The six-year journey for Tema Alailima Eteuati was long and hard and it finally came to an end when he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity with Honors at the Piula Theological College.
As the son of Reverend Vaiao and Erolini Eteuati, joining the college would have been a given.
But this was not the case. The decision was one he made with his wife Repeka, not with his father.
“My father did not force me into coming to Piula, he gave us the freewill to come or not,” he said.
“It was a choice that was between me and my wife Repeka. It was a joint choice. If I wanted to come and she disagreed, then it would not work. So we made a choice and a commitment to God that is why we are here, not because of our parents.”
The couple and their children made a sacrifice – to follow Christ and carry the cross – but the journey was surreal and worth it according to them.
“I feel happy, glad and relieved and this is my last year. I have been in the college for six years now. Over the years as I was in the college I have developed the patience and your love for God. To serve God is why I do what I do, especially my family.
“This has been great and it is not the end of it, this is just a beginning of another journey. So we rely on God to give us the strength and life so we could carry out the service for him and anywhere he would lead me I will go,” he added.
Life in the college had taught him two important pillars in life: patience and a life for God.
His father Reverend Vaiao Eteuati was on hand to witness his son’s graduation and he was elated that he had finally crossed the line.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, he said: “Tema was a gentle child, but at the same time he was also a rascal. I sat down with all my children and we were tossing around of who was going to be a church minister. I was talking to my children of who wanted to go and Tema said that he has already decided to join the Piula Theological College. My name is also Tema and we more than approved when he said he wanted to go.”
Looking back at the journey that Tema and his wife took, Reverend Vaiao said he warned them of the difficulties they would encounter at the college.
“I told them Piula is not easy, it is a hard school. There is so much cost to it, not just financially but it will cost you your emotions and your physical abilities, particularly Repeka because she was working in a good position in New Zealand, she was a bank manager. But she decided to throw everything in and come here. The thing is whether you could last in it – they said they could do it. I already told them don’t go if you can’t do it.”
Reverend Vaiao believes that all the hardships they have faced in the past is nothing compared to the blessings God had planned for them in the future.
“I am more than happy and grateful to God for his love. I thank God because he has been really good to us as Church Ministers and also our children. They grew up from Gods love, because God has blessed us. We were really poor at Faleula, we did not reach where we are this easily. We used to have yams that were uneatable for dinner.”