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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January 2017

Our Sunday, January 29, 2016 / His Monday, January 30, 2017

This last week was a lot of fun, probably one the best weeks of my mission. There were lots of fun and interesting things that went on. I will kind of just go through the days of this past week.

Last Monday----- Well last Monday I emailed and played volleyball, just like every other p-day.

Tuesday--- This day started off very wacky. At the beginning of the morning, the zone leaders came by to our MQ to shower because their water died in their village. After they were done showering we were all going to go to district meeting. However, before district meeting, one of the zone leaders and I were going to fill up the tires with air. I went because the other zone leader wasn't out of the shower. As we were going to put air in the tires, we got into an accident! Nothing bad happened to us but it could have been a very bad accident to say the very least. We were pulling up to a more major road in Tonga and the zone leader didn't look both ways and never came to a complete stop (now that is kind of just asking for an accident). Anyways a big truck came by, one that works with the big light posts, and we slowly ran into it as it zoomed by. I am just glad he didn’t hit the gas because it would’ve t-boned us if he did. But we are ok, we were protected. Only the car is broken. So this was on Tuesday, which also happened to be my Birthday. I almost lived exactly 19 years to the day because of that accident, that would’ve been impressive. But I am still alive so that is cool too. But to continue on to the night of Tuesday, I celebrated my birthday at a member’s house. We ate pizza, ice cream, drank sodas and some of the other missionaries in the district came. It was a memorable birthday to say the least.

Wednesday---- We had a baptismal interview for one of our investigators.

Thursday----- We had another baptismal interview for one of our investigators.

Friday------ We had a stake baptism. And what that is is that all of the missionaries that work in the stake take their investigators and be baptized and have a big fireside. It was a great program. We had a total of 8 people baptized that day. Elder Fiso and I baptized three people of the 8. Also the Mission President came to the stake baptism and gave a talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was pretty great. I am seeing now that actually the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important lesson. That is the lesson that allows people to reach eternal salvation. We have to practice it every week in district meetings. I am starting to see why too. The gospel is playing a bigger part in my life than ever before. Faith and repentance... those are the most important things that members need incorporate into their lives every day.

Saturday----- This was the start of stake conference. We had the assistants to the president come and talk in it. I also learned something new about priesthood keys in stake conference. During the priesthood session of stake conference, the stake president got up and told all of the Aaronic priesthood key holders to stand up (except the bishop) and he asked them why they were there. Why were they at the meeting. Before this point, I didn’t really understand how they can really use the priesthood within their calling except to pass and prepare the sacrament. But at the stake priesthood conference, He read a passage from one of the teachings of the prophets and it said (from Tongan to English) "the jobs of all leaders in the church, is to help others TRULY follow Christ" And when that was said I know understand that even little 12 and 14 year olds have a huge responsibility in their calling. They essentially have the power to receive revelation for their calling to help other people truly follow Christ. Yes the sacrament is very important, but I think that the thing I learned is very cool.

Sunday----- We had stake conference, President Tuione came and talked in it, and so did the temple president of the temple in Tonga. And something even cooler happened on Sunday to cap off the whole week. As you know, we have been teaching two Australians lately. They don’t understand any Tongan. The biggest challenge with the Australians was building their faith and understanding the answers that heavenly father gives us when we pray. They came to stake conference, did not understand anything of what the people were talking about. However, they felt the spirit and finally understood answers to her prayers and most important of all, felt her Heavenly Fathers love! One of her big questions was "why did Heavenly father take away my parents if he loves me so much?" In stake conference, she felt the comfort from the Holy Ghost and now knows that he took them away for a good reason. She doesn’t know why but she knows that whyever he did it was for the good. She felt the love. It was crazy when went to go teach her later that night, she told us that she knows that what we have been teaching her is true. We have a baptismal date this week and we are preparing really hard for that date. Teaching this investigator was probably the biggest testimony builder of my life. From teaching this investigator, I have even a stronger knowledge in the love of our Heavenly Father, the Savior and in the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost truly can guide what you say and what you do. I know this church is true.

A great week, can't wait for this next one.

Elder Bethke


I am almost at my 6 month mark yes... I will hit it next transfer. I am doing great out here in Tonga. Can you believe that I am 19? That means I am almost 20. Now that will be crazy. Mom told me that your health is improving some which is great. Your karate must be *kicking* in. hahhaha. I am amazing.
'ofa atu,
Elder Bethke

"The celebration of my birthday. We only get pizza in Tonga from the best pizza place in Tonga, Little Italy's."

