Tonga Tales

Tonga Tales
Elder and Sister Wally Smith

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Leaving Tonga to Come Home

Tonga Tales August 2nd 2012
The Trip Home
We have been home for two and a half weeks, and I am finally finding time to write the last blog for our mission.  We left Tonga at 12:15 pm on Monday the 16th of July.  All the Senior missionaries and several of the teachers and the Bishop and his family came to the airport to say goodbye.  The excitement of starting the trip home overcame some of the sadness at leaving.  It was HARD to leave Tonga and the friends we had made there. 

Elder and Sister Ronnenkamp met us at the airport and took us to the same hotel where we stayed when we came to New Zealand 18 months earlier.  This time we were on the side of the hotel, that faced Auckland.  The view of the sky line at night was really pretty.  It was cold, especially for us and as we walked down town it was really not very comfortable.  We did not have coats, and I could not wear my shoes.  It was hard to believe all the cars, traffic, people and stores with so much in them.  ( I will digress here to say that we are finding shopping in the US a bit frustrating.  Take Home Depot for example,  you know they have what you are looking for, but the store is so big you can never find it.  In Tonga you could see much of what a store had in stock from the front door.)

We gave our report to Bruce, Wayne, Jared and the Ronnenkamps on Tuesday. We were together for about four hours counting lunch.  There was some discussion about our doing a second mission with S&I.  All that we could say was that we loved what we had been doing, but we also love our life back in the US.

On Wednesday we went to Hamilton and went to a temple session.  The missionaries from the New Zealand MTC were there, so we got to see Brent Makeheli.  It was fun to see him.  We had our first real almost American hamburger at Burger King.  Funny thing happened.  When we went to pay we wanted to use our credit card.  It seems that in New Zealand if you want to use a credit card now you need to have a pin number.  We do not have one.  So I told the boy at the counter to wait while I went across the street to an ATM.  About that time a nice younger New Zealander walked up to the counter and laid down a 20 dollar note and said “Here let me buy you dinner.”  I tried to get him to wait while I got money, but he just smiled and walked out.
On Thursday we drove around New Zealand to see some of the country.  We were able to go to the West side of the island where we could overlook the Tasman Sea.  We were high up on some cliffs so it was really impressive.  We had lunch and then headed to the airport.  For the first time in many flights, I could not sleep.  We did get to watch the Hunger Games during the first part of the flight.  The plane from San Franscio to Salt Lake was delayed about an hour, but we finally got to Salt Lake at about 8:15:

All of the Utah Grand Children and their parents were there to greet us.  (Eric was in Australia) They had a big banner and many small signs welcoming us home.  Levi was the first to run to us to greet us.  It was so much fun seeing them all again.                                    

The stake president had set up a meeting for us that same evening, so about 10:00 pm, we went to the stake center to meet with him.  Pat went with us.  We  talked for about an hour, then he released us.  We were sorry that we could not meet with Chad Wilkinson, but his brother the new State President was great.  It was a very spiritual meeting.  At the end he read the letter from the Mission president and then a second letter from Wayne.  Then he released us from the missionary service.  We came home and crashed, but as expected we were up way to early the next day.

We had our home coming on the 29th. and we also got a family reunion in that week.  The only two members of our family who were not there were Jeremy and Ethan.  Jeremy had been out on a ship and Ethan is in the MTC.  All three of my sisters came to the Sunday service, and we had four of the senior missionary couples from the mission there.  It was so much fun to see the Cards.  We have really missed them.  The Bains, Rawlins and Bowdens were also there.  There were several members of our Centerville Ward and from Teri’s service mission at the Joseph Smith building who attended.

A few thoughts:
1: It sometimes feels like we never went to Tonga.  It is like it was a dream or a book that we read.
2: I cannot stand to wear shoes.  My feet do not fit into the toes of the shoes
3: Corn on the Cob is the best.
4: I can get all the Diet Dr. Pepper I want
5: There seems to an unending line of boxes to unpack and get stored so we can live again.
6: There are so many details that we have to take care of:  phones, TV service, medicare, doctors visits, shopping, new clothes, etc.  It has been two and a half weeks of work, and were are still not complete.
7: Americans drive too fast.
8: I cannot find the turn signal in the car.  I have yet to get in the wrong side of the car, but have found myself driving down the wrong side of the road.
9: I can no longer rest while a file is down loading on the internet.
10: We love the e-mails from the teachers and friends in Tonga.

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