LAHAINA, Hawaii — Looking out at the burned neighborhoods surrounding the Lahaina 2nd Ward meetinghouse, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said he and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, felt “very tender … thinking and feeling the emotions of these dear Latter-day Saints.”
The deadly August 2023 wildfires on the island of Maui burned 80 homes belonging to members of the Lahaina 1st and 2nd wards. Flames came within feet of the two meetinghouse.
Elder Rasband said he sees a miracle happening here because the Latter-day Saints are living the two great commandments.
“They just love each other, and they love the Lord. That is the miracle I see,” he said. “They care for each other, they are ministering to each other, and they have optimism for each other. They are going to rebuild, and they will be stronger and better.”
Bringing with him invitations, promises and blessings, Elder Rasband ministered to members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in personal visits and during a special stake conference of the Kahului Hawaii West Stake on Sunday, Feb. 11.
“I come on the errand of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so I bring with me our Savior’s love,” Elder Rasband said.
The Savior sent Elder Rasband “that you might know here in Maui you are not forgotten,” he said during the conference.
He thanked them for their compassion toward each other, noting the love, harmony and unity he felt.
“Why must we go through heartache? At these moments, we can turn to the great plan of happiness offered by our Heavenly Father.”
Elder Rasband’s 3 invitations for the Maui Saints
Elder Rasband told Maui Latter-day Saints that anyone going through heartache can turn to Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness. And he invited them to keep the commandments, prepare for a house of the Lord and exercise the power of the priesthood.
“I felt strongly to say this blessing: As you keep the commandments of the Lord, I bless you that you will prosper in this land — this land, on Maui.”
Prompting laughter from the audience, Elder Rasband explained that doesn’t mean they will get rich. But it does mean they will have the true meaning of prospering — happiness, well-being and joy.
“I will promise you today, in the name of the Lord, that if you do this, you will in fact be prepared for when this temple opens its doors.”
He invited them to seek priesthood blessings. He called upon men holding the priesthood to use that power to bless others.
Strengthened by Elder Rasband’s visit
Those invitations and blessings were powerful to hear for Bishop Matavaimo’ui Ma, the bishop of the Lahaina 2nd (Tongan) Ward.
“It strengthened me to do more for my ward members,” he said. “It gave me more energy to tackle the work that I do in Lahaina.”
Even though his own home burned down, Bishop Ma has not stopped ministering to the members of his ward who also lost their homes.
He joined Elder Rasband for a ministering visit with a family in his ward at the Lahaina 2nd Ward meetinghouse, which touched Elder Rasband.
“Here he is ministering to his members, helping me meet them and greet them, and I love him for it,” Elder Rasband said.
After their conversation, Bishop Ma stopped by what remained of his home a few blocks from the meetinghouse. He is able to enter the neighborhood occasionally with permission.
“It’s tough to lose all that you worked for all those years,” Bishop Ma said. “It has been hard.” Going forward, his plan is to rebuild, though everything he has been told is that the process could take many years.
Sister Rasband shared how grateful she was for each of the faithful Latter-day Saints and their kindness, ministering, example and fellowship to each other and their neighbors and friends.
She expressed how much she was looking forward to a house of the Lord being built in Maui — a true “beauty for ashes” — and testified of the Lord’s kindness.
“He knows how to comfort us in our hardships as we journey in our mortal life,” Sister Rasband said.
Sister Chase said she felt prompted to talk to them about fear. She told them what her mother would tell her when she was young: “What would you do if you were not afraid?”
“Jesus Christ is the center of our focus. As we choose Him as our center, there is nothing in this world we need to be afraid of,” Sister Chase said.
Elder Mark A. Bragg, a General Authority Seventy and president of the North America West Area, promised that as Latter-day Saints draw closer to Jesus Christ, they will be one and they will find joy and revelation. “I have a strong personal feeling that He is proud of you and that He loves you, and He has sent Elder Rasband to confirm that.”
At the end of the stake conference, after the closing prayer, the congregation stood as one and sang “Aloha Oe” for Elder Rasband.
He was visibly moved by the traditional Hawaiian song, which includes the words “One fond embrace, a hoi ae au (ere I depart), until we meet again.”
‘We can feel their love’
Hailey Cardon just returned this week from serving a full-time mission in the California San Bernardino Mission. Being in stake conference with her family and her home ward members was a very sweet experience for her.
“It was so sweet that he blessed us that we would be able to prosper in this land, because I know that is so hard for a lot of people. Their lives are changing so drastically, but that was a reminder that God can bless them here,” she said. “I saw that on my mission, too. God knows our desires, and He will bless us.”
Bishop Ma said although so many Church members lost their homes, they have kept their faith in Jesus Christ.
“We feel the love from throughout the members of the Church. We can feel their love and their prayers for us. I know there are a lot of people out there who love and care for us.”
Speaking to more than 100 gathered in the Church History Museum auditorium, Elder Kyle S. McKay, a General Authority Seventy, explored several key historic events of Church history to show a pattern of continued revelation in the restoration of the gospel.