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Community gathers for Easter music devotional

Laie community members meet together on Palm Sunday to share their combined love and appreciation of the Savior, Jesus Christ

A man in a black suit coat and wearing a leafy green lei stands behind a piano with his arms up conducting a choir.
The Tongan Choir conductor
Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

Celebrating the life, atonement and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a multi-faith musical Easter devotional open to all members of the Koolauloa community was held on Palm Sunday, March 24, on the BYU-Hawaii campus.

Po Nien Chou, the president of Laie Married Student Stake, said musical devotionals are a special way to celebrate the Savior’s ministry on earth. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the only one that celebrates Easter,” he said. “This devotional was not only for the church members, but it’s also for the whole community that celebrates Easter.”

Chou said several local stake presidents were inspired by the recent counsel from a member of the Quorum of Seventy, Sione Tuione, to gather the community in celebrating Easter.

Collaborating with various local choirs, including students from BYUH's Ho’olokahi Chamber Choir; missionaries from the Hawaii Laie Mission; and members from the Laie Hawaii North Stake, Laie YSA 2 Stake, Laie Married Student Stake, Laie Hawaii Stake, and Laie YSA 1 Stake; plus the Laie Hawaii Combined Tongan Choir, the groups performed a variety of music at the Easter devotional held in the Cannon Activities Center.

A mother, daughter, and father sitting in a crowd watching a performance. The father holds the daughters hand up to his cheek as they both watch.
Easter music devotional audience members
Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

Music's spiritual impact

Uia Vi, a community member from Kahuku, said he was part of the Laie Hawaii Combined Tongan Choir. Vi said singing is a form of expression that builds a person spiritually. While practicing the musical number at home, he said he got a sense of peace that brought spiritual harmony, especially when his children were listening to him sing.

Tongan women dressed in floor length white dresses stand on bleachers and hold music as they sing.
Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

Kalahikiola Haverly, a freshman majoring in political science from Hauula, said he loved how the BYUH Ho’olokahi Chamber Choir sang a Hawaiian rendition of "I Am a Child of God." He said, “It means a lot to me," because he is Hawaiian. He said for him it shows the love people have for the gospel and the place they reside. While most of the members in that choir weren’t Hawaiian, Haverly said, they learned how to say and sing things in Hawaiian correctly with reverence and love.

He said he had a similar feeling listening to the Laie Hawaii Combined Tongan Choir. “Even though I didn’t know what they were singing, [I could] just feel their faith.”

A man in a tan suit stands behind a podium as he gives a talk.
Laie Hawaii North Stake President Kevin Schlag speakes at the Easter musical devotional.
Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

The contrast between two crowds' reactions to the Savior

Kevin Schlag, the Laie Hawaii North Stake president, in his closing remarks at the devotional, talked about the Savior's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. He said the crowd welcomed Christ on Palm Sunday by saying “Hosanna,” which the Oxford Dictionary says is an expression of adoration, praise or joy.

But just days later, Schlag continued, another crowd gathered around to condemn him to crucifixion. “Which crowd are we going to fall in?” Schlag asked. “The crowd on Palm Sunday or the crowd on that awful Friday?”

He invited everyone to ponder what the Savior means for them individually and to express it by “shout[ing] Hosanna through your words and actions. Your songs that are sung are the songs of the heart.”

Tongan women dressed in floor length white dresses stand on bleachers and hold music as they sing.
Dressed in white, women in the Tongan choir perform at the Easter devotional.
Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

Vi said he felt humbled by the messages and performances. He said, “It reminded me that I don’t want to be part of those groups of people who condemned [Jesus]. I want to be within the group of people who praise Him.” Referring to the music shared by Laie YSA 1 stake who sang Hosanna, he said, it’s a reminder for him to shout “Hosanna'' because the Savior is not only relevant on Easter and Palm Sunday, but every day.

One man stands in front of a choir speaking into a microphone while looking at his phone.
Hawaii Laie Mission President Sidney Basset stand in front of the Hawaii Laie Mission choir.
Photo by Mutia Parasduhita