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Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 2016

Pictures from Max's Christmas Celebrations







Our Sunday, December 25, 2016 / His Monday, December 26, 2016


I really enjoyed the call last night, 40 minutes didn’t seem like enough time. It was good hearing all of your voices again. Unfortunately I was not unable to skype home. Our Mission President said we couldn't skype home because some missionaries on the outer islands do not have internet so it would have been unfair for them because the wouldn't have been able to skype.

You all should check the Misiona Tonga facebook page. Our Mission President I think put videos up or I think he will put up videos and pictures of the missionary program last Friday.

So it turns out I'm staying in Ha'ateiho another transfer with my same companion. I guess the Lord wants me to serve in Missiona Ha'ateiho and not in Missiona Tonga. But it is ok, I like the people here. This transfer we are going to be doing a lot of finding because as of right now, we have no investigators hahaha. It should be fun.

I had lots of fun this past week. We had all sorts of fun activities that went on. We had lots of Christmas programs in our Wards. There were people performing dances, food, singing and all sorts of fun stuff. At the programs it is a little different from America. At all of the programs they give presents to all of the primary kids that move up a class and they get some pretty nice presents. It’s basically just like a big sac of food. And because us missionaries decided to go to the program, they also gave us big sacs of food.

Our mission program with all the missionaries was very fun. All the missionaries on this island came together to a Stake Center in Havelu. There are 4 zones on this island. Each zone prepared some musical number or two and performed it up in front of everybody. Some of them are very funny and it even moved our Mission President to start dancing in front of everybody. It was fantastic. I am trying to get a video of it and if I do I will send it to you.

Christmas here was very peaceful. Since Christmas is on a Sunday Tonga couldn’t really do much to celebrate it. On Christmas Tonga likes to go around Tonga, swim, go to town, play games. But since it was Sunday, everything is closed down and all of the Tongans believe that nothing should be done on Sunday except going to church, eating, sleeping, and studying the scriptures. So what everyone did for Christmas is that they went to church, had a feast, and slept all day. Very different from America.

On Christmas Eve I ate another roasted pig and had ice cream. It is worth mentioning.

I love you lots.
'ofa'atu, Elder Bethke



"This is what our zone wore to the mission program for all of the missionaries on the island of Tongatapu."

"This is Ward 2's program. At it people got presents and some people performed some dances. Each family brought its food and ate at the program."

"This is the family that I ate at. As you can see there is a ton of food. I ate a lot that day. This is the 'Iloa family. They are way cool. Their son was serving in their Ward before he went to Botswana to serve. I love that family."

"This is the Ward 3 program. It is also eating, exchanging of gifts, and performances. But what makes this one different is....."

".....Santa!!!!!! This is the true Santa Claus of the pacific."

"These are the big bags of candy and food they gave to all of the primary kids and us."

"It's a Santa balloon. It's pretty cool."

"This picture is of the two people we baptized on Christmas eve. It is our gift to Jesus and Heavenly Father on that day. The kid on the left, his name is Toetu'u. that means "Resurrection". The girl next to me, her name is Lupe, that means "Dove". They are both super cool and I'm super happy that they decided to follow Jesus Christ.​"




Our Sunday, December 18, 2016 / His Monday, December 19, 2016


Dear Mom & Dad,

This is your final offspring reporting from the steak center in Ha'ateiho Tonga. It is crazy that they made Brother Lewis’ hill my mission language this year. Everything is going great in Tonga. I am happy, and continuing to my best. I love you lots. Continue to grow your testimony. I invite you to read the ensign from December 2015 and read the talk about the Savior’s compassion. It is pretty cool.

This week has been quite a good one. Needless to say, this upcoming week I will be finishing my training with the end of this transfer. I'm excited about skyping and eating well on Christmas (read as: eating until I die). It has been a little bit cooler here (as in a humid 75) in Tonga this past week so walking out in the sun was not too bad. For the very first time I ate octopus this week. It was actually pretty good. I’d say it’s one of my favorite foods right behind dog.

