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Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2017

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

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 2017

Our Sunday, September 24, 2017 / His Monday, September 25, 2017


Hey Mom,

All is well in Vava'u. And...we had a baptism this past Saturday!! That might be the only one I get out here in Vava'u but I’m really happy that I’m able to bring this soul unto Christ. His name was Ilaisa and he is 15 years old. He was taught before by the missionaries but his family said no to baptism. But even though his family said no, he decided to attend evening seminary (emphasis on the evening seminary). And he started to feel that his life was changing for the better from that class. Then me and Elder Lao moved to Longmapu and we were able to teach him again. But this time Ilaisa was the one that talked to his parents and told them all the wonderful experiences he’s had with seminary class. His family said yes, and he was baptized this past Saturday. So yay! That was about our only investigator at this time so for this next week we have lots of searching to do. We also have zone conference this week. So that should be interesting. All is going well in Vava'u. I love you all very much.

'ofaatu
Elder Bethke,


Thanks dad for all the advice...it is all very true. I don't know if I told you this about our mission but I promise you it's the best. It is the best because of the missionaries and the mission president. We have a loving mission president who is willing to help every missionary become the best person they can be. And the missionaries...it's hard to explain. But you can definitely tell the culture effects the missionaries. Everyone is a very loving missionary and even though we might be a little laid back like the culture, when it is time to get things done, things get done. I honestly do not think I could’ve been called anywhere else. This is the mission for me and the mission that I’m able to learn the most from. And for sure, there have been people that have been prepared to hear my testimony. Basically what I’m trying to add up too is that Heavenly Father knows his children best. And for whatever he plans for us, we should be excited and happy for because we know that Heavenly Father knows best and is only doing things so that we become our best selves. I hope all is well. Work is good? Good!

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Miss,

Here is mine.

I actually forget the verse so I can't tell you word for word but it is in the book of Second Nephi. It goes along the lines of ‘Is it possible for a mother to forget her suckling child? I say onto you yea, it is possible. But I will not forget you for I have engraved your name upon my palms and my feet.’ Something like that. But it helped me because there are many problems and struggles that we deal with in our everyday lives. But Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ have not forgotten us in our trials. They are there ready to take our burdens and lighten our load. We just have to be humble enough to ask for help and pass the load to them.

That's what I liked from this past week. I haven’t got my package yet. But yeah. When did you send it? Christmas is just around the corner................so that'll be fun. Hope all is well. I love you lots.

Elder Bethke

"Last Monday we visited this bridge. And it was really beautiful. I actually slipped on this puddle on the concrete. so my tupenu and shirt are a little wet on one side...I promise I didn't swim! haha."




Our Sunday, September 17, 2017 / His Monday, September 18, 2017


Soooo, am I going to have to go to a different ward now back home? We don't even get to keep the name. But oh well. Everyone will just love me wherever I go. It's a curse.

My companion’s name is Elder Lao which means law in Tongan. We were teaching this investigator and he is preparing for baptism. But last week he got sick and went to the hospital. We hope he is doing better but once he gets out of the hospital we will continue the lessons. 

Vava'u is very different from Tongatapu. The people are different, the land is different, and everything is different. I’m still adjusting to some of the things like the heat but for the most part everything is going well. I'm still getting to know the people in my area but this area is not much bigger than my last area. But the work is a little harder here than it was in my last place and there are not a bunch of members here. 20 people showed up to church yesterday even though like everyone in the town is baptized only 20 people showed up. It's because a lot of people get mad at small things and then go back to a different church. There is a lot of less active work to do here so wish us luck with that.

I just finished reading the Book of Mormon this week. Our mission president has just committed all the missionaries to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days and he wants us to highlight every time it mentions Jesus Christ. I'm not sure why he gave us this assignment but I believe that this will help us better recognize the Lord's work in our lives. It is an interesting challenge but I am excited to try it.

I don't eat ice cream anymore in this area, so that's sad. I’m about to go to town today and buy a bunch for our pday today.

I hope all is well with the new ward changes. Who is the bishop in Olney 1st ward? Good luck with everything.

