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Devotionals

E Paulele i ka Haku me Kou Na'au a Pau

Trust in the Lord With All Thine Heart


The Hawaiian word paulele means: To trust in; to lean or rely upon; to believe or credit what one has said; to put confidence in; to desire with the whole heart; to feel fully. [1]

The word naʻau also has several meanings: bowels, guts; mind, heart, affections, heart or mind, and feelings. [2] I find it interesting that the Hawaiian word is inclusive of both “heart and mind,” sometimes referred to as a gut feeling or intuition, an ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, we read:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6) [3]

In the April 2017 General Conference, Bonnie H. Cordon explained:

“This scripture comes with two admonitions, ʻTrust in the Lord with all thine heart’ and ʻin all thy ways acknowledge him.’ It comes with a warning: ʻLean not unto thine own understanding.’ And it also includes a glorious promise: ʻHe shall direct they paths.’”

She further expounded:

“When we spiritually lean to our understanding, we lean away from our Savior. If we lean, we are not centered; we are not balanced; we are not focused on Christ.” [4]

When we fully trust in the Lord, we wholeheartedly lean on him with complete confidence and belief in his words. I will share some examples:

My grandfather George Hoʻokano Kahōʻolewai Kaluhiokalani was born in Homomū, Hawaiʻi in 1884. In 1900, when he turned 16, he jumped on a ship with a few other friends and left Hawaiʻi to embark on a new adventure. Ten years later, the ship ported in Philadelphia, and that is where he and his Hawaiian friends got off, found wives, and started their families. My grandparents on the Kaluhiokalani side settled in New Jersey and had 16 children together (nine boys and seven girls). So that is where I was raised on a 150-acre peach farm. Our nearest neighbor lived half a mile away. I had a wonderful childhood with a strict Christian upbringing, where we learned the meaning of hard work, strong family values, the importance of a good education, and trust in God.

I was 17 when the missionaries knocked on our door. We were ready to receive them because several seeds had been planted over a five-year period, including our familyʻs visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which was our very first introduction to the Church. It is where our hearts were touched by the light that radiated from the faces of students attending this great university.

My Aunt Peggy and Uncle Al also played an important role in our conversion story. Although they lived 150 miles away in Maryland, they invited us to several special church events: their baptism, a ward lūʻau, and an open house visit to the Washington D.C. Temple before it was dedicated. What is amazing is that we would go every time they invited us, even though we lived three hours away in New Jersey, meaning we spent six hours in the car to attend an hour meeting or activity each time. I admire the tenacity of my Aunt and Uncle. It is a great lesson to all of us never to underestimate the power of the Spirit.

When prompted to invite someone to a church meeting or activity, heed the prompting. I can remember to this day the very moment that the Spirit testified to the truthfulness of the gospel. Aunt Peggy and Uncle Al came to visit us when they heard the missionaries were teaching us. It was a nice visit, and as they were getting in the car to drive back to Maryland, my uncle stopped, turned around, and bore his testimony to me. He hadnʻt been a member for very long, but it was the sweetest, sincerest, and life-changing testimony I had ever heard. As the Spirit testified through him, I knew without a doubt that the Church was true.

Trust in the Lord with all Thine Heart

My family was baptized not too long after. A year later, we were sealed together before my twin brother George and I left home to attend school at BYU–Hawaii.

What a great privilege and wonderful experience we had in this special place!

The lessons we learned here in Lāʻie have continued to guide us throughout our lives. Students, I encourage you to use this time at BYU–Hawaii to not only gain skills and knowledge in preparation for your professional and personal lives but take advantage of this time to strengthen your testimonies and increase your spirituality, especially when we are blessed with a temple within walking distance.

Life at BYU–Hawaii was joyful. It is here that I met my first husband and was sealed in the Laie Hawaiʻi Temple. I felt that all of my dreams had come true. It was during this time that difficult trials came. Not too long after the birth of our two daughters, I found myself in the depths of despair and in the unfortunate circumstance of raising them on my own. It was heartbreaking and the most challenging time of my life, but I made a commitment to trust in the Lord with all my heart and raise them in the Church, no matter how challenging life could be. One of the first things I needed to do was to find a job to support us.

