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Friday, May 17, 2013


I had to say goodbye to two wonderful friends this week.  The longer I stay here, the harder it is to say goodbye.  And this goodbye was particularly difficult because this couple returned to their home in Melbourne, Australia, and it’s very likely I will never see them again.  Elder and Sister F. spent only six months here, but in that time they won my heart with their plain speaking, their patience, and their love. He is a 78-year old retired woodworking teacher who has the patience of Job, and she is a 75-year old plain-speaking Scottish descendant who has more skill with children than most professional teachers.  

You don’t know these two.  I understand that.  But you know their type.  A Scottish poet by the name of Robert William Service (how terrific would it be to carry THAT family name?) described them in a poem written long before these two were born:

A Character 

How often do I wish I were
What people call a character;
A ripe and cherubic old chappie
Who lives to make his fellows happy;
With in his eyes a merry twinkle,
And round his lips a laughing wrinkle;
Who radiating hope and cheer
Grows kindlier with every year.

For this ideal let me strive,
And keep the lad in me alive;
Nor argument nor anger know,
But my own way serenely go;
The woes of men to understand,
Yet walk with humour hand in hand;
To love each day and wonder why
Folks are not so jocund as I.

So be you simple, decent, kind,
With gentle heart and quiet mind;
And if to righteous anger stung,
Restrain your temper and your tongue.
Let thought for others be your guide,
And patience triumph over pride . . .
With charity for those who err,
Live life so folks may say you were--
God bless your heart! --A Character

Fair winds and following seas, Elder and Sister F.  I love you.  Thank you for being Characters in my life.  When I grow up, I want to be a Character.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Now and then a Primary child speaks in church here in Tonga.  Recently little 9-year old ‘Ofa (means “love”) spoke about the power of prayer.  I offer her story in her own words (edited with her mother):

When I was six, I found out how important prayer is.  My family van was broken, and my mom was sick.  It was raining very hard, and the wind was very strong.  I had no raincoat, I had no umbrella.  My family had no telephone to call a taxi to take me to school.    It was very important for me to go to school that day, because I had a test to take.  But this was a hard day, because there was no help for me. I didn't want to get wet on the way to school and have to spend the whole day in wet clothes - I might get sick.

My dad had already left to go to work, and I was very sad.  I stood beside my mom and cried.  But then I got a very strong feeling that I should say a prayer.  I looked at my mom.  She told me we needed to kneel down and say a prayer together. Even though I was still crying, I said the prayer.  I asked Heavenly Father, “Please help me go to school today.”  

Even before I finished my prayer, I could hear that the rain had stopped.  I said “Amen” and looked out the window.  The wind was still blowing very hard.  The sky was still dark,  but there was no rain.  My brother, my mom and I stood in the doorway and said another prayer, this time thanking Heavenly Father for stopping the rain.  My brother and I ran all the way to school.

As soon as  I entered my classroom, the heavy rains began again, and continued all morning.  Because of this experience, my faith grew.  I knew after that day that I have a loving Heavenly Father who hears and answers my prayers.   My mom told me that President Kimball used to compare prayer to an umbrella or raincoat to protect us from danger.  On that day when I was six, I found out that I didn’t need an umbrella or a raincoat, as long as I remembered to pray, and exercise my faith.

I testify that Heavenly Father answers prayers.  I know the power of prayer.  I am now working on my Faith in God program, and because of prayer, I feel I am closer to my Father in Heaven, and I can feel that he really loves me. 

This little message brings me peace, because it makes me remember that God knows each one of us by name.  We are truly his children, and because he is a loving Father, he knows our names, he knows what we need (and not just what we want), and he knows how and when to help us.  Thank heaven for little girls who teach me such wonderful things.