Sunday, April 26, 2015

2 Baptisms and Say, "Try me!" instead of "Why me?"

2/22/15 Hey mom!!  ...The work is going well here, however i am still adjusting but i will be just fine :) This week was another great week!! So i will mention that i have already seen two huge spiders that were like the size of the palm of my hand!!! EWWWWWWWW!! It was sick, and i squealed, again....and i wasnt even that close to it....yeah...really need to work on the whole being a man thing haha!! jk! ok, maybe im a little serious...haha.  Anyways, on Wednesday we had another baptism! And funny story, so my comp and i forgot to teach her how to be baptized. Ya know, the whole bend your knees and plug your nose type deal.  So when I went to baptize her, instead of it being like she goes in nice and easy and comes out all graceful, it went a little more like this: After the prayer, i went to baptize her and then she pretty much kicked up both of her feet and i was suppose i was to catch her like she was a newly wed bride! haha! So i was trying to make this look as nice and graceful as possible, but it didnt exactly turn out that way.  See, she was already under the water, and i havent worked out in a while...which is not to be taken the other way, because she was a very healthy young woman...haha! We will just say it was a lot of water weight, ya? haha! But i didnt want her family to think that i was drowning her ya know. So i kind of yanked her out of the water a little...but hey, its not my fault she was swept off her own two feet hahahaha! jokes!!  Another great and funny story is that we had a fourth baptism on Saturday. So everything was going good.  We had good talks and a good baptismal program and then we got to the baptismal part...So while we were walking in to where the baptismal font is, i slowly started making my way down into the font and guess what...i slipped!!...yep, not exactly the most graceful baptizer in the mission field. I fell into the baptismal font in front of everyone and everyone started laughing. Well everyone except bishop...but fortunately my head didnt go in so i didnt look like i baptized the both of us haha! Anyways, the baptism, after my clutz moment, went great!! So all jokes aside, i am so grateful for the baptisms that we have had this week and even though i am a clutz, the spirit was still there and each moment was a beautiful moment.  To witness two more of God's children take that first step in coming unto Christ is a beautiful opportunity! To be a part of it is something words cannot describe. I love this Gospel and even though it can be hard sometimes i have learned that the Lord allows hardships and trials to either 1) strengthen us as his children and as his disciples. or 2) to create a way to show forth his mighty hand and mighty works among the children of men!! I am grateful for these trials and the ones that i know will come.  There is a saying that i remembered during this past week and it said, "Instead of saying 'Why me?' we should be saying 'TRY ME!'" So remember if times get hard and you dont know what to do or you just dont see the point of whats happening and feel like giving up, remember that the Lord has a plan.  Remember that he is your strength if you will let him be so. Remember to think as the savior did and say "Try me!" And we will receive strength we never knew we had!
I love you mom!! Always and forever!!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!!
Elder Tavake

Ps. Thanks for everything you taught me mom.  I am learning more and more that everything you and dad ever taught me was so i could embark in the service of God here in Tonga.  So thank you for being the great example and mother that you are and always have been to me!!! I love you!!! <3

1st 2 Baptisms and an encounter with a cockroach :-0

2/15/15 Hey mom! Yeah things are going pretty good but i am getting better thanks to all of your advice and counsel!! Thanks for always knowing what to say because it really does help a ton!! But i am glad you enjoyed the story because i have got a couple more from this week. haha. This week was pretty awesome though because we had our first two baptisms!!  Their names are SP and SK. It was funny because guess who got to baptize them?? This guy!! oh yeah...and it was in tongan!! haha.  Here is the prayer "State their name.  Kuo fakamafai'i au e Sisu Kalaisi pea oku ou papitaiso koe i he huafa oe Tamai, pea moe Alo, pea moe Laumalie Ma'oni'oni. Emeni" So we had to go and prep the baptismal font like 3 and a half hours before because i guess they havent had a baptism here in months, so the font was super dirty and needed to be cleaned.  Then is took like an hour or so to fill so we were there for a while.  But it was a really cool experience getting to baptize in the mission field for the first time!  And in tongan!! Afterwards, this thought came into my head saying "This is why you are here."  And i thought that was the coolest thing!!  Also another funny story, me and Elder Lisiate were walking home and right when we walked in our door something fell on my neck. So i grabbed it...yeah..bad was a cockroach!!! I hucked it and it scurried under my bed...blahhhh!!  I touched it!!!!  It was the grossest thing ever!! I almost threw up and i kinda squealed like a little girl haha! But thats all for this week! Lovin the work!!  Things are going great!!
I love you mom!! Always and forever!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!
Elder Tavake

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You can have our dog!!

