The Temple Will Be Closed Tomorrow

We got an email from the Service Center at Liahona, that basically says: “The temple will be closed tomorrow.”

“Tu’unga ‘i he tu’utu’uni ‘ehe ‘Ene ‘Afio ke hoko ‘a e ‘aho Pulelulu ‘aho 29 ‘o Novema koe ‘aho malolo fakapule’anga, koia ‘e tapuni ai ‘a e Temipale ‘apongipongi pea ‘e toki ava pe ‘ihe ‘aho Tu’apulelulu koe ‘aho 30 ‘o Novema ‘i hono taimi anga maheni. Koe ‘aho lahi ‘eni ki he fonua hono katoa pea ko ia ai ‘oku fakatau ange ke hoko ia koe ‘aho ke mou kau mo fiefia fakataha mo si’o mou ngaahi famili.”




Getting a Haircut

Getting a haircut in Tonga proved to be quite the adventure two weeks ago, and I thought I really should document it. It turns out that since I have been here I have only seen one Beauty Parlor. I know there are more, but really, I do have my eyes on the lookout wherever we go, and I haven’t seen a one.

The only thing I do see, on occasion are small little buildings (if you want to call them that) about the size of an overgrown telephone booth. Generally there is some kind of sign, which says it’s a barbershop, but it is just roughly painted or on a little wooden plaque leaned up against the wall. Usually the shop is one room with a chair in the middle. This is a regular chair most times, but once in awhile I see something that looks reminiscent of an old dental chair. There is just room for that chair with enough space for the barber to walk around the customer. The shop has no door and while it may have a window or two there is certainly no glass.

That’s it, there is no more. Your basic barbershop is about 5’ x 7’.

So I really did need my hair cut as I have determined growing it out in this humid climate is something I do not want to do. Asking a Senior Missionary seemed the best idea so after consulting with several friends it seemed that I should search out David. He has a place downtown near our bank. No appointments are ever made, so I just walked in. He is open from 9-9 six days a week. Doesn’t leave much time for a social life, does it? I did ask him what he did when he got home and he said he basically drinks.  I told him all I cared about was that he did not have a hangover when he cut my hair.  He assured me, with a smile, that he did not have one that day.  Actually he’s a very nice guy.

Luckily there were three young women there who seeing my nametag all became my instant friends. It turned out they were all returned missionaries and so we had lots to talk about. One was having her nails done and she turned to the owner and said, “Oh we can finish up when you’re done with Sister Hudson. Go ahead and cut her hair for her”. So that’s what we did. David it turned out was trained in China and appears to be in his mid 20’s. I now know why everyone calls him Edward Scissorhands.

Scary as it seems, his haircuts take about 7-10 minutes. Basically he throws your hair up in the air and his hands start flying……snip, snip, snip. They go so fast you can hardly see them. I was panicked for a moment or two and thought perhaps I should flee, but there was no good way to do that, so I took a breath and just watched. It was like a dance, I guess, in a weird kind of way. Toss and cut, toss and cut. Quick as a wink I was done and $10 was exchanged.

I actually think he did a decent job and I’ll be going back again. It really was quite fun!


They Just Keep on Smiling!

We should be excited to live in a time when smiling is in vogue, with the possible exception of runway models who look like they have been weaned on pickles. There is so much to smile about! From “selfies,” to Facebook posts, to Instagram photos, to Pinterist, and even to SnapChat, it’s cool to broadcast a smiling face in cyberspace.  But in a disposable world that casts aside interpersonal relationships like empty plastic water bottles, where the counterfeits for happiness can be so easily manufactured, processed, packaged, and promoted, let’s make sure we generate daily smiles, and are doing it for the right reasons. Let’s not allow gullibility or photoshop to overpower our native common sense. Let’s take a lesson from Joseph Smith, who by all accounts was a good-natured and affable soul. But even he admitted: “I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.” (J.S.H. 1:28).

It’s easy to learn to smile. When we smile, our faces light up with a celestial glow. We smile large; our cheeks may hurt, but it’s the cutest thing. We truly smile when our mouths and hearts coordinate with each other. We smile as if we’ve just been told the best joke on earth. When we smile like the morning sun, our lives are filled with fun. Anyone can smile on their best of days; we want to meet those who can smile on their worst days. Our genuine smiles come from our hearts, but our healthy smiles need good dental care.

