Church History
“There Will Not Be One LDS Member Pass Away”
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“There Will Not Be One LDS Member Pass Away”

At the start of World War II, the few foreign missionaries in Tonga were evacuated, and local members were called to replace them. The Muli and Le‘o Kinikini family of 10 from the island of ‘Uiha were called to serve a mission in Vava‘u, where Muli would be the Kōloa Branch president. Selling all they had, they raised the money for the fare to Vava‘u. Muli found the reception from the members in Kōloa rather cool.

One of his first duties was to conduct the funeral of an aged woman, Vika Fatafehi. As he was preparing to visit the family, the Spirit whispered to him, “Go and restore Vika to life.” Dressed in his best clothes, he blessed her. To the amazement of those present, Vika revived. The next day, some urged those who had gathered for the funeral not to go home, as Vika would soon die anyway. Through inspiration, Muli responded, “Please, pardon me, noble chiefs. … Vika will not die. What’s more, as long as I serve in this village as branch president, there will not be one LDS member pass away, not even Vika.” Vika did live, and under Muli’s leadership the branch thrived, even winning a dance and choir competition at a district conference.

Two years later, Muli and his family were called to another island, ‘Otea, which had only two active members. Through a series of miraculous healings and the interpretation of a chief’s dream, Muli helped the branch grow. At one point they were asked to enter a lakalaka (group song and dance) for a celebration for the crown prince. This lakalaka was composed and produced by Muli, who later composed the Joseph Smith lakalaka performed at the Liahona College (later Liahona High School) dedication and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Although he had been sad to see the missionaries leave Tonga in 1940, Muli recognized that “it was a blessing in disguise. After their departure, we had to rely on ourselves in spiritual matters.”