Ke Alakai- May 2020

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The Leader

I s s u e 1 . Vo l u m e 1 2 6 . M a y 2 0 2 0

Pg. 30

Pg. 36

Pg. 54

Aunty Kela Miller shares her aloha as a kumu hula

Joshua Garcia seeks to bring others to Christ through service

Laie Church members try to find a new normal amidst coronavirus changes

MAY 2020 • VOLUME 126 • ISSUE 1

LeeAnn Lambert

Haeley van der Werf

Noah Shoaf

Kevin Brown

Esther Insigne






Bruno Maynez

Eli Hadley

Michael Kraft

Sadie Scadden

Hannah Manalang






Olivia Hixson

Serena Dugar Ioane

Marvin Latchumanan

Madi Berry

Leiani Brown






Brooke Guryn

Hailey Huhane

Cody Bruce Barney

Ho Yin Li

Chad Hsieh









Letter from the art director After attending school at BYU– Hawaii, I was amazed at the environment because growing up in all of the previous schools I’ve attended, I was usually the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No doubt, the spirit is so strong here, not only in terms of the Church, but also in Hawaii itself. For example, our Vice President John Bell and his wife give back to the land and community by picking up trash every time they go out for a jog (pg. 45). It’s important to remember to treat the place that has taken care of us for years with respect and love like the Bells have portrayed. Stories are everywhere, and because of that, we wanted to highlight stories from people generations ago. Members from several stakes in Laie have joined together to take photos and records from the Laie Cemetery to give people better access to these records (pg. 35). This story shows the efforts people do to make family history easier and more accessible. As we adjust to a world where we are isolated from friends and perhaps family, we hope you find peace and comfort from this month’s issue of the Ke Alaka‘i. Stay safe and healthy everyone.

Esther Insigne - Art Director


BOX 1920 BYUH LAIE, HI 96762 Pr int Ser vices Editorial, photo submissions & Distribution inquiries: k e a l a k a i @ by u h . e d u . To s u b s c r i b e t o t h e R S S F E E D or to view additional ar ticles,go to k e a l a k a i . by u h . e d u


Email: Phone: (808) 675-3694 Fax: (808) 675-3491 Office: BYU–Hawaii Aloha Center 134 ON THE COVER:

Junior Ah You pays tribute to his wife, Almira, and all who helped him in his athletic career during his induction into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame at the Polynesian Cultural Center in January 2017. Photo by Mike Foley.

ABOUT US The Ke Alaka‘i began publishing the same year the university, then called Church College of Hawaii, opened. It has continued printing for more than 60 years. The name means “the leader” in Hawaiian. It began as a monthly newsletter, evolved into a weekly newspaper, then a weekly magazine, and is now a monthly news magazine with a website and a social media presence. Today a staff of about 20 students works to provide information for BYU–Hawaii’s campus ohana and Laie’s community. © 2020 Ke Alaka‘i BYU–Hawaii All Rights Reserved MAY 2020



Pg. 28 The Bells’ love for Laie

Leading Laie From a highly decorated football career to hosting hundreds for Thanksgiving, Junior Ah You and his family share his deep love and commitment to Laie.

Overcoming doubt in an environment of faith As a twenty-something attending a Church school, it can be easy to feel doubt but feel unable to express it. Here, several members of the BYUH ohana explain how doubt is a healthy and necessary part of life.

40 years of building relations Following the astonishing announcement of a temple being built in Shanghai, China, BYUH faculty and students share the Church and the PCC’s long history with the Chinese people and government.



Contents Campus and Community 08 Genuine Gold: Bret Grow


Remembering Warren Trinidad

Strangers in a new land


Doubts in an environment of faith

Serving the community through


Highlighting local women

12 22

Mental health and coronavirus

24 14




Kupuna (Ancestors) Plogging in Laie


30 years of service: Susan Barton


Share your aloha


Stories of change: Joshua Garcia


Leading Laie


Teaching Samoan to local kids


‘Uhane (Spirit) A passion for genealogy


Creating a new normal


The holy land


Calling all His missionaries home


Distinguishing between religion and spirituality


40 years of building relations


Translating for prophets


May: The Kupuna and ‘Uhane issue As a staff, we will be continuing themes for the rest of the year. This month’s magazine features the amazing stories of some of Laie’s kupuna, and we learn about the spiritual experiences of some of the members of our ohana.

MAY 2020


Corn Tortillas She opened the bag, inhaling the faint smell of the masa with its tinge of lime. It was so much easier to start making tortillas than it had been for her grandmother, her Nan. The act of opening a bag bought from the store, sold en mass, removed so much of the past work. Her grandfather, her Tat, had carefully sown the earth with lye and then planted the corn. They had lovingly tended it, knowing their family’s survival depended on it growing. They did it the same way their ancestors had done it for millennia: bury eggshells or fish to help it grow, give it the company of various squash, carefully irrigate the rows, worry if the stalks were too short or if the flowers didn’t appear on time. Then it was harvested, dried, and stored. All 1 possible. this before masa was even Back then the corn was ground by hand using slab and pestle of lava rock, chickens eagerly eating whatever bits fell. These days, life was much more convenient: go to the store, buy the masa, add salt and water. The next part, however, was always the same: the masa had to be mixed by hand. This was not a task to be delegated to a spoon or spatula. How could a spatula be sensitive to when just the right amount of water had been added? Spoons couldn’t feel the dough crumble at first and then slowly stick together. Hands connected the masa to the person and to the past. They reminded of the old stories of how the gods tried to create man from many things before succeeding in shaping him out of corn. And now that she and her family were Christian, using her hands also reminded of how God must have felt forming Adam out of the dust of the earth. How maybe she wasn’t so far removed from her ancestors. The dough, now mixed, was ready for shaping. Carefully she broke off a piece, patting it between the palm of one hand and the tips of her fingers on the other. Back and forth. Like her mother and Nan had taught her, and their mothers and grandmothers stretching back generations before them. The movement reminded her of the first time she had made tortillas with them. How she had compared her misshapen, crumbling attempt to her mother’s and Nan’s beautiful, smooth circles. How Nan had thrown back her head and

laughed like she does at everything and then assured her that one day she too would make a smooth circle, but until then the one she had made was still edible. Then the little tortillas were laid on the hot pan. Hers was a dented, but still good pan she had found at the Give and Take and it was on an electric stove top. Quite a far cry from the old cast iron comal set over a carefully tended flame at Nan’s house in the highlands of Guatemala. Still, the tortillas let off the same comforting smell as they cooked. She used a fork to catch the edge of the tortilla and flip it. She had never quite mastered the art of using her bare hand, an art Nan had perfected. It seemed as though both Nan and Tat had magical hands, immune to fire and heat, but she had missed out on whatever gene carried such a gift. Off the pan the tortillas came, and onto the cloth wrap she had specifically to keep them warm. A sort of towel, para tus tortillas y tamales, lovingly woven by hand with designs of corn and pitchers from Nan. It had been a gift as she graduated high school to go to college on an island her ancestors had never heard of, studying things they never would have imagined. A reminder to carry her heritage with her into the future. A reminder to feast well on tortillas. A friend had once asked her why she took so much extra time to make tortillas when she could buy them at the store, ready-made with all the same ingredients. After all, they were practically tasteless on their own, what difference did it make? But they weren’t tasteless. The ones from the store tasted like cardboard, fake, meant to fill but not to nourish body and spirit. The ones made by hand were filled with the flavor of the person who made them, the love that was put into the task. They carried the taste of a thousand years of tradition and more. They reminded of time spent with her grandparents, of conversations over a plate of tortillas and black beans. Of the hopes they had in her and her siblings and cousins to be as industrious as their Maya ancestors, learning and giving, nourished by a plate of tortillas.

C RE AT I V E W RI T I NG/ART/P HOTO SUBMISSIO N Corn Tortillas by Mikaila Sass, a senior from Washington studying biochemistry.

Share your art, photos, or creative writing with us and we may feature it in our next issue. E-mail us your high-resolution photo or work with a caption at





Campus Comment: What is something valuable your grandparents or parents taught you?

Lagi Moeai, a freshman from Hawaii majoring in graphic design, shared, “My grandparents and parents were always good examples to my family and I because they were hard workers and always had respect for others. They taught us we should be grateful for everything because in the end all that matters is that you have a good soul. Heavenly Father doesn’t care if you’re the richest or poorest person. My parents just said to strive to be the best person you could possibly be, mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Kelvin Kansan, a sophomore from Papua New Guinea majoring in business management, said, “As I was serving and encountered much sadness on the mission, my dad said if you’re having a bad day try to go out and make someone's day, as true happiness comes from serving others. But first we must learn how to better love ourselves before we try to go out and love others.”

Adam Alcantar, a sophomore from Tennessee majoring in biochemistry, said, “One thing my grandparents taught me is the power of courage and patience in missionary work. My grandparents on my mom’s side are both converts. My grandma had to wait 45 years of consistent activity until her father joined the Church. Meanwhile, my grandpa’s father built sawmills for a living, which was a dangerous job at the time, and it required people that made Wolverine look like Mr. Bean. His father was the scariest man my grandpa knew. My grandpa had to stand up to him in order to be baptized and to serve a mission. While my grandpa was serving a mission, his father met with the missionaries and decided to be baptized after seeing the courage my grandpa gained from learning of the gospel.”

Manwu Chan, a junior from Hong Kong majoring in TESOL, said, “My grandparents and parents would teach me through actions. They would scold me, but we show our love with actions and not so much through words.”



Alex Clendenning, a freshman from Canada majoring in visual art, said, “My grandparents have taught me that hard work, unconditional love and bravery are the most valuable things in life.”

MAY 2020


Genuine Gold Bret Grow

BYU–Hawaii alumnus shares his journey from living in a school bus to founding a successful marketing software company BY SERENA DUGAR IOANE Bret Grow, the director of digital marketing and digital commerce at the Polynesian Cultural Center and an adjunct instructor of advanced digital marketing at BYU–Hawaii, said he wants to help BYUH students by sharing his knowledge and experience of business, marketing and software technology. To learn more about Bret Grow, visit, connect on LinkedIn, Bret Grow said his family moved back to Laie in 2019. Photos provided by Bret Grow



or email

What special memories do you have from your student years at BYUH? “I have many precious memories

straighten out our housing problem

at BYUH. Originally from Encinitas,

and get us into TVA. He was a quiet yet

California, my wife and I graduated

powerful man. During our stay in Laie,

from Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho

I also learned to surf while working

and then got accepted to BYUH.

as a lifeguard for the intro-to-surfing

However, when we arrived, we found

class. From then on, I would surf most

that our campus housing fell through,

early mornings with my accounting

so we started living in an old school

professor, Kevin Kimball. I enjoy surfing

bus permanently parked on the beach.

and spending time with my family

We had our 2-year-old son, Dawson,

at the beach. Just as we graduated,

with us. Our wonderful Bishop Kapu

Kate gave birth to our second son,

visited us and not long after helped


What was your career path after graduation? “I majored in information systems and graduated in the spring of 2000. My wife, Kate, majored in psychology with a minor in organizational behavior. Most of my practical experience on campus was working for Lei Cummings in the Computer Technology Group, where I would eventually spend my time building websites. “During my senior year, I landed an internship with a local computer networking company out of Honolulu. Once I graduated, that internship turned into full-time employment. I worked there for a few years, but eventually we grew tired of

Why did you come back when you were successful in Utah?

How are you helping students now?

living paycheck to paycheck on the verge of poverty, so we moved to Utah. “There, I worked for an email marketing

“I am an adjunct instructor for

company where I leveraged my information

the advanced digital marketing class

systems background into understanding

back to students was always at the

at BYUH. It gives me a chance to share

complex marketing technologies. Within a

back of our minds. For many years it

my knowledge with students. I also

year, I co-founded LinkTrust, a marketing

seemed like perhaps it could only be

work with students at the PCC on the

tracking software company based in Utah

a dream because our work life was so

digital marketing and e-commerce

County. We grew the company over about 15

busy. However, when LinkTrust was

teams. Kate also mentors BYUH

years and were blessed to sell it in January

acquired in 2018, Kate and I began

students through the Enactus

2018. During that time, we had two more

seriously planning ways that we could

program, and she homeschools our

children, Emily and Chadwick.

get here and make a difference. Our

youngest two children who are here

goal has always been to help students

with us in Hawaii. Kate has over 18

assisted another marketing technology

through sharing our knowledge and

years of experience in homeschooling

company as their senior product manager,

experience of business, leadership,

and mentoring as well as being

and then I moved to Laie in August 2019 and

marketing and software technology.”

president of LinkTrust for the three

became the director of digital marketing and

years leading up to our acquisition.”

digital commerce for the Polynesian Cultural

“Returning to BYUH and giving

“After the company was acquired, I

Center. Helping people succeed in vacation property real estate is another thing I really enjoy because it has been a great blessing

What were some of your life-defining moments? “I have had several important

the person I am today. My father’s death in

moments that define who I am today. One

July of 2000 from Alzheimer’s left a lasting

is my mission in Chicago from 1993 to

impression on me and encouraged me

1995. I learned how to work really hard

to grow up faster. Finally, starting a small

and do difficult things. Being married

technology company so early in life

was another defining moment for me

and going through so many struggles

because Kate has led a pivotal role in my

and hard-knock business lessons while

for our family. We own and manage vacation properties in Hawaii, Utah and Arizona.”

