Iorana, my Brothers and Sisters!
I am grateful to be here this morning to share with you all some of my thoughts and testimony. I am not one that is comfortable speaking in public, so I hope and pray that the Spirit will be with me as I share with you this morning my testimony on faith.
The Savior promised, "If ye will have faith in me ye shall have the power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me."Faith in Jesus Christ can motivate us to follow His perfect example. Your faith can lead you to do good works, obey the commandments, and repent of your sins. Your faith can help you overcome the temptation and trials you will face in life.
In the Book of Mormon, Alma counseled his son Helaman, "Teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."When times of trial come, faith can give you the strength to go forward and face your troubles with courage, even when things seem uncertain.
Brother Chad H. Webb, an administrator of Seminaries and Institutes, stated, and I quote, "What it will require of us is to exercise greater faith because faith precedes every miracle." He goes on to say all our hard work will not produce the desired results if it is performed without faith. That is because faith is both a principle of action and a principle of power. An increase of our collective faith would be a sign to the Lord that we rely on Him and trust in his power to inspire, convert, strengthen, prepare, and protect the rising generation.
When I was three years old, we lived in Tahiti. My parents being a young couple with three children, myself, my sister Janette who was one, and my brother Douglas who was just a little over a month old, had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand with the first group of Tahitians to be sealed in the Auckland New Zealand temple. My parents tried to save all they could to make this special journey.
As time got closer to leaving, my parents did not have enough money to make this trip. Since they did not have enough money saved, they went to President Stone and told him that their family could be taken off the list because they do not have the funds and will not be going. With just a few weeks to go before the trip, President Stone told my dad to try all that he can to raise the money and to have faith and the Lord will provide the way.
After much fasting and praying, opportunities started to come. My dad was able to do some extra driving for the military that allowed him to work overtime, and my mom, who was a seamstress and sewed clothes for a Chinese couple in Tahiti, was also able to take on some extra sewing.
Because of their faith in the Lord and their trust in him, my parents, along with my grandparents and 56 other Tahitians, were able to travel to New Zealand, and we were sealed as a family on December 25, 1963. This was truly a miracle and a blessing. The best gift anyone could ever ask for on such a special day.
The Apostle Paul taught that "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."Alma made a similar statement, "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."
In order for our faith to lead us back to our Father in Heaven, our faith must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. You can exercise faith in Christ when you have an assurance that he exists, a correct idea of his character, and a knowledge that you are striving to live according to his will.
Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on him, trusting him, believing his teachings, and knowing that he does love you, even though you donat understand everything. He is always ready to help you as you remember his plea: "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not; fear not."(D&C 6:36)
In June 1969, my parents were asked by the church to come to serve a mission for two years at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). My father was to work as the Chief of the Tahitian Village. My parents accepted the mission call and our family moved hereto Laie, Hawaii. We first lived on Iosepa street in Laie. We moved a few times until PCC got us a permanent house on Lanihuli street right next to the Laie chapel. This took a lot of trust, faith, and courage on the part of my parents to come to a foreign land with only $300 dollars in their pocket and had to learn a new language. But my father said they would try, and they would put all their trust and faith in the Lord to help them. Soon a two-year mission became a four-year mission. And after serving for four years, my parents were told that their mission was finished and that our family would have to return home to Tahiti.
When my parents shared the information with my siblings and me, we were all sad and begged our parents to find a way for the family to stay in Hawaii. Without letting us know, my Dad prayed and Fasted for three days to our Heavenly Father to help him find a way for his family to stay in Hawaii. One day soon after his three days of fasting, my father was talking to one of his best friends, Brother Damuni, who was the chief of the Fijian village at PCC. He told brother Damuni what he was trying to do for his family. Brother Damuni told my Dad not to worry; the Lord will help you and your family to stay in Hawaii. Soon after, Brother Damuni would introduce my parents to Jack Thompson, the owner of Tihati production. We would have to go back to Tahiti as was contracted with PCC, and Jack Thompson would hire my dad to work for him as the Tahitian dance instructor. And Jack Thompson was able to sponsor our whole family to come back to Hawaii to live and stay. I am so grateful to PCC and Tihati productions for not only bringing us to Hawaii but also giving my parents and my jobs so we could sustain ourselves and continue to live in Hawaii.
Because of my father's strong faith in the power of prayer and fasting, the Lord gave my dad a path to someone, Brother Damuni, to answer his prayer. Our family has been blessed through my parent's faith and their love for our Heavenly Father.
Brothers and Sisters, if we are steadfast and do not waiver in our faith. The Lord will increase our capacity to overcome all of our challenges in life.
In Alma, it says, "God will support, and keep and preserve us as long as we are faithful unto him, unto our faith, and unto our religion."(Alma 44:4)
In December of 1987, I had gotten my reassignment to be stationed in Hawaii after being stationed in North Carolina for four years. My wife and I were very happy to be going home because we were expecting our first child. We made the drive from North Carolina to California, just taking our time and enjoying our travel time.
While I was in California shipping my car home to Hawaii, I was told by my aunt, whom I was staying with, to call my mom as soon as possible. I called home, and my mom had said that my younger brother Douglas, my cousin, and a neighbor friend were missing out at sea. She said that I needed to get home right away, like on the next flight. My brother, cousin, and a friend were out fishing and had left from Kahana Bay the night before when their boat had capsized. The boat they were in sank, and they lost all the fish they had caught. My brother Douglas being the biggest of the three, kept them all from drowning by hanging on to the floating cooler that he had emptied out. All he could see in the dark of night was the lights at Laie Point, and so that is what he started to swim towards.
