Justin’s Journal...

[Written in early April 2003]

The first three months of our Nomuka experience have come and gone. We are now in the capital with time to reflect as we hit the nightlife and enjoy simple comforts (electric fans, toilets, showers, etc.). We spent a few days out on Fafa, a luxury resort off the main island, Tongatapu, when we first got to town. Fafa is beautiful -- probably the nicest place to stay in Tonga. We had our own fale (house) and much privacy. Most guests spent a lot of time on the beach. We spent most of ours enjoying the silence only found away from the campus of Tupouto'a College. The food was great -- real gourmet stuff, but it was a little difficult justifying paying $41 for lobster, which we eat so freely in Nomuka (granted, not served in a French sauce). But, of course, $41 Tongan is only about $20 US and we don't spend much on Nomuka and are able to save up.

Another note about Fafa is that, while we were dying to get away from Nomuka and be palangi for a while -- speaking English, wearing bikinis (Rebek at least) and drinking cold beer (our first in three months!), we ended up drinking kava and conversing in Tongan with the staff one night, often embarrassed to be associated with the other white guests' behavior and attitude towards the Tongans. It's funny how outlooks can change so fast. We definitely felt more Tongan than palangi.

Christmas Adventure

So…back to Nomuka. We arrived at the end of December for about a week and a half before going on our Christmas adventure. We basically had just enough time to set up our house and such and then left for the main island of Ha'apai to see our friends and home stay family for Christmas. After finding out the boat (the Siupeli - see pictures in web site - the boat looks like a refugee boat) was not in fact going to Ha'apai after all (for no particular reason), we conferred with Elders Gilkey and Stodard, the two Mormon missionaries (more on them later) who had been staying on Nomuka, and were told that they were headed to Ha'afeva in the boat and would catch a ride from there in the Mormon boat (smaller, but MUCH faster than the aforementioned Siupeli). We took the chance and made it to Ha'afeva. The Mormons were happy to take us, we found out, but not until the next day. This gave us the opportunity to spend Christmas Eve with Don, the lone PCV in Ha'afeva. Don was shocked yet happy to see us. He busted out his finest box of Australian red, and we made a pasta dinner. It was a great opportunity to get to hang out with Don and get to know him better, as well as to see Ha'afeva. The next day, Christmas, we hopped on the Mormon boat and headed towards Ha'apai. The seas were a little rough, but the boat was fast. So we headed off, on a boat with 15 or so Mormon missionaries wearing white shirts, ties and name badges -- half are Tongan, half are Utahan (or Idahoan or Californian) -- on Christmas, barreling through the tropical seas, singing carol after carol and passing around candy.

When we arrived, we saw our PC friends for a while and then went to the beach with our home stay family. On the way, we stopped at a few falekoloa (bodega) to find some Bounty to celebrate our arrival. Bounty is Fijian rum that our group (and apparently our home stay family) discovered during our attachment. It smells a bit like paint thinner. We were not alone on our mission, and soon found ourselves in a caravan of cars looking for one open shop selling Bounty during Christmas. We finally scored, only to find that nobody had Cokes for sale to mix it with. Oh well. The beach was beautiful, as was the rest of our time in Ha'apai. We had a Christmas party later on with the other PCVs, who were thoughtful enough to make us stockings and stuff them with gifts. The rest of the week was spent catching up with our family and partying with our friends.

Due once again to the whims of the Siupeli, Rebecca and I found ourselves having to travel past Nomuka to the capital in a larger boat in order to get home within a reasonable time. We actually saw Nomuka from the boat, and really wanted to get home to our new house. As it worked out, we spent New Years in Nuku'alofa (surprisingly un-special despite being the first city to see the New Year and all) and headed home.

The boat ride to Nomuka (on the Siupeli of course) was fine except for the lack of space. Those tricky Tongans: if we tried to lay down before the boat started they would call us fakapikopiko (lazy), but as soon as we got moving it was a free for all, with us losing all space to lay down. It was a pretty miserable 10 hours. We arrived in the middle of the night, and after scrambling to find our kerosene lamps, inspected the place and went to bed.