What is one interesting fact about your family? “I have nine siblings, and my great great

development as a father and has largely

working with my wife has perhaps made

grandfather, Henry Grow, was the architect of

contributed to me becoming

the greatest impact on me.”

the Salt Lake Tabernacle at Temple Square.”

Graphics by Sadie Scadden MAY 2020


Strangers in a new land Students who have lived in different countries shared how their world perspectives changed



BY SERENA DUGAR IOANE Students reflected on their experiences of living in different countries and shared how their views were broadened and they learned to adjust. World traveler Cannon Curtis shared his passion for discovering new things and advised students to make international friends at BYU–Hawaii. A self-proclaimed “island boy,” Maheono Ly shared how his island mentality changed when he visited big cities. Mongolian student Onon Dalaikhuu shared how shocked she was by natural, legal and cultural differences in various countries.

Discovering through traveling Curtis, a junior from Arizona majoring in history education, said he has been to 14 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, France, England, Portugal and Spain. Curtis said traveling is his hobby, and he saves up to travel. He shared he usually does budget-friendly traveling by backpacking and staying in youth hostels. His father loves traveling and usually travels with him. Curtis said he usually stays 5-21 days in each country. He is learning Mongolian and Spanish. Curtis shared he goes through culture shock while traveling. “Visiting in foreign lands and hearing languages I don’t know are sometimes intimidating. However, it is exciting

to learn about new cultures, try new foods and discover new places.” Curtis highlighted how traveling helped him to be open-minded and to not judge others by stereotypes. He travels to different countries each summer, and his plan was to travel to Mongolia or Africa this summer. However, he said he may not travel there due to the global pandemic COVID-19. Curtis said one of the biggest reasons why he chose BYUH was the diversity. He has made friends from different countries and wants to visit their countries after his graduation. He advised students to reach out to students who are from outside of their culture and make as many friends as possible. He said studying at BYUH is a great opportunity to discover other cultures and people.

Cannon Cur tis said he has been to 14 countries. Photo provided by Cannon Cur tis MAY 2020


Maheono Ly said visiting cities taught him to be more war y of strangers. Photo provided by Maheono Ly

Island lifestyle vs. city lifestyle Maheono Ly, a senior from Tahiti majoring in finance, has been to France, Mexico, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Switzerland, Italy, Hawaii, Las Vegas and New York. Ly grew up on a small island, NukuHiva, with 3,000 people. Ly shared his parents worked for the French government, and every two years the French government would give them free tickets to travel to France. “I have been in France nine times. Visiting France was a very new experience for me. French cities and the amount of people in the street were so different.” He also visited his in-laws in New York. “Walking on a sidewalk in New York was just crazy. So many people are everywhere, and they don’t care about you and push you sometimes. I never felt social anxiety until I visited New York.” New York is a good place to visit, but not to live, he said. He was impressed with the variety of the foods and things to see. “The lifestyle is too fast. I may die of anxiety and depression if I live there,” he said with a laugh. Ly said he served his mission in Las Vegas, and it too was an eye-opening experience for him. “While I was serving in the mission, I found out Americans do not have much understanding about the world. People used



to ask weird questions like, ‘Do you have a toilet in your home country? Do you have electricity?’ and so on.” While he was serving his mission, Ly helped a homeless man and learned not to trust strangers. “A homeless man told me that he was a war veteran, and he needed money to get his license to get his pension. I trusted him and gave $200 and my bike. He promised to give it back, but he never did.” Ly shared ever since he was young, he was taught by his mother if he had something he should share it because what is his is actually the Lord’s. “I always believed in the good in others. Then I realized that I was not exposed to evil that much and had a childish mind set.” He said the experience helped him to be more careful interacting with others. “I am still friendly with everyone, but not naive anymore. On islands everyone knows each other and treats each other nicely. However, in the bigger cities, people don’t trust each other and are not nice all the time.” He said he loves living in Laie because it is a perfect mix of island and city life styles. Ly said he noticed people who live in bigger cities, whether it is in the United States, France or Mexico, focus on their own lives, and do not know much about outside of their bubble.

Onon Dalaikhuu and her husband outside the Hong Kong Temple. Photo by Onon Dalaikhuu

Shocking differences Onon Dalaikhuu, a sophomore from Mongolia majoring in human resources, said she has been to the Philippines, Hong Kong, India and the United States. Dalaikhuu said the countries she visited had different weather, and it was difficult for her to adjust in the beginning. “Mongolia is a cold and very dry country while all the other countries I visited were hot and humid and never experienced winter and snow.” She also shared in countries she has visited, fear and the threat of natural disasters were much higher than in her home country. “Mongolia is a landlocked country, and we do not experience natural disasters that much. But living on an island and facing my first hurricane season was scary. I never felt that a natural disaster was a real threat to my life,” she said. Dalaikhuu said while she visiting other countries, she compared and analyzed what her country needs to develop. The first thing she noticed was medical and living expenses, she said. “I was pregnant when I traveled to India and wanted to know the gender of my baby. I paid $500 for the ultrasound check, but the doctor didn’t tell me the gender because the law forbids it.” She said she found out that India banned prenatal sex determination in 1994 to prevent sex-selective abortion. “I begged the doctor to tell me because I am Mongolian, but the doctor

said I was in India and had to follow the law.” From this experience she learned to respect and follow the laws and customs of the country wherever she goes, she said. Dalaikhuu shared Laie is the most peaceful place she has ever lived, and the weather is nice. “In Laie, I never feel like I am living in a foreign land. I just feels like I am at home.” She also said, “Americans are very polite, always treat each other nicely and work hard. I thought maybe it is one of the reasons why their country is well developed.” Dalaikhuu said she also traveled around Mongolia and wants to travel to more countries. One of her dream destinations is seeing the seven wonders of the world. “I already saw the Taj Mahal and am saving up to see the other six.” Since the global pandemic COVID-19 started, she now feels the whole world is just one family, Dalaikhuu said. “Life is so short, and we have so many things to do. No matter where we live, if we love and serve each other as the Lord commanded, we can be happy and live in peace.” Dalaikhuu said studying at BYUH and living abroad helped her to see opportunities and business ideas she can do when she goes back to Mongolia. “I realized that the Mongolian market has so many spaces for new businesses. I want to build a human resource consulting company when I go back.” Graphics by Sadie Scadden

MAY 2020


Serve the community through makes finding service projects easy and the Laie stakes have used it for five years BY SERENA DUGAR IOANE

People in the various stakes in Laie said they have utilized to improve community life quality. The Laie Hawaii Stake has completed more than 100 service projects including the Laie Cemetery digitizing project where 120 volunteers participated. According to, the site provides opportunities to relieve suffering and care for the poor and needy. “The organization is not for proselytizing or publicity. It is a free service to help link community needs with volunteers,” it says. David Lewis, the Laie Hawaii Stake’s Just Serve specialist, said five of Hawaii’s 16 stakes are in Laie. Each stake has Just Serve specialists who are in charge of stake service projects. Lewis said the Laie Hawaii Stake’s goal is to do a service project on every second Saturday. “We have done more than 40 service projects for Kahuku High School,” said Lewis, “such as power washing bleachers, painting the road curbs, and so on. We also cleaned the Pounders Beach Park and did many services for a non-profit horse ranch. Next month we are planning to clean and cut tall grasses at the Kahuku District Park. Our whole year is planned.” 14


Till we meet

Community members and students who want to volunteer for service can go to and enter their zip code. The search will show possible projects in the specified area. The next step is to contact to the sponsor of a project to join. According to, anyone can create a project and find volunteers through the website. On the site there are success stories and videos of how service projects have helped individuals and communities. was created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints five years ago, according to Lewis. Some cities in the United States use the website for their community service, including the Los Angeles Police Department. Lewis said, on average 30-to-50 volunteers participate in Laie Hawaii Stake service projects. “We had some small projects that had only five volunteers. The biggest project our stake has done so far is the Laie Cemetery digitizing project that had over 120 volunteers.” According to Lewis, the Brigham Young University – Hawaii and Polynesian Cultural Center presidents and vice presidents are active members who participate in the service projects.

Laie Cemetery Project Rhonda Bell, a Laie Hawaii Stake family history consultant, said her stake leaders asked her if she had service project ideas. She suggested digitizing the Laie Cemetery headstones for the Billion Graves app. According to, the idea was to “capture images of headstones with their GPS locations for users worldwide to access those records anywhere.” Lewis said this project has four phases. First, volunteers download the app on their phones and take photos of the Laie Cemetery graves and where they are located in the cemetery. Second, they transcribe the information on the headstones in the photos to make them searchable. Third, they do quality control after all the photos of the headstones are transcribed. Fourth, they report the result to the Laie Hawaii Stake presidency. Bell said the first phase of the project went well because volunteers participated and did a good job of taking clear photos. The Laie Cemetery has more than 1,900 graves, she said and they took photos of all graves. The Laie Hawaii Stake members are now transcribing the photos to make them searchable. Bell said they also worked with Hawaii Reserves Inc. (HRI), which is “a land management company that manages property for the Church on the North Shore of Oahu,” according to “We were instructed by HRI to be respectful to the graves,” said Bell. “Some graves were [unreadable because of] time and weather, so we brushed and cleaned them to take clear photos. Some headstones were sunk in the ground, so we used spades to bring out the information on headstones. “We made sure everything we moved was put back. There were some unmarked graves HRI had information on, so we will work with them to get that information.” Kate Anderson, temple and family history counselor of the Laie 2nd Ward, was one of the team leaders. “We divided into teams and some of us cleaned the graves and trimmed the bushes while some of us took the photos and

“We work on family history daily, and BillionGraves will be a good source for people who do their family history since the BillionGraves is linked with” - Kate Anderson

Till we meet

added the locations. Some families were there with their children. It was a fun family service for them. “Rhonda Bell and Laurie Tueller were the other team leaders,” Anderson shared. “We work on family history daily, and Billion Graves will be a good source for people who do their family history since Billion Graves is linked with” Lewis said, “I was amazed so many people were interested to help others find their ancestors and boost their genealogy search.” Lewis said his stake is also planning to do another Billion Graves project in cemeteries in Kahuku and Hauula.

Graphics by Hannah Manalang

“The organization is not for proselytizing or publicity. It is a free service to help link community needs with volunteers.” - MAY 2020


Remembering Warren Trinidad Friends of BYUH alumnus say he blessed their lives by making time for them and serving others BY OLIVIA HIXSON BYU–Hawaii alumnus and a dear friend to those who knew him, Warren Trinidad passed away after a battle with COVID-19 on April 14. He was in Queens, New York, when he contracted the virus. After hearing of his passing, Raenielle Sunga, a friend of Trinidad’s and a BYUH alumnus, organized a GoFundMe and a Facebook fundraiser to send Trinidad back to his family in the Philippines. He said he originally asked for $8,000, but now they have raised more than $10,000. On the Facebook fundraiser page, Sunga and other organizers confirmed Trinidad’s body



is going to be cremated and then sent back to his family in the Philippines. They ended up raising a total amount of $11,457 to help Trinidad reunite with his family. “Knowing Warren, it just shows how much he impacted a lot of people through his BYUH life, where he was a working person supporting his family in Macau,” Sunga said. “And now, when he moved to New York to explore other things, it just shows how much he interacted with all the people around him and how he really wanted to help them.” Likewise, Exur Garcia, another friend of Trinidad’s and a BYUH alumnus, said this fun-

draiser and the money raised shows how much people were affected by Trinidad and how it honors his general character in life. “I think being generous means not necessarily giving money but giving your time. So, he did that, and he gave time to people that are really important to him. “I know that he valued friendship. Almost on top of that key value was his family, so much so that he would be willing to sacrifice everything for his family.”

Memories over the years Sunga said Trinidad was the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his family and an IWORK student at BYUH, even though he was on the cusp of being too old for the program. Sunga said Trinidad being admitted into the IWORK program shows how much effort and hard work Trinidad was willing to put in to serve those around him and form a better life for himself. “He was able to prove himself that he is worth the scholarship [in the IWORK program] and became one of the great students and also a good act for PCC. Because of his character and personality, everyone just loved him and adored him.” Garcia said Trinidad was also one of the presidents for the Filipino Club at BYUH. Through this, Garcia said Trinidad was able to make everyone feel welcomed and accepted into their club on campus. “He was very approachable. He always smiled. One thing that I really liked about him was he took care of his subordinates. When I first came to BYUH, I felt like I was really welcomed by the chapter and his good leadership skills.” Outside of the Filipino Club Sunga and Garcia agreed Trinidad was always a caring and warm friend. Sunga said one of his favorite memories with Trinidad was driving around the island and going out to eat late at night, and Garcia said he remembered fondly how he and Trinidad would get together and play video games. Trisha Panzo, a senior from Qatar studying graphic design and psychology, and a friend of Trinidad’s, said she remembered how much Trinidad would check in on her and help her with things, even as he was keeping up with his busy life and preparing for his internship in Walt Disney World. “He was just basically a big brother to everyone, and that's how I felt when I met him. He was a big brother to me, and I think that's just one of the fondest memories that I think [Warren's friends] mutually share.” Similarly, Princess Donato Astle, another friend of Trinidad’s and BYUH alumnus, said she remembered a time where she was very ill in the middle of the night and felt a prompting to message Trinidad for a blessing. Within minutes, she said Trinidad and a friend were at her hale in church clothes and ready to help her in any way.