We smile like flowers and attract everyone. We are smile-magnets. We smile at others as if it were the last smile they would see on earth. When we smile, not only our ears rise, but so does our listening ability. We decorate our faces with piles of smiles. We smile like the sun at daybreak. We smile at perfect strangers, and mean it, because nearly everyone could use a lift. We look for special opportunities to spoil the day of a grump, by giving him our smiles. We would crack a smile, but we don’t like breaking things. Because it’s the worst form of identity theft, we refuse to let anyone steal our smiles. We know that life is short, and so we smile while we still have teeth.

If we’re not using our smiles, we’re like the person with a million dollars in the bank and no pen to write a check. If we’re not smiling, our hearts are on vacation. When we wear a smile, we have friends, but when we wear a frown, we have wrinkles. No one is perfect, unless they smile. Our smiles preemptively confuse approaching frowns. While frowns mean nothing, our smiles means everything. It takes 64 muscles of the face to make a frown, and only 13 to make a smile, and so we ask ourselves: “Why work overtime?” (It really does take more muscles to frown than it does to smile, which make sense because yesterday I saw someone who frowned so much they ended up pulling a groin muscle). Before we put on a frown, we need to make absolutely sure there are no smiles available. It’s no coincidence that smiles turn up the corners of our mouths, while frowns turn them down.  In the economy of nature, it could have just as easily have been the other way around, but God does seem to have prescience, as well as a sense of humor.

We never ask for permission to smile, and never consider ourselves too poor to give one away. One time, I thought I had lost my smile. But then I found it in a daffodil. Life is about the number of faces that smile when they hear our names mentioned. I have been told that I have a winning smile, but I must confess that it’s just not true. My grin only won a silver medal at last year’s Facial Expression Olympics. We smile and thank God that we are alive. Especially when it’s cold outside, we can always bring someone into the warmth of our smiles.

We smile so powerfully that it shames the sun itself, because a smile can provide even more warmth. We smile as if the sun had just come out from behind a cloud. The world always looks brighter from behind a smile. Sometimes we feel that if we had a star for every time we smiled, we would be holding the night sky in our hand. If we haven’t seen our wives smile at a traffic cop, we haven’t seen them smile at their prettiest. Our children are always on their best behavior when they’re smiling. We know by experience that love is a smile that is shared between two people. Our smiles are often the best reaction to life’s experiences. Smiles are the twinkle that adds to our happiness, which is probably why each of us has smiles to go before we sleep. All the statistics in the world can’t measure the warmth of our smiles. Our enigmatic smiles are worth ten pages of dialog. When we smile, we reflect the face of God.

If you want to know who is amazing and has the best smile ever, read the first word of this sentence again. Your smile isn’t about you; it’s about who it helps. A smile doesn’t always stand for a perfect life, but a man who smiles when he falls, gives the devil a good slap on the face. If we smile, or don’t smile, it affects everyone. Our smiles are a perfume that we cannot pour out on someone else without getting a few drops on ourselves. What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.

Version 2

Our smiles are like stress-formula vitamins. When we sulk, we create noise, but when we smile, we create music. If we can win an argument by stretching our lips into a smile, it makes no sense to open our mouths and lose it. If the world appears abundant in smiles or overwhelmed by scowls, we might ask ourselves if we are responsible. It’s hard for someone to stay angry with us when we smile. We keep right on smiling. It makes people wonder what we’re up to. Our smiles create love and peace, but love and peace can also create smiles. If we disagree with another, our discussion should be punctuated with smiles. Smiles increase our face value. When we put smiles on our faces, we are more likely to be lucky.

Our smiles are contagious and they are the only infectious affliction everyone is encouraged to spread. They can start an epidemic, and so we should indiscriminately share them. Most smiles are jump started by another smile. The shortest distance between two people is a smile. Our smile can be the key that fits the lock on our hearts. Our smile is evidence that we are on the side of its recipients. One smile probably won’t change the world, but it could change ours, and so, we smile at everyone, because we never know when we’re smiling at an angel. Although a laugh can be a smile that has burst its borders, a smile means a lot more because it is a true reflection of emotion. Laughter is just a by-product of humor. Unlike gossip, no-one minds if you spread a smile. Our smiles speak a language that even babies understand. Just think of the smile that flickers on a baby’s mouth when it is sleeping, and prepare to be amazed.

Let’ all hope and pray for sunshine in our souls “today more glorious and bright than glows in any earthly sky, for Jesus is (our) light. O there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine, when the peaceful, happy moments roll; when Jesus shows His smiling face, there is sunshine in the soul.” (Eliza Hewitt).

