“Church Members Honor Tonga’s King,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 77
To celebrate the 80th birthday of Tonga’s King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV, hundreds of members from six Tongan stakes donated a total of 4,500 hours in community service on 13 June. Armed with brooms, hoes, bush knives, and garbage bags, members planted Church-donated flowers at the king’s palace in Nuku‘alofa and cleaned up a home for the disabled, cemeteries, roadsides, a police station, a village clinic, and government primary schools.
“The morning was a little cold,” said member Rima Sika, “but it seemed like no one felt it because they were filled with the spirit of service and love.”
A few days after the service projects, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency, visited the king on 19 June and presented him with a copy of the proclamation on the family, a statue titled The Sea Gull, birthday greetings from the First Presidency, and several photos of the service projects. During his trip to Tonga, Elder Perry visited a Church-owned school and presided over a regional conference.
One member commented that participating in the service projects seemed more like a game than hard work. “What I enjoyed the most was to look back and admire my finished work,” another member said.
“The members worked side by side, enjoying every minute,” said Sister Sika. “Their faith and obedience shone from their faces.” Since missionaries first started preaching the gospel in Tonga in 1891, more than a third of the nation’s 106,000 residents have joined the Church.