News Story

The Joy of Helping Others

Samoan couple share their experience as senior missionaries in Papua New Guinea

Samoan senior missionaries serving in Papua New Guinea in 2019.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Elder Tuifagalilo Tonumaipe’a and Sister Lupelele Tonumaipe’a are currently serving as Senior Missionary Coordinators with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their region of Samoa.

This new volunteer position throughout the South Pacific is designed to help people find senior mission opportunities and answer questions such as cost and other requirements.

Elder and Sister Tonumaipe’a readily and enthusiastically share their experiences of being senior missionaries in the Papua New Guinea Lae Mission in 2017. At the time they began their volunteer service, they could not imagine the diverse opportunities they would have to serve the people over the next two years.

When they arrived, their mission leader asked them to focus on starting preschools in Lae, since most of the young children didn’t go to school. Their first assignment was to Ngasuapum.

Registration started the following week for students ranging from 3 to 12 years old, who had never been to school. The maximum number for registration was 25, but it soon reached over 100 children.

Sister Tonumaipe’a explained, “I chose to accept the 100+ children because I didn’t want to turn any child away. Their parents didn’t have money to pay tuition for public school, so they came to take advantage of the opportunity to be educated.

“These children walked many miles to attend Ngasuapum Preschool. Two children came from as far as 18 miles away.” By the end 2018, they had successfully formed eleven “Mum’s Preschools” in different parts of Lae.

Sister Tonumaipe'a teaching Mum's Preschool in Papua New Guinea, 2019.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sister Tonumaipe’a reflected, “I felt great knowing that the Lord was helping us establish these preschools with the assistance of the young men and women we had trained to help.”

After the preschools were functioning well, Elder and Sister Tonumaipe’a travelled extensively to teach youth choir. They said this was an “exhausting and tiresome task.”

They brought youth from various areas throughout the Papua New Guinea Lae Mission to 1 Mile Chapel in Lae to practice as a group. They were rewarded with “gladness that the youth could sing the songs we taught them.”

They used the hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ to teach conducting and singing skills.

Sister Tonumaipe’a was asked to create a regional youth choir to sing in a Christmas “Light the World” programme in 2018.

Elder and Sister Tonumaipe'a from Samoa with youth choir in Papua New Guinea in 2018.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Elder and Sister Tonumaipe’a witnessed many of those same young men and women at the Hamilton New Zealand Temple during Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s visit in March of this year. They were preparing to leave for missions.

During his visit, Elder Rasband, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, met with a group from Papua New Guinea attending the temple.

Sister Tonumaipe’a said, “I feel happy knowing that they made the decision to serve, and others are planning to leave on missions soon. I keep in touch with them still.”

Elder and Sister Tonumaipe’a shared how their experience being raised in Samoa prepared them to help the people of Papua New Guinea.

They taught people how to be more self-reliant by growing crops and preparing them for market.

For example, Elder and Sister Tonumaipe’a taught individuals how to take papaya, which grows in abundance, and make papaya porridge with coconut cream to eat themselves and also to sell at the market. They also taught lessons on how to make coconut candy with scraped coconut and sugar.

Sister Tonumaipe’a had an ongoing responsibility to train women leaders in the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organisations. Elder Tonumaipe’a helped priesthood leaders understand better how to fulfill their callings to serve others. Together they taught how to organise and lead in Family Home Evening, youth gatherings, and other activities, strengthening members and inviting friends to participate.

In their role as Senior Missionary Coordinators, Elder and Sister Tonumaipe’a are eager to assist others in finding the fulfillment and joy of missionary service.

Elder Tonumaipe'a serving as senior missionary in Papua New Guinea in 2018.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

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