We arrived just in time for 'Uike Lotu (prayer week). The first week of January gives everyone (at least the Wesleyans) a chance to make up for the sins of the past with a week of tri-daily church services. We managed to go a good four times that week (pretty impressive for a Jewish couple, I think) and hit a few feasts. It is a nice time of year because there are events, feasts and lots of people around. We were always seated at the place of honor at the feasts, which made us uncomfortable at first. We would sit near the ministers and high-ranking people and get the best food and feel a little out of place. There is usually pig (whole), lobsters, chickens, fish, noodle dishes, curries, lu (chicken, sheep, or canned beef placed in taro leaves with coconut milk and cooked in the underground oven), all the root crops, and so much fruit. At the high end sections sometimes, there are even little bags of Bongos -- Tongan cheese puffs. The way the feasts work is that the food is spread on the floor or ground and there are mats (or coconut leaves if you are outside) along both sides. The seating is arranged so that the important guests start from one end in order of importance and it moves down from there. Palangi (white folk) seem to get a lot of high end seating, along with the Town Officer, the Faifekau (ministers), and other people of assorted importance. In larger places, nobles and chiefs would hold those places. After an initial prayer, everyone digs in (literally) with their fingers and they just eat their way through the food in front of them. No plates, no silverware. You just dig into the pig (next to the spine is the best), or grab a whole plate of fish and start eating, putting it down for others when you are done. We were very respectful at first, only eating what was directly in front of us. Now, we hunt around, finding the lobster, the fish, the octopus, the pineapple and melon, the good palangi chicken and so on. We had some turtle the other day and that was great. Horse is a once-in-a-while treat, too.

As everyone eats, people will stand up and give fakamalo (thank you speeches). During the speeches, nobody really talks except to say 'io (yes) or malo (thank you) or mo'oni (truth, or maybe something like 'word up' from the rap culture of not long ago). Many people will give speeches and, finally, when everyone is done eating, the highest guest will speak. Then, after another prayer, it is time to go…but only after the wash bin is passed. This is the best reason to accept sitting at the high end - the bowl of water passed around can get pretty nasty even after the first few people.

So far I have attempted three fakamalo. The first was very simple and short. The second was a little better. And the third was longer and, while choppy, was pretty cohesive for a spur of the moment Tongan thank you speech. I intentionally started off badly so that I could impress over the next few years with my improvement.


During this first week, I also hit a few kava circles. The volunteer before me had the misfortune of finding out he was allergic to kava after arriving in the place where the only social activity for males is to drink it, so I think the men were interested to see how I reacted. Kava is a root, which is mashed up and dissolved in water. Most people buy little bags of kava for about $3. The kava is mixed in big buckets and then poured into the kava bowl. A to'a will serve the kava by ladling the kava into the cups, which are half coconut shells filed down and smoothed. The men on both sides pass the cups around in each direction, starting with the person at the far end of the circle, who is usually the most important. The kava cups seem to be only handled with one hand and chugged, and then the cup is tossed back to the front. In Nomuka, where everyone is related to everyone, there are rarely female to'a, even though a female to'a is a prized thing. It seems like a few girls on the island can do it, and any visitor is pressured to to'a, which Rebek's cousin Nora can attest to.

The kavas during prayer week were called faikava, which is a more formal type thing in the church hall. A kalapu is a kava group, which usually has a name and clubhouse (such as the kalapu kutufisi, or the flea group, so named for the other inhabitants of their clubhouse). Kalapu collect money and actually do good things around the island and church. Faikava seem to happen for other events, like feasts or festivals…or before and after church.

The best thing in the kava circles is the music. Many people are talented at ta me'a (direct translation, hit thing…real meaning, play any stringed instrument). Within the room there might be five or six kava circles, and two or three of these may have a small group of musicians. A typical group has a regular tuned guitar, a slack-key type tuned guitar, and a ukulele or two. Some have a few of each. Once in a while you see a banjo (there is one on Nomuka). Now, when I go, there is a mandolin too. The mandolin (or pandolingi, as they call it) is a big hit (thanks Josh and Miriah!) The groups will trade off songs, all sung out of homemade books of songs collected over the years. Everyone in the circle will sing, too. It is really beautiful to hear. Luckily, all the songs follow simple patterns of three chords with some minor variations -- so I can follow along. The slack key guitarist usually plays the lead. With the mandolin, I usually get called to the biggest circle with the best musicians, which is a nice in.

