It’s been seven months since his death, and missionary Elder Aaron Ahkau Matapa Patiole is still remembered as a hero in the island of Samoa.
Aaron Ahkau Matapa Patiole, from Sydney Australia, had been on his mission in Apia, Samoa for eleven months before he was struck by a car and killed.
The 21-year-old was walking along a street with his companion, helping five children return home on a Sunday afternoon last November.
Elder Patiole pushed the children to safety over a fence to his companion, to avoid a swerving car. On this day, Elder Patiole returned to his Father in Heaven.
A week later, the five children and their family were baptised by Elder Patiole’s companion, Elder Timoteo from California.
Aaron’s love of life and the Lord, his generosity of time and spirit were impressed upon us as we shared a Sabbath afternoon in his family home.
Born in New Zealand to Samoan parents, the fourth of six siblings, Aarons family moved to Australia when he was three months old. His happy demeanour and good humour affected all those around him. His only sister, Tagi, said he liked to joke and loved family time, especially spending time with his nieces and nephews.
Aaron had a missionary attitude well before he went on his mission, his family said.
In his youth, Aaron enjoyed rugby and basketball, supported the Wallabies (even when they played New Zealand) and was a big fan of Liverpool Football Club. Aaron displayed talent in his creative ability, producing outstanding artwork while at St. Gregory’s High School. Completing his studies in 2015, there’s no doubt he was a much revered student. Aaron worked for a year at several jobs to save for his mission.
Prior to his mission, Aaron attended Seminary, Institute and participated in pioneer treks. He loved the gospel and lived his life accordingly.
Sister Patiole had arrived in Samoa the Tuesday before Aaron’s accident, to visit her relatives. The following week she brought her son back to lay to rest in Cawdor cemetery.
The service for Elder Patiole was conducted by the Pacific Area President Elder O. Vincent Haleck. Over a thousand people attended the funeral, spilling into the corridors to pay their respects. The Patiole family have been overwhelmed by the love and support they received and continue to feel. They received letters from the Church Presidency and Mission Presidency and the mother of Aaron’s companion rings Sister Patiole each week.
Each day, Aaron’s mother Sister Patiole travels to Cawdor before sunset to visit the resting place of her son. This sweet woman waits for the sunset to fall over where he is laid; a poignant and beautiful reminder that as Sister Patiole commented “he is in a better place. And we’ll see him again as we understand the Plan of Salvation.”
Aaron’s family were delighted to find that the missionary had saved his testimony on his computer.
In his own words, Aaron stated, ‘I know that everyone is different… the Lord has provided a way for us to be united and feel his love and find that peace and unity we all long for …’