Written by Ione Cussen

Pasi Haufano didn’t always want to serve a mission, it wasn’t until he was in his mid-twenties that he even starting to consider the idea. But when he’d made that choice, nothing was going to stop him. His perseverance became a beacon of faith, an example of determination that has quite simply become legendary.

Pasi was raised in a Polynesian (Tongan/Samoan) home in New Zealand and was Baptised in 2006, but he didn’t really understand the significance of what he was doing. “I knew I had to be baptised, but I never understood the doctrine behind it”, he said, “I couldn’t even remember the name of the church, I didn’t know that there was a Book of Mormon.”

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Pasi at home in New Zealand with some friends. 

Years later, a friend of Pasi’s, Jimmy, was also baptised, and he encouraged Pasi to come back to church. “He invited me every Sunday. He’d come and wake me up, I’d probably be hung over from the night before, but he’d say ‘Hey Brother, come to church today’, and I’d always make up excuses to why I couldn’t go.”

Jimmy wasn’t going to give up. He went every Sunday, despite refusal after refusal. He eventually found just the trick to getting Pasi out of bed: food.

“Hey Brother!” Jimmy said, “Come to church today, because after church we’re going to have a picnic!”, “When I heard that, I was like ‘Ok! I’m going!’” Pasi recalls, “He kind of tricked me!”

Pasi went to church that day, and afterwards went with Jimmy to visit some less active YSA. “I didn’t even know what I was doing, but it felt so good. Just being there, visiting these people, putting a smile on their faces, I had never felt this before and that feeling was the miracle.”

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Pasi with his friend Jimmy

Pasi kept attending church and YSA activities, until one day he found himself going to mission prep with his friends. In one of these classes, a member held up the Book of Mormon and bore his testimony. It was here, astonishingly, that Pasi saw the Book of Mormon for the first time. Pasi was blown away, “he said his testimony with such conviction that I made another oath to myself, an oath to read that book and find out what he was talking about”.

Pasi was soon invited to a mission prep camp in Hamilton (just over an hour away), and he began reading the Book of Mormon. “It was here I learnt about Lehi and his family, and I read about Nephi and his struggles, and I thought, ‘this is my family right here, these are my struggles’”.

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Pasi preparing for his mission 

It was through the Book of Mormon that Pasi gained a testimony and knew he needed to serve a mission. Pasi filled out his mission papers and sent them off. Yet, he was completely unaware of the difficult decision he still had to make.

After “months and months” of waiting, and watching friends leave for their missions, Pasi started to wonder if he just wasn’t good enough. “Maybe I haven’t been forgiven, maybe I’m not trying hard enough,” he thought. “I just felt useless, abandoned”.

Pasi was finally called to meet with his Stake President, who told him that his mission application had been declined on the basis of his very visible tattoos. Pasi’s heart dropped.

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Pasi’s neck tattoo 

“I didn’t want to go on my mission with this tattoo, so I tried having it removed by laser treatment before, but it wasn’t working. It felt like someone was welding metal on my skin, and I even couldn’t afford the anaesthetic cream to make it numb”.

“What kept me going was thinking about the Saviour, and the pain he felt for us. Who was I to murmur about this pain, when the Saviour suffered more, and so I just clenched my fists and endured it.”

Even though the process was expensive and painful, Pasi didn’t see any improvement from the tattoo removal, despite all his efforts. And to make matters worse, he knew that in a year he would be too old to even make the mission application. Pasi’s goal of serving was quickly slipping through his fingers.

“All these factors were against me, and I was about to give up”.

Pasi returned devastated to his parents. They had watched him grow into a man who was passionate and dedicated to his faith, and when they saw that his dream had been shattered, they offered to send him to Australia – a generous chance for a fresh start and a better life. Pasi was grateful, but needed to time to think, so he went into his room, knelt on the floor, and prayed, asking God what to do.

“This feeling just came upon me to carry on, to not give up”, Pasi recalls, “So I kept going to mission prep, kept going with the laser tattoo removal, even though it wasn’t working and was terribly painful. I just kept the faith.”

All of Pasi’s perseverance paid off one day when his mission prep advisor, Brother Shaw, approached him with a solution – surgery – and he knew someone who could perform it.

Brother Shaw had been to this private dermatologist before, he insisted on supporting Pasi financially for his treatment.. The procedure was so expensive that Pasi couldn’t even afford the consultation. Brother Shaw was the miracle that Pasi could never have imagined

With faith in his heart and Brother Shaw’s support, the surgery was a “drive-thru compared to the laser treatment”, “I went in, they cut my skin, stitched it up”, and it was all over.

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Before and after photos of the tattoo

“The other miracle”, remembers Pasi, “was that there was no pain when I was recovering, no pain whatsoever, it’s like God took it away from me”.

After Pasi had recovered, he resubmitted his mission papers and received his call to the Dallas Fort Worth Mission in Texas.

Receiving his mission call wasn’t only a dream come true for him though, Pasi’s Mum in particular had been hugely affected by the dramatic change in her son. She had watched as he persevered on this harrowing journey; he had endured immense physical and emotional pain in order to serve others and the Lord. Pasi’s dedication had inspired his Mum to be baptised, just before he set off on his mission. “My family has been on different parts of the spectrum, but it’s the Gospel that has brought us together”, Pasi said.

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Pasi in Texas on his mission 

On responding to the question “Was it worth it?” he answered:

“Looking back now, I’ve gained a whole lot more family on my mission, and I love them all. I’ve seen people turn their life around, going from almost wanting to commit suicide, to being sealed in the temple. If I hadn’t sacrificed who I was, for who I am, then I wouldn’t be able to help other people in the way I did, or be an answer to their prayers, or be an instrument in God’s hand in the way that I was.”

