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Monday, June 11, 2012


So the electricity in the tiny Tongan home was turned off.  Husband Taniele and his wife Mele, who lived on one of the outer islands, were undeterred.  Neighbors gossiped about them, and even confronted them:  “Aren’t you ashamed to bring your children back here for the summer?  You haven’t managed your finances properly.  And now your five children will come back to a home with no electricity.  They will have to use candles to read, and you must now cook outdoors, over an open fire!  You have not been wise parents!"


The neighbors’ words and looks had the same kind of impact as beating a coconut with a palm leaf; Taniele and Mele smiled in return.  “We do not care about the electrical power,” said Taniele.  “I have worked hard to catch the crabs near the cliffs of our island, and I have saved enough money to pay for all five of our children to return home for the summer, after living at school all year.  All five of our children will have money to pay for their ferry ride when school ends this month.  If I must sacrifice our electrical power, is that not worth it?”

“We may not have electrical power, but we will have our children with us for a few months,” continued Mele.  “I will gladly cook for them over an open fire.  And they will help me, and they will help their father with his fishing.”

Taniele searched the faces of his neighbors.  “Electrical power is nice to have, but it is not a necessity in my life,” he said.  “When my children arrive home, I will light a fire in the yard.  I will gather them around the fire.  And I will teach them again how they should light the world around them, using the light of their own knowledge.  I will teach them to share their light, to lift those around them, to provide clearer understanding for those who are confused, to provide confirmation for those who doubt, to provide a pathway for those who are lost, to provide support for those who have fallen, to provide illumination for those who are searching. And I will remind them that their first duty is to provide light for each other – the older children for the younger, and sometimes the younger children for all of us.

“Then, when I have taught them, I will give each of my children a candle to take to their beds. They will certainly tell me their candles offer only a poor light, but I will remind them that it only takes a few candles to light an entire room.  Together, our five candles will light our way to our home.  And once inside the room, we will kneel in prayer, to offer thanks for their safe return to our home.  And the candles will remind us of the source of all light and knowledge, our Heavenly Father.  And they will remind us of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has lighted our way so that we may return to our Father.  And we will love the light, and seek for it together, so that we may live in the light together.  And when my children are grown, their light will be stronger than mere candles – they will be bright lights to each other, to their friends, to their husbands and wives, because they will carry within themselves the light of the Spirit of God.”

Taniele and his wife Mele are typical of the faithful Saints in Tonga, who realize that using the power within ourselves to benefit others is eternally important, while other types of power are just earthly conveniences.  Their perspective, their faith, and their humility has affected me deeply.  I hope this story has a deep effect on you, too.  Remember what is truly important.  


  1. I hope I can be as wise as Taniele and Mele. Please tell them their testimony is reaching farther than they will ever know.