Sunday, December 31, 2006

Senseless Destruction

In 2002 I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the country of Tonga. Tonga is a tiny group of islands in the South Pacific, near Fiji, Samoa, etc. Brent's Mom & Dad were serving a mission there for our church and they asked my sister in law to come visit. She asked me to travel with her and I am so thankful that I did!

There are many, many reasons I am thankful for that trip. I was able to spend time with Brent's parents and my sister in law. Since Brent and I had only been married just over two years at that point, it was wonderful to get to know them all better. Plus, Brent's Dad passed away shortly after they returned home. The two weeks I spent in Tonga were such a blessing as I had a chance to really get to know Dad.

Something I didn't expect when I got to Tonga was how quickly I would fall in love with the people there. Tonga is a very poor country. Many people live in conditions that we as Americans would never accept. There are many churches in Tonga who work hard to ensure their young people get an education by sending them to church run schools. What the people lack in financial means they more than make up for in kindness, happiness and true spirit. I met so many wonderful people there. People I will never forget. I would love to travel back there some day.

The country seemed a little behind the times to me. Everywhere we went, we heard 80's music. There are few modern conveniences for many of the villages. The people and the country seemed far removed from the worries and concerns of the world. In fact, when I got home, I joked with Brent that if nuclear war ever breaks out, we should travel to Tonga as we'd likely be safe there.

A few weeks ago I was looking online for info and news on Tonga. Since they are kind of a small country, there usually isn't too much that makes it to the states. I was thrilled to find a website with Tongan news. I couldn't wait to read all about it and share the info with Brent's Mom. To my shock and horror, I quickly learned that my ideal little country wasn't as far away from the "real world" as I had thought. On November 16 the entire capital city of Nuku'Alofa was overtaken by gangs fighting for political reform. They rioted and burned and looted the many businesses there. It was a well planned attack. There are many Chinese families who live in Tonga and their businesses were targeted. More than 200 Chinese left the country afterwards. They had to call in troops from New Zealand and Australia to help guard the airport and the downtown. At least six youth died. So far there have been more than 700 arrests. Most of these kids probably didn't realize what they were fighting for. Brent's Mom has several friends still in Tonga. One friend wrote to her and told about the destruction and the sadness. My heart just breaks.

I am not only sad that this happened but sad that my vision of Tonga has been so drastically changed. Never again will I think of it as the quiet, safe, somewhat behind the times country. Never again will it be those things in real life. I have come to realize that political strife is un-biased and can occur anywhere.

As we embark on this new year, I hope and pray that peace will find all of us. I have learned that peace begins with me, in my home and in my family. No, I may not be able to change the world with my view points but I can certainly do my best to make sure that my kids live in a peaceful home even if the world around them is anything but.

I pray that peace and happiness will be yours this new year!


Lanna said...

I learned from my mission to the Dominican Republic that the resort towns are the only places that have that idyllic facade of paradise. But, I also learned that for the people there, the riots are part of everyday life; not common, perhaps, but not unexpected. Despite that, they learn how to appreciate life in a way totally foreign to those of us who are surrounded by the conveniences of the first world. In that regard, I envy them.

terilynnh2000 said...

Jodie- I didn't know about your missions trip. Sounds like the miracale was in your connection to the people there, as well as with your new family. Don't lose sight of that. I will add the Tongans to my prayers.

MyKidsMom said...

So sorry to hear about Tonga and its recent state. Seems tradegy is out there everywhere. But it is also important to see the good in each country and things that they have to offer: like people and culture. Hope peace finds us here at home and abroad in 2007.

terilynnh2000 said...

Ok- so this has nothing to do with Tonga- as I already gave my 2 cents about that-- but YOU ARE A SUPERMOM! HOLY FREAKING COW- if you aren't THEN NOBODY IS!