Love you all lots.

'ofaatu,

Elder Bethke

"A pic of my church from my house. I live really close to it and it is on a nice little hill."


"Me standing in the mop bucket doing my laundry...back to doing it the hard way."


"Me reading the Bible."






Our Sunday, September 10, 2017 / His Monday, September 11, 2017


Hey Mom,

I’m am safe in Vava'u and I will tell you that Vava'u is very pretty. It has many mountains and that is completely different from Tongatapu. Tongatapu is flat. I have a whole bunch of hills in my area and I can see other islands from my area. It's pretty cool. My area has the highest mountain in Vava'u and from it you can see whales.

The internet is really bad so I can’t spend super long on the internet. But my area is pretty cool. There are not a ton of members but basically all of my area is baptized so my job will be doing a lot of reactivation. We ended up teaching someone last Sunday and they said yes to our baptismal invitation. So we are very excited to start off like that in a new area. The people up here in Vava'u are different than the people are in Tongatapu. So I'm still trying to get used to everything up here. Vava'u is a lot hotter as well so now I'll actually be getting a nice tan.

I flew a plane from Tongatapu to Vava'u, it was about a 50 minute plane ride. I ended up riding the plane with a member of the Area 70. He went up to a stake conference in Vava'u. So I got to talk to him a bit. But I’m excited to work in this new area even though I do miss my old area some. My companion is also cool. He is from Tonga so it should be very fun working with him. I only just got to Vava'u last Saturday, I'm sure I will have more to report next week. Hope all is well. Love you all lots.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke








Our Sunday, September 3, 2017 / His Monday, September 4, 2017


Hey Mom, 

I’m transferring!!! I’m going to a new island...to Vava'u. I’m going to work in an area called Longomapu. I heard it is a really beautiful area but my camera is still broken!!! But don't worry I’m trying really hard to get a new camera. I can bring about 30 pounds, so I’ll be leaving some stuff at the mission office. I’m only going to bring my scriptures and a couple shirts and garments. After working in Vaotu’u for a long time, there are a lot of things I’m going to miss about it. I’m really going to miss the people and the awesome feedings that they give us. It is honestly a little hard to move but I have good hope for this next area. I’m also training again. Which means a lot of work. Overall I’m doing alright. I don't have a ton of time to email today because of transfers but just letting you know that I love you lots. Sorry I can’t send pics.

'ofaatu, 
Elder Bethke


Dad,

I get to go to a new island. I’m training. I’m whitewashing. Oiaue...... fele e ngaue ke fai. I’m excited to go to a new place but I’m going to really miss the people in Vaotu’u. You all should come to Tonga at the end of my mission so we can go exploring and go swimming. I can show you all my second house in Vaotu’u. Sorry for the short email but I’m getting transferred today. Love you lots.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke



Monday, August 7, 2017

August 2017

Our Sunday, August 27, 2017 / His Monday, August 28, 2017

Hey Mom, 

How are you? I’m doing better than usual and I can actually thank dad for this one. He gave some good advice that is helping to make even more of my mission experience. I’ve started to set a whole bunch of goals. I feel that these goals have given me more purpose and it is also fun to just check a goal off. One of my main goals for the mission is to be able to do 100 consecutive pushups without stopping. I figured if I do that then I’ll have the chest of Dwayne the Rock Johnson. So why not haha. I have also figured out one purpose that I have to really become good at on my mission. That purpose is to become really good at listening and acting by the Holy Ghost. I’ve had a prompting from my patriarchal blessing that it's pretty important and I got to get pretty good at it. So I’m trying to refine my listening skills and refine my acting skills.

This past week was pretty good for work. For one thing, we had a baptism!!! We baptized a little girl named Nesi and she’s really funny. When we asked her mom if it was ok to baptize her, her mom was a little on the edge, but my companion came on the clutch and just spoke by the Holy Ghost and the mom let her daughter get baptized. I was pretty impressed with my companion after that and that also emphasized to me the importance of living by the Spirit. So overall I had a good week.

