From A Young Age, I Quickly Learnt To Put God First
Hello everyone! My name is Ana Sualu Saulala. Just a few fun facts about me. I am Tongan with a bit of Swedish and German. My parents come from an island called Vava’u. I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand and grew up in Avondale. I went to Rosebank Primary, Avondale Intermediate, and Avondale College. I have two brothers and one sister. I am the eldest, but I am also the shortest and occasionally get mistaken as the youngest. I love all sports, especially volleyball. I’m scared of spiders, especially the tiny ones. My favourite colour is blue and my favourite ice-cream flavour is jelly tip.
I was born and raised in the gospel. My dad has always been a member of the church, but my mum was a convert in her teens. So far, all members of my family have served full-time missions and the youngest is currently serving in Tonga. When I was young, my mum always reminded my siblings and I what mattered most to her. She didn’t care if we were rich or poor, what mattered to her was that we stayed in the church. My dad has always been very missionary minded and was often called to be the ward mission leader when I was growing up. I remember going on weekly visits as a family to homes of less active and part member families. What has always been important to my parents became very important to me. From a very young age, I quickly learned to put God first in all that I did.
The Beautiful Saulala Family
Learn To Love The Challenges Of Life
My story begins from the moment I decided to serve a mission. Truth be told, I never wanted to serve a mission. I thought I was going to finish school, get married and live happily ever after. But, when the prompting came to serve a mission, I couldn’t deny it. It was the best decision I ever made for my life. When I returned from the mission in 2014, I was reluctant to return back to finish my university studies, but the Lord prompted me several times to go back. So, I resumed my studies in 2015. It was the best decision I ever made for my life. After serving a mission, I felt I had a better sense of direction with what I wanted from a career. I knew I enjoyed problem-solving and working in teams. Before the first semester, I attended a courses and careers day to figure out what I should major in for my commerce degree. While waiting to chat to someone at a stall, I was approached by the dean of the business school who offered me some help. At the time I didn’t know who he was until a lady near me pointed it out. His advice that day gave me the direction I needed and has led me to where I am today. A major in operations and supply chain management taught me how businesses operate and how these processes can be improved. Reflecting on the decisions I have made thus far in my life, has helped me come to understand that the Lord will always lead you to where He needs you to be.
I’ll be honest, it has not always been sunshine and roses for me. There have been hard days. Sometimes those days last longer than a week, a month or even several months. I have come to understand that when it gets hard, focus on who you are becoming through the process. One of my role models is Gary Wilkinson. He was a former NZ Breaker basketball player and is also a convert to the church. I remember him speaking at a fireside once after he had retired from his basketball career. He said that basketball wasn’t all that he had to do in life. He really wanted to be a judge and is currently studying towards achieving this goal. His example really inspired me to keep improving and sincerely seeking to reach my full potential. One thing he said at that fireside, which has always stayed with me, is to “learn to love the challenges of life.” This always reminds me to keep things in its proper perspective and understand that our challenges can quickly be overcome when we have a positive attitude. My first District Leader would often share this quote from Elder David A. Bednar when days got tough on the mission, “a day without problems, is a day wasted.” This reminded me that not every day will be perfect. However, I did come to learn that a perfect day for me, was when I knew and could feel the Lord guiding my companion and I throughout the day to be where He needed us to be.
My journey thus far in life has always been motivated by a desire to please God and do all that He requires of me. As we sincerely seek to serve the Lord, He will help us reach our full potential. I remember when I failed my first year accounting paper, I was devastated!!! I had to retake the paper in order to move onto stage two. When I did pass the paper, I learned a very important lesson that year. I failed because I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t believe that I could do it. Sometimes we can rob ourselves of the success that we could have simply because we think we cannot do it, therefore, we don’t even try. How did I come to believe in myself? I knew that I was a child of God and that He loved me, but something else motivated me too. I’m not married yet, but I hope to be one day. My biggest motivation for everything I am doing now with my life is my future family. I want to be the kind of mother that can provide for the needs of my future children and enable them to seize every opportunity they want to take their journey through life. I don’t want them to miss out. I also want to be the kind of wife that is loving and supportive of my future husband. Heavenly Father loves us and He wants us to be happy. He has a plan for each of our lives and that plan is eternal. We are all children of God. Our success is His priority. Our decisions determine our destiny. Jesus Christ is truly the Saviour of the world. He will lead us safely home to our Heavenly Father. As we follow Him daily, we will not only bring salvation to our own lives and to lives of our families, but also to the lives of those around us.