We are preparing investigators to be baptized on Christmas Eve. It will be our Christmas present to Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. We are very excited for Christmas needless to say. On Christmas Eve, the family that is feeding us asked what food we wanted. We told them that we wanted French toast, a roasted pig and ice cream! It will be amazing, and I will send pictures.

This week may unfortunately not be full teachings however, that is because we have lots of Christmas programs lined up for this week. One of our wards is doing a big bonfire and then camping overnight on Tuesday night. We will be going to the bonfire part. And our other wards have Christmas programs too but I don't quite know what it is yet. We have a mission Christmas celebration on Friday. It starts from 10 and it goes to 4. I know that there will be singing, exchanging of gifts and probably President Tuione will speak to us. I am really excited.

I am excited for this upcoming week!

'ofa'atu
Elder Bethke

Missy,

How have you not decorated for Christmas yet? Have I taught you nothing at my time in the house? You need to do some repenting.

In this Christmas season I have been reading from the December Ensign from 2015. It focuses a lot on Jesus Christ, as it should. I like the talk by.... I can’t remember who but it is about the compassion of Jesus Christ and it is pretty good. It also has the last special witness of Boyd K. Packer to Jesus Christ. I invite you to read it.

I am excited to talk to the family on Christmas, well Christmas Eve your time. I am planning on skyping to you all at 3 pm my time on Sunday. So it will be 8 pm on Saturday your time.

Love you lots!

"Here is a cool temple pic of the Tonga temple."

"These are the Christmas trees in our chapel."




Our Sunday, December 11, 2016 / His Monday, December 12, 2016


It is hard to write the things that I have done this week because I am lacking in memory of those items. These are the things that I have done this week that I can remember:

- Elder and I had the wonderful opportunity to baptize a little 8 year-old. They asked us to do the baptism because he doesn’t have a Priesthood holder in his family.
- One of our wards held a program where they all brought clothes, food, and other random items to sell to raise money for the church. We went to try and help but they ended up giving us food instead.
- Our stake held a musical fireside and went all out on it. They decorated the church with Christmas lights and they all wore Christmas Santa hats that lit up. It was fun listening to all of the Christmas songs in Tongan.
- I remember at the beginning of the week work was very slow but towards the end of the week we got 2 new investigators. One of my investigators is named Tevita (David). He is really cool. He is from the island Vava'u and he recently moved to Tongatapu to live with some family here for a while. He's been taught by the missionaries before in Vava'u but wasn’t baptized because his parents wouldn’t let him. But now he lives in Tongatapu with family who happen to be members. It is crazy to see how the Lord will help people who have the desire to follow Christ. We are hoping to baptize him next week or the week after that.
- We went on splits with the Bishop and the 1st counselor to the Bishop. We walked to every members’ house and asked them to help us out with the work by inviting a less active or a friend to church and to mutual and other activities that are going on in the ward.
- We did some other things.

It is only 13 more days till Christmas, I am very excited for all of the little Christmas primary programs in all my wards. 

It is hot here in Tonga. I have a mean collar tan line from wearing my white shirts all day. It is amazing.

1 Nifai 3:6 – The new way which I try to live.


1 Nephi 3:6
Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.

'ofa'atu
Elder Bethke

I am teaching a total of 5 people right now:
Tevita (David) - I talked about him in moms email some. But this kid has been taught by missionaries before and he knows a lot about the church. The only reason he wasn't baptized in the island of Vava'u originally is because his parents wouldn’t let him be baptized. But now he lives with different family on a different island so we are hoping for better results from the family this time around.
Lupe (Dove) - She is the girlfriend of our ward mission leader in ward 2. She has heard some about the church already. The biggest obstacle with her is growing her desire to be baptized. She wants to be baptized because her boyfriend is a member. It’s a good thing she wants to be baptized, but we'd like to have it for the reason of her herself wanting to be baptized because she wants to follow Christ.