2/8/15 Hey mom! Sounds like you are having a pretty busy time back home.  But its more like anxiously engaged right?? :) Yeah i have done a lot of praying and relying on the lord and finding things to do to keep myself engaged in the work.  Because truth be told, this mission is very laid back and it is very difficult to stay focused sometimes.  For example, we are not allowed to proselyte or tract or street contact.  We can only get our investigators from the members of the wards, so our main job is to inspire the ward members to engage in the effort of missionary work.  It is quite different than what i thought i would be doing but nonetheless i will do what the lord asks of me.  On a funnier and kind of sadder note, today we couldn't figure out who our fafanga was (the member family that was going to feed us) so our neighbors said we could have one of their don't hear that everyday in America haha.  So we went over and i about died because i watched them "put the dog down" (in a nicer term for a really gruesome action).  Then we picked some mei (breadfruit) and skinned the dog and it is now cookin in the umu (underground pit thang...haha).  Ill be honest, i am still a little freaked out from the whole putting the dog down scenario because it wasn't the nicest tap on the head with a log that i have ever seen...ha...but i guess thats a good way to say WELCOME TO TONGA!!!! HAHAHA!! Anyways, if their is anything i will say for this week, a good thing to do for ourselves as a reminder of how good God is and how much he blesses us is to keep a notebook/journal of blessings we have in our life.  Just a person or a thing and a brief description of why we are grateful for them or it.  It really has opened my eyes to how much God has blessed me.  It also made me realize why i am so home sick...its because i have blessed  with the best family ever!!!  The best friends anyone could ask for!!! The gospel!!! and so much more in my life!!!  Funny that i had to travel thousands of miles away to truly understand that!!! :)
Anyways, I love you mom!! Thanks for the advice!  It always lifts my spirit and makes my week brighter to hear from you and the family and that you are supporting me :)
I love you mom!  Always and Forever!!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!!!

Elder Tavake


When life knocks you on your knees, you're in the perfect position to pray. The Lord is merciful.

2/2/15 Hi mom! Sounds like everyone is doing well out there! Sorry, i meant to write yesterday but its not as easy to get access to the internet here.  There is only one computer and there is 8 of us haha.  Well keep writing cuz this is my favorite part of the week!! I love hearing from you all!! Anyways, This week has been the hardest week of my life...i cant explain how hard its been. But funny enough its where i found something that i never would have really found without this experiences.  To kind of explain.  I arrived in tonga on tuseday and i was droppped off to meet my new companion.  My new companion is Elder Lisiate.  He is from Rosepark Utah haha!  We are serving in Kolonga. But as soon as i was dropped off the work began. We went out ands visited with all the members of the two wards we covered.  I pretty much didnt say a word the entire first three days. I felt so alone and separated from everyone because i was new, i was the palangi missionary, i was in a country i hadnt really been before, and i cant even speak the language!!  Yeah i was pretty overwhelmed...i will admit that i have never felt more alone, and i have never thought more about wanting to just come was the hardest thing in the world.  Oh and i forgot to mention...i am getting eaten alive by mosquitoes!!!!!! This went on for days...and it seemed like there was no way i was going to make it two years.  So i knelt in prayer just asking if i could have some help to lose myself in His work, cuz i knew that if i didnt get help i was not going to make it.  I testify that the Lord is merciful and mindful of each of us because the next few days after i had prayed and cried to the Lord for help, the days began to become brighter to me.  We started getting more lessons and teaching more.  We met an 18 year old guy from NZ. He loves learning about God and speaks english!!  So i have been able to teach!!  I love it!! I have also found that because we have a lot of down time there is alot of time for me to study and perfect my language, knowledge of the scriptures, and the lessons.  I am so excited!! But what i learned and will forever cherish is that in my lowest point in life and my mission so far, i learned that i need to rely on the Lord.  So in your darkest moments when you feel lost and in despair pray mightly to the Lord and he will give you strength you have never felt before!!  Thats my experience for this week!!  I love you mom!! I love you always and forever!!!  I pray for you all everyday and you are doing well!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!!!
Elder Tavake

MTC - Elders

The Book of Mormon is the evidence of the gospel!!

