man and I’m excited to work with him. I love you lots.

Elder Bethke




Our Tuesday, January 2, 2018 / His Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Mom,

It is hard to believe that any place can be that cold because of how hot it is down here in Tonga. As for sickness I’m doing good, I only get sick of how humid it can be sometimes but that just makes me grateful for air-conditioning. I’m trying to start off this year strong and I have made some goals that are going to help me stay on track. They are actually very basic goals and you may think that these goals are the most simplest things but I can assure you that they are the most important. I'll just say two of them. One is praying every morning and night for the whole year. Even as a missionary there are days when one does forget...I’m no saint I’m sorry haha. The second, is to read the Book of Mormon every day. President Monson and Russell M. Nelson gave wonderful talks on this subject and told us how important it is that we read the Book of Mormon every day. So those are my two most important goals. Even though they are small things, they make the biggest impact on the day. I think that these two goals can help every person come closer to Christ so I invite all to do it. Mom I love you lots and I hope everyone gets well soon.

Elder Bethke


Hey Dad,

Things are looking a bit better right now. I think it is mainly because we actually have a pretty serious investigator right now and it is fun to teach her. She is really cool and she wants to get baptized and serve a mission but the thing is that her relatives are really unsupportive of the church. We have actually already taught her family and they just refuse to believe in the Book of Mormon so it will be hard to help the girl fully come unto Christ through baptism, but I’m not giving up hope. Things are looking up here which is good. Transfers take place at the end of this week so I might transfer. I got the unofficial date for when I finish...it's August 3. Time has already flown by and so I think this last part should be even faster. But I’m going to try and keep your advice in mind so that I keep working hard out here. I love you lots.

Elder Bethke


Miss,

Tonga does celebrate the new year except that it is not as big as it is in America. But our church put on a program for new year’s eve that there would be a volleyball night starting at midnight. I heard it was a good success and that it helped the village to not be so filled with drunk people. So it was a good program. Miss, it was nice to talk to you all.. You all sound like you all are doing really well. Here is my inspirational quote for today:

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"
-Wayne Gretsky
----- Michael Scott

I just quoted an office episode if you didn’t catch it... I Sent Pics!!!!

Love you lots,

Elder Bethke 


These are some pics just from our p-day today. Hope you enjoy! My companion is the one in the red shirt.





Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December 2017

Our Tuesday, December 26, 2017 / His Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Miss,


These are some pics from other peoples’ cameras. My camera is at home. The only reason I’m able to send pics today is because we are using a different computer but we actually don’t have a lot of time so we are planning on emailing later. But these are some pics of our districts. and one of these pics is from the Christmas party where I had to do apple bobbing and try and eat an apple. I won of course.









Our Tuesday, December 19, 2017 / His Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Hey Mom, 

This week was good. This week there are two family reunions running so there are lots of people from out of Tonga visiting our village. It is interesting to see new people walk around the village. Today we had our Christmas party and had some pretty fun activities. It started off with a spiritual part and we had all the 4 stake presidents in Vava’u come and talk to us. Then after that we had a big feast and there was a lot of food and it was really good. We actually will skype but if the skype connection doesn’t go too well then I’ll just call. I’m planning to call at 12 on Christmas here in Tonga so it’ll be about 6 in the evening for you all on Christmas Eve. It'll be nice to see you all again. But after this skype call I will only have one more left. We have our ward Christmas activity this Friday and that should be really fun since there are like never ward activities here. Something interesting that happened last week was that the zone leaders called us last Saturday and told us to go back to our house in the middle of the day to pick up a new missionary. So right now we are a trio but it is only for one week because we are in a trio with someone that is not actually a missionary. We just figured out that one of the stakes in Vava’u is running a program where the youth in their stake go and be missionaries for a week. So the person we are with will go back next Tuesday. But I hope all is well over there. And I hope that you all are recovering well from your sickness. Love you lots.

Elder Bethke


Hi Miss,

Even though you didn’t email me this is my plan for skype, I’m going to call you all on Christmas at noon in Tongan time. So it’ll be 6 o’clock on Christmas Eve for you all. Can you send me my skype info so I know my password and stuff?

Thanks,

Elder Bethke




Our Tuesday, December 12, 2017 / His Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Hello Mother! 

