One of the main reasons we moved to Utah after we retired was to be closer to our grandchildren. We wanted to attend their concerts, plays, recitals, musicals, etc. It has been a delight to watch them participate in their activities.
Here are a few of our favorite pictures and videos from performances or activities our grandchildren have been involved in.
Isi sang in the BYU-Hawaii Concert Choir. It was thrilling to watch and hear him sing.
Princess has also sung in school choirs and has a beautiful voice. Ali’i .has an amazing voice also!
Most of our grandchildren play the ukulele, piano, guitar, or other instrument.
Jacob Tupou is into writing and loves books. He has sung in some performances at school and keeps a website going called allthewriting.com
Ileina has lived closest to us since we have lived in Utah so we have attended several of her performances. She was in a Polynesian dancing group together with her cousins, Anna and Eryn.
Ali’i and Robbie are very skillful in sports. Ali’i has excelled in volleyball and Robbie in basketball. Check out their dancing skills here, especially Robbie!
We recently returned from our family reunion in Arizona. My favorite part of the reunion was being with most of my grandchildren. We missed having our oldest grandson who is studying at BYU-Hawaii.
We ate, danced, ate, talked, ate, visited, ate, played fun games, ate, sang karaoke, ate, played sports, ate, etc. representatives from each family shared their talents at a talent night. It was an awesome reunion.
We are so grateful to those that were in charge of this year’s reunion. The Theme was “Our Roots Run Deep”. A t-shirt was designed by our son, Jacob. Scriptural references: Colossians 2:6-7: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” and Jacob 5: 46-47: Allegory of the tame and wild olive trees.
Rob had prepared some fun games that the children, youth, and a few adults enjoyed. Then came one game that brought out the beast in a few of our otherwise sane family members.
Near the end of the reunion, we took photos. I hope someone will post the whole family picture. I only have a picture of our own family.
This role is inherited by the eldest male line. In our case, our oldest son is Robert (Lopeti). It just so happens to be his birthday this month. He has shown his ability to be a leader in his family, while serving in the Air Force, and in his ecclesiastical responsibilities.
His role (as far as his siblings are concerned) is to officiate at family activities, funerals, weddings, and special events. The ‘Ulumotu’a has the final say on these events when it comes to the family.
According to this custom, the Ulumotu’a in my husband’s family is his older brother, Sioeli. He helped to bring most of his siblings to the United States and has supported several of them while they made the transition. We appreciate all he has done for his brother while at school and for our family.
Robert James Kongaika was born October 2, 1974 in Tonga and he eventually became fluent in the Tongan language. When the family left Tonga to move to Hawaii in 1992, Robert stayed behind and lived with his grandmother, Lu’isa so he could graduate from Liahona High School.
Similar to John Groberg’s son in the movie, The Other Side of Heaven 2, Fire of Faith (2019), Robert nearly died at one point in Tonga. He had a very high fever and lost consciousness when he was less than a year old. We tried to wake him up, but nothing worked. We were frantic and the doctor (Salesi Havili) met us at the hospital. Baby Robert received a shot and he finally started crying. I was so relieved to hear his cry. Since then, he has been strong in body and strong in will.
Robert was named after his grandfather, Robert H. Anderson. My Dad taught him all about airplanes, having been a pilot in World War II. Robert soaked it all in and it stoked his desire to serve in the Air Force.
Robert met his eternal companion, Abi, at BYU-Hawaii. They had four children, Israel, Princess, James, and Robbie. They have all supported and followed him throughout his career in the military. We are all thankful for the time and effort he and the family have put into helping to keep America free and safe.
We are grateful Robert came to our family and appreciate his great example of service! We wish our family ‘Ulumotu’a a very Happy Birthday, !
I am a very fortunate mother. I say that because I have been blessed with a very loving and caring daughter. Many people want a son as their first child, but I believe it is better to have a daughter first. This is a tribute to all loving and caring daughters everywhere, but especially to my own. She was raised in the South Pacific Island of Tonga and is the eldest of four children.
My daughter was born after a very long hard labor, but when I first saw her cute little face, all of the pain and misery left. She actually was a honeymoon baby, born nine months and two days after we were married.
