Prime minister of Tonga meets with 2 Apostles, Church education leaders

Honorable Siaosi Sovaleni visited Salt Lake City Sept. 30 through Oct. 5 and met with Elder Stevenson, Elder Soares and other leaders

One of several honored guests at last weekend’s October 2022 general conference in downtown Salt Lake City was the prime minister of Tonga.

Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni visited Salt Lake City from Sept. 30 through Oct. 5 accompanied by his wife, first lady Fiona Sovaleni, and other dignitaries from Tonga. The delegation met with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as well as Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder K. Brett Nattress, a General Authority Seventy who serves as the president of the Pacific Area.

“We enjoyed a wonderful visit with the prime minister and other members of his group over the past few days,” Elder Nattress told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom. “The prime minister has a great love for our Savior Jesus Christ, as well as the people of Tonga.”

While attending general conference, the prime minister also met Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In addition to visiting Church headquarters and attending a session of general conference, the prime minister visited the Family History Library and Brigham Young University.

A Facebook post by the ministry of foreign affairs of Tonga featured photos of the prime minister’s tour of the Family History Library, commenting that he was “briefed on its work,” including the collection of family records and the digitization of official civil documents.

While in Utah, the prime minister also met Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Church commissioner of education, and BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Brian K. Ashton

Elder Nattress met with the prime minister roughly a month ago in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa, where the two discussed collaboration in future humanitarian work and in the education of young Tongans.

At that time, Elder Nattress also expressed gratitude to the prime minister for his leadership during the worldwide pandemic and following the January 2022 volcanic eruption and tsunami.

“This is a special place — with people who love God, who strive to follow Jesus Christ, who seek to be good parents, neighbors and citizens,” Elder Nattress said. 

The Pacific nation has long been known for its deep spirituality. For the last several months, churches in Tonga, as well as many government officials, have invited residents to join together in fasting and prayer, to ask God to help the people during the worldwide pandemic and for guidance and help in rebuilding and caring for individuals impacted by the January disaster, according to Pacific Newsroom

In September, the Nuku’alofa Tonga Central Stake hosted special devotionals to open and close the national fast. 

Tonga includes 36 populated islands, and roughly 60% of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

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