“I felt so grateful to have him like a brother who took care of me at that moment. He was known to many as someone who was always there for you. He made you laugh, even on your saddest days.” Sunga also said Trinidad was open to spending time with anyone and would invite people into their group. “We had our own group, and when he saw someone who was kind of on their own, he would be nice to that person and add them to our group.” With all of these great attributes and stories in mind, Panzo said she felt Trinidad lived his life in a way to best help those around them, whether it be by making people laugh or just always being there for the people close to him. “Looking back at what he did and looking back at how he treated people and how much fun he had, I think he did live the life he wanted to,” she said.

“I think being generous means not necessarily giving money, but giving your time. So, he did that, and he gave time to people that are really important to him.” - Exur Garcia

Trisha Panzo said she felt Trinidad lived his life in a way to best help those around them. Photos provided by Princess Donato Astle MAY 2020


Doubts in an environment of faith Students and leaders share their experiences with doubts at a Church university

BY LEIANI BROWN Doubt that I am good enough. Doubt that I will ever find a healthy, lasting relationship. Doubt that what I was taught really is true. For many 20-somethings, college is a vulnerable era, brimming with similar versions of these doubts and many more. How these doubts fare in a heavily religious and faith-centered environment is all up to the individual, according to three BYU–Hawaii students, a religious leader and professor who shared their own thoughts and experiences with doubt. “Doubt has a bright side and a dark side. It really depends how you deal with it,” said Dan Bradshaw, a professor in the Faculty of Culture, Language & Performing Arts. He is also the second counselor in the Laie Hawaii Stake, a local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The dark side of doubt For Zoe Chang, a senior from Taiwan majoring in biochemistry, it was the darker side of doubt she experienced. Two years ago, she was faced with what she said was one of the biggest challenges of her life. “I was too eager. I was rushing to find the answer and actually missed a lot of people God sent to help me because I was only focused on my doubts. “I doubted if there was a God and [wondered] why He didn’t help me right away.”



Bradshaw explained doubt becomes damaging when it becomes the focus. “If you dwell on doubts and allow those to be your defining characteristics or your defining attributes, then you’re always leading with doubt rather than belief or faith. And that can lead you to some dark places, academically as well as spiritually.” In her experience, Chang said she began to not only doubt her faith but doubt herself too. It was not until she heard a talk in General Conference, a semi-annual worldwide

gathering of members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that Chang said she began to feel inspired again. “When I doubted my faith, part of me thought Heavenly Father didn’t want me anymore. I just thought I already did a lot of bad things so … He was probably disappointed in me. But when I heard that talk, I realized again, no, He’s always there. He always loves everyone no matter who you are or what you did. He is still the same.”

Changing the lens For Sara Danielle Nelson, a senior from Utah majoring in psychology, her crisis of faith came when she felt God had deliberately led her into a situation that caused her pain. “My doubt was not necessarily that God wasn’t there because I knew He was, but it was more like, ‘How could you do this to me when I have tried so hard to be good and loving? I served a mission. I’ve always been a good kid, and then you ask me to do something that really hurt me a lot.’ That just destroyed my self-esteem and the way I saw myself and the world.” Nelson said what helped her during that time was reflecting on good experiences she had with God in the past and realizing the negative experiences – times when she followed God, but things didn’t work out – still made her a better person. Through these reflections, Nelson said she learned what God really cares about, saying, “God doesn’t only care about our righteousness and our ability to keep the commandments. He cares about everything that happens to us. “And sometimes we do have to go through these hard periods, or times when we kind of turn away from him, or [we have] a lot of confusion and being angry… God cares about that side of us too.” When it comes to doubts of faith, Bradshaw explained it is best to be “really open and honest with yourself… You need to see your doubt for what it is and don’t say that it’s necessarily bad or good, but say, ‘Okay, well I’m doubting this. What does that mean I need to do?’” Bradshaw shared how to then assess the situation by examining study habits, determining a potential need for increased spiritual nourishment or a possible change in a person’s circle of associates. This assessment of circumstances, Bradshaw explained, can allow

for an exploration of doubt through the “lens of faith.” “If you deal with doubt in a healthy way, it can be a catalyst to true learning. It can help you be open-minded to different ways of looking at the world,” said Bradshaw. “And in education, especially at the university level, you’re going to be learning things that will challenge the way that you see the world, or at least you should. That’s what education is supposed to do. In that process, you’re bound to run into some doubts. Or you’re bound to have to throw away some assumptions or past beliefs that you might have had and find a new way to look at the world.” Doubt is normal, perfection is not Chang, who joined the Church about 10 years ago after being introduced through English classes in Taiwan, said her advice to those struggling with doubts is to remember they are normal. “[Whether] you are a convert or you were born in the Church, no matter what, because we are human, it’s always okay to have doubts.” McKaylah Shea Conlon, an alumna from Laie who graduated with a degree in intercultural peacebuilding, is a certified life coach. She said she focuses on helping people let go of the past and learn to “embrace being unapologetically whoever [they] are.” She has noticed pressures within the Church that seem to contribute to a lot of the challenges her clients’ face. “There’s just kind of this pressure, this internal and external pressure to be perfect. That we can’t doubt, and if we do have doubts, or we are attracted to the same gender, or we have different political standings than what’s popular, it’s just horrifying. I’ve seen it eat away at my friends. I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve experienced a lot of these things myself as well.”

Graphic by Sadie Scadden

MAY 2020


Conlon added being at a church school with things like an Honor Code – a code of conduct all students are expected to live by – and leaders’ opinions sometimes being mistaken or falsely construed for doctrine can also impact the overall campus environment. “We’re not supposed to be perfect in this life. We’re supposed to be as perfect as we can be as individuals, but your perfect isn’t going to look the same as my perfect.” Bradshaw added, “Historically, we maybe haven’t been really great about dealing with doubt in the Church, and I think that’s a place where we can still improve, to be accepting of those with doubts, and to allow them to be open and honest, but still searching.” Despite this, Bradshaw said in his 13 years of teaching, he has noticed an increase in the “openness and acceptance” of his students. “There should be room for everyone within the tent of faith. And to really have a growing faith, you’ve got to have doubts, or at least areas of exploration along the way because faith needs to be living to really help you in your life.” Choosing action in patience Bradshaw shared one of his own experiences with doubt involved waiting for a specific promised blessing – his youngest son, Quinn. After a series of miscarriages, Bradshaw said he and his wife felt every evidence was telling them they would not have another child, despite promises from God that indicated otherwise. “It was really hard to keep from doubting. And it was a really important experience for both my wife and me to come to the place where we really trusted in God, despite all the evidence that things [wouldn’t go] the way He was telling us they were going to go,” said Bradshaw.

“A lot of the experience I have with doubt is really tied in with patience. Sometimes it’s just doubting for a time that a certain blessing will come about … Doubt sometimes can really come down to doubting the Lord’s timing.” Opapo Fonoimoana, second counselor in the Laie YSA 5th Ward, an on-campus congregation for single students, said he has had many experiences in his life where he wasn’t sure what to do, but felt the most unsure during his single years in his mid-thirties. At that time, he felt the norm in the Church was to be married with one child by age 25. When he did meet his wife, Fonoimoana explained they did not date for very long before she broke up with him, leaving him devastated. A couple of years later, she came back into his life, and within six months, said Fonoimoana, he was married and living a totally different life. He explained even after that he has experienced moments of uncertainty, but always the answer is the same: “Everything is going to be all right.” Fonoimoana explained how this gave him comfort but never an exact direction. “In my life, there have been plenty of times when I wasn’t too sure what the right thing for me to do was. No matter how hard I prayed, how many times I fasted or went to the temple, it just didn’t seem like I was getting an answer or a direction. “And so I just decided one day that you can’t just wait for an answer. I’m just going to try and do the most that I can and try to be the best me that I can be, so when Heavenly Father decides to give me an answer, I’ll be ready to run with it.”

Graphics by Sadie Scadden 20


When facing doubt When facing doubt yourself: • Be open and honest with yourself • See doubts for what they are rather than labeling them as good or bad • Be specific: Don’t globalize your doubt • Hold on to hope • Remember you are always good enough • Be proactive in the search for answers • Sit with your emotions through meditation and prayer • Be patient with yourself: Practice Christlike selfcompassion • Trust in the Lord • Remember doubts are normal When helping another facing doubt: • Show unconditional love and support • Pray for guidance and strength • Be a good listener: Stay present • Validate their experience • Reserve judgement • Seek to understand context • Refrain from reacting emotionally • Be honest and sensitive with your response • Be a good example Graphics by Sadie Scadden MAY 2020


Highlighting local women Kausha LeBeau uses senior project to feature local businesses



Kausha LeBeau graduated in April 2020 with a degree in business management. Photo provided by Kausha LeBeau


My senior project combines three things I care deeply for – Portrait photography, small/local businesses (especially those that are led by women) and sustainability. I seek to highlight three local, sustainable and women-led businesses in hopes of bringing awareness to their efforts. Malia, Maryam and Melissa are promoting positive change on the North Shore. In their businesses, the three encourage plant-based diets. They also promote sourcing locally grown and organic produce, going green by shifting from plastic to ecofriendly products, recycling, waste reduction, supporting local and thrifting. Buying local saves money, supports farmers, preserves farms, promotes a safer food supply, benefits the environment and supports the local economy. Choosing to shop thrift helps to divert more than 700 million pounds of used goods from landfills each year. Almost 100 percent of clothing and textiles are recyclable, yet 85 percent go to landfills. Thrifting also helps provide a stable source of revenue for more than 120 local charitable organizations and saves the consumer 70 to 90 percent on gently-used clothing, household goods and accessories. My encouragement is this: Pursing knowledge and practices that lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.

Choosing to shop thrift helps to divert more than 700 million pounds of used goods from landfills each year.

3 LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE AND WOMEN-LED BUSINESSES RAISED BY THE WAVES The vegan cafe, located in Kahuku Sugar Mill, is 100 percent plant based, sourcing locally grown and organic produce, and is 100 percent plastic free. In an effort to "raise awareness about living a health-conscious lifestyle through menu and dine-in experience," Malla (pictured) and Brooke opened the eco cafe in December 2018.

OF ONE SEA Based on the North Shore, the surf and lifestyle brand seeks to translate inspiration from beauty and simple forms found in nature to their exclusively made prints on recycled fabric. Maryam, the owner/creator, hopes the brand will "inspire a sense of unity."

GREEN GYPSY THRIFT BUS Located in Kahuku Sugar Mill, the Green Gypsy Thrift Bus serves the North Shore with a sustainable and eco-friendly fashion option - thrifting. Melissa (pictured) and Zara launched the thrift bus in December 2019 with a mission to encourage the thrifting trend and in an effort to promote waste reduction. Aside from second-hand clothing items, the bus displays recycled goods and features local artists who use organic material.

-Kausha LeBeau Photos provided by Kausha LeBeau MAY 2020


Graphic by Haeley van der Werf

Mental health and coronavirus Following a daily routine and thinking of others, students said, helped them tame fear and anxiety in midst of the coronavirus BY BROOKE GURYN



To take care of their mental health during COVID-19’s uncertainty, BYU–Hawaii students shared they are creating daily schedules and routines to stay productive, busy and peaceful. According to Psychology Today, “There’s not only one ‘right’ way to cope during this time. On some days, a realistic expectation might simply be just to survive one more day. Criticizing and judging yourself will only increase the stress and negative emotions, which will leave you feeling less motivated and even less able to function adaptively.” Grace Glenn, a freshman from Oregon majoring in TESOL education, said the changes

she has experienced due to the pandemic have prepared her for her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “On a mission, you experience different things that you’re not expecting … It’s been good to have the experience of change. I have been able to see how I deal with [change] and figure out what I can do differently to make sure I can be prepared mentally for my mission.” Daily bread brings more happiness Psychologist and contributor for LDS Living, Dr. David T. Morgan, said approaching life one day at a time can ease anxiety for the future. Citing Matthew 6:11 from the Bible, he said, “Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’” Morgan said sometimes he wants weekly, monthly or yearly bread as he worries about the future. However, he has learned to live one day at a time, which has helped him feel more at peace.

“I’ve found peace in trying to exist today, without giving undue concern to what might happen next. Spending all our days thinking about our tomorrows tends to result in a lot of missed opportunities for happiness.” He said there is wisdom in “daily bread.” He added, “Tomorrow will never come until tomorrow, so let’s do the best we can to find happiness and peace today.” Sidney Shifflet, a freshman from Colorado majoring in intercultural peacebuilding and political science, said because everything is so unpredictable, people are forced to live day to day. “[Coronavirus] is teaching people the importance of being present, at the moment and the day – not worrying about what is going to happen.” To destress, Shifflet said she tries to slow down. “I have felt myself in moments doing something, and then I get really stressed out. Just do one thing then the next, putting all [our] attention on what [we’re] doing right then. [That] is what helps me.” Glenn explained how, “I think the most important thing is that God has a plan for each



one of us, and this is all happening to each of us for a reason. It is going to be a blessing, as long as we look for the blessings. Even though it is uncertain times, God has given us uncertain times so we can live one day at a time.”