Fortunately, I had an education degree from BYU–Hawaii. Miraculously, several district resource teacher positions in the Department of Education opened up in the middle of March (which is basically unheard of), and somehow I was hired within a week even though I had no prior teaching experience outside of student teaching. I definitely felt the Lord’s arms around me, watching over us.

Brothers and Sisters, I testify that God loves you and knows you personally. Let me share an experience that helped me understand this truth. In the 1980s, my full-time starting salary was only $18,000 a year, so I was living from paycheck to paycheck with no savings in the bank. Does that sound familiar? When the appliances in the home started breaking down, first the refrigerator, then the stove, in order to provide food for my children, I had to use all the money I had to pay for new ones. A few weeks later, when tithing settlement time came around, I had to make an important decision.

Would I get caught up with the house payment, would I buy food and Christmas gifts, or would I use my paycheck to catch up on my tithing? Being a full tithe payer is important to me, not only to show obedience but, even more importantly, to show the love I have for our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. With faith, I chose to use my whole paycheck to pay my tithing and trusted in the Lord that all would be well. I told no one of our trials, but somehow, we had enough food on our table, and when we went to Church the Sunday before Christmas, as we left the chapel, there was a bag of presents left on our car. As we arrived home, there were more gifts left on our porch. I was grateful for earthly angels who listened with their hearts to the promptings of the Spirit to bless our little family. It is one of the most memorable Christmases we ever had.

The story doesnʻt end there. though. The day before Christmas, I got a call from my Aunt Peggy, who lived 5,000 miles away in Maryland. Yes, the same persistent loving aunty who was part of our conversion story. When I answered the phone on that December night, she asked me right away, “How are you doing?” Years had passed since I last saw and spoke with her. I was too embarrassed to share my financial struggles, so I mustered up all the courage I had and replied, “Oh, weʻre fine.” Then she explained that she had a dream, and in her dream, I was crying. As soon as she said that, uncontrollable tears began to flow, and I started to explain our problems.

She compassionately responded that she would put a check in the mail the very next day for $1,000 to help. For me, that was an incredible amount of money. After thanking her profusely and hanging up the phone, I couldnʻt sleep. The Spirit kept stirring in my heart as I contemplated the miracle that just happened. The Lord had answered my prayer through a loving, inspired aunty, definitely one of my earthly angels. I picked up the scriptures and felt prompted to read in Matthew. I started with chapter 1 and kept reading until I got to Matthew 6, the beautiful sermon on the mount. As I read, it was as though the Savior himself was speaking to me. I will never, ever forget how I felt. I will share just a few of those heartfelt words:

"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:31-33) [5]

Brothers and Sisters, if God loves and knows a simple farm girl like me, I know that He loves and knows you personally also! Whatever trials or difficulties you may be going through at this time, turn it over to the Lord and trust in him with all your heart. I promise you that if you are obedient to the commandments and fully lean on him, he will direct thy paths and bless you through the strengthening power of the atonement. Now, that doesnʻt mean we wonʻt go through hardships, but it does mean that He will be there every step of the way.

Elder Richard G. Scott counseled us in the October 1995 General Conference:

"When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is needed for your benefit or for that of those you love." [6]

Seek Ye First in the Kingdom of God

Over the past five years, it has been my privilege to research and write a doctoral dissertation in Hawaiian regarding the translation of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price into the Hawaiian language extending over an 88-year time period. My research included information about the translators, the translation process, how new words were created, and a comparative analysis of religious lexical terms. Many hours were spent searching for information and reading old documents: journals, personal histories, newspaper articles, books, and other publications.

