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Hi I'm Meilani

I grew up in Hawaii. I am a mother of four. My youngest was born with spina bifida. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

Meilani is a Hawaiian name. My parents gave it to me because I was the first child born to my family in Hawaii. I have always been proud of that, and have very happy memories of my childhood in that beautiful place. My husband grew up in Tonga and also has deep connections to Hawaii. We fell in love there and were married there. We planned to live there forever, until things came to a screeching halt in our life with the pregnancy of our fourth child. At our 20 week ultrasound we found out that our daughter had a large opening in her spine, clubbed feet, hydrocephalus and a malformation of the brain called the Arnold Chiari II malformation. Her diagnosis was spina bifida. Based on the severity, she would likely be paralyzed her whole life and require the use of a wheelchair. Needless to say, we were shocked and saddened by the news. At that point we had a lot of decisions to make and a lot of praying to do! Quickly we realized that we needed the support of extended family. We also recognized the need for more specialized medical care for our daughter. After months of turmoil and prayer, we decided to move our little family to the mainland when I was 8 months pregnant. Though it was so difficult to leave our paradise home behind, we have never regretted our decision. Nine years later, our daughter is thriving. We have had many challenges along the way, but she has become a huge blessing in our lives and we cannot imagine life without her in our family.

Why I am a Mormon

It is tempting to blame God when difficulties arise. Especially when you feel you do not deserve it. I grew up as a Mormon from the time I was very young. Over the years it would have been easy for me to stop believing the things I was taught and to feel disillusioned. But luckily I chose, over and over again, to put those teachings to the test. I prayed for answers. I lived God's laws. I took those leaps of faith. As a result I feel a strong connection to my Heavenly Father. I know my purpose here on earth. And I recognize that the trials placed in my life are for my good and for my growth. I am a Mormon because I could not face the difficulties in my life without God's guiding hand. I am a Mormon because the church and the local members are like family to me and we are a huge support system for each other in good times and bad. I am a Mormon because I have studied, prayed and learned for myself that the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon are true. They are relevant to my life. As a result, I have found a great deal of peace and guidance through all of the storms in my life.

How I live my faith

I take great joy in living my faith. It has been a source of guidance and comfort for me over the years, navigating our daughter's health challenges. Currently I am serving as a leader of the women's organization in our neighborhood church. I have had the opportunity to serve others through their own trials and losses. As I have done so, I recognize the strength God has given to me through my own difficulties. I am more capable of compassion and understanding for others as I have "been there" in many ways. I am also able to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ on a regular basis in church meetings. I love studying and teaching from the scriptures. I gain a great deal of strength and insight for my own life as I search and teach from them. Ultimately I feel that raising my daughter with cheerfulness, dignity and with great love is one of the best ways I can live my faith. God sent her to our family. I believe that. So we see her as a child of God and therefore of great worth. Life will always have challenges, but as I have put my trust in God, I have found a great deal of happiness and satisfaction. Our daughter is paralyzed from the waist down. She has other health challenges. But she is living proof every day in my life, that there is so much happiness and joy we can experience, despite challenges.