Arriving in Laie in 1960 as a labor missionary, local Sione H. M. Feinga said his life has been long but worthwhile as he has helped to stregnthen the LDS Church in Tonga and Hawaii. He was honored at the March 2017 Employee Appreciation Dinner with an award named after him: the Sione H. M. Feinga Award.
The Sione H. M. Feinga Award will be presented to those employees for their “many years of dedicated service, leadership, and selfless devotion to Brigham Young University–Hawaii,” as engraved in the award plaque.
Before coming to BYU-Hawaii, Feinga said he was already serving his mission as a labor missionary in his home country of Tonga in 1956. He helped to build 16 chapels around the island and additions to Liahona High School, where he met his wife Adele, who was an English teacher at the time.
Regarding his background in construction, Feing said he had no experience. “Not at all! I learned construction on my mission in Tonga during my service. That was my education,” he said.
In 1959, Feinga received the call to serve again as a labor missionary, this time in Laie. On serving one mission after another, he said, “I know my life was blessed because of the missions I served.” He said he would “serve again” if he were asked again today.
Regardless of the timing, Feinga said he accepted the calling, which required him to leave his home and his “future” wife while he served the Lord. He arrived in BYU-Hawaii on the May 8, 1960, which was then called the Church College of Hawaii. Here, Sione and others who were called with him served by building the dormitories.
In addition to constructing building on campus, Feinga helped with the expansion of Laie by constructing buildings around town. His daughter Kathy Pulotu, who introduced her father at the dinner, listed in her remarks regarding his service: additions to the temple, the Laie Temple Visitor’s Center, the temple president’s home, other homes near the temple, faculty housing on Moana Street, and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Both of Feinga’s missions lasted six years, he said, and he hasn’t been to his home country in more than 50 years. Even though he has no regrets from serving his mission, he said, “I wished my kids had been called to serve their mission there [so] they could have met my family and seen their home.”
After Feinga was released from his mission in June 1962, he married his wife Adele the same month. Proud parents of four children, he said they spoil 17 grandkids and four great-grandchildren. He said he gives credit for “these blessings” to when “one does the best he can with everything he is given and commanded by God.” He said marriage helped him to be more focused.
After his release, Feinga said he joined a carpenter’s union during the expansion in Honolulu, where he helped build places such as Laniloa Lodge, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Kahala Mall, Poipu Beach Hotel, Kuilima Resort, Turtle Bay, and Pat’s at Punalu’u. He also built the home he raised his family in, which he still lives in today.
When asked what his secret was for a successful marriage, Feinga said, “We never let our differences come in between us, whether it was palangi, Tongan, or anything else. We looked at each other as man and wife–the way God sees us, and we respect each other and meet each other halfway.
“She is from California and I from Tonga, so we decided to meet smack in the middle here in Hawaii.”