Today in Stake Conference, our Stake President spoke of an awesome man in LDS history, Jonathon Napela, and I couldn't help but try to learn more about him and share with all of you.
One of the earliest coverts in Hawaii, Napela was a prominent member of his society and became an important member the church and helped George Q Cannon translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian.
A stand-out story from the stake president's talk told of a time when Napela and Cannon prayed for good weather for an outside meeting. Cannon started to worry that the weather would not hold and began to make preparations to move the meeting inside. Napela was confused at Cannon's actions and asked him, "Did we not pray for good weather?" The meeting was held outside and the weather was not an issue.
Napela was also instrumental in the missionary efforts in Hawaii. He taught his language to Cannon, who returned the favor. Napela offered to open his home to all incoming missionaries and teach them the language and the customs of his people before they began to teach and serve. He was setting the stage and planting ideas for missionary training, for the MTC.
What stuck out most to me of the tales of the life of Napela was his devotion to his dear wife, Kitty. She contracted leprosy and was to be quarantined for the rest of her life. Napela applied to go to the leper colony with her. He said he was devoted to his wife and had promised before God that he would be with her "til death do us part." Though death would surely come soon, he could not abandon his wife, he could not break his promise. He was allowed to go into quarantine with his wife. In the leper colony he still taught the gospel and presided over the saints there. Eventually, Napela, too, contracted leprosy and after six years in the colony preceded his wife in death.
Learning about Napela today was so neat. I had an abstract knowledge that the church grew early and strong in Hawaii, but I was not familiar with the people or the stories. I had never heard of Napela before, and his story touched me. He was a good strong man, devoted to his wife and his God. He is an inspiration.