Latter-day Saint Life

How one woman decided to start a podcast telling the stories of Native American Latter-day Saints


Andrea Hales has a JD and MPA degree from Brigham Young University. She also worked for the Commissioner of Higher Education. With such an academic background, she might seem like an unexpected host of a religious podcast. And while she previously worked for the Navajo Nation Washington D.C. office, she hasn’t always felt a strong connection to the Navajo side of her family. So, when she felt prompted to start a podcast that would provide a platform for Native American Latter-day Saints to share their testimonies, she felt unqualified. But sometimes we do things we don’t feel qualified to do, and that is exactly what Andrea did.

Listen in the player below or by clicking here. You can also read a full transcript here.

The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.

Morgan Jones: I love, Andrea, how you decided to start this podcast and that it kind of originated with a prompting. What would you say this experience of starting Tribe of Testimonies has taught you about hearing Him?

Andrea Hales: Oh, that’s such a great question. So in 2020, when we were all really talking about those words that President Nelson taught us—you’ve got to figure out how to hear him, whatever way it is that you need to hear Him, you need to figure that out. At Easter, I had a friend do an art challenge. He asked us to, on Facebook, “Do something, do something creative.” And I’m like, “Yeah, yeah,” and I was like thinking about that. I’m like, I want to, [but] I’m not an artist, so I drew a poster of Jesus. Very simple, but I was proud of it. And at the top, I wrote “Hear Him.” And so that was on my mind. And then all through that summer of 2020 I was thinking about how I could draw closer to Him. And we were home with our children, and I was home with the children more than my husband was, and I was listening to good, uplifting things and I was trying really hard to hear Him.

And so I was listening to podcasts, and I was listening to this one, All In, and I was also listening to one called Latter-day Lives. And I listened to them every time they came out. And I was just seeking ways to fill my life with goodness, so that I could hear Him. And then in October, the other guy, he announced that he was going to stop his podcast for a while, and I was like, “Noo!” I was actually kind of upset.

Morgan Jones: It’s like losing a friend.

Andrea Hales: Yes! I was actually literally upset about it. And I was laying in my bed that night, and I was thinking, “Heavenly Father, what am I supposed to do now?” Like, just a silly prayer, but I was talking to Him, and then I received this prompting that I needed to start this podcast.

And I was like, “Noo. . . I can’t do this.” And then I fell asleep. And the next day, this prompting wouldn’t leave me. And so I started thinking, “Oh, maybe I could.” And I knew from the very beginning that it was supposed to be for Native Americans, but I was like, "Heavenly Father, I wasn’t raised traditionally. I wasn’t raised on the reservation. I don’t surround myself with Native American people right now.” So I have had these debates with Heavenly Father, “How are you telling me that I have to do with this? Because I’m not the right one.”

And the Spirit kept saying, “You are the right one. You’re the one. I need you to do this.” So when I finally stopped talking back to Him, and just listened to Him, I looked for ways that I could do it. And I talked to people, and I talked to friends, and I made phone calls to friends who hadn’t talked to a long time, and I worked it out and I followed through on that prompting that I heard that I needed to do this, because I’m the one that Heavenly Father wants to do [this] at this time.

So I heard Him, and I didn’t believe Him at first. And now I’m so glad that I’m doing this because I am fulfilling part of my patriarchal blessing. And I’ve been able to meet people that I never would have thought about. I would have had no chance to meet before. So hearing Him and then following through, those are two different things but they are definitely related.

Morgan Jones: Well, I love that so much because I think that experience that you just described, we’ve all had similar things where it’s like, we feel prompted to do something, but maybe we don’t feel adequate to the task, or we feel like we wouldn’t even know where to start. And so we do, we kind of talk back to Heavenly Father. And so I love that you kind of were able to like work through those feelings. And I loved when Richie Steadman interviewed you on the Cultural Hall, he talked about how much he loves that you acted on the prompting you received and have just been willing to learn as you go.

So I wondered, you know, coming from a place where you weren’t around other Native Americans all the time, and it wasn’t like this huge part of your background, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned from the interviews that you’ve done?

Andrea Hales: So I’ve learned that there are people who need to be connected. And I have been that connector. I’ve learned that there are people who are looking for ways to grow their testimony. And the people that I’ve interviewed have given that opportunity for them. I have learned that I can be the tool that the Lord wants me to be. The things that I’ve learned are that people need other people, and everybody has something to give to somebody else. And I think that–I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve learned about this project.

Morgan Jones: I think that’s so good. I loved one thing that you talked about before in another interview is you talked about how you feel like one of your spiritual gifts is like to connect with people and to remain in contact with people, which I think is a spiritual gift. And I love that you acknowledge that. And that then because of that you’re able to figure this thing out, and you’re able to connect different people together. And I think that’s remarkable. What would you say that you’ve learned about taking the imperfect action and acting in faith, even when we may not entirely know what we’re doing?

Andrea Hales: Oh, I would say that the Lord compensates, and the Lord opens doors. When I started and I talked to people, I told my book club friends and they’re all white ladies. They’re all the most beautiful white ladies and I love their guts. And one of them brought me a check for $200. She’s like, “This is amazing! I want you to do this!” And I was like, I couldn’t say yes and I couldn’t say no, I just said thank you.

The Lord has opened the doors for me. I have–my former stake president here in Bluffdale–I’m in Bluffdale, Utah–he served as a mission president in the North Dakota, Bismarck mission. And he saw my posts on Facebook about it. He’s like, “Oh, I know people!” And he started connecting me with people and he’s now back and he’s still connecting me with people. And I just feel overwhelmingly blessed because the Lord is like, “I’m going to make the way for you, I’m going to make it so that you can reach out. I’m going to make it so that people can hear you, and hear your guests. I’m going to make it so that you can testify of Me and of the Book of Mormon.” And yeah, I just I really love that about this experience. Because it’s not me, it’s definitely the Lord.

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