Over the years, we have become best of friends, and at times I feel that she is more of a mother than I am. I had a very troubled childhood and tumultuous teenage years. Perhaps my daughter learned from my mistakes, but she has never been any trouble and has always been there to lift me up.
I am eternally grateful that the Lord saw fit to bless me with such a beautiful and thoughtful daughter. I see the trouble other daughters cause in their family, including myself, and know the Lord was watching out for me when he sent this special spirit to our family.
The saddest day I remember is when my daughter left me to go to university. It took me a long time to get over and her absence was literally painful. But, I knew she had to find her own path and future. Her caring nature carried over into a career. She chose to be a nurse, and I have heard from several of her patients who remark about her loving character. Now she is a Nurse Practitioner and she is a doctor to many, including me.
My daughter and her husband have been blessed with their own beautiful daughter, who is also a sweet and devoted child that bring all of us many smiles and so much joy.
Daughter, I love you so much, more than I ever thought I could love another human being. I am so happy to call you my daughter and hopeful for the mother that I am becoming through you and with you. Thank you for helping me in times of need. I can never repay you for all that you have done for me.
For always and forever, you are the biggest part of my heart.
My daughter’s new daughter How precious and sweet Beautifully perfect From her head to her feet
Ten tiny fingers And ten tiny toes All dressed up in lace With a cute button nose
I look at her face And I see her bright smile I have to admit Takes me back quite awhile
I remember the day Brought my own daughter home More precious than anything I’d ever known
Our daughters are the most precious of our treasures, the dearest possessions of our homes and the objects of our most watchful love. ~ Margaret E. Sangster
A daughter is beauty at its finest. Heart of an angel, soul so pure, and sweet. Daughters are one of God’s most precious gifts that he has bestowed upon the world. Angels in Heaven do not compare to thine beauty, and grace my ever so beautiful, and lovely daughter.
Seeing you at birth brought more joy to me than all the money in the world could ever do. You are morning, bright, and shining, you are noon, you reside at the highest point in my heart, you are the dew kissed night. You are my daughter, heart, and soul. ~anonlymous
Liana has already taken upon herself the “burden” of being our family doctor. Whenever we are sick, she is right there to make sure we get the best care. She will stay up all night with us until she is sure we will be alright. If she really wanted to, she could ask any of her brothers for one of their children (although I’m pretty sure she won’t). She also asks them to take responsibilities by preparing food or giving money for a family member and they oblige willingly. I’m so glad that my sons respect their sister and help her when they can. Although we don’t live in Tonga any more, Liana is a very good example of service to the whole family.
A German proverb says, “The oldest trees often bear the sweetest fruit.” Besides my own Grandmother Anderson, an amazing self-taught artist, Grandma Moses, truly inspires me. Anna Mary Robertson, a painter known as Grandma Moses, lived until she was 101 years old. She only started painting when she was 76 years old. Her paintings hang in nine museums in the United States, Paris, and Vienna.
The reason she took up painting so late in life is because arthritis had made it impossible for her to hold her needle to embroider, her favorite hobby. However, she could hold a brush just fine, and not wanting to be idle, she began painting. Today, she is one of the best-known American artists in Europe.
Grandma Moses’ Quotes
“If I didn’t start painting, I would have raised chickens.”
“I paint from the top down. From the sky, then the mountains, then the hill, then the houses, then the cattle, and then the people.”
“I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented; I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”
Grandma Moses had her own unique style, which proved to be very popular. Well known for nostalgic scenes in gay colors, she illustrated farm life and the countryside. She had a knack for bringing a simple scene to life.
An art collector saw some of her paintings in a drug store priced from $3 to $5 each. He purchased all of her available art, and the following year she ended up having an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Her art was reproduced on Hallmark Christmas cards, on tiles and fabrics throughout the world.
Grandma Moses had her own unique style, which proved to be very popular. Well known for nostalgic scenes in gay colors, she illustrated farm life and the countryside. She had a knack for bringing a simple scene to life.
