Sunday, 21 June 2015

Hello, serving two missions at the same time has its privileges!  We get to meet many different people and it helps keep us busy. Sometimes too busy!

On Sunday the 17th of May I made a big crock pot of chicken noodle soup to take to church.  We have a Stake Temple Devotional after church so the Bishop wanted to feed the YSA hoping to keep them there to practice our song we had to sing and stay for the devotional.  It worked.  We had a lot of them stay and Reed and I sang in the choir with them.  It was a great evening. The very best choir there was the Samoan Ward in the stake  They really get a lot to participate, even the men, and they sang beautifully!

We had two visitors coming from Hawaii for our Counsellor's Summit and there were no more rooms at the Spencer hotel so we decided, here at the office, instead of paying so much for a different hotel we have Elder and Sister Aland's flat sitting there empty that we are paying for so why not use it.  Of course, that means I have to go in and clean, wash sheets and towels, make beds and make sure there are food supplies available.  Who knew this mission would include hospitality knowledge as well. (he, he)

On Monday May 18, 2015 all the counsellors from all the church schools, including the one from Juarez Mexico, arrived for the Counsellor's Summit.  It was so nice to meet them all in person. I have been on many WebEx meetings with them and emailed back and forth but it is not the same.  They are all so fun and kind.  That evening we took them to Genghis Kaun for dinner and then went to Bruce and Sarah Yerman's for Family Home Evening and dessert.  It was a great evening.

On Tuesday the 19th we arrived at the office at 7:00 a.m. to get breakfast ready for all the counsellors and attendees.  We also made sure all the water bottles were out, notebooks and pens, nut cups filled and the candy treat for the day was at each place.  We had treats for each day that went with the theme, chocolate hearts for heart, might we had sweet tarts shaped like building blocks, mind, we had smiley faces and strength we had silver mini jaw breakers.  The counsellors loved them and were excited to see what each new day brought. 

Today is also our grandson, Zack's, eight year old birthday.  He will be baptized in June.  We are sorry to miss that important event but we love him and are so proud of him.  He is a great young man.

Bruce Yerman on the far right is the Director of Church Schools here in the Pacific.  He is a great leader.
 Queenah Faifili one of the counsellors from Samoa. We got to know her really well when we served in Samoa.  It was so nice to spend some time with her here.
James Faustino, sitting, is the Director of Admissions for BYUH and Fitzgerald Seamus is the Director of Talent Management for the Polynesian Cultural Center.  They were here to help the counsellors understand the IWORK Program and about scholarships and admittance into BYUH.  They are the two that stayed in the flat.
Ameet on the far left is our new TVET Director and Bob and Susie Wood are our ITEP Missionaries in Tonga.  He has been helping me with the counselling calls each month since he supervised counsellors as part of his job in Weber County School District.
 The counsellors did presentations on the Career Portfolio and SSEOP's.  They also shared personal stories of successes with teachers, administrators and students.

Front row:  Seamus, Ameet, James, Katt, Lei, Sister Spencer, Vika Kivalu, Vika Kaufusi
Second row:  Vito, Vaomaile, Queenah, Sister & Elder Wood, Mary, Mereoni, Moana, Bruce
Back row:  Lokeni, Paula, Satini, Talia'uli, Aaron

Aaron Wi Repa on the farthest left in the picture on the right is the S& I Director over all Seminaries, Institutes and Church Schools in the Pacific Area.

