After serving the church faithfully as a teacher and a Church Minister for many years, Reverend Masunu Utumapu, is calling it a day.
He was among two Elders of the Church whose life of service was recognised yesterday. Rev. Masunu and Reverend Halefoti Seloti’s services was celebrated as they retire (malōlō manumalo).
A special service was held at the Uesile Mulivai-o-Aele Parish at Faleula where families and friends gathered to celebrate.
It was also the beginning of a new journey for five Methodist Church Ministers who graduated yesterday.
But for Rev. Masunu, yesterday was all about reflections and how God’s love has guided him and his family over the years.
“I am overwhelmed and grateful,” he said. “There is nothing like preaching the Gospel, to spark hope for people in vulnerable places. This is what I am here to do. My children are the living testament that God will never abandon his people and that he does have a plan for each and every one despite the situation.
“As all of you may know, I have two daughters who are both blind, they were born here at Levaula.
“As educators, we had no understanding of disabilities, so we decided it is either we move away from the Gospel and look for a better way to facilitate the lives of our children or we just carry on and let our children be taught by others.”
The 70-year-old is from the villages of Safotu Savai’i and Vaitele. Though his parents were not Church Ministers, he was always passionate about being a teacher.
“That has been our vision behind everything that we did. And now that our children have completed their studies and they are after the same goal we had before and that is educating children.
“We were so encouraged when my children were able to have good education. That is what I spoke about when I was presenting my report, that through our weakness we are made strong through Christ, that we were able to achieve this dream that we have been working hard for.
“We dreamt that we would be able to make a difference within the education of the Samoan students, while we left our children to be educated by others in New Zealand. My daughter Faaolo was the top student in her year and was able to secure a scholarship to Monash University in Australia from the Government,” he added.
The father of seven shared that the journey was not easy, when the unexpected happened, God turned his sadness into dancing.
“This is the reason we would never forget the love of God and up until now all the programmes with the Ministry whether it is performing dances or the choir, it something that I am also passionate about. My daughter Faaolo also plays piano and does everything for the church to support the calling that God has given us.
“There is a certain point in your life where you would find yourself on your knees because there is no other way you can turn to but the cross. We put our hopes in Christ that regardless of the situation of our children, he knows the best answer to give us.
“We have left everything because of the Gospel and through the work that we have done, our children have been blessed.”
Both he and his wife were educators; it has always been their dream to help children.
1. Lātu Kioa
2. Uili Soloa
3. Numerator Ofoia
4. Faleupolu Mareko Taulelei
5. Tauinaola Tupa’i
Retired (malōlō manumalo) Church Ministers
1. Masunu and Senerita Utumapu
2. Halefoti and Seuoletoi Seloti