“Yeah, it was tough, my foundations were broken, but now they’re rebuilt on solid rock”

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Pasi towards the end of his mission with minimal scaring

For more great stories about faithful saints read “Lion King Star Balances Faith and Fame” :Here

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28 Responses

  1. Joshua Vincent

    I just wanted to say. I met and got to know Pasi on his mission. I was born in the church, but I was inactive for the longest time. Lo and behold, when I had been brought back to the church, he was serving in my single’s ward. I got to know him rather well, and through him my testimony and my strength in the church grew. He helped me out, and he inspired me so much. I’m also on the older side myself, I have about a year until I’m too old to go on my mission. The look on his face when I told him I decided I was going on my mission was great, and I looked for some advice from him because I was on the same boat on him age wise. He is such a wonderful man and I cannot wait until I can now go on my mission to be just like him.

    Reply
  2. Kyle Donovan

    I got to meet pasi while I was on my mission in New Zealand. As a member in my first area he was always asking when he can help us, always sharing the gospel with his friends, and never complaining. He talked about serving just about every time we saw him, and he was always preparing for the day he can go.

    Reply
  3. Madison

    One of my APs on my mission did the same thing. It is so amazing the dedication some of these Elders have for the Lord. They are such great examples of true consecration.

    Reply
  4. Toutai Kautai

    Elder Haufano has been to my house many times, influenced my kids to serve missions, take them on splits, I love to feed the missionaries, I have two of my own serving n two more that about to leave. We love u Elder Haufano, thank you for choosing the Lord’s side, thank you for choosing to serve n thank you for making that sacrifice, God bless you always n hope our paths will cross again. Remember if u want n a lot of it, come to Texas, we love u. Until we meet again

    Reply
  5. Richard Matthews

    Elder Haufano served in our Ward in Killeen, Texas. He inspired members and investigators alike with the sweet spirit that was always with him and his gentle testimony. He helped reactivate many and brought a good number to the Gospel. I think anyone who met him between the cities of Dallas and San Antonio, it’s a large district, loved him and would welcome him back to us here with open arms. Folks here still talk fondly about him but I never knew anything about the tattoo until I read this story! Talk about a man with the gift to inspire others! If you read this, Elder Haufano, many families we visited during splits are still active and never doubt the great service you performed for the Lord! Love ya!

    Reply
    • Sara

      When I lived in Texas, I attended the Killeen Ward. I loved it! I am back in Florida, but if I move again I hope to go back to Texas. What a great people. I am impressed by this Elder to make changes in my life. Thank you.

      Reply
  6. Brent Petersen

    Elder Haufano was an OUTSTANDING missionary. He served faithfully wherever he was assigned. What a great example he was to the members and the missionaries here in the Fort Worth area. We were blessed to have him in our mission. It is actually the Texas Fort Worth Mission where he served (Dallas is a different mission). I am currently serving as a counselor in the mission presidency and was so impressed with this fine young man.

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  7. James Eisert

    I appreciate his dedication, however, I wonder about the whole tattoo thing about serving a mission. What is the general idea behind not being able to serve the Lord because of a tattoo? Did it have swear words on it or something?

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    • Adam

      I am wondering the same, the doctrine on Tattoos is very clear that it’s “Highly Discouraged”. Not “Completely unacceptable” … I love the dedication, I appreciate the story and in no way want to demean it, but a blanked “You can’t serve because of tattoos” is hard to accept… seeing as 3 of my companions had tattoos and 2 of them “very visible” but that was back in the 90’s so .. maybe things are different now.

      Reply
    • Chad

      I have the privilege to recommend many of these fine men and women. Each tattoo is reviewed individually. Content and location is considered.

      Remember that this not a normal church calling rather the individual is being set apart from the world to be held by a higher standard (thus mission rules that ask more than the common member). Also they are representatives of the Lord and Savior and His Church. As the Lord directed through His prophets to raise the bar. It means not everyone is qualified to serve. This young man took great steps to be an ambassador. Interestingly many take similar steps to to remove spiritual blemishes. This is a great symbolic story of an inner cleansing all endure.

      Reply
    • jeni

      and as we can see from the story it was an inspired decision to refuse him to serve because it has made him sacrifice more and the Lord knew this elder could easily reach the higher bar!

      Reply
    • MM

      I had the exact same thoughts. I’ve known several missionaries with visible tattoos. They served honorable missions and served to the fullest. They’ve gone on to hold seriously time intensive callings after their missions. I was under the impression Polynesian missionaries were exempt from the tattoo rule because they’re cultural/tribal tattoos. Did that change? Some of those are huge and would carry massive risk to cut out.

      This young man has serious dedication and deserves all the celebration that comes with it. He is inspiring!!

      Reply
  8. Jessica

    Thank you soo much for sharing your story and testimony Elder Haufano.I have felt the spirit while reading your testimony 🙂 you are an awesome example of serving other’s and having faith in Jesus Christ.! ♡

    Reply
  9. Rosina

    What a beautiful young man and truly spiritual and inspiring story.

    Reply
  10. Mike

    I respect pasi’s decision and think his faith is amazing, however I think it’s sad that he had to go through all that to serve a mission. I served in Tonga and ALL my companions had visible tattoos and these men carried the spirit with them more than any other people I have ever served with. It made no difference, in the poly culture tattoos have a lot of person and cultural significance I think it’s sad that this man was regected for mission service when his heart and soul was obviously clean and willing to serve. But like I said, I’m impressed with this young mans determination to serve and overcoming such a difficult obstacle. I’m sure he’ll be blessed for his effort and faith.

    Reply

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