"Just my tie that the sun destroys, no big deal."

"This is the stake baptism. The closest thing I will get to snow on my mission."

"This is vahe laione. Lion district."

"This is an octopus. It is actually very tasty. It actually tastes a little like chicken, it just has that small seafood taste after you take a couple bites."

With President and Sister Tuione.

Our Sunday, January 22, 2017 / His Monday, January 23, 2017

Last week was lots of fun. One thing I did was that I went on splits with the other missionaries in our district. I ended up working in a different village other than my own!! I basically got to see a whole new world. While I was on that split, my companion during that time was Elder Litili. He grew up in Tonga and doesn’t speak English well. But he was telling me how before his mission, he would go to Uta (his farm land) and just bring two knives with him. He would whistle and call either a pig or a dog to him and then throw a knife at it and cook it and eat it. It is not every day that you meet someone that is really good at throwing knives. So that was fun.

Elder Fiso and I have been continuing to teach the people from Australia this past week. It is a lot of fun teaching them. They have so many questions and some of them are hard to answer, but through the guidance of the Holy Ghost we have been able to answer them all. The hardest trial with her is growing her faith in the things that we have taught her. She truly understands all the things we taught her and gets all the reasons for things. But it all comes down to her having the faith to follow Christ. She has a lot of problems in her life right now and so she is very open with us about it. I think the thing we are going to really emphasize next lesson is recognizing the Holy Ghost and receiving answers to prayer. I've told her my testimony on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the power it has to answer questions. Because the Book of Mormon is God's words, and he can talk to us if we just open up the book. It is very fun teaching her and I'm looking forward to the future lessons with her.

I know that God loves us. I know that Jesus loves us. I know this church is true.

Elder Bethke

"This is a picture from the balcony of my ward mission leader's house. It is nice to relax on the balcony of that house with a nice breeze. It almost makes you want to zzzzzzzz. But we are not supposed to do that."

"This picture is at some pond place thing. I went there while on splits with the other missionaries."

Our Sunday, January 15, 2017 / His Monday, January 16, 2017

All is well in Tonga.

One thing that happened that was pretty interesting is that we started teaching a lady in English outside of our area. The Stake President called us to teach one of the other missionaries’ investigators because the other missionaries do not speak very good English. So we talked with the other missionaries and have started teaching their investigator. Her name is Tania and she is from Australia but is married to a Tongan and is visiting Tonga for 6 months. She has a kid that sits in during the lessons too. She is very interested in the lessons and has many questions. But questions are good, it helps her learn and shows that she is interested. She has lots of good questions but it is funny how the lessons always answer her questions. It is very fun teaching her and her kid.

We are continuing to teach 'Aloha, She unfortunately was unable to be baptized last Saturday. Not because she isn’t ready, but because the Bishop couldn’t hold the ordinance that day, or next week. So her new baptismal date is the 27. By then she will be very prepared for baptism.

These are my investigators as of right now. And I am very happy for them.

The language is pretty hard. It is hard to get myself thinking as the Tongans think because they think backwards from English. I do not have to pass off missionary lessons like you did. I read the Tongan Book of Mormon or PMG every day. That helps but only so much for right now. President Hinckley promised that if you read the entire Book of Mormon out loud you will be fluent by the time you are done. So I have been trying to do that. Do you have any advice on learning the language? I teach half the lesson when I teach right now. We split it up pretty evenly, but the language is a challenge. I can understand a lot, but I also don’t understand a lot haha.

Elder Bethke

"This is the program that Elder Fiso and I set up in the stake, A stake volleyball day. This was an opportunity for members to invite friends to meet the missionaries and play volleyball. It was a great success for the other missionaries in our district, unfortunately not for Elder Fiso and I. But the other half of the stake volleyball day is tomorrow. So we hope some good will come of it."

"The scenery."


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

Hello mom,

This week went by a little slow. I would say work is not the fastest right now. We are searching for new investigators this week. We were trying to think of ideas of how to get new investigators and it is kind of hard especially when some of our ward boundaries are mostly baptized but just a lot of less actives. For example, in Ward 5, 95% of the people in the ward boundaries have been baptized into the church. So this area is a lot of less active work. However, Elder Fiso and I are working on programs that would make it easy for members to invite friends and also less active members will go to. One program is a stake activity, a stake volleyball tournament. While wards sit out and wait for their turn to play, us missionaries can come and get to know everyone there and possibly find someone new to teach. We are also setting up activities in our ward. Those activities will just be people dancing or singing or playing a game or things like that that people can invite friends to. So that has been the main part of our week. We also have been continuing our teaching with 'Aloha. She is understanding everything really well and is progressing really well. She reads and marks scriptures in the Book of Mormon. The marking part is what impressed me. She keeps all of our commitments too. She is preparing to be baptized this Saturday so we are looking forward to that.