I can't even think of what snow would feel like right now. Just thinking about it gives me the chills. I can barely stand the weather if it is in the low 70s with a breeze. It is pretty hot up here in Vava'u and the house I stay at is just about the same as the other houses I stayed at. So it gets pretty warm inside when the sun has been sitting on it all day and there is no fan. I’ve started to sleep on the tile floor just because it gets too hot to sleep in the bed. The floor is cooler. I just about sleep on the floor every night. It’s actually quite comfortable. Are Danny and Dalia going to Dalia’s parents’ house for Christmas? We have our missionary Christmas party next Wednesday. It should be pretty fun. Our district is singing “Angels we have heard on high.” We are singing a verse in Tongan, and in English, and also in the Kiribati language. It sounds awful but it's the message that truly counts haha. Um I’m not one hundred percent sure the time I’m going to call. I’m probably going to call home on the telephone just because the skype wasn’t the best last time. I'd say that Vava'u is the most Hawaiian Tongan island [as in it gets a lot of rain]. So it pretty much rains every day. It might pour down rain for 10 minutes then be sunny for the rest of the day. It might rain for the entire day. But the weather is pretty unpredictable out here. All is good here. Just trying to share the gospel. The usual. I love you lots.

'ofaatu


Hey Dad,

I’m doing good. I think Elder Bennet came to Tonga...I’m pretty sure he came at some point and spoke, but I might be mistaken. My language is good. I’d say it is a lot easier to understand than it is to speak. I’d say the thing that is keeping me back from being a native is being able to pronounce everything exactly right. Basically, I speak Tongan but in a white accent. So sometimes you got to just repeat what you say. But it's good. I’d say the hardest part for me right now is being really diligent. I’m starting to get lazy and I’m not 100% sure why I’m not as a diligent. I think it's hard for me to stay motivated right now. But since I live in a village, I eventually run out of houses to door-knock on. So you really have to rely on members to help with the missionary work. I’d say right now I’m struggling with being diligent. I’m still happy though. So I’m keeping your first rule. I’m just not as happy I should be because I’m not as diligent as I used to be. I’m sure you know something similar because you served a mission. It's hard but I’m still good. if you have any advice about that, it would be nice. I just want our family to receive blessings from this missionary work so if you have advice to help me to keep my diligence, that'd be nice. I hope all is well. And I also hope that this email doesn’t make you think I’m homesick or anything. I’m good. Good luck with all of your work!

'ofaatu
Elder Bethke


Missy, happy early birthday! If my math is correct you are now 28. That is pretty impressive. But I think it will be even crazier that I turn 20 next month. Yes, your little bubby. I’m pretty sure I will be calling home for Christmas. just because with the skype there was a lot of lag. Once Christmas hits here in Longomapu I think the town will explode. There will be a feast just about every day the week of Christmas. I’m really excited for it. There are also a lot of travelers here in my village right now. Some people from Australia, New Zealand, and America are here visiting their family. A few don’t actually even speak Tongan. So that is pretty funny. I’m trying to think of something funny that happened this week that might make you laugh. Ok I got one. This actually happened last night. Last night we had a church activity and the members were playing volleyball. And me and my companion were chilling outside the fence talking to some people. But as we were talking we were surprised to see that one of the kids got his knee stuck in the fence. We spent a solid 30 minutes trying to get it out with no luck. So me and my companion went home to get shampoo to make his knee slippery. But when we got back his knee was free from the fence. The moral of the story is two things. One, don't stick knees into fences. And two, don't go home to get shampoo to help someone or else you will look silly showing up to a church activity with shampoo in your hand. I hope that you have learned something from this.

Love ya,
Elder Bethke





Our Tuesday, December 5, 2017 / His Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Hey Mom,