Besides the music, the typical kava circle conversation has nothing over a typical high school keg party conversation. Jokes center on everything from masturbation to the superiority of kava palangi (liquor). This is not the case with pre-and post-church kavas, as well as more formal kavas.

The kava buzz is different than any other I know. It starts with a numbing of the mouth and throat. Later, you start to feel a little lethargic and lazy. You need to urinate after a while (you are drinking a lot of liquid) and, after you break the seal, it comes fast and furious. You never feel quite empty of liquid, even when you pee before bed. While I usually leave before the end (after a few hours you have seen it all), it can go until 3am or later. Most people cite an inability to get up the next day - although, with the heat, I can't really imagine staying in bed later than 10. Another common side effect often talked about either sends the guys back to their wives or back to "husk the coconut" (see common joke material above). If you are really kona (drunk) you actually feel a little wobbly on your feet and slur. There is a lot of smoking involved and candy or sugar cane eating (the taste is not fantastic and your mouth gets dry). Look out for a package coming to NYC...

Church and Basketball

Obviously church is a big part of prayer week, as well as every week. A typical week at the Wesleyan church has four early morning services (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday). These start at 5am, but the bells start at about 4:30. Sunday also has the 10am and the 5pm services. There are other afternoon services too, but I lose track.

The Wesleyan Church is the biggest in Tonga, as well as in Nomuka. The other denominations found in Nomuka are Catholic, Church of Tonga, Free Church of Tonga, and Mormon. The Catholic Church is tiny and has no chairs, but seems to have a nice community feel to it. We have been only once, with Corry and Jonathan, as it is their church (here and at home). The service was short and sweet as the priest only comes in one week out of six from Ha'apai -- but there was an awful lot of calling out of Jews in the service. Such lines as "and Jesus cracked his whip to disperse the money lenders from the temple" turned me off a bit.

The Church of Tonga was an offshoot of the Wesleyan Church, which was the first church in Tonga. The Wesleyan missionaries got the jump on the Tongans before anyone else. I am not sure of the differences in doctrine or belief between the two, but it apparently wasn't enough for some folks, who then started the New Church of Tonga. We have not been to either of these, but will try to at some point. The Church of Tonga has beautiful churches with great colors and spires and such. There seems to be a sizable Church of Tonga group in Nomuka. The New Church of Tonga is pretty small.

There is currently some work being done to build a new church, yet another offshoot of the Wesleyans. I am not sure of the name, but it appears from my inquiries that the name is all that differs.

The Mormon Church in Nomuka, as in all of Tonga, is the nicest, newest, safest structure on the island. They even have a basketball court, which is sometimes used for dances, volleyball, or tennis. Certainly NOBODY in Nomuka would use it for basketball -- as basketball is a girls sport. And they play on grass (see netball later). I have no idea why it is even there, but when we arrived there were two Mormon missionaries from the States in Nomuka (see above). Elder Gilkey is from Sacramento. He is 21 and, as of today, is leaving Tonga after two years of service. He is 6'5" and played junior college ball before coming on his mission. He is fast, has great ball handling and shooting, and can dunk like Kobe Bryant. He will probably go and play somewhere next year. Elder Stoddard is 18 and just arrived before coming to Nomuka. He came from Salt Lake and is 6'7". If Gilkey is Kobe Bryant, Stoddard is Greg Ostertag's cousin. Big, slow and not a lot of 'ups'. He has a decent six-footer though. And shooting over him is like shooting over an oak tree.

Jonathan and I had played some two-on-two with them during our attachment in December. It was a friendly game, but with some undertones (which is the way to victory, the sinful way of the PCV vs. the righteous lifestyle of the Missionary?). We managed to take the last of six games after falling exhausted on the court.

