Apia Samoa (original)
Destroyed by fire July 9, 2003.
Announced: Oct. 15, 1977; plans revised April 2, 1980.
Location: Near the school and mission home in Pesega.
Site: 1.7 acres.
Exterior finish: "R-wall" exterior finish and insulation system on concrete block; split cedar shake shingles on roof.
Temple design: Modern.
Architect: Emil B. Fetzer, Church architect.
Construction advisers: Dale Cook and Richard Rowley.
Contractor: Utah Construction and Development.
Rooms: Baptistry, celestial room, three sealing rooms, two ordinance rooms.
Total floor area: 14,560 square feet.
Dimensions: 142.88 feet by 115.32 feet; statue of Angel Moroni on top spire, 78 feet high.
District: 20 stakes and one district in Western Samoa and American Samoa.
Groundbreaking, site dedication: Feb. 19, 1981, by President Spencer W. Kimball, assisted by the head of state, Malieotoa Tanumafil II. Nearly 4,000 people attended.
Dedication: Aug. 5-7, 1983, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 7 sessions.
Rededicated September 4, 2005 (see below for the dedicatory prayer given in 1983)
Done by Gordon B. Hinckley
Our Eternal Father in Heaven, we rejoice in the knowledge that there is again in these favored islands of Samoa a sacred house befitting Thy divine nature. Twenty-two years ago we here dedicated to Thee and Thy Son a sacred structure as a house of the Lord. In the course of renovation, that structure was destroyed by fire, only the second temple built by Thy people to be so destroyed. This happened previously in Nauvoo when our people were dispossessed of the temple they had created in the days of their poverty. In the cold of winter they were driven from their fair city, and their temple was burned by an arsonist.
We thank Thee that those days of persecution and oppression are behind us. May they never come again. Since then Thy Church has grown and multiplied and moved across the world. In these islands of Samoa, Thou hast remembered Thine ancient promise "unto them who are upon the isles of the sea" (2 Nephi 10:21).
The message of the restored gospel was brought to these islands by faithful missionaries. A great harvest has occurred, and today there are stakes of Zion and many beautiful houses of worship. Crowning all of these is this, Thy holy house.
This new and beautiful structure has been raised on this sacred ground. It is magnificent in all of its elements. And now, in the name of Jesus Christ and in the authority of the holy priesthood in us vested, we dedicate to Thee and to Thy Beloved Son this, the Apia Samoa Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We reconsecrate the ground on which it stands with its beautiful and verdant growth. We dedicate the structure with all of the components and facilities appertaining thereto. It is our gift to Thee, dear Father, given in acknowledgement of Thy great gifts to us, most notably the gift of Thy Beloved Son, our Redeemer and our Savior. Please, dear Father, accept this, Thy holy house. We ask that Thou might visit it and sanctify it by Thy divine presence. May Thy Holy Spirit be felt by all who come within these walls.
We pray that all of the facilities of this house may be acceptable for the administration of ordinances revealed unto Thy prophet, including baptism in behalf of those beyond the veil. May the beautiful celestial room be symbolic of Thy dwelling on high. May the sealing rooms with their altars be scenes of sacred promises concerning the eternal nature of the family.
We also dedicate the new stake center located adjacent to the temple, with all of its associated features, that it may be a place of worship, instruction and sociality. We pray that the word of the Lord will be taught from the pulpit and in the classrooms and that friendships will be encouraged and developed in the recreation hall. We likewise dedicate all of the ancillary facilities on this sacred campus.
Now Father, we pray that Thou wilt watch over this sacred structure and preserve it from the kind of destructive force which destroyed its predecessor building. Wilt Thou sanctify it and hallow it, that all who enter herein may do so with a knowledge that they are in Thy holy habitation.
We pray, Father, that all who look upon this structure may recognize its sacred nature and be constrained in their hearts to acknowledge it as Thy holy house. Hold back any hand that may be raised with malicious intent.
We pray for the temple presidency and the matron and her assistants, those who now serve and those who will serve through all the years to come. We pray for those who will assist them as workers who have been called to this sacred duty. We pray for those who come as patrons, that all may do so worthily before Thee. May their eyes be single to Thy glory and all darkness removed from them.
