About a year ago I posted a blog, "Once Upon a Time.." Here's The Rest of the Story....Page 2
A few months after I posted about the 'Akau'ola family, Garth contacted a man he knew who worked for Church Magazines. He asked him if he was coming to Tonga soon...that we had a wonderful family we wanted him to meet, and they had a story that we felt everyone should hear. Unfortunately, there was no budget for him to come to Tonga. So, Garth forwarded him the story from the blog, which was then forwarded on to those who get to make decisions about what gets published in church magazines...and they wanted more!!! They wanted to focus more on the 'Akau'ola's journey to the temple.
So, I went to Liu and Siope and asked them re-read my blog post, add a few things, and make sure I had everything correct. Then we submitted that to Church Magazines. They liked it. Jump seven months into the future, and.......
|Picture thanks to my Aunt Melanee Berger|
But, I'm rushing ahead.
Months before the article was published, we got a phone call from the artist who was going to do the art work for the article, James Johnson. He had been sent a computer-generated image of a man looking through the louvered windows of a church in Tonga. James wasn't sure how to paint the louvered windows, since he had never seen any in real life. So, he contacted us.....which is a little unorthodox....and asked if we could take some pictures of a man looking through a church window, and email them to him.
Well...our old brains started turning, and.......we came up with a BRILLIANT idea.
We looked at some of the churches, including the Havelu chapel which is where Siope's story of looking into the church window actually took place. But, the lighting just wasn't right. So, we decided since we love 'Utulau and consider it our Tongan home, we would check out the lighting there. And....it was PERFECT.
We then asked Siope, Lui, and their family....and our "family" from 'Utulau..... if we could borrow them. We had Siope pose as himself! And his family posed as part of the congregation. All the other people in the congregation are members of the 'Utulau ward.
In fact, if you look closely, the tall, dark-haired woman in the middle of the picture, is Liu. Her children, biological and adopted, are surrounding her. Siope is looking in at his own family.
Think about that!! Lots of symbolism there!
Well, that's not the end to this amazing story.
We were in close contact with James, the artist, and after he had finished the painting and submitted it for publication, he asked if we would like the original. Giving away his paintings is not something he normally does. But, for the cost of shipping, he was willing to give us his original art work. Generous man!!
We asked if we could pay him to have a copy made, which he did, and then he sent the copy to us here in Tonga, which we then gave to the 'Akau'ola family the day after Christmas. One of their adopted daughters, who is working on submitting her papers so she can go on a mission (one of FOUR who are currently either waiting for a call, or are in the process of completing their papers, and they have a fifth adopted son who left last week to serve a mission in the London South mission) read the story from the Liahona aloud. None of the family had been able to read the story yet. It wasn't until just before Christmas that we were able to download the story here.
Of course, we all got very emotional, and a lot of crying ensued. But, such a spirit permeated the walls of that home as we listened to their story and felt their unwavering faith, even amidst many trials. I came away, not for the first time after spending time with this wonderful family, determined to be a better person, a better disciple of Christ, to be more faithful and trust in my Heavenly Father....even when life is hard...ESPECIALLY when is hard.
Here are the pictures of that experience.
|Reading the story in the Liahona from Garth's iPad.|