In Jonathan's absence, the three of us played a lot of 21 (an every-man-for-himself game). I tried to make up for my lack of height (and skill) with pure hustle (think back to last summer, Josh and Jed). I found a strategy in which I would hustle the ball down, as long as it was nowhere near Gilkey, use Stoddard as a screen and drive. I would also distract them with remarks under my breath (like Jesus Christ or God damn it). Either way, I lost every game the first few days, usually falling exhausted after two games of pure hustle, unused to the heat and exercise. On the last day the boys were on Nomuka, I managed to stay close late into one game by hitting five foul shots. I got myself to 19 points, a foul shot away from victory, only to brick off the back of the rim. I never played again.

The Wesleyan Church on Nomuka itself is quite a structure. It has a round dome supported with giant curved wooden beams. It has pews and stained glass. The services last about two hours -- well longer than any other on the island - but, as my school is Wesleyan and there is no synagogue anywhere to be found, it seemed like the church to attend. There is a minister, but mostly other people do the malanga, or speaking. My principal, Tupou, often leads the service and is very good - loud, with lots of hand gestures and he even sheds a timely tear. You can hear it from our house when Tupou speaks. The services start with a hymn (which we sing along with using our very own Wesleyan Tongan hymn book!), followed by a prayer and a bible reading. Then another hymn followed with the sermon. Finally there's some announcement and then another hymn. The hymns are the best part, as they mark the time (church has started, church is half over, or church is over!) and because the Tongans are amazing singers. From the little babies to the old ladies, everyone is belting out the gospel at full lung capacity and feeling it deep in their souls.

There is a saying in Tonga. First, the white missionaries came to Tonga and told them to put on their clothes. Now, the white people come to Tonga and are told to put on their clothes. It's quite a shame really. It is way too hot for all these clothes.




After church, we head home. Tongans wake up early on Sundays to prepare the 'umu. This means preparing lu (wrapping fish or meat in taro leaves, filling it with coconut milk, then wrapping it in foil or banana leaf) and cutting root crop, and putting it all in the 'umu, an underground oven. First, however, a fire is made in the hole, and volcanic rocks are placed on the coals. These heat up, and the food is placed on top. Then come some coverings, such as old blankets, tarps, potato sacks, etc., followed with dirt. After church, people rush home and feast.

Rebecca and I do not have an 'umu. So, unless we want to eat some peanut butter on crackers (if we remembered to buy some on Saturday -- all stores are closed Sundays), we have to try and score some 'umu. A typical Tongan greeting can be na'a ke kai lelei?, or te ke kai lelei? (did you, or will you eat well?) On Sundays after church, this will be answered with a faka'ofa (pitiful) or ikai...hala me'akai, (no...we have no food). This will hopefully induce some pity in the form of some lu 'ika (fish lu) with some kumala (sweet potato). It usually does. Baking a cake for the neighbors on Friday or Saturday helps, as well.

You can see when the fishermen are out on Saturday. Our neighbors are fishermen, both across the street and next door. Nomuka, with its lack of electricity, has no refrigeration -- so when fish come in it has to be given out to people or it will be wasted. This works well in our favor, at least until electricity comes to Nomuka (supposedly this year) or until I get better at fishing.

As of now, I can catch a few fish spear fishing, but not the big ones. I have what I have found out is a night fishing spear (I wish the folks who sold it to me for $80 had told me that). It works well with sleeping or slow fish. So I need an underwater flashlight. I also lack the thing that holds the fish once you catch them, which is a metal spike with a line out to a buoy. This should be easy to find, but so far I can't seem to acquire one. My neighbor gave me a real spear, but I need to modify my slingshot to use it. Some guys have very professional spear guns (mine uses a little piece of rubber for propulsion). These shoot really far and are able to catch giant fish.

So, all things considered, when I come in with a small fish, I feel proud. Yet it will not feed us. Sometimes I will catch a small fish and use it for bait on a line, but I still have little success. Luckily, just the sight of me walking home with one fish and my snorkel gear will prompt a few sympathy fish.


We have two sea kayaks. We take them our fishing, or on small trips. The island across the way, Nomuka 'Iki, is beautiful and uninhabited. Apparently it was a prison at one point as well as a marijuana plantation. The only sign of either is the remains of a fallen fale (house). There is also a boat wreck that was dragged to the shore after a really sad disaster. The Tongans come to this island for firewood, fishing…or picnics, kai me'akai (literally, eat food). They ALWAYS go back before dark. They are afraid of devils (tevolo, see below). We therefore can camp there in complete peace. We have done this a few times, both with Jonathan and Corry and just the two of us.

