Temple moments: Lifting the fallen

The island of Makatea in French Polynesia's Tuamotu chain of islands is known for its fertile soil that grows soaring coconut trees. People from other islands haul the soil in buckets back to their islands where they scoop out a hole in the sand, replace it with Makatea soil and grow watermelons and other foods.

The island has also been fertile ground for gospel seeds. One who accepted the gospel on Makatea is Tewuinao Taupoo Tehoiri, 78, now an ordinance worker in the Papeete Tahiti Temple.It was natural that the Sunday after she was baptized in 1950 that she was called as Young Women leader. Her infectious laugh and refusal to let problems keep her down made her a favorite with the youth.

She served in that auxiliary wherever she lived for nearly two decades - in Makatea; in Noumea; New Caledonia; and in Papeete, Tahiti.

In 1968 she and her husband saved enough to travel to New Zealand where they were sealed in the temple. When her husband died in 1983, she began regularly attending the newly dedicated Papeete Tahiti Temple. She walked the three-mile distance despite a disability in one leg.

Later, she asked temple Pres. Joseph Childers if she could be a temple worker. A few days later she dreamed that she was in a coconut plantation and her responsibility was to prop up, and save, the trees that had fallen. The next day she was called as an ordinance worker. Because of her dream, she felt it was important to also continue to do individual ordinance work.

During her first years as an ordinance worker, she continued to walk to the temple, despite the fact that she had to leave her home at 4 a.m., and despite her disability that resulted in her occasionally falling down. And occasionally, she would be caught in one or more torrential downpours common in the tropics. On those days when she fell on the slippery pavement or grass, she would arrive at the temple wet and muddy, but always smiling.

"No matter how dirty I was, I would go to the temple anyway," she said. "When I arrived at the temple, they would tell me to come on in, and they'd dry my street clothes during the day."

Later, a bus route was established that delivers her near the temple. She continues to be an ordinance worker and do work for individuals as well.

"I have done many, many ordinances for the dead," she said. "I really believe in it." She continues in her mission to prop up and bring back into production the trees that have fallen down.

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