“God has given us uncertain times so we can live one day at a time.” -Grace Glenn Daily goals and plans To live one day at a time, Keanu Dellona, a junior from California majoring in psychology, has created a routine for himself with daily





Come, Follow Me








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run 18


Come, Follow Me



surf 25



call mom

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Graphic by Haeley van der Werf

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goals to accomplish. Dellona said, “I do what I can. I run, spend time with my family, sing and play the ukulele. I have kept myself busy with a daily schedule, and if I don’t finish it that day, I put it on my list for tomorrow.” Shifflet added, “I am not trying to drag myself into the ground with a lot of things, but I have been setting goals and reaching them, which has been helpful ... I have daily goals like exercise, scriptures, journaling, and I want to practice the ukulele each day.” She shared how she made a list of goals when the stay-at-home order was made and put it on top of her desk, so she could always see it. One goal she made was, “Do one meaningful thing with at least one family member to strengthen your relationship with them each day.” According to Shifflet, this list has helped her feel a lot better about herself. “It helps me feel like I haven’t wasted the day or all this extra time ... It helps me to recognize that even if it’s the same things each day, it is still meaningful. Honestly, it helps me to not feel depressed.”

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Graphics by Haeley van der Werf

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fear and anxiety about the coronavirus pandemic are normal and can be overwhelming. Here is a list of resources for those who are struggling or need extra assistance during these stressful times:

BYU Hawaii Counseling Services (808) 675-3518

Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline


Disaster Distress Helpline 12:45

Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline 26


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversations.� - Glenn Close

Graphic by Hannah Manalang MAY 2020


PLOGGING IN LAIE John and Rhonda Bell care for the environment by picking up trash wherever they go BY SERENA DUGAR IOANE Each morning for the last four years, John and Rhonda Bell have gone plogging, which is jogging through Laie, picking up trash they see along the way. They shared a desire to plog wherever they live. Inspired by the Bells’ love for the land, others have started to pick up trash as well. Love the land The Bells said in 2016 they started walking to the bike trail every morning. Rhonda Bell said, “It is such a beautiful walk, but there were ugly [pieces of] trash, so we decided to pick them up.” First, they started picking up only big pieces of trash, and then they started to bring their own trash bags to pick up everything they saw, the Bells said. They walk from their home in Laie near the campus to the end of the bike path. The Bells said every morning they collect three to four bags, which is approximately three to four pounds of trash every day. Every year, they collect about 1,000 pounds of trash. They also separate them into recyclable and not recyclable and put the recyclable ones in their recycling trash bins. John Bell, who is the vice president for Academics at BYU-Hawaii, said it is hard for them to pass by litter without picking it up. The Bells said there was always more trash on the days the garbage truck picked up trash and on days that were windy. They shared they 28


think beaches collect ocean garbage, and the wind brings it to the bike path. Plogging soon became part of their morning routine. They do it every day, including holidays and Sundays. They said they only skip if they have other plans, such as travel or when they scuba dive in the morning. John Tanner, the president of BYUH, said God gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden and commanded them to take care of it. “I don’t think that commandment has ever been

“John and Rhonda are setting wonderful examples for every one of us. We should all stop and stoop, picking up trash and leaving the world better than we found it." -Pres. John Tanner

rescinded. Today we live in a beautiful paradise, and we should take care of it and leave it cleaner and more beautiful. “John and Rhonda are setting wonderful examples for every one of us. We should all stop and stoop, picking up trash and leaving the

world better than we found it. It disturbs me to see people throw away trash on our beautiful campus, so I pick up trash if I see it.” Inspiring others Steven Tueller, vice president of Administration at BYUH, said, “I always admire their plogging. They wanted to make Laie a better place and multitask while exercising. They have picked up so much trash for years and make our environment beautiful for us. “Even though I do not walk in the mornings, John and Rhonda inspired me to pick up trash as I notice it walking on campus and in the community.” John Bell said three to four people in the community have started plogging in the mornings since they started. He said one lady gave them a trash bag with handles and a waste grabber as Christmas gifts. The Bells said those gifts help their plogging a lot. Rhonda Bell said sometimes she meets people who already knew them from their early morning plogging. John Bell said a lot of people express their appreciation for them and honk their horns when they drive by. They said when their children were young, they used to do trash cleaning service projects for Family Home Evening to train their children to throw away garbage in trash cans. “Keeping the environment clean is everyone’s responsibility and effort,” said Rhonda Bell. Graphics by Bruno Maynez

Kupuna Section The Bells said when they were visiting Honduras, they cleaned the beach for a week, but just after a week, the trash came back because of the tide. Rhonda Bell said, “We think Laie is a beautiful place and we want it to be clean. Picking up trash doesn’t take much effort. It is an easy and beneficial act of kindness. If everyone does their part, it will make a big difference.” The Bells also volunteer for, the service project website created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They volunteer for beach cleaning and other charity projects. More about the Bells Tueller shared, “I admire John so much because he is a renaissance man. He has so many interests and is so good at many different things. For example, he is a scientist and knows a lot about science and how the world works. He is also a musician. He plays bassoon, piano, and organ and he led the choir and wrote a musical. “He also loves animals and potty trained an iguana. He takes care of birds outside of his office. He scuba dives and collects seashells. He spends his time very well developing himself to be better every day. He is so smart and has great judgment. I learned a lot from working alongside him.” The Bells have three sons and three grandsons. After their retirement, they are

Plogging is now the Bells' daily morning routine. Photo by Keyu Xiao

planning to move back to Utah to be close to their family. They are also planning to continue their morning plogging routine and clean wherever they live. The Bells shared their plogging helps them improve their health, strengthen their marriage and clean the environment. Rhonda Bell’s hobbies are to crochet, knit, and do family history. She is a volunteer worker at the BYUH Sewing Center and a family history consultant in the Laie Hawaii Stake.

The Bells shared they collect up to four bags of trash every day when they go plogging. Photo by Keyu Xiao

MAY 2020


Share your

Kekela “Aunty Kela” Miller recalls hula journey from performing at PCC to opening hālau BY HAILEY HUHANE Known around Laie as “Aunty Kela,” Kekela Miller said she has been dancing hula since she could walk. She looked back on her time performing in the first cast at the Polynesian Cultural Center, as well as her years competing in hula competitions and starting her own hula hālau. Members of the Laie community say, “If you play the music, Aunty Kela will come.” Miller admitted she is usually one of the first ones at the front dancing hula at community events. She described how at a young age her mother told her, “When you hear good Hawaiian music, don’t waste it.” Miller shared,



“The music is so sweet and so beautiful that you have to go and portray that. Go up and share your aloha.” Miller shared how, “Growing up in Laie allowed us many wonderful opportunities to dance.” Her earliest memories of performing were in 1940 when the chapel of the local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints burned in a tragic fire. She explained, “Because of the chapel burning down, they created what was called the Hukilau, and it was to raise enough money to build another chapel.” At age 4, Miller performed at the historic Hukilau, which became a recurring luau feast where the people of Laie shared food, music and dance in hopes of raising funds to rebuild the chapel. Miller said, “Hula is a big part of Laie.” She remembered growing up and learning to dance from influential leaders and kupuna in the community. Her great grandmother, Tutu Luika Pele Kaio, was also an influential figure within the rich history of hula in Laie. Miller shared, “My great grandmother was one of the first to ever receive compensation for teaching hula. People would bring her fish in exchange for her hula lessons.” As a young girl, Miller trained in her family’s hula hālau,

learning from her mother. She said, “In my early years, I learned to listen. We weren’t allowed to ask questions. But I learned a lot from sitting and watching. I learned to be respectful. I learned to respect their knowledge, respect them when they spoke, respect their love for the Church and respect their love for their culture.” She said learning from her mother “made me realize that I was born to learn the hula. At the time, I never realized what was to be done in my future. That I would someday become a ‘kumu hula,’ a teacher.” When Miller was 19 years old, she became a dancer in the first cast at the PCC. She shared, “I remember dancing on the highway when the center first opened. We would go out there and dance hoping that the buses would stop and go in. It was fun. We had no idea we were getting paid.” Working at the PCC grounded her as a dancer. “We learned to be more refined in our movements and to be more culturally correct.” Not only did she continue learning hula, but she also learned other Polynesian cultural dances, such as Maori, Tahitian, Samoan and Fijian. She explained, “All of the instructors we had were wonderful and real, and they knew their stuff. We were fortunate to learn from such great leaders who taught us so well that we are now able to teach. Because of them, we know how the Maori hands are supposed to look. We know how to ‘pukana.’ We know the difference between Tahitian and Cook Islands drumming.” Aunty Kela’s granddaughter said she learned from her grandmother to always love others like you love yourself. Photo provided by the family of Kela Miller

Miller said when the idea for the PCC was born, those in the tourism industry laughed. She said, “Everybody said, ‘Who is going to come all the way out here to see people dance?’ But they did come.” Miller expressed gratitude to those who had insight to know the PCC was necessary and would have a tremendous impact on the community. “They knew they needed something for the people that were to go to the Church College. They needed to help find the students a place to work. And I tell you, what a blessing it is today.” The PCC had a lasting impact on Miller. She asserted, “I will always be there for the PCC. I will always be there to help because they have given me a lot.” Miller said she was fortunate to live among the kupuna who made a difference in the community of Laie. Inspired by their example, Miller started her own hula halau. At the age of 22, Miller began teaching. “I began teaching the May Day queens from Kahuku High School who didn’t know how to dance.” Miller wondered why these young girls were not learning

hula and realized there was not a place where people could learn hula without having to pay. She said, “Ever since then, I opened up my halau to everyone. People need a place to come and learn, and so I don’t charge.” Miller’s hālau, Hālau Hula ‘O Kekela, was given its name by Cy Bridges, her former kumu hula known internationally as a Hawaiian cultural expert. Her halau has consisted of dancers ranging from age 5 to 90. Her class practices hula at the local Courtyard Marriott every week. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, she planned to still teach through weekly Facebook meetings. She said, “I’m going to start teaching hula on Facebook weekly from 9-10 until this is all over so not only my hālau can learn, but also people from all over the world can learn too.” Miller said over the years her halau has become a group providing service to the communities of Koolauloa. From the beginning she said, “We are going to participate and go into the community. We’re going to go to funerals. We’re going to give our time to the Church, and when people need us to come

last six years, they have been invited to Tahiti, New Zealand and Rapanui to participate in the Taputapuatea Festival. In 2015, they began traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, to participate in the Kumukahi Ukulele and Hula Festival where they placed first in the kupuna division in 2015 and first in the kupuna soloist division in 2019. With all of her success and achievements, she said her love for the Hawaiian culture is what drives her. “The reason we go is not to compete but to share. I teach what I know, and I teach from the heart. I tell my haumana (students) to dance from the heart, and that’s all I can expect of them.” Miller’s granddaughter, Manaia Afalava, said most of her memories with her grandma involve hula. She acknowledged how fortunate she was to have Miller as her grandmother. Afalava said, “Not many grandkids have their grandmother as their kumu hula.” Looking back at all she’s learned from her grandma, Afalava said, “She taught me to always love people no matter what. She always said to love others like you love yourself. That has stuck with me for a long time.”

“When you hear good Hawaiian music, don’t waste it. Go up and share your aloha.” and serve, we are there.” Throughout the years, Miller’s hālau has traveled the world for performances and competitions. For the

Photo by Mike Foley.

Amelia Faleta, a Laie local, said, “My memories of Aunty Kela are always seeing her serving our community and performing with her halau. I always see her dancing and singing everywhere.”

MAY 2020


How one man’s love for community of Laie led to life of service and tradition BY HAILEY HUHANE

Leading Laie 32


Photo by Mapuana Reed Photography

Left photo provided by the Ah You Family. Right photo by Mike Foley.

As a young boy, Junior Ah You moved from a small village in Samoa to the town of Laie, Hawaii. His parents had sold all of their worldly possessions in order to bring their family to Hawaii to be sealed in the temple. It was his parent’s example of dedication to God, community, and family he said that led to Junior Ah You’s life of selfless service. Junior Ah You said, “I come from a family that loves and serves the Lord. I grew up watching my mom and dad give so freely to help the people and the Church.” Throughout his life, Junior Ah You has acquired a list of achievements, which includes an outstanding football career. He has been inducted into hall of fames including Arizona State University Hula Bowl, Canadian Football, and the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Outside of football, he is the longest standing Laie Community Association officer, where he has dedicated years in unifying the community through the establishment of over 25 years of tradition. Currently, Junior Ah You owns a popular food truck, Tita’s Grill, at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The PCC has been a part of his life for decades, as he performed there as a young boy. Despite his impressive accomplishments in his career, perhaps his most cherished achievement is parenting eight children, 38 grandchildren, and one great grandchild with his beloved wife, Almira. Junior Ah You’s oldest son, Kinglsey Ah You, said of his father, “It is amazing to me that a boy from a small village in Samoa came here to be sealed in the house of the Lord and was able to find success. He has traveled the world, but Laie has always been home.” Kinglsey Ah You said even though his father played professional football for 14 years,

his dad made sure in his contracts during the off season he and his family could come back home to Laie. Kingsley Ah You said, “He always brought us home because our family was here but also because of his great love of Laie and all it stands for. Most of the time you leave and have your career. Then, when you retire, you come back. But dad made it a clear point to come back often. Laie is a sacred place.” Thanksgiving with the Ah Yous It was this great love for Laie that inspired Junior Ah You’s establishment of various community traditions. Junior Ah You’s son explained, “For Thanksgiving we have all of the full-time missionaries, the service missionaries at BYU–Hawaii and PCC and all of the homeless. We have a wonderful Thanksgiving all together along with anyone else who doesn’t have a place to eat.” The Ah You family has been known to feed up to 400 missionaries, homeless and community members. Doing so involves cooking between 200 and 300 turkeys. This event stems back to the small village in Samoa where Junior Ah You’s parents did the same thing for their missionaries. For 25 years, Junior Ah You has chaired Pioneer Month in Laie. During the month of July, the Laie Community Association, along with anyone who is willing to give of their time, hosts activities ranging from musical firesides, sporting events and movie nights. Christmas Bowl December 2020 will mark the 30th year of the Junior Ah You Christmas Bowl. Junior Ah You started this tradition when he noticed children in the community started getting into trouble during the Christmas break. So, he

started a flag football tournament known as the Christmas Bowl. Every year the tournament has around 400 participants from the community with ages ranging from 3 years old to elderly community members. Junior Ah You’s son admitted these events are hard work. He said, “We always put God and community first in our family. It takes sacrifice to serve. It’s usually not convenient. That is what service is. When it’s not convenient, it’s true service. But the rewards are amazing. “It is the greatest feeling when you feel it’s brought people together.” According to his son, Junior Ah You’s ability to unite people is all a part of Laie’s sacred prophetic purpose to be a place of gathering. Junior Ah You said, “Growing up in Laie, there were wonderful peoplewho influenced me.” He listed local patriarchs and bishops as well as teachers from Kahuku High School who became his friends and mentors. He said, above all, his parents have had the greatest impact on his life and that giving and helping others is what brings him the greatest joy. Junior Ah You’s legacy of service and love continues on in those of his posterity. His grandson, Quayed Ah You said of his grandfather, “One thing I admire about my papa is his outlook on life. One of the things he always tells us is that the biggest room in the world is the room of improvement.” He said his grandpa turns almost anything into a teaching opportunity, and they as grandchildren always remember the lessons they’ve learned from him. He said, “Now that I’m older, I’ve looked back and realized that a lot of the things he taught me I’ve been able to incorporate into my life.” MAY 2020