Jonathan had always dreamed of circumnavigating Nomuka -- but, as he only had one boat, he was afraid (and smart) not to try. We agreed long ago to do it, and with three weeks left in his stay we felt that we had to pull the trigger that weekend or we never would. We had visitors coming the next few weeks. We made a plan: the girls would hike out to a beach on the North West point and we would make the short run to the west after school Friday, camp, and then make the rest of the trip Saturday. Unfortunately, my birthday celebration was the night before, and the four of us were up until 3am drinking lemon drop shots (we had the boys get us a cooler of ice from the fisheries and lime from the bush) and wine. Friday was a long day at school and by the afternoon I was not feeling up to the row. The weather was bad as well, with showers and kovi tahi (bad seas) pushing to the west. After an exhausting two-hour decision-making process, I called it off until Saturday, which had its benefits and disadvantages (such as breaking Sabbath on Sunday and missing church -- a disadvantage for them, and advantage for us). So Saturday, Jonathan and I headed off in similarly bad sea while the girls hiked the tents and such to the beach.

We were pushing east, against the wind and seas, to get the long leg over with first. It was really rough, and when we hit the eastern edge we had been going a measly two miles per hour for all our effort. We parked in a little lagoon and walked around the bend to peer at the seas on that side. It was the roughest I had seen, and with the reef and the rocks on that side I was a little skeptical. We walked further around the bend and saw that the situation only got worse the further we went. I saw Jonathan's heart sink as we decided to turn back and do the Western leg to the beach and feel it out the next day. We then started back toward home, coasting with the wind, until we got to the southwest corner, a treacherous bend Rebecca and I had fought on our way to Lolofutu, our favorite beach. Fearing the 15-foot breakers pushing east into the rocky shore from 75 yards out and the strong current pushing out to sea to the west, we managed to skirt the danger area and turn the corner. It was then a short stint North to the camping point. We stopped a little disheartened and set up camp, which turned frustrating as the wind blew Corry and Jonathans' tent over repeatedly.

We started our fire thinking that we might all just give up and hike home after dinner. But after a glass of wine or two and clearing skies, we decided to stay and had a really nice night. We woke up and it was a beautiful day. After breakfast, Jonathan and I went for the long leg and had an amazing time. Every corner was treacherous, but along the sides we got to see views we had never witnessed. The north side faces deep, open ocean. Captain Cook had sailed into Ahau beach, on the north side, and it was cool to see it from out in the ocean knowing that it looked the same now as it did then (actually, there were houses there back then as the Nomukans lived at Ahau at the time. Now nobody lives on the north side -- after a tidal wave destroyed the settlement a little while after Cook's visit).

The east side of the island is covered in bluffs and hills and some beaches we hadn't been to before. When we finally turned the last corner, we stopped at our turning back point the day before and celebrated our accomplishment.

The Fat Kid

Every morning at Tupouto'a College we have assembly. The kids (55 of them) sit on the floor facing the front where the principal has a desk. The teachers all sit on the sides. We usually have a hymn, then a prayer, and then a sermon. I actually had to lead one assembly. I managed to use the Old Testament, the good old story of Noah. And I learned something too -- I never knew Jesus was there to help Noah build the ark!

One day during assembly, the principal announces "Please look to the back. We have a new student from America. As you can see, he is even fatter than Poese. Treat him like a brother, or I will hit you." Poese used to be the fat kid. Now we have a new one. In the states, this would prompt a Columbine type reaction. Luckily, the kid is actually from New Zealand and was all right with this. He is in my Form 3 class and the first day I asked him a question. The other kids tell me he doesn't speak any Tongan. Fine, I try in English. This kid is like 15 and I can pretty much say he doesn't speak any language. He is really obnoxious too. He fits well into the fat kid role though, although I feel bad for Poese - that was his thing. During our Sports Day at my school, one of the mothers suggested a fat kid race. Poese won, but the new kid got a lot of laughs by cutting across the field.

