Being born and raised in a Catholic family, Mass, Rosary, Divine Mercy, Angelus and daily prayers were a big part of my life growing up. It was normal for us. Even still, I felt I lacked something. There was this unquenched thirst to know God more. It was only in 2010 that I started my personal journey with Christ through the Jesus Youth Movement.
Ever since, there has been no looking back. As much as there were times that I was either too scared or too stubborn to hear God’s voice, I eventually ended up saying ‘Yes’ to the Lord once, and my life has been a whirlwind of outpouring of God’s love since. And after that 1st Yes, it has always been a yes, no matter what He was calling me for. And it is difficult, only because sometimes one has to choose between familial obligations and God’s work. But He lets you know what to do when in dilemma – the Holy Spirit guides decisions. And now in hindsight I realise that it was this devotion to the Holy Family that was instilled in me by my parents that saw me through life.
I saw my parents stand strong in their faith when life, finances, people and even health was against them at different points. I understand now that it was only pure faith that saw my family through years of financial burdens brought on by a failed business because of a cheating business partner, and through our Mom’s death because of a doctor’s mistake and our Dad’s death caused by cancer and a weak heart. It is only Jesus’ words to His Father of ‘If it be your will may it be done, else take this suffering away from me’, and Mama Mary’s protection that I survived an abusive marriage and am alive today. Never once did the Lord let disappointment nor suicidal thoughts enter our minds or hearts at any point in time. God’s providence, mercy and grace is what has brought us and still takes us through every single day.
From being a youth group attendee to being a youth Minister, being part of the Uni chaplaincy, attending a formation camp in New Zealand, singing and dancing for the Lord through Artes Christi, helping in the Parish in various capacities, helping at ACYF , helping the The Culture Project Australia and LifeChoice Australia, helping the SCY office in the smallest of ways possible, God has been blessing me immensely in my faith journey; for without works, faith is dead. His love and patience has strengthened my love for and faith in Him. In the midst of darkness, we saw His light and felt His presence and unfailing love. I have found lasting peace in Him and His promise- “I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future” Jer 29:11. I’m not a perfect person, and that’s why I keep going back to Him because He is perfection.
As a young Samoan, I grew up in the church. I remember as a child having so many Sunday School lessons, being very active as a young person filled with the Holy Spirit, and even now as a young adult still actively involved in the church. I am one of many youth leaders in our church and have blessed to be able to use my voice for the Divine Mercy Choir as well as my local parish. There was a point in my life where I wanted to do more for God, and thus had an awesome experience with a religious order called the ‘Oblate Apostles of the Two Hearts’, from there I began to gain a deeper understanding of my faith as a Catholic. I’ve had a rocky road in my faith and it hasn’t always been easy, but one thing I will always remember is that God is the foundation of my life, and with that, I have everything I need.
I was constantly seeking affirmation and validation from the people around me and if they did that, then I knew I was loved and I was enough. When I was 15, I came to know God’s love for me and that changed my life. I didn’t have to be more or carve myself to look a certain way to earn that love. It’s a Love freely given and always seeking my good.
As a missionary of The Culture Project Australia, I get to speak to thousands of young people at schools, youth groups and conferences and speak to them about the message of human dignity and sexual integrity. That their lives have worth and value not because of what they do, but because of who they are. A child loved unconditionally by their Father in Heaven. I’ve seen hearts and lives changed by this message and I thank God for the gift to step into the hearts of the young people.
A question I get from people is “Why are you still involved in Youth Ministry?” I tell them it is because Youth Ministry helped me to create a personal relationship with GOD. Back in the day, going to Youth Group in Mangere on a Thursday night for me was all about having a big feed, playing touch and socialising, little did I know that GOD had other plans, He wanted me to go to Youth Group to get to know him more and to follow his plan. Being involved in Youth Ministry gave me an enthusiasm to learn more about GOD, it led me to going to Sunday mass, praying the rosary daily, listening to catholic podcasts, becoming a fulltime missionary with NET ministries, going to WYD2016, becoming a Lasallian Youth Minister to building future Youth Leaders through the Youth Ministry Game Changers Movement. I am grateful for the blessings that I have received in my life, it is now my turn to give back to GOD by giving the young people of today an opportunity to experience GOD.
“My Baba (grandmother) influenced my faith in a major way. She grew up in a communist country where practising Catholicism was considered ‘against the law’. Despite this, my Baba along with her mother snuck up to the local church to make her First Holy Communion. She was discovered and was punished severely. This did not deter her or the family from maintaining their beliefs. She immigrated to Australia in 1968 and continued to uphold her faith and educate her family in the love of God. For that I am forever blessed that I have had the freedom to follow my faith.”
So growing up I didn’t have a lot of exposure to seriously practicing Christians. I went to a catholic school but very few students really took any of it seriously.
It wasn’t until I was 14 that I was invited to our local youth group that I was really seeing people my own age who truely believed in God and prayed openly. That opened me to the possibility of letting god into my life but I hadn’t truely accepted him until 2013 on my first trip to World Youth Day. After that experience I had new life and I was ready to help however I could. I got involved in as much as I could with my youth group and in time I worked up to eventually having a job working under the youth minister. Most of my life has been built around this journey and its lead me to really wonderful places.