Thirty years of service After 30 years, Susan Barton reminisces on her time at BYU–Hawaii

Graphics by Sadie Scadden

BY OLIVIA HIXSON As a fourth grader, Susan Barton expressed she knew she had a knack for teaching by helping other students with math. Barton said math comes naturally to her, and while math can be daunting to some, students find encouragement to improve by transforming class into a breeding ground of questions, networking and higher understanding. Barton is a professor in the Faculty of Math & Computing at BYU–Hawaii. She shared how this simple experience of teaching fellow



students through her love of math was the first time she could really remember her passion for teaching. Through her personal experience in math classes, Barton shared she only had two options in class, which were to either cause trouble in class or help other students after jamming through her assigned worksheets. This push to help others revealed to her how much math can be understood by someone who is willing to put in the effort. “If you keep working at mathematics and keep working with algebra and learning what you can do with calculus and higher-level math,

I think most people who are in college can do it at some level.” A former student of hers at BYUH, Scott Hyde, a professor and program lead in the Faculty of Math & Computing, said Barton’s belief was manifested in class through her emphasis on truly internalizing the information presented. “She encouraged students to succeed by making sure they didn’t just ‘get by.’ She wouldn’t let us slack, and she made sure you do your work. Every grade I got from her I knew I earned because she would never give a higher grade than what you earned.”

Math is for everyone Barton expressed how important dedicated work and time can greatly impact the effectiveness of a student. She shared a story of a previous student who, in his home country, was told constantly he would never succeed in math. Upon attending BYUH, Barton said this student was able to flourish and grow in his math skills with the right mentors. “You have to decide like a marathon runner. When they hit the wall, do they just stop, or do they push through? In mathematics, you need to push through it. “Even when you hit the wall, you’ll realize you can do this. I think too often, we’re fairly young when we decide we can’t do math. I think a good part of it is you don’t have a good teacher who really feels comfortable with math themselves.” Ka Lun Wong, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Math & Computing, also had Barton as a professor during his years spent at BYUH. Wong expressed during his time in Barton’s classes, he was given so many opportunities to receive guidance. “Our school is special because we have a small campus and usually the teacher-tostudent ratio is low, so it is a good opportunity for students to get to know their teachers and to have good relationships. Sister Barton said being friendly and approachable to students makes it easier for students to talk to her and get to know her and learn from her more.” Wong commented he was initially intimidated by Barton as his professor, but

when she did little things like getting dressed up for Halloween, he truly felt a connection to her for her individuality. Now a colleague of hers, he said his education from her has only continued. “I think she really has the heart to teach and to help the students. She is very helpful to me as a new faculty member her because I have a lot to learn, but she is really willing to explain things to me and to help me know what is going on. She is a really good mentor and teacher.” Likewise, Hyde said Barton was the main way he was able to fully adjust to life as a faculty member of BYUH. “She helped me to navigate my role as a professor at the university, with most activities being much more than teaching classes … She taught me the other parts of a professor’s job including service, serving on committees, mentoring students, publishing research, doing presentations and all the other things we need to do.” Hyde said his main introduction to Barton was when he took her classes in 1992 as a freshman, where she pushed her students to always succeed. “She always is the main person to contribute the most in any kind of role the department has to play … Whatever she has to do, she gets it done … She was the first face of the Math Department I saw as a student, including my first math teacher at BYUH.” Keep on keeping on Reflecting on her past 30 years spent full of opportunity at BYUH, Barton noticed

specifically her appreciation for having smaller classes so she could better connect with her students. She expressed the main reason this is able to work out is the unique spirit and priesthood presence at BYUH. “What’s made me stay is because of the priesthood blessings. I said I will stay here as long as the Lord wants me to be here. I have had chances [to leave] ... but I got the impression I need to stay here as long as the Lord wants me to ... In the end, if you are doing the things He wants you to, the Lord will help things work out for you.” Even after all of this time, Barton commented on the initial pressure coming from the first day of class at the beginning of the semester. “The first day of class is still just so fun. I still get butterflies in my stomach after 30 years. One of the things I find is so fun is the first day of class, just walking in and looking at the diversity.” Barton said another one of her core personal beliefs is students need to realize they can be good at math from an early age to break the negative stigma around mathematics. She shared the best way to combat these ideas being taught is create a classroom that is open to questioning, encourages interaction and increases students understanding. She said she wants all students to become mentally as younger children, ready to soak up any juicy bits of information thrown at them. Thirty years later, she said she is “still trying to help people learn math the best they can.”

“You have to decide like a marathon runner. When they hit the wall, do they just stop, or do they push through? In mathematics, you need to push through it. Even when you hit the wall, you’ll realize you can do this. I think too often, we’re fairly young when we decide we can’t do math.” Sister Barton said she enjoys seeing the diversity of each new class. Photo provided by Susan Barton

MAY 2020


Stories of change: Joshua Garcia, manager of the PCC Gateway building Author, father and husband says he tries to bring God's children unto Christ BY BROOKE GURYN

Serving the community at work and home, BYU–Hawaii alumnus Joshua Garcia was not always the man he wanted to be but changed while living in Hawaii to become the father, husband and friend he said he is meant to be. Joshua Garcia is dependable and has a talent for seeing people for who they can become, said his friends and family. Heilala Garcia, a senior from Kahuku majoring in hospitality and tourism management, described him as always looking at the potential of others instead of their

downfalls. “He doesn’t look at who people are, but who they can become. “He sees the good in everybody. Regardless of what they have done, or where they are from or what their situation is, he recognizes the good in them, and I think that’s definitely a gift he has.” Joshua’s story Joshua Garcia said his parents and grandparents influenced him because there was always love and welcoming in the home.

“They valued family and would sacrifice on a regular basis for us to be happy ... One of the ways they sacrificed for us was through their work ethic. They taught me to work hard to provide opportunities for those we love.” Joshua Garcia is a hardworking and dependable husband, said his wife. “Josh is very consistent. I think that his greatest ability is that you can always count on him. He will be the first and the last person [at an event]. He will be there every day without a doubt, on time and ready to go.”

36 KE ALAK A ’I Heilala Garcia described her husband, Joshua, as someone who looks at the potential of others. Photo provided by the Garcias.

When he was in junior high, Joshua Garcia He passed the temple, and through the said his parents divorced, and he slowly stopped BYU–Hawaii campus, he said, “I felt the voice doing the things that brought the Spirit into [say] that if I went to the temple and school, his life. “Before I knew it, I was living with a I would be connected – connected to God, lot of darkness. Poor choices and failure to see connected to abundance. I decided from there the eternal picture had put me into a position that I would talk to the bishop and work on where I did not value the blessings of good getting my life in order.” parents and a loving wife.” Joshua Garcia said he did not believe that Because of this, in 2011, Joshua families could be forever because his and Heilala Garcia had considered parents were divorced. He did getting a divorce. “Our family not think people could have “I realized that ... Christ was falling apart,” he said. second chances, but he said wasn’t looking down at However, things began to his opinion changed while me. He came down to change after he started being in Hawaii. my level, looked me in working at the Polynesian the eye, told me that Cultural Center. He said he Blessings of Laie everything was going felt as though he was finally “Laie is a sacred and to be okay and helped able to help his family. holy place. Because of this, me get up.” Additionally at church, a I was changing. I started new Sunday School teacher began believing in the promises, one to help Joshua Garcia remember the by one. I started reading the truths he had forgotten, he explained. scriptures more,” said Joshua Garcia. “I realized that ... Christ wasn’t looking As he read the scriptures and General down at me. He came down to my level, Conference talks, he said he “felt stronger and looked me in the eye, told me that everything stronger spiritually each day.” was going to be okay and helped me get up.” In time, he and his wife went to the Joshua Garcia said he wanted to be happy, and temple. He shared, “I felt that it was the Savior he wanted happiness for his family. who had come to receive me. It was such a One day, he chose to ride his bike on an beautiful experience. Soon after that, Heilala alternate route as he went to work. He said he and I were sealed to our three beautiful babies.” had an impression that told him very quietly, but firmly, “Go there.”

Graphics by Esther Insigne

MAY 2020


As they reach 12 years of marriage, he said he is grateful for his wife and the support she has been to him. “I am grateful that the Plan of Salvation allows us to be imperfect... I can experience joy on a regular basis, and I now have a deep knowledge that keeps growing as I learn and grow closer to Christ.” His life did not magically become easier because of his new relationship with Christ, explained Joshua Garcia. However, because of his new relationship with Christ, he said he no longer had to live “with the guilt, pain and sorrow from the past. I did not have to be me. I was free, and I was reborn.” Joshua Garcia said working at PCC helped change his life. “I had a college degree. I had years of managing a business and directing teams. I have worked in multiple fields with training and talent development. But I came in and restarted at PCC by cleaning the Gateway building.” Joshua Garcia is now the manager of the Gateway building. Oketi Te’ekiu, a junior from Tonga majoring in mathematics, said, “Uncle Josh is a godly man. I am not saying that he is perfect, but I recognize that he is always seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit before he makes decisions or does something.” She believes this makes his heart full of gratitude, love and mercy. His leadership has touched the heart of many of his employees. Gabriela Gomez, a BYUH graduate from Guatemala, described Joshua Garcia as someone who helps others to become leaders.“He is the type of boss who trusts his employees and allows them to grow. He is patient, respectful and loving with everyone. “Working with him has been a blessing. He leads, teaches and inspires with the Spirit. He cares about each one of his employees and believes in their potential. I’m thankful to be part of his Gateway team.”

Top photo: Joshua Garcia said he is becoming a better father as he draws closer to God. Middle: Heilala Garcia and Joshua Garcia smile behind mountains and greenery. Although the two were close to a divorce in 2011, they are still married and raising their family together. Bottom: 38 KE Gabriela ALAK A ’I Gomez shared Joshua is the type of boss who trusts his employees and allows them to grow. Photos provided by the Garcias.

“Remembering Colors” Another way Joshua Garcia serves the community is through his non-profit called “Remembering Colors.” With his wife, Heilala Garcia, they hope to connect people with their past, as well as their future, by encouraging family history work, cultural pride and acceptance of all cultures. Joshua Garcia said he learned valuable lessons about preserving and portraying cultures, arts, crafts, foods and dances of

ancestors through working at the PCC. “This is the way we connect with our ancestors. This is family history. I truly believe that the greatest cause we can be involved in is the gathering of scattered Israel.” The “Remembering Colors” website features children’s books Joshua Garcia has written. These books have the purpose of bringing families and people together by expressing the differences in cultures and learning about others. The first book he wrote, titled “The Kalo Plant,” is based on a girl who moves to a new place and is bullied. She learns a story about the kalo plant through her uncle. Joshua Garcia learned about the kalo plant from Uncle Sione Feinga, who works at the Church’s Kapaka Farm. He taught him the parts of the plant and their meanings. Because kalo can be found in Tonga, Hawaii and the Philippines, “The Kalo Plant” teaches children they are all united through one common plant. Heilala Garcia said, “Even though we are all different people from different places, we all came from the same family, and we should love people no matter what.” To learn more about his two other children’s books that are published, go to the “Remembering Colors” website: www.