We ask that Thou wilt touch the hearts of Thy faithful people, that they may seek out their fathers and their mothers and serve vicariously for them in these holy precincts. By Thy great power, open the means whereby records of the past may be made available to those who desire to learn of their forebears.
Bless this land of Samoa and those who govern it. We pray that it may ever remain a land of peace and freedom. We pray for peace in all the world, that Thy work may be accomplished among all kindreds, tongues, and peoples, to the blessing of Thy children throughout the earth. We are grateful for Thy prophet, even Joseph Smith, and for all of the marvelous gifts and blessings restored through him.
We pray for the youth of Thy Church, that they may stand against the world and grow in faith and faithfulness.
We pray for all who preside in Thy kingdom. Watch over them and bless and guide them. Bless all who serve in Thy work in any capacity.
Now, dear Father, Thou Almighty Elohim, accept of our thanks for every gift. Let Thy favor rest upon us, that we shall continue to receive Thy blessings and walk according to Thy will and statutes, we humbly pray, in the sacred and holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Precious gift returns to Samoa
APIA, Samoa — It's a happy thing to receive a gift of great value. It's something entirely different to possess such a gift, lose it, go without for a time, then have it returned shiny and new.
Latter-day Saints in the Samoan islands understand.
For decades, faithful members from the Samoan Islands sacrificed much to visit temples in perhaps New Zealand, Hawaii or the mainland of the United States. Then historic news arrived in 1977 that a temple would be built in the village of Pesega near the Western Samoan capital of Apia. Six years later, the Apia Samoa Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency.
For the first time, the blessings of the temple could be had for a few Samoan "talas" in cab or ferry fare for the faithful living on the Samoan islands of Upolu or Savai'i. Even members in neighboring American Samoa could visit regularly. That changed July 9, 2003, when the Apia Samoa Temple became the first such edifice since the Nauvoo Temple to be destroyed by fire.
Stunned LDS Samoans wept for their loss. Many worried for the future of the Pacific Island nation. "There was a concern that there might not be another temple," admitted Pago Pago Samoa Mapusaga Stake President Edward M. Stevenson.
Their fears were eased days later when President Hinckley announced the temple would be rebuilt. He would return Sept. 4 to dedicate Apia's new temple in two sessions. He was joined at the dedication by President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy and president of the New Zealand/Pacific Islands Area.
The services were also broadcast to meetinghouses in Samoa, American Samoa and to Samoan congregations throughout the world.
Once again, Samoans can drive through Pesega Village and see the temple anchoring the LDS campus that includes the Apia Samoa Mission Complex, the country's LDS service and distribution centers, temple patron housing and a Church-operated school. A meetinghouse operates across the street.
Many who participated in the dedication have experienced bookends of emotions over the past two years. Alema Fitisemanu was among the many LDS Samoans who answered their phones on the evening of July 9th two years ago and heard the alarming news that the temple was fully involved in flames.
"In tears, we rushed to the temple grounds and there was the fire," said Brother Fitisemanu. "We felt like we had lost everything."
As temple engineer, Faamoana Utai earned his living and worshipped at the original Apia Samoa Temple. As he watched the temple burn he went to a secluded spot to cry. His wife, Eneleta Utai, asked how this tragedy could happen.
"I felt so sad," Sister Utai said.
Yet many also speak of a peace that delivered comfort even before President Hinckley's direction to clear the charred remains of the fallen temple and build again. Brother Fitisemanu remembers telling folks on the night of the fire "Watch what the Lord is going to do for Samoa. There will be a beautiful temple, and now we have it."
Now a member of the newly called temple presidency, Brother Fitisemanu said the opening of the two temples in Samoa during his lifetime is evidence that miracles do happen. Dreams do come true.
Bishop Iamafana Lameta is an apt representation of faithful LDS Samoans. He has large, strong hands and a warm smile. He's most comfortable wearing the traditional Polynesian lava-lava. He loves the temple.
As translator for the Church, Bishop Lameta also witnessed the first temple burn. And like many others, he did what he could to save it. Photos can be found of Bishop Lameta and other volunteers on the temple of the roof struggling to douse the blaze. His love for the temple was strong and helped him ignