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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!

Elder Bethke


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.

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.

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.​"