It’s not possible to sum up all the ways I have been changed over the past year, the blessings I’ve been given and the lessons learned.
Tonga, you seem to get under people’s skin and endear yourself to them. You became my adopted home. You frustrate and delight me equally on most days.
Tonga, you don’t do things by halves. You either don’t do them at all… because you are too busy sleeping or kava drinking or coconut tree climbing. Or you do them big. You do them dancing, hip swaying, ass shaking, marching brass band big. You do them with your Tongan pride.
And Tonga, I have endless thanks for the gifts you have given me. Thank you for…
The friends; Elisabeth, Vill, Katalina, Polly, Jasmin, Gina, Sarah, Ben, Kate, Anthia, Vivian, Melissa, Belinda, the other AYADs, Saiah, Tivi, Siulolo, George, Nessie, Lynn, Ale, Fungani, Afolau, Inga, Aioema, Feleti, Mark, Elena and all our church friends.
Bible Study. My puppy Piko.
The crazy street parades. Hip Hop songs about drinking rum and dancing “zoom zoom.” The best pineapples, coconuts, bananas and watermelon. Swimming with whales and turtles.
Beach days. Saturdays at the fair. Afternoon bike rides down Vuna Road.
Thank you for the stress free, “sai pe” atmosphere. For the patience I learned. For the random moments… the spontaneous weddings that interrupted my training workshops, for dance competitions with navy guys. For small achievements at work (clients who now have case plans) and big achievements in additional projects (a new Tongatapu wide accidental counsellor program that I started).
Thank you for all the spare time to just learn to relax and “be.” Thank you for the news skills in teaching, training, supervising and program management. Thank you for showing me strength I didn’t know I had.
Tonga, thank you for 365 days of life lived to the fullest.