1/23/15 Hey mom! How are you?  I love hearing from you!  It really makes my week! Ever since that moment i feel that i have an undying and unwavering testimony in this gospel and i cant wait to serve his children in tonga!  I actually leave this sunday...crazy huh? i will be leaving the mtc at 2 in the afternoon to go to the slc airport.  From there, me and elder kolopeaua will be flying to la, then to new zealand, then to tonga. so like 24 or so hours of flying haha!  I got a letter from Noa this week tho and i cant explain the joy it brought! Especially since he isnt very good at writing letters it means a lot to me that he wrote me! :) THanks for the advice mom!! I always need it! :) This week was pretty awesome!  Nothing as crazy as the last two weeks but it was uplifting and spiritual nonetheless!  We had a wonderful opportunity to hear from Elder M. Russel Ballard and he spoke about the book of mormon and how it is the evidence of this gospel.  I thought about that a lot.  My conclusion i found was so simple yet so inspiring!  I thought and reflected upon how it is the "Evidence" of the the restored gospel and also that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  It is literally and physically something that can be held and pondered by all people. It is physical proof and evidence of the gospel! BUt more importantly, when people will read and ponder its message they receive spiritual confirmation that it contains all of the spiritual evidence that THIS IS THE TRUE AND RESTORED GOSPEL!! I just thought how that was the coolest thing!!  People want evidence of the truth and we have it, but it can only be confirmed by way of the Holy Ghost which reveals the truth to the most in parts of our being.  For example, i could show someone all the facts in the world about why the book of mormon is true. I could give them all of the evidence that supports its claim and truth.  But only when they read and ask in sincere prayer will they ever KNOW that it TRULY IS EVEDENCE! because only the Holy Ghost will confirm all the evidence and its truth.  Hahaha i really hope that isnt too confusing haha! but i loved it! Another really awesome thing he talked about was, if you are ever feeling discouraged and feel like God has forsaken you, think about Joseph in Liberty Jail.  Think about how he was persecuted and for months was sleeping on the dirty, infected, cold and barren floor.  He was given food that was hardly edible and all while the saints were being driven to and fro.  He told us, i want you to think about that.  I want you to really ponder.  and then i want you to write a letter of what you wouldsay to try and comfort him and lift Joseph's spirit.  What would you tell him? What kind of advice would you give him as he sat in the wastes for months.  He then told us, as you do this, you will come to realize that your problems are not always the biggest things in the world and you will start to have more compassion on others rather than yourself.  He told us that if we ever felt discouraged, to do this. Write a letter to Joseph in Liberty Jail and watch what happens. This inspired me so much!! So i say that this is what we all should do if we ever feel discouraged and watch what happens!!
I love you mom!!  I love you forever and i love you for always!!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!!
Elder Tavake

Desperation is a good thing...leads us to lean on what faith we have

1/16/15  Hey mom! Love the pics and i am glad you are getting the pics i have sent!  It sounds like Noa is super busy as are the rest of you! How have you been? HOws work? Could you sen me my tongan stuff??  haha.  I have to start packing for tonga cuz i leave next week!! ahhhh! its so crazy! Missionary life is pretty good. I had a crazy experience this week where i started to doubt myself and everything that i thought i knew.  I felt so inadequate as a missionary and even worse as a zone was not a fun experience.  But we had a wonderful suprise devotional with Elder Russel M. Nelson and his lovely wife.  and i was told by my teacher to take notes, not on what you hear, but rather, what i felt.  I did so and i felt pretty good about what i had written down but i still did not feel like it was helping me or my testimony...Most of what i had written down consisted of Sister Nelson's talk about how desperation is a good thing because it leads us to lean on the last of the faith that we have left.  Similar to the story of the woman who had a blood illness and was healed out of desperation to touch Christ's clothes. Afterwards we had a devotional review/testimony meeting.  I honestly was not in the mood to bare my testimony.  Nonetheless i thought to myself what i should say.  And something amazing happened...I thought to myself that i was tired of being down and that i was not going to get anywhere if i kept thinking so negatively so i told myself that i am going to exercise whatever faith i have left to tell what i beleive... When i stood up and bore my testimony...all fear had left me! all my doubts, unbelbelief, and questions were answered or dispelled!  I have never felt the spirirt so strongly in my life and i now know that i have an undying and unwavering testimony of this gospel! Since then i have never felt so happy out here in the mission field and i have never felt more confident in lessons and class!  I love this gospel!!!
It has been so awesome getting to hear from you Mom!  I love you forever and i love you for always!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!!!
Elder Tavake

