How do you access the power of God during unprecedented times? President Russell M. Nelson warned that in coming days, we will need to know how to access God’s power.
In like manner, it is now time that each of us implements extraordinary measures, perhaps measures we have never taken before to strengthen our personal, spiritual foundations. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.
My dear brothers and sisters, these are the latter days. If you and I are to withstand the forthcoming perils and pressures, it is imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
So I ask each of you, “How firm is your foundation and what reinforcements to your testimony and understanding of the gospel are needed?” …
Everything taught in the temple, through instruction and through the Spirit, increases our understanding of Jesus Christ. His essential ordinances bind us to Him through sacred priesthood covenants. Then as we keep our covenants, He endows us with His healing, strengthening power. And, oh, how we will need His power in the days ahead.
We have been promised that if we are prepared, we shall not fear. This assurance has profound implications today. The Lord has declared that despite today’s unprecedented challenges, those who build their foundations upon Jesus Christ and have learned to draw upon His power need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era. ~President Russell M. Nelson during the October 2021 General Conference
As President Nelson spoke of accessing the power of God during unprecedented times, an image flashed to mind—a mental image created from a story I read came to mind of a man facing a tsunami with his right hand raised and commanding the wave. And it obeyed.
Accessing the Power of God During Unprecedented Times
The story, called “A Giant Tidal Wave Was Coming,” is recorded on pages 106-108 of Stories of the Temple in La’ie Hawai’i written for the hundredth anniversary of the La’ie Temple dedication. Elder William R. Bradford and his sister Mary Lou Bingham shared this story. Their parents presided over the Temple Bureau in 1946, which is the Visitor’s Center now. Elder Bradford begins the retelling.
As I remember it, it was April 1946. At the time I was living there in a little house just north of the temple. My sister and I walked down the road to catch the bus to school. When we got to the bus stop, there was our Hawaiian friend Haman Kalili. He was standing at a little boathouse he had on the ocean side of the road. He motioned to us and then told us there were some problems with the ocean, and we should get back to our house as quickly as we could. We didn’t know what was the matter, all we knew was that he was very serious about it. We obeyed him. When we got part way to our home, we turned to look back. We both turned around because we could hear a noise.
Facing the Ocean with Right Hand Raised
A giant tidal wave was coming in from the ocean. It came up close to the beach. We could see our Hawaiian friend standing facing the ocean at the side of his boathouse with his right hand raised. The water came close to him but then fell back as though it were miraculous. We were just small kids. I was about twelve. We didn’t understand at all. Later we learned that Hamana Kalili had actually commanded the waves to fall back with priesthood authority. It was a very impressive thing and something I have remembered through the years.
On both sides of Laie property, that wave came across the road, took out houses, tipped over some school buses and knocked lots of the trees down and so on. It never came across the road to upper Laie. This same wave came ashore for several city blocks everywhere else. Many other homes were destroyed. All of the trees and vegetation in its path were destroyed. On all of the Hawaiian Islands there were  people killed. This tidal wave was generated by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands. It was what we now call a tsunami.
My father was trying to be sure that he did whatever he could to help keep people safe. He went around to others and to the old people. He said, “They were reporting a second wave coming in. We better get to higher ground.” Nobody would move. They said, “No. This land has been dedicated to the Lord. As long as we are worthy, we will stay right here and be protected.”
We Kept the Commandments, so We Are Okay
Adding to William Bradford’s memory of this event was his sister Mary Lou who remembered the damage that the second wave did to the houses around Laie. She recalled the faith of the family of Hamana Kalili. “The Kalilis were one of the families that didn’t want to leave their house. My father was going up and down the beach and spoke to them when he went past their house.
Sister Kalili finally said the reason they weren’t leaving was because when they got that home built, they asked somebody to come dedicate their house. In that dedicatory prayer, they were told that if they kept the commandments, the elements would never destroy their home. Sister Kalili stated matter-of-factly, “We kept the commandments, so we are okay.” They said to my dad, “We can tell you are concerned, but before you go, will you have prayers with us?” My dad said to them, “Well, if you don’t mind, I would rather pray on higher ground.”
Mary Lou continued to describe the second tidal wave, “One wave did come, and it came to my waist. That was after the first wave hit. I was used to the mountains of Utah, and you looked out to the sea and it was like a mountain of water. It was just there. We ran to higher ground. We got out of the water. The Kalili family’s house, next to them was a poi factory. After the next wave hit, the poi factory was gone. There were logs and pieces of stuff by the Kalili house. The house beyond them was gone, but their house was still there.