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

Kongaika Tonga Reunion Trip August 2019

‘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…

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Parenting, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

The Other Side of Heaven 2

The Other Side of Heaven 2 Main actor Christopher Gorman

We went to see the movie, “The Other Side of Heaven 2”, and I thought it would be good to share my impressions with you.

We were fortunate to be with a group that previewed the movie before it was shown to the general public. The theater was filled with relatives of one of the main characters in the movie, Tonga Toutai Paletu’a. The story was about his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his relationship with his family prior to that decision and after.

Elder John H. Groberg was depicted in the movie as the LDS Mission President at the time who had served his first mission in Tonga. My husband happened to be one of his missionaries. This movie has special significance to us and to our family. Another interesting fact is that our daughter married the grandson of Tonga Toutai Paletu’a! It was very exciting to have so many connections.

We had been anticipating this movie since we found out there would be a Part II, having loved the first movie ten years earlier.

One thing I was interested in was that the same actor who played John Groberg’s part also starred in the second movie. He had hardly changed in many years and did an excellent job in both. Anne Hathaway who had played his wife in the first has gone on to become quite a Hollywood star, so they chose another actress, Natalie Medlock to play the part of his wife. I thought she did a marvelous job!

Natalie Medlock

I enjoyed the movie from start to finish beginning from when it showed BYU TV and Kolipoki Pictures. Those of us who have lived in Tonga or are somehow affiliated with it will know the significance of the name Kolipoki. It is “Groberg” Tonganized.

Us and the Grobergs

The actors chosen to play Toutai Paletu’a and his family were all excellent! The man who portrayed his father even made me dislike him very much for his portrayal of a very strict minister who would not admit his own faults.

There are many lessons throughout the movie that can benefit all people. Respect, forgiveness, love of family, hard work, the power of prayer, and fasting, Christlike love, and many more.

The fact that I personally knew Toutai Paletu’a and his wife made the movie so much more meaningful. When we lived in Tonga, when you met President Paletu’a, it seemed as if he could see right through you. He knew that I was having a very difficult time adjusting to my new life in the little islands. He told me if my husband ever gave me a hard time, he would talk to him. Somehow he sensed my culture shock and was trying to help me out.

The person that played our late prophet Thomas S. Monson has an uncanny likeness to him. I almost forgot it wasn’t really him. Kudos to the person who found him.

My favorite movies are those based on true life heroes. This was definitely one of our family’s favorites. One of the stories portrayed in the movie took me right back.

The Grobergs had several daughters until they moved to Tonga where they were blessed with a son, John. The baby became very ill and was close to death when the Queen and all the people who knew them fasted and prayed for him to get better.

When we lived in Tonga, I gave birth to my first son. He was very small and became so ill that he was unconscious. We rushed him to the hospital which was a 15-20 minute drive from where we lived in Liahona. I tried to wake him up all the way there, but he would not. Once we got him to the hospital, Dr. Havili gave him a shot of adrenalin. We were so happy to finally hear his little cry and knew he would be alright. I relived this experience through the movie.

The Grobergs worried over their sick son in the movie.

Myself, our missionaries, and my husband when we served in the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission 1989-1992

Spoiler alert: Why was the movie rated PG-13? I was a bit concerned taking my grandchildren to see it because of the rating. The fact that the father threatened his son not to come home ever again and asked his other son to throw a piglet into the ocean (substituting the pig for his son). The other part that was offensive, and I understand it did not really happen, was when the father buried one disobedient son in the sand at the beach and then there was a big storm that could have drowned him, but somehow he escaped. The other scene is when their baby was thrown to a person from the boat to the shore. My little granddaughter was quite upset about that. Someone mentioned the plucking of dead chickens as being offensive, but I was used to that when I lived in Tonga (try eating one of those rubber chickens)!

President Groberg and his son in the movie

My favorite part besides the adorable children’s interaction with their father was when the wife of Paletu’a’s father called him a stubborn pig. Because, he was!

I urge you all to see the movie and you will come away with a new awareness of life in Tonga and a greater appreciation for those that stay true to their beliefs despite many hardships. Congratulations Elder and Sister Groberg on fulfilling President Monson’s wish of a comeback!