News Release

First Female Missionary from Solomon Islands

Veronica Irobeni is a bright star when it comes to facing fear. Courage is not defined as a lack of fear; it is facing one's fear and going ahead in spite of it. She has overcome many intimidating barriers while completing 18 months of volunteer work as a missionary in New Zealand for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, frequently called Mormons.

Irobeni says she was converted to the Church when her auntie asked her to "observe the members of the Church" in her home city of Honiara, Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. She says she did observe the Mormons for a while and she noticed that there was a kind and gentle feeling among the members. She adds that she was drawn to the way that all of the members treated each other as equals regardless of education or station in life.

Irobeni says that when she was baptized into the Church by her uncle she set a goal to go on a mission for the Church and, after completing the application process, received an assignment to serve in the Auckland Mission. She is the first woman from the Solomon Islands to serve a mission for the Church. She arrived at the Missionary Training Centre in Hamilton, New Zealand speaking little English. She was the only woman missionary at the training centre at the time, which Irobeni says did not make matters easier for her. She was described as "shy and sweet" when she arrived.

While she still beams a world-class smile and is the epitome of sweetness, she has overcome her shyness and is described by her last missionary companion as "Bold! Bolder than I am." Irobeni has spoken at dozens of Church services and one-on-one to thousands of strangers, some of whom are now members of the Church because she had the courage to greet them with a winning smile, a warm handshake, and the Church's story.

Mormon missionaries are no strangers to bicycles. Many people identify the Church by pairs of young, neatly dressed adults with black badges who ride bikes. Irobeni reports that she was assigned to three different geographic areas during her 18-month stint as a Mormon missionary. Her first two areas were relatively urban Auckland suburbs where using the bus or walking to appointments and meetings was feasible. In one of these areas she committed to learn to ride a bike and arranged lessons from some of her missionary companions. She states she was saved from the ordeal by the theft of her bicycle on the very eve of her first lesson. Her companions jested that she had been praying for the bike to be stolen so she would be delivered from this task.

Her third geographic area was Hamilton with considerably more distance to cover – far too much to walk. Irobeni says that a bicycle was the answer but she still had never ridden a bike. She says she gathered her courage, arranged a lesson, and ended up joyfully riding her bike. As with so many challenges she had undertaken since joining the Church, her first solo without a companion helping her stay upright was a leap over her fears into accomplishment.

The next challenge? Irobeni says she is working toward becoming a student at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. Her fear is that her English is not adequate to allow her to compete at a university level. Time will tell, but vanquishing fear and overcoming barriers are Irobeni's strong suits.


Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.