Jan 9, 2015 MTC,group pic and Elder Wihongi and Elder Amai

Rely on the Lord...Take a leap of faith

1/9/15  I am not sure if you are getting my pictures but i will keep trying to send them haha. Any ways it sounds like all is well at home! :) I am super happy you are all learning tongan!! I hope you can all speak when i get back haha.  Well i hope i can speak when i get back haha! One thing my teacher told me to do is just pick out a verse of scripture and disect the whole sentence both words and linking words to se what they mean as youre reading.  And as you keep reading the sentences will make more sense. But Yeah i defnintely miss talking to you on the couch and sharing how the day went. but i love the mission! it is going well and a lot has been happening since the last time i wrote you :)  I will have to figure out to send mail cuz i still havent figured that out yet haha. Its been fun here at the mtc but it has also been pushing my limits as well haha.  This week we had to teach another lesson in tongan and i have been relying on the pamphlets and the tongan books during lessons to help me teach.  It has been pretty difficult to try and communicate what i know and also try to feel the spirit when i am so frantic and frustrated with the language and worrying about whether or not my investigator is comprehending the message!  It can be a little overwhelming at times, but i have come to know that the lord is so merciful and blesses his children with small and tender mercies each and every day.  It is just a matter of paying attention to the hand of the lord in our lives.  So during this one particular lesson, we were asked to leave or tongan gospel phrases book in the classroom and try to be lead by the spirit...yeah not my thing...But i did as i was asked and only brought my Tohi 'ae Molomona and a pamphlet.  When we started teaching i was trying to speak tongan and i was relying more on the tongan pamphlet than anything.  And to make things more difficult my companion and i were put on splits so i had another companion who spoke little to no tongan at all... Like a third of the way through the lesson i finally closed the pamphlet and looked right at the investigator...AND I SPOKE TONGAN!!!! it was so cool!! everything we had been learning all started coming back to me and i was able to teach the rest of the lesson in Tongan!!  My teacher told me she was really impressed with how far i had come but i knew it wasnt just me.  The entire time throughout the lesson when i had used the pamphlet, i was so stressed and uncomfortable.  But when i relied on the Lord and took a leap of faith...I was able to speak with the gift of tongues and i had never felt more calm and peaceful and more sure that what i was saying was true!  This truly is the greatest work and God definitely blesses his children.  I have come to gain a testimony that God truly does not call those who are qualified.  Rather He qualifies those He calls!! I love you and miss you so much!!
Have a great week!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!
Elder Tavake

Faith to heal

1/2/15  Hey mom!  I loved hearing from everyone!! That was amazing!!  all the othermissionaries were like "dang your family loves you!" haha it was really funny cuz i was like "i know my family is awesome!! they are the best!!" haha. might have been a little bit prideful but its true haha!  any ways this week has been awesome! lots of great experiences! ill share one in particular where Brother muir, a member of our branch presidency shared a story about a woman he had taught on his mission.  This woman had 5 kids and lived in fiji.  she had 5 kids and had heard about the church so asked her husband if she could investigate.  He gave his approval but said he did not want to hear it.  This man was very loving but had a couple bad habits.  One, he was a heavy smoker and drinker and two he loved gambling.  But above everything he said that he loved his family and would do everything and anything for them.  He was also very wealthy so he was able to support his family but sadly, he also was also able to support his bad habits.  Well Brother Muir and his companion started giving the wife and her kids lessons.  Each time, however, the husband would walk right past the missionaries out the front door and would not be seen until sometime after the end of the discussion.  Well his wife and children were baptized and would walk miles every sunday to get to church.  The husband would walk with his family every sunday but would wait outside the church and smoke until his family came out.  One week this mans daughters has a random infection in her leg and is rushed to the hospital.  The doctors said that there was nothing wrong that they could see.  and the wife decided to call brother muir and his companion.  They arrived and gave her a blessing.  The next day she was completely healed and the doctors could not figure out what had happened.  Later on, the husband called the missionaries and told them he wanted to take the lessons.  In each lesson he knew all the answers.  and brother muir came to find that when this man was leaving every time they had a lesson previously he would slip back in through the back door and listen to the lessons.  He said he wanted to be baptised after the lessons and he said he would quit smoking.  He went to the doctors and asked them how he could quit. They told him he would have to slowly work his way down from 4 packs a day to 1 before he could stop.  He asked what would happen if he just stopped.  The doctor told him that he would probably be hospitalized from such a withdraw.  This man grabbed the pack of cigarettes from his pockets and told the doctor "You better role out a bed for me because starting right now, I quit!" Then he tossed the pack in the garabage and walked out.  He was later baptized and became the stake president there.
Awesome and powerful!! right??
Thats my story for you!
I love you mom!!  i miss you tons and hope you are doing well!!
Ofa Lahi Atu!!!
Elder Tavake

