Malia's Induction went well and she is already very much loved in Ayr and Home Hill and indeed, throughout the Burdekin area. The family have been welcomed with open arms: Sioeli and Semisi mow the church and manse yards at Ayr and there's talk of them also doing the property at Home Hill however Church Council need to a) check the budget! and b} find a way to get the ride-on from Ayr to Home Hill. As is the way up there, the grass literally grows before your eyes and at this time of the year, mowing needs to be done every 3 days.
The past 2 months have been busy for the family. Semisi has had heaps of doctors' appts both in Ayr and Townsville - new doctors trying to get their head around his many issues and how one affects the others etc. Apart from a persistent chest infection for 3 weeks, he has been remarkably well and of all the family, I'd say the move has suited him the best - he has embraced the move and looks really well. Seini, Sioeli and Michael have all settled well at their schools and making friends and understanding how things are done here. As with all regions, students come from close and from a distance with many farmers' children attending. All of this gives a different perspective to life. It takes awhile to get used to shops closing around midday on Saturday and reopening on Mondays!
There was an issue with getting their furniture from Brisbane but after several calls to the company and eventually Presbytery and Synod, the issue was resolved and their containers arrived a day before the heavens opened! Good timing. It's been a blessing that Malia was able to have 7 weeks before she officially started work on 19 February (Induction 17 February).
Unfortunately, the day before Malia's Induction, Semisi's younger brother in Auckland passed away suddenly. Semisi had spoken with him a few days prior and everything seemed to be ok. The family made the decision not to start wearing black until after the Induction. On Monday 20th, both Malia and Semisi were given medical clearances to fly to Auckland for the funeral and burial. So at 6.30am on Tuesday 21st, Malia, Semisi and Sioeli (eldest child and also bag carrier!) left Ayr for Townsville and on to Auckland via Brisbane. Tongan culture is very different to Palangi (white people) and so it is with funerals. Having arrived in the very early hours of Wednesday, much food was prepared later on Wednesday and a 5-hour family prayer meeting was held. More food was prepared on Thursday and a very lengthy funeral service was held followed by dinner for the 300 people that attended. More food was needed for Friday which was the burial service with an anticipated 300+ people. As luck would have it, the grandson of Malia's brother had his first birthday party on the Saturday and they were able to attend. [Malia's brother had traveled to Ayr for the Induction and returned to Christchurch and then flew to Auckland for the birthday party.] Thankfully, they had a relatively quiet day on Sunday before heading to the airport arriving in Ayr after midnight …. they were tired!
Seini and Michael stayed at home with their cousin and ‘Aunty Beth’ did the school runs every day. Malia's niece, Felisa, has been with the family for the past 3 months but is due to return to Tonga on 8 March - this will have a huge impact on the family - that extra set of hands will be very much missed.
Since their return from NZ, two of Semisi’s cousins in Tonga have passed away. A tough time for the family
So, that's the catch-up about the Ma'u family! Please continue to keep them in your prayers. No doubt in the weeks and months ahead, there will be much to be learnt and discovered.
If you want to check out the Burdekin here is a link to the council website https://www.burdekin.qld.gov.au/
For more photos you can go to https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgUeBGQ5rrtVgY1CUeAclh56lnVQZg?e=zGZeHB