Tongan Flag

Tongan Flag

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.


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?

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.

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.