Mother of 10 Sela Taito Etuale, of Alamagoto has seen two worldwide leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visit Samoa in her lifetime and when President Russell M. Nelson arrives next Saturday, it will be the third time she will have seen an LDS Prophet.
Like all members of the Church who live in Samoa, Etuale, 72, is excitedly preparing for President Nelson's one-day visit, the second stop on his Pacific Ministry that begins Thursday, May 16 in Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
"I am looking forward to that time. It's a very happy time for we will be able to see with our own eyes, our beloved President of the Church, who we call our Prophet. He will not only bring blessings for our families but to our country and to our lands. These are the blessings we can look forward to from the Prophet," Etuale said.
"He will be here just one day and members of our stake, Apia Central Stake, will be lined up along the main road in Pesega waiting to greet him when he arrives on Saturday. In the evening, we will gather in Pesega for a devotional to hear him speak before he leaves."
Pesega is where Samoa's Temple of the LDS Church is located and where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is headquartered in Samoa.
"I was born into the Gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My parents Teuane Naea, my father, and Tumema Sauni, my mother, were also members of the Church. I grew up in the Eva Branch which is near Saoluafata. We used to live in Eva but later on we moved here to Alamagoto to my mother's land and we continued to serve the Church," Etuale said.
Her father's parents served as missionaries and lived in Sauniatu, regarded at the Nauvoo of the Pacific. They returned to Eva and started the Eva Branch which has grown into Eva Ward (the same as a Congregation).
All of Etuale's adult children are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Four of her children do not live in Samoa, five do live in Samoa but sadly, she lost her youngest child in a drowning accident many years ago. Her husband Taito Etuale passed away in 2012.
Sela has 36 grandchildren and those living in Samoa are also very happy to prepare for President Nelson's visit.
"It will be the first time for them to see the Prophet and they are just as happy as we are. I have seen President Spencer W. Kimball (visited Samoa in 1981 for the Temple groundbreaking) and President Gordon B. Hinckley who came to dedicate and bless the Temple in Samoa. This will be the third time a Prophet has visited us in Samoa," said Etuale, who teaches a Temple Preparations class on Sundays.
"In my calling to be a teacher in the Temple Preparations class, those who prepare to go to the Temple for their first time, it is a very good opportunity to learn because they learn from me and I learn from them. The Temple is the House of God and that's the only place where we can seal our families now and forever. It's a holy place."
The Prophet arrives Saturday morning, May 18. His motorcade will start from the Faleolo International Airport and move along Beach Road, through Pesega, toward Apia, onward to Motootua and then to Taumeasina Island Resort.
Church members from across Samoa will line Beach Road to greet him as he makes his way toward Apia.
"I will be there. Our whole house, our whole family will be there. We are all planning to go. When the Prophet arrives and they are coming on their own airplane. Members of the Church will be there lined up along the road to see him," Sela told Newsline.
"I have a testimony that the Prophet is called of God as it was the first time there were Prophets. Nowadays, the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is upon Prophets and Apostles. I have a testimony that they are called of God and they serve their people. The Prophet is on the tower, watching the Church all over the world."
In the evening, President Nelson will lead a two-hour devotional (lotu) that will broadcast on closed circuit television to all meetinghouses of the LDS Church in Samoa and American Samoa where a new Temple has been announced.
President Nelson is travelling with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, along with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong. They will leave Salt Lake City for Hawai'i on Thursday, May 16, 2019.
After Hawai'i, they travel to Samoa, then Sydney, on to Auckland, Suva and Nuku'alofa in Tonga. Their last stop on the Pacific Ministry is Papeete, Tahiti, reports mormonnewsroom.org.