Aulola Mateialona was born into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was raised by faithful grandparents in Ha’alaufuli, Vava’u, Tonga and she was baptised at eightyears old. Aulola later graduated from Liahona High School, a Church-owned school.
When she was 15, Aulola received her patriarchal blessing, which promised that if she stayed true to her covenants with the Lord, she would be married in the temple. It wasn’t until a few years later, as she prepared to serve a full-time mission, that Aulola fully understood the immensity of that promised blessing. As she walked through the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple for the first time, she was overwhelmed by the desire to return one day with her eternal companion and be sealed to him in that sacred place.
The reality of Aulola’s life, however, didn’t quite follow the plan in her heart. After her mission, it took some time before marriage became a priority for her, and by then she was in love with someone who didn’t share her faith.
“He’s a good man,” Aulola says. “He always welcomed [my Church’s] missionaries into our home and always fed them, but he was never interested in hearing their message.” His family are devout members of their own faith, and he would not break with their tradition. Their difference of religion put a great strain on their marriage. Aulola was unable to attend sacrament meetings as often as she liked, and she couldn’t raise their children in the Church the way she had been. Eventually, the contention in their home proved too much. After 23 years, the couple decided to part ways.
Aulola was devastated. She had lost her marriage and, with it, her hopes for the future with her family, but she was also suffering now from debilitating health issues. In her grief and pain, she turned to her Father in Heaven for guidance. “I fasted and prayed, and I promised the Lord that if He would accept me back, I would never turn away again.”
Her prayers kept leading her back to her patriarch blessing, which brought her comfort and peace at such a troubling time. One day, she re-read the promise that she could be sealed in the temple, and Aulola knew what she needed to do. “I realised that if I don’t do my part, it’s not going to work.” In that moment, she recommitted to follow all of Heavenly Father’s commandments, and draw near to Him through church attendance, daily prayer and scripture study.
Before long, Aulola reconnected with an acquaintance from her early days in Tonga: Brother Semisi Mounga Mateialona, a priesthood holder who had recently found himself single again, too. They bonded over shared experiences and their mutual love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Aulola knew in her heart that this was the man for her. The couple got married in New Zealand in 2019 and at the end of September 2022, they travelled to the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple to be sealed to each other for time and all eternity.
At a recent temple fireside in the Auckland Papatoetoe Stake, Aulola reflected on what she says is a miracle. As a young woman, she had experienced the sweet sacredness of the temple and knew how important it was to worship there. Then, for 23 years, she didn’t know if she could ever qualify for the temple blessings promised to her in her patriarchal blessing . . . but she didn’t give up hope.
It took time, patience and the kind of faith that changes lives, but now Aulola feels like she’s come home again. Finally, she can testify: “When you stay near God, He is going to bless you as He promised . . . if you do your part.”