News Release

A Family From Pohnpei Finds Joy in Becoming an Eternal Family

The Temple Patron Fund blesses a family from Pohnpei to come to the temple and be sealed as an eternal family

Saimon and Martha Hebel are from the island of Pohnpei in the Micronesia North Asia area.  Through the help of the Temple Patron Assistance Fund from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they were able to be sealed together as husband and wife on March 29, 2023, in the Yigo Guam Temple, along with their son, Jenson.  Feelings were tender as they gathered together to become an eternal family.  While on Guam, they visited the Family History Center and were able to find family names and do some of the temple work for their relatives.

The Hebel’s learned about the Church through their daughter, Jennifer.  Saimon was Catholic and had traditional titles within in his clan and community.  Martha was Protestant.  They were both upset with Jennifer for meeting with the missionaries.  She was not allowed to meet with the missionaries in their home.  She would hide and meet them at her cousin’s house who were already members of the Church.  They had heard people gossiping that the “missionaries’ church” worshipped Joseph Smith.  This made them both very angry.  Saimon and Martha slowly adjusted to her taking the lessons.  They could see a difference in her.  Jennifer could not get baptized without her parents’ permission.  After some time, they agreed and gave her permission to be baptized.  Saimon’s heart was hard, and no one thought he would ever soften toward the Church. His nephew said about his uncle Saimon: “He would scold us and hated us because we were members of the Church!”  Eventually, Saimon and Martha began attending church with their daughter.  It was there that they finally realized that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not worship Joseph Smith.  They worship Jesus Christ.  Their family never went to church together in the past, but when they began attending this Church, they went as a family for the first time!  It brought their family closer together.  A miracle happened when Jennifer went on a mission to the Philippines.  They began to really listen to the missionaries.  Saimon joined with them on some of their visits to investigators.  A lot of people watched him change and his heart soften. He prayed and asked God if the Church was true.  He received an answer that it was true!   Saimon and Martha were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2013.  Saimon was later ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Francisco Hadley and served as 2nd counselor in the branch presidency.

Saimon was to be the next chief in their clan, but once he joined the Church, he declined and turned that position over to his younger brother.  The first and second chief are expected to drink Sakau or Kava which is a native drug-type drink that reduces your senses.  Now, Brother Hebel is served soda!  As a chief, the people serve you and bring you many gifts.  The gospel taught him that he needs to serve others, be humble, and grateful.  He wanted to be the one that served them not the other way around.  He didn’t feel like he could do this if he was the chief.  This was a huge sacrifice for him and his family to have a decrease in his status.  To him, it was worth the sacrifice.  He loves to serve others.  This brings him great joy.  Martha is currently serving as the Primary president, and he serves as the Elder’s Quorum president.

They never thought they’d be able to come to the temple.  It was a great blessing to them to be able to come to the temple and be sealed as a family.  Many members would come back from the temple and tell them how wonderful it was for them.  Saimon said, “I always wanted to come to the temple.  People would come back from going to the temple and tell me how wonderful it was.  I wanted to see why the Church keeps building temples.  Once I came, I understood, and it has increased my testimony.  I felt a special spirit inside the temple.  I learned so much about the plan of salvation.  There are things that I didn’t know.  Every day that I have come to the temple this week, it has increased my knowledge about the plan.”  With enthusiasm, he said that when he returns to Pohnpei, he is going to tell people how much his knowledge has increased by coming to the temple, how much he has learned, how he felt peace, and how his testimony has grown.  He smiled and said, “I will tell them not to wait for tomorrow, come today!”  Brother Hebel shared his testimony saying: “When I go back to Pohnpei, I will share my testimony not only with other members of the Church, but with siblings, cousins, and with everyone!  I will tell them how much the temple and the Church mean to me and my family.”  Since becoming a member of the Church, he has been able to learn how to read, or at least be able to memorize quicker.  When he was performing baptisms in the temple, his nephew Rockson would give him one word and he’d be able to continue the rest with what he’d memorized and say it perfectly.  Martha tried to read the Book of Mormon to him the best she could.  Afterwards, Saimon would go out and share with others what he’d heard from her testimony and her reading.  Sister Hebel said that she is not a good reader.  Since becoming a member of the Church, she has become a better reader.  Rockson said that she used to be a shy person and wouldn’t get up in front of people.  Now, she can stand up and bear her testimony, and teach the primary children how to pray.  With tears in her eyes, she said, “I am very grateful for how much we have grown in the gospel.”  Rockson explained, “It’s like they were “walking”, now they’re “running”, and maybe one day they’ll be “driving”, then “flying” in the gospel!”  Wiping away tears, he said, “I can testify how much they have grown in the gospel.  It is such a joy!  Their story is one that people need to hear!”

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.