By Miracle Ioane
Lotopa Ward, Pesega Samoa Stake
My siblings and I grew up believing in God, but our family wasn’t religious. We did our own thing and didn’t bother to learn about our purpose on earth.
Then, just before I was a teenager, a few relatives died, and I wondered if I would ever see them again. I remembered my grandfather warning us not to sleep too much because when we die, we sleep forever, and it got me curious. Was death just a dark place of eternal sleep?
As my soul searched for the answer to what happens after we die, a neighbour – a former bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – sent missionaries from his church to meet us. They taught my sister, Fiasili, and I the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and introduced us to the Plan of Salvation, which answered all my questions about death. . . finally!
Fiasili and I were soon baptised. She was 13 years old and I was only 12.
Our parents were happy for us to join the Church, but they wanted no part of it for themselves. After we were baptised, my sister and I tried our best to regularly attend church meetings, but it wasn’t easy, especially with competing influences in our home. For example, we often had to choose between going to sacrament meeting and spending Sunday at the beach with our family.
But Fiasili and I worked to strengthen each other’s testimonies. We thought that if our parents could just accept the gospel, too, we wouldn’t have to live in two worlds. So, we invited the missionaries to teach them, and in the process, our younger brother – and many of our cousins who lived with us – joined the Church.
It took a little longer for my parents. My sister was already serving a full-time mission in Suva, Fiji, when our mother finally got baptised. Our father had actually been a less active member for a long time, and it was such a joy to see them both start coming to church with us.
Then in 2019, I was called to the Philippines Quezon City Mission. Serving there was like living a dream – I’d always loved the Filipino culture and really wanted to learn Tagalog. But my missionary experience also taught me the true nature of our Heavenly Parents, and when I returned home to Samoa last year, I felt a strong desire to see my family sealed to each other for time and all eternity.
We have some work to do before we can achieve that goal. My parents are still new to the gospel and continue learning about the saving ordinances of the gospel. My brother is still finding his path – exploring if a mission is in his future – and Fiasili and I continue to persevere. We are determined to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God,” as we strive to help deepen our family’s conversion.
I sometimes wonder how my siblings and I found the gospel and have stayed committed all these years, especially without our parents at church for so long. I now realise that our Heavenly Father has been guiding us all along. Even through our challenges, we have felt His hand in each of our lives, and I know that – just as He did for the Jaredites in Ether 2:7 – He will not rest before we have reached the beautiful shores of that promised land prepared for us.