News Release

Tongan Saints Share with Visiting Church Leaders the Joy of Living by Faith


Members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomed Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Patrick Kearon, senior president of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Tonga.

Elder Ulisses Soares recently visited Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares.

Also travelling with Elder and Sister Soares were Elder Patrick Kearon and Sister Jennifer Kearon; and Elder K. Brett Nattress, Pacific Area President, and Sister Shawna Nattress.

Watch a video about the visit here.


On Thursday, 16 March, Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder Patrick Kearon, Elder K. Brett Nattress and Elder Sione Tuione met with the Honourable Prime Minister, Hu'akavemeiliku Siaosi Sovaleni, in his office in Tonga.  Elder Soares hosted the Prime Minister in Utah last year.

Elder Soares presented to the Prime Minister a gift from the Church of a statuette featuring a family. Elder Soares explained that the family is fundamental in the gospel and that it is important for parents to strengthen children’s faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel, so they will know where to find peace and strength, to cope with the challenges of our day.

The Prime Minister presented Elder Soares with a carved scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.


“This is a beautiful gift and a special reminder for us, as Easter approaches and people are preparing to celebrate Jesus Christ’s life, that we can always remember Him and have Him present in our lives,” Elder Soares said.

A day earlier, on Wednesday, 15 March, youth from across Tonga welcomed Elder and Sister Soares and Elder and Sister Kearon with traditional dancing. A group of young men and women performed the Lakalaka, which includes poetry, dancing and singing. The theme of the performance was the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and featured the hymn Joseph Smith’s First Vision.

A picture of the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple was presented to Elder and Sister Soares. 17 year-old Liahona High School student leader, Fisi’imoli Vea, explained that the picture signified the students’ “acceptance of President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation to go more often to the temple to learn more of the Saviour and continue to keep the covenants that we have made with Him.”


Later that evening, Elder Soares addressed hundreds of young adult members of the Church, promising them peace and joy as they choose to turn their hearts to Jesus Christ, and to seek Him in every thought, and to follow Him with all their heart.


“God loves you, and He will be with you, and He will bless you in every single circumstance, if you give Him space in your hearts,” said Elder Soares.

Quoting President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Soares said, "Take your questions to the Lord and to other faithful sources. Study with the desire to believe rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw in the fabric of a prophet’s life or a discrepancy in the scriptures… Allow the Lord to lead you on your journey of spiritual discovery.”


“Choose to believe in Jesus Christ and His gospel,” the Apostle urged. “Believing and developing faith in Jesus Christ are personal choices. They don't happen naturally. When we choose to believe in Jesus Christ and in the blessings of His gospel, our faith in Him grows and we can enjoy hope in Him in our life.”


Elder Soares promised the young people that their lives would change when they seek to learn more about the atoning sacrifice of the Saviour. “His perfect love exemplified through His atoning sacrifice can change the direction of our lives forever. Our cultural differences don’t matter. What really matters is our decision to turn our hearts to Him and follow Him,” he said.

Young adult, Sione Fevaleaki Aho, said, “When Elder Soares reminded us that the love of the Lord is for all of us, I remembered that real peace and happiness come from putting my trust in Jesus Christ.”

Sister Soares assured the young people that they “can resist temptation… through their faith in Jesus Christ.”

“It is not enough to only have faith, we must also repent and obey. There are places we can never go, there are websites we can never visit, there are thoughts we can never entertain. Those things are not worthy of who we are,” she said.

Elder K. Brett Nattress shared his personal witness that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. “His way is the only way to peace, happiness and eternal life,” he said.

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and as you follow Him, you will find happiness and eternal joy.”

Elder Tuione and Sister Tuione spoke about overcoming challenges by following Jesus Christ.

Youth, aged 11 to 17 years, gathered for a devotional with Elder Kearon at Liahona High School.

Elder Kearon told the youth that they can be joyful even in tough times. He encouraged them to prepare for their life’s missions by being committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and by faithfully accepting responsibilities.

Elder Kearon read 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18: “For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

“Remember, the plan is to get back to heaven… [and] you need demanding experiences,” he said, “even if you do not want them.”


Sister Kearon invited teens to consider opportunities to lift one another. “Our Father in Heaven would like us to speak kind words, words of patience and support,” she said.

Alo ‘italau Kivalu, a student from Liahona High School, attended the youth devotional. She said, “I learned that I need to face problems. We all have loads to carry and it’s not that easy, but we can face them with faith in the Lord, and conquer.”

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