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Carole Mikita reporting It's appropriate, of course, to say, thank you, even deliver thanks any time of the year. Two young men from Utah traveled halfway around the world to do just that.
Josh Featherstone served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tonga, always hoping he would return, not for a vacation but to do something for the people who gave so much to him. Earlier this month, he was able to make that happen.
Memories of many wonderful visits to the Tupulatu home came rushing back as Featherstone returned to greet a family he loves. This time, he and his friend, Dallas Griffiths, brought gifts for them.
"It's amazing what they give, it's amazing how much they have and how much they give. I've been very blessed. It's very humbling for me to come back," Featherstone said.
Hainamoutha Tupulatu, a Tongan Latter-day Saint, said, "He's a nice missionary when he was here in Tonga."
As a Latter-day Saint, Josh served a two-year mission in Tonga. For some months, he lived in the Tupulatu's neighborhood. The former Elder Featherstone says when he and his companion would walk down the road and get to the home, they could never pass without a warm greeting, a meal and the offer of a ride wherever they needed to go.
"They would give us anything; they had just to make sure we were taken care of as missionaries because we were the Lord's servants. So I really grew to love them very much," Featherstone said.
Hainamoutha remembers Elder Featherstone as an enthusiastic eater. "He likes the Tongan food...and, too much eating (she laughs)..."
She and her husband have seven children and were thrilled to have all of the clothes and some medicine that Utah church members donated. The kids loved the candy. They live a humble existence, but, like their fellow countrymen, they share everything they have.
Dallas Griffiths said, "They think of others first, they think of themselves last. There's a reason why it's called the friendly islands, the friendly people, they're incredible."
Hainamoutha said, "I'd like to say thank you for all the stuffs and we would like to send our loves."
As for Josh, he found joy in a reunion he never imagined would happen. "I almost imagine it's kind of how heaven would be, to reunite with the people again that I served and I grew to love," he said.
Josh Featherstone and Dallas Griffiths gathered so much from their fellow Utahns that next month, they will travel to Tijuana, Mexico, where Dallas served a mission, to give back to the people there.