Thursday, September 3, 2009

Yearbook Experience - Faigaai Tu

*I wanted to post this experience in relation to today's text discussion regarding Jephthah, -since he wasn't the only person who honored the vow he made...Jephthah's daughter showed a great deal of spiritual maturity by honoring that vow as well, and following through on it. Despite the fact that this was an unusual circumstance, she nevertheless accepted her obligation to serve exclusively at Jehovah's house of worship, which meant she would never be able to marry or have children. The following experience isn't quite the same, but similar in the sense that this sister joyfully devoted her life to serving Jehovah in the ministry full-time, and just like Jephthah's daughter, she also never had the opportunity to get married or have children. (Plus she also had to deal with a severe health issue as well)
(experience of Faigaai Tu, pgs 113 & 114 of the 2009 Yearbook)
I was born with severely deformed clubfeet. As a result, the soles of my feet curl back under my heels, making it very difficult for me to walk. When I first heard the truth, it sank deep into my heart. I wanted to attend congregation meetings, but walking along the hard and rocky road to get there seemed impossible. Eventually, I became very skilled at making my own shoes from rubber sandals. These allowed me to walk more comfortably. I started pioneering soon after my baptism. Then, after pioneering for nine years on the island of Upolu, I moved with my sister and her husband to Savaii, where there was a need for Kingdom preachers. Here I special pioneered along with my niece, Kumi Falema'a. Kumi and I traveled by bus each week from Faga to Lata, a small village located on the west coast of Savaii. After conducting a Bible study with a woman in Lata, we walked five miles to the village of Taga to study with another woman. We stayed the night with this woman and her family and then returned to Faga on the morning bus. This routine continued for about two years. Happily, both of these women and their families later became active Witnesses.
When my relatives left Savaii, I stayed behind to look after a small group of sisters and interested women in Faga. I conducted the weekly Watchtower Study and Congregation Book Study and led the sisters in the house-to-house ministry. Once a month an elder traveled from Apia to conduct one of our Sunday meetings. Because the village chief forbade us to sing Kingdom songs at our meetings, we read the words aloud instead. Five years later a missionary couple, Leva and Tenisia Faai'u, arrived from New Zealand to help our little group. Others followed. Today, Savaii has two flourishing congregations, one at Faga and the other at Taga.
Although I never married, I love children and always drew close to them. Some children even lived with me for a time. Seeing my spiritual "children" grow and take their stand for Jehovah has filled me with joy. Now I am old and can no longer walk from door-to-door. I conduct Bible studies at my home and witness to people I meet at the local hospital. Even so, my limitations frustrated me, so I prayed to Jehovah to help me to do more. Then, missionaries in my congregation introduced me to telephone witnessing. Looking back over my life, I see that Jehovah has truly answered my prayers.