By Myunghee Sim
In 1850, Elder George Q. Cannon and nine other missionaries went to Hawaii to preach the gospel. Many faced challenges in their missionary work due to the language and cultural barriers. Because of these difficulties, five of the original ten missionaries left Hawaii. However, George Q. Cannon decided to stay in Maui to learn the Hawaiian language so he could preach the gospel.
In Maui, there was a man named Jonathan H. Napela. He was a highly educated man who came from an Ali’l (royal or chief) family. Because of his educational background, he could speak pure Hawaiian as well as fluent English. One night in spring 1851, Napela had a dream where he met a man in white who had been sent to deliver an important message. Not long afterward, George Q. Cannon was traveling near Napela’s house in Wailuku, Maui. When two women from Napela’s house saw him, they called out to Napela saying, “Oh, here is the white man.” Cannon was welcomed into Napela’s house and introduced the gospel to Napela’s family. Soon after, Napela and his wife were baptized.
Cannon and Napela worked together to translate The Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language. Because of Napela’s knowledge of the Hawaiian and English languages, the translation process went quickly. Elder Cannon wrote, “Probably but few in the nation were as well qualified as Brother Napela, to help me in this respect.” With The Book of Mormon available in the native Hawaiian language, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hawaii grew to have more than 3,000 members by the end of Elder Cannon’s mission in 1854. Jonathan H. Napela’s education enabled him to assist in the translation of the Hawaiian Book of Mormon translation. This blessed numerous lives. Just like Napela, how do you think your education can bless the lives of others?