MAY CHRIST LIFT THEE UP

Just me…Photo 1My four loves in a nutshell.

Married 10 years and live in Sydney with my sweetheart David Lakisa.  Prior to #Eternities, biggest blessing was serving missions in Melbourne East and West. (2000-2001). Blessed with five rambunctious boys; Mika (3), Asher (5), Isaac (7), Kenyon (9) and Cahill (8) who keep my hands and hearts busy.

Grew up in Wellington, NZ with a crazy LDS family of nine siblings (3rd in line of royalty lol) where music and disney impersonations were a must! Mum (Teleise Solefai – Fagaloa, Upolu) met my member dad (Taavili Gasu – Satupa’itea, Savaii) and converted to the church after reading the Book of Mormon.

Loved being an Enrolled Nurse before becoming a full-time stay at home mum! On Saturdays you will find me screaming/cheering on my boys at their footy matches.  Sundays you will often see me with my Miamaids, advocating all things Personal Progress and #Embarking.  Fridays? If it’s not taking the boys for family time, I will be curled up with a good book, watching old school period kdramas or ipad dates with the husband. J Life is awesome.

There are some facebook posts that catches your attention, some unimportant, others thought provoking.  Often we can get away with just liking it, thumbs up or whack a big smiley face on it.  Intentional anti-social interaction right? But how will you answer if a close friend posts this up on her status?

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Sound familiar? Immediately we might post a comment, maybe include links or read others opinions, because deep down inside, her voice is our voice – we have ALL BEEN THERE BEFORE. There are times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed by what is expected of us in our relationships, in our families and in society.  Let’s face it, we are a different kind of women. We’re Latter Day Saint POLYNESIAN women.  We are as the women of Lehi who ‘travelled in the wilderness’ through much affliction and often bearing journeyings without murmuring [1].  We are sisters like Martha who was ‘encumbered with much serving, anxious and troubled about by many things’ [2]. We are leaders like Esther who bear the name of our ‘fathers’ house ’ [3], bear the name of our villages and all the demands that comes with our cultural heritage. As LDS Polynesian women we are appreciated, accepted and valued to the point that everyone tends to rely on our natural given poly instincts to solve world problems.  And we solve them, or die trying. We multitask through our journeys despite our many to do lists and to be lists.

Recently I posed a question at a Single Adult convention: “What keeps you up at night?” Answers came quick and fast; family, personal work satisfaction, physical health, the inability to make decisions, lack of closure, uncertainty, financial struggles.  And then a brave man summed it all up – the inability to balance all of these responsibilities.

So how will you answer your friend’s fb post? How will you reply to her hashtags? #Overwhelmed #ImStrugglingToo #GospelZest? #WhereDoIStart? What do you say to over taxed, exhausted women in the church?

#Overwhelmed

Se’I fono le pa’a ma ona vae (Let the crab take counsel with its legs).  Be careful to think things out before taking action[4]

If you find that your days are filled with actions based items to complete and lists to check off (this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of our mental to be lists).  And if you feel you can hardly breathe because difficult circumstances and demanding schedules won’t allow it – then we would do well to remember Esther.

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Esther was no stranger to overwhelming responsibilities. In addition to her royal duties, she was placed with the burden to be an advocate for her people, even risking execution.  On top of that she was still a newlywed!  Does that sound familiar? How did she respond to the threat to her people, juggle queen bee duties whilst keeping her heritage intact? Here’s the secret.  She already knew what she had to do, but needed strength to fulfil it.  Her simple but powerful request was to ‘gather all the Jews together… and fast’ [5], she and her maidens did fast likewise for three days. When the responsibility seemed too much for her to bear alone she sought for strength beyond her own.  She took a step back and realised that fasting, coupled with prayer, was powerful enough to draw strength from the heavens and mighty enough to bring about a much needed change in her circumstances.  And that change required courage.  Courage that led to her putting ‘on her royal apparel [6], standing in the inner court and obtaining favour from the King. A small act of bravery that started a ripple to saving a nation.

Strength and confidence will abide those who live the law of the Fast.  Often we know the answers to our overwhelming responsibilities.  Fasting allows us to step back, assess our priorities, put them into perspective and then have the courage to refocus. President Uchtdorf kindly reminded us: “If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.’[7] Fasting and prayer not only help us choose between, good, better and best; it also gives us the courage to prioritise what really matters most.

