News Story

The Positive Impact of Lay Ministries

“I’m ready to do whatever the Lord wants me to do” – Solomone Kaumaitotoya

“I am grateful for the consecrated journey the last nine years have been. It has been a miracle. We have witnessed the Hand of the Lord… the journey has been inspiring.”

These are the tender feelings that Lavinia Kaumaitotoya recently expressed to an overflowing congregation of members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nadi, Fiji, following her husband, Solomone Kaumaitotoya’s release from service as the president of the Lautoka Fiji Stake.

Solomone and Lavinia Kaumaitotoya. Nadi, Fiji 20222022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

A stake president is the lay leader of a stake, which is a geographic subdivision similar to a Catholic diocese. A stake president is a man who is asked to serve as a volunteer in this position. He oversees Church programs in a defined geographic area composed of individual congregations called wards and is responsible to help the members of his stake in their efforts to follow Jesus Christ.

President Kaumaitotoya was responsible for 14 congregations—some of which took him five hours to reach by road.

He provided counsel to bishops, or ward leaders, as needed. He was assisted by two volunteer counsellors, who were also released, and a group of 12 men called a high council.

Church leaders were assigned by the First Presidency of the Church to reorganise the stake presidency. They had prayed and received impressions to their hearts and minds (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2) that Kumaitotoya, who was then serving as a bishop, was the man the Lord had chosen.

Kaumaitotoya received authority to lead the stake as Church leaders placed their hands on his head and blessed him in the same manner as the disciples were in the Biblical account found in John 15.

Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught that the priesthood is the authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ. He said, “Because Christ is not here with us, His priesthood is needed to teach His doctrine and to perform the ordinances of salvation. Priesthood authority is given to worthy male members of the Church and is received ‘by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof’ (Articles of Faith 1:5). Theological training or reading the Bible does not convey priesthood authority; rather, it comes from God according to the pattern He has established.”

The call in 2013 came as a surprise to 45 year old Solomone Kaumaititoya. It was not something for which he sought or to which he aspired. In fact, it caused him deep introspection and feelings of inadequacy. As a lay leader volunteer, Kumaitotoya would continue in his full-time career as an airline purser to financially support his family.

President Kaumaitotoya greets members of the congregation. Nadi, Fiji 20222022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kaumaititoya prayed fervently, asking, “Lord, what do you want me to do? What do you want me to say?” He also wondered, “How can I still do my job and be a stake president?”  

The answers came to Kaumaitotoya in the form of scriptures and dreams that penetrated his heart deeply.

The words found in Moses 1:39, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,” left an impression upon Kaumaititoya. He said, “This was a call to do the Lord’s work. It wasn’t about me.”

Dreams came to President Kaumaitotoya every few days when he was first called. He was shown some of the events that would happen in the stake. He said, “I knew what to do because I had seen it in a dream.”

He found that his life experiences had also prepared him in ways he couldn’t foresee. President Kaumaitotoya had a very difficult childhood. As a young teenager, he climbed a hill one day to pray and to ask God why he had to go through such hard things.

He recalled, “I was really angry with God. I couldn’t understand why the Lord would let me go through such hard things. I was asking Him why?”

Kaumaitotoya didn’t understand, at first, the answer that came on the hill that day: “For your experience.”

As he served, he made sense of what “for your experience” meant, when a teary congregant walked into his office to seek his ecclesiastical counsel about a similar family situation. Afterwards, it dawned on Kaumaitotoya what the answer to his boyhood prayer meant. His path and his challenges had prepared him to minister to and serve people with understanding and love.

Lavinia Kaumaitotoya visits with congregant Fauoro Akaka. Nadi, Fiji 2022© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Lavinia Kaumaitotoya voiced her gratitude for her husband’s opportunity to serve. She said, “I have seen my husband grow and change to become a more spiritual, loving father and husband. I have seen him coming to know the Saviour.”

Latter-day Saints believe that callings or invitations to accept responsibilities or offices in the Church, are opportunities for growth and refinement. Serving the Lord and others in these volunteer roles increases love for God and for His children. It is a blessing to sacrifice time and energy for the Lord and to be called by Him to do His work.

Adrian Yee (L) and Richard Gounder (R) served as counselors to President Kaumaitotoya. Adrian Yee will serve as the new stake president. Nadi, Fiji, 2022© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Nine years ago, when Lavinia and Solomone Kaumaitotoya learned that it was time for a new stake president to be called, they fasted and prayed. They called upon the Lord to bless those seeking inspiration to know who the Lord wanted to lead their stake. They prayed that their stake would be blessed.

Almost as a bookend, the Kaumaitotoya’s again fasted and prayed the week before the stake conference when Solomone would be released as stake president, offering prayers of gratitude, and seeking blessings for the new stake president.

Solomone Kaumaitotoya declared, “President Adrian Yee has the authority to lead the stake now, and I sustain him. I’m ready to do whatever the Lord wants me to do.”

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