Tonga Travels

Amy Schlauder, Bryn Porter and Rachel Dyer show off their traditional dress for the march on Parliament Day.

Several Cougar volleyball players are making the most of the offseason this summer by experiencing cultures around the world. Rachel Dyer, Amy Schlauder and Bryn Porter are currently living in Tonga teaching English to children in local middle and high schools. Byucougars.com will be highlighting their visit with pictures and journal entries sharing their experiences. Keep checking back for more updates.

Rachel Dyer

The Perfect Afternoon - Tina Moleni (our awesome friend who lives here) piled all eight of us as well as our friend Sonya into her car and drove to the beach. She took us to a beautiful place where you hike down some cliffs and then all of a sudden, you are standing on this beautiful paradise beach. I tried taking some pictures but decided that even the best of them wouldn't fully capture the beauty. So I stopped using my camera and just tried to enjoy the beauty of God's creations. We waded into the water and then walked to a secluded little beach where the sand felt like fresh powdered snow. I laid there on the sand with no towel and no distractions, closed my eyes and completely lost track of time. I don't know if I've ever been so relaxed in my life. I was perfectly content lying there with the sun on my face and my hands and toes feeling the sand beneath them. It was emotionally and spiritually cleansing ... as cheesy as that sounds. If I never get to experience that again, I will remember it for the rest of my life. But I really hope that it's not the last time.

The Coconut Plantation - This morning we woke up and got a ride to the coconut plantation where we helped all the 14-year-old boys gather coconuts from the fields and load them in/out of trucks. Let me also say that they have herds of cows that roam the coconut plantation so the coconuts fall in the manure ... it's lovely. It was amazing how the boys gather and throw the coconuts to each other when they're going through the field. I pitched in every once in a while, but I was pretty nervous about chucking the coconuts towards the truck and possibly hitting someone in the head. Don't worry; there weren't any injuries. I also saw two boys climb up to the top of the coconut trees. I really want to learn how while I'm here. It was definitely an awesome cultural experience for all of us, and we all decided we want to do it more often. The kids were fun to talk to, and they weren't shy about trying to talk to us in English. We are here to help them learn English, so we take advantage of every opportunity we have to converse with the kids. It was really great.

Amy Schlauder, Bryn Porter and Rachel Dyer (beginning second from left) show off their hard work at the coconut plantation.

May 28 - Today was a great Sunday. Tessa, Brittney and I all spoke in

Sacrament meeting, and it went pretty well. I spoke on Jesus Christ

being the bread of life and the source of living waters. I've been

worrying about this for a while, and I'm glad it is over. I was

nervous, but I remembered to breathe, so I think it was ok. Amy gave a

great lesson in Young Women on being an example. She talked about our

volleyball team's theme "United We Shine" and how every time we put on that

BYU uniform, we represent the Lord in a way so it is important for

us to always be a good example wherever we go.

A new guy came to Liahona just a few days ago. His name is

Scott, and he is actually from San Diego and will be working with the

dentist here. He wants to go to dental school eventually, so he

thought this would be a good experience. He's super cool, and he's

become part of our group. We all went to this private beach yesterday

and spent the day there. It was the second time we've been to the

beach, so it was very relaxing.

Rachel Dyer, Bryn Porter and Amy Schlauder are all smiles relaxing on the beach.

The school that I work at, Havelu, had a field trip a few days ago. It was really fun to drive around the island with the kids. We stopped at the beach for lunch, but "lunch" turned into a two-hour recess. The kids are so fun, and I love hanging out with them.

As of yesterday, the Tonga temple is closed for over a year for renovation and remodeling. The temple is right next to Liahona, so we get to see it everyday. It's small, but very beautiful, and I am really glad we got to do baptisms there last week before it closed.

Tonight we went to the beach at sunset and it was absolutely gorgeous. I'm learning so much by being here. The Tongan people are full of love, faith and generosity. The little that they have, they freely share with others. It's ironic that I am here to "teach" when I really feel like I'm the one being taught in this experience.

Sunset on the island.

Amy Schlauder

Everything is going great in Tonga. We are having a wonderful experience and are all just so grateful to be here. It's going to be hard to leave this island and the people we have fallen in love with.

Amy Schlauder with some of her new friends.

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