 On Wednesday, May 20, 2015 the summit continued.  Elder Wood presented and then he was a one man band.  He taught everyone a song that went with his presentation.  He is always so full of fun and life.  They all loved. him.
Reed and Dean Westerlund talked to the counsellors about our Education Initiative and Self-Reliance.  They explained all the different study groups, scholarships and pathways to help the students further their education.
Ora is on the right.  She is the S&I Human Resource Support Specialist.  She helped get all the hotel rooms, shuttles to and from the airport and helped with the whole conference.  She is so creative and does a great job.  I could have never pulled it off without all her help.  She got all the breakfast food and I took care of all the lunches.  We had plenty of food and everyone was happy.
On Thursday, May 21, 2015 we had Sister Wallace, Michael Satele, Elder Whidden, Sister Fugal and Elder Wood be our discussion panel.  The counsellors asked them questions and got some pretty good discussions going.  Michael works for the LDS Church Services here in New Zealand and the other three missionaries are serving here in the Area Office and have served as school counsellors or principals.  We decided they were here now to help us along with their other callings.
Reed talking about supporting and lifting the saints a little bit at a time.
Vika Kivalu is the vice-president of the counsellors association and from Tonga.  She is so kind and fun.  She did a great job collecting personal information about everyone in attendance and spotlighting them so we could know a little bit more about everyone.
 Mereoni is the president of the Church Schools Counsellors Association and from Fiji.  She had this so organized and was so great to work with.  She really pulled it all together.  I just love her
 For the last hour of our summit on Thursday afternoon they honoured Bruce and Sarah Yerman.  This will be Bruce's last big event.  He is leaving church employment the end of July.  The counsellors gave him an Aloha shirt and flag from each of their countries and showed their appreciation for all his guidance these last four and a half years that they have lived here in the Pacific.  It was very touching.  They were really good sports.
Front row:  Bruce, Sarah, Lei
Second row:  Moana, Judy, Nada, Vika, Vaomaile, Mary, Katt, Satini, Sister & Elder Wood, Vika Kaufusi
Third row:  Reed, Queenah, Mereoni,
Fourth row:  Vito, Paula, Ameet, Lokeni, Jeremy, Talia'uli

They wanted a group picture before we all said good bye for the last time.

It was a wonderful summit.  We enjoyed meeting and getting to know all these great people.  We had a lot of fun together and learned a lot.  This is one of the big benefits of serving two missions.  Rubbing shoulders and being involved with wonderful events such as this. These counsellors work hard and are doing a good job.  Five years ago counsellors did not even exist in the church schools so they have come a very long way.  Good things are happening.

We hope you enjoyed seeing some of what goes on here at the Area Office with the Church Schools.  This is one of the blessings of being ITEP Coordinators.  We are well, busy and trying to do our best to help the Saints here in the Pacific.  Until next time.

Love, Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada) 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Sunday May 10th we celebrated Mother's Day and I was so blessed by talking to every one of our children as I opened the gifts they mailed to me.  We also are attending a new YSA Ward now.  President Balli called us last Sunday and told us he kept having our name come to him and he finally decided that he needed to transfer us to be part of the newly established Auckland First YSA Ward.  We were a little sad to leave our Tongan, Saineha Ward but excited to be part of this new ward. This is the first transfer we have had on a mission.  Thank goodness we do not have to move or get new companions (he, he)!  We have to drive a little farther but it will be great.

Wow!  We were sent to Samoa again.  We were so excited when they asked us to go to Samoa and evaluate the Bridging Program there.

The hard thing was we arrived home from Tonga early Friday Morning and had to leave for Samoa, Monday, May 11th.  We arrived in Samoa at 9:30 p.m. and Elder and Sister Hammond picked us up at the airport, took us to House #22 becoming our new home away from home.   We were so tired we crashed.

Tuesday morning we got up at 6:15 and headed to the high school devotional.  It was ITEP's turn so Elder Hammond had Reed give the thought and I lead the opening song.  Lucky for him we were there to help!  It was nice to see everyone bright and early.  We visited Elder and Sister Hammonds ITEP Class with some of the teachers we taught.  It was so great to see everyone again.  Elder and Sister Hammond took us back and forth to the airport, fed us and took good care of us on this visit.
LDS Church College Pesega hosted some Common Wealth games in January and are hosting some other big sporting games in September.  These are portable showers they brought in for the games in January and are keeping until after the games in September. 
 We had to go see the beautiful stained glass windows in the Temple.  We did not have time to do a session this trip.  Hopefully we'll get to go another time.

Below, Sister Aiono teaching the Year 12 students.  She is such a great teacher and friend.  It was nice to sit through her class.
Sister Moors Year 13 Computer Class.  Nada helping one of  our YSA kids, Star, from the Moto'otua Ward when we served in Samoa before.

These are two of Sister Lesa's children.  This is our Samoan Jane and her brother   She had just come from school and didn't feel very well. 