I am grateful that the Plan of Salvation allows us to be imperfect... I can experience joy on a regular basis, and I now have a deep knowledge that keeps growing as I learn and grow closer to Christ. - Joshua Garcia

” Pictured are the covers for two of Joshua Garcia’s books. Photos provided MAY by the 2020 Garcias. 39

Professor teams with nephew to teach Samoan language to local children BY LEIANI BROWN It’s Saturday afternoon. Ceiling fans gently spin above about 100 children seated cross-legged on the La’ie Elementary Cafeteria floor. All heads face a single figure sitting just above them on the faded green steps, smiling as she softly prompts them to repeat after her. “‘Savalivali’ means go for a walk,” the children repeat in sing-song chant, squirming in their lavalavas and black T-shirts that display the name of their group, “Tava’esina.” Tava’esina is a Samoan bird, explained Tofamamao “Semi” Taulogo, the group’s creator, who said he chose the name because of the accompanying Samoan proverb. “E mamae le tava’e i ona fulu. It means the tava’e bird is proud of its feathers,” said Taulogo. “As Samoans, this is how we show our pride in our culture.” The birth of Tava’esina The woman teaching is Taulogo’s aunt, Rowena Reid, assistant professor in the Center for Learning & Teaching, Distance Learning, Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Culture, Language & Performing Arts. She has taught Samoan at BYU–Hawaii for more than 20 years. “I’ve had a lot of requests from the community to teach Samoan for adults,” said Reid, who explained she could never find the time, despite a few tries here and there over the years. After attending her grandchildren’s Polynesian dance recital, Reid said her passion for perpetuating Samoan language and culture was renewed. “I thought, ‘What about Samoans? Come on.You’ve got to teach your own, your own language, your own dances.’” Reid said she knew her nephew already wanted to teach dances, so the two of them combined forces and created Tava’esina, a Laie-based group for children and youth ages to learn Samoan language, dance and culture. They began by creating a website,, to see if there was an interest,



explained Reid, who said she was floored by the number of people wanting to sign up. “We were worried because there are a lot of kids, but the kids are so busy.You know you’ve got school. Then you’ve got games Saturday mornings, and now you’re going to ask them to come again at 1? And I thought, ‘Well, we’ll just wait and see,’” said Reid. Taulogo, the driving force behind Tava’esina, described how the idea first came into his mind and the vision he has for its future.

“I see this going on for a while. I see it building people and bringing everybody together, not only in culture but also through the Lord and the gospel.” - Tofamamao Taulogo “It’s small right now. Just one hour. But I know it will grow.” He also explained how the gospel played a considerable role in the inspiration behind Tava‘esina. Taulogo shared he wondered for years what he was supposed to do with his life, and when he started coming back to church and “striving to do the little things,” ideas formed in his head. “I see this going on for a while. I see it building people and bringing everybody together, not only in culture but also through the Lord and the gospel.” “Everyone will probably see it as just a little dance group. If we do this how we’re supposed to and build it to where everyone is sharing their and talents with each other, then that will be wonderful.” A platform for families Taulogo explained his vision is for people from all over the community to share their knowledge and talents for everyone to benefit. “I’m just one person, but there are so many

people in our community who teach and who don’t really have a platform, a place to share themselves,” said Taulogo. Most of the children who attend are Laie and Kahuku-based families with Samoan heritage. However, adding all are welcome, Taulogo said he was delighted a couple of women from Honolulu and Kaneohe also brought their children. Although the group has officially only met a few times so far, Reid shared how parents have already volunteered to help out, with one father stepping up to assist in teaching Samoan language to the youth. “I do notice some parents do strive to teach their kids,” said Taulogo. “But at the same time, I know sometimes they are just busy, and they don’t really have time to teach these kids. So, this is just to help bring everybody out and actually set a time slot aside to teach them.” Joy Dela Cruz drives from Kahuku to bring her 6-year-old granddaughter, who is half Samoan and half Filipino-Caucasian, to Tava’esina every Saturday. “I love that she’s getting the exposure to that side of her culture,” said Dela Cruz. “She does get exposure, but this is more intentional teaching, as opposed to when [she’s] with [her] cousins [and] may not be as tuned in. But I think here she understands it’s a class, so her attentiveness to it is more than it might be in just a family setting.” Reid explained she received many phone calls from parents after the group’s initial opening social, expressing their gratitude and saying they have meant to teach their children Samoan for years. Reid added her personal experience. Despite teaching Samoan on campus for more than 20 years, her children struggle to speak the language fully and have recently asked her to teach Samoan to her grandchildren. “For us coming from the islands for the first time in the mainland, you teach your kids English because that’s the language of the world,” explained Reid.

Rowena Reid shared parents have volunteered to help teach Samoan to the youth. Photo by Chad Hsieh. MAY 2020


“You have to learn English to communicate in business and school. So, you just speak English, and then you speak Samoan to whoever can understand you, like your mom or your sister. Then, you turn around and realize your kids don’t know Samoan. It’s kind of sad.” A language of dance Reid shared how Tava’esina uses dance to show a love of learning Samoan language and culture. “It was never a written language.You just learn through singing. That’s how we tell our stories. We don’t write it. We sing it,” said Reid, who explained how she plans to teach the children the words, pronunciation and meaning behind any song Taulogo decides to incorporate in their dances. Dela Cruz said she believes groups like Tava’esina are crucial. “I’m a teacher myself, so I know the importance to me of perpetuating culture with my students. I think it’s equally important to me for my granddaughter to identify with the language, practices and food – every part of it.” She added her granddaughter loves it and looks forward to it every week because of the dancing and how Taulogo makes it fun for the kids. “Parents say, ‘Oh my child’s not a dancer,’” said Taulogo. “[But] everybody’s learning. I’m still learning. The teachers are still learning. Everybody’s learning at one time… just come.” Due to coronavirus concerns, all Tave’esina activities have been canceled at this time. Check with the website for contact information.

Although the group has officially only met a few times so far, Reid shared how parents have already volunteered to help out, with one father stepping up to assist in teaching Samoan language to the youth. Semi Taulogo says their students apply what they have learned from the class through songs and dances. Photos by Chad Hsieh. 42



global faith

Church members from around the world share what makes the Church unique in their home country BY LEIANI BROWN Korea Sinyoung Kim a senior from Korea majoring in TESOL, shared, “One thing that impressed me while growing up in the Church in Korea [is how] the members are always sharing their happiness and even sadness. People are willing to cooperate and help each other. They all serve each other by visiting, cooking, singing, messaging, or hugging. It is pretty often the members share their trials and hardships in the Relief Society meeting. It helps people to serve those people who are weak or poor in their own situation. Korean members of the Church have their own way and method to help others by using their talents.” Taiwan Henna Hai-Wei Qiu a sophomore from Taiwan majoring in graphic design, explained, “In Taiwan, it is very open to all religions. However, most of the people in Taiwan are

Buddhist. So, it is hard for the missionaries to preach the gospel there, especially for the older generations. “When I was young, growing up in the Church, I was always the ‘special one’ in a group of people. The reason is one of the most important parts of Taiwanese culture is drinking tea. So you can buy tea or people would like to buy tea for you. I always had to reject them, and tell them it is because of my religion. Most of the people respect me, but they are shocked and cannot believe it. [Not being able to] drink tea is also the most common problem for the investigators in Taiwan.” South Africa Joana Chibota, a junior from South Africa majoring in biomedical science, described how, “While I was born in Zimbabwe, I grew up in South Africa. And because there weren’t a lot of members where I lived, we were all quite close.

Graphics by Haeley van der Werf

Church gatherings feel more special because the gospel is what united us [and] what gave us a break from the world.” China Andrew Zhang, a graduate who received a degree in graphic design, said, “The only thing different is China doesn’t have their own chapels. All our gathering places are rented apartments or houses. Also our Seminary is online and students have to get up at 5:30 a.m. to log in the online class throughout the week.” Hong Kong Alice Lee, a sophomore TESOL major, shared, “As a member of the Church in Hong Kong, I can feel a sense of belonging because I can understand the language and feel that members love me.”

MAY 2020


‘Uhane Section

A PASSION FOR GENEALOGY Suzanne Bowen shares family history brings healing and inspires others



BY SERENA DUGAR IOANE Discovering more than 5,000 names, photos and sources of her family, Suzanne Blattberg Bowen is devoted to genealogy work, inspiring those around her to do the same. Through family history work, she met her husband, Religion Professor Matthew Bowen.

Painful past Suzanne Bowen, a special instructor in the Faculty of Religious Education, said, “When I asked my grandparents about our family history, they always answered, ‘We have a painful past, so don’t ask.’ It made me more curious.” She is of Jewish descent and found out 70 percent of her relatives and distant family members died in the Holocaust, which was “the genocide of millions of Jews by the German Nazi government during WW II,” according to Oxford dictionary. She shared when she started doing her genealogy, her family tree had only three

generations, including her, her parents and her grandparents. Her father suggested her to search from people who have the same last name, Blattberg, which was her maiden name. She found other Blattbergs and sent her small family tree to them. She received a response from five of them, but unfortunately, none of them had ancestors in common. However, after 20 years of research, she shared she has found the common ancestor for all Blattbergs, and so all people named Blattberg are related. According to Suzanne Bowen, she visited her relatives around the United States with her sister and showed her family tree and collected their photos, records and family trees.

Inspiration from grief Suzanne Bowen said the death of her infant son, Nathan, inspired her to dive into family history even deeper. “I believe my son teaches the gospel on the other side of the veil, so I can help him by doing family history from this side of the veil.”

According to Suzanne Bowen, doing genealogy comforted her when she mourned her son. She said she started doing family history every night, even though she had a fulltime job at the U.S. Treasury Department and cared for her young son. Every year on their deceased son’s birthday, the Bowens said they go to the temple to do ordinances for their ancestors to honor their son. Suzanne Bowen said in the beginning, she could not find many names. However, she spent 10 to 15 hours every week doing family history, and God blessed her effort with great results. So far, she has discovered more than 5,000 people and sources. She attached them to her account and other genealogy platforms. Now she provides the most information to the Blattberg Family line. Matthew Bowen said, “She still does family history every night for at least 15 minutes. It is great to see her talent and ability to do family history blossom.”

“She still does family history every night for at least 15 minutes. It is great to see her talent and ability to do family history blossom.” - Matthew Bowen

Suzanne Bowen said she and her family go to the temple to do ordinances for their ancestors to honor their deceased son on his birthday. Photo by Keyu Xiao MAY 2020


“When we do family history and temple work, we become Saviors on Mount Zion for our ancestors.” - Suzanne Bowen

The older couple in this photo are Bracha Blattberg Schiff and Arieh Schiff, Suzanne Bowen’s relatives who are Holocaust survivors and were interviewed for the film “Schindler’s List.”

“I credit Suzanne for finding my 5,667 relatives. When I stick with my family history work, Suzanne is always there to help me and answer my questions. She is very generous with her time to help me do my family history.” - Anne Merrill

Blessings of genealogy Suzanne Bowen said she gained a friendship with relatives she never knew before. She also testified genealogy work has healing power. “I contacted one of my second cousins on Facebook, and she told me her grandfather, my great uncle, wrote his life story when he was 95 years old. “I asked for a copy, and when I read it, all of the hard feelings I had for [my great uncle] melted away. I was able to feel compassion for him and forgive him for being unkind about my religious beliefs.” Suzanne Bowen quoted Obadiah 1:21 and said, “When we do family history and temple work, we become Saviors on Mount Zion for our ancestors.” She also said the temple is an important part of family history work. 46


Every time she goes to the temple, she

explained, new breakthroughs happen in her search for family. “When I went to the temple last time, my cousins contacted me and told me they are going to bring a tape I was seeking to obtain for 20 years.” She said her cousins’ parents were Holocaust survivors and were interviewed for the movie “Schindler’s List.” She has wanted to have the tape for so long but was not able to get a copy. However, her cousins are going to come to Hawaii soon to bring a copy of the interview tape. She explained, “I am always busy with my children, work, and chores. However, doing family history helps me to manage my time better and get done many more things.”

Family history to love story Matthew and Suzanne first met in an institute class in Washington, D.C. He said he knows the Yiddish language and carried the Hebrew Bible to his institute classes. “Suzanne asked me to help her to translate her family records in the Yiddish language. Soon after, I asked her out, and that is how we started.” Matthew Bowen shared he admires his wife’s commitment to genealogy. “Even before I met her, she had done a lot of family history work. Because of her influence, I am doing my side of family history now. She taught me a lot, but she is still much more knowledgeable than me.”

Teaching by example Matthew Bowen said six years ago, the BYUH family history teacher left the island, so they needed someone to replace her. “Suzanne was a perfect candidate, and she took over the class willingly.” One of her former students, Alexis Jimenez, a recent graduate from California who majored in psychology, said, “I love how she shares her own personal experiences of doing family history because it inspires me to keep doing mine. She teaches with her own great example and passion. Since I took her class, I found several family names and great historical connections in my family.” Besides teaching REL 261, she also inspires others to do genealogy, including her neighbor Ann Merrill, a special instructor in the Faculty of Arts & Letters. Merrill said, “Suzanne got me interested in family history. She is very devoted and diligent about it. She does it every night. She is also very brave and contacts random people who have the same last name. She is determined to take care of her family members on the other side of the veil.” Merrill is another passionate genealogist and has indexed and reviewed more than 12,000 documents. “I credit Suzanne for finding my 5,667 relatives. When I stick with my family history work, Suzanne is always there to help me and answer my questions. She is very generous with her time to help me do my family history.”

