Monday, February 15, 2016

Third Trip to Tonga

Our first overseas trip for 2016 was to return once more to the Kingdom of Tonga. 

We first came to Tongatapu in May of last year.  That initial visit had been spent getting oriented to the country, becoming acquainted with the Area Family History Advisors (AFHAs), who at that time were Brother and Sister Piutau, and meeting with the various Stake Presidents and Family History Centre directors.  We gave PowerPoint presentations on the My Family 15 in 15 program at each place we visited and did our best to answer questions. 

Our second trip was four months later, in September.  That time, instead of just talking about the program to inform and motivate the leaders, we focused on actually sitting down with them at the computer and getting as many of them as we could to submit names for temple ordinances.   With the benefit of some prior familiarity, we were more confident.  We felt it was a much more productive visit.  The people were more trusting and open with us on the second visit and we got a lot done.  In addition to training in stakes all over Tongatapu, that time we also were able to visit the outer island of Vava’u which was a very positive experience.

On this third trip we have become even more convinced of the value of repeat visits that allow for building stronger relationships with the Tongan people as well as helping us as missionaries to get a deeper understanding of their culture and needs. We have many people who remember us from our prior trips.  Some are now more open with us about their level of understanding of FamilySearch.   We are also more experienced at working with interpreters, so the communication flows better.

In addition to teaching several stakes on the main island of Tongatapu, this third journey to Tonga included trips to  Ha’apai and Eua.  

The biggest focus for this particular trip was one we had not planned on – training the newly called Area Family History Advisors (AFHAs ) for Tonga,  Brother and Sister ‘Unga.   When we first made arrangements for the trip, our dear friends Brother and Sister Piutau were still serving as advisors for Tonga.  However, they were recently released as Brother Piutau has been called as executive secretary to the Area Seventy and Sister Piutau is needed in her ward.  While we will miss working with the Piutaus who we had come to love, we can see already that the ‘Ungas are going to be wonderful advisors.  


There were many special experiences throughout out time in Tonga and a few key lessons which I will capture later as time permits.  For now, I'm going to gather just a few of those memories by posting some photos of the groups we worked with:

Nuku’alofa Tonga North Stake
2 Feb (Tuesday)

Stake President Tu'ihalangingie 
 Nuku’alofa Tonga Mu’a Stake
3 Feb (Wednesday)

Mu'a Stake Leaders

Ward leaders from Mu'a Stake

 Nuku’alofa Tonga East Stake
(4 Feb Thursday)

Both the Stake President Tuiono Puafisi and his wife were able to submit family names, 
as were several others.  



Ha'apai Tonga Stake
(5-8 Feb Friday to Monday)

 Nuku’alofa Tonga West Stake
(9 Feb & 13 Feb - Tues & Sat)


Nuku'alofa Tonga Vaini Stake
(10 Feb Wednesday)

'Eua Stake
(11-12 Feb, Thurs & Fri)

Nuku'alofa Tonga Central Stake
(14 Feb Sunday)

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