Tasi - He believes in the lessons in which we taught. However he doesn’t want to be baptized because of family reasons. He doesn’t want to be cut off from his family because if he changes it might be a big possibility. He recently went to the island of Vava'u for the holidays to visit his family. When he comes back we will resume talking to him

Latu - We have only taught him one lesson. We have been trying to get him to come to church. It is also hard to meet with him. But I believe we can meet with him soon.

Ana - She is scheduled to be baptized this week. She is the daughter of one of my former investigators (Nikola). Nikola is planning to baptize her. It is crazy cool to see how he has progressed in the church and now has the opportunity to baptize his own daughter. He is the man!

Former investigators of mine that have been baptized:

Siaosi (George) - He has been coming to church every week and goes to all of the activities. He is good friends with the 1st counselor to the Bishop and his kids. So he gets informed about everything and goes to all of the activities with them.

Nikola (Nicholas) - He is very strong in the church. He has taught lessons in Sunday School which have been very cool. He wants to share the gospel with his family and because of that he is going to baptize his daughter this week. It is a beautiful thing.

Neila - She currently is in New Zealand for Christmas. But before she left for that she has been coming to church and having a good time.
  


"Picture of the big tent set up for the ward market and also a picture of the food they gave us -- kabobs, sandwich, coconut, luu sipi (sheep), manioke (tapioka plant)."



"Picture of the sunset."

"Picture of the stake center being decorated for the Christmas program."



Our Sunday, December 4, 2016 / His Monday, December 5, 2016

This past week Misiona Tonga had a mission tour. A mission tour is when a General Authority or member of the Seventy go around and talk to all the missionaries in the mission in a big old fun meeting. Since our mission consists of many islands and it is hard to transport everyone to one location, the general authority or 70 has lots of meetings on many other islands. We had Elder Halec of the Seventy come talk to us. I learned a couple things. One thing I learned is pretty crazy. I learned that at the beginning of last year our mission set a goal for 1000 baptisms before the end of the year. I learned that we are at 951 as of last week. I am pretty confident that it can be accomplished. It is a crazy high number. I also learned that members of the Seventy are special witnesses of Christ, just as the Apostles. That they have all the same callings except that a member of the Seventy have different keys of authority. Pretty interesting.

We have this one pretty interesting way of finding people that I think no other mission does. We have one of our wards do a program every Wednesday every week. The program is people come and play volleyball and eat food. While they play, they will bring their friends and we will teach them. If there is no one to teach, we just play volleyball and eat food. So either way it is a fun time. It is also a good event to invite less active members.

Everything is going well in Tonga. It is almost Christmas time and every once in a while I will see Christmas lights or a Christmas tree. Me and my companion bought Christmas lights and are in the process of setting them up today. But everything is great!

It is getting hot here. It is almost Christmas. We might skype Christmas Eve your time like anywhere from 9-11 pm haha. But we are still working logistics here.

'ofa'atu,
Elder Bethke

"A picture of the scenery​."


"All the animals kind of just run around. Chickens, pigs, and dogs all just run around. It is pretty fun.​"




Sunday, November 6, 2016

November 2016

Our Sunday, Novemebr 27, 2016 / His Monday, November 28, 2016

I am hanging in here in Tonga!

I have pictures this week, and I am able to send them to you through my new fancy cable that you sent me. I did not even realize it was thanksgiving back in America. It is weird being in a different country during thanksgiving because no one celebrates it other than America and Canada. So when the day came, everyone treats it just as another day of the week. People here are starting to prepare for Christmas. Some people are putting up Christmas trees and lights. However Christmas is not as big here as in America. Although I’m not sure anywhere is as big as America’s Christmas.

What did I do this week? To be honest I am not sure what really happens. We walk a lot. Probably around 8 to 10 miles a day. I eat a lot. Anywhere from 2 to 7 times a day. I sleep from 10:30- 6:30. I try to do as much work as I can.

Oh I also had a baptism this week. It was pretty easy teaching her because she grew up with some pretty strong members of the church in her family. Nonetheless, we were only able to contact her by asking someone for a referral. This relates to lots of our lives. We each have many blessings in store for us. Lots of times we need only ask other people for help for our Father in Heaven to help us with our needs.

