On Thurs. Jan 7, 2010 [Wed Jan 6 in North America] a baby boy was born in the LDS (Mormon) Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple. The circumstances surrounding this unusual occurance were nothing short of miraculous. Mormon Soprano has received permission from all parties involved to share the story with you, as told by Sister Frederika ten Hoopen (“Sister Teni”), serving as an LDS Sister Missionary Nurse in Tonga:
“I went to the [Tonga] Temple last night. I had taken my watch off at home (something the brethern have asked us to do), so I ended up leaving 20 minutes earlier than usual, and arrived early, [about 6:30 PM] planning to attend the 7:00 PM session. As I was entering, the brothers at the desk said they needed a nurse urgently, and asked me to go into the waiting room!
“What I did not know at the time of my arrival is that the phones and internet had gone down at the temple, and no one could call out. The Acting [Temple] President had tried to find me, but no one knew where I was, as I am now working as a proseletyzing missionary. He began to fervently pray for me to come to the 7:00 temple session, and had just completed his prayer when I walked in the door.
“When I entered [the temple waiting room], there was the mommy sitting in a wheelchair in all her white [clothing] and she had already delivered most of the baby. I was very concerned about the baby, and felt the tremendous urging of the spirit prompting me as to what to do. I give all the praise to the Lord! I had to scoop him out of her [undergarments] and turn him over to get him to breathe, and then came that famous cry! They do not have twist ties in Tonga, so I asked for scissors, and elastic bands. I cut the cord and put the elastic bands on. All this time, Sister Clayton [a temple worker] was helping me, as she has had 8 children and many grandchildren! We lifted the mother out of the wheelchair and onto the floor where I delivered the placenta (afterbirth). It took a few pushes and I needed to help it along, but finally it came. In Tonga, the family takes the afterbirth and ceremonially buries it, so it was important to have it preserved.
“The mother of the baby’s name is Ati. She is a teacher here in Liahona, and had just returned from BYU Hawaii where she had been taking a course. Her due date was set as February 14th, and she had seen her doctor the night before she came to the temple [with everything appearing on schedule]. She and her husband decided to attend a session at the temple together, where she went into labor without warning. Her husband was by her side the whole time of the delivery.
“I could hardly believe it, but the birth only took 20 minutes for all of this to happen from beginning to end! At this point, the ambulance arrived and took mother & baby to the hospital, and all was well! In the meantime, I noticed that I never got one drop of blood, or anything on me! I was able to wash up, get ready for the session, and attend just as planned!
“The next morning [Sister Clayton] and I went to the Hospital to see the baby. Mom and Dad were waiting for us. They [gave us a great honor] and asked us to name their baby. His name will be “Teni Keleitoni Temipale“, which is the Tongan translation for our names, [ten Hoopen & Clayton] plus the Temple.
“I joined the church 11 years ago in New York City, which has changed my life forever. This was another incredible blessing, to be of some small service in the Kingdom.
I have a testimony that the Atonement can heal all ills of this society, and the world! I share these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
With Love, Sister Teni (ten Hoopen)”
Sister Teni’s life is also a miraculous story. She was born and raised in Canada, and moved to New York City in 1980. She joined the LDS Church in 1998, and three months after her baptism, travelled by train with her two boys to live in Utah. A little over a year ago, she chose to serve at her own expense as a single Senior Missionary. She was originally called to the Samoa mission, but one week before arriving at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah her assignment was changed to be the Missionary Nurse in Tonga. After arriving in Tonga, her mission President sent her to serve in Niua – more famously known as “The Other Side of Heaven“, and became the first white (palangi) single Sister Missionary to serve there. Delivering a baby at the Temple is just one of the many miraculous and unique experiences of her missionary service. She is beloved by the Tongan people:
[Sister Teni] is truly a remarkable and wonderful example of Heavenly Father’s answer to many prayers. The lives she’s touched, the miracle of her being here in Tonga, that’s another story all together! She has escaped near death, survived a typhoon [the Tsunami that hit Niua in September] nursed the survivors, healed and witnessed a true miracle, baptized families, delivered a baby in a Temple, and saved one person I know very well–literally saved their life. She is an answer to prayers, my very own Angel, and quite a few others feel that way, too!
– Sister Kathleen Peaua, a Latter-day Saint living in Tonga
We thank Sister Frederika ten Hoopen (“Sister Teni”) for her selfless service, and for sharing her story and testimony with us. We also welcome baby Teni Keleitoni Temipale to the world, and extend best wishes to his family!