It was nice to hear that cool experience about me helping you through that hard time. It made me feel good about myself haha. But it was cool to hear it. I’m also glad to hear that I’m gaining some respect among Brother Bearman. It only took me 19 years but I did it haha.

I love you lots.

'ofaatu, 
Elder Bethke


Dad,

Your advice from last week helped about setting goals. I’ve started to set a lot of goals. One of them is drinking a full litre water bottle every day. That's what the mission doctor keeps telling us but you know, it's like you have to go out of your way to get water so I’ve been trying to listen to the mission doctors commitments for the mission. One goal is to be able to do 100 consecutive pushups without stopping. Another one is to make my bed every day. Impressive haha. Thanks for all advice you give. It helps sometimes. I honestly didn’t do anything for my one year mark. The day after my one year mark I planted a tava tree. I don’t know what tava is in English but it's a good fruit tree. I planted one and it’s already dying so I’m a little sad for that. The work is going well. We baptized a little girl last week. It was fun teaching her even though sometimes she wouldn’t pay attention or understand something. The hard part with her was getting her parents’ permission but we eventually got it and the mother got to see her baptism. So that was cool. We only work with the people in this village or anyone that just happens to walk through it. But the people that come to church in our ward are only from this village. But yeah, all is well. Love ya lots.

Work out so you can be buff like me.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Hey Miss,

No pics haha. My camera is broken. For some reason the lens is jammed on mine and it won’t open up. Don't worry I’m in the process of getting a new one. I might get a new one next week.

This week has been a good week. I feel that everything is getting a little better. I’ve started setting goals and now I have more purpose in my life. It's pretty cool. One of my goals is to be a cleaner person. So to fulfill that I’m going to do all the cleaning, Fold and hang up my clothes, make my bed. I don’t know if you know this but I wasn’t the best about that before the mission haha. But I’m going to be a pro when I get back. I hope all is well,

'ofaatu,

Elder Bethke



Our Sunday, August 20, 2017 / His Monday, August 21, 2017


Hey Mom,

Now is not the time to slow down!! You’re telling this to someone who is in Tonga and is spending 8 months in a town smaller than our neighborhood!!! You’re are right though, it is important to keep working hard and gaining the trust of the Lord in all that I do. One of the most important things in the mission is doing all of the small things. It is from small things that big things come to pass. I've been feeling that I’ve been becoming a little bit more lazy in this area and I know that I need to try harder haha so I’m going to try and do my best. I think setting goals is very important in not becoming lazy. And I just have to become creative in my goals. I think that is the key. I could set better goals or more fun ones. We are teaching a couple of investigators right now, we have one set up to be baptized this week. But from what I’ve learned it is that whenever the Lord works hard to try and save someone, Satan works just as hard to try and stop their salvation. But the Lord will always come through if you have faith in him. We had our zone conference last week and it was good. I learned a lot.

Today for p-day we are going to do a service project at one of the noble’s houses. It’s starting to get hotter out here. Hope all is well. I hit my year mark this week!

Love you lots,
Elder Bethke

Hihifo Zone Conference


Our Sunday, August 13, 2017 / His Monday, August 14, 2017


Hi mom,

All is well here in Tonga. This week was a pretty quiet week for the most part. I'm trying to think of the major events that happened this week but honestly nothing was really really cool. We did have a musical fireside in our ward this past Sunday and it was nice because for once, us missionaries didn’t have to do anything. We didn’t have to make the program or sing in it. So it was nice to just enjoy the program for once. The topic was about missionary work, and they had a bunch of converts talk about their conversion story. And afterward there was cake and ice cream so it was a good Sunday. 

It is pretty crazy not having a single kid at the house anymore. I don't know if I told you but one morning me and my companion borrowed some members’ bicycles and went biking around our zone. It was really nice to bike instead of walk. Plus biking was really peaceful and beautiful. However afterward my butt was sore. But it was a sacrifice worth taking. So I think that will be a great idea going biking at work. 

