(experience of Panapa Lui on pg 135 of the 2009 Yearbook)
*in line with today's text, the following experiences are positive examples of 2 young people who showed courage by sharing their beliefs and sticking to their principles even when it would have been easier just to compromise or give up.
When we enrolled our son, Sopa in primary school, I gave the principal a copy of the brochure Jehovah's Witnesses and Education and explained our stand on religious and nationalistic activities. The next day, however, Sopa told us that the principal tore up the brochure before the assembled children and teachers and demanded that the Witness children sing a religious hymn. When they refused, he stood them before the entire assembly and demanded that they sing one of their own religious songs. He expected that this would frighten them into submission. However, Sopa urged the Witness children, "Let's sing 'We Thank You Jehovah,' " and he led the children in singing the song. The principal was impressed and commended Sopa for his courage. He and some of the other teachers later showed interest in the truth. Whenever this principal sees us, he asks about Sopa and sends his greetings. Sopa continued to make good spiritual progress and was baptized in 2005.
*This experience reminded me about how even though me and my sister always gave our teachers that same 'Jehovah's Witnesses and Education' brochure at the beginning of each school year, and our mom made a personal visit to our teachers to explain our beliefs, I was really suprised to find so many holiday-related arts and crafts projects when I was looking through this 'school memorabilia' box where me and my sister saved our old school papers. Especially from the early elementary years, since I know that when we were old enough to stand up for our beliefs we didn't participate, and would usually just work on a different arts and crafts project while the rest of the class was making national or holiday-related stuff. But it was a little unsettling to discover so many examples of projects that I don't even remember doing, especially since my mom specifically discussed the matter with all our teachers showing them why we couldn't participate due to our religious beliefs. When I was talking to my sister about it, she said that when she was really little, one of her teachers kept trying to force her to make a holiday decoration to the point that she actually made my sister cry because she just wouldn't back down. That's messed up. Fortunately, I don't remember having any bad experiences like that, since most of my teachers were really nice and I liked them (except my kindergarten teacher who spanked me in front of everyone in class because I wouldn't settle down! lol)
(experience of Ane Ropati on pg 131 of the 2009 Yearbook)
In Samoa, parents train their young children to cook, clean, tend the family vegetable garden, and care for younger siblings. Such early training may help to explain why many Samoan children also accept their spiritual responsibilities at an early age, some even taking their stand for Jehovah without the help of family members. Ane Ropati was 13 years old when her parents stopped attending meetings. So she regularly gathered her two brothers and her sister and walked five miles to the Kingdom Hall to attend the meetings. She later pioneered and worked on the Siusega branch office construction. "Missionaries," writes Ane, "had a big impact on my life and helped me to progress spiritually." On the construction site, she met Steve Gauld, a volunteer worker from Australia. The two got married and served as international servants on construction sites in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Russia before returning to Samoa Bethel. Both now serve at the Australia branch.