On occasion, after exerting every ounce of energy and still not finding the answers to my questions, the Spirit would enter my mind and heart to lead me in the direction I needed to go. Several times, through divine intervention, little pieces of the puzzle were revealed to tell the incredible stories of commitment and sacrifice made by these great men and women because they sought the building of the kingdom of God and his righteousness. I have many examples I can share that would take hours, but fortunately for you, time is limited, so I will only share two:

I am in awe of the special relationship between a young missionary, one of the first to the Hawaiian Islands in 1850, and that of a faithful Hawaiian man, a descendent of high chiefs. Their statute is outside, on the administration side of this building.

It commemorates the special bond these two great Latter-day Saints cultivated as they translated the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language almost 170 years ago. I am referring to George Q. Cannon, lovingly called Pūkuniahi by the Hawaiian Saints and Jonathan Nāpela, both who dedicated their lives in building up the kingdom of God. Their testimonies were solid, even as they experienced trials and despair. For Nāpela, he lost his judgeship in the Wailuku circuit court when he converted to the Church. Later in life, his beautiful wife contracted leprosy and was exiled to Kalaupapa on the island of Molokaʻi. Out of his love for her, he followed her there to care for her, knowing it was an eventual death sentence since there was no cure.

After his family’s conversion to the Church in England when he was 13, Cannon sailed to America two years later. His mother died during the voyage. When he arrived in the United States, he lived with his Uncle John Taylor and his father’s sister, Leonora Taylor, in Nauvoo. His father passed away not long after. Cannon worked in the printing house under the direction of John Taylor. There he learned the skills that he would need 12 years later when he printed Ka Buke A Moramona. Like many others in the early days of church history, Nāpela and Cannon suffered severe trials, but due to their commitment to the gospel and their great love for the Savior, they overcame misfortune and accomplished great things in their life.

In All Thy Ways Acknowledge Him

Cannon included an Introduction Page in Hawaiian in Ka Buke A Moramona when it was printed in 1855. A particular sentence in the first paragraph speaks volumes to Cannon's understanding and faith in God. The translation of the Hawaiian text is as follows:

[The work] began in order to fulfill the word of God; and the one translating the work knew if he did the work that he could, then God would prepare a way to do the things still remaining. [7]

In Cannon’s book, My First Mission, he states:

“The Lord plainly manifested that it was his will that this work should be done, and for its accomplishment, he opened the way most marvelously.” [8]

Cannon fully understood the importance of this great book to the Hawaiian people. He wrote:

"Within this Book, several prophesies were written, one of them is about the coming forth of this Book to all nations and tongues, and one is concerning the coming on of this to the remnants of the House of Israel (which is the Native people) and that they will come to the knowledge of their ancestors and the true and powerful gospel of Christ." [9]

Nāpela and Cannon fulfilled their missions on earth through humility and faithful service. They put God’s will before their own and depended on personal revelation to direct their paths. Brothers and Sisters, God has a work for each one of us to do while on this earth. He has equipped each of us with the spiritual gifts and talents we need to accomplish that work.

It will be different for each one of us, so donʻt compare yourself with anyone else. That is Satan’s way to discourage us. I invite you to read and reread your patriarchal blessing and be prayerful to understand those gifts and talents. If you donʻt have your patriarchal blessing yet, please see your bishop as soon as possible. Mine has served as a heavenly roadmap to guide me along the covenant path.

In the October 2020 General Conference, President Nelson asked us to “Let God Prevail.” In his talk, he asked a series of questions:

Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His? [10]

I invite you to ponder these questions. Set aside quiet time each day without distractions so the Lord can reveal essential messages to you through the whisperings of the Spirit. When you receive personal revelation, write it down. As you faithfully heed His counsel, your love for the Savior will increase.

He Shall Direct Thy Paths

I started my doctoral program in 2013. In my first class, we had an assignment to research and present our findings on the traditional use of Hawaiian words in a specific context. I chose to focus on religious lexical terms since we were reading the story of Kamehameha the Great, printed in the old Hawaiian newspapers in the early part of the 1900ʻs. The author was Joseph M. Poepoe, well known in Hawaiʻi for his literary publications and editorial work on eight Hawaiian language newspapers over a span of 24 years.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the religious lexical terms of a traditional Hawaiian story with those used in the Doctrine and Covenants that were printed around the same time. Little did I know at the time that there were two different publications of the Doctrine and Covenants in Hawaiian, one by our Church, translated by Ernest L. Miner, and the other by the Reorganized Church, who hired Poepoe to translate their Doctrine and Covenants. I learned that Poepoe had died in 1913, one hundred years prior to my research.

