Hello Hello Hello!!! Where in the world am I? A very excellent question to be asked! I'll give you a hint... I'm ordering a name tag in a different language muahahaha! I've been transferred to the... Newtown 2nd Tongan Ward in the Waipahu Zone! So I'm now learning Tongan haha Woot! It's pretty fun trying to pick it up because all the meetings are in Tongan and everyone speaks Tongan but everyone also understands English so I'm good for a little while. I'm doing language study every morning and basically just trying to get the basics of a greeting down so far. Fe fe hake? Saipe? Saipe! Fe fe famili? Saipe? Io! Hakeha'o Eleta Brooksby(by the way nobody can pronounce our last name out here)! Ofa'atu uh? Io! Fakatumala Tokes! Lates. Whew. It's a tough one to get. There's a lot of diction work and some diphthong action and every second-to-last vowel in accented unless otherwise specified. And the "T" at the beginning of every word always sounds more like a D than a T. I've decided that I will learn and I will learn fast, because I really REALLY hate being the only "Palangi" (white person) in the ward and the only person wearing a translation device during meetings.
It's a very interesting area to serve in because since we cover all the Tongan's around here we cover over half of the island. So far I've seen a lot of the ghetto such as "Pu Town" (a sketchy area where there's a lot of gang activity and all the streets start with Pu, ie. Pupupua'ole, Pupuhake etc.) and "KTP" (a really big set of apartment complexes that are all bright pink).
And that brings up my first funny, or scary (take your pick) story of this transfer.
I always carry with me a blue bandanna in my back left pocket to wipe my hands, wipe my sweat, you know, all the glorious things bandannas are used for. So we go to meet these three kids who are all recent converts and all former members of the Tongan Crypts Gang. As I'm talking to them one of them he sees the blue bandanna poking out of my back pocket a little bit and says "Ho, you reppin yo colahs?" I realize he's talking about my bandanna and I say, "Nah I just keep it with me to keep dry." he says "Aw bad move brah. You get shot fo dat in here." I go "Oh for real Tokes? (tokes is an abbreviation for the Tongan word for brother Tokoyua)" he goes "Io, Eleta! (io means yes, and Eleta means Elder)" so from then on, as long as I serve in the city I will no longer carry the blue bandanna with me.
But I really enjoy working here, the members LOVE the missionaries and do a lot of missionary work themselves. In fact we go on splits with the young men every day. And there's a lot of work to be done here. I feel very blessed to be here this transfer because we've already had one baptism, and two more are set, and three more in the works! Because we're on Oahu we get to go the the Temple at General Conference time and in addition to that we get to go to the Temple again in two weeks to see one of our recent converts receive their endowment! It's a very special time here in Waipahu:)