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A Decade After President Nelson Changed Their Lives, One Tongan Family Anticipates His Upcoming Visit

A mother whose family has been blessed by the Prophet, then an Apostle, invites all and particularly her children to come listen to his voice. 

In 2007 when President Russell M. Nelson—worldwide leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—rededicated the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple, the Helu family had the privilege and blessing of briefly visiting with the then-Elder Nelson and his dear wife Sister Wendy Nelson.

Sister Temaleti Helu, a retired teacher and mother of the family, said this special meeting was “filled with the Spirit and you just feel love, peace, and joy when you listen to his voice and his counsels.”

Although the Helu family never knew back then that this apostle will one day return to Tonga as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they know and witnessed firsthand, that he is indeed called of God.

During that brief visit, President Nelson specifically asked Sister Helu’s only son, ʻŌpeti Helu, to sit by his side. The young girl in the picture, Meliana Helu, recalls how the apostle told ʻŌpeti he will be “a great young man someday.”

That young boy will be returning as Elder Helu from the Ghana West Accra Mission on the very same day President Nelson is scheduled to speak to the Tongan Saints.

His Mom said it took a “lot of praying, fasting, and convincing to have him return home and go on a mission.” Elder Helu at the time was playing for Australia’s under 18 national team, offered a scholarship to study in Newington College, Australia, and an offer to play rugby for a club in France.

His dear mother reminded him that a servant of the Lord had spoken to him, blessed their family, and encouraged him to go on a mission. Soon enough, ʻŌpeti turned down the offers, returned to Tonga, and went on his mission.  

All of Sister Helu’s children have served missions and are stalwart in the gospel. One however, is not in the Church now. Their mother said with tears in her eyes, “When I heard that our prophet will come, all I could think of was my [daughter].

“When he spoke at the last General Conference, I was in the [United] States back then, I wrote [her] right away and said, ʻthe living prophet invites you to come back to the covenant path. Not only that but he said time is running out. It is the Lord’s time, not ours and when His time is up, we can’t call for more time.’”

Sister Helu echoes the same invitation to anyone who is feeling lost, wavering in his or her testimony, searching for answers, or simply struggling in life, to come and listen to the living prophet.

 “We know he is a prophet, seer, and revelator and he will speak on behalf of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ,” said Sister Helu.

Although in his 90s, Sister Helu feels that anyone who would listen to President Nelson will witness for themselves he is a servant of the Lord and will come to know that “the Lord does strengthen His people to do His work. [President Nelson] is hastening the Lord’s work.”

President Russell M. Nelson will speak at a devotional to the people of Tonga and broadcasted throughout the country on May 23rd, 2019 at Liahona, Tongatapu. He will be accompanied by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles together with their wives—Sister Wendy Nelson and Sister Susan Gong—among other Church leaders.

Newsroom contributors: Haitelenisia ‘Uhila Angilau and Meliana Helu 

Lead image from the Church's newsroom
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