Worshipping in her Catholic Church in Majuro, the capital city of the Marshall Islands, which are a sprawling chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, young Shana Edmond remembers clearly the day she offered a heartfelt prayer, “Please help my family to be happy, and please make my Dad come to church”.
A devout young Christian and very spiritual young lady, Shana was able to pin-point the discontent that her father’s drinking habit had on the entire family. She’s the second eldest of 11 children. What Shana was not expecting in answer to her prayer was for her father to accept an invitation from the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be baptised into that Church! In fact, Shana didn’t know that her parents were even taking the investigator lessons with the missionaries.
Had God misunderstood her plea?
Although she didn’t verbalise it, what Shana ‘meant’ in her heartfelt prayer of concern and love for her family that day, was that her father would join the church ‘she’ was attending.
“Dad joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was life-changing – he changed completely” said Shana.
Her mother was baptised on the same day as her father and it wasn’t long afterwards that Shana converted too. But the transition wasn’t smooth or easy. Shana’s maternal grandmother was very upset with them for joining the Church and she didn’t talk to them for a while.
Over time, all but three of Shana’s siblings converted to the Church. And—as the hearts of the affected family members softened, the awkward silence gave way to normal conversation and family associations were again enjoyed.
Shana was 19 when she was confirmed a member of the Church. She waited the obligatory one-year period before serving a full-time mission at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. She said: “Serving a mission changed my life dramatically . . . in an unexpected way.” Heavenly Father had a more eternal blessing for Shana and her family – He most certainly had not misunderstood her prayer!
Shana, a self-confessed ‘over thinker’ lived in a constant state of worry. But while on mission she learned how to find solutions to life’s challenges. This newly developed skill allowed her to shift her all-consuming focus on her problems, to finding lasting peace by working to find achievable solutions. I was deeply moved by the spiritual depth of this young 29-year old convert when I met her in Majuro. I discovered Shana leads a mindful life by keeping a prayer in her heart throughout each day while focussing on Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness.
After serving her mission Shana felt she wanted to relocate to the USA because life offered different opportunities: such as higher education, greater scope for employment and better health care than could be obtained in the Marshall Islands. But a distinct impression came to her mind: Heavenly Father wanted her to remain in her own island nation and to build His kingdom in that part of the world.
Again, Shana felt totally at peace and she decided to continue living in the Marshall Islands, and serving God right where He wanted her to be.
Prior to her mission, Shana had decided she was quite happy living her life as a single woman . . . without the load of being married. She had made up her mind to be a wonderful aunty to her nieces and nephews – she was going to be ‘there’ for them when they needed help with spiritual matters, financial matters, or anything else for that matter.
But—part of her own spiritual growth was receiving revelation on the importance of being married in the House of the Lord. Having received that revelation, Shana prepared herself for marriage, which was a good thing because a young returned missionary on her home island soon captured her heart. She said ‘yes’ to Johnny Latrik’s proposal and they’ve been married for nearly two years.
It’s tough, but the couple are diligently saving so they can fly to the USA, where they have family, to be sealed for time and all eternity – probably in the Seattle Washington Temple.
Not only that, but Shana is being blessed with opportunities to further her academic education. Firstly, as a student at the College of the Marshall Islands where she’s almost completed a 2-year management course, and secondly, as a student in the Church’s BYU-Pathway Worldwide course, which offers nearly 40 online certificate and degrees for eligible students.
When I asked 29-year-old Shana Edmond, “What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?” without hesitation she answered, “Getting married!