A German fan said of her art:
There emanates from her paintings a light-hearted optimism; the world she shows us is beautiful and it is good. You feel at home in all these pictures, and you know their meaning. The unrest and the neurotic insecurity of the present day make us inclined to enjoy the simple and affirmative outlook of Grandma Moses.
Grandma Moses painted only from her memory. She wanted to share how she lived when she was young with everyone. In her 25 years of painting, she produced more than 1,000 pictures, 25 of which she painted after she turned 100 years old. The price of her paintings $3 to $5 each to $8,000 to $10,000 each. One of her paintings, Sugaring Off (1943), was her highest selling work, bought for $1.2 million USD in November of 2006.
Her work has been compared to that of Henri Rousseau. The particular style they share designates those artists who live in a developed and sophisticated society, but are not trained in artistic perception and lighting. In Grandma Moses’ words, “we make amateur art that sells.”
Alas, the story of Grandma Moses would not be complete without the other part of her biography, which is that she had given birth to ten children, half of which died in infancy. She started working as a hired girl at age 12, and continued until she was 27 when she met and married Thomas Salmon Moses. As an adult, she lived in Virginia and made butter and potato chips, selling them to her neighbors. She continued to run the farm with her son after her husband passed.
One of Grandma Moses’ paintings, Fourth of July, hangs in the White House, and was painted in honor of President Eisenhower.
I would be happy to have a tenth of the fame Grandma Moses did with her art. She is truly inspirational and she was not worried about technique or criticism. She just loved painting.
Some of my art instructors told me that I paint in a simplistic manner – much like Grandma Moses. I suppose I am in good company then!
After a fun and relaxing time in Ha’apai , former President ‘Isileli Kongaika, his son Joel, and three grandchildren boarded a boat headed for the Vava’u Islands in Tonga. Unlike former trips made by the Kongaika family on the ‘Olovaha, this newer boat, the MV. Tongiaki had the latest equipment and was supposed to provide a comfortable ride. Unfortunately, the sea was very rough and all but one of the family got seasick.
The following notes are from President Kongaika. He makes more detailed ones since he was actually on the trip:
Boat ride to Vava’u
Left Ha’apai at 2:00 pm on speed ferry and arrived 6 pm to Puatalefusi harbor at Neiafu, Vava’u.
All the kids including Joel and the newly called missionary called to serve in New York, Sione Filimoe’ulie got seasick. This missionary has never been outside of Tonga!
Greeted by planning committee at the wharf and transported to our prepaid house at Neiafu. A home with 5 beds and 2 baths, gorgeous back porch view of the famous Lolo ‘a Halaevalu Harbor.
We were invited to have a welcome potluck dinner with all the returned missionaries serving with us from 1989-1992. It was held at the Saineha High School Gymnasium. From 8-10pm
Everyone who came introduced themselves with spouses and children.
Pres. Mosaia To’a, our Vava’u group chair introduced his officers and gave a welcome remarks while we ate. He also outlined the plan for the rest of our gathering for the next four days. Aug 8-11.
At the close of the evening I was asked to respond and expressed gratitude to all who had any hand in the planning and carrying out of the plan. They have learned well from their mission experience the commitment pattern in carrying out their activities.
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Pres To’a arranged for a seven-passenger van for us to rent while in Vava’u. Bro. Filimoe’ulie was our designated driver.
Joel and Kids dropped me and Filimoe’ulie to meet the ministering committee at the stake center and they went to do some sightseeing around Neiafu and do some laundry.
We went to visit a sister who was married outside of the covenant and is no longer active. It was a good visit both for us as well as for this mother. We extended an invitation for her and her family to join us in the activities as we celebrate our 30th year reunion.
Thursday, August 8, 2019
We went on to visit three graves of our missionaries who had recently passed away, leaving behind widows and children. We presented flowers in each of these graves. The missionaries were Alavini Vea, Sione Fakatava and Viliami ‘Elisa all from Neiafu and Toula.
At about 4 pm we went with kids to join the dinner prepared by the Neiafu group to welcome and start our activities in Vava’u. By now JoJo has become proficient in selecting from the spread of foods on the table that he likes and so did Eryn and Anna. JoJo had learned the best part of a roasted pig was the meat along the spine.