This fat kid is really pau'u (naughty). He is always asking if it is time for lunch, or asking me questions like whether I have a gun, or things like that. I am really upset about this kid because my Form 3, while consisting of possibly naughty kids, was only eight students and I could keep them all engaged all class long. Now, with this fat kid, I can see I will have problems.

While the Form 3 was my pride and joy, Form 2 is my nemesis: 24 kids, three textbooks, and two semi-competent English speakers. And most are naughty. Poese is my savior. While not too bright, he is always telling the class "Fanongo ki he palangi! Tuku he longoa'a! (Listen to the Palangi! Stop the noise!) I always give him candy.

My first attempt at discipline came about four weeks into classes. I think Rebecca's cousin Nora was in Nomuka at the time. The kids were out of control and I wrote three names on the board, not really knowing what I would do. One was Siunipa, our next-door neighbor, who is the cutest kid I have ever seen. She comes over the fence to our house and plays with Rebecca a lot. Another was Meki, a kid who always comes over as well and usually is very sweet. The other is a really bad girl, Maletina. I don't think I would let her over to the house if she tried. I decided that I would just keep them for detention the following recess. The other kids were dying to see me discipline the bad kids, just to feel me out. I think they were disappointed that I didn't hit them.

Another teacher saw the names on the board and took matters into his own hands. I think he hit them all. Siunipa came over crying and apologized over and over and I almost cried myself. I let them all off. Later in the semester I had another bad day with Form 2. Rather fed up I asked them "Alright. I don't know what to do with you all. Do you want me to hit you when you are bad?" Yes's all around. "OK, really," I said. "Raise your hand if you think I should hit you when you are naughty." All hands go up. So not only was I determined to follow through, Form 3 heard this and was ready to call my bluff too.

Nobody acted up for a while. I even brought a stick to class. I finally had my chance when two Form 2 girls who sit next to each other answered the first question to a quiz with the same three, totally wrong answers. The question was: what are the three types of forces?

The answer is Push, Pull, Twist. These two wrote "Breeze, ice, boat." I had to assume that maybe they were working together, as we have never used those words in class. I called them to stay after class. Everyone was trying to stay and watch, but I told them to move on. Even Form 3 was outside watching. One girl is 11, but is about the size of some eight year olds. I asked them if they cheated. No. I told them to tell me and it would be much better than if they lied. No. I picked up my stick, thought about it, and...

...made them write fifty times on the board "I will not cheat." It took them all of lunch, but I think they got off easy. The stick was retired, unused and everyone knows I will not hit them.

These poor kids get hit all the time as it is. By their parents, the teachers and even the prefects. If they put paint in their hair (they love that) they get hit. If their hair isn't short enough, they get hit. If their clothes are on wrong, they get hit. If they are late...

I think I would go crazy in Tupouto'a College. Here is a typical schedule:

7:30 arrive, clean the schoolyard
8:00 line up for inspection (if not dressed right, you get hit)
8:05 (or so) start assembly
8:30 (or so) start school. Some days there is lunch, some days not. Most don't eat anyway. Friday is a fasting day.
3:00 or so, go home and change for work
3:30 or so, come back and work in the bush or school yard. Maybe some will come over and mow our grass.
4:45 sports or exercise
5:30 go home, eat
7:00 night school
9:00 go home

Each step, of course, is preceded with prayer. I don't think they mind, however, as it is a moment of rest. Monday, Wednesday and Friday start with early church (5:00am or so). On Saturdays they work in the family bush plots. Sunday is Church three times and Sunday school.

Then again, they live in paradise. They are safe and well cared for. They rarely have shoes and rarely need shoes. They live outside of any bad influences available even here in the city. No booze (except for the occasional batch of home brew). No drugs. Not even TV or movies. They are really all good kids too. I love all the kids in my classes…even the naughty ones. Someday maybe even the fat one.


My favorite Tonga story so far:

During training, at the guesthouse where the staff was staying, some guys were up drinking Bounty pretty late. I think it was four guys and five bottles, or vice versa. At about 3am, some dogs were barking out back. Someone threw a bottle at the dogs and killed one. The guys, drunk and hungry, dug an 'umu and cooked the dog.

