Polynesian culture offers barriers, blessings, Part II

The tiny, remote island of Niuatoputapu was made famous in the movie, "Other Side of Heaven." It was where Mormon missionary John Groberg almost died of starvation after surviving a hurricane.

Ten years before Elder Groberg served in Niuatoputapu (Knee-you-ah doh-poo dah-poo), Sione and Salote Wolfgramm were sent there as a young couple missionary by Tonga's mission president Emile Dunn. With limited foreign visas, Tongans were routinely called as couple missionaries to serve among their own — even today. The Wolfgramms were from the island of Vava'u, roughly 180 miles away. That distance was usually covered in a day's travel by sailboat.

On Thursday, June 19, 1947, 29-year-old Sione Wolfgramm, his 25-year-old wife, Salote and their three small children, four-year-old Lupi (Ruby), three-year-old Makaleta (Margaret) and nine-month-old Vili (Willie) sailed with a small group of Saints from Niuatoputapu for Vava'u. In Vava'u, the small traveling party would gather more Saints and make the 150-mile voyage further south to Tongatapu, the main island, for a district conference celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the Saints' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley.

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