I grew up in Tahiti. My mother and father joined the Church when I was a child, but I was not baptized right away. When I was 11 years old, I went to Primary one Wednesday afternoon. We sat on a mat under a mango tree while my Primary teacher told us the story of the First Vision. As she spoke, my heart started to pound. I had a strong feeling that Joseph Smith’s First Vision was true and that he was a true prophet. After that spiritual experience, I told my parents, “I have a testimony, and I want to be baptized.”
From the day I was baptized until I graduated from high school, I was the only member of the Church in my school. My classmates would say, “You don’t smoke? You don’t drink? You aren’t a man; you’re a sissy!”
At the end of the school year when I was in 11th or 12th grade, some of my classmates brought alcohol to a party. They grabbed me, held me down, and tried to pour champagne in my mouth. They didn’t want to hurt me; they just wanted to make fun of me. Luckily, I was able to get away. I never regretted keeping the Word of Wisdom. Some of my classmates have since passed away, but I’m thankful to still be alive, healthy, and trying to serve the Lord.
One of my classmates became very wealthy when he grew up. He once told me, “I admire you. My family has money, but we are not as happy as you are.” I felt it was a compliment to all Latter-day Saints. He could see that living the gospel makes us happy.
I served as president of the Fiji Suva Mission. One day on the island of Kiribati I was walking with two elders when a man came up to us. He was drunk. I wanted to chase him off, but he saw my name tag and called me by name. “President Tefan, I would like you and your missionaries to come to dinner at my home.”
I thought, “Uh-oh, maybe he doesn’t know what he’s doing.” I turned to the elders and asked, “How do you feel? Would you like to accept the invitation?” They said that they would like to go. I felt impressed to accept his offer.
The following night we all had a nice Chinese dinner—chicken, fish, other meats, and noodles. The missionaries were happy because it was a change from their daily menu of fish and rice. At the end of the dinner, I thanked the man and said, “Now I have a gift I would like to offer you. Would you like these missionaries to teach you the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
He said he wasn’t interested but the missionaries could teach his wife and 18-year-old son. Three months later the son was baptized. One year later the wife was baptized, and her husband started attending church. He asked me for a blessing to help him stop smoking and drinking, and he was able to quit. The last time I visited that family, the son had been admitted to Brigham Young University–Hawaii on a full-tuition scholarship and had also received a mission call to Hong Kong.
When I think back on my experience with that family, I’m glad that I didn’t chase the “drunk man” away but instead followed the prompting of the Spirit to accept the dinner invitation, open my mouth, and ask him to hear the gospel.
I invite you children to open your mouths—invite your friends to church and to learn about the gospel. You never know what miracles may follow.