Feinga Fanguna: Tongatapu, Tonga

    “Feinga Fanguna: Tongatapu, Tonga,” Ensign, February 2018

    Portraits of Faith

    Feinga Fanguna

    Tongatapu, Tonga

    feinga fanguna

    As a wood-carver, Feinga supports his wife, their three children, and three others in their care. It hasn’t always been easy, but by putting God first, they have always had enough.

    Christina Smith, photographer

    When my wife, ‘Anau, and I were first married, I would carve small items and go to the market to sell them. Some days I would come back with money, other days I would sell nothing.

    I heard about a man who had returned from Hawaii where a group of Maori from New Zealand taught him to carve wood. When we met, he said, “I’m not a teacher, I’m a carving man. But if you want to help build a kalia (a Tongan canoe), you can come with me.” I learned much about wood carving from him.

    In my patriarchal blessing, I am promised that God will bless the work I do with my hands and that I will use my talent to help people. These promises are being fulfilled.

    I’ve traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Guam, Japan, and the United States to represent Tonga at carving and art festivals.

    As a wood-carver, I have been able to support my family. My wife and I have three children of our own and three others we take care of. We do what we can to help the children. We try to show them the happiness the gospel brings.

    We have pigs, cows, and chickens. We have bananas and breadfruit. We grow cassava and yams that we share with others.

    We are blessed in many ways. Our relatives think we’re rich. We’re not, but we have everything we need because we put God first.

    We keep the commandments, go to church, hold family home evening, read the Book of Mormon and pray as a family, and we pay our tithing. That’s what brings blessings to our family.

    feinga carving

    Feinga Fanguna considers his woodcarving ability to be a gift but one that has required time and effort to cultivate. “It is a blessing given to me from our Father in Heaven,” he says. He is grateful his talent can provide needed income for his family.

    feinga using a saw on a tree stump

    Feinga further developed his woodcarving skills by building kalias from large pieces of wood. A kalia is a special kind of canoe made in Tonga.

    feinga drawing on wood

    The lines Feinga carefully draws will help guide him when he cuts the wood.

    feinga cutting wood

    The combination of strength and finesse, plus the knowledge of his craft, have created opportunities for Feinga to travel to several countries to represent Tonga at carving and art festivals.

    feinga cutting wood on a tree stump

    We receive talents from Heavenly Father, but Feinga understands the importance of improving them. “I like to encourage people to develop whatever talent they have,” he says.

    feinga sanding wood

    Carving and sanding wood to the right smoothness has taught Feinga that blessings come through steady effort, diligence, and patience.

    feinga showing a finished wooden bowl

    The Fanguna family have received many blessings from their hard work. “Just do your part, and the Lord will do His part,” they say.

    Fanguna family planting crops

    Along with carving wood, Feinga and his family work together to plant crops. They grow cassava and yams and share what they grow with others.

    Fanguna family planting yams

    Feinga helps his children plant yams. Yams are a common crop in Tonga and are often two or more feet in length.

    mother and daughter working on crops

    Because yams are a labor-intensive crop, everyone in the family helps with the farming.

    Fanguna family walking in their fields

    The Fangunas have three children of their own and three others they take care of. “We do what we can to help all of the children,” Feinga says, “especially by showing them the happiness the gospel brings.”

    Fanguna family

    Planting and harvesting crops gives the Fanguna family plenty of time to spend together.

    Brother Fanguna

    Because of their blessings, relatives of the Fangunas think they are wealthy. “We’re not,” Feinga says, “but we have everything we need because we put God first.” The gospel of Jesus Christ brings joy to Feinga and his family.