It is almost Christmas! Mixed feelings about this one coming up because it will be my first one away from home in a completely different country. But I have people offer me to make anything I want on Christmas and they will do their best to make it. I might have to take someone up on that offer!

On our p-day (preparation day), we don’t need to prepare anything for the week accept get haircuts really. All of the members take care of us. We give them our laundry, they feed us, if we ask they will sew us new clothes. Mission president said to not schedule work till 5 because he knows the importance of p-day. I could go play volleyball but it is really hot right now.

Everything is going well. It is getting hotter in Tonga but that is the only real thing I can complain about.

'ofa'atu,
Elder Bethke


By the way Missy, Masima in Tongan means Max. Masi means boy. But people often shorten Masima to Masi anyways. It seems that I was meant to go to Tonga because you called me Massi before I was even called on my mission!


"Pictures from our baptism."


"Me eating my beloved chex mix."



Our Sunday, November 20, 2016 / His Monday, November 21, 2016


Let’s see...We moved the puppies when they started to walk around and out of under our house. We put them in the neighbor’s yard. We told them before that they had puppies under our house but we just kept them until they could walk out.

This week was the start of a new transfer out here in Tonga. This means that transfers are on Christmas, well your Christmas not my Christmas. So it might be hard to contact everybody that day. But we will just have to wait and see. Not much happened this week but I’ll just tell you about a couple of my investigators.

Remember the man that I baptized a while back? Well now we are teaching his daughters the missionary lessons. Nikola (the father) has really become a strong member in the church. He has received the priesthood and has just started blessing the sacrament last week. And as I said before, he invited us to teach some of the rest of his family. So far we have taught both of his daughters twice and we have a baptismal date set in the future. 

Another investigator we have was pretty random and pretty cool. We went around all three wards we work in and committed all the members to search for an investigator for us to teach. So it comes to be Sunday and someone comes up to us at church and tells us "I have an investigator for you. I think she will be ready to be baptized next Saturday." We told him we will maybe be ready to baptize her then, there is still a lot she needs to do in just one week. But we taught her once and she is pretty cool. Her name is Neila.

Everything is going well in Tonga. I hope everything is going well in the States.

'ofa'atu, 
Elder Bethke




Our Sunday, November 13, 2016 / His Monday, November 14, 2016

Everything is going well in Tonga! My first transfer is over and I am staying in Ha'ateiho for another transfer. This is a nice area though, I like the members here.

For about the past weak and a half it has been raining super hard in the mornings and then by 12, the sun comes out and makes everything super humid. It is quite annoying because we have to walk through puddles and mud and we get our tupenus all dirty.

We went to the temple this week and it was a lot of fun to go to the temple again. It was nice to go back after a couple of months. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to go. The temple was in Tongan, but they have some English Tongan speakers there that were able to help me. It was way cool.
I got to go to a feast this week at someone’s house. They had a feast because one of their daughters graduated from high school, one of his sons got married, and it was his wife's 50th birthday. The guy that threw the feast got a silver medal at an international Taekwondo tournament in Korea. He represented Tonga in the tourney. It was a lot of fun to go to his house and eat food.

Some of my investigators:

Maki- he is a teenager and so far we have only taught him one lesson. We met him at a program one of the wards set up to play volleyball every week. It is a cool program. People just play volleyball and bring their friends. I play volleyball and teach after. It’s quite cool.

Nikola's two daughters- we baptized Nikola a little while back and it is kind of a Tongan tradition to follow your dad’s church. So we are working on building the desire to be baptized.

Malekai- we finished all the lessons and are just waiting for the parents’ approval. However we have been waiting since the beginning of last transfer...

Tali- He is a 9 year-old who has ADD, so it was tough to keep his focus on the lesson. We have finished the lessons, however, one of his parents said no to baptism...unfortunate.

Tonga is really pretty. It rains a lot. It is getting hotter. I am still learning the language. I am doing my best. I am happy.

