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Pasi Haufano didn’t always want to serve a mission, it wasn’t until he was in his mid-twenties that he even starting to consider the idea. But when he’d made that choice, nothing was going to stop him. His perseverance became a beacon of faith, an example of determination that has quite simply become legendary.
Pasi was raised in a Polynesian (Tongan/Samoan) home in New Zealand and was Baptised in 2006, but he didn’t really understand the significance of what he was doing. “I knew I had to be baptised, but I never understood the doctrine behind it”, he said, “I couldn’t even remember the name of the church, I didn’t know that there was a Book of Mormon.”
Years later, a friend of Pasi’s, Jimmy, was also baptised, and he encouraged Pasi to come back to church. “He invited me every Sunday. He’d come and wake me up, I’d probably be hung over from the night before, but he’d say ‘Hey Brother, come to church today’, and I’d always make up excuses to why I couldn’t go.”
Jimmy wasn’t going to give up. He went every Sunday, despite refusal after refusal. He eventually found just the trick to getting Pasi out of bed: food.
“Hey Brother!” Jimmy said, “Come to church today, because after church we’re going to have a picnic!”, “When I heard that, I was like ‘Ok! I’m going!’” Pasi recalls, “He kind of tricked me!”
Pasi went to church that day, and afterwards went with Jimmy to visit some less active YSA. “I didn’t even know what I was doing, but it felt so good. Just being there, visiting these people, putting a smile on their faces, I had never felt this before and that feeling was the miracle.”
Pasi kept attending church and YSA activities, until one day he found himself going to mission prep with his friends. In one of these classes, a member held up the Book of Mormon and bore his testimony. It was here, astonishingly, that Pasi saw the Book of Mormon for the first time. Pasi was blown away, “he said his testimony with such conviction that I made another oath to myself, an oath to read that book and find out what he was talking about”.
Pasi was soon invited to a mission prep camp in Hamilton (just over an hour away), and he began reading the Book of Mormon. “It was here I learnt about Lehi and his family, and I read about Nephi and his struggles, and I thought, ‘this is my family right here, these are my struggles’”.
It was through the Book of Mormon that Pasi gained a testimony and knew he needed to serve a mission. Pasi filled out his mission papers and sent them off. Yet, he was completely unaware of the difficult decision he still had to make.
After “months and months” of waiting, and watching friends leave for their missions, Pasi started to wonder if he just wasn’t good enough. “Maybe I haven’t been forgiven, maybe I’m not trying hard enough,” he thought. “I just felt useless, abandoned”.
Pasi was finally called to meet with his Stake President, who told him that his mission application had been declined on the basis of his very visible tattoos. Pasi’s heart dropped.