Anything Is Possible, Set Maker for “Johnny Lingo” Tells BYU–Hawaii Students

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 13 October 2017

A photo of woodcarver Tui’one Pulotu was displayed during a short video prior to him speaking during a BYU–Hawaii devotional on October 10.  Photo by BYU–Hawaii.

Article Highlights

  • When we serve God, He develops our talents and makes anything possible.

“I know that God has helped me accomplish the impossible, and He will help you.” —Tui’one Pulotu, “Johnny Lingo” set builder


Johnny Lingo set builder and master woodcarver Tui’one Pulotu told Brigham Young University–Hawaii students, “Anything is possible,” during a campus devotional on October 10.

Pulotu, who is from the Tongan island Pangai, has been involved in many artistic pursuits over the last few decades, including as a set builder for the original Johnny Lingo film and as a labor missionary to help build the Polynesian Cultural Center and much of the BYU–Hawaii campus.

“You know, I built the sets for the movie Johnny Lingo; I even built the canoe used at the beginning,” he said. “David Jacob, a good friend of ours, was with the filming crew at the set of Johnny Lingo. He walked over while I was talking with the director and asked me, ‘How is [your wife,] Mahana?’

“The director heard the name and said to David, ‘That’s the name we want to use for the leading girl.’ The director asked me if they could use her name and I said yes for my wife. Mahana means sunshine, and she is worth more than the eight cows that Johnny Lingo offered.”

During his address, Pulotu shared personal experiences from his own life that prove “anything is possible” with the Lord’s help.

Whether it was as a young man serving as a labor missionary in Tonga or Hawaii, building the Polynesian Cultural Center, building the “Iosepa”—a Hawaiian wa’a kaulua (a traditional 100-foot, double-hull sailing canoe that took a year and a half to complete), or working to build the Church or his family, Pulotu’s lifetime of service has contributed to much good in Hawaii and throughout the Church.

“When I came here to Hawaii, I was just a young, restless guy who didn’t know much and did not speak much English,” he said. “But in the service of God as a building missionary, I learned all these things and developed my talents. As with the ‘Iosepa,’ on many of the projects that I worked on throughout my life, when I completed them and looked at the work, I asked myself, ‘Did I actually do that? There’s gotta be somebody else who helped me.’ I know that God has helped me accomplish the impossible, and He will help you.”

Master woodcarver Tui’one Pulotu speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional on October 10. Photo by BYU–Hawaii.