“The Westerland left yesterday,” my sister-in-law said as she greeted us at the Nadi International Airport in Fiji.
I was sad and disappointed at the news. The MV Westerland was the boat that was supposed to take us to see my elder brother on Rotuma Island. Rotuma is approximately 375 miles (600 km) northwest of Viti Levu, the largest of Fiji’s islands. If you miss the boat, you most likely have to wait days or even weeks for the next one.
A year earlier I had gone to Rotuma to help my brother renovate our grandmother’s house, and I left him because of a job-related disagreement. Now I wanted to see him face to face and tell him how sorry I was.
A week before my wife, Akata, and I flew to Fiji from Australia, my niece told me that the Westerland would be going to Rotuma the day before we were scheduled to arrive. I immediately called the boat’s office and pleaded with them to hold off the trip for two days.
“No, we couldn’t even if we wanted to,” came the reply. “The Rotuma Island Council has made preparations for a welcoming feast, and the boat needs to depart as scheduled.”
A thought flashed through my mind, and I decided to fast and pray.
“Dear Heavenly Father,” I prayed, “I would very much like to catch that boat to Rotuma. I believe they can’t hold off departure another day or two, but Thou hast power to do it. Couldst Thou please remove just one bolt anywhere on the boat so as to stall the trip that I might board? I need to go to Rotuma and be reconciled with my brother.”
After we had heard the disappointing news, we made our way to the port on the other side of the island. There, however, we learned that the boat had experienced engine troubles and hadn’t left yet. Heavenly Father had answered my prayer! As it turned out, the entire engine—not just one bolt—had to be removed to repair a major oil leak.
When the boat finally left a week later, I was on board. When I arrived in Rotuma, I embraced my brother and apologized, and we restored our relationship. It was certainly a day of jubilation.
I will be forever grateful for this wonderful spiritual experience and for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a testimony that miracles still occur today, that Heavenly Father lives and answers our sincere prayers, that prayer and fasting go hand in hand, and that the gospel is true—even in a small village on the tiny island of Rotuma.