|The island where Elder Groberg went to|
pray and read the Book of Mormon.
I immediately felt terrible for Elder Groberg who had to take an 8 day journey from Tonga to Niua in a rowboat. The 9 hour journey from Niua back to Vava'u was especially bad cause the sea was terrible. I never threw-up, thankfully, but I was laying down on the top deck in the fresh air the entire time. It was pretty awful, but it's a good memory to have and I know I will never take a boat ride that long ever again.
My first impression of Niua was that it's way beautiful, and waaaay small. The first thing we did was of traditional Tongan manner, EAT. For one of the poorest islands of the world they prepared us a feast - pigs, lobster, crab, and a lot more. As you can see I took the liberty of taking one of the pig heads (side note: pig tongue is really good, but don't go for the roof of the tongue, it's gross).
That night we had a Holahula (dance) and invited the entire island. It was probably the biggest activity on the island in a long time. Probably 150-200 people showed up. We brought ice cream and a speaker and a ton of people to participate. While the Hulahula was going on I was helping record patriarchal blessings with the Patriarch that came along. It was really humbling to see people that had wanted a blessing for so long and were finally able to receive it. I probably recorded about 7 blessings.
Lastly we had the Sunday conference which probably had 200 people there, a ton of them non- members. It was a really good conference and a lot of powerful testimonies were given about simple doctrines of the church. The entire mission presidency spoke along with the district president in Niua.
In conclusion (oh gosh I feel like I'm writing an essay), it was super fun in Niua, I know that it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and though the boat ride was a little rough and it was a 4:30 wake up go to bed at 1:00 kind of trip, I was glad I got the opportunity to go. I could totally tell why Elder Groberg thought that this island was the other side of heaven. It's such a beautiful island and the people are all so faithful. The word Niuatoputapu literally means sacred island and when I was on the island I could feel it. If this isn't really weird - you could feel the magic coming from the island. I testify we have a God who's good and mysterious, and that he gave us the gift us his son.
Love you all,