My father had prayed and had faith that the Lord would help my brother, cousin, and friend. He prayed that they would all be safe. After his prayer, he was given comfort by the Spirit to know that my brother was alive and okay. Early the next morning, my brother, cousin, and a neighbor friend were found by search and rescue not too far from laie point. That day my father showed us that the prayer of faith is the key to revelation from God. As a father, he prayed in faith, believing that God the Father would answer his prayer.
This story reminds me of a talk given by President Thomas S.Monson in the February 2001 ensign where he is talking to the youth, and he talks about the Lighthouse of the Lord.
He tells the youth to look to the lighthouse of the Lord. There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost, but what its beacon light can rescue. It calls this way to safety, this way home.
Faith is the basis of testimony. Faith underlies loyalty to the church. Faith represents sacrifice and moving forward the work of the Lord.
Faith is a gift from God, but you must nurture your faith to keep it strong. "Faith is like the muscle of your arm. If you exercise it, it grows strong. If you put it in a sling and leave it there, it becomes weak. We can nurture our faith by praying to our Father in Heaven, reading the scriptures, listening to the counsel of our prophet. Like all blessings from God, Faith is obtained and increased through individual obedience and righteous actions.
Before I close, I would like to share one more personal example of faith.
During my military career, I have learned to rely and depend on my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ so very much.
Upon my arrival at my last duty station in Germany, our faith would really be tested. We arrived in the country shortly after Thanksgiving, and we were waiting for housing to become available. Because of the age of my children, we were told that they could not share a room and will need to have their own rooms, Which meant the waiting period for a home would be a little longer. While waiting in guest housing, my children would walk to school. We were hoping to get housing on the base, which would make things easier for everyone. But shortly after, we would be notified that a home was being made ready for my family out on the economy in a small German town called oxenfurt. While waiting for household goods to be delivered, I would again be notified that my unit would be deploying to turkey in a matter of weeks. As we were getting things ready to deploy, I also needed to make sure my family needs were taken care of. And that is when we realized that my wife's german driver's license had expired the month prior.
You see, before living in Germany, if you had an expired license, you could just take the test to renew it with no problem. But this time around, it was different.
It was required that you have a valid U.S license also. So a little bit of panic started to set in, and so it was my fault, like everything that goes wrong my wife tells me is my fault. And my wife started to tell me, did you not listen during the briefings? How could you miss this information? Anyway, I already knew what needed to be done.
My wife would have to fly back to the United States and get a U.S. driver's license and come back to Germany and take the German test all before I deployed in a matter of weeks. So with great faith, that is exactly what we did. She would fly to Texas and take the written test, and the next day takes the driving test, and the next day fly home to Germany and take the written test in German. When I picked up my wife at the airport, I figured she would be hungry after a nine-hour flight, but she said, no, I am not hungry, just take me straight to the DMV while the information was still fresh in my mind. A soldier friend of mine who was also taking the test told me she had passed the written test and was ready to take the signs test in German. She would have to get at least 50 signs correct in order to pass. After much praying and fasting during this whole ordeal, a sign of relief, she was issued a German license, and I knew then that my family would be okay while I deployed to turkey. We know for a surety that all that would not be possible without the help of our savior Jesus Christ.
In the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon, it says, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."My Brothers and Sisters, sometimes it is by the small and simple things or simple acts that really test our faith and help us to endure in this life. During deployments, the words to the song when faith endureth would come to mind. "I will not doubt, I will not fear; God'slove and strength are always near. His promised gift helps me to find inner strength and peace of mind. I give the Father willingly trust, my prayers, humility. His Spirit guides; his love assures That fear departs when faith endures."
I know we will all have times in our life when our faith will be tried and tested or when we will have to go to trials in life that will require faith in our savior Jesus Christ.
While on deployment, whether I was jumping out of airplanes or leading a convoy mission, I needed to trust in my father in Heaven. I had to have faith that he knows me and that he knows what my needs are, and that he will always be there to guide me on my daily missions. I knew if I came to him in sincere and earnest prayer, he would help me.
By saying my prayers daily, it helped to increase my faith and my love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. It gave me reassurance that I will be okay and that my family and team will also be okay. When I was deployed to Turkey and Iraq, every time we had to go out on a convoy mission, before leaving the base, I would stop at the gate since I was always the lead vehicle on the mission. I would stop and say a prayer before leaving the base, and everyone in convoy would have to wait until I was done saying my prayers. My faith is what kept us safe and guided our way throughout the mission. This small example showed my guys how much I needed and depended on my Savior to lead and guide me. This simple act was then followed by my team, and they were soon saying their own prayers and exercising their own faith in the Lord.
My brothers and sister, my hope is that we all stay true to the faith that our parents have cherished, may we stay true to the teachings of the words of our prophets, may we ever stay faithful and true to who we are as sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven. If we can do these things, then faithful and true we can all stand, and we will not be afraid when the winds and storms of life beat upon us. We will doubt and fear not because we will have the faith to make and keep us strong during our times of trial.
My Brothers and Sisters, my life has been a project of faith. This project of faith involves all those that are dear to me; my immediate family includes my eternal companion, my children that I love so much, and all my grandchildren, as well as my parents and brothers and sisters, relatives and friends who have had a hand in my life.
A quote from Elder Jefferey R. Holland, "First & forever fan the flame of your faith because all things are possible to them that believe."
In closing, I would just like to say that faith is a principle of action and power, that whenever you work hard towards a worthy goal and exercise faith, you show your hope for something that you cannot yet see but know is true.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.