Let us have the courage to step back and have an #EstherMoment

#Imstrugglingtoo

Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi (With your basket and my basket the people will live).[8]

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I was with mum when the doctors told her she had breast cancer.  With her hands held tightly in mine, I turned to her and she simply nodded and listened to her options for the next coming weeks, months. The ride down the elevator was quiet and tears glistened down her cheeks.  I held her hand still.  Dad inquired as to what the doctor had to say.  And mum in her no-nonsense manner replied “Ia, uo Cancer.  Ka o e amai le receipt ma su’e se fale e ai.”  (Yes, its cancer.  Let’s go get my receipt and go get something to eat).  That was my mum’s humour, mums way of lessening the blow for Dad. And during the coming weeks, I watched my mum lessened the blow for everyone else; my siblings, her family, her friends. Always  uplifting, encouraging, and comforting others despite her own physical and spiritual heartache.  Just a few weeks after, Dads best friend from Wellington passed away.  Again I watched her continue to lift, encourage and comfort my Dad and friends who were grieving, all whilst going through radiotherapy.  A few years after, when her brother had passed away, her faith did not falter even then.  Being the eldest of her siblings I watched her uplift, encourage and comfort her siblings.  She was no self-martyr, a superhero or a miracle worker. She was my mum with ‘strength beyond her own’.

So why is it asked of us to help others when we ourselves are suffering? In the very act of reaching outwards, we receive strength beyond our own to endure our own trials.  In reaching out to others our focus becomes true, our strength becomes Christlike.  We are in turn becoming more like the Saviour.  Bednar described it as the character of Christ.  “Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering.” [9] The Master constantly reached outward and offered to others the very blessings that could and would have strengthened him. He knew he was about to atone for all mankind, he knew one of his friends will betray him, he knew he will be led like a lamb to the slaughter, he knew that his life will be offered up as a ransom for ours.  Despite knowing all this, during the great intercessory prayer (offered BEFORE Gethsemane) he could have prayed for strength beyond his own, to endure.  But what and who did he pray for? (John 17:20-21, 23, 26). He was the master in reaching out towards others despite his own afflictions. Often we are asked to serve, despite struggling with our own spiritual demons.

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Henry B Eyring made two promises“For those who are discouraged by their circumstances and are therefore tempted to feel they cannot serve the Lord this day, I make you two promises. Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if you choose to serve the Lord this day with your whole heart. Your circumstances may not be improved in all the ways which you desire. But you will have been given new strength to carry your burdens and new confidence that when your burdens become too heavy, the Lord, whom you have served, will carry what you cannot. He knows how. He prepared long ago. He suffered your infirmities and your sorrows when He was in the flesh so that He would know how to succor you.” [10]

As we keep our covenants to share one another’s burdens, Christ will not only give us strength beyond our own, He will carry what we cannot.  More importantly He knows how to succor us.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated: “[Succor] is used often in the scriptures to describe Christ’s care for and attention to us. It means literally ‘to run to.’ [11] Can you imagine? As he calls us to come unto him, to help carry others burdens, he is running to help us!

Let us have the courage to reach outward and #ServeOthers

#GospelZest

He lawai`a no ke kai papa`u, he pôkole ke aho; he lawai`a no ke kai hohonu he loa ke aho. (A fisherman of the shallow sea uses only a short line; a fisherman of the deep sea has a long line). [12] A person whose knowledge is shallow does not have much, but he, whose knowledge is deep, does.

A few years ago I felt as if I was constantly trying to catch up with the image I set for myself when I first got married.  I felt like something really needed to change, and like with all changes it needed to have a beginning.  My beginning was Time Out For Women (TOFW). I sat there during the conference and suddenly I felt like Enos did when he said ‘the words sunk deep into my heart’ [13]. It wasn’t until then that I realised I had been going through the motions of my life without the emotions, even though I was doing all the right things (well I felt I was).  Many of you may have been in a similar predicament.  Serving in the church, visiting, FHE, keeping your children busy and active, date nights with the husband, nurturing your role as a mother, wife, sisters, counsellor, daughter, immediate family concerns and commitment.  And on top of that some of you study and work part time or full time. I felt Brad Wilcox’s words when he mentioned that I was trying to ‘earn heaven’ not ‘learn heaven’ [14].  Was I really racking up brownie points for heaven?

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Beautiful Faye with Brad Wilcox TOFW 2013

As LDS women, we are the greatest at giving ourselves mini pep talks.  If something doesn’t go our way or we’re disappointed with an outcome we say to ourselves “Get over yourself, there are people worse off”’ or the good ol “count your many blessings and make them count” or even labelling our trials as  ‘first world problems’.  Yes, this gets you out of temporary small dips and lows.  But sometimes the dips are too deep for mere words only. Without spiritual aid, mini pep talks will only get you so far.  So at this time of my life I was feeling the effects of countless pep talks without consulting Heavenly Father. I felt that I had lost my gospel zest.

A scripture came to mind of Mormon writing to his son Moroni.  Despite the ‘awful brutality’ [15] that surrounded his people and those ‘seeking for blood and revenge’ [16] he said: “My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up.”  I felt the comfort of those words.  But I was not surrounded by awful brutality or circumstances weighing me down.  Outwardly I wasn’t lacking, inwardly? I felt like I was asking that familiar question: What lack I yet? I serve, do FHE (racking up brownie points), do my calling (brownie points still coming). But how was my reading?