Elder Elisara teaching the Year 13 Bridging Geography class.  He has his Year 13 day students coming in to help the Bridging kids.  It was great to sit in and watch this tutoring work.
Sister Leavai teaching the Year 12 Geography Bridging class.  Some of these students are mothers, fathers, returned missionaries, one is a Bishop and some younger students.  They are taking advantage of this second chance to finish school.  They were determined even though they are struggling.  Nada was almost tearful talking to some of these students.  They are very grateful for this second chance.
 We love this view and have missed it.  This is a beautiful campus and the clouds and sky here are always interesting to watch.
Brother Lepule's Year 12 Samoan class. He teaches in the Samoan Fale.  The kids were really participating in this class.  You could tell they felt more comfortable speaking Samoan than their English class.
Brother Lepule was so glad to see us and kept asking us when we were coming over to his house.  When he finished class he told us he was going to Fagaloa Bay to get some giant crabs for dinner.  We told him we would come over about 9:00 p.m.
These are some older guys practicing Rugby on the Pesega field (malai) right by where we used to live.  It brought back a lot of memories from when we served there before.
Brother Selue teaching the Year 13 Samoan Bridging class.  We really enjoyed visiting these different classes and meeting with each teacher individually.  These teachers are working hard and really want these students to succeed.  Not one of them complained about not getting paid enough or the extra time they were spending.  They all expressed what a wonderful opportunity they felt this was for these students to have a second chance.  The only thing they did complain about was they felt like they needed longer classes or to meet four times a week instead of three.

My we miss these beautiful sunsets. 

Elder and Sister Hammond had us over for dinner on Wednesday night.  It was very nice and good to be there again.
Wednesday evening the 13th of May we did a little visiting after dinner.  We went to visit Ingrid and her family.  Nada is holding ReeNada here.  She ran right up to her this time and just hugged and kissed her and did not want her to put her down.  When we visited in February she would not have anything to do with either of us.
We gave ReeNada a little Disney Princess ball and we played catch most of the evening we were there.
Nada holding Ingrid's new baby girl born on April 7, 2015.  Her name is Dirgnoel O'redyna.  We will have a hard time learning that one.  She is a beautiful little girl.
This is our Samoan Family.  We love this family so much.  It was Brother Taavao's birthday so we had cake and ice cream with them.  It was so nice to visit and spend time with them. 

Star and Fa'amagalo.  We love these two young men.  Fa'amagalo is back from a successful mission and is interviewing for a job in the morning.  We have since learned he got the job and is working for Digicel, the big cell phone company there in Samoa.

We then arrived at Lepule's just after 9:00 p.m.  They were just getting ready to eat.  We visited for a few minutes, tasted some of these giant crab claws, took a couple of pictures and left so they could eat their dinner.  We never saw any crabs this big before.
The Lepule family is our other Samoan family.  They are great to us and we love them so much.
On Thursday, May 14th we did a little visiting at the school and then decided we were going to the under 18 Rugby game at St. Joseph College.  The first game St Joseph barely won in the last few minutes.
This is LDS Church College Pesega playing and I can't remember which school they were playing.  A big fight broke out between the two schools that played before our kids.  The police finally got it under control but they stopped the game for a few minutes while the coaches went to help get all the students back into their seats.
This is called a scrum.  These kids play hard and fast.  Rugby really is a pretty interesting sport.  We enjoyed watching it and being there with the students again.  We recognized a lot of the students and some we didn't, recognized us and came up to talk to us.  It was great!
Mayloni A'Hoy one of our favourite teachers wanted to do lunch.  We did a late lunch and went to a restaurant we had never been to before.  It was in a hotel called Amanaki's.  It was pretty good food.  The best part were the fresh Nius! 
We took a couple more pictures of the Temple.  This is such a beautiful Temple and we love it.

 These Palmetto trees have all made it back from the cyclone in December of 2012.  These are on the Temple grounds and are very pretty.  There were only two or three branches left on most of them then and now you can see they are all full again.

It was a beautiful sunset again as we were walking over to the Self-Reliance Model Center to attend the BYU Idaho Pathway Thursday night cohort group.  These students are really enjoying this class and are doing well.  We hope to see more students involved next semester.

