Thursday, 9 April 2015

Pacific Area Barbeque and Ward Birthday Celebration.

First I would like to say that on our Thursday morning March 26th we got a phone call from our son Trevor telling us that Reed's Sister Lynne had passed away that morning.  That would be March 25th in Utah.  So hard to keep track of important dates.  That was very hard to hear.  We did not even know she was that sick.  She got pneumonia again and this time did not make it.  We are so sorry to hear this news.  We talked to her husband Art and her daughter Trina.  They were both sad and surprised that this time she is not going to get better.  Trina expressed how grateful she is that now her mother is free from her body that she has had so many problems with.  We are grateful for the knowledge we have of The Resurrection and Eternal Families. 

Today I am going to start with a blog about the Pacific Area end of Summer barbeque.

On Friday March 27, 2015 we went into the office as usual.  Then at noon, most missionaries and employees changed clothes and headed to Milford Beach for the barbeque.  The setting was beautiful, the weather a little cloudy but not too cool.  They served everyone lunch, barbequed hamburgers, sausages (hot dogs), salads, fruit, chips and ice cream for dessert.  We had a great turn out and most everyone participated in the different activities.

They passed out colored ribbons for everyone to tie on so we knew who belonged to what team.
 People got creative with the way they tied on their ribbons.  Stopped after a couple of games to have ice cream and truffle for dessert.
This is Bruce Yerman.  He is the director for church schools.  We worked with him on our ITEP Mission and now we work closely with him as we are also serving as the ITEP Coordinators for the next few months.  He is a great leader and good person to work with.
 A couple of people taking a rest between activities.  You can see how beautiful the setting is.
 People waiting for instructions to participate in the relay races.  You can see Sister Spencer with her jacket tied around her waist.  It was warm enough to not have the jacket on the whole time.
This is a picture of Paul Reid on the right.  He is the Self-Reliance Area Manager.  We work in the same office with him.
We played volleyball.  Some of these young men were pretty serious.  The rest of us were just having fun.  Actually, the team Reed and I were on won all of our volleyball games!
We did three different relay races.  This one we are putting down paper plates.  Everyone starts by standing on a paper plate.  The first person in line lays the new one down steps onto and everyone moves one plate forward and the last one picks the last plate up and passes it to the front and you keep moving stepping on the paper plates until you reach the end of the line.  We also had to fill cups with water behind us and do like a three legged race.  It was a very fun afternoon.
Reed participating in the Tug of War.  I took pictures this time.  Our team lost this one two times in a row.  There were only two of us missionary couples that stayed the whole afternoon.  We were glad we did.  We were able to get to know some of the employees much better.

Later that evening we attended our Saineha Ward's 30th Birthday Celebration.  They connected it with the Relief Society birthday and the ward celebrating 30 years since it was created.  They had it at the Stake Center since it has a much bigger cultural hall.

When we arrived at the chapel we sat in the audience to listen to the quartet of men singing hymns.  They sounded so good.  Then they sat down and it was quiet.  Sister Pongi approached Nada and asked if she could play the piano for the rest of the meeting.  She was glad to accept but interesting that nothing was said earlier.
Picture on left is the quartet singing before the meeting started.  They could really produce volume.  The gentleman on the far right is our Executive Secretary in our ward and his name is Brother Pepa.  He translates for Reed in Priesthood sometimes.  The picture below is Nada playing the piano with Sister Pongi leading.  We both do the music every Sunday for our Sacrament meetings.

The evening began at 6:00 p.m. with everyone meeting in the Chapel for a meeting.  The Relief Society Presidency all spoke and then they showed a video of past Bishops, Relief Society Presidencies and ward functions.  They had a group of Priesthood brethren sing hymns between speakers.  It was wonderful.  The Samoan and Tongan men really sing and harmonize so beautifully.

Then Bishop Aku'lotu and our Stake President Dean Westerlund spoke.  They talked about Saineha (our ward name) in Abraham means sun.  It was interesting.

After the program we all went into the cultural hall for, in the Bishop's words, "A light dinner."  This was an all out feast.  They asked us to please sit at the head table.  We always feel a little uncomfortable but it is a respect/honour thing to them so we do it because we never want to offend.  We sat there with past and current bishops and their wives.  There were four roasted pigs on the head table, along with salads, other meats, sashimi (raw tuna in coconut milk and vegetables), lou (taro leaves stuffed with meat and coconut milk) and ice cream for dessert.

This is what the cultural hall looked like when we first arrived at 5:40 p.m.  The pigs were already sitting on the head tables.

 All the other members sat in chairs down both sides of the cultural hall so the performers could perform in the middle.  We did eat first and that was nice. 
This was the serving table for everyone else but the head table.  Most of the food was sitting at the head table when we entered the cultural hall. The man holding the microphone is Brother Manu, he and the man on his right are the two counsellors in the Saineha Bishopric.
 Nada sitting at the head table.  At least we talked them into letting us sit at the end not the middle of the table.  The lady next to Nada was the wife of the first bishop of this ward.  She translated a lot for us and kept asking Nada about why she wasn't eating all the meat?
This is the pig right in front of us.  The other plate has chicken and fish on it.  Then there are salads and taro on the other plates.
They really like cakes here as well as on the islands.  They don't do homemade cookies but a lot of cakes.

This young man is one of our Young Single Adults, Sione.

One of our Young Single Adults, Kapu.  The Maori's used to tattoo their faces but most of them just paint their faces when they perform, they are not tattoos.

These are some of the Relief Society leaders past and present.  These people are not shy about performing young or older.
The primary children performed next.  They all had on matching costumes.  We don't know if they made them for this performance or if they were some they have used before.  Most likely they were made for tonight.

These are a few of our YSA kids.

This family all dressed up and performed the chicken dance.  We have been helping three of them on Thursdays with their homework.

Tea (another one of our YSA girls) and Sister Spencer.
 All the youth dressed up and performing.  The Tongans wear fine matts, ta'ovala, around their waists for special occasions.  When they speak in church, perform, for a funeral, etc.
 Our young single adults performed a couple of numbers.  The boys did most of the dancing and the girls kind of swayed, sang and clapped their hands.
They had to recruit some of the young men, only the boy on the left in the front is in our YSA class.
This is a picture of Bishop Aku'lotu.  It was a great evening.  The Tongans really know how to party.  We finally left a little after 10:00 p.m.  It was fun to get to know some of the ward members better.  It is hard at church because you get there in time for meetings and then everyone wants to leave as soon as church is over.  Everyone seemed so glad we were there and it felt great to be a part of a wonderful celebration.  We went home tired. 

We feel blessed to be a part of the Saineha Ward.  Even though we do not understand Tongan, we feel of their love and support.  This helps us with new and different experiences on our Mission.  We enjoy all the different cultural things we have been exposed to both in Samoa and here in New Zealand.  All of the people have different traditions and cultural ideas but they all love The Lord and are grateful to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We too know the gospel is true and are so thankful for all the wonderful people we rub shoulders with that help us strengthen our testimonies.  May the Lord bless each and everyone of you.  Until next time.  Elder and Sister Spencer (Reed and Nada)


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