[Written in late April 2003]



Last week some youths got a hold of some hopi (homebrew) and were drinking. There were six of them. After they ran out, they went to find some more at an old man's house. The old man refused to give it to them, and two of the youths beat him up, twisting his neck and killing him. It was unintentional, and they didn't even know he was dead when they left to finish the man's hopi. A teacher from Rebecca's school, the adopted child of the man, found him. The police from the major island of Ha'apai were called in and everyone was in tears as the boys, all 18-21, were taken away.

One of the boys had recently been a member of the Form 5 at the college. He was older than most students, and was in his second or third trip through Form 5. Students have three tries to pass the exams after Form 5, deciding whether or not they can move on.

Tupouto'a College only goes up to Form 5, so students have to leave if they pass. This boy was just sick of school and didn't have any ambition to move on. This is the most common route, as you can live quite well in Nomuka fishing or farming like everyone else. And
while I often find the rules of the Free Wesleyan School a little confining, at least it keeps boys out of such trouble. I am sure that the college boys fear our principal more than the police.

But the youth, as any unmarried, out of school Tongan is called, are becoming a problem to the Kingdom, as they have very little skill or ambition, and their idleness and large numbers leads to drug and alcohol use. This (in our short experience) is very visable in Nuku'alofa and other larger towns, but not in Nomuka, where the youth have a tendency towards drinking kava, sleeping, and the occasional petty theft (two pairs of my boxer shorts and a bar of soap from us, and some clothes and such from Jonathan and Corey during their youth hosted going away party).

The major focus of the Peace Corps in Tonga is Youth programs, giving them a voice and opportunities to learn computers or other vocational skills. Jonathan was a Youth volunteer (where Rebecca, Corey and myself are Education volunteers). He had a really hard time getting the youth of Nomuka to do anything, even when it was incredibly relevant to their lives.



One example was a machine workshop. He had set up an expert to speak to the youth and teach them small outboard motor maintenance and repair. These boys are constantly on small boats, and may get lost at sea never to be found again. One youth, who works at the telephone, was out fishing with another boy and their engine died. They quickly tied a rope around the motor and dropped it as an anchor. Two weeks later, when they heard on the radio that the search was called off, they cut the rope and chanced it. They miraculously drifted to Fiji (look at a map) and washed up on shore near death two weeks later. Now if that story doesn't make the youth in Nomuka want to take a FREE opportunity to learn how to avoid such accidents, nothing will. And only one boy took the opportunity, and he was from a small neighboring island called Mango.

But back to the murder. There are so many parts of this story that bother me, two especially. First, was that the Tongans on Nomuka rarely drink. They can't afford it. And Tongans are notoriously bad drunks. They will drink until everything is gone and get violent and aggressive. This is the first time I have heard of Nomuka kids getting drunk, and this one time someone dies. It would be naïve to think it doesn't happen more often, I know, but Jon and Corey have told us about seeing them drink one time, and they were right out in the street whooping it up for all to see. So in my mind there seems to be a high ratio of drinking and murder.

Second, we have learned both in our training and in our living experience about the Tongan view of ownership. There really is none. Anyone bigger or more important than you can take anything of yours with no questions asked. If I give candy to someone, a teacher or larger kid will most likely say give me that and take it. It happens all the time; with food, electronics, clothes, etc. People come over to our house all the time and lie about the stores being out of things and borrowing them. We are very clear about our ownership of some things, such as my instruments, which are never allowed out (which shocks and bothers people but they know as well as I do that if someone asked them for it after they borrowed it, they and I would never see it again).

This asking and giving even applies to children. This happens a lot, where parents are forced to give a child to an older aunt who wants it. So these boys asked this man for his hopi. He had made the hopi, not them. It was his, yet they felt they had a right to ask, and beat him when they weren't obliged. That freaks me out. Not only because I don't understand the whole communal system, but as a palangi. We are very careful about our drinking. It is done behind closed doors, and all bottles and boxes are disposed of well. But they always assume we have something (it is the palangi way) and I just hope that nobody comes asking us.

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