About the Blogger
Hello beautiful sisters! My name is Kaveinga Lisati and I am a Mormon. My siblings and I are 1st generation members in our family and like many of you, I live a very simple hectic life. Although I was born and raised in New Zealand, my deep roots originate from a beautiful small atoll Island called Tuvalu. Population roughly 14,000 worldwide with over 250 Tuvaluans belonging to the LDS church. If you were to place the number 250 along the spectrum of let’s say 7 billion people, you will conclude that I fit well below 1% of the world’s population. As a YSA and a minority in a perpetual changing value society, discovering ways to use this uniquely combined identity to my advantage, has been challenging and to some extent, strenuous. The choice is mine however that I strive to not disregard it, to not hide it and to not camouflage myself with the world; a dangerous yet subtle trap we often find ourselves in. Upon returning from serving in the Australia Melbourne Mission I have taken solemn caution with my privacy (those who know me very well can attest) AND despite my previous personal animosity towards social media and Facebook, I admit, sharing this story is way out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I anticipate with hope that this will reach out to the ‘one sister’. I know God is real, this story simply acknowledges that and nothing else. Before I proceed to sharing the actual story, I want to brief you of certain factors leading up to the creation of PACIFIC LDS WOMEN.
Time of Reflection
When I was a chubby (I still am, lol) shy naive young girl, I occasionally imagined working with Polynesian people. I just didn’t know how, when, what and with who. Overtime this childhood perception slowly faded. As I matured and being the eldest of eight (absolutely love my siblings) I became more vocal and opinionated, more skeptical, more stubborn, more driven and more aware of my identity to the point where if I set my mind to something, no one can change it except when Heavenly Father prompts me otherwise.
Choosing to serve a mission was NEVER part of the plan but after receiving a prompting, this led to a course that literally changed my heart (not all of us will go on a mission and not all of us need the mission to change us) but given my circumstances, I testify the mission changed my heart because this is where my testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement deepened. For the duration of my time as a sister missionary I came across some of the most influential women, one included my companion, Salome Vuta (who I absolutely admire, bless her heart). During the early stages of our companionship she introduced to me the phrase ‘time of reflection’, where every night we would deeply reflect on the good and bad that day. I’ve loved this phrase and applied the practice since. The concept to deeply reflect everyday has created countless opportunities to recognize what is most important and what is not and what to change about myself. Following each reflection, I never fail to conclude two introspective truths 1. I am nothing without my Saviour and 2. Nothing happens until I act.
On the evening of May 21st 2015, I was sitting in my room having a time of a reflection, in particular, reflecting on those who have inspired me to want to be better – seriously I have much to improve on. The first person that came to mind was a brother of mine, Metia Lisati (bless his awesome heart). My brother doesn’t like to parade about this part of his life and avoids the spotlight as much as he can (except when he is on the dance floor, lol). So I share with you a portion of his story not to put him on a pedestal, but to simply share how his decisions have inspired me to trust God more in my life. My brother made a choice to decline two major league contracts end of 2014 because of an impression he received. When he sets his mind on a particular goal he gives it his all and he won’t back down. But during this period, I loved watching my brother wrestle with the Lord as he earnestly sought God’s will for him. Following a few sequences of events, my brother concluded ‘Sis I know it’s a sign, the Lord doesn’t want me to play league right now, so I’m going to find a good job, save up and prepare to serve a mission’. Those who are not of the Mormon faith may find, declining any major contract is a massive mistake; but as I previously mentioned, when his mind is set, no one can change it. My brother could have ignored the prompting and right now he could have been living the league dream, who knows? But he didn’t and he’s not. Sub sequentially this lead my brother to move to Australia, secure a good paying job to save up and randomly opened an unforeseen opportunity to play for NT Titans in the National Affiliated States Championships June this year. As the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. As his eldest sister, I was simply inspired by my brother’s choices to act and not to be acted upon.
This led me to a new route of thinking because I began to reflect on all the incredible women who have played some part in my becoming. An immeasurable sense of love was felt but soon after undeserving. I thought ‘God has been too good to me all these years, he’s always putting different people in my life, letting me know He loves me, yet why do I still neglect him at times?’.
Literally out of the blues the impression came to mind ‘why don’t you start a blog for the Polynesian sisters of the LDS church worldwide?’ It was so random. It felt as if my Heavenly Father was speaking through the Holy Ghost ‘here’s an idea Kaveinga, run with it’. There could have been many direction to what this impression could mean so I want to make it clear I take NO CREDIT, nor do I wish to take any credit with PACIFIC LDS WOMEN because I would have never come up with an idea such as this.
I don’t mind challenges, but having no solid experience in blogging and not much of a writer myself, immediately the natural man within me (which Satan always does best to make ALL men miserable like unto himself) I began to speculate the negative responses I may receive and simultaneously, assess any selfish effects this could have on my part. The following train of thoughts plagued my mind ‘’If I were to start a blog for Pacific Island women, this would mean networking, and not just with friends and acquaintances but with complete strangers across the world, which will require me to come out of my comfort zone and break my private lifestyle (massive leaps of faith needed) which means, I’ll be dealing with sisters who have strong opinions, amazingly talented, posses wealth of experiences and wisdom than I do, who will disagree with me at times, which means at the end of the day I can’t please everyone”. I resolved to the final thought that rested my case, to this day, I am convinced, the thought was a gentle chastisement from the Holy Ghost – who am I here to please, the women of the church or the Lord?
