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Ha’apai Part of the Tonga Mission Reunion 1989-92

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!

Ha’apai Boy Back Home!! Joyful Celebration!

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.

Sione Kongaika the fourth from the left in back. Viliami is the boy in front third from the left with bandage on head.

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!

Beautiful beach on Pangai, Ha’apai

You can see the beauty of Ha’apai from these photos. The kids had a new friend in AJ who could speak English very well and showed them the ropes. Isi was talking with Ruth in Utah to tell her all about the trip.

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!!

Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, health, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u Mission Reunion Trip 2019 with the Kongaikas

Isi met Joel and kids in Auckland, New Zealand. Ruth, Meilani, and Lily awaited anxiously for any news, pictures, and videos from the islands.

Welcoming Committee

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:

Feasting:

More feasting at Kanokupolu Resort

Dancing!

We are as popular as the Jets! haha

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.

‘Ofa atu Elder mo Sister Fie’eiki mo famili!

Isi, Joel and the kids stayed at Liahona where we used to live for ten years before our mission call.

Temporary home at Liahona High School

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.

Maybe we could all move back to Tonga and live in our little house in Kahoua!!

To be continued…next – Ha’apai!!

Cultures, Finance, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Our 50th Class Reunion

Since I have been a grandmother for over 21 years, it was inevitable (if I lived long enough) that I would have a 50th class reunion from the time I graduated from Orem High School. Fifty whole years! Half a century! The invitation to the 50th 1969 Class Reunion arrived at my house and I just stared at it. Indeed, I felt lucky to still be alive since I was aware of several classmates who had passed to the other side. But, still! Where had all that time gone? What had I been up to all of those seconds, minutes, weeks, month, and years?

I attended a few of my class reunions through the years. Some were good experiences and others not so good. I remember our tenth-year reunion. Classmates gathered in their old little groups and it was held at the Elk’s Club in Provo, Utah. I was excited to see my friends and acquaintances and enjoyed visiting with them. Most were recognizable since only a bit of time had passed.

There were dancing and drinking. Wild dancing and drinking (a lot of it). Weren’t we mostly brought up as L.D.S. (aka Mormon)? I was shocked at the state of some of the less sober people I knew. The bars were open for the whole evening. Some shared their successes and some told of their struggles. They announced who had the most children since graduation. The winner was a girl who had gotten pregnant during high school and then continued to have one every other year since. I won’t mention names here.

My two friends and I playing around before our Sadie Hawkins Dance

Some had a spouse attached to their arm and others were single. A few told their stories of abandonment and divorce. Others had been abused while some of their classmates went on to fame and fortune. There was a little bit of everything that could be expected through life. Good and bad! A memorial was read for those that had died in a short ten years. This included our senior class president from a motorcycle accident which had left his wife and child fatherless. What a cold, cruel world it had been for some.

Same friends and I 50 years later!!

Then there were some dressed to the extreme in fashion who took it to a whole new level of debauchery. I am from the “hippie” era but what I was seeing was shocking. I recall wearing mini skirts in high school and being one of the first of our class to be married (and divorced). I remarried to a gentle Polynesian man and that is where my life changed drastically from what I had known before (but I definitely have the cutest grandchildren)!!

Some of my great friends! I’m in blue and green.

Fast forward forty years from our 10th class reunion to today. This recent 50th class reunion was a whole other story. Very surreal and in some ways shocking, but unlike the lasciviousness of the 60s and 70s, current situations made our reunion much calmer and comparatively docile. There was no loud music playing (up until the end), no inappropriate dancing, and no alcoholic beverages being served. Everyone was well behaved and contrite. An occasional outburst was heard when someone finally recognized friends from years gone by.

There were some of us with canes, walkers, oxygen, toupees, and wigs. Some had lost so much weight due to sickness or running too many marathons. Others looked quite well for their advancing age. I heard my friend tell me that at the previous reunion (five years earlier) she had been elected as the one who had changed the least. I agreed with her since that was the best thing for both of us.

This time, our reunion was held at Orem High School (the new one). They had the nerve to tear down our high school and replace it with a newer model. It was air-conditioned and had the latest technology, and I noticed that even the toilets flushed by themselves (we didn’t have that)!

I went to the reunion with a dear friend who had been one of the bridesmaids at my first wedding. Her husband recently passed away and she was now a widow and enjoying life. Several of our classmates had lost their spouse over the years.

I kinda think the lyrics said it all!

