Returned Missionary Writes Thrilling Novel to Honor His Tongan Parents

While serving as a young missionary in the Australia Sydney South Mission in 1998, Sean Kikkert felt prompted to learn Tongan. Because of this prompting and subsequent preparation, Sean wasn’t surprised his mission president called him six months later to serve in the mission’s Tongan program. Although he didn’t realize it at the time, Sean’s friendships and experiences serving the Tongan people would inspire the novel he would publish 20 years later.

As a teenager in Australia, Sean loved to stay up late reading thrillers. He dreamt that he too would one day write books that would keep young people up at night, just as he was kept up late all those years ago. As a missionary, Sean saw how much he and his companions grew as they served the Lord and reached out to others, and he felt that he could draw on those experiences to create a great story. His novel, Dark Past, is told from the perspective of a sister missionary, Sister Jackson, who was a shadowy, dangerous young woman before the light of the Gospel entered her life. When she and her companion find themselves in danger, Sister Jackson has to save those whom she cares about without losing herself in the process

Dark Past was heavily influenced by a family that Sean met while serving as a missionary. Bishop Haisini Masima was the bishop of the Liverpool Second (Tongan speaking) ward, and he and his wife ‘Ene’io treated Sean with great kindness. Sean was still struggling to learn the Tongan language, and ‘Ene’io felt prompted that Heavenly Father wanted her to take this young missionary under her wing. Sean’s parents moved to another state during his mission, and Haisini and ‘Ene’io invited Sean to live with their family once his mission was over so he could attend university in Sydney. They always referred to Sean as their palangi (white) son, and he always referred to them as his Tongan parents. Sean became part of the family, together with their other four children: Justin, Ramona, Telisa and Felicity.

The family left a profound impression on Sean. When Sean was called to be a bishop eight years after his mission, he strove to be a bishop like Haisini. When Sean wrote Dark Past, he created the character of Sister Masima in honor of the Masima family. Although Sean initially based this character on Telisa, the daughter that was closest in age to him, Sean found that this character soon developed her own unique personality.

Sadly, in late 2019, Sean discovered that ‘Ene’io was extremely sick. Sean took five trips from Canberra to Brisbane in just the space of three months, so he could spend as much time with her as possible. He took his kids on one of these trips so that they could meet this family who had had such an impact on him. Sean dedicated Dark Past to ‘Ene’io and Haisini. He told his Tongan parents that he wants everyone who reads his book to know how important they both are to him.

Besides being a realistic and inspirational story, Dark Past is also a thrilling mystery. Sean’s writing is captivating. He has a young voice, very relatable to contemporary teen readers, and enjoyable to adults as well. Dark Past is available for sale here.

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Sean Kikkert was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He spent the early part of his childhood in the Netherlands, where his father worked as a scientist, before returning to Australia. Sean earned a honors bachelor’s degree before completing a law degree with honors at the University of Adelaide. He married his wife Elizabeth in the Sydney Australia Temple, and they are the parents of five children.

Sean’s first job after becoming a lawyer brought him and his family to Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Sean spent the following decade working as a government lawyer before opening his own law practice. A gifted advocate, Sean has travelled throughout Australia to appear at hearings. But once the working day is over, Sean writes thrillers that keep young people up at night, just as he was kept up late all those years ago. More about the author at https://www.seankikkert.com/

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About Aleah Ingram

Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and is loves organic milk, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.
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