Azriel Fonoti leading worship at Equippers South church.
I had a whole different post planned for this week and was actually in the middle of listening to the song I was originally going to do while I was cleaning the bathroom when this whole other song came to mind and I kind of became slightly obsessed trying to find a good version of it lol!
In the end I tweeted my friend Azriel (pictured leading worship at our church above) and was like
Long story short, he was like yeah sweet sis I’ll sing it for you – so today he borrowed my camera, filmed himself, his cousins Jane & Rachel Cowley singing it and then dropped the camera home to me! How cool is that? SO COOL!! Hugely appreciated you doing that for me Az and thanks so much to Jane and her sister too – you guys sound awesome – my Dad was impressed too!!!
Check the video of them singing after the jump.
I think what made me think of this particular song “Iesu e ua sili oe” was because the original song I was going to do was by a singer who sang a lot of old gospel classics like ‘Bless the Lord” and “Soon and Very Soon” that the Samoan AOG sang a lot of, so it kind of took me back to my Samoan AOG days.
I wasn’t really raised Samoan AOG – when my parents became christians we went to a methodist church in Napier BUT I did do my first White Sunday at the Napier Samoan AOG and I remember going there a few times because my Dads cousin Loretta and her kids who were our older, cooler cousins went there (shouts to Jason, Johnny & Janeiro). We grew up in the Cook Islands where my parents were missionaries and they mostly worked with the CICC which is probably equivalent to the EFKS (for Samoans) which would be the equivalent of I guess the Anglican church maybe?! When we all moved back to NZ my parents made it a rule that anyone living under their roof had to go to church. They didn’t care if it wasn’t the same church they went to – it just had to be A church. After being back in NZ a year, I lived up in Hawaii for a while doing a YWAM discipleship school which was kind of like bible school and then came back from living in Hawaii when I was 18 not really wanting to have anything to do with church or God BUT I was broke and had to live with my parents which meant that I had to go to church lol
I picked the Samoan AOG – partly because when I got back my Dad signed me up to go work in this pruning gang who were all Samoan guys that mostly attended the Samoan AOG. Shout out to Afa Sauia (I think he goes by Afa Gosche now) – we would have these hilarious broken English/Samoan conversations & we’d try to teach each other English and Samoan haha anyways him and a couple of the other guys would help me out when they’d finish their lines & invited me a couple of times to come to their church …. and partly because I couldn’t understand much Samoan so I didn’t really want to hear God trying to speak to me or be challenged in any way by any kind of message. I was also determined to never go up for a “Vala’au” or altar call.
The pastors at the time (and I’m pretty sure they’re still there now) were Pastors La’u & Nancy Faletutulu – they were a really awesome couple and I’m sure wondered what in the heck I was doing at their church especially when I’d turn up for the morning service hungover from clubbing shenanigans the night before!! but God and Pastor La’u had a sense of humour and when I’d come late, hoping no-one would notice me and sit up the back, Pastor La’u I remember on at least 2 occasions would call me out and make me walk in front of the whole church and sit up the front lol!! and then you know how I was determined to never go up for a “vala’au”? – one of the last services I went to at the Napier Samoan AOG, Pastor La’u called me out by name during the vala’au and made me go up the front for prayer – nek minute who’s crying at the front – ME lol! I’m sure God must have been laughing aye?
So although I didn’t really understand much of anything that was preached there or a lot of the Samoan worship songs they sang – there was one song in particular that always stirred something in me and that was this song “Iesu e ua sili oe” and it would literally give me goose-bumps every time it was sung. Shout out to the band singers too – Laura, Shanna & Vaifou. So for all that I couldn’t understand a lot of what was said or sung – God still challenged me through Pastor La’u and still stirred things in me through a worship song. He also didn’t care that I was determined not to ever go up for a vala’au, he’d still drag my ass up there for prayer if I needed it ha!
A year or 2 after I’d started attending the Samoan AOG, I lost my first born son (wrote about it a bit here) and Pastor La’u officiated the funeral service and he asked me what hymn or song I’d like to be sung during the service. I chose that song – “Iesu e ua sili oe”. I didn’t understand a lot of it – I could pick out bits and pieces and my name is in the song so I thought that was cool lol but I didn’t have much of an understanding of anything else except that it always moved me when it was sung. I explained this to Pastor La’u – I told him it was my favourite church song but I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate for a funeral because I didn’t understand what it was about. He told me it was fine though and I guess after finding out the translation it really was perfect because the song is describing heaven.
Here is “Iesu e ua sili oe” as sung by Azriel, Jane & Rachel.
Rough translation by my Dad and then my cousin Faira had to help cos Dad forgot to translate one part but had already gone to sleep when I was in the middle of writing this. Lucky Faira was still up on fb at 1am lol:
There’s a place that God has prepared for us that has a tree of life with 12 fruit and the streets are covered with gold, diamonds and pearls.
The water of life is clear and flows from where God the father sits and sees everything that is holy.
The world will bow down and applaud, rivers and birds will praise and I will shout praise that Jesus is exalted.
My Samoan AOG connection has stayed strong over the years because one of my best friends today is Vanu Maoate who is also Samoan AOG. We both had Pastor La’u officiate at our weddings (at different times of course and before we knew each other) and he also officiated at my sons funeral and Vanus fathers funeral.
This post is dedicated to Pastors Aila’ula’u & Nancy Faletutulu and the Napier Samoan AOG church