We each wore name tags so that when we met someone we didn’t recognize, we could quickly glance at their name and act as though we remembered them well. It was a blast! There was no dancing, but they played some music from the 60s including The Beatles and The Doors. The funniest moment of the night for me was when the lady in charge was told to turn down the music since it was blowing out some of the attendees hearing aides. I almost died right there!

After the meal, there was a short memorial for those who had died in the past five years. They were all men and it seemed that many of them had been football players. In my opinion, that is what shortened their life, but I am not a doctor. I have a friend who is among the few that has not had any surgeries her whole life. I attribute it to the fact that she was married three times and is now a widow. She doesn’t worry about what people think of her and has a happy-go-lucky attitude about things.

It became acutely apparent that the most important aspect of the evening was the quality of the food and that there would be plenty of it. I’m sure it was because of the many classmates that had to take their evening pills with food. Thanks to those who administered the event, the catering did a great job. We could have our choice of chicken or beef or both. The desserts were yummy and plentiful. No one complained about the quality of the food or lack of it, so it was a success.

My father is still alive and kicking (at least with one leg). He has kept me informed about his recent class reunions. His 75th was attended by two, himself included. I should be so lucky, but that will have to be determined at a later time since I need to go take my arrhythmia medication after all the excitement!

Onward, Orem High School! May our posterity find happiness and prosper!

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion

Finding Andrea

Today was a very somber but special day for us. My father called recently and told me he had read in the newspaper that there was a new Children’s Memorial Park at the This is the Place Heritage Park Monument in Salt Lake City. Dad wanted me to find out if our little ancestor’s name was listed amongst the many pioneer children that died crossing the plains to Utah. We are having a Christensen family reunion soon and he hoped to have that information to share.

This is the Place Monument

With this mission in mind, my husband and I, daughter, and granddaughter left our home about 11:00 am on Pioneer Day, July 24, 2019 for Emigration Canyon. It took about 45 minutes to drive up to the Memorial Park near the University of Utah. We had high hopes that we would find Andrea on the list of pioneer children. What we saw and experienced was much more than we had ever hoped for.

One of the beautiful statues depicting the pioneer children

Andrea was the child of Niels and Christiane Christensen who were from Viborg, Denmark. They had joined the Latter-day Saint Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and in 1857 had traveled with a group of saints across the plains. They had three small daughters when they made the journey. Along the way, Andrea died, and they had nothing to bury her in. They wrapped her in a blanket and put a brass kettle over her head to keep the dirt from her face, placing her in a shallow grave. This information is available on familysearch.org

Niels and Christiane Christensen, parents of Andrea

As we made our way up the hill from the “This is the Place” Monument”, we were awestruck by the beauty of the little memorial to the children. There were beautiful statues depicting what some of the children may have looked like. Large stones bore the names of children who had died on the long trek to a place of religious freedom. We eagerly inspected each one, hoping Andrea would be there. You could feel the spirit and sanctity of the memorial.

A statue depicted a small girl by a wheel

Finally, we found the name of Andrea Christensen, and it showed that her age was 1 (one). We were so grateful to have had this experience and so happy that we snapped a picture and sent it to my father as proof that her name is indeed included with the names at the children’s memorial. There were hundreds of names, but this one had special significance to us.

Some of the names listed of pioneer children who died on the trek
We found Andrea Christensen age 1 (fifth from the top)
My granddaughter listening to the story of someone about her age.



We continued to walk up the hill to the top of the memorial and along the way were kiosks where you could listen to stories of the pioneers. One in particular was very touching to my granddaughter since it was about a girl about her age. She was able to be with the saints when they finally arrived to see the valley. It was a bittersweet story since the girl had left behind a boy she loved and her father died shortly before they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.

It was a very hot day when we left to go to the other side of Utah Valley to find Andrea, but our struggles to climb up in the heat of the day and witness the grandeur of the valley was nothing compared to the sacrifice of our pioneer forefathers. We are so grateful for their faith and fortitude that brought us here to Utah.

We are so glad we were able to find Andrea and hope we will be able to meet her one day and see what she looks like. What a special time that will be. ~Ruth Kongaika

Religion

And I Am a Mormon

http://hubpages.com/hub/And-I-Am-A-Mormon

Mormons (real name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have been compared and confused with the Amish, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Evangelical Christians.

While we may have some similarities with these religions, and respect them, our beliefs do have very distinct differences from theirs. Most people know us for what we can’t do rather than what we can actually do.