Saturday, September 5, 2015

Return to Tonga

We traveled to the Kingdom of Tonga for the first time in May of this year.  That trip was a whirlwind of meetings across fourteen different stakes.  We stayed on the main island if Tonogatapu and focused on teaching stake leaders about the My Family 15 in 15 program.  We also trained many Family History directors and consultants basic skills in using FamilySearch.   

We worked with Brother and Sister Piatau, the Area Family History Advisors for Tonga.  Brother Piatau had put in a lot of effort contacting the various leaders ahead of time to set up our schedule of meetings.  Our days were packed, with two or three different trainings each day and lots of travel as we covered every area of the island.  We all worked together to be sure each stake presidency understood the My Family 15 in 15 goal and to get reports showing how many of the individual Stake Council members had completed it themselves.

Our second trip focused more on working at the ward level.  Again, we had a very demanding schedule ready for us.  Our primary objective this time was to increase the number of names being submitted for temple ordinances.  Many people throughout Tonga had received the MyFamily booklet and had completed the first step of gathering family information.  We wanted to be sure that they understood the importance of transferring the information from their books to the Trees program in FamilySearch.org and identifying those who they could do temple work for.

Because Brother Piatau works for the Seminary and Institute (S&I) program of the Church, he was busy working during much of our stay.  So, during the work week Sister Piatau would accompany us to direct us where to go and make introductions.  As needed, she also provided translation for us which was invaluable.  On Saturday and Sunday Brother Piatau would also join us at the trainings.

Our findings on the first trip were that there was a need for more training of the family history consultants all over Tonga.  So this time we brought additional resources we could provide for them.  We had created an electronic folder of video and PDF lessons for how to do many things on FamilySearch and added in a handout for introducing people to basic skills for using computers.  At each Family History Center (FHC) we went to around the island we put this folder on the computers and showed directors and consultants how it could help them.  This was very much appreciated.  While these resources were all in English, we hoped they would still help raise the bar of skill level among those with Family History callings.

Saturday – 5 September TRAVEL DAY
We left Auckland in the early evening, arriving in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu at 9:00 PM.  On our first stay we had accommodations at Little Italy, a local hotel.  This time we were able to stay in one of the houses on the church campus.  Since we were familiar with the island from our previous trip, we had no problems finding our way there, even in the dark.  We picked up our rental car and headed over.  We received the keys to House 25 at the gate. This house was right next door to where Elder and Sister Beckstrand had been staying on our previous trip, so it was easy to find. The house was very comfortable, giving us plenty of space and the WONDERFUL blessing of a bathtub!  Sister Bennett got her first bath since leaving America and loved every minute of the nice hot soak.  We turned in early to be well rested for a busy day ahead.

LDS Campus on Tongatapu

House 25 where we stayed




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