“Telii Used Her Talents to Share the Gospel,” Liahona, June 2021
In May 1844, Telii and her husband, Nabota, invited Addison Pratt, a Latter-day Saint missionary from the United States, to live in their home on the Pacific island of Tubuai. Telii and Nabota tutored Elder Pratt in their language and taught him how they lived on the island. They provided him with shelter and food, and Telii even cared for his clothing.
Many curious people visited Elder Pratt at Telii and Nabota’s home. Telii and Nabota listened as he interpreted scriptures, taught gospel concepts, and gave blessings. Telii saw several people healed by priesthood blessings and began bringing anyone she knew who was sick to Elder Pratt to be blessed.
Telii and Nabota were among the first Tubuaians to join the Church. They became Elder Pratt’s closest friends there and helped him preach the gospel. Telii translated Latter-day Saint hymns and scriptures and set them to himene, a local singing style. Many evenings, she gathered people together to teach them her songs. It was during these meetings, which sometimes lasted until midnight, that her relatives and friends first learned gospel concepts and scriptures. Several were soon baptized.
Later, when Protestant missionaries came to Tubuai to rebuke the people who had joined the Church, Telii stood up to them and “maintained the point from scripture so well” that they could not refute it.1
Telii and Nabota were committed to sharing the gospel and supporting the missionaries. They traveled with Elder Pratt and other missionaries as they preached throughout the islands. In each place, Telii taught others her songs, provided food and support for her neighbors, and brought the sick to the missionaries to be blessed.