We walked back to House 22, finished packing our suit cases and headed to the airport.  We had a 10:00 p.m. flight and arrived in Auckland at 1:45 a.m. tired but fulfilled.  What a blessing to be able to see our dear friends in Samoa again.  We loved every minute and came home tired.  We love our mission and were very glad to be able to interview these teachers, students and administrators to help make this Bridging Program more successful for now and hopefully the future.  The Lord loves us all and wants us to become like him.  We need to learn all we can and improve our knowledge and skills so we can take care of ourselves and our families.  We hope you are all well and busy doing great things.  Until next time. 
Alofa atu, Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Hello Family and Friends.

May and June have just flown by for us.  The first Saturday of May we were able to meet with The Area Presidency and All the Area Seventies.  President Pearson allowed Paul Reid (our Area Self-Reliance Manager and person we work directly with), 2 hours to do a presentation on Self-Reliance, My Path, My Foundation and the Education Initiative.  Elder Spencer, Ariel, Dean and I were there for questions and support.  It worked out to be very informative to the Area Seventy and it was nice to have the Area Presidency showing their support.  That is the first time, I, Nada, have been in a room up close and personal with that many General Authorities all at one time.  They had quite a few good questions and it was a very great couple of hours.

Our old Mission President, Johnny Leota, was called during April 2015 General Conference to be an Area Seventy in Sydney.  He was at this meeting and it was great to see him and talk to him face to face for a few minutes.

On Monday, May 4, 2015 we went early (left our flat at 4:40 a.m.) to the airport to catch a flight to Tonga.  We picked up Ameet, the new Area TVET Director because he is flying there as well.  He is a premier customer so we got a special pass to check in with him and go to the Premier Customers Waiting Room. They had all kinds of food there to eat and then we did not have to wait in line to board.  It was nice to see how the other half lives for one flight!

They asked us to go to Tonga and check on the Bridging Program.  They wanted us to survey the students, teachers and administrators and see what is working and what needs to be changed.

Elder Bob and Sister Susie Wood met us at the airport.  They are great people.  They had to leave on Tuesday to go to one of the other little islands so he decided to take us on some tours on the way back to the Liahona High School campus where we will be staying.

 This is the airport in Tonga.  We were surprised at how flat Tonga is.  There really are no mountains or even many hills on the main Island of Tongatapu.  There are also no rivers or streams.
 Sister Spencer, Sister and Elder Wood and Ameet at the airport.  Yes I have a jacket on and I wore it most of the time.  Tonga actually gets cool!
 Elder and Sister Wood took us to a place called the Land Bridge.  The white churning water is the ocean water coming in and out under the bridge.  We walked over it and it is wide enough to drive a truck over.  This is the place where in 2013 some BYU nursing students were there visiting and one of them fell off.  They never found her body and after visiting we can see why.  The rocks are treacherous and the waves crash in there.  It is beautiful but you have to stay away from the slippery edges.

We are standing on the cliff looking back into where the ocean comes crashing under that land bridge.
Walking back to the van.  They use these kind of leaves laying on the ground to make mats and baskets with.

 Next stop Pakilau Middle School.  Sister Wood, Sione Langi (Stake President and Principal), Elder Wood and Reed.  We wanted to visit the different schools and say hello to the principals, counsellors and students.
 All the church schools in Tonga wear green and white uniforms. The boys wear a Ta'ovala (fine mat) wrapped around their middle as part of the uniform.  The girls wear their hair parted down the middle and in two braids.  That is part of the uniform.
 It is lunch time.  They do not have regular cafeterias like in Utah.  They have different people that make the food and bring it to the school for the kids to buy for lunch.  Sometimes it is just a roll, noodles, sausage roll.  They have a big water cooler and glasses that the kids were reusing for drinks.  Much different than what we are used to.  They didn't even have a tuck shop like in Samoa.
 The students were trying to find shade and just eating and visiting until their lunch hour was over.
 This forked coconut tree is the only one we know of.  When we asked some of the YSA in our Saineha Ward in Auckland what we needed to see when we visited Tonga this is one of the sites they told us about.
 Tonga is a Kingdom and has a King, Princes and Princesses.  This is a grave of one of the Princesses of the Royal Family.
We went to our house, changed our clothes and headed to the only good swimming beach close by.  Reed and Bob Wood snorkelled. Reed loves the water and was so glad to be able to spend an hour snorkelling and looking at the sea life.  It was too cool and kept raining so Susie and I just looked for seashells and walked along the edge of the water.
The water was very clear.  I am standing on the rocky beach and could see these bright blue fish swimming around.  That was good enough for me.  Reed said the water was quite shallow because the tide was out and he saw some fish he had not seen before. 
On the way back to the house we stopped at the blow holes.  They were all along the coast line.  We could see probably 20 going of at one time.  The beach and these blow holes are only about 15 minutes away from the Liahona campus.
 The waves were crashing in and setting off the blowholes all along this coast line
 This was the house, #24, we stayed in.  Similar to the church housing in Samoa.  All cinderblock, white, tile floors, etc.