And you are learning how to use the TV?? Wow, the world is completely different than a year ago. Dad emailed me and told me how everyone my age in church is now basically out of the house. It's pretty crazy ay. WOW Daniel and his family are sealed a day before he enters the MTC! That is something special. Everyone looks older except for Daniel haha. He is probably my best friend. I can't believe that Daniel and his family got sealed in the temple right before he went out on his mission. That's way cool. I'm really happy for him and his family. In the picture, Kenneth and Selenne look way bigger. Do you have Daniel's email? Can u send it to me?

We might have a baptism this week. We are teaching this little girl and she's really cool. She’s like 9 but she’s pretty funny. We taught this one kid who is going to be baptized we are just waiting for his dad to come home so he can see the baptism.

Thanks mom hope all is well.

'ofaatu
Elder Bethke

"This is a pic that I took in the office while emailing home because I realized that I didn't take any pics this last week. Hope you enjoy it!!!!"


Our Sunday, August 6, 2017 / His Monday, August 7, 2017


Hey Mom, 

How is everything? Now that Missy and Jimmy are gone I’d think that you’d actually be busier around the house. Well you will always have Danny and Dalia visit every once and a while. Man I can't believe that everyone is leaving...I’m not going to know anyone when I get back except Josh Bearman. Which will be interesting. I enjoyed hearing about your thoughts about fasting. I actually had a pretty cool experience with fasting back when I worked in Ha’ataieho. Me and my companion fasted and it came to the end of our fast and we were starving. We ended our fast and had plans to get food but for some reason the stores were closed and we couldn’t get food from anyone, which was very unusual for the area that I was in. But we just kept walking around. But while we were walking along one of the streets, one car zoomed by us but once they saw us they slammed on the brakes to talk to us. As we were walking towards the car, all they did was stick a sack of apples out the window. We said thanks and we then we parted and went our own ways. Those were some of the best apples I’ve had too. It made me think of the time when the Savior talks to the people and he is saying how that our Heavenly Father always makes sure that the crows and wild birds are fed. Then he goes on to state that aren’t we much more important than the wild animals. So it was just a little testimony that Heavenly Father watches over his children in their hardships. 

Something really cool and also really sad happened last Saturday. One. We had a baptism!! We baptized an investigator of our ward mission leader's wife. It was actually pretty hard to teach her some things like repentance. We really had to put it in the most simplest terms possible for it to be understood. So we were able to baptize her last Saturday. Then later that evening, me and my companion decided to celebrate by playing some good old American two hand touch football with our neighbors. But as we are playing, the twins get home from town and they are telling how a 12 year-old kid died. The kid was fishing with his family at the beach. They are more on like a coral reef than on an actual beach. But what happened is like there is some water up on the reef. And there is also blow holes on the reef. So what happened is the kid got sucked into a blowhole and no one knows what happened since. It has been two days and no one has found the body yet. It is really sad. The kid that died was a member and his family was a little less active. It was all sad and it all happened so fast. It's weird because I used to see him all the time. It's crazy that something like that happened, but knowing the plan of salvation makes me not see death as such a horrible thing because I know that there is a plan and more for us after death. Death is just another step in the plan. But yeah these were the main things that happened this week. I hope all is well. I love you all

‘ofaatu,
Elder Bethke



Hey Dad,

It sounds like you are pretty busy ay. Well we had a baptism this past week as well!! That makes two weeks in a row, pretty cool ay. But it was funny, I actually did the baptism wrong, the first time haha. I accidentally baptized them while raising my left hand up...whoops. Oh well it happens. I’m super excited for Daniel and wish him the best of luck. I can seriously see how excited Minen and the rest of Daniel’s family are for Daniel and him going on a mission. I’m excited for Daniel too, he was definitely one of my best friends growing up. So I’m proud of him. Now that we baptized this last investigator, we have to search for more people to work with. That should be fun. We do have other investigators but is hard to do work this week because someone in our village died so everyone will be focused on that for a week. How is the ward doing? Are there any new families or members back at home? Has anyone moved since I’ve been gone?

