(The man in the right photo (with the REALLY white teeth) is our shift co-ordinator at the temple. He says it should open on Tuesday.)
We had only one hour of church today, so everyone could get back to the tasks at hand of sorting out after the cyclone. The students are helping on Campus – and it is looking really great (except for the buildings that were damaged.) The vegetation should come back quickly.
Semisi Finau on the left – he is our “dental tech” who regularly saves the day for us in the clinic. He and his wife and their six kids sat on their porch in lawn chairs and watched the storm (so he says). I think what they really did was peek out their door, that was cracked open an inch or so. Before the storm, he put plastic sheeting up over his windows facing east. Then, when the storm came, the wind blew hardest from the west!
As we met ward members before the meeting, we would ask: Fefe hake? and they would invariably respond Sai pe, malo. They have an incredibly resilient spirit. The students in our ward all live in the dorms. We are inviting all of them to come to the clinic while school is out. So far this month, we have been able to provide almost a thousand procedures for our patients. It is really nice having three dentists, and three assistants (our wives) in the clinic. We also have Sister Evans, a senior missionary who arrived two days before the cyclone hit! Her I.T.E.P. position is in limbo since the school is closed. So she is coming to the clinic to help out up front.
This little girl on the right has been in to the clinic twice – two quadrants done! She is EXCITED to come back and see us next week.
No matter that their fale might have been damaged or destroyed, or they might be living with relatives. They all have an incredible attitude. We met the owner of Oholei Resort, on the eastern end of the island (that got hit very hard). His is the resort where we have gone several times for the Umu and floor show. He said he had only damage to the trees – his buildings survived. (Which is remarkable, because they looked a bit “flimsy.”) As we talked to him, he simply said: “God is great!”
The student on the right is from P.N.G., and we have done some cliff-hanger dentistry for him. He says he feels great. Miracles never cease. He is most interested in computers, at school. I find this remarkable, because New Guinea only recently emerged from the Stone Age. The glory of God is intelligence, or light and truth! He joined the Church five years ago, and is the only member in his family. But they wanted him to get an education, so they sent him to Liahona.
Many of the men, women, and boys were wearing the tupeno, with the ta’ovala and kafa. They always wear their Sunday best, but not in response to any dress standard or external pressure, but out of respect to the Lord. The girls mostly wear their very long, thick, black hair up in a bun, or in braids. They do this out of modesty.
It was probably one of the best Sacrament meetings I’ve ever experienced. Most of the time, in Tonga, Sacrament meeting brings tears to my eyes, and today was no exception. We began by singing “O My Father.”
Everywhere we go in Tonga, people are so happy to have their photo taken.
As we were singing “in my first primeval childhood was I nurtured near thy side,” I looked around the room and I saw the image of God reflected in the faces of all those in the congregation.
Then we sang: “when I leave tis frail existence, when I lay this mortal by, Father, Mother, may I meet you, in your royal courts on high? And I thought that Heavenly Father is as likely to welcome us home with “Ofa lahi atu . Sai aupito!” as He is with “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Then we sang “I Stand All Amazed,” and I thought about these people singing their hearts out, in spite of the fact that nearly everyone in the congregation has suffered as a result of the storm.
“I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.”
This is Fehi, the school principal, with her husband Fifita. He is in the stake presidency. They lost the roof to their house. They said it was very well constructed, but the contractor who put it on saved on tie downs, and only used them on every other truss. So the roof came off, but in once piece. It is lying on the ground down the road from their house. They will put it back on.
“Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me! Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me.”
The Tongans really have their priorities straight, and they don’t let little things like cyclones get in the way of what is really important in their lives.
The man on the left s the Young Men President. I don’t think any of them mess with him.
As an intermediate hymn we sang “Called To Serve.” Suffice to say, I have never sung it as we did today! It was indescribable. The Liahona First Ward has sent the standard for the Church, in my mind.
“Called to know the richness of his blessing, sons and daughters, children of a King. Glad of heart, his holy name confessing, Praises unto him we bring.”
This is Peni Tonga and his wife Sylvia in the upper right photo. His daughter Dorothy, who volunteers in the clinic, (lower left photo) has been at home all week helping with the clean-up. PNG students in the lower right photo None of the students from PNG had ever been through a cyclone. Most of them said they were really frightened.
As I have seen these people out in the community, providing service to their friends and neighbors, I know that it has gladdened my heart.
I love wearing my name badge, and being a part of something so magnificent. Going to Costlo yesterday, and seeing a video playing on the big screen above the rows of food, with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir praising God, gave me goose bumps.
Store employees told us that the owners are Catholic, but they hire Mormons and play church hymns – I am sure they feel the Light of Christ.
This is Fehi with some of her students.
We’ve finished about half of their mouth(s) – they are excited to come back for more. (It’s refreshing to see patients who actually WANT to come to the clinic!) 🙂
We sang “Onward, Christian Soldiers!” as our closing hymn. Again, unbelievable. The Tongans add little trills, and notes, to many of the hymns, and they sing as a choir would. They follow the chorister (who should be directing the MTC!), and Dorothy Tonga plays the piano magnificently.
“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master leads against the foe; forward into battle, see his banners go!
Like a mighty army moves the Church of God; brothers, we are treading where the Saints have trod. We are not divided; all one body we: one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.”
This is the young man who was in House #5 on campus, when a tree blew down and hit his roof. It opened up just enough of a hole for the wind to get in under it and blow the entire roof off. Neither he, his wife, nor his 4 children were injured.
“Onward, then, ye people; join our happy throng. Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song; glory, laud, and honor unto Christ, the King. This through countless ages. Men and angels sing.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before!”
Hope still exists in the world. This is the Kapps’ home, next to ours. These two little palms needed rope to keep them up, before the storm. They blew down in the wind. Afterwards, Kenny straightened them up, and now they are standing on their own. I think there is a message there. Ofa atu to the wonderful people in our ward, and to the people of Tonga.