Named after his famous minister father, John Henoa was expected to follow in his father's footsteps.
“It was my dad's dream for me to become the next pastor at the Methodist church,” he says.
“I was supposed to carry on that line.”
But instead, John was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August this year.
“My father went to a village in Tonga and studied for four years to become a pastor. Everyone knows him, he's pretty famous. I didn’t want to disobey my father, but I knew I wanted to be sealed to my family for eternity.”
John was 20 years old when he met his wife, Siulolo.
Siulolo stopped attending Church at the age of 17 and didn’t return until she was 29 years old.
“The life I was living was a cover-up for everything that was going on,” she says.
“During those times I went through a lot. I was diagnosed with six different mental illnesses, I was suicidal, I never felt worthy enough to go back to Church. People knew my history and I felt everyone would judge me.”
Growing up with a pastor father, John says he would go to Church just to ‘show face’.
“But when I had my kids, I just looked at myself and knew I needed to change.”
The Henoa family decided to attend the Massey ward for the first time in June this year. They say their life changed when they were approached by Bishop Ruwhiu.
“The Bishop said he saw me from the pulpit and felt like the Spirit was poking him, telling him he needed to speak to me,” John says.
“We started talking and it was just hitting me. I felt happy talking to him because something powerful came over me. It was something I had never felt before and I now realise that was the Spirit.”
“We have an amazing Bishop who has eyes like Jesus,” Siulolo says.
“What I mean by that is he sees us through the Lord's eyes. He sees through our imperfections and he saw our potential. We felt that when we met him.”
John soon started taking lessons with the missionaries. The principle of tithing was something John could not understand.
“I would put away one-tenth of our salary and John wanted to know why I was doing that. He couldn't understand so we argued about it,” Siulolo says.
“I challenged John to pay his tithing and see if Heavenly Father will come through with blessings. But I told him, not all blessings are a money value, it could be our children are happy, or maybe suddenly we have food. I had to leave it in the Lord's hands.”
John says the blessings began to pour in and his faith was strengthened.
“There have been times we've had nothing and all of a sudden there's money in the account and we’re like, where did it come from? Blessings like that, it was an act of faith before we saw the blessings.”
The greatest obstacle for John was getting baptized. His father had different views about that.
“Both parents disowned me when they found out [I’d been baptised]. But I know I have a lot of work to do. My faith is strong, and we are working towards [going to] the temple.”
Life has changed dramatically for the young family. John and Siulolo attend the Massey Ward, in the Henderson Stake. Both received Church callings for the first time; Siulolo is teaching in Primary and John as an advisor in the Young Men organization.
John’s main goal is to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be sealed to his family in the temple.
“Never in my life did I think John would get baptized,” Siulolo said.
“I thought he would never change but it’s just amazing how Heavenly Father answers prayers. “It's really [increased] my testimony on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and that Heavenly Father loves each one of us children and He is mindful of each of us.
“But I had to be prepared to change as well, not just John. So it's been both of us working together and using both our testimonies at the same time. It's been a hard road but with us making those steps . . . we are now one step closer to becoming an eternal family.”