A welcome dance was held around 7 pm to 11pm at the same stake center. It was good to see all the missionaries and their spouses came to have an enjoyable evening with other fellow missionaries. I was able to get reacquainted with many with whom we served together 30 years ago. We received many leis and food to last a while.
Friday, August 9, 2019
We decided to take the kids on a trip around the Island and show them where I served in Vava’u some 55 years ago. We started at Neiafu our zone leader headquarters. We drove to Leimatu’a through Mataika and Felecia. Leimatu’a was where I had served for about 2 months and then was assigned to transfer to Longomapu for 8 months
We drove on to Longomapu through Tefisi. I was able to show the kids the backwoods of Vava’u and saw a horse being used for transportation as well as the manual laborer.
This is where we cleared land given to the Church for a little house of worship and later it became a ward with a beautiful brick meeting house. The location was so amazing and it overlooks the ocean with a view of the outer islands.
We also visited the location of my first missionary make-shift fale and told how the Lord sent us to activate a less active member in Longomapu. Brother Tau’aika was no longer living in his Longomapu estate.
We drove and looked for Bro Tau’aika who now lives in the village of Tu’anuku. It was good to have Joel and the kids meet the person I had often talked about while on my mission in Longomapu. He and his wife are now aging but still very aware and remembered every detail of our time together.
After the visit to the western side we headed to the Eastern side, that includes Ta’anea, Ha’alaufuli, Tu’anekivale, and Koloa. We visited Koloa where Grandpa Sione Kongaika and Grandma Mele had served a mission as couple leadership missionaries. It was here he made a visionary decision that all church meetings will be held on Sunday, allowing them to do ministering work on other days of the week. We had to drive through a crossways from the end of Tu’anekivale to this tiny island called “Koloa” (treasure). I am uncertain what the treasure was in this tiny remote island.
We drove back and stopped at Ta’anea to have another feast prepared by the Eastern group. It was an excellent meal, however the kids and Joel decided after that long tour around the the main island of Vava’u, they had had enough for the day and broke off for an evening of private pizza dinner in Neiafu.
Around 7 – 10 pm the Eastern group hosted another dancing activity and invited all to come and mingle and dance. It was so fun to see the future of the Kingdom in these activities. They enjoyed good clean fun.
Saturday AUGUST 10, 2019 Touring the island district.
This group was headed by Pres Saipa’ia who served with us. Pres. Saipa’ia is my cousin from the ‘Isileli Tupou descendants. He had gained permission from the Mission President for us to use the Missionary speedboat named Alma to tour the Islands in Vava’u namely, Noapapu, Matamaka, Talihau, Otea, Pangai Motu and others I can’t remember.
It was a great day for boating and swimming. First we drove to the bridge that connects Talau to Vaimalo. This is where we used to swim across the channel to get to Neiafu for Missionary work days. Now they drive or ride a bike or walk this road.
We then headed out by Tefisi and Tu’anuku to the Sparrows Cave. Here we drove into the cave and Joel and some of the kids who joined us got brave and jumped in for a swim. The kids just observed as they were nervous about getting out of the boat. We drove around these islands for an opportunity for sightseeing. We headed back to Neiafu and took a rest before we drove out to Pangaimotu for the evening dinner picnic at a place called the Ano (lake)
Again, we enjoyed a gathering with families of our Vava’u 89-92 Returned Missionaries as we broke bread together over another outpouring of anga’ofa (love). The kids enjoyed the barbecue dishes and they had also barbecued a lamb as they do little suckling pigs. Many speeches and tau’olunga (dances) were given to entertain the crowd. As always, I was asked to give the closing remarks signaling the close of the activity.
Sunday AUGUST 11
We were invited to join any ward or branch we wanted to. So we attended the Leimatu’a ward for two hours.
Joel and the kids went home for lunch which was prepurchased. I joined the rest of the party with a pot luck lunch at Saineha under the huge mango tree. Here we had the traditional favorite dishes like lo’i lesi, veihalo, and vaihopa, to name a few. There were always fresh young coconuts to drink. We also had some good sharing as we ate together under this huge mango tree.
