Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

This is my Easter day in Tonga:

1. Woke up and ate my Daffin's chocolate Easter egg from Marge for breakfast. Yum.
2. Went to church at 10:00. Sang "Christ the Lord is Risen Today", in Tongan of course, but it brought me back to all my previous Easters at Zions and St. Mark's
3. Visited with a friend who is going to school on the main island. We chatted about boys, travel, school, and other delightful things.
4. Went to eat lunch with the kids from the church who are having a camp this weekend.
5. Skyped with the family in America.
6. Went to church at 4:00. Sang "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" again. After all, you only sing it one day a year, so why not sing it twice?
7. Returned to the camp for dinner. It is starting to cool off at night now, so I wore a scarf. First time I have ever worn a scarf in Tonga.
8. Wrote this blogpost and reflected on a lovely Easter day.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Anchors Aweigh

This Wednesday, the U.S. Navy (along with a Coast Guard ship, some Marines, Australian volunteers, and New Zealand volunteers) arrived in Vava'u as part of the Pacific Partnership program. For more details on the awesome work they will be doing here and in the 4 other Pacific nations they will visit, check out this page: Thursday afternoon, my friend and fellow Peace Corps volunteer Sephora did a radio show where she interviewed some of the officers from the Navy. They invited her out to the ship for a dinner that night and she invited me to join her. Along with the Peace Corps Tonga country director, Sephora and I went out for a fantastic dinner where we got to eat delicious food, listen to the navy band, and mingle with sailors. Friday morning all of the Peace Corps volunteers in Vava'u returned to the U.S.S. Cleveland for a tour of the ship. It was really interesting to see things like the sleeping quarters and the dining rooms. It's hard to imagine living on a boat like that for such a long time!
The best part of the tour was the trip back to town...we got to ride back to the island in a helicopter! It was my first trip in a helicopter, and it was really exciting. They left the doors open for us, and the view was incredible!

Saturday morning was a concert with the Navy band at the wharf. They also asked three of the high school bands to play, and my school, Mailefihi was one of the bands playing. I was asked to do a tau'olunga dance while our band was playing. What I failed to realize is that dancing in the sun while covered in coconut oil would result in a nasty sunburn. Luckily this burn wasn't as bad as some I've had in the past...those of you who have vactioned with me may remember some of those. I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon watching rugby in town. The village teams started playing last weekend and will continue to play for about another two months. It is fun to watch, but rather scary at times. I can't even count how many injuries there were during the two games that I watched!

This week is my school break, so I'll have lots of time to catch up on my reading and work on secondary projects. I'm also hoping to get my teeth checked by some Navy dentists. I hope everyone has a Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Group 76 Reunion

6 months in! It has been half a year since I arrived in this tiny island nation. Half a year since I last saw my family. Half a year since I last ate Taco Bell. But seriously, it is a wonderful feeling to know that I have made it this far, and I am sure there are great things to come in the months ahead. Last week was a pleasant reminder of all the amazing things that Peace Corps volunteers are doing here in Tonga. All of us from Group 76 were reunited in Nuku'alofa for our In-Service Training (IST). We covered many topics including funding opportunities, Tongan language classes, environmental issues, etc., but by far the best part of the week was seeing all the other volunteers. It was fantastic to hear their stories. Many volunteers have opened up libraries at their schools, started after school programs, made close friends in their communities, and much more. We shared stories about teaching, about living in different island groups, and lots of funny anecdotes about life in Tonga. While in Nuku'alofa, I also did a lot of shopping. They have a great market with lots of second-hand clothes, jewelry, handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, and other miscellaneous things. I found some great clothes, new sunglasses, and some things for my house. I was even able to find lots of apple items (I have a slight obsession with apples). I bought an apple shirt, an apple candle, apple soap, and apple body spray. The only thing that would've made it better would have been having mom, Rachel, and Kristen with me...I miss my shopping buddies! This week I will be back in school teaching a unit on dealing with problem customers. There are lots of activities and role plays, so it should be fun! Also, the U.S. Navy is coming on Wednesday with approximately 600 sailors and volunteers as part of a program called the Pacific Partnership. They will be provided medical services, working on engineering projects, and playing sports with the school children. It should be a fun week!