Making Friends:

Michelle Mukund of Lautoka, Fiji

Written by Melvin Leavitt

Listen Download Print Share

“Good morning, brothers and sisters,” Michelle Mukund (10) greets the ward as she stands to bear her testimony on fast Sunday.

“Good morning, Michelle,” they answer.

Then Michelle bears witness of Jesus Christ, the gospel, and her love for her family and the Saints. Everyone knows that Michelle isn’t just saying words. She has proven by her actions that she loves the Lord with all her heart, and her neighbor as herself.

She especially loves little children. At church she can often be seen with a baby in her arms. It could be any baby in the ward because she adores them all. Children her own age often come to her for advice—and for comfort, too, because she really listens and really cares.

Michelle is close to her family. She enjoys playing with her two-year-old brother, George, who loves saying prayers and can already bear his testimony. She also has fun with her sister, Maxine (15), who is kind and helpful and a talented artist. She looks up to her grown-up cousins Rejieli Rigamoto and Myra Tiraknoa, who live with the family. Rejieli is a returned missionary and an expert baker. Myra is an excellent cook.

Michelle especially appreciates her father and mother. “I’m very happy that I have parents like Mum and Dad,” she says. “They tell me often that they love me.” Her father, Bal, is a gentle man who makes up funny jokes. If children quarrel, he sometimes says, “An angry man is a hungry man,” and brings them something good to eat. Before long everyone is laughing.

Her mother, Susau, is a happy person who laughs a lot. She is also a good cook, and Michelle especially loves her chicken chop suey and her chicken and chips. Under her mother’s instruction, Michelle is becoming a pretty good cook herself. Her specialty is roti, an Indian dish. (Fiji, a South Pacific nation of many islands, has a large Indian population.)

Sister Mukund says, “Michelle really tries to live a Christlike life. When I’m sad or feel lonely, she always notices. She comes to me and says, ‘Mum, what’s wrong? How can I help you?’ She is always willing to help each of us in the family. She is so trustworthy that I can send her alone to visit friends on other islands. I thank Heavenly Father for giving me this beautiful girl as a daughter.”

“Michelle is self-reliant,” her father says. “She can wash her own clothes, prepare her own meals, do the housework, sew, whatever is needed. She’s a bright girl with a desire to learn, explore, and investigate. She’s very creative. She makes her own greeting cards and gives them away freely. She has a very kind heart and likes to share. If she sees someone who lacks something, she tries to provide it. And if she can’t, she asks if we can help.”

Most of all, Michelle loves Jesus Christ. “I love Him so much, and I know that He loves me, too. I’m happy that He’s my Savior. I know that He died for our sins. He did not want us to suffer, so He suffered instead. When I read about Him blessing the little children in the Book of Mormon, I wish I was one of them. I want to help Him take care of children now.”

Because of her strong desire to help children, Michelle plans on being a school teacher and eventually a principal. When teachers at her school hold a staff meeting during school hours, she is often left in charge of the younger students. They know they can trust her.

Michelle earns excellent grades in school. She not only studies faithfully but prays for help, too. She once prayed hard that she would pass a maths test, because maths was her weakest subject. She scored ninety-four percent, the second highest in the class, and she has since become much more at ease with numbers.

Michelle is not a slave to her studies, however. She also enjoys playing basketball, netball, and volleyball. She is the only LDS student at her school, but she has made good friends there. Her best friend is Neha, a Hindu girl.

At home, one of Michelle’s favorite hobbies is reading. If she isn’t working, she very likely has a book in her hands. She devours storybooks and the Friend. After reading the stories, she does all the puzzles and makes the recipes and the crafts, then shares the results with the family.

Two things that keep the family close are family home evening and scripture study. The family members take turns presenting family home evening lessons. Michelle likes to give lessons about Jesus, the prophets, and things she finds in the Friend. After family home evening, there is a council in which everyone can share complaints, suggestions, or concerns. Scripture study rotates among the different books of scripture. Right now they’re studying the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Michelle’s favorite prophet from the scriptures is Nephi, but her favorite of all time is President Hinckley.

Michelle gladly fasts each fast Sunday and pays her tithing each week without prompting. She also loves her Primary teachers and listens carefully to the lessons. She especially looks forward to testimony meeting and is usually the first person to bear testimony after the bishop or a counselor invites the congregation to share their testimonies.

She feels a special bond with the missionaries who work in her area. The Mukund home is a kind of refuge for the missionaries, where they are fed, rested, loved, and helped in the work. The family has a scrapbook full of photos of past elders and sisters, and they receive cards and letters from returned missionaries all over the world.

Not surprisingly, Michelle wants to go on a mission herself someday. She’s practicing by telling her friends about the gospel and inviting them to church. Unfortunately they seldom come. This doesn’t hurt the friendships, but it does sometimes hurt Michelle. Sadly, one friend who did listen with great interest died in a tragic fire. “I was crying,” Michelle says. “I missed her very much. We went to her church service. It was a sad, rainy day, but I prayed, and I felt that I didn’t have to be sad anymore, because I would meet her again. We went to her mom’s house, and her mom was crying. I said, ‘You’ll meet her again in the next life,’ and it seemed to help.”

Michelle’s love for others is not limited by race or culture. Her father is of Indian descent, her mother Fijian, and Michelle loves both of these cultures as well as the others that are represented in Fiji’s islands. She speaks two Indian dialects as well as Fijian and English. Sometimes she becomes sad when she hears of the suffering of people in other lands, but prayer helps her feel better. There is enough room in her heart to love everyone everywhere. No matter who you are or where you live, she loves you, too.

Photographed by Melvin Leavitt

Whether visiting a small friend with her mother, practicing island dances, helping her father chop wood, learning the missionary discussions from her returned-missionary cousin, or helping to prepare a delicious meal, Michelle lives her life with love and joy.

The sugarcane and sunsets are sweet on Fiji’s largest island, but not as sweet as the love in the Mukund family. Here, Michelle joins in a family cheer and scores a basket in a family shoot around.