Feel Good Period Enterprise
Since returning to university studies I took the opportunity to participate in Velocity. This is the University of Auckland entrepreneurship program. Velocity aims to educate students and staff in the entrepreneurial mind-set. Since participating in 2015, I wanted to be a part of the Velocity team in order to encourage more Maori and Pacific Island students to participate in the program. I joined the team as the Education Lead.
As well as studying full-time, I am also a part of a social enterprise called Feel Good Period. We found that some girls were missing out on school because they didn’t have access to sanitary products. Feel Good Period is a social enterprise that seeks to solve this problem and also address the stigma around talking about menstruation. We regard the topic with great sensitivity and respect, but we also didn’t want women and especially young girls to feel insecure about the changes their body goes through. Feel Good Period provides education, security, and confidence for girls.
The idea stemmed out of a university assignment that my friend did. The initial idea, however, focussed on getting better access to sanitary products for homeless women. We found that most people couldn’t really see the social impact that the access would have for homeless women and by impact I mean the long term effect. It would be nice to help them get better access but it would not bring them out of poverty. Although we cannot solve this problem right now for homeless women, we do intend to revisit this issue. So, this is where we pivoted and found girls we could help in school. Feel Good Period sells first-time period care packs for girls just about to start on their periods. Each pack that is purchased, another pack of sanitary products will be donated to a girl who needs it so they can go to school.
The Feel Good Period name was inspired by the desire to help every woman feel good, period! Essentially we want everyone to feel good, whether it be through contribution or receiving the contribution. We want people to feel good. We plan to run our first pilot in 2017 with schools to carefully monitor our progress. We’ve received support through Velocity and other organizations that are getting on board with Feel Good Period. It’s all very exciting and inspiring.
The incredible Ana Saulala and her Feel Good Period Team!
I think that whatever you choose to do in life, be passionate about it. Understand and remember that Heavenly Father has a plan for you. Be anxiously engaged in a good cause (D&C 58:26-27). We all have the ability to make things happen. My dad recently asked me what blessings I received from serving the Lord. He taught me that the blessing that comes from serving the Lord is being able to serve Him more. When we seek to serve Him, we will be blessed with His spirit and He will inspire us. We will be constantly pondering how we can serve more.
What 3 tips would you give to our young female Polynesian career oriented who are struggling to balance work, career, school, church callings and family commitments?
Hmmm this is a hard question. Had to really reflect on my past experiences that have helped me get to where I am now. I’ve numbered the 3 tips and just added a little background on how I decided on those 3.
- Put the Lord first in all that you do. Ask Him what He needs you to do.
I remember in a temple interview, I asked the interviewer how he found the balance with his church calling. I was surprised that his answer wasn’t putting his calling first. He explained that at that time he needed to prioritize work so he could support his growing family. That didn’t mean he forgot the Lord. He was able to fulfill his calling as well as support his family. Never forget the Lord.
- Focus on what matters most. When it gets hard, focus on what you’re becoming.
For example, if you’re finding it hard to do your visiting teaching because you’re shy or don’t know how to approach it just focus on who you will become through the process i.e. how can I help this person simply by reaching out to them to let them know I am there or how can I be strengthened in my own trials as I help someone else overcome theirs or how can I become a better person? It’s often a case of forgetting yourself and getting to work. Which is sometimes easier said than done, but the Lord blesses us so much when we do. We are spiritual beings on a mortal journey. Another example could be when we are required to forgive and apologize. As we sincerely seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ by choosing to live as He did, we will find the peace that we are looking for.
- Keep the Word of Wisdom as closely as you can. This includes sleeping early and waking up early. If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.
I made it a goal to run 30 days consecutively. I have run 11 days now but did take 2 days rest because I got sick. Set your goal and stick with it. You’ll surprise yourself.
In addition to Ana’s business enterprise, educational pursuits, and personal commitments, she currently serves as 2nd Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency for Auckland YSA 2nd Ward, New Zealand, Bless her beautiful heart!