Graphics by Hannah Manalang Photos of the Bowen Family are by Stephanie Eldenberg MAY 2020


The holy land Students and alumnus share about Church's unique presence in Jordan BY BROOKE GURYN Living in the region where Christ ministered, according to students and an alumnus, is not only special because of historical context, but also because of the service faithful Church members show daily. Chris Udall, a BYU–Hawaii alumnus and founder of the non-profit “Rebuild For Peace” located in Jordan, shared there are several branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint in Jordan. The largest branch is English-speaking, which is mostly embassy workers. There are also two Arabic-speaking local Jordanian branches. Branches meet on Friday mornings to observe Islamic tradition, shared Udall. “Everybody in Jordan is under immense stress and pressure just from being associated with Christianity. So, the unity you have in those branches is incredible.” Udall expressed how Church members in Jordan are some of the strongest people he has seen because of how they are actively serving, unlike any other ward he has been a part of. “Also, many people are struggling, but the depth of conviction and testimony is certainly not about the picky details but instead faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing else,” said Udall. While attending church, Udall noted the Church members would serve one another diligently. When a boy would be preparing for a mission, a hat would be passed around in Elders Quorum, and they would fill it up.



According to Udall, members would take off their suit coats and ties to give to one another. “I have seen members leaving church with just their undershirt because they gave what they had to support each other. That is the kind of mentality everyone has.” Serving refugees Echo Gray, a sophomore from Arizona majoring in biology, served refugee children in Jordan during the Summer of 2019 through the Youth Refugee Coalition. According to, 70 percent of Jordanians are refugees. Many of them are multi-generational refugees, mostly from Syria, Iran and Iraq. Gray explained, “They are on hold with life. They can’t get an education. Kids can’t go to school. Parents can’t work because it’s hard for them to find jobs.” She went to a few different places to give children something to do every day. She taught them English, played games, did art and led sports activities. One organization she spent the most time in was called the Collateral Repair Project. They have programs for children, along with English classes for adults and other life skills courses, noted Gray. “The people were so thankful for our help. There were a couple of teachers who brought us back to their homes and fed us. They were friendly and loved to talk to us.”

Church history in Jordan “There are not many members in Jordan. Church is held in an office space in an office building,” shared Gray. Udall also had a similar experience attending church, expressing, “I went to the second floor of an office building, and the elevator doors opened. It was like walking into any other chapel.” He said the sacrament meeting he attended had a picture of the King of Jordan next to the picture of the Savior. According to Udall, this specific example shows how the Church tries to respect foreign governments. In 1989, Elder Russell M. Nelson, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time, said, “We do not proselyte in an Islamic country, but we are free to answer questions and carry on our activities there through their policy of religious tolerance,” according to the Church News. Gray continued, “[Church members] are not allowed to proselyte openly, but if other Christians of different faiths ask questions, they are allowed to answer and have them at church. But if a Muslim comes to church, they have to send them away because that’s the law in Jordan.” Left: Christ Udall and students at a kafia training school in Jordan. Right: Members of the Youth Refugee Coalition interacted with Jordanians, who were thankful of the group’s service. Photos provided by Udall and Gray.

Chris Udall in their fashion design center, showing the skills he learned from his students. Photo provided by Udall.

MAY 2020


Distinguishing between spirituality and religion Community members discuss how they are intertwined with one being internal and the other external but providing needed covenants BY MICHAEL KRAFT

Although the differences can be subtle, BYU– Hawaii faculty and students said there are important distinctions between religion and spirituality, and said the two depend on each other for someone to be fulfilled. There can be many ways to identify the distinction between spirituality and religion, but there is a distinction between the two, said Stephanie Marcum, an adjunct faculty member in the Faculty of Religious Eduction. Marcum described spirituality as internal. “I think about spirituality as being a connection between you and God.” Spirituality is the personal effort people make to get in touch with the matters of the soul, said Mark Maslar, a sophomore from California majoring in theater education. He said spirituality is individual and based on people’s unique experiences. Religion, on the other hand, is the efforts made by groups and communities to get in touch with matters of the soul, said Maslar. “Here, we support and uplift one another through tried and tested means of spirituality: i.e. prayer, scripture study, church attendance, etc.” The idea of spirituality being the same as religion is a common misconception, said 50


Mia Boice, a senior from Georgia majoring in psychology. “To me, spirituality is the internal, while religion is the external, in regard to someone’s beliefs.” Maslar said religion and spirituality both need each other to thrive. He said religion without spirituality is empty. “This is why people often grow disillusioned with religion because they did not receive what they needed from it spiritually.” According to Maslar, spirituality is not enough on its own, and cannot reach its full potential without religion alongside it. “The structure and direction we gain from religion is one which can inspire and provide purpose for our spiritual journeys.” Marcum dug deeper into this idea. “You can be religious and [go] to church, but not be spiritual if you don’t have that connection to God.” Marcum said it can be a tricky situation, and people may ask themselves, “[If] I’m spiritual ... why do I need church?” She answered this by citing the ability religion has, through covenants, to connect people to God, “not occasionally, but eternally.” Marcum said God gives people rules and directives, one of which is to keep the commandments. She said, “If we want to have

God in our life, we have to do something. So that’s usually where religion helps guide us.” Maslar said the foundation for a full and rich religious experience rests on the individual. “They must make a commitment. This commitment can take many forms, but it is the willingness … that helps the individual take action.” The best way for people to build up their own spirituality is to put in work on their own, said Marcum. This includes scripture study, prayer, and meditation she explained. Marcum related building one's spirituality to the parable of the 10 virgins. She said just as the 10 virgins had to secure their own oil and could not share it with the others, people need to find their spirituality on their own because it is a personal matter. When people have strong spirituality, they often ask why they need religion if their relationship with God is strong, said Marcum. “The answer to that would be God expects us to make and keep covenants. And to do that, there has to be some outward things that happen. … Those covenants come in the form of the sacrament, always remembering Him, [and] keeping His commandments.”

Graphics by Michael Kraft

MAY 2020


Creating a new normal BY OLIVIA HIXSON

How Church members in Laie are trying to keep a sense of normalcy during the coronavirus From worldwide fasts and new adjustments to church meetings in the home, Laie members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it has been a bit of a bumpy road. Members said they are trying to stay connected and feel the Spirit by holding online church meetings and having missionary homecoming parades. Laie Church member, Aaron Shumway, is a Seminary and Institute instructor for BYU– Hawaii students. Shumway has been holding Institute classes through the online platform Zoom. He said he sees the positive effects these classes have on his students every time they all sign on together on Thursdays. “Any challenges [with Zoom calls] were minimal compared to the benefits we’re seeing of the young people... having a forum where they can learn the gospel, ask questions, talk about things in a way that is relevant to them and hear from their peers who have relevant experiences. Though it’s not ideal, we’re still feeling the Spirit through technology.” Feeling the Spirit anytime, anywhere Shumway went on to explain how these weekly Institute classes help make gospel 52


learning and seeking the Spirit easier. He said it also creates an accessible outlet for students to come together and share their thoughts on the gospel. Even though they all wish they could meet face to face, Shumway said the Spirit is always present on their Zoom calls. “A young adult who shows up for Institute online can still feel the Spirit, receive answers to prayers and feel connected to other people… We’re still getting the blessings we would have received in those situations.” Helam Casey, a regular Institute student from Punaluu, said this promise from Shumway resonated with him deeply because the Zoom classes have been a positive experience, since he feels the Spirit online just as much as in person. “That alone has been a testimony to me of the truthfulness of the gospel and the love of Christ. It’s nice knowing no matter our circumstances, no matter what situations we’re in, if we strive to do everything we can to live, teach and learn the gospel, then [God is] just going to provide for us. He provides that through the blessing of feeling the Spirit.” Another Institute student, Tay Steele, said, “It just goes to show that no matter if we meet

in person or on technology ... the Spirit can still be present. I’ve felt the Spirit just as much over Zoom, and the Spirit has always been there.” Lavinia Vakalahi, a freshman from Maui studying elementary education, said participating in weekly online Institute meetings has helped her open up more in class as she is in the comfort of her own home. She said this new setting had strengthened her conviction in the gospel even more since it has been hosted on Zoom. “People really don’t notice, but the little things do matter, and Institute’s one of them. When you’re online, not only will you find joy and happiness, but also you know peace comes along with it as well.” A missionary procession Another way church members in Laie have stayed connected is by welcoming missionaries who returned home early. David Lewis, a member of Laie 3rd Ward, said he helped to put together a drive-by missionary welcome. Lewis shared it consisted of ward members driving by the homes of the

Photo provided by David Lewis Graphics by Hannah Manalang

“A young adult who shows up for Institute online can still feel the Spirit, receive answers to prayers and feel connected to other people… We’re still getting the blessings we would have received in those situations.” - Aaron Shumway

returned missionaries to make them feel loved and welcomed. According to Lewis, there were about 10 to 15 vehicles loaded with people. They were decorated festively on the nights of March 28 and 31. He said the parades were full of cheering for the newly returned missionaries. To comply with social distancing and to add a bit of Hawaiian charm, Lewis said there was a car with a 6-foot PVC pole to put leis on each of the returned missionaries. “They need to know we are so proud of their efforts. It doesn’t matter if they went for a day, or if they went for 24 months. It doesn’t matter if they were an elder, a sister, a senior or a youth... They weren’t going to have an opportunity to speak in church or be in a group of people to be recognized for their efforts, and I want them to know that I thought they were awesome for going out.” A newly returned missionary herself, Essie Workman said the parades helped her feel loved by her community in Laie after serving in the Armenia-Georgia Mission. She said the excitement of the people in the cars mirrored their excitement over Kahuku High School

football games. Workman said it helped her feel more validated in her mission after feeling disappointed about returning home early. “It made me feel like I really was a missionary and that I returned with honor. It’s hard to come home early just because you feel like your work is not done yet, and there’s so much more to do. So, there’s a sense of shame and sadness that comes with that and the disappointment. “To come home and have people welcome you home despite the obstacles that are in the way to welcoming you home … helped me know God also appreciated my efforts and the Church appreciated my efforts and that what I did was still worth something.” Eric Workman, Essie’s father, also said he felt an overwhelming sense of joy and devotion from his fellow community members as they drove by their home. “As a parent, you feel a little bit sad they're not going to get a grand homecoming, an opportunity to speak in Sacrament Meeting and to have everyone be able to hear their testimonies. So, the fact that members of the ward put this together and everybody showed

up to get in a long procession line, shows they were reaching out and wanting to recognize these kids, which meant a lot to our family... We are really grateful to have had the extra ward support in welcoming Essie home.” Essie said this parade was an excellent demonstration of how people can stay connected and together, even with social distancing and quarantines in place. “I’m glad that we can all support each other and find ways to help and serve each other, even in this time of uncertainty. I’m so grateful that we’re all in this together and that we lift each other.”

Graphic by Hannah Manalang

MAY 2020


Calling all His


Missionaries who attended BYU–Hawaii share experiences of returning home abruptly BY BROOKE GURYN



Left and middle: Not being able to say goodbye to her investigators or members was hard for Sister Payne. Right: Sister Braswell shared she felt peace despite the chaos from the ongoing pandemic. Photos provided by Sisters Payne and Braswell.

Missionaries who studied at BYU–Hawaii said they are learning the importance of discipleship and how to serve others from home after returning from their mission due to the coronavirus pandemic. They said they are yearning to return to where they were serving their Heavenly Father and gathering his sheep. Hannah Braswell from North Carolina, who served in the São Paulo Brazil Temple Visitors’ Center, said, “I have been feeling peace about everything, and it’s odd because everything has been so chaotic. “I feel a lot of peace in knowing this is where I am supposed to be and knowing there are things I need to learn … It has been a lot of fine-tuning and figuring out where I stand since I have been home.” She said she is going to wait a year and serve again. In the meantime, she plans on studying at BYU–Hawaii online for the Spring Semester and studying the scriptures as she prepares to go back out. Being a disciple Elder Jacob Strathearn, from Iowa and served in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission, said, “We were notified that we would be evacuated from [Madagascar] as soon as possible. Due to the risk that the coronavirus brought to the country, the president of Madagascar made a decision to close down the borders to foreign travel. Consequently, we had less than 48 hours to get out.” Although Strathearn questioned why he needed to experience this trial, he said being a disciple is never easy. A disciple is a follower of Christ, he shared, and “Jesus’ apostles risked

their lives and were killed [for] being a disciple of Christ. This is something I kept close to me during this change. “The idea that discipleship isn’t easy, but if I push through [these] hard times and show my faith and trust in God despite everything going on around me. That is what missionary work and the Atonement is all about.You get back up after you have fallen down,” said Strathearn Strathearn has been reassigned to the Canada Vancouver Mission, reporting July 22. Sister Emily Payne, from California serving in the Guatemala Coban Mission, was temporarily released and asked to prepare to either go back to Guatemala or stateside. She said she had grown to love the people of Guatemala, their traditions, and the culture. “I learned to really love it, and [imagining] going back to serving in a setting I have been in my whole life is [hard]. “I love my Savior, and I want to feed the sheep, whether it’s Guatemalan sheep or American sheep. He knows what’s best for me, and if serving in the states would benefit other people, then I am willing to do that,” she continued. Similarly, Strathearn said, “This isn’t my mission. It is the Lord’s mission ... The Lord knows my situation. He knows where I go that I will be able to help people. If I turn this moment into a learning experience and throw my pride out the window.” I will go, and I will do Payne said, “I didn’t get to say goodbye to my investigators or members, and that was really hard. I had to get up and leave.”