I first want to say sorry for not emailing last week. Sorry. But now it is the Christmas season and as you all know how everything seems to be busy during that time in America, I can assure you that it gets busier here as well. so sorry I wasn’t able to email. So I have two weeks to report of what has happened. Here in Longomapu there are lots of programs that go on during Christmas time. And only about two programs are from the church but the rest are either the other churches or just certain families. One program that will happen right after Christmas is called Longmapu day (which is actually a whole week long). It is where some shows put on like Tongan dances and there are feasts. One thing that me and my companion realized what we got to do is that we got to focus a lot more on working with the members and the less actives in the church. In my area, almost all the people are baptized, it is only the teenagers and the younger people that have not been baptized. That said, there are not very many strong members in the church here and there are actually not many active members at all. So me and my comp talked with our bishop and he wants us to work with those people so that the people who haven’t been baptized can see the light and the blessings of the gospel from them. One of the things that the 70 came to talk about when setting up the new stake was that members need to do a better job at being Christlike. For when members become more like they Christ, they are able to do missionary work just by being themselves and sharing their beautiful light to the world. Which is exactly what Jesus asked us to do in Mathew chapter 5. I myself can also learn to be more Christlike. I have lots of faults and shortcomings but this is why the Savior came to the earth. So we can all experience the joy of repentance. I love you lots and hope all is well. 

Elder Bethke


Hey Dad, 

How are you? I’m doing well. Last week was transfers but I’m not leaving Longomapu. I will be here through the first week of January. One thing that I’m very grateful for is to serve in this mission. God really does know his children each and individually. And he knows us well enough and loves us perfectly to put certain things in our life or to even put us in a certain place. I know for sure that I was needed by the Tongan mission and that I needed the Tongan mission. This was the place that God thought would be best for everyone. At times I wonder what I’m learning or what am I supposed to be like from challenges and just experiences. And I’ve come to learn that God knows best and we just have to have faith in him. He does everything to help us become better people and to put us in places where we can help others. I have been called to Tonga by a prophet of God. He qualifies the unqualified. That being said I’m glad to be in Tonga. There are only 19 more days till we celebrate Christmas. I can’t wait. Hopefully I get to skype but it might just be a phone call. I love you lots.

Elder Bethke


Miss,

I did not move last week...I just didn’t get to email. Sorry. However transfers did take place. I will be in Longomapu for a third transfer. This is only my third area. I wonder if I will make it to 6 areas by the end of my mission. Christmas is so close and it will be here before no time! I’m really excited for Longomapu day. Which is actually a whole week, but it is when the people go crazy. I did get to see the Tongan people go crazy though when the rugby league world cup was going on. It was pretty cool because Tonga made it all the way to the semi-finals. So after every game and before every game that Tonga played, the villages would drive around Tonga honking their horns and blasting music and making banners and stuff. We call it floats. I got to see the true country spirit here in Tonga. Tonga almost made it to the finals but there was a game changing controversial call in the Tonga vs England game. So now Tonga doesn’t like England haha. One thing that I’m going to do when I get back is to get a William Hopoate’s Mate Ma’a Tonga jersey the world cup style. It’ll be tight. I hope all is well Miss. I love you lots.

Elder Bethke



Neiafu Central Stake Confrence






Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November 2017

Our Tuesday, November 21, 2017 / His Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Mom,

I love you. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I’m thankful that Heavenly Father gave me righteous and loving parents and a family that I was able to grow up in. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve in the Lord’s kingdom even though I’m just a small servant of His. I’m grateful for my Mission President Tuione and his wife for all the love and care that they use when dealing with us missionaries. And I thank Heavenly Father more for him placing me in under their care. I love you very much. As much as I am in your prayers, you all are in mine as well. Happy Thanksgiving! Tell grandma that I love her when you all go to Ohio.


Dad,

How are you? How s work? How is it that you are able to lift that much weight? My mission is crazy. It has made me pretty skinny and it has also made me bigger than the usual. So it is impressive to see that you can still lift that much. I might have to start doing push-ups again...maybe. We have something pretty cool happening in Vava'u this week. We have a new stake being formed this Sunday. And our stake will be getting a new stake president. So I will have another opportunity to listen to a 70 and President Tuione this weekend. It should be pretty cool. And it is also Thanksgiving tomorrow which will be interesting. This will be my second and last Thanksgiving in Tonga...not that Tonga does anything about it. But still. Thanksgiving in Tonga means that it is almost Christmas. So that is what I’m excited for. Even though they do not celebrate Thanksgiving here, I still have a thankful heart for all the blessings I have. I also realize from my mission all the little and big blessings of living in America. There are a ton that we take for granted. But I hope y’all are doing well. 

'ofaatu


Hey Miss,

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for you and that you are in my life and are my big sister. My scripture study is in Helaman. And it's Nephi talking about how the people of Nephi and just people in general often forget God in their lives. And I'd admit it too that there are times even in my life when I forget that God has done things for me. But it is important to remember God and to constantly pour out thanks for all the help he gives us in our lives. Pray often.