'ofa'atu,
Elder Bethke

P.S. We had pig brain at the other day. Some people will tell you it tastes good, well they are liars. I do not recommend it. I'd say a 2-star rating at best.





"I got to see my district at the MTC at one of my 12 week training meetings​."

"My companion walking on water after a heavy rain in the morning​."

"Uta (farm land)​"

"At a beach in our area​."



"​Our district at the temple​."

"Me and Elder Fiso in front of the temple​."


"This is at the feast. They had different carved watermelons on all of the tables. It was pretty cool.​"

"Some of the food I ate at the feast. Not sure what that red shrimp thing is but it was pretty good.​"

"Me feeling the refreshing breeze​."

"Sunday afternoon traffic​."

"My neighbor's yard​."





Our Sunday, November 6, 2016 / His Monday, November 7, 2016


Io!

I wouldn’t worry too much about my Tongan visa because if I don’t get it in 6 months, they send us to work in New Zealand until I get my visa. That would be pretty cool.

Not much has happened this last week. And unfortunately I’m unable to send pictures this week, but I will next week, hopefully. I do have pictures to send. Next week is the end of my first transfer. I have a feeling that I will be split up with my companion because we are covering another ward that is not originally in our area. We think one of us might move there. I could also go off onto an outer island which I think would be a lot of fun. Maybe serve in the same island as Kolipoki. If I do get transferred there, I’d either have to take a 22 hour boat ride, or fly. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

My companion and I are working hard with a couple of our investigators before our transfer ends. We think we might finally get the parent’s permission to baptize one of our investigators which would be great. We are currently teaching 3 kids and all of them are pretty sweet. Should be an eventful Saturday.

I am sad because I didn’t get to eat bat last week. I hope that I get the chance this week. I’ve heard people say it’s really good and also some said that it is terrible. I will be judge of that.

All is going well, working hard.

'ofa'atu,

Elder Bethke

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October 2016

Our Sunday, October 30, 2016 / His Monday, October 31, 2016


To answer your question about the kids wearing lavalavas, no they do not. They wear tupenus, which is basically the same thing except that is what Tongans call the skirt fabric. Lavalava is Samoan. But people will also wear pants here. Tupenus are easier to make and are less expensive that is one reason why tupenus are more common.

I'll start off with what happened towards the earlier part of the week. One of the elders in our district works in Ha'ateiho Ward 2, which is also the ward he grew up in. It is pretty crazy that he got the opportunity to serve in his own ward and with his family. Anyways, he was only in Tonga because he was waiting to receive his visa in to Botswana, Africa. So in his time serving in his ward, he started to teach and baptize some of his friends. However, his visa finally arrived and now he is off to Africa. The other elder that was working with him got transferred to a new area. Long story short, I now cover three wards in my new area. Ward 2, 3, and 5. Sundays are pretty hectic because I have lots of meetings to attend and they are not all at the same building. Toooo many meetings, but it’s ok.

I ate horse this week, it’s delicious. I have an appointment to eat bat next week, should be fun.

This past Saturday, I got to participate in the ordinance of baptism with two of my investigators. It was great. It was awesome to see the smile on their faces and the joy that they felt after they were immersed in the water. The actual baptism was fantastic, however, before the baptism was crazy. Other missionaries were going to have a baptismal service before us but we get a call at 6 in the morning from them saying the baptismal font is broken and the water won’t run. They ended up changing their location. Elder Fiso and I later go to the font and figure out that there is a pump behind the church that must be turned on first to fill up the baptismal font. So we got it to start filling up. At this point we are talking to the bishop and everyone and telling them that the time will be the same. Anyways, it gets to be 30 minutes before the baptism and apparently the water was not coming out right, and it was filling really slowly. At that time, the water was only up to my shins. So we kind of start to freak out about it and look for buckets. We filled the buckets with water and helped to fill the font faster. When it came time to do the baptism, the water was about two inches above my knees... that is not very high. One of the investigators had to kneel down to be baptized.

But it was still a beautiful event and one of the happiest moments I’ve felt in my life.

