Death of a Giant – Farewell Eni Hunkin Faleamavaega

Eni Hunkin Faleomavaega, being sworn in for the 2011-2012 term of Congress. Detail from an AP file photo.My seminary teacher died Wednesday. I knew him as Eni Hunkin, But Congress knew him as Eni H. Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa, 1989-2014). Eni Faleomavaega was American Samoa’s longest-serving non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving 13 consecutive terms.

Eni Hunkin was always a jolly presence, in his lavalava and bolo. During the decades he lived in our congregation, Eni and his wife, Hina, were part of what made Annandale a wonderful place to be a Mormon.

I remember the fabulous luau we held one year, with a large pig roasted in a pit in the woods behind the Church. While Eni and Hina seemed to stay eternally young, their children grew from small tikes into tall and gorgeous adults.

A number of years ago we were saddened to learn that Eni and Hina would be moving from their townhome off of Backlick Road in Annandale to Provo, where they could be nearer to their children.

One of the things I think Eni brought to Annandale was an appreciation that not every Mormon is a Republican. It would be impossible to get too stridently “the right is right” with Eni’s twinkling Democratic smile looking at you from the back pew.

Eni was my seminary teacher during the year when we studied the Book of Mormon. I recall his telling us that the founding story of the polynesian people correlates with the story of Hagoth, “an exceedingly curious man” who built a large ship “and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.” 1. The Book of Mormon speaks of the other ships that followed, and “they were never heard of more.” I treasured Eni’s youthful certainty that his people were descendants of Hagoth’s sea-faring adventurers.

Farewell, Brother Hunkin. May we meet again in the land beyond, where we are no more strangers and foreigners but brothers and sisters with an eternity to spend together.

Notes:

  1. Alma 63:5
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

2 thoughts on “Death of a Giant – Farewell Eni Hunkin Faleamavaega

  1. This Sunday we heard from a brother who was responsible for writing the official comments from the Department of the Interior to commemorate Eni’s life. He had included a paragraph recounting a miracle that occurred when Eni’s friend, Lisle Updike, had a premature son who almost died. The Updike’s fasted for three days for their son, a fast Eni joined them in. And Eni helped bless the tiny child. That tiny child is now a man who towers 6’5″ and weighs more than 300 pounds, with a fabulous bass voice.

    A Samoa News article about Eni was published a couple of days ago.

    I also received a call from a brother in our stake who was converted by Eni and Brother Updike back when the three of them were in the service together.

    There will be a Celebration of Life for Eni on March 11 in Spanish Fork: 1138 West 100 South, SPanish Fork, UT 84660. If you have memories of Eni, the family is seeking those stories. You can e-mail memoriesofeni@gmail.com or post to the “Memories of Eni F. H. Faleomavaega” Facebook Group. Memorial donations may be made to the Eni F. H. Faleomavaega Scholarship at BYU-Hawaii to benefit Pacific Island students via bit.ly/enischolarship, select BYU-Hawaii Scholarships and put the name of the scholarship in the comments or instructions field.

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