'ofaatu







Our Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / His Thursday, November 16, 2017


Mom,

Even though the temple is being renovated for two years, it will be sad cause when I get back I still can't go to it haha. It will be about 3 and a half years when the temple opens since I have last gone to it. So it will be cool though to do a tour with people in the temple. Do you know if they are going to work on the outside of the temple as well? Is it cool having Kyle live closer now? Maybe they will make you and dad babysit their kids once in a while haha. The work here in Vava'u is good. We had a 70 come visit us this week and talk with all the missionaries. There are currently 4 members of the 70 in Tonga because two new stakes are being formed the Sunday of next week. One stake in Vava’u is being formed and one in Tongatapu is being formed. But one of the 70 was here to talk to the missionaries. His name was Elder Carden. He gave a wonderful lesson and talk and it helped me to better recognize the Spirit in my life. He also talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon and haw it was translated. It was pretty amazing stuff. It's cool cause it sounds like you are doing a little missionary work by sharing about the temple to others. You should invite them to listen to the missionaries. The missionaries will be happy. We have a musical fireside set up for this week. We are going to sing Silent Night in Tongan and in English. It will be good. I’ll tell you more about it next week. How is work? Can you believe it is almost Christmas?!?! This will be my last Christmas in Tonga so I got to make it count. The last Christmas was no fun because it was on a Sunday so literally all of Tonga slept. but this year will be better because Christmas falls on a Monday. I hope all is well.

Love you lots, 
Elder Bethke

P.S. Interesting thing. We went to a stake YSA satellite broadcast and David A. Bednar gave the broadcast. It was on marriage which I thought was funny. It talked about how important it is to be a strong line in the chains of family, and how one person makes a huge link in the chain of generations. So I just want to thank you both for being a strong link and teaching me the right way. Hopefully I’m able to do as good of a job as you all haha. But the reason I sent this is because David A. Bednar gave the marriage talk and it made me think of dad in some of his FHE talks haha.


Dad,

Food is going well. Today for breakfast I ate bread and water. For an afternoon snack I ate chicken and rice. And I hope to eat some horse for dinner tonight so I think it is all good. I wish I could send more pics home for y’all to see but I think I’d be able to do a better job about that next transfer. How is the new ward? Is it good? Right now I’m finishing up training Elder Lao. I finish his 12 weeks this transfer. And I'm not the district leader anymore...thank goodness. You know, leadership roles are not my roles. I think me being with Tongans has made me joke around a lot more so now it's a little harder for me to be a leader haha. We are teaching this one lady that is always fun to teach. Her name is Kalo and she always has interesting questions or doesn’t believe in something we tell her. But she is very open and is also willing to listen so it is fun to share with her the gospel. It is also cool because when she asks a lot of the questions, the Holy Ghost helps us answer those questions. At times though I think she is like Zeezrom from the Book of Mormon, just trying to ask questions to trip us up. but nonetheless it is fun. By the way happy birthday. How young does this make you now? 

Hope all is well. 
'ofaatu, 
Elder Bethke


Miss,

I can’t send pics cause the computer is being stupid...but maybe in in two weeks I’ll be able to send pics cause at the end of next week is transfers. So I could be in a new area. But you might have to endure until then...sorry. This week was good. It was pretty special in a matter of fact because we had a 70 come and talk to the missionaries this week. It was Elder Carden. He gave a wonder lesson that I think has changed my life. He has helped me to more clearly identify the Holy Ghost in my life. And to understand its many promptings. Which I’m very happy for because this is one thing that my patriarchal blessing told me that I have to do to accomplish things in the future. I mean for the most part he said don't worry about feeling the Holy Ghost too much, as long as you are doing the right thing it will influence your life. But he said how each person feels the Holy Ghost differently and what not. And I feel that from the meeting I was able to better determine the way the Holy Ghost talks to me. But he shared this one quote from Joseph Smith that was pretty cool: ‘If you follow your first though or impression, 9 out of 10 times it will be the right decision.’ It was along the lines of that. I hope you learn something from that. Man, I literally have no clue who our family is on mom's side of the family haha. So you might have to refresh me on those people.

