BETA

'Treasure that lasts'

2,400 Tongan young people portray long journey through song and dance

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga — A young couple who loses their only child to death leaves their native Tonga and embarks on a long journey in search of treasure. They travel to Tahiti, New Zealand, Hawaii, Samoa and Fiji before returning home. Along the way they find many things of earthly value — such as the black pearls of Tahiti. More important, they discover greater treasure in the virtues of the Pacific islanders: humility, courage, giving, happiness and gratitude.

Some of 2,400 youth and young single adults are among performers of cultural program, "A Treasure That Lasts," which portrayed a grieving couple's journey through Polynesia, returning to Tonga to find the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of 2,400 youth and young single adults are among performers of cultural program, "A Treasure That Lasts," which portrayed a grieving couple's journey through Polynesia, returning to Tonga to find the gospel of Jesus Christ. Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

Their greatest treasure, however, was waiting for them at home in Tonga: The gospel of Jesus Christ and a temple of the Lord which could reunite them with their daughter forever.

More than 2,400 Tongan youth and young single adults, clad in bright costumes, portrayed the couple's journey through song and dance Nov. 3.

The cultural performance, "A Treasure That Lasts," was part of events surrounding the rededication of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple. Thousands of Church members gathered in Teufaiva Stadium in downtown Nuku'alofa for the event, attended by his Majesty, King George Tupou V and other members of the Royal Family in Tonga.

"This is a great, exciting occasion," said Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, who presided at the event. "My feelings were captured in the very first words sung by the choir, 'Hallelujah,' which means praise to the Lord God Jesus. Tonight, we sing praises to God."

Elder Nelson, attending the event with his wife, Wendy, offered greetings to the Royal family and Church members from President Gordon B. Hinckley.

"Thanks to the miracle of recording, your songs and dances will be recorded so that President Gordon B. Hinckley can view them later on," Elder Nelson told the performers before the program began. "So, in a very real way, we are singing for him, we are dancing for him, and we are all celebrating the rededication of the Temple in Tonga."

Kim Joyce Sa'ili, 3, pauses during cultural event. Some 2,400 participated.
Kim Joyce Sa'ili, 3, pauses during cultural event. Some 2,400 participated. Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

The production was presented during a season when heavy rain is common. Local Church leaders said the faith of local members would keep the rain away. Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy and president of the New Zealand/Pacific Islands Area, recalled rain pouring down near the temple during the Nov. 2 dress rehearsal for the performance. When he called to check on costumes and lighting that could have been damaged by the storm, he learned it had not rained in the stadium, a short distance away.

"The Tongans don't pray that it won't rain, they just know that Heavenly Father knows best," he said.

Harvalene Sekona, who coordinated the event for the Church, said the program was staged to strengthen families. "Tonight we celebrate families. For families strengthen a nation. They strengthen even this land of Tonga."

The performance ended with a family, dressed in white, standing together.

Missionaries from the Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission stood around the field. The narrator read: "Temples have been built in many nations throughout the world, even upon the isles of the sea. They are a symbol of holiness, purity, peace, love, and most importantly, family. Tomorrow, such a temple will be rededicated here in Tonga. And there within we will all be able to gain the greatest treasure of all. It will bring comfort and joy. The most precious treasure is the eternal blessings of families."

Dancer representing Hawaii performs in "A Treasure That Lasts."
Dancer representing Hawaii performs in "A Treasure That Lasts." Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

Sister Sekona said the message was simple: "After everything is said and done, it all comes down to the family."

Fane Fiefia composed the music for the performance, performing a solo narration of the story line herself. The mother, she said, looked for treasure, finding that she could not buy it. The happiness she sought came from the ultimate blessing, being reunited with her daughter.

Young performers in the event expressed appreciation to share their testimonies and talents for Church leaders.

Ola Vaitai and her sister, Ofa Naeata, choreographed a dance number. "We have had so many long practices," Sister Vaitai said. "They are excited. We are all excited for this night."

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Pauline Vaka helps Maria Sili, both of Liahona Tonga Stake, with her wristbands before cultural celebration.
Pauline Vaka helps Maria Sili, both of Liahona Tonga Stake, with her wristbands before cultural celebration. Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver
Mele Taumoepeau, left, and Paea Vaka'uta wait their turn during a celebration attended by Elder Russell M. Nelson  and other Church leaders and their wives the day prior to rededication of Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple.
Mele Taumoepeau, left, and Paea Vaka'uta wait their turn during a celebration attended by Elder Russell M. Nelson and other Church leaders and their wives the day prior to rededication of Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple. Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver
Dancers representing Samoa participate in cultural event.
Dancers representing Samoa participate in cultural event. Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver
Dancers representing Samoa participate in cultural event.
Dancers representing Samoa participate in cultural event. Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver
Reaping a spiritual harvest, members gather on grounds of newly rededicated Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple on Nov. 4. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve offered the dedicatory prayer on the sacred edifice originally dedicated in 1983 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then counselor in the First Presidency.
Reaping a spiritual harvest, members gather on grounds of newly rededicated Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple on Nov. 4. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve offered the dedicatory prayer on the sacred edifice originally dedicated in 1983 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then counselor in the First Presidency. Photo: Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

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