Choose to Act
Once my fears were laid to rest and chastised with love (gotta love these moments) my childhood perception of working with Polynesian people distinctively became clear. I could see Polynesian sisters of the LDS faith come together from all over the world; to not compare and compete, but to uplift and inspire. Most importantly I could see the blog reach out to the ‘one’. I thought to myself, the blog isn’t to put each other on pedestals, but to acknowledge God’s hand in our lives and thus strengthen personal commitment to Christ. IF PACIFIC LDS WOMEN could reach out to 1 sister everyday and she is left inspired to become more like the Saviour, then PACIFIC LDS WOMEN has served its main purpose; what better way to learn and be strengthened by our own Polynesian sisters? Every-time I come across a Poly sister who has been educated, successful in her profession, going through a hard time, has an issue with the Church, gave up personal dreams to raise a family or have so much love for her Saviour, I say to myself ‘she’s INSPIRED ME and she doesn’t even know’ and even when I say it verbally, she will never know, the extent of good influence she’s had on me. Ensuing deep reflection I came to a deeper realization that the choice was quite simple, either:
- Choose to ignore it and continue to be complacent in my private life
- Act upon it LATER or
- Do something about it then and there
A profound lesson I learnt on the mission was simply this – NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL I ACT. The next morning I was writing ideas and FAQs. Initially, I created the PACIFIC LDS WOMEN Facebook group to advertise the blog and slowly accepted the predicament that this was not just a mere advertising tool. I didn’t realize what I was getting into at the time. I emailed my sister Cilati Seumanutafa who lives in Australia and loved the idea. She is definitely one woman who I love so much. I absolutely admire her, she supports my siblings and I more than she knows. She is the other administrator, editor and creative brains improving the authentic personality of the blog (her story will be featured later on) without Cilati, the features on the blog you will see over time will not be possible. I also flicked a Facebook memo to a few sisters if they were willing to help me start this blog by sharing their story. To my surprise I received an overwhelming love of support and responses, a few that I did not expect. I initially envisioned about 100 members for the Facebook group with about 10 of them actively participating.
Invitation from Church leader to attend Auckland YSA ward sparks THEE idea for PACIFIC LDS WOMEN blog
While I was scribbling down ideas for the blog, I was trying to figure out, how can I ensure the blog remains authentic, realistic, reliable and wholesome, a safe environment and a spiritual learning experience for the readers? God is too good, because out of the blues, I was impressed to reflect on a recent experience.
Elder Pearson announced the creation of 2 Auckland YSA wards in April 2015. When this announcement was made, I knew the call to act upon an invitation from a church leader is an invitation to exercise faith in Christ. Despite the many negative and positive responses (both being common reactions to any invitation from church leaders, lets admit) I was reminded of my Mission President (bless his humble heart) who often extended invitations to missionaries. Over time I soon recognized that missionaries could choose to moan, complain and do absolutely nothing about it and not act; on the other hand, it was the missionaries who acted upon the invitation where change was brought about, miracles took place, faith increased and personal conversion in Christ deepened.
As a result to accepting Elder Pearson’s invitation, not only am I a member of the YSA Auckland 1st, Manukau Stake; but 2nd week in Relief Society class, a group of YSA sisters, you could say strangers, were brought together from 7 stakes in one room. The objective of the lesson was to ‘Develop a desire to read the Book of Mormon’. The teacher was awesome, the discussions that took place were intellectual and spiritually uplifting. But what caught my attention was a question asked by a dear YSA sister who said something along the lines of ‘sometimes I don’t have the motivation to read the Book Mormon, how can I have the motivation?’. The teacher’s response really hit home for me, she said ‘okay there’s a sister calling out for our help, what has motivated YOU to read the Book of Mormon?’. Reminded me of ‘when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren’ Luke 22:32. In a split second, sisters were sharing their thoughts, drawing from personal experiences and insights of the Gospel (as we naturally do). Could you just imagine, a room full of YSA sisters, spiritually in tune? It was incredibly empowering. Sub sequentially the following ideas for the blog derived.
1. How inspiring would it be to feature personal stories on the blog of Pasifika LDS women from different parts of the world?
2. How inspiring would it be to take this type of class room interaction and apply it to social media?
I was reminded of a quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf who stated “we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does”. Although this part of our nature is inevitable, in my opinion (and you don’t have to agree with me) I truly believe everything begins with the individual, we choose to compare ourselves with others, we choose how we react and we choose to strengthen our commitment to Christ. Sometimes all we need is a little boost of upliftment and love from each other to realign and help us refocus on what matters most.
Had my brother not acted upon the prompting to decline major league contracts; had I not been influenced by incredible women (and men); had not Elder Pearson announced the creation of the new YSA wards in Auckland and as a result, attended that one particular Relief Society class; had not the sisters taken the time to invite their friends to the Facebook group (bless all your hearts who did); everything leading up to and during the creation of PACIFIC LDS WOMEN would not exist. You would not be reading my story, I wouldn’t be uplifted by the comments and testimonies shared on the Facebook group and selfishly, I would still be living my private life.
As Polynesian women we hold beautiful strong personalities and opinions, we have a unique heritage, one we ought to be proud of. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we possess unique knowledge, sacred knowledge of restored truths which many people just don’t know and as members, we often take for granted.
It has been ten days since the idea PACIFIC LDS WOMEN came about. These last few days have been incredible, witnessing sisters connect with each other and reaching out to the ‘one’, receiving emails stating ‘its good to come here and feel safe’ another ‘its been a while since I’ve been back at church…’. We just never know what our story and insights of the gospel can do to strengthen a person’s commitments to the Saviour and reaching out to the ‘one’. I truly believe when our vision is re-aligned with Heavenly Father’s, through the Atonement of Christ, we will always have the added strength and direction to deal and overcome life’s challenges. Rather than comparing ourselves we can find strength from each other. I love Elder Quentin L Cook’s prophetic counsel to the members of New Zealand during his recent visit – ‘we need to build Zion in our hearts and in our home’. Everything starts with you.
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