Never Give Up

Anne Frank once said, “I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains,” — a phrase so simple, yet so profound. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the first presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints expounds, “It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.” Beebe Bwebwenimarawa, a wife, mother and unsung heroine from Kiribati, exemplifies these words in the life she has lived and the person she has become.

Beebe, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met and married her husband Ukenio—a staunch Catholic. “He is catholic and for his background he is married with a first wife and has four children with her. The first wife was died. I am related with that woman so before she died she will go to my highland at Abaiang and take me for the second wife to take care of her children,” she said. The beginning of their marriage was very hard. Despite Ukenio’s eventual conversion to the LDS church, Beebe and her husband continued to face many challenges, and consequently they separated. “He left me.  So I went back to my home island and stay with my mother there but I still going to church on my home island because we have a church over there. I used to walk from my village to the other village that where the church was, but the faith that I have I still hold it and I always think that just no one can help me. We have two years that we been separated and I kept going to church activities everything that functions in the church I always go to,” Beebe explained.

After two years of separation, Beebe’s husband returned and expressed his wishes to reconcile.“I forgive him from that time. From there he was repent and we go to [the LDS] church together with our children. I told him that he need to take me with our children to the temple.” Beebe and her husband continued to work together to raise their little family on whatever means possible. On February 4th, 2013 her husband decided it was time he took the boat out fishing, “then we can get some more money for our children for school things and for our food and everything that we need.” The night before he left to go fishing, he gently reminded Beebe of their Family Home Evening appointment with another family. “The wife is a member but the husband is not so they invite us have family home evening with them.” That Monday night when Beebe and her children returned from Family Home Evening, she discovered that her husband still hadn’t returned from fishing. “When we came back around 10:30 in the night we find out that he never come back,” she said.

Beebe and her brother-in-law’s wife set out to search for their husbands with the help of the Marine guards. They didn’t have luck on their first search and their second search day was impeded by a tsunami warning. “So it been a month and what I do with my little children the three of them. Because my daughter was still in the dorm [at school] and the other two boys staying with me at the house…I just have a prayer with my little boys the three of them and we always we assign one of them to say a prayer. The opening prayer and the closing and I always share the musics with them.”

Beebe’s husband, along with his brother and nephew were lost at sea for three months. Despite people telling Beebe to expect the worst, she said, “I always tell them that this time I put everything to God, if he send them back I will thank Him, but if he take their life I will still thank him.” She had also received some comforting words from her son who was currently serving a mission in Hawai’i. Together the family poured their hearts out to Heavenly Father for help, including her four-year-old son, who knelt in front of a prayer picture of Jesus Christ displayed in their home and uttered the words, “Jesus Christ, please send my daddy back home. I really love him and I need also my food the fish, I need to eat the fish from him so please send him back.”

On the third month, the 16th of May, Beebe received a phone call from a Japanese ship. “They said, I found the boat from Kiribati, the fishermen.” The men had been found somewhere between Australia and Papua New Guinea; hundreds of miles from their original location. “I was crying and I start praying to heavenly father and thank him for his love for my husband, for taking care of him.” After finding the men, the captain of the Japanese ship took the men to Japan and paid for them to receive medical attention in the hospital there. After three weeks in Japan, the men returned home. When asked what her husband’s reactions were when he arrived, Beebe said that he said, “I haven’t finished my mission, I have to work to take you with my children to the temple, and do the work for our ancestors that they been not baptized.”

Upon Ukenio’s return, two senior missionary sisters (one from Samoa and one from Fiji) helped to reactivate him in the LDS church. On December 8th, 2013, Ukenio’s promise to his wife was fulfilled and the pair along with their children were sealed in the Fiji, LDS temple.

Beebe exemplifies true faith and forgiveness. When she was overwhelmed with hardships, she continued to give gratitude to her Heavenly Father. She understands that amidst the challenges and sufferings, there is a God who is full of love and compassion for His children. She also understands that we are never alone in our struggles because He is always there. When we exercise patience and endurance, we can obtain a more eternal perspective. One that allows us to come to know that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, and through the atonement of His son, even Jesus Christ, we all may have a second chance to re-build our lives in accordance with His will.

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2 thoughts on “Never Give Up

  1. Truly, another woman of great faith. Very inspiring, thanks for sharing her story.

  2. I know her, she served her mission and I was just a little kid running around. she and her companion usually came by the house for dinner and stuff. While telling her story she just reminds me of how Strong her Testimony was as a Sister Missionary, I may be just a little kid running around doing my own thing but I have always love to be around The Missionaries and listen to their wonderful Testimony of the Gospel, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Great to the Almighty for bringing your Husband and the Father of your children back to you all. You and your Family are just a perfect great example. Love the story and its really touch me deep in my soul. I love my Heavenly Father and I am forever Grateful for the Gospel in my Life

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