Today our plans are to finish up p-day and then also go to give some gifts to the family that lost their son. We are going to go with the family of our ward mission leader. The new ward mission definitely helps a lot. Another thing that really is building up the missionary work this month is the fact that ward conference is this month. Ward conference is way different here than it is in America. Here, they have a whole bunch of programs and stuff building up to the ward conference. Like for these next two weeks there is almost a ward program every day. It’s pretty cool. Plus our goal is to have every family baptize someone before the end of conference. So it is pretty serious out here right now. Hope all is well.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke



"This is the pic at our baptism last week. We baptized the girl next to the missionary that is next to me."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 2017

Our Sunday, July 30, 2017 / His Monday, July 31, 2017

Father,

How is everything? Tonga is cool. Danny told me now that you bought a grill, all you do now is grill!!! We baptized someone last week! I talked a lot about it in mom’s email. But it was a lot of fun teaching her. Her name is Lile and she is 16 years old. The coolest thing about her was her desire to be baptized in the church. She really wanted to be baptized. 

Man I started lifting weights. Our next door neighbor got a bench press. I've started to lift. Man I'm out of shape to say the least. I'm up to doing 30 kgs on each side. I can only lift it 4 times though haha. Out of shape. But by the end of the transfer, watch and see how big I get. Do you still go to the gym every day? Do you know things that I can do for my legs by just using a bar and no throwing weights? I can only think of dead lifts and hang cleans. But yeah I’ve started lifting again. So we will see if that changes anything. 

I’m doing well out here in Tonga. I’ve started talking with this deportee from America. His name is Vo and he is a gangster from California. He now lives in Tonga but he is way cool. He is less active and I’m trying hard to get him to come back to church and all of that. But Vo is way cool and is super nice. You wouldn’t think so from a gangster in California but he is the best. But yup hope all is well.

‘ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Mom,

This last week was an adventure. Remember that investigator that we had so much trouble with??? She got baptized last Saturday!!!! We were sitting at someone’s house just talking to some of the members and then I get a text from my bishop’s wife saying that Lile is getting baptized. I was so surprised that I called her right away. I called her and then she confirmed that Lile was being baptized, then she told me that she was not getting baptized in Vaotu’u. Then I shouted what!?!?! Apparently she was going to get baptized in a different ward and the sisters that worked in that ward were going to baptize her. Then I told bishop’s wife "what the heck". I was a little upset that someone took our investigator after we did all the work, but then I remember that us missionaries are all on the same team so it doesn’t really matter if she was baptized here or anywhere else. So in the end I was fine with it. I still got to go to her baptism and see her be baptized so that was cool. It was cool because she had such a great desire to be baptized. So I feel that I was blessed to be able to work with her. So that was the huge highlight for the week. I’m having fun!! Hope all is well. If you have any questions let me know.

'ofaatu,
Elder Bethke


Dear Brother and Sister Bethke,

It is with great blessing to inform you about the work that your son Elder Charles Maximilian Bethke is doing in our Mission. Sister Tui'one and I are very happy to work with him and he has bless the Mission, missionaries and the people of Tonga and we want to thank you for not only preparing him but also allowing him to come and serve the Lord with us here in the Nuku'alofa Tonga Mission.

Elder Charles Maximilian Bethke has been called as a District Leader/Trainer and we know how much he will do to help teach the doctrines and invite missionaries to follow Jesus Christ and we're confident that he will lead by example and love those whom the Lord entrusted him and his companion with.

We love Elder Charles Maximilian Bethke and know of his abilities and potentials to become what the Lord expected of him. He is AWESOME. Please continue to encourage him.

Kind Regards,

President and Sister Tui'one

"This is me and Elder Lasike climbing up into the attic at the stake center. It wasn't actually as cool as we'd thought it'd be."

"This is a pic of some members cooking us a pig. It was delicious and the skin tastes like chips."

"This is at the baptism of Lile."

"This is our temple out here in Tonga. Me and Elder Hafoka went to the office after our baptism and so we took pics of the temple because it is right next to the temple."

"Flower boy."
"Temple boy."

"These are two studs at the temple just walking around and thinking that they are cool."



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