Feature

A Special Reunion For American Family In Tropical Island Paradise

Grandfather Elder Ronald Rasband, a high-ranking Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints official, was visiting Australia and New Zealand with his wife Melanie Rasband.
23 Nov 2019 11:47
A Special Reunion For American  Family In Tropical Island Paradise
From left: Sister Melanie Rasband, Elder Racule, Grandson Elder Ammon MacPherson, Elder Ronald Rasband with Zareena Bi, Son Zeral Ali and Daughter Aaliyah R Chand (front) in Nabua, Suva, on Thursday. Photo: Renu Radhika

When Elder Ammon MacPherson arrived in Suva for a church mission he didn’t know that he would have a reunion with his grandparents here.

Grandfather Elder Ronald Rasband, a high-ranking Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints official, was visiting Australia and New Zealand with his wife Melanie Rasband.

They decided to come to Fiji to meet their grandson.

The reunion on Thursday in Nabua, Suva,  at the home of Zareena Bi, was a special one.

They described it as a wonderful blessing to be together in a tropical island paradise.

Elder Rasband, a member of the church’s 12 apostles, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, said Fijians: “are incredibly friendly, loving.”

“They made us feel that way. They seemed happy always. They want us to know they are happy people.”

Elder Rasband’s world mission assignment is humanitarian work. Fijians are among the beneficiaries of the church’s humanitarian service.

The Rasbands have been here before. In 2013, they visited the LDS Primary School in Samabula and the Fiji LDS College in Tamavua and later went to a village to present medical kits to the chief. Elder Rasband said he was excited and proud to meet his grandson and thank about 21,000 church members in Fiji for their service.

On his role, Elder Rasband said: “There is human suffering. We believe in helping and caring for the poor and needy, we do this all over the world.

“I’m not sure how Fiji feel about our church but from my point of view we want to be good citizens, be responsible as a church and we want to take care of our own people. We are part of your community.”

Along with other faith-based organisations, she said the church should try to serve families, children and be a good citizen and member of our community. The church has given donations and assistance throughout Fiji from water tanks to community halls, schools, boats and medical kits and equipment.

Elder MacPherson said he was nervous when he arrived here two months ago to start a two-year mission.

But his love for the people and the country had grown after visiting places, meeting people and learning about their cultures.

“Now I feel Fiji is my home,” the 18-year-old from Draper, Utah, said.

Ms Bi, a mother of two children, said her prayers had been answered.  She said it was a blessing when they, as a Muslim family, were visited by the church members.

The church members had helped them when they were going through tough challenges. After her eldest son, Zeral Ali, 18, was baptized to be a LDS Church member, positive changes had happened in the family, Ms Bi said.

Now they are taking lessons from Elder MacPherson and his companion and at the end Ms Bi and eight-year-old daughter Aliyah Ryna Chand will decide whether they want  to be baptized like Mr Ali.

Mr Ali currently attends self-reliance classes and plans to be a missionary like Elder MacPherson one day.

He said this had been a wonderful week, especially meeting Elder Rasband and Sister Rasband.

Edited by Percy Kean

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