Temple moments: Eternal riches

One day in the mid-1960s, Kovana Pauga and Evelini Wesley sat together in the office of Harold R. Johnson, then superintendent of the Church Educational Program in Western Samoa. Both were returned missionaries and elementary school teachers in the Church's Vaiola School on the Western Samoa island of Savaii.

Brother Johnson recalled, "I had felt impressed to assign Kovana Puaga and Evelini Wesley to the Vioala School. I felt their spirits would enrich the faculty and the village of Vioala."Some time later, he received word that the two wanted to meet with him. Their visit to the superintendent's office required an extended journey: a long walk, a trip in a rickety bus, a voyage on the open sea in a small boat, and another bus ride.

"They were exceedingly joyous in my office," he recalled. "They wanted to tell me they had decided to be married."

At the time the nearest temples were in distant New Zealand and Hawaii. The couple asked that he withhold 80 percent of their income and save it for airplane fares. They told the superintendent that they would pay their tithing with 10 percent of their income, and live on the remaining 10 percent.

They planned to grow their food in a garden, a plan the young couple followed for nearly a year. At that time, they withdrew their money, purchased their tickets, obtained travel documents and went to Hawaii. There, in Laie, they were sealed for time and eternity in the House of the Lord.

"The example they set for their students was immeasurable," said the former superintendent. "Upon their return to Vaiola, they were welcomed by a beautiful fiafia, a wonderful reception that was put on by the students and other members of the village."

Now, 30 years later, Harold R. Johnson is president of the Apia Samoa Temple. Brother Pauga has served as a bishop, stake president and is an ordinance worker in the temple. Sister Pauga has served as president of the Primary, Relief Society and Young Women.

"Their worldly goods are limited, but they look upon their family and their service to the Lord as their riches of eternity," said Pres. Johnson.