Love you lots,
Elder Bethke




Our Tuesday, November 7, 2011 / His Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Hello Mom, 

As far as the earthquake went, it wasn't that big where I was. It was big enough to feel it but it lasted for 2 seconds and wasn’t a big deal. Even if the earthquake caused a tsunami, I think I’d be safe because I’m on a mountain in my area. So it's good. This past week...it was good. We've had some trouble teaching people of the Wesleyan church lately because the missionary that preaches in their church told the village to not let us in there house and to not listen to us. We only figured this out after we went to a Wesleyan house and they said we can’t teach them and what not or even come in their house. Then they said that if we get permission from the missionary we can go teach them. So we went to the missionary’s house and he chased us away haha. So that was fun. We are teaching this girl right now and she wants to be baptized and what not but her dad is the village officer and he is a strong Wesleyan. So...we are working on it. As for the Book of Mormon, right now we are reading it in 90 days as a mission. The Book of Mormon is pretty special. There really is no other book like it. We are having a member of the 70 come next week and talk to the missionaries and one thing he told us to study was about the Book of Mormon. So I'm excited for that. Plus he is coming to talk to us on p-day next week and so I might not email you all on Wednesday but maybe on Tuesday or Thursday. I’ll know more about it next week. All is good. I hope you all are doing well. Love you lots.

'ofaatu,  
Elder Bethke


Hello Dad,

I’m doing good. The earthquake was not really a thing. It was not a big deal at all. I felt it but it only lasted for 2 seconds and I wasn’t even sure if it was an earthquake or just me going crazy. But that being said..,the earthquake has had a great impact on my life and I do not think I’ll be the same from it.

Things are moving forward...slowly but surely. One of my jobs is to build up the church in my area. I can say it is more built now than when i came here. I’m good. It's almost thanksgiving. I’m trying to find a feast here to replace the officers club. I’ll let you more about my success when it is actually thanksgiving. Love you lots.

'ofaatu, 
Elder Bethke


Missy, don't be mad. But I left my camera at my house so I can’t send pics. I do have pics tho! You just can’t see them yet. Sorry. Let’s see. I’m going to try and think of something interesting or funny to tell you since I have time left. Did you know, ever since I've left Vaotu’u to come work up here in Vava'u, I have yet to injure my feet? True fact. Another fact, before this transfer ends I’m going to be a master at making otai which is a fruit drink made with coconut and coconut milk. I’ll make it for you all when I get home. It's like a smoothie but healthier and better. Another true fact, I do not know what else to tell you except I love you.

'offatu,
Elder Bethke

P.S. Missy, when I get back you’re going to have to teach me how to do some things again like ironing shirts, folding clothes properly, cooking things and stuff cause everything over here is different haha. Are you up for the challenge?



Our Tuesday, October 31, 2017 / His Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Hello mom, 

How is everything? I had a good day today. We played touch rugby and volleyball today. It rained a lot so it was fun playing touch in the rain. The work is alright. We teach people every day even if it is just a simple principle or a full lesson. So we are inviting people to come unto Christ, but they just don't want to accept it. It was funny, my companion asked this one person, what a missionary was. They responded saying that a missionary is someone who represents Jesus and goes around and shares Jesus' gospel. My companion then asked her if she wanted to hear the message that we have to share cause we know it’ll help her life. She said no haha. But I guess that's just life haha. But the work is alright. Halloween passed, nothing happened. But it's cool.

I hope all is well.

Love you,
Elder Bethke


Dad,

In Tonga, we have missionaries working in just about every village. So we often see other missionaries. I really enjoy it because you get really close to the missionaries in your district here. Me and my companion set up an open house in our ward and we have all the missionaries in our district go to it and help out with the program. We are going to be teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to a bunch of people. It should be fun. As for my pushups... I’ve given up. I’ll start up again when I have 6 months left. Everything is good in Tonga. This past week it has been raining a lot so it’s hard to do work during that time, and it also means doing extra laundry because everything gets muddy. But everything is good.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Miss,

I’m really sorry I can’t send pics. I have a really good one but I’ll send it next week. Watch next week. I’m going to send you a good email. I love you lots, thank you so much for all you do.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2017

Our Tuesday, October 24, 2017 / His Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Hey Mom,

This is Elder Bethke reporting from the island of Vava'u. It is clear skys for 30 minutes then pours down rain for 10 minutes. Then it is instantly clear again but a lot more humid. That is how the weather is here at this time. Hot and muggy. But I’m not complaining. I’m taking it with gratitude as you just reminded me about.