At 7 pm we started out missionary fireside and most people did not show up until around 8 pm. It was a time for remembering God’s tender mercies while we served as His missionaries.
I closed this fireside with an invitation to focus our gospel study at home, following the Come Follow Me course of study, if we are to know, love and serve Christ more.
The other invitation was to live the new commandment to “Love one another as Christ has loved us.” The image is in the Tongan Proverb to “PIKIPIKIHAMA-KAE- VAEVAEMANAVA MANAVA” – remember the poor and the needy, the widows and homeless and the sick and those in prison. Love them as Christ loved us all.
Monday 12 AUGUST
We just relaxed, paid our bills, and got ready to fly home to Tongatapu.
Some things have not changed over these many years. We were scheduled to fly out at 5:30 am and was later delayed to 3:30 pm. While at the airport we were told it was delayed one more hour so did not get off the island until 5:30 pm.
We checked in to a house that Joel had reserved online and they enjoyed a pizza dinner provided by Alavini and Mokiana Sika. Pres Sika and Mokiana took me to a farewell family home evening with whomever were left in Tongatapu before we departed for home the next day. Again, we had a wonderful evening of activities focused on helping single mothers of our group with necessary items for their homes. We raised some money to be divided among these widows.
Of course a good Tongan meal always accompanied a gathering like this. At the end I reminded them of our reunion invitations:
Focus in Gospel study in our homes by following diligently the “Come Follow Me” curriculum of the church.
Live the best we can the new commandment to “Love One-another as I have Loved You” The image of PIKIPIKIHAMA- KAE- VAEVAEMANAVA is to represent the commandment as we strive to care for the poor and needy, widows and fatherless as well as those who are sick and in Prison.
Check back for more photos of the Tonga Mission Reunion 1989-1992 in Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u tomorrow!!
Former Elder Filimoe’ulie was asked be a traveling companion to formerly President Kongaika to make sure everything went well. Isi had been quite sick in Tongatapu without being able to speak and the committee felt he needed someone to go to Ha’apai and Vava’u with him. Thanks for taking care of Grandpa!
President Kongaika of the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission 1989-92 was back home again after a long sojourn in the desert valley of Utah. He had missed this little island where he had grown up. He had thought the whole world revolved around his small island and now that he was home, he didn’t want to leave again. He said it was so peaceful and for the most part unaffected by the world.
As for the grandchildren, this was their first time to set foot on the soil of Pangai, Ha’apai. Son, Joel had been born in Provo, Utah and his children Anna, Eryn, and Joseph (Jojo) had been born and raised in Hawaii. They had heard many tales from their grandfather about growing up in the islands of Ha’apai and Nuku’alofa, but now they were actually seeing it with their own eyes. How wondrous and marvelous to experience the land, sea and air of this nation where time seems to have a different meaning, far from the crowded noisy cities.
Happy familiar faces greeted the excited group and made them feel at ease. Some of our missionaries now have children serving missions. So happy they could carry on in the service of the Lord.
The traveling group moved into the Mission Home near the wharf on Pangai. Isi and Ruth had stayed there several times when they served their mission. They had even entertained one of the general authorities, Elder and Sister Glenn Rudd, in this home. The kids said it was quite different than what they are used to, but it was quite comfortable except for a few spiders and other bugs.
Only three of our RMs were involved in the planning of the activities in Pangai, but ‘Isi said they went all out. Thank you all including the Stake President, Tonga Onevai, for your efforts in making it a very memorable trip. They were also able to visit some of missionaries who had married out of the faith and were welcomed.
The kids were able to go to the local elementary school. They were impressed that the children were so willing to sing for them and make them feel welcome. Anna, Eryn, and Jojo in return sang for the school children. They said they feel that the people are so service oriented and look out for one another.
The first project on Grandpa Isi’s mind was to find his grandfather Sione Kongaika’s grave and clean up the area. This was an act of love and service to honor his grandfather. The Kongaika name came from Sione because he was always in the sea. The name means “part fish”. Before that the family name was ‘Aholelei. He was a very active convert in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His wife Mele had raised Isi’s father, Viliami.