Remember to smile the next time you stand before the congregation to bear your testimony, when you are given a service opportunity, when you approach the Recommend Desk at the temple, when you greet your son or daughter who has just returned home from a date, when you are asked about your home or visiting teaching report by your file leaders, when you meet with the Bishop to discuss a Church calling, when you entertain the missionaries with a meal in your home, when a non-member friend asks you a question about the Church, or when you are asked by a neighbor to move outside your comfort zone to provide temporal or spiritual assistance.

Remember to smile when things don’t go as you have planned, when life throws you a curve, when your best-laid plans go awry, when the baby needs a diaper change, when the car starts making a weird noise, when your son throws an errant baseball through the front window, when the new driver in your family has a close encounter with a curb or a tree, when a carton of yogurt falls upside-down on the kitchen floor, or when someone before you in the bathroom has squeezed the toothpaste from the middle of the tube.


Hudson & Coombs 1 2

Phil & Jan church 1

Remember to smile when you miss by one day the big sale at the department store, when someone at work who is less deserving gets the promotion, when someone else gets recognition for your achievements, or when a neighbor comes home with the new car you’ve been dreaming about.

Grass Skirt 1

But also remember to smile when you think about how the Lord has blessed you, and how He has provided for your needs and even granted you a surplus, how you have friends you can trust, how your spouse and children sustain you, how others look to you for counsel, how your dog thinks you can do no wrong, and how fortunate you are to be alive.

Speaking in Church

Mom and I spoke in Church last Sunday. In typical Polynesian style, when you say “Hello,” the congregation responds with malo e le lei, or with fe fe ha ka (how are you?).

Phil & Jan church 3

In my remarks, I basically described what I like about these Pacific Islanders.

O tu motu anga ofa. I said they’ve made their home the Friendly Islands, because of their mana, their energy, good works, and their service.

Boy with pineapple

I described their singing, their hiva, and how their countenances shine, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rests upon them, as they sing praises unto his hoy name. (D&C 128:34).


I mentioned how, as a dentist, I can appreciate their mali mali, their smiles, and I complimented them on their lea, their language, which is melodic and easy to listen to, and even to understand by the Spirit. I told them that, as in the movie Moana, I can hear their voices, that they are voyagers.


Their kata, their laughter, is infectious, and I can hear it in their animated conversation, even though I do not understand the words. Their kau mea, their friendship, is easy and natural.


I especially like their me a ka i, their food, and am particularly grateful that they are no longer cannibals, as they were when Captain Cook arrived in 1773.


I like their fak a malo, the way they give thanks, and their lotu, their example in prayer. There is a lot of thanks in their prayers, and  not so much of asking.


I love theire ta au, their modesty, and their loto ma u lalo, or their humility. Their anga faka fonua, or culture, is the best expression of the culture of the Church, which is not a Utah culture, or an American culture, as it turns out, but a South Pacific culture.


Truly, o tua mo tonga ko hoku tofia: God and Tonga are their inheritance. They have a strong cultural identity, and mate ma a Tonga; they would die for Tonga.


But, they know Who really died for Tonga. It was Sisu Kalaisi – Jesus Christ. I love the ready expressions of their tui, their faith in Him. Tui ia Sisu Kalaisi. Their hearts have been changed through faith on His name, wherefore they have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. (Mosiah 5:3).

I love their faka mo oni, their testimony. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “We are no more strangers or foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the Saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19).

I told them that I may be palangi, but in my heart I would like to be Tongan. And I closed my remarks I he hu afa o Sisu Kalaisi, emeni.



Getting names straight has been a challenge.  These are the names of those who work at Liahona, in the Service Center, in Facilities Management, etc.. I have most of them listed on my phone, under contacts like “Car,” “Housing,” “Travel,” “I.T.,” and so on….

Vili Fakataha Toutai
Tapaita Finetu’a Pulini
Ennismore Hafoka
Sioeli Unga
Latu Ta’ofi
Venisi Uata
Isileli Fatani
Alipate Tupou
Fifita Taufa
Etuate Tavo Toutai
Tuai Mei ‘Uta Finau
Fe’ao Teutau
Tamaline Tuifua
Harvalene K. Sekona
Lavenia Fonua Taufalele
Sione ‘Ilaniume Langi
Verna Tukuafu
Vikatolia Ta’ehia
Mosaia To’a
Tevita Makihele
Nua Hoeft
Aloine Havea Silongoatona Samani
Viliami Fuatoutai-‘i-Lateiki Taufatofua
Ofa Ki Mala’e Siutiti Tupou Fangaofo Liutai