Everything is fine here in longomapu. We created a program last week with our bishop called an open house. It's where we invite all the missionaries in our district and we will split up into rooms in our church and we will teach a lesson. Like in one room they will teach about faith, one room about repentance. Then after the spiritual part we do everyone’s favorite thing in Tonga, eat ice cream and play volleyball. It's a solid program and I'm looking forward to it. It should be a good opportunity for all members, less actives, and invites to learn about the gospel and have a fun time. We got really like 2 more investigators that are actually serious about listening which is good.

I'd say one thing about the work in Tonga that is hard is that everyone really likes to keep the old traditions here. Like if someone gets married to another family and they are a different religion, they'll change to that religion. Or that the kids won't change religions unless there parents are dead because they do not want to disrespect them. It's funny because it shows in the Book of Mormon about people that keep to their own traditions and don't follow the Lord. It talks about the struggles and sufferings that they have because they don't follow the Lord. But…anyways. All is good. I'll try and work hard so we can all receive blessings from the Lord.

Love you lots!!!
Elder Bethke


Dad,

I play volleyball almost every Wednesday. It’s fun. I just hope that I get good enough at it to impress all the ladies with my spike. I’ve actually played basketball twice last transfer. There is one member that has a nice ball who served in Texas. He just got off his mission. So we'll play ball with him on p-days. I’m not as good as I used to be. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s been a long time since I’ve played or maybe because the lack/excessive food I get here in Tonga. I’m going to say that it's the sun that is throwing me off haha. The fasting is going good haha. We are able to get a little more food throughout the day which is good. Now it's like we eat twice a day. So it's back to the norm. It's because we are getting to know a lot of the nonmembers in our village and everyone in Tonga is kind and is willing to help the missionaries.

From my mission, one thing that I'm really learning is how to work with ward leaders and how to run everything. Especially here in Tonga because the missionaries have to do a lot of things. I'd say I’m really good at setting up activities and programs because of my mission. If we ever need to set up a musical fireside...that is my specialty. I don’t know why I felt that that was important to share with you but I did. I guess my reason is that I see that our stake at home is doing a lot of new things in trying to get less actives active again and to invite others to come unto Christ. So I don’t know where I’m going with this. But...yeah I’m learning a lot from my mission.

Love you lots.
Elder Bethke


Hi Miss,

How are you? Oh I already got the white shirts a while ago. Just letting y’all know. I do have one request if you do send a package to me. Can you put a hat in it? Like a snapback or something so I can wear on p-days. That would be wonderful thanks. Missy, Vava'u has really nice water and has really cool sailboats. I've already decided that before I finish on my last week I’m going to rent a sailboat for a day. Yup, right before I finish. I’ll take pics. Sorry I can't send pics this week because I left my camera at home. I don't know what else to say but I’m just going to say that I love you and am happy for all the hard work and persistence you use in dealing with your life. I know you have a lot of struggles that you have to deal with but even with those struggles you are still a happy and loving person. Thanks so much for all that you do for me.

Love,
Elder Bethke




Our Tuesday, October 17, 2017 / His Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Mom,
Sorry I did not email Monday, that is because p-days no longer fall on Monday. It is a Wednesday thing now. Therefore, I’m emailing you this day. Everything is great in Vava'u. It is really beautiful and pretty hot. I just finished a transfer out here in Vava'u. And I’m staying in the same place this transfer as well. Time really does fly by, transfers go by very fast. Plus next transfer is Christmas so that should be very fun. I hope all is well with the family and that everyone is happy. That is the one thing that always ends up in my prayers. Vava;u is great and all, but it really is the worst for emailing home. I’m not really sure what else to say so I’ll just share a small testimony. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us all. Each and every one of us. Even if we make mistakes in our lives, Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ will always be there by our side to help pick us back up. They are never changing and will always love us. They love us and for that reason they give us all these big and little commandments. These commandments are ways for us to experience a greater joy in each of our lives. However, we aren’t perfect and we do not have a perfect understanding of everything. There will be times when we mess up and break a commandment. But like I said before Jesus and The Father will be by our side. They gave us the wonderful gift of repentance where we are able to overcome our struggles and our problems. Our Savior died for us that we may have the opportunity to repent. Repentance is joy, not a sorrowful moment. We should look for every opportunity to repent that we are able to come closer to Christ. Heavenly Father Loves us. As does His Son. They will never give up on us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
'ofaatu,  
Elder Bethke