Strathearn shared the example of George Q. Cannon and his willingness to go and do. It inspired him to learn about Cannon leaving his family to serve his mission on the eastern side of the United States. He said, “Instead of complaining, he told the messenger Brigham Young sent that he was coming, and he said goodbye to his family. He left the next morning. “He wasn’t going to Madagascar, Taiwan or Australia, but going to another state in the U.S. That didn’t affect him. He didn’t care about [having] to leave his family … Instead, he cared about serving the Lord and bringing people unto Christ.” Serving at home Since returning home, Payne has been called as a ward missionary. She said she was asked to call the elderly in her ward and share a scripture with them, talking and providing them company during the isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. She also shared a missionary moment. Payne said, “My neighbor is from Costa Rica, and I have been helping him in his garden. We will talk in Spanish, and I [have] been practicing the lessons with him. He’s not a member, but I [have] been practicing to teach investigators, and I hope he is gaining from it too.” Strathearn said he has been connecting with people through social media. He is teaching a man in his mission English and in return, the man is teaching him Malagasy. He said, “We video call all the time. We are both getting something out of the relationship.”

Left and middle: Elder Strathearn shared discipleship is not easy. Right photo: Sister Braswell plans on going back to the mission field after a year. Photos provided by Elder Strathearn and Sister Braswell. MAY 2020


40 years of building relationships

Leaders and students reflect on experiences with China in light of Shanghai Temple announcement BY LEIANI BROWN Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, paused and, voice wavering, finished the list of new temple announcements in the April 2020 General Conference with, “Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.” “I actually wept,” said ‘Uncle’ John Muaina, a retired vice president of the Polynesian Cultural Center, whose professional career and life experiences are closely linked to mainland China. Muaina now helps out at the PCC as a senior Human Resources adviser. “When President Nelson became the president of the Church, I said to myself, ‘If anyone’s going to be the one to usher in work there in China, it would be fitting that President Nelson be the one.’” Muaina further explained not only President Nelson’s relationship, but also the Church’s relationship with mainland China goes back to the early days of BYUH and the PCC. Bobby Akoi, the BYUH chaplain and former director of protocol at the PCC, said his excitement of the announcement of the Shanghai Temple also came in context with the university and PCC’s background with 56 KE ALAK A ’I mainland China.

“I think I cried for 10 minutes. I really had a hard time trying to calm myself down because we’ve seen what the Church, PCC and BYUH have done for the past years to get the Church into China and to develop our relationship. “Of course, I was grateful. I was so excited for our Chinese saints there right now who have the opportunity now to seal their families together. Some of them already did because they went to Hong Kong, but now they can have their own temple. For me, that’s what this life is all about. It’s getting all of our saints to the temple.”

The Asian Executive Management Program Part of Muaina’s job involves running the Asian Executive Management Program (AEM), a program that started with six Chinese interns who came to BYUH and the PCC in September 1981. “What happens is we assign each of them to different departments at the Polynesian Cultural Center,” explained Muaina. “We have them also attend their classes just like any regular student, and most people wouldn’t have ever known that they were from mainland China.”

ChiTi Chen, a student of the AEM program from Fall 2019 to Winter 2020, said she believes the announcement of a temple in Shanghai shows the Church has built a good relationship with China. “The AEM program is already 35 years old, and I think it’s a very important bridge to that [relationship]. Sometimes it’s hard to build an official relationship with the government, but it’s easier by the people.” Chen said she believes it’s less of an official relationship between the Church and the Chinese government that has made the difference, and more so, the individual relationships among the Chinese people and Church members. Chen, who said she is “not a member yet,” but attended Church meetings with her friends while in Hawaii, added she is happy for the Chinese people to have a temple in Shanghai. “I know that it’s a little bit hard for the Chinese people that they cannot go to the temple. Not only the LDS Church but also for many other religions, they don’t have so many chances to reach out… I believe [a temple in Shanghai] is very big progress for both the Church and the Chinese government.”

The AEM program today usually consists of about four to five interns from China and one from Taiwan. Chen said she found out about the AEM program in her homeland of Taiwan through an organization called the Alliance Cultural Foundation selecting applicants to come and attend classes at BYUH without declaring a major, as well as get an inside look at the PCC as a business model. “I really like the people [at BYUH and PCC]. I met a lot of managers from PCC… and it inspires me how they treat their employees. The PCC says, ‘One Ohana, Sharing Aloha,’ and it’s not just a slogan. They really do it. I totally felt like I was a part of the ohana when I was at BYU–Hawaii, and it made me feel so good. I know I will go back to that ohana one day.” Chen was not the only one to receive a lasting impression from her time at BYUH and the PCC. One of the first original six Chinese interns,Yiannan Wang, made a statement after her time spent at BYUH and the PCC in 1981, which Muaina said AEM still uses in describing the program today: “I loved Brigham Young University–Hawaii because it changed not only my mind, but it changed my heart.”

A history of Chinese dignitaries and divine meetings According to Muaina,Yiannan Wang would later tell her father, a Chinese government official, to visit the PCC if he ever had the chance. A little over two years later, Vice Premier Zhao Ziyang visited BYUH and the PCC, which he chose as his one cultural event during his whole tour of the entire United States, Muaina said. Muaina, who remembered this historic visit, said Vice Premier Zhao Ziyang arrived by helicopter, landing in the middle of the flag circle on BYUH campus, and upon stepping out to greet the crowd, shouted, “Aloha!” His would be the first of many visits from Chinese government officials over the years, including Vice Premier Li Lanqiang in July of 1994. This particular visit was significant, explained Muaina, because of the interaction between the vice premier and President Nelson, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at that time. According to the Church’s website, President Nelson’s personal history with mainland China involved teaching at Shandong School of Medicine in Jinan, visiting two other Chinese universities and performing a

The Asian Executive Management Program graduates pose for a photo several years ago. Photo provided by John Muaina

life-saving operation on one of China’s famous opera stars in 1984. Muaina said he remembered sitting in the conference room as Vice Premier Li Lanqiang recognized Elder Nelson as the heart surgeon who taught at his alma mater. “And at that point, Li Lanqiang put his hand on the arm of Elder Nelson, and said to all those there, ‘We know Elder Nelson. Elder Nelson is Chinese.’” “For a person like myself,” continued Muaina, “and many who were there, we were just so amazed the Lord could bring this together, knowing that Li Lanqiang and Elder Nelson were at the same university… At least for me, it was such an amazing comment that the Lord is very meticulous about how he brings things together.” Josie Luo, a senior from Guangdong, China studying TESOL education, who heard President Nelson’s announcement of a temple in Shanghai roughly 25 years later, said what amazes her is God’s timing. “I didn’t think we would get a temple so soon. I knew there would be one in my lifetime because my patriarchal blessing indicates that. So I knew it would happen one day, but I didn’t think [it would be] that soon. “When I heard it, I was super overwhelmed because I feel like I’m not ready. A lot of people are not ready for such a big message, but I am amazed how God used imperfect and not humble people to accomplish His work.” Luo compared it to job searching and how certain qualifications must be met, but added that she felt God had qualified them for this blessing even when they did not feel ready. “Mostly, I just felt overwhelmed by His mercy.”

Relations between China and the Church Of the Vice Premier Zhao Ziyang’s visit to Hawaii, Akoi said, “That was really the start of the Chinese governmental leaders coming to PCC. Since 1984, every year, someone has come from China from the Chinese government. “Several years later, in 1996, President Hinckley knew that we had good relationships with the government… So he asked us to make the arrangements. The person that was in charge was our senior vice president, John Muaina, and he is like our Chinese ambassador for the PCC. Everybody in the government knows John because he goes [to China] all the time. So, John made all the arrangements.” On May 28, 1996, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first president of the Church to visit mainland China, which he did after dedicating the new Hong Kong Temple, according to the Church Newsroom.

Graphic by Bruno Maynez MAY 2020 57

Muaina, who was also present for this historic occasion, said he remembers thousands of people lining the streets to meet them in Shenzhen before they went to a Chinese cultural park and nearby university patterned after the PCC and BYUH. It was here that one of President Hinckley’s interpreters pointed out a slight mistake, said Muaina, in the signs that read in Chinese: “We welcome President Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Polynesian Cultural Center,” who chuckled and said, “Well, technically that’s right.” Following this historic meeting, Akoi said he was involved in the First Presidency of the Church hosting the Chinese World Religious Research Center, a group of eight board members who traveled around the world, learning about different religions. The First Presidency, Akoi explained, hosted them in five cities throughout the United States in 1998, with Hawaii being their final stop. In addition to receiving a VIP tour of the PCC, Akoi said the Chinese religious research group also attended Church youth and family programs, where they learned how to make candy leis for graduation and enjoyed looking at Scouting merit badges. Akoi said he spent the car ride to the airport at the end of this experience talking with Elder Jia, a Church general authority who managed the Church’s presence in Asia at the time. Knowing these were the people who had the power to open China to the Church and missionary work, Akoi asked Elder Jia what he thought would happen next. “He said it would take some time, maybe years for anything to happen as far as the Church getting into China. ‘But I don’t think the Church is ready,’ he said … ‘If the Church were approved to go into China now, we would need 300 mission presidents. That’s how many we have right now.’”

The Church in China today Despite the country still being closed to missionary work, according to the Church’s website, “many individuals from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while living in other countries.” Ramona Zhang, a senior from Nanjing, China, studying communications, is one such individual. Zhang shared how she found the Church through friends while living in Singapore and was excited to hear about the new Shanghai Temple because of how much closer it will be to her than the Hong Kong Temple. She explained there is a small congregation in her city of about five to 10 members who meet in a small apartment unit for church meetings. “The temple in Shanghai means our Church has had a great improvement in China, and hopefully, one day missionaries will come to mainland China to teach the gospel.” Muaina shared remembering a call he received from a Church general authority in March of 2003 with news that the Chinese government recognized the Church and would then allow the Church to organize in mainland China. Abby Cen, a junior from Guangdong, China studying TESOL, said she lives in a city that is closer to the Hong Kong Temple, but is still excited for the changes a temple in Shanghai will bring. Cen joined the Church when she was 11 years old, and she had to take a two-hour bus ride to church because, at the time, her congregation was tiny. “To be honest, being a member in Guangdong was hard for me. I was afraid to tell others that I am a member because of the government. Sometimes, some strangers will come to the church, and ask what we are doing.”

“Before I came to BYUH, the government stopped us from having meetings on Sunday. We don’t have a church like here in Hawaii. We only rent a small house and have a meeting on Sunday. It is becoming better now. We found another place to have church meetings, and I believe it will become better in the future. The new temple will be the sign of opening to our church.” President Nelson explained in his announcement that the Shanghai Temple would be open only to Chinese members. The prophet also reminded members the Church does not send missionaries there and encourages members to honor and obey the law. “Expatriate and Chinese congregations will continue to meet separately. The Church’s legal status there remains unchanged. In an initial phase of facility use, entry will be by appointment only. The Shanghai Temple will not be a temple for tourists from other countries.” Additional information is available at

Chi Ti Chen said she believes it’s less of an official relationship between the Church and the Chinese government that has made the difference, and more so, the individual relationships among the Chinese people and Church members.

Graphic by Bruno Maynez



Translating for prophets Rebecca Udoh shares the process, highlights and challenges of being a General Conference translator BY MADI BERRY Preparation and humility were the keys to Rebecca Udoh’s Udoh shared some of the challenges she experienced success as a General Conference translator, according to while translating. “It was hard because sometimes the Udoh and her friends. An interaction with a professor put speakers changed what was in their talk, and I did not Rebecca Udoh, an alumna from Nigeria, on the path to know what to say in the middle of the talk.” become a General Conference translator. Udoh traveled to Preparation was essential for each conference, said Salt Lake City for each General Conference and translated Udoh. She said, “I always had to let the Spirit guide me the talks given from English into her first language, Efik. ... I would prepare myself spiritually. That was one of Udoh said she first got involved with translating in the greatest experiences for me because I had to leave 2010. “I was a student at Southern Virginia University, and everything behind and indulge in the Gospel. I loved the there was an English professor from Nigeria. He translated fact that I always had to let the Spirit guide me.” for General Conference, so I asked him what I would need “[Udoh] is very humble,” said Baniago. “ She’s to do to be able to translate.” uncommonly kind and hilarious. But I Teal Baniago, a junior from Florida think her wonderful and inspiring humility “She would receive majoring in communications and political is what makes her a great translator. the talks a couple science, shared her experience being I’m still inspired by the humility of this weeks in advance. I Udoh’s roommate during the time woman.” could see her working that she would translate for General Hiba Arkoh, an alumna from Ghana Conference. “She would receive the talks who received her degree in hospitality on them dutifully prior a couple weeks in advance. I could see to conference starting.” and tourism management, shared how she her working on them dutifully prior to became good friends with Udoh in her - Teal Baniago conference starting.” first year. She said, “Seeing someone who’s After getting into contact with the similar to you was amazing. … She fed coordinator, they called Udoh and asked if she would me when I needed food and did everything for me and my translate a sample talk for them. After translating the boyfriend.” sample, the coordinator told Udoh that she would be able Udoh stopped translating for General Conference to translate for them. in October of 2019. She shared, “I stopped because the “It was a great learning opportunity for me. I had Church got a mission in Nigeria that could translate the amazing experiences when I translated for General talks, so we did not need to do the translating anymore. I Conference. One of the experiences that I had was being think it was a good thing that the prophet was able to see able to meet with other translators from other countries. what would happen, and that was why he got the mission We would sometimes have up to 90 people translating.” for the saints in Nigeria.”

Udoh in Salt Lake City during April 2019 (left photo) and Oct. 2018 (right photo). Photos by Richard Ukorebi MAY 2020


Statues erected of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in front of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple depict a last ride together before their martyrdom inside Carthage Jail. Graphic by Kevin Brown