 We went back and cleaned the bathroom, which was quite disgusting, cleaned up and went out to dinner with Elder and Sister Wood and Elder and Sister Holbrook our ITEP couples there.  We went into town and ate at a place called Friends.  It was quite good.

Below is a picture of the main street of Nuku'alofa, the downtown on Tongatapu Island.

 We then went to Family Home Evening with all the senior missionaries.  It was nice to meet them all.  One of the couples, named Elder and Sister Wolfgram, seemed familiar.  Reed had served with a Tongan Elder in Melbourne, Australia when he was 19 with that name.  He walked up to Elder Wolfgram and asked where he served as a young man.  He said Melbourne, Australia.  Reed stood there for a minute and Elder Wolfgram looked down at his name badge.  It clicked and he yelled "Spence"! and picked Reed up in a big Tongan hug.  That was the best part of this whole trip.  Seeing those two reunite after 41 years.  The Church is amazing.  What a small world!  We went to bed exhausted!

 On Tuesday we got up and headed over to the school office.  We talked with the vice principal and Nada met the two counsellors she has been working with getting ready for the Counsellor's Summit later in May.  They call themselves Big Vika and Little Vika!  What delightful ladies.

We walked around campus and talked to students and took pictures of the Liahona High School and Middle School Campus.  It is a very large campus.  The students were very friendly.

This is the main office and front of Liahona High School!

Above is a picture of the Tongan Flag!

Reed standing in front of the ITEP building.  The ITEP Missionaries have their offices here and a room where they do their teaching.  They also have a closet where they can keep all their books.  Very nice!

We then met up with Verna Tukuafu, our Self-Reliance Manager there in Tonga.  She is our only female manager and is doing a great job.  We went into town with her and had lunch at a nice little restaurant.  We were surprised at how many good restaurants this small Island has.  Verna is also the Relief Society President in her Ward and her Father-In-Law is the Area Seventy.  She had made appointments for us to meet with all the teachers and stayed with us during those interviews and we attended the Institute Class for the Bridging Program together.  We attended a few of the classes and then had dinner at Elder and Sister Holbrook's home.
 On Wednesday we got up and borrowed Elder Wood's van while they are off Island.  Took Sister Holbrook as our guide and headed to the Self-Reliance Model Center to visit Verna and Elder and Sister van den Akker.  It is a pretty nice set up with computers for the students to register for PEF, BYUH and even a separate room with a few computers to do home work on.
The picture to the left is Nada, Sister and Elder van den Akker who are our Self-Reliance Missionaries in Tonga.

We then found Brother Tevita, a former teacher at Liahona, and commissioned him to do a couple of pieces of Tapa for us.  Reed really wanted something different and Brother Tevita does beautiful, unusual work. Verna told us he is the best on the island.  Elder and Sister Wood will pick it up and bring it to us when they come to the Counsellor's Summit.

 Above is the Tongan Temple.  It is right next to the Liahona campus.  It is very beautiful.  The picture to the right are some of the students in one of the Bridging From 5 Math classes.  Some of them are Returned Missionaries who never finished school before leaving on their missions.  Some of the students are older than YSA age taking advantage of  a second chance to finish high school.  Some of the students are kids who dropped out just a couple of years ago either because they had to go to work to help feed their parents and siblings or just thought school was too hard!

The Liahona campus at sunset!  The classroom wings with the big water tower in the middle of the buildings.

