Elder Heimuli is Tongan through and through and proud of his heritage, but he is from a new generation encouraging and guiding the young people from the traditions that hold them back. He is a man of strength and courage who loves the Lord. When Elder Hawley gave him a blessing he said, "My name is Sione but I want to be called 'Elder Heimuli.' " Elder Heimuli is a Liahona High School graduate from the island of Vava’u. He met his sweetheart while attending BYU-Hawaii and performing at the Polynesian Cultural Center. He graduated from BYU-H and became a teacher for Granite School District and the San Juan School District at White Horse. But first and foremost, the name by which he wants to be know is Elder Heimuli.
Elder Heimuli is also a talented teacher who helps train teachers and kids for life. He is artistic in fine woodwork; he has taught students at Saineha High School in Vava'u and Liahona High School in Tongatapu to build beautiful furniture. [Display at Liahona Expo in Nuku'alofa] When he sings or listens to music Elder Heimuli closes his eyes, leans back, curls his toes, and taps to the beat. Below, Elder Heimuli, President McMurray, and Elder Taua'alo spontaneously harmonize during a Senior Missionaries Fireside at the McMurrays.
Elder Heimuli is a great cook especially with all the island dishes--grilled BBQ chicken, roasted Bread Fruit over an open fire, a hot coconut drink (kinda like a gruel), coconut dumplings, lupulu. Yum! The scissors fly when Elder Heimuli cuts hair, and he can split open a coconut and grate it in seconds; he plays tennis on campus at 5:30 a.m. and drives the missionary van in wild abandonment (although Sister Heimuli is right there to quietly tap on his arm if he overdoes it.)
He loves Vava’u where he was born and raised, and owns 6 acres there. Taxes cost him 80 cents a year. And, he has stories to tell! What do you do when you have a flat tire and no spare jack? Two big Tongans came along and lifted up the car while another fixed the tire for the Sister. Elder Heimuli won’t buy melons at one of the takeaways just outside of Nuku’alofa. Claims they’re “fried melons” sitting in the heat all day. But we do love the watermelons here!
A crab anyone? Elder Heimuli roasts some breadfruit: nothing like it! Elder Heimuli teaches Elder Hawley how to shuck a coconut: A joy in Elder Heimuli's life was to baptize Milika:Elder Heimuli has a wonderful garden in the bush directly behind the Navu Stake House and he has made a nice wooden bench there for others to enjoy. Taro is a favorite starchy tuber crop grown in Tonga.A machete knife is used for everything from trimming trees and edging grass to splitting a coconut or a roasted piggy.The long Tongan hoe is a very effective gardening tool. Home Depot needs to stock these!Elder Heimuli is holding his grandson adopted by their daughter. Crystal lived in Tonga for 6 months before the adoption was approved and she was allowed to take this sweet little boy to his home is Arizona. Elder Heimuli's barber used to cut his hair when he was a student at Liahona years ago: Until We Meet Again: Elder Hawley and I have developed a love and respect for Tonga and its people through this couple. Indeed, these two have brought a bit of heaven into our lives and so many others. When we said our farewells to the Heimulis at the airport, Elder Hawley, “I don’t even know your address, and soon you will be off to a second mission in the Solomon Islands.” Elder Heimuli responded, “Don’t worry. I will find you.” They'll move from Utah to AZ where their children live. Elder Hawley inherited Elder Heimuli's coconut shucker--pandana stick; the coconut grater (you have to sit on it to grate), and a striking frame he made to display a picture of the First Presidency. [Elder Heimuli and Elder Hawley say their goodbyes at the airport:]Ofa atu, Elder and Sister Heimuli, until we meet again. [Keneti Resort one Friday date night]