Hey Dad,
It’s not that p-days are generally busy it is just hard to email out here in Vava'u the net is slow and we are really only supposed to email at the churches because those are the only places that have email. Except a problem is that our area doesn’t have any email. But some big news, p-days are now on Wednesdays. So that's a little different. I’ve been in my area for a whole transfer. And I’m staying again for this transfer. The big thing in Vava'u right now is that we are trying to set up a new stake. That would make three stakes in Vava'u. Which is pretty cool. Everything is great. My companion is good. I love you lots.
'ofaatu


Miss,
P-days are now on Wednesday. Sorry Missy for the short emails but it is really hard to email out here in Vava'u. Everything is great in Vava'u. I just finished my first transfer in Vava'u last week. I’m staying in the same area with the same companion this transfer. Last week was kind of a slow week. Probably because it was the end of transfers but still, not much really happened. I’m doing good though. I get sunburned a lot. I got my package! Thank you so much for all that you do. I love you so much. Let me know if you need anything.


"This pic is with my district on top of a tower. We climbed a tower on the top of one of the mountains in Vava'u. It was scary."

"This pic is us with a goat that we killed and ate. Delicious!!"

"This pic is of our district holding on to a poll. It is to represent our district name, the Iron Rod....I know it's corny."

"This pic is with a cat. We found it in the jungle. I named it panther."




Our Sunday, October 8, 2017 / His Monday, October 9, 2017


Hi Mom,

How are you? This past week was a pretty great week. I’ve had many experiences that have built my testimony. Now, I don't want you to worry the least bit about what I tell you because I’m honestly fine and am happy. But one thing that me and my companion decided to do was to only have scheduled eating meals, which we call fafanga, at night time. It is usually held 2 times a day but me and my companion have looked around and decided that we do not want to burden these members because they each work so hard to support themselves and their families, we don't want them to worry about us missionaries too much. So, some days we only eat once at night. So it's kind of like doing a fast just about every day haha. But don't worry! The scriptures are true. There is this one scripture in the book of Matthew, and also in 3rd Nephi. It is the lord talking to his apostles and also his disciples in America. It basically says, take ye need no thought of what you will eat or what you wear. For he feeds the crows of the earth...are ye not more important than the crows of the earth? Even though the scripture I just said was not quoted right, the message is simple. Trust in the Lord and he will provide. There was one day I was pretty hungry and I asked Heavenly Father to give me the strength to be able to accomplish his will. The very next house we go to, they give us watermelon. After that, someone randomly drops by and gives us a whole bunch of food. Then after that, we go to our scheduled fafanga and they fed us very well to say the least. From this I learned that even if we do the simplest things like prayer, we show our Faith and our trust in the Lord and he will help us with our struggles. I really debated on whether or not to share this story with you because I didn’t want you to worry. But honestly there is nothing to worry about. I’m fantastic. I’m fed well enough to do the Lord's will each day. Don't worry. I’m great.

Anyways, I had the chance to listen to conference this past weekend. I learned a lot. I wish I brought my notes to share some of the things that I picked up, but I’ll use my memory because I’m not the most prepared. One thing that Conference really focused on was looking outwards and helping other people. Love people and serve them. For Love without Service is dead. There are many little things that we can do to help others that make a huge difference. Love the Lord thy God. Then others. That is what everyone must do, and must improve on. I also learned that we need to read the Book of Mormon every day. And if you already do it, study it harder for there is so much more we are able to learn from it. The Book of Mormon has the power to change lives and help us to become more Christlike. It is a necessity that we not just read it every day, but study it every day. Those were the two biggest things that I picked up. Other events that happened this week, we baptized someone. I sent Jimmy an email about that. Mom, I love you lots. I only had time to email you and Jimmy so say sorry to the rest of the family for me. I LOVE YOU ALL LOTS.

