Hello friends and family! We have some big news around here...we are moving. It is such a long and complicated story to share, as so much of the bureaucracy of PC we never talk about, but we are very sad about the decision that has been made.
Ultimately, PC is run like a business, and the numbers and data that we volunteers report back to Washington (especially in tiny countries like Tonga), determines if the PC Tonga program is viable or not, as well as drives most programming decisions regarding site placement, etc for volunteers. Unfortunately, it has been decided that our work in Nuapapu and Matamaka GPS just isn't BIG enough. PC has arranged to move us to a much bigger site back on the main island of Tongatapu.
So you can get it: 176 islands make up the Kingdom of Tonga, but the islands are grouped into four major island groups. The main island group, where the king lives, where the capital is located, where the PC office is, and where we spent our 2 months of training, is the island group Tongatapu. For the last year, we have been living 2 island groups away from Tongatapu, in the island group Vava'u....which is miles and miles and miles of ocean away.
(Our little island, Nuapapu, is the equivalent of Greeley. When we say we are going to "town" , or Neiafu, that's like Denver. Tongatapu would be the equivalent of.... New York.)
While there are some exciting opportunities ahead for us, we are very devastated about leaving this place. We feel, in so many ways, that we just began to be comfortable here in Nuapapu. So much of the last year has been full of nervousness, stress, fear, failure, awkwardness, frustration, loneliness, confusion...just you name it, we felt it. Oh how hard it is to move to a new country, arrive in a tiny island with a population of 100 people, barely be able to speak the language, and to try and fit in there! So many times we just plain didn't know what the heck was going on! Just lately I feel like I can actually enjoy this experience. I'm no longer worried about understanding Tongan....I can get by just fine. I'm no longer worried about knowing what to do, what to expect....I've finally gotten the people and pace of this place down. Finally, I feel like I can have a personality in Tonga-which is absolutely amazing and freeing and so life-giving after a year of feeling like a strange, white, weird observing ghost of a person. Finally, I'm at a place where I can begin to understand the beauty of the culture here. Gosh, there were just so many days when I disliked it, misunderstood it, didn't know my place in it. Man, we are so sad to walk away right now, so frustrated to leave after we're finally reaping the benefits after a year of hard work.
Telling the people of Nuapapu about our move was probably one of the hardest things we've ever done. We went to each house, sat on the floor, and told them all that had happened-how we'd fought so hard to stay, how much we loved them, how we have to listen to the PC boss. There were many tears, an overall feeling from these island people that they are the least important in all of Tonga, and feelings of anger and injustice. We appreciated the support the town gave us-they called a town meeting and decided to write a letter to PC asking for us to stay. Though we knew the decision was final, it was nice to know they wanted us to stay as badly as we wanted to stay.
It has been a crazy hard two weeks. We said goodbye to our island, our neighbors, our friends, our dog, and our students a few days ago. We said another hard goodbye to our PC friends yesterday. I can't say enough about what they have meant to us. I was so surprised to learn that I needed them to do this, and am so sad to think about trying to do this whole thing without them next year. We love you guys.
We are waiting in town now to take the 22 hour ferry ride to Tongatapu.
With tears in my eyes and Nuapapu in my heart,