I had been snacking on the scriptures and had been taking light nibbles on the book of Mormon and pretty much all things that required for me to sit, read and ponder.  So where were my feasts? I felt l like I was doing ok.  And like someone who had been dieting for a while, I was spiritually starving!  So my beginning began.  The seed was planted at TOFW, it began to sprout when I read ‘Continuous Conversion’ by Brad Wilcox (bought it out of curiosity).  I read and my ‘soul hungered’ for more.  I began to nurture the seed by reading the scriptures a little each day.  I was reminded of what Elder David A. Bednar wrote about scripture study: “Steadiness in small things over time is far more effective, far less dangerous and produces far better results.  A great attempt to pray one time for five hours likely will not produce the spiritual results of meaningful morning and evening prayer offered consistently.  A single, great scripture reading marathon cannot produce the spiritual impact of steady scripture study across many months”. [17] And right at this time I kid you not, but my husband and I had to deliver a workshop and guess what Heavenly Father had for us to share?  Daily scripture study. Oh the heavens were definitely laughing on this one.  DAILY scripture reading.

D – Doctrine A –Atonement I – Inspired Questions L-Love Y-You

Learning the doctrines of the gospel by daily scripture study begins the process of what Bednar describes as ‘learning, acting, and becoming’. We learn about the atonement in the scriptures as we ask inspired questions.  We learn more about God’s love for us. We learn more about who we are, and whose we are. I didn’t know I had lost my gospel zest until I really felt what it was like to ‘hunger and thirst’ after righteousness.  But how do you know if you have that gospel zest? Alma asks this inspired question; “…If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”

Let us find our #gospelzest by feasting on the scriptures

#IDontKnowWhereToStart

Fangota kihe kato ‘ava (Fishing with a bag that has holes in it).  You can have all the skills and the right attitude, if you don’t look after the basic needs, you will fail. [18]

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And Jesus increased in wisdom (intellectual/mental) and stature (physical), and in favour with God (spiritual) and with man (social).” Luke 2:52

One of my favourite lines from Brad Wilcox is “Start where you are and go from there”.  Our walk with Christ starts not with a marathon or a sprint.  It does not matter if you falter, or how clumsy the start may be.  It matters that you start.  Why walk with Christ and learn about him? It increases our spirituality.  Spirituality is the key to smashing those overwhelming feelings, it is the key to finding our gospel zest and the key to serve with a strength beyond our own.  I love how Dallin H. Oaks described spirituality; “Each of us has a personal lens through which we view the world.  Our lens gives its special tint to all we see.  It can suppress some features and emphasize others.  It can also reveal things otherwise invisible.  Spirituality is a lens through which we view life and gauge by which we evaluate it. How we interpret our experiences is also a function of our degree of spirituality.” [19] Spirituality gives us perspective on our lives, it will help us see things that need removing, will help us make answers come to light, will give us strength to seek the help we need to become more like the Saviour.

Let us have the courage to #StartWhereYouAre and go from there.

I hope when life gets overwhelming, that we will have the courage to have an Esther moment, to serve others with strength beyond our own, to find our zest again for the gospel, to start now to become like Christ. And you know you can! Why? Because we are a different kind of women. Let’s face it, we’re Latter Day Saint Polynesian women. We are as mothers of Lehi ‘strong like unto men’ [20] bearing afflictions in our own parts of the wilderness.  We are sisters like Martha ‘spiritual giants’ whom the Saviour loved and trusted, of whom testified ‘yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God’ [21] We are courageous leaders like Esther who was ‘born for such a time as this!’ [22]

Featured Image Above: Thee Beautiful Lakisa Family.

[1] 1 Nephi 17:1-2,

[2] Luke 10:40-42

[3] Esther 4:14

[4] Mpia.govt.nz celebrating Samoan week manuatele.net

[5] Esther 4:16

[6] Esther 5:1

[7] https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/of-things-that-matter-most?lang=eng

[8] http://www.maori.cl/Proverbs.htm

[9] David A Bednar, Act in Doctrine, page 8

[10] Henry B. Eyring, ‘This Day’, Gen Conf, April 2007.

[11] Jefferey R. Holland ‘Come unto Me’ CES fireside for young adults, Mar. 2, 1997, http://www.ldsces.org

[12] http://www.oocities.org/thetropics/shores/6794/olelono1.html

[13] Enos 1:3

[14] Brad Wilcox, Continuous conversion

[15] Mormon 9:17

[16] Mormon 9:23

[17] David A Bednar, Act in Doctrine

[18] https://natlib.govt.nz/blog/posts/ko-e-kai-ia-a-e-tonga

[19] Dallin H. Oaks ‘Spirituality’ Gen.Conf, Oct 1985.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1985/10/spirituality?lang=eng

[20] 1 Nephi 17: 1-2

[21] John 11:20-27

[22] Esther 4:14

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6 thoughts on “MAY CHRIST LIFT THEE UP

  1. Very inspiring talk and it has helped me spiritually knowing how we as polynesian women can strive to be the best role models for our children❤️Love it Faye

    Like

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