 This tree is hollow in the middle.  They gave great shade and were very interesting.  There were quite a few on campus.  A lot of the trees on campus were coconut trees.

The Form 5 English Class.  They are working on a writing assignment.  These classes started out with about 25 in each class but some of the students have dropped out.  Some of them dropped out for the same reasons as before, too hard, not enough time or they did not have a ride home at night.  The buses stop running about 4:00 p.m. and most of these students do not have cars.

We decided to walk over to the Temple and see the Stained Glass Windows at night!  Another busy great day.

Thursday morning we got up and went to the Temple to do a session.  Elder and Sister Wolfgram officiated the session which was very nice.  We met the Temple President and Elder Wolfgram had asked him if they could do the session in English instead of Tongan and he said yes.  Very nice.  What a beautiful Temple inside and out.  So nice to meet up with Elder and Sister Wolfgram.

We then went to the school field for their Field Day.  They had divided all the students into houses and they decorated their canopies and had made up cheers and songs that they were judged on.  The breeze was quite cool in the shade.  I was sorry I did not have my jacket on.

The band had just finished playing which we were sad about!

These students had made hats and were the song and cheer leaders.

Here they race without shoes as well.  The kids run hard the first lap and then most of them end up walking or just stopping for rests for the rest of the times around the track if they are doing more than one lap. You can see the canopies have signs and balloons decorating them.  Each house had a different color and name.  They have prefects and head girls and boys just like Hogwarts!
 Nada, Big Vika Kaufusi and Little Vika Kivalu.  They are wonderful counsellors and so much fun.  You can see that they were cold,  Little Vika has a heavy blanket wrapped around her.  They gave themselves those names.  Little Vika said to Nada, "I'm not so little any more!" and then laughed.

This young man was the song leader for the blue house and which was the two Vika's House.  My blue outfit matched theirs!
This young man wearing his homemade, weaved hat to keep the sun off and waiting to eat lunch.

 Vika Kavalu, Sister Spencer and Vika Kaufusi.  Enjoying the fun Field Day at Liahona, Tonga!

 Red House.  Kids doing their cheer!
Running Broad Jump!
 Just some darling little girls walking home!
Students wanting their picture taken.  Everywhere in the Islands when you take their pictures they do these signs.  We've asked what they mean but they say nothing really.  We just like to do it.

 We packed our suitcases, loaded up in the van and headed to Bob's Beach.  Elder Wood named this beach.  We asked what the real name was and they didn't know. There is not much beach but it is a cool little place when the tide is low to have a picnic and enjoy nature.
You can see all the different blow holes going off at once!  Beautiful!!  Below the sun is setting

 We wanted to spend our last couple of hours in Tonga watching the sun go down at the blow holes.  It was everything we hoped it would be.  It was romantic, a beautiful sunset, the temperature was perfect and the company wonderful!
Saying good bye to Tonga at the blow holes.  Sister and Elder Holbrook, Sister and Elder Spencer and Elder Wood.  Sister Wood is taking the picture. 
 The sun was majestic over the water as it was setting.
The blow hole in the front with the sun almost disappearing into the ocean in the back ground.  This was just a few feet in front of us.  Wow!  Doesn't get much better than this.  We went and had a good Chinese dinner on our way to the airport.

Elder and Sister Wood and Holbrook dropped us off at the airport just after 8:00 p.m. to head home.  After we checked in they told us the plane was an hour late.  Oh well, we just read and waited to board.  Talked about how beautiful  the people and the Island of Tonga are.  We are so grateful we had this chance to visit Tonga.  We have had so many wonderful opportunities to visit interesting places and meet all kinds of people. Even though we did not get home to Auckland until 1:15 in the morning we had a wonderful time.

We hope you enjoyed visiting Tonga and meeting the students and teachers there.  It is a great place to visit.  Hopefully this will not be our only time visiting this beautiful Island.  We love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are grateful to be missionaries serving here in the Pacific.  We love these people and hope that in some small way we can help them become more self reliant and see the importance of education so they too can become like Our Father-In-Heaven.  We love you and ask the Lord to watch over and bless you all.  Until next time. 'Ofa atu, Elder and Sister Spencer