Jaeden Vaifanua, a 16-year-old Latter-day Saint youth who resides in Draper, Utah, with her family, is gradually making a positive mark on the world. Earlier in 2017, she co-wrote a song with Nik Day for the Church’s Youth Mutual Theme album. The song is a topic that is near and dear to Jaeden’s heart – the family – and is appropriately titled “What Family Means to Me.”
Jaeden mentioned to her mother that her favorite line in her lyrics is “Dreaming bigger than our bank account. Her mother, Angie, says that Jaeden is a low maintenance person and money and material things mean very little to her. She says that Jaeden is appreciative of anything she has.
Jaeden grew up in a home where she was taught from an early age to eat whatever food was prepared, to be thankful for all that she was given, and to respect all her elders – aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, etc. She was taught to thank them for all that they do for her and for their time.
Being humble is also something that Jaeden learned early in life. She learned to never compare herself to someone else as far as the material possessions that they might have that she herself doesn’t have. Her mother offers this wise counsel, “Not being rich, certainly does not make you poor!! We can have great wealth within our hearts, and charity beyond our means. . .. money doesn’t determine your net worth, your heart always will!!” Jaeden also learned that three of the most important things to have in life are character, integrity, and honesty. It is those things that will follow her throughout life and that people will remember the most.
Among all the life lessons that Jaeden has been taught, her parents have always encouraged her to dream big and to have goals and to realize that if she didn’t she would never achieve those things. The family’s mission statement for the past 25 years has been: “IN ORDER TO BE SUCCESSFUL, YOU HAVE TO BE THE BEST…TO BE THE BEST YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO WORK HARDER THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON.”
So, “Dreaming bigger than our bank account” is something that Jaeden and her family do often as they talk about all the great things that they wish to have one day. They also discuss working harder so that they can earn more money, not so much for themselves, but so that they will be able to be of service to those in need. As her mother so aptly stated, “Having money is not a bad thing…Your intentions of having more money can simply allow you to do more, and change lives.”
Jaeden’s father is a great exemplar of selflessness. He never eats before others. Jaeden and her siblings were taught that if there were guests in the home, the guests got their food and all that they needed and were seated first, and then they could get their food. Jaden’s father is always the last in line. He always has Jaeden and her siblings bring him whatever they can’t eat and will eat that before throwing any of it away. Her father will only fix himself a plate after he has ensured that everyone has had plenty to eat. It is his Samoan culture that has taught him to always consider others before himself – a trait that is also exemplified by his sisters, brother, and parents. Jaeden’s father’s family has always set great examples for the children, as has her mother’s family. Jaeden and her siblings were also taught to show respect for their elders by never addressing them by their first name.
Jaeden rarely talks back to her parents, other adults, teachers, or coaches. If she does, she is quick to apologize and say that she is sorry and did not mean to be disrespectful. She earnestly strives to be good, follow rules, and obey her parents, teachers, and coaches. She is very coachable, and those who have had the pleasure of working with her, appreciate that quality about her. She is honest and kind to others. She chooses her friends with wisdom and discernment, and will often not hang out with certain people if they are rude, talk about others or judge situations. Jaeden prefers to be in a good atmosphere and influence others by following the admonition found in the scriptures in Matthew 5:14-16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Her dad has been and continues to be a great influence in her life. She spends a lot of time with him with sports as did her brothers and sisters. He has been his children’s life coach, and always spent time training them in their sports outside of their regular practice with school or club teams. He pushes Jaeden at times, but he wants her to learn discipline and accountability through action. Her father makes time for her and all his children above anything else because he wants them to have every opportunity to be successful. He has taught them that “in order to be the best employee, student, athlete, teacher, dancer, co-worker, etc… you have to work harder than the average person…and [that] in this life, with all we compete with every day, average won’t get you very far anymore. To be successful, you must hang around successful people, see what they do, do what they do, study them, and pay attention to their discipline and dedication to success!”
Being asked to participate in filming a music video was a tremendous honor for Jaeden. She was very humbled and was very privileged to get to work on her music video with an amazing crew and to have Nik Day help her write the song. The hardest part for her, was not having her older siblings in town during the video shoot, to be a part of this special project. She was, however, able to face time with the three of them so that they could be included in the video.
Jaeden and her family have faced many challenges in life, but they have learned that the “key is to forgive each other, and love each other through [their] weaknesses and just keep encouraging and supporting each other’s strengths.”
These lyrics from the song serve as the capstone on what family means to Jaeden: “Forgiving, Forgetting, and Loving Through Everything. That’s What Family Means to Me.”