Finding Polynesian Connections Far Away from the Islands

January 20, 2021 05:00 PM

Germany, 2018 | Source: BYU student Jessica Lopez

“Traveling with BYU and representing our Polynesian culture is an incredible blessing, but it can be difficult too. One of our group members found it difficult to be in Germany and dance the culture of his people but not actually see many—or any—Polynesians in Germany.

“There was one show where he heard ‘CHEEEE HOOOO!’ really loud during the last Polynesian number: the Tonga number. After the show we found the Poly who had been cheering; her name was Mele. She was from Tonga and had come to Germany because of love. She and her husband had lived in Germany for a long time. Mele expressed how grateful she was to see her people and her culture represented in Germany, so far away from Tonga. We exchanged information and were able to invite Mele to our last show in Berlin, closer to where she lived. (She had driven three hours to come to this show.)

“In Berlin, Mele came to our show again, and this time she brought her husband! They told us that they would like to take us around Berlin when we had a free day. [Living Legends members] Ivan, Moroni, and I all were able to go around town with Mele and her husband. They treated us just like family. They explained to us the history of Berlin and showed us around really neat places in Berlin. As the day ended, we invited Mele and her husband to meet the rest of our team at our hotel, where we would sing to them. When we walked in the hotel with Mele and Peter, the entire Living Legends cast was already in formation ready to sing ‘Folofola Mai a Sisu,’ a well-known song from the island of Tonga.

“The way we sang was different that time—angels were with us! Mele stayed in touch for some time, and a few months after we left Germany, we were informed that her husband had passed away suddenly. Mele expressed her gratitude and love for having us meet her and her husband. I feel that through the Spirit, we were able to comfort Mele in a way she didn’t even know she would need in the future.”