Kalani Sitake and Tony Finau meet Tongan Prime Minister at BYU event

On a recent trip to Utah to visit leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Tonga’s prime minister also stopped by Brigham Young University, meeting the football coach Chief Kalani Sitake and some of his players and professional golfer. Tony Finau.

Siaosi Sovaleni, his wife, First Lady Madame Fiona Sovaleni, and other dignitaries from Tonga were hosted for a Monday, Oct. 4, dinner at BYU in Provo, Utah, which included leaders from the Church, University , athletics and community.

“It was definitely an honor for me, the players and the staff to meet the Prime Minister,” Sitake said, adding that they were honored that the Tonga leader included BYU in his itinerary. “It was important for us to be able to meet him and to be able to show him our respect and what life is like for Tongans living here in the United States.”

Siaosi Sovaleni, right, Prime Minister of Tonga, meets with BYU football players, left to right, Atunaisa Mahe, Lorenzo Fauatea, Sonny Makasini and Logan Lutui during a dinner on October 4, 2022 with BYU officials and players and team members also as church and community leaders at BYU in Provo, Utah.

While in Salt Lake City from October 1-5, Sovaleni met with Elder Ulisses Soares and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other general authorities and attended the October 2022 general conference at the Center of conference. He also visited the Family History Library, where he learned about the library and its work, including collecting family records and digitizing official civil documents.

At BYU, the Prime Minister, his wife and the delegation also toured some of the university facilities. At dinner they were joined by three General Authorities Seventies: K. Brett Nattress, Taniela B. Wakolo, and Vaiangina Sikahema. Brother Nattress is president of the Pacific region of the Church and Brother Wakolo one of its counselors.

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Siaosi Sovaleni, right, premier of Tonga, meets with three General Authority Seventies—left to right—Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, Elder K. Brett Nattress, and Elder Vaiangina Sikahema—at a dinner on May 4 October 2022 with BYU officials and football team players and staff as well as Church and community leaders at BYU in Provo, Utah.

Elder Sikahema invited Sitake – both from Nuku’alofa, the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Tonga – to express some thoughts over dinner, along with Finau, who is of Tongan descent.

“We were able to share our experiences and upbringing with him and how we carry on our Tongan culture,” Sitake said. “I thought it was really cool for me and for Tony Finau to tell him that the roots of our success started with our Tongan heritage.”

Elder Sikahema shared how Finau bore his testimony of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the living prophets and apostles who spoke in weekend general conference.

“He said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, you have had tours of the buildings at Church Headquarters and here at BYU and our facilities,” Elder Sikahema said, recounting Finau’s message. “These buildings are magnificent, and they were paid for with consecrated funds from the members of this Church. »

Finau continued, “But they don’t adequately represent members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is our lives that we hope are most representative of our faith. During your short stay here, I implore you to listen carefully and feel the spirit of the people you have met here.

The football team players and staff presented each member of the Tongan party with a bag of equipment and items from the football program of BYU and Finau and its sponsors.

“Kalani said, ‘I don’t know what they call it in Tonga,’ Brother Sikahema said, “but here we call it swag—bags of swag. And there’s enough here for everyone.

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BYU football players and coaches hold handbags to offer members of a visiting Tonga delegation led by the Prime Minister of Tonga during the visit to Brigham Young University on October 4, 2022 in Provo, in Utah.

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