So it has been a crazy and fun week out here in Tonga. I am excited to see what the Lord has prepared for this next week.

'ofa'atu,

Elder Bethke (aka Elder Pesiki)

"A member sewed us new tupenus so we'd thought wed show them off​."

"This is one of the buckets we used to fill up the baptismal font."

"The two dressed in white next to me were my investigators.
The little kid's name is Siaosi, and the man next to me, his name is Nikola."


"The many puppies under my house."

"Some snails I saw this morning."

"This is my Tongan mission shirt.​"

"My name is now Tonganized. I am now called Elder Pesiki."




Our Sunday, October 23, 2016 / His Monday, October 24, 2016

This week was eventful, but honestly I can’t remember any of it. We are continuing to teach people. Right now we have 7 investigators. All of them are in Ward 5. I am praying and fasting. We have 3 investigators progressing really well and are planning for baptism next Saturday. We need one of them to get parents’ permission, which is really hard. He has already gone through all of the lessons before but wasn’t allowed to be baptized. So we are praying and fasting for that. We also have two investigators that are smokers and we are doing our best to help them with that addiction.

We had the primary program in both of our wards this past Sunday. It was really funny and it made my day. Their primary program is mainly singing, even more so than our ward, which is great.

I don’t know what else to say except that I am trying hard out here.

Good luck to you all!

It sounds like lots of things are going to happen while I’m in Tonga. It’s ok I’m not sad about it though. I like to know these things though, thanks for sharing about Dalia’s shower and the wedding plans. Best of luck to Danny.

Did you send the package that has chex mix?

‘ofa'atu,
Elder Bethke

"Me drinking a coconut​."

"After a successful day of laundry. Oh, we do all of our laundry in a bucket. It is very interesting​."

"This is a dog that keeps hopping the fence around our house and sleeping in our yard and under the house.​"

"​I didn't take pictures this week so I took a picture of the sky because it is really blue."

"I took a picture of my feet. Since I wear slippers everyday, they make my feet really tough and hard. By the time I'm done with my mission, I'll be able to walk on glass easily. People here go barefoot a lot and often run on gravel and sharp rocks, it is crazy how hard feet they have."




Our Sunday, October 16, 2016 / His Monday, October 17, 2016

I'm trying to think of all the things that have happened in the last week because there are so many things that happened. The baptism didn’t happen last week but it is being pushed to a later time. We also have many more progressing investigators.

We had an interesting experience in finding two investigators. It was nothing spectacular but it was interesting to me. It was after a long day of walking in the hot humid weather (as usual). We were hungry and hadn’t had food yet. However we were unable to do language study that morning because a member had fafanga for us at that time and then we had to go do teachings afterward. So after taking a small break at the MQ (missionary quarters) to discuss what to do next, we both felt like we should get food. Now I don't know if it was our stomachs talking to us or the Holy Ghost but because of us walking to the bakery, a member pulled up to us and said that I’ve been searching for you guys for a long time and I have two people for you to teach. We are teaching them now and have set a baptismal date for them in 2 weeks. It is crazy how everything works out. It reminds me of a talk Bednar gave about recognizing the Holy Ghost... He said, ‘Stop your worrying about that! As long as you are a good boy or a good girl, the Holy Ghost will work through you without you even realizing it. Quit your complaining and stop worrying about it.’

We do lots of walking back and forth between wards. Since my hoa (companion) is the district leader, I have to go with him to do baptismal interviews with other missionaries' investigators. So we were trying to find the house that we had to go to for an interview and got lost. It turns out that we were walking around in an entirely different zone. We eventually found the house after much walking.

The fruit here is amazing. The bananas are sooo sweet and I had my first coconut just the other day. I never realized that coconuts had so much water in them. I'm scheduled to eat dog tonight and that will be really interesting. I heard it is really juicy and the meet is so tender it almost falls off the bone. But... I might feel a little bad about eating it, but not too bad.

I have not seen Addie Fullmer yet, but I have talked to her on the phone once. She is really enjoying Tonga. Elder Grant is on the same island as me but is not in the same zone as me.

