Fruit, Flowers, and Faith—Lonah Fisher and Asenaca Lesuma of Taveuni, Fiji


Fruit, Flowers, and Faith—Lonah Fisher and Asenaca Lesuma of Taveuni, Fiji

Lonah Fisher, 9, and Asenaca Lesuma, 10, live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Even though Taveuni is the third largest of more than 300 islands in Fiji, you can drive from one end to the other in less than half a day. Mangos, papayas, bananas, pineapples, and coconuts grow here, and Primary children sing “Popcorn Popping on the Mango Tree”—Lonah’s favorite song.

Map of Fiji

Map by Amy Hintze

The tagimocia flower grows at the top of the highest mountain on Taveuni, near a lake, waterfalls, and a rain forest. This rare and beautiful flower is said to grow nowhere else in the world. But unlike the tagimocia, Lonah and Asenaca are not isolated as they grow in the gospel. They both come from loving families and attend the Somosomo Taveuni Branch. They live near each other—but in different villages—and they attend different schools.

Lonah attends Taveuni Central Indian School, where she is taught half the day in English and the other half in Hindi. She is fluent in both languages and also knows some Fijian. At Asenaca’s school, the students study and speak in English in the mornings. In the afternoons they speak Fijian as they learn about Fiji and its history.

After school Lonah helps her mother by washing dishes and helping take care of her brothers, Alfred, 7, and Joshua, 3. “It’s not easy!” she exclaims. Her brothers are very active. Alfred likes soccer, so they often play that. Lonah also plays netball (a game similar to basketball) and likes playing dolls with her cousins. She loves her dog, Buzo. “He follows us everywhere we go, even to church,” she says.

When Asenaca comes home from school, she washes her uniform and hangs it up to dry. Recently there was not enough rain, and water faucets could be turned on only at certain times of the day. Water had to be collected and stored in a barrel, and the whole family had to plan ahead to be sure there was enough water when they needed it.

Like Lonah, Asenaca helps her mother around the house and takes care of her brothers, Meli, 9, and Joseva, 3, and her sister, Meresiana, 6. Three of her cousins also live with them: Irene, 17, Katarina, 13, and Sera, 8. Asenaca enjoys playing with them after she finishes her chores. They run races and play catch, netball, and a game they call “the he,” which is similar to tag.

Lonah and Asenaca both like to dance. Their branch practiced square dances to perform at an activity and wore costumes sewn for the event. Afterward the costumes could be worn as church dresses.

Lonah loves the gospel and knows it’s the same all over the world. Her grandfather has been ill and is living in Australia while he receives treatment. When visiting him, Lonah goes to Primary there. She says it’s different in Australia because there are many different classrooms and classes divided by age. In the Somosomo branch, Primary classes are held all together. But the lessons are the same.

Asenaca loves the gospel, too, and plans to serve a mission. To prepare herself, she prays, attends church, and reads the scriptures. She looks forward to attending the temple when she’s older, even though the temple is 20 hours away by ferryboat. Then, someday, she hopes to be married there and see her future family grow strong in the gospel the way she and Lonah are growing now.

[photos] Photography by Margaret Snider

[photos] Lonah Fisher (above, left and right) and Asenaca Lesuma (below, left and right) live in different villages and go to different schools. But they attend the same branch on the island of Taveuni, the third largest of more than 300 islands in Fiji. They both love their families and the gospel.

[photos] Asenaca (far right with her father) and Lonah (right) have much in common. They both enjoy dancing, playing netball, helping their mothers, and attending Primary, sacrament meeting, and other branch activities in the Somosomo Taveuni Branch of the Church.

Margaret Snider is a member of the Hagan Park Ward, Sacramento California Cordova Stake.