Birthday and Christmas in the MTC! Elder Tavake's Birthday is on Christmas!

12/26/14 Thanks mom! I love you! And its been an awesome experience here. And ya i have had some rough days but i just have to keep an eye single to the glory of god. i have been blessed to have such a great companion and district and even more so a great zone and branch! they are all so supportive and loving and are also very understanding.  We have had a quite a few crazy experiences already.  One in particular, this week, we had a sad and scary incident happen.  One of the boys in our district has just lost his mother and on top of that broke his arm and may have to go home which depresses him even further.  He has been coping with this for a little while but i think it just became too overwhelming.  A few nights ago, this elder was fast asleep but was screaming and throwing a fit in his bed.  we tried to wake him up but...he just spazzed out and would not wake from sleep.  One of the branch presidency came and they rushed him to the hospital.  They informed us and told us not to let any of the other missionaries know that he had been overcome by an evil spirit and they had to remove the spirit from their presence...scary right...but he is better now and we have been taking care of him and trying to support him the best we can.  On a positive note, the devotionals have been amazing because each is so inspiring and reminding of our purpose out here in the mission field!  Russell M Nelson spoke to us and had a cool quote.  He said "Jesus paid for a debt he did not owe because we owe a debt that we cannot pay"  and i thought that even though i can never repay him, i know that the next best thing is to always pay it forward.  and what better way to that than in the mission field!! well i love you mom and i cant wait to write you next week!! 
I love you always and forever mom!!!
Ofa lahi atu!
Your son Elder Tavake :)

Welcome to the MTC!

Hi mom!!  the MTC is fun! still getting used to everything tho. i was blessed to have such a great companion for reasons i will tell you a little later.  but he is awesome.  but im glad you got a picture because i dont have an adapter to send pictures yet but i will have it by next week so i will send some next letter.  I ran into sister faupula from our stake and i think she takes off next week.  But not many others haha.  Yesterday was kinda hard because i was not feeling so great confidence wise and spiritually because im rooming in a residence hall full of tongans and samoans and all other polynesians who all speak a different language and are learning theirs very on the other coming along i guess...but me and my district had the great chance to meet with our branch president , President Willes, and his two counselors, Brother Coombs and Brother Muir.  He gave a powerful lesson on missionary work and what our purpose is here.  It really helped lift my spirit and i know that was definitely a blessing from the Lord.  Each of us were interviewed by the Presidents counselors and got to know a little bit of the branch presidency.  After class however, President wanted to remind how much he loves us, and that if there is one thing that he wants us to take away from the lesson it would be the knowledge that he loves us. Then he announced that My companion Elder Kolopeaua would be my senior companion, Elder Smothers (one of our roommates) would be the senior companion in his companionship.  then he extended a calling to me.  He asked if i  would accept the calling to serve as a district leader.  I accepted.  So its been a pretty crazy few days...haha!  But fortunate for me my companion speaks quite a bit of Tongan and on the first official day we already had to give a lesson in tongan to an investigator...ya, i know...haha!  the lesson went alright but i have to teach again today so i guess we will see how that goes haha!  anyways while i am in the mtc tho, my prep day will be on fridays so i guess thats when i get to write you :) well i guess thats all for these past few days.  I love you mom!! i miss you and the family tons...but i know why i am out here so that definitely helps.  But tell dad, noa, vake, eva, laulea, and ahea i love them and miss them so much! and i cant wait to hear from you next week!!  I love you mom!! 
Ofa lahi atu
Love Elder Tavake