The work…there is a lot of it which is good. I like the area I’m in because of the members, but I really want to go out to the outer islands. I'm hoping in one or two more transfers I'll be off in motu (the islands).

Ofa Atu,
Elder Bethke


"This is a picture of my old district from the MTC.
I saw them in Tonga at a service project we had where painted a home for the blind."

"Elder Fiso and I woke up really early one morning and went to the beach to try and catch the sunrise.
Unfortunately, the beach in our area does not face east, but this is right next to the beach.​"

"This is the same picture with a little bit more light​."


"​The water is really clear and blue, but it's hard to tell with this pic.​"

"They have lots of crabs on the beach. Some are really small like this but some are way bigger."

"See, the water is more blue​."

"This is in front of the api'siasi olunga (the church on the hill)​."

"This is at one of the other companionship's baptism. They served us treys of ice cream.
So basically just a big glob of ice cream on a lot of bread. You use the bread as a spoon, or your fingers.
Whichever works best.​"




Our Sunday, October 9, 2016 / His Monday, October 10, 2016

So I made it Tonga ok. It is hot and muggy here but it is really nice here too. There is almost always a nice cool breeze. So flying was a really long trip to Tonga. However when we flew from San Fran to New Zealand, we had the nicest plane ever. I recommend flying Air New Zealand from now on.

It is really interesting work here. I’m serving on the main island of Tongatapu and I’m serving in the area of Ha'ateiho. In Ha'ateiho I’m covering two different wards (Ward 3 and Ward 5). It is pretty interesting that they just number the wards in the stake here. My new companion is Elder Fiso. He is a palagni like me except he is 1/8 Tongan and 1/8 Samoan. It is funny because he looks completely palagni and also has red hair yet he is part Polynesian. The wards that I work in are great. They help with a lot of the missionary work. Just after conference yesterday, a member walked up to us and said that they had someone that they wanted us to teach right then and there. His name is Malakai and he has a baptismal date for this Saturday! We still need to work out some things but I think it will work out in the end. So anyways, the members help out a lot.

The members fafanga (provide food for) us here too every meal. The members are great. It is super hard to understand people here though. Way different then the MTC. I thought I was good then but coming here is a wakeup call. I still have lots more studying to do. The members are really nice about my insufficient language skills though. One lady gave me a tauvala because I didn’t have one and someone else gave me a kafa to hold up my tauvala. My companion gave me a tupenu too. Everyone is very giving here.

We have lots of member referrals to check out and go with members to visit them so hopefully we will have lots more investigators next week. Looking forward to the work here, I am learning a lot. I just need to trust in the lord and work hard and he will do the rest.

I also watched General Conference again this week because they do it a week late in Tonga for translation. So I got to hear it twice. I got to hear it in English here too so that was nice. I liked the talk with Russell M. Nelson when he was talking about joy. He said "suffer with joy". I think I might need to do that a lot out here on my mission at times. There was also a lot of talks about the importance of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. So study that.

I love you lots and I will do my best out here and work hard.

Ofa'atu,
Elder Bethke

FYI, when sending packages here it is better to send smaller packages than one big package.

Also I need you to send me something that allows me to put my SD card into the thumb drive spot so I can send home pictures. So you should send me it soon so that I'm able to get it in like 2 weeks.

I also really want Mexican food. Although the food here is pretty good.


"Outside of our MQ (missionary quarters) in full missionary attire."

Tongatapu, Tonga

"My companion Elder Fiso and me."

"This is of my Ta'ovala (the knit) and Kafa ( the rope)​."

"This is the first and only beach I've seen so far​."


"This is the courtyard of the Api'siasi (church home). In the middle is the baptismal font.​"

"The church is up on a big hill and this is the overlook on that hill​."

"This is the front of the api'siasi (church home)​."

"The first two pictures of our MQ (missionary quarters)."


"A box of milk. Yes it comes in boxes."



Thursday, October 5, 2016

We've received word that Max has made it safely to Tonga!
Here is a photo of him with his mission presidents.