Ita Futialo Galu
When I was a child in the islands of Samoa, my friends told me that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – known to us as ‘the Mormons’ – worshipped Joseph Smith. I believed them.
One of my primary school teachers, Viena Tanuvasa, happened to be a member of Joseph Smith’s church. I sometimes spent a day or two with Sister Tanuvasa’s family. That’s where I heard my first hymn from their church: “If the day be full of trial, weary not.”
It is still my favourite hymn.
Sister Tanuvasa often invited me to attend her church with her, but I would refuse out of respect for my own family, who are strong members of another Christian congregation in our village.
Later, I lived with extended family in Auckland, New Zealand. Our home in the suburb of Otara was a long drive away from our congregation’s chapel, so I didn’t go to church often.
One day, I accompanied a friend to drop off a parcel to a missionary. I found out that he was a missionary from the same church as Sister Tanuvasa’s. This missionary’s companion came out to the car. He introduced himself and gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon. He said that I should read it because it would help me learn more about Jesus Christ. He also said I should pray and ask Heavenly Father if this book is true.
I didn’t read it.
Two weeks later, however, the missionaries knocked at my door and I finally gave in. I knew my family would not allow missionaries into our home, so I asked if I could meet them at one of their chapels. They agreed and soon, with the help of some Relief Society sisters from their ward, they were teaching me the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was so interesting, I wanted to know more. I visited their ward and was invited to their Family Home Evenings, and I felt good about all that I was learning . . . except for one thing.
I thought back to my early days in Samoa, to why I would sometimes tease my Mormon friends. I knew that before I could continue with the missionaries, I had to learn the truth about Joseph Smith.
I found what I needed at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. As I read the account of Joseph Smith’s First Vision – of his prayer in the grove of trees and the miraculous visit from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ – I knew in my heart that everything written here was true. Joseph Smith was not worshipped by this church, but he was truly a prophet of God.
I decided then that I wanted to be baptised.
My testimony of Joseph Smith has continued to strengthen me over the years.
I was once tempted to withdraw from my ward because I didn’t feel accepted by certain sisters in Relief Society. Remembering that Joseph Smith always took his trials to the Lord, I followed his example instead and prayed sincerely to Heavenly Father about my problems at church. I was blessed with a new sense of confidence and the reassurance that my relationship with God would help me rise above any distractions.
Knowing that Joseph Smith accepted so much responsibility at such a young age helped me to accept callings in my ward, even though I felt unprepared. If Heavenly Father could strengthen young Joseph, he could strengthen me.
I once became very ill and asked for a priesthood blessing. Soon after the blessing, we found out that I wouldn’t need surgery after all. The experience reminded me that Joseph Smith always knew his Heavenly Father would protect him.
I am so grateful that I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for the prophet Joseph Smith. It is through his faith and his many sacrifices that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored, blessing my family and me beyond what I ever dreamed was possible.