My name is Melissa Te’o. I have 3 older brothers who blessed me with gorgeous nieces and the handsomest nephews. I live with my awesome extended family, who have always felt like immediate ones. Bringing the new total of siblings to, 2 sisters and 5 brothers and more nieces and nephews and an aunty and uncle that love me as much as my own parents did. I am not a writer. I don’t enjoy writing. So, please, be kind to my literacy skills. I was asked to share a trial that our Pacific sisters could relate to, so I’m hopeful that this will help you in any way.
A change of scenery was exactly what I needed after my dad’s funeral, so I moved to Hamilton to study at Waikato. After my first semester, my mum asked me to move home. She had fallen pretty ill and needed me to come home. That made me so mad! One semester? Really? I have 3 brothers! Can’t they do it?
But I moved home & then I got over it.
Months after moving back home I sat with my mum and told her that I was preparing to serve a full-time mission. My desire was unmistakably there. I could see myself in the field, working miracles, helping the fallen and I was excited. She supported me and said, “Well, let’s get to work”.
More months passed and we sat down again. In the same lounge that I announced my desire to serve, she asked me to hold off on my plans, because she needed me home. She had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I cried. Of course for my mum, but partially, and selfishly I was angry at my circumstance. Why me? Why did “I” have to stay home? What about my brothers? I knew I needed to serve a mission. But I stayed back.
Melissa’s beautiful mother in red and Aunty Lupe
My mum got worse each day. Eventually, she couldn’t move in and out of bed. I recall one rough day where she had an accident and with a timid voice, told me that she had just wet the bed. She cried as I changed her. “I’m sorry Lisa,” she’d say over her tears. In retrospect, feeling sorry for me wasn’t the complete reason for her tears that day. Dignity. A woman that had devoted her God-given energy and time to looking after her children and husband, was now unable to do something trivial and petty for herself. A chore we think only parents do for their children, not the other way around. “You will be blessed” she made sure I knew this before she left me. And I have been and continue to be – tenfold a millions times over!
Honour. What a privilege it was to serve her. Please, don’t pity us. We were blessed to go through what we did. Not everyone gets that kind of opportunity. Besides how to be strong, I developed the traits Heavenly Father blesses every woman with; patience, tolerance, long-suffering, love and compassion in bucketloads. Why me and not my brothers? Better question, why you? As Pacific women we are taught to care for our people in our families and community. We are more tender and gentle compared to our Pacific brothers. So we need not wait for such an extreme event to show compassion. Small actions do add up. Show them you love them now! Today! Not tomorrow! It’s our duty and responsibility. It’s how I was taught to make a home, a home. Thankfully, I was able to learn in such a unique way my responsibility is to care for the “people” in my life. That is my responsibility as a daughter, future wife, future mother, as a woman.
By the way, I was right about one thing, I do need to serve a proselyting mission. It just wasn’t then 😉
PACIFIC LDS WOMEN wishes Melissa Teo all the best as she serves the Lord, reporting to Missionary Training Center on Friday 27th August, 2015.
Featured Image Above: Thee beautiful Melissa Teo