Elder Bethke


Jim,

As for my missionary life. Being on a different island was hard to adjust to at first but I’m starting to like now. I think it was just harder because I was in one area for 8 months. But anyways, work is alright. We were able to baptize someone this past week. But the story is pretty funny. His name is Kotoni but he was previously baptized before when he was 8. But when he was baptized, his dad took him to the ocean and did the baptism without the bishop’s permission. The only people to witness the baptism were the primary kids. But when the father told the bishop that the baptism was done, he told him that the baptism had to be redone and witnessed by the right people. Then the Father got mad, and Kotoni wasn’t baptized again. But we came along and did our jobs and the family softened their heart and Kotoni was baptized again. It only took the family 12 years to make that decision haha but it was pretty funny experience. Even though it was just a lost record baptism, it was a lot of work. Plus we had to help the investigator quit smoking.




Our Sunday, October 1, 2017 / His Monday, October 2, 2017


Mom....happy birthday. I was just giving you the opportunity to remember your birthday and so I didn’t wish you birthday last week. But since you remembered I’ll wish you a happy 31st birthday!!! 

I have not yet had the opportunity to hear conference because the islands are delayed a week. So I’ll get to here from our church leaders this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. But that promise is a very true thing that Elder Nelson said. One thing that me and my companion have been trying to accomplish in this town. To get people to read the Book of Mormon. Like with this one less active member named Mele, we often go to her house and read the Book of Mormon with her. We tell her that reading this book as a family will bring them closer together and help them receive happiness from knowing Heavenly Father’s plan for each and every one of us. 

It is very unfortunate to hear that Sister Wetzel passed away. I know it will be a tough trial for the family but I know that the Savior knows what they are going through for he has suffered every pain and suffering on this earth through the everlasting Atonement. Alma 7: 11-13. If they look towards the Lord and ask for his help, they will be able to overcome their hardships and trials. Heavenly Father and our Savior loves them and will always be with them. Send my regards to the family, and that I love them very much.

Work here is doing better. I feel that more people are attending church now than when we first came. I hope that we will be able to continue to help this town come unto Christ. I love you all very much. I love you mom.

'ofaatu, 
Elder Bethke


Dad,

Wow, I can’t believe Elder Hales passed away. Out here in Tonga no one tells you anything so that is quite a surprise. I get to hear conference next week. But I don't know if you remember Maile Neiufi from my last area. You actually met with her when we did our skype call. She is the stake president’s wife in my last area. She is the one that translates most of the female voices into Tongan from English. Just a fun fact for you to know. How’s baseball season going? Are the Nats in the playoffs? Not much to report from last week. I will share one experience from last week. I might’ve told you about the baptism in last week’s email but I forgot to share something. So basically Ilaisa (the person we baptized) showed up 2 hours late after we cancelled the baptism. But before that happened my companion said a prayer that Ilaisa would show up and be baptized. And he said he got an answer that Ilaisa would come that day. And that he needs to be baptized that day. And eventually he did come and was baptized. But just from Ilaisa again at church this past weekend I can already see a difference in his life. I truly see that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes people and brings happiness to people’s lives. That’s my little experience for this week. I hope all is well.

I love you lots.
Elder Bethke


Miss,

Zone Conference was good. It was really just a good reminder to do a lot of things which is good. But like Elder Hallstrom said last year when Elder Renlund visited Tonga, "If you are not willing to change, you are denying the Atonement of Jesus Christ." He also said that you should be going to every meeting willing to change. Even though I didn’t learn a whole bunch of new things, I went willing to change and I was reminded of somethings that I should be doing haha. So... my advice for everyone is go to meetings willing to change. Any meeting whether it be Sacrament meeting, Sunday school and any church meeting. Go into it willing to change for the better.

My scripture for this week is Doctrine & Covenants 64:33 "Koia namo fiu ihe failelei, he oku mo ai ae tuunga o ha gaue lahi. pea oku tupu mei he gaahi me'a oku iiki ae ngaahi fuu mea lalahi.” Basically, through the small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. And I really like this scripture because it reminds me of mom telling me to do my homework. She would always tell me to start with something easy and once I did that I was able to move on and focus on the bigger things. But this scripture can really be applied for everything which I really like. It can be applied to work, school, missionary work, or even just doing things around the house. It is also a good reminder to do even the small things in our work or school because those will help us to progress in whatever we are doing. I hope all is well. I love you lots.

'ofaatu

Elder Bethke

Vava'u Zone Conference