I felt impressed to learn more about him. Who was he as a person? Who was his family? Promptings led to old newspapers that contained the genealogy of his ancestors. I found that his temple work had been completed, but work for his family unit and extended family still needed to be done. I did what I could by inputting all the information I had, going back several generations, but did not request to do the temple work since I was not a direct descendent. A few weeks later, a high priest from our ward called, stating that his good friend was visiting. He was a descendent of Poepoe, and that he had requested the temple ordinances; however, he permitted for me to take the names to the temple.

All that week, the Spirit prompted me with urgency to go to the Kona Temple on Saturday. I remember asking my husband if we should invite one of the young men in the ward to go with us. Tim answered, “No, the Lord will provide.” And he did. When we walked into the baptistry, there were two young men from Maui there with their father. When it was time for the male members of Poepoe’s family to be baptized by proxy, these two young men were invited to do the ordinances. Afterward, I went to speak to the father and found out that these two young men were Hawaiian immersion students and were fluent in Hawaiian. I asked him to please explain to his sons regarding the work they did for the Joseph Poepoe family.

When I arrived at church the next day, I was surprised to see the same father and two sons visiting our ward, especially since the temple is in Kona, and our ward is on the opposite side of the island. They were staying with longtime friends in Puna who were members of our ward. During Relief Society, the mother of the two boys introduced herself to me and explained that she is a descendent of Poepoe. Through the whisperings of the Spirit, I am convinced that the Lord had a hand in putting these worthy young men in exactly the right place and at the right time to bring about sacred eternal blessings for their family.

I am still amazed how all the moving parts of this story just seemed to fall into place in a remarkable way. Doubters may say it was coincidence, but I cannot deny the inspirations, promptings, and the thinning of the veil that was experienced on that special day.

President Nelson stated,

"Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere. The ordinances of the temple and the covenants you make there are key to strengthening your life, your marriage and family, and your ability to resist the attacks of the adversary. Your worship in the temple and your service for your ancestors will bless you with increased personal revelation and peace and will fortify your commitment to stay on the covenant path." [11]

My Testimony

In conclusion, I have only been able to share a couple of examples of those who helped in translating, proofreading, and editing the scriptures in Hawaiian. There are others who helped in this great work: Francis A. Hammond (called Hamana in Hawaiian), Kaleohano (fourth great grandfather of President Kauwe), Uaua, Kauwahi, Susa and Jacob Gates (called Nāpukapā), Ernest L. Miner, and Joseph F. Smith (beloved Iosepa of the Hawaiian people). Each one is a story of incredible faith, sacrifice, and service. They trusted in the Lord with all their hearts and let God prevail in their lives to build the kingdom of God here on earth.

I love them, and I love the God who sent them to us to bless the people of Hawaiʻi with the gospel truth which testifies of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom I love. May we lean on our Heavenly Father and his sacred son to lead our paths. If we do, we will forever be blessed.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


[1] Pukui and Elbert, Hawaiian Dictionary (1986), 321.

[2] Ibid., 257.

[3] See Proverbs 3:5-6.

[4] Bonnie H. Cordon, “Trust in the Lord and Lean Not,” Ensign, May 2017.

[5] See Matthew 6:31-33.

[6] Richard D. Scott, “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, November 1995.

[7] George Q. Cannon, translation of “He Olelo Hoakaka,” in Ka Buke A Moramona (1855), iii.

[8] George Q. Cannon, My First Mission, 64.

[9] George Q. Cannon, translation of “He Olelo Hoakaka,” in Ka Buke A Moramona (1855), iv.

[10] Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Ensign, November 2020.

[11] Russell M. Nelson, “As We Go Forward Together,” Ensign or Liahona, April 2018, 7.