Notable things I've done this week...

I blessed the sacrament for the first time in Tongan, Elder Fiso and I gave another blessing, I ate another dog (that is my 10th dog eaten).

As Elder Fiso and I were working on trying to set up our programs I had a pretty cool experience. We were walking to the clerk’s office to work on the agenda for the program and while we were doing that, someone stops me to help him with something. The person was the counselor to the Bishop in Ward 1. Apparently their ward was trying to do their sacrament meeting in English for some reason (I didn’t understand the reason why) and it was his first time conducting in English. He asked me to help him write out what he had to say in English to conduct the meeting and bear his testimony because his English is not the greatest. Luckily for him, I am pretty good at speaking English and have learned what to say to conduct a meeting through my many years of going to church. It was cool after I finished helping him because he said before that he was praying for some help that he could accomplish his task and then the Missionaries showed up. It is these tender mercies of the Lord that Nephi often talks about that really show the Love of the Lord in the world. He cares for everyone and will help everyone if you ask and follow in faith.

So this week was pretty cool but definitely had some slow moments. My Christmas package is not quite here yet. I say it comes either this or next week. Oh and I still have the same companion this transfer.

I'm doing great and am having a good time.

Elder Bethke

Oh... the Zones came by and gave me the package! Let me just say I love the shirt. No one in Tonga knows what Pokémon is, but I will show them. By the way... I think I’m still size medium just letting you all know.

Love you lots.

"This is a picture of my feet after a couple hours of working. I cleaned one of them to see the difference. I would say that there is some difference."

"This is a drink that Elder Fiso and I have started to make. Its water, orange tang, and popsicles. Our fridge broke a while ago so we didn't have any cold drinks for a while. We got tired of not having cold drinks so we bought popsicles as ice because they do not have ice here."

"I carved this from a watermelon *please applaud*."

"For those of you who don't know...THIS is the sauce. This sweet chili sauce is a purity in this world."

"I am not angry in this picture I am actually very happy. Because I'm wearing a Pokémon shirt and playing with a dog. I'd say that is true happiness."
"​This is a picture of a baptism that I had a while ago. It is the daughter of Nikola who Elder Fiso and I also baptized."

Our Sunday, January 1, 2071 / His Monday, January 2, 2017

Hello mom everything is great out here in the Kingdom. The Kingdom is very humid today. It is no good for doing laundry today but one must bear through these small trials. Just like your church times have changed, so have mine. And the times work out better because now I don’t have to walk back and forth between churches.

Our New Year’s Eve celebration was really fun. So we got back and planned at usual at 9. But after that... we went to bed and had a good night’s sleep. Isn't that just the best celebration ever?

This week was kind of slow for work unfortunately. It is hard coming up with new ideas to find people because we can walk our whole village in an hour and have talked to I think just about everyone. We are teaching one girl right now. He name is 'Aloha...yes like the Hawaiian word for hello/goodbye. She is pretty cool and is a really good listener. I think that is one of the most important things when teaching people. It makes their understanding of the lessons and the Spirit progress much faster because they have the desire to listen. It is really hard when they don't want to listen. If that happens then you just have to find something they will listen to. But anyways 'Aloha is cool. We set a date for her to be baptized on the 15th. So that is really exciting!

I am trying to think if there was anything new and interesting that I ate this week, but I don't think I have. For brunch I had canned spaghetti, and canned beef sandwiches this morning. Since can openers don’t exist here, I’ve gotten good at opening cans with dull knives.

One thing that is really hard on the mission is sitting on the ground cross legged. If you sit longer for thirty minutes, your feet fall asleep and it is so hard to stand up and walk after that.

I learned how to make kafas this week and I made myself a bracelet using the same weave.

Elder Bethke

"This is a spider I found. It had like 10 different colors on it. I only freaked out a little bit."

"This is a picture of one of the elders in our district's speaker. He made it. I don't know how. But he did it and it works."

"Just another beautiful day in Ha'ateiho."

"This is my washing machine. It only works as much as one's effort. Unfortunately my washing machine doesn't clean my clothes so well. But it works good enough."