Loud and Colourful
Hi my name is Rowena, Mafo’e Tutagalevao-Taukolo. My story starts in the ‘Heart of the Pacific’, Samoa. I was born in Samoa and migrated to New Zealand in 1983 with my parents Eipo and Vai Tutagalevao and 3 of my brothers. I am number 4 of 9 kids, there’s 3 girls and 6 boys. Now can you imagine the chaos in a Samoan household? Loud and colourful. Loud because there’s always someone shouting, laughing, crying or getting a growling. And Colourful because of the different personalities we each have that paints our family different from the rest. My parents raised my siblings and I in a strict Samoan home, and they never failed to take us to church. If you grew up the 80’s and 90’s, you would know that God and family were instilled in almost every Pacific Island home. God was the foundation and family was the reason why Pacific Islanders worked so hard. As a mother of five, I wish to lay the same foundation and values for my children.
We Stopped Going
So now let’s fast forward to 1998. During this time of my life, I fell away from the righteous path that my parents taught my whole life. I tried things I thought at the time, was fun and cool. Breaking the word of wisdom was my biggest weakness. Although I was doing these things I would still go to church activities. But the life style I gained from my bad habits eventually changed my whole outlook to life in general. I met the love of my life in 1998 at our Stake YSA Dine and Dance activity. We shared the same bad habits and I found it a bonus to have something in common with him. We fell in love and wanted to change things in our relationship. We planned to stop what we were doing, go back to church and prepare ourselves for temple marriage; but that didn’t go as planned. We fell so much in love, we had our first child in 2000; I was 19 years old and he was 20. He was studying full time at Auckland University and I was at home about to have our first baby. We had our son on 11th August 2000 and got married on 7th October 2000. As any typical Pacific Island couple being married so young, my husband and I went through the torment of family and friends talking and making up stories about us. This did not stop us from loving each other; however, it did push us away from the church further than we anticipated. In addition, the backstabbing and gossiping from church members drove us further back. My husband and I took a different path, a path that had us struggling for 15 years. We stopped going to church and partying almost every weekend. We only went to church on special occasions such as Mother’s day, Father’s day or Christmas, that’s if we were up on time. However during our less active years, we never once stopped dreaming of being sealed in the temple. Once in a while my husband and I would have our pillow talks and talk about our ultimate dream. At times we felt our dream slipping further away from us as we continued to break the word of wisdom. On occasions I wanted to leave my husband because I was ready for change; in other words, I have grown up.
Ultimate Dream Became a Reality
One Sunday morning I woke up and decided to take my kids to church. It wasn’t a special occasion, in-fact, it was a prompting. That still small voice I was taught in primary spoke to me, to take my children to church. For months I listened to this prompting until one Sunday morning, my husband woke up and asked “Babe, do I still have a white shirt?” My children and I responded by doing the famous ‘Rock eyebrow raise’ at him. He continues, “Can you iron me a white shirt for church today?” I swear, the fact that he even asked for a white shirt was a miracle. White isn’t my husband’s favourite colour, but that very Sunday was the beginning of our new journey. My husband and I found our inner peace after sitting in Sunday school class learning about inner peace. After 15 years of living in darkness, I’m happy to say on the 7th June 2014, our ultimate dream became a reality. My husband and I and our beautiful children were sealed for all time and eternity. The dream that we thought impossible is possible. I am living my happily ever after. Today I use my past as my testimony. Some may hide their past, but I don’t. I love that my past has made me the ‘Grown Woman’ I am today.
Rowena with her beautiful family, sealed for all time and eternity.
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