Once Sione’s grave site was cleaned up, others came to help clean up the graves of some palangi elders who had died in the service of their God, Elder Rasmussen and Elder Oborn. They gave their all!
The travelers were treated to feasting and dancing. The kids were surprised that the children would shoo the flies the whole time they were eating. What a selfless act of kindness that was.
The group traveled to Foa on the causeway and the kids had fun collecting shells for Grandma Ruth and enjoying the gorgeous beaches. Isi laid under a coconut tree and felt very grateful for having been able to return again to his islands of Ha’apai.
There was a special fireside held and the main topic was “The Gathering of Israel”. Many participated and it was more of a discussion than a talk by President. It was noted that there were some BYU-Hawaii graduates now living in Ha’apai and serving where they can. “Isi reminisced about the simple faith of the people he grew up with in Ha’apai and he loved every minute he was there.
To be continued… next – Vava’u and more pictures throughout the trip!!
Isi met Joel and kids in Auckland, New Zealand. Ruth, Meilani, and Lily awaited anxiously for any news, pictures, and videos from the islands.
The missionaries had planned all of the reunion in the respective islands of Tonga. They had arranged for a place to stay for the travelers, transportation, food to eat, and entertainment. They outdid themselves royally! Many thanks to all who helped out in any way to take care of this bunch.
Here are some good looking people that took care of ‘Isi, Joel, and the three grandchildren.
Of course, a Tongan Mission Reunion would not be complete without a trip to the temple and a service project. Also, our missionaries ministered to several of our RMs including widows, sick, and those in prison as Jesus has taught each of us to do.
There was feasting, dancing, and loving.
Tonga Nuku’alofa Temple
Pictures of ministering:
It is good to know we are still remembered in the islands. We have the souvenir of the poster with our family on it and a water bottle with our picture on it also. Then there were two different colors of t-shirts that referenced our mission. We are so grateful for all the love that was shown to us by our missionaries.
One highlight of the trip was for President Kongaika to meet with Elder and Sister Fie’eiki who served as our senior office couple. I don’t know how we could have done it without them.
Isi, Joel and the kids stayed at Liahona where we used to live for ten years before our mission call.
The Hahake Group also had a feast and a dance at Pelehake Chapel.More pictures – sorry if I left anyone out. Please tag everyone!
Brother Kongaika even got to visit his home in Kahoua that his father built.
‘Isileli Tupou Kongaika served as the Mission President in the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission from 1989-1992. His family including wife, Ruth and children, Liana, Robert, Joel, and Jacob lived in the Sopu Mission Home those three years.
Since then, he has lived in Hawaii and then retired to the Salt Lake City area in Utah. In August, 2019, he met with Joel, his son, and three grandchildren, Anna, Eryn, and Joseph in Tonga and they stayed for two weeks traveling around Tongatapu, to the island of Pangai, Ha’apai, and Vava’u. Grandma Kongaika stayed home as well as Joel’s wife Meilani and daughter, Lily.
On the way to Tonga, ‘Isi stopped over in Auckland, New Zealand, where he met with many of his former missionaries and families. They shared memories of their missions and treated their old president with much love and respect. They fed him and encouraged him to speak, but alas, he had lost his voice due to a bad cold.
The three grandchildren had not been in Tonga before and enjoyed learning more about their grandfather and father’s culture. They endured culture shock, Tongan feasting, mosquitos, cockroaches, high humidity, grandpas long stories, and sea sickness.
As their grandmother, I was acutely aware of the hazards that the grandchildren might experience. I prayed every day for their safety and well being. Thankfully, all of them survived their trip and made new friends. Grandpa had them very involved with the Tongan missionaries and school children in Tonga.
All of the traveling group became ill on the trip, but are now on the mend. Grandma was asked several times why she didn’t go also. My excuse is that I had a pretty bad year health wise and didn’t want to get sick again.
Joel was too excited to return to Tonga and relive his childhood. To be continued…