The community gathers for Easter musical devotion

A man in a black suit coat and wearing a green leafy lei stands behind a piano with his hands raised leading a choir.

Conductor of the Tongan Choir

Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

Celebrating the life, atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a multi-faith Easter musical celebration open to all members of the Koolauloa community was held on Palm Sunday, March 24, on the BYU-Hawaii campus.

Po Nien Chou, president of the Laie Married Students Stake, said the music festivals are a special way to celebrate the Savior’s ministry on earth. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the only one that celebrates Easter,” he said. “This celebration was not only for the members of the church, but it is also for the whole community that celebrates Easter.”

Chou said several local stake presidents were inspired by the recent counsel of a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, Sione Tuione, to gather the community in celebration of Easter.

Collaboration with various local choirs, including students from BYUH’s Ho’olokahi Chamber Choir; missionaries from the Hawaii Laie Mission; and members from Laie Hawaii North Stake, Laie YSA Stake 2, Laie Married Student Stake, Laie Hawaii Stake, and Laie YSA Stake 1; plus the Tongan Combined Choir of Laie Hawaii, the groups performed a variety of music at the Easter celebration held at the Cannon Activity Center.

A mother, daughter and father sitting in a crowd watching a play.  The father holds the girls hand to his cheek as they both watch.

Devotional audience members of Easter music

Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

The spiritual influence of music

Uia Vi, a community member from Kahuku, said he was part of the Tongan Laie Hawaii Combined Choir. Vi said that singing is a form of expression that builds a person spiritually. While practicing the musical number at home, he said he had a sense of peace that brought spiritual harmony, especially when his children were listening to him sing.

Tongan women dressed in floor-length white dresses stand on bleachers and hold music as they sing.

Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

Kalahikiola Haverly, a freshman political science major from Hauula, said she loved the way the BYUH Ho’olokahi Chamber Choir sang a Hawaiian rendition of “I Am a Child of God.” He said, “It means a lot to me,” because he’s Hawaiian. He said of him that this shows the love that people have for the gospel and the place where they live. While most of the members in that choir were not Hawaiian, Haverly said, they learned how to say and sing things in Hawaiian correctly with respect and love.

He said he had a similar feeling listening to the combined Tongan choir Laie Hawaii. “Even though I didn’t know what they were singing, [I could] just feel their confidence.”

A man in a circus costume stands behind a podium while giving a speech.

Laie Hawaii North Stake President Kevin Shlag speaks at the Easter music service.

Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

The contrast between the reactions of the two crowds to the Savior

Kevin Schlag, president of the Laie Hawaii North Stake, in his closing remarks at the dedication ceremony, spoke of the Savior’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He said the crowd welcomed Christ on Palm Sunday by saying “Hosanna,” which the Oxford Dictionary says is an expression of adoration, praise or joy.

But just days later, Schlag continued, another crowd gathered around to condemn him to crucifixion. “Which crowd will we fall into?” Schlag asked. “Palm Sunday crowd or Good Friday crowd?”

He invited all to ponder what the Savior means to them individually and to express it by “shouting[ing] Hosanna through your words and actions. Your songs that are sung are the songs of the heart.”

Tongan women dressed in floor-length white dresses stand on bleachers and hold music as they sing.

Dressed in white, the women in the Tongan choir perform at the Easter celebration.

Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

Vi said he was humbled by the messages and performances. He said: β€œIt reminded me that I don’t want to be part of those groups of people who judge [Jesus]. I want to be in the group of people who praise Him.” Referring to the music shared by Laie YSA Stake 1 who sang Hosanna, he said it is a reminder for him to shout “Hosanna” because the Savior is not only important on Easter and Palm Sunday, but every day.

A man stands in front of a choir speaking into a microphone while looking at his phone.

Hawaii Laie Mission President Sidney Basset stands before the Hawaii Laie Mission Choir.

Photo by Mutia Parasduhita

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