|Taulanga Ward Relief Society Choir|
The church we will attend here is the Taulanga Ward - a Tongan congregation in Takapuna. I love the Tongan sisters! They are so friendly and welcoming. I am very much looking forward to getting to know them better.
It is a challenge in some respects to be part of this ward since we do not speak their language. We sit through Sacrament meeting reading our scriptures, praying, and trying our best to be in tune with the spirit while talks are being given that we don't understand at all. Still, the connections we are making feel important. Worshiping among these people just feels right.
One very special sister is Sulieti. She joined the church last March and has a strong testimony. She is a nurse providing elder care and often has to work night shifts. She was scheduled for the 3-11 shift Saturday, but then ended up doing a double shift when the 11-7 staff person who was to relieve her did not show up. By the time she got home on Sunday morning, she was very tired. But it was important for her to attend her meetings, so she was most definitely in church.
Last night was the Stake Christmas program. Sulieti knew we were new to the area, so she right away invited to take us if we wanted to go. Having gone all night with no sleep, it would have been very understandable if she had wanted to just go home after church and get some much needed rest. However, Sulieti saw an opportunity to serve, and so she did.
We had a lovely time at the music program and were very impressed by the talent of people at the stake. The Taulanga Ward Relief Society choir sang two songs, one in English and one in Tongan. Both were absolutely beautiful. They sounded like angels.
I imagine we may still attend the English speaking Takapuna Ward from time to time so we can make some connections with folks we can communicate with better, but our "home ward" will be Taulanga.
Years ago we visited a small ward in Enterprise, Oregon where we met some of the friendliest people we had ever encountered. There we were greeted and welcomed by nearly everyone and felt very much valued for our presence there. Ever since, Enterprise Ward has remained in our minds as a sort of measuring mark for how welcoming any group may be. More than once we have said "well, this group is nice, but they sure are not Enterprise Ward".
The Tongan saints of Taulanga most definitely meet that high bar of welcoming kindness. They are wonderful people who I look forward to serving with.