Thursday, September 12, 2013
There weren’t many people at church today. It was too cold for them! (68 degrees when we left the house) Really??? We just had to smile. It feels so good to us. It is fast Sunday today and I have been fasting for my brother Jim. I asked Greg to go to Temple Square and fill out the card to send the missionaries to visit him. We requested that they send a Tongan Missionary. I am praying that something will soften his heart and he will have a desire to change and listen to their message. I know if he will give up the bad habits that have been holding him down, he will find peace in his life and the joy that Heavenly Father wants all of his children to experience. I love him with all of my heart and want so much for him to be part of our eternal family. We feel that way about all of our extended family and pray that our serving this mission will draw down the blessings of heaven upon them and their families.
Our Mission President and his family put on a musical fireside tonight. It was for members and investigators. They are a very musical family and Elder and Sister Hamblin, who just arrived from Alaska and are good friends of theirs, are also really talented. There was a quartet of Tongan men that sang and President and Sister Tupou’s son Paul, who just returned from his mission to Brazil on Thursday, also sang. It was a spiritual night of beautiful music and testimonies. The highlight of the evening for me was the testimony of Liu ‘Akau’ola. She is a young mother who was in our ward when we went to church at Liahona. She has 5 children of her own and she has adopted 18 others! They are raising 23 children, giving them a chance to go to school at Liahona, and preparing them to serve on missions. 3 of them are in the missionary prep class right now, 2 are on missions and at least one is going to school at BYU Hawaii. It is just as amazing story.
She was raised by her grandmother in Texas. When she was in her early 20’s she came to Tonga and met her husband, Siope ‘Akau’ola. They were married in the church of Tonga. Her grandfather was a preacher in that church and that was the church she was raised in. Siope also grew up in that church. She said that she had everything a young Tongan woman could want, a husband, a house, transportation, clothes and food. But still she did not feel peace. Her husband would go with the other men of the Church of Tonga and get drunk every Friday night. When they had children she told him that she couldn’t live that way any longer. He needed to stop drinking or she was going to leave him. He didn’t want his marriage to end, but that is what the men of the church did. All of them, even the minister, got drunk on Friday nights. The next Friday night he was walking to meet the men and he walked by one of our church houses. The men were all outside cooking food and the women and children were playing on the yard. He saw two of his children there, playing with the others. Tears started to run down his face as he saw those happy families. He turned around and walked back home. He told his wife he knew which church was true and he was going to join the Mormon Church. She told him that he couldn’t do that, his family would disown him. That did not stop him. He found the missionaries, quit drinking and joined the church. She, on the other hand would not join the church because of the trouble it would cause in her family. As her children got older she took them to church with her and made up excuses as to why their dad didn’t go with them. They would always have to wait for him before they could eat on Sundays, because their meeting lasted an hour but his lasted 3 hours. One Sunday she realized that she was lying to her children about where their father was and teaching them to lie. She made the decision to join the church. She had seen her husband change and she knew it was because of the gospel. Her family disowned her, which was devastating, but she found the peace that she had been searching for. They have been members for 11 years now. They live on the Liahona campus because Siope is a teacher. They have seen many senior couples
come and go. Liu told her husband that she wanted to serve a mission when their children are all grown and gone. He told her that you never know what way the winds of life might blow. They had better do all they could do to send others on missions and hope that one day they could go together. So that is what they have done and are doing. Many of those children were not members of the church when they were taken in by this amazing couple. But eventually they all have joined the church. Eventually a brother or a sister of one of their adopted children will come to stay with them for awhile. They will join the church, get adopted and move on in their education and go on a mission. Even some of the original parents have softened their hearts and joined the church. There has to be a special place in heaven for this couple. What an example they are to us!