We came up with the idea to contact BYU Hawaii to see how far Asena was along in school, and if there was any way she could complete her degree by doing BYU Hawaii online classes. We eventually were able to communicate with a counselor who reviewed her transcript. Because she had done quite well in school in the classes she had taken while on campus, and the number of hours required for graduation for all the BYU’s was reduced, it was determined that she could graduate with 3 online classes.
Asena works in downtown Nuku’alofa. She gets to and from work on the bus from her home in Tokomololo. In order to take the online classes she would then travel by bus from Tokomololo to Liahona where we had the computer lab for online classes several nights a week. After spending 2-3 hours in the lab she would then get a ride home from a relative as the buses were no longer running, or just walk home, about 3 miles away. She did that 2 nights a week and Saturday afternoon. The 1st semester she had 2 classes and only one this last semester. We just received word that Asena has now officially graduated from BYU Hawaii, and they are sending her diploma to Tonga. By the way, this very intelligent person took three classes and got three A’s.
We spent a lot of time with Asena and learned to love her and her family. How she handled a tragic event was amazing. In the middle of all this, her home caught fire one Sunday afternoon and burned to the ground. She and her family have been living with her brother and family while they rebuild their home with the help of family and friends. No insurance! Very few people have insurance in Tonga as they simply cannot afford it.
We have so many wonderful memories of Tonga. We don’t dwell on the heat, humidity, poverty, bugs, and don’t worry about some of the cultural differences, or the things that can, “only happen in Tonga.” It’s all about the people and their faith, humility and obedience. They know how to laugh and have a good time. Their love of music and dance is legendary. Their love of the Lord is amazing. As we sat in two Sacrament meetings yesterday and listened to the Saints sing hymns, I teared up over and over thinking about what those songs would have sounded like in Tonga. Tongans just don’t sing, they sing from the heart, loud and booming. We will miss that a lot.
We will miss the camaraderie of serving with great senior missionaries. We made some really wonderful friends that we will meet up with to share Tonga stories following our missions. Maybe we will even take in a BYU football game together.
In the 26th chapter of Alma we read about Ammon and his brothers as they head home after their 14 year mission among the Lamanites. Ammon recounts some of their successes and to his brother Aaron it sounded like boasting. Ammon goes on to explain that he just glories in the Lord and gives all credit to Him for anything they have accomplished. Cath and I feel the same way. We felt the influence of the Lord all through our mission. He was there to sustain us, to buoy us up, to bless us with health, to bring thoughts and ideas to us through the Holy Ghost to help in His work. We truly feel blessed and fortunate to have served among these sweet loving people. We felt the love and prayers of family and friends at home also sustaining us. We remembered the words of blessings we received prior to our mission that also provided inspiration and hope for us. What a blessing.
Finally, ‘Ofa lahi atu
|The first photo is of us at church the day before we left Tonga. Ward members|
presented us with kahoas (like leis).
The 2nd photo is of us in front of our house on the Liahona Campus.
It was also taken the day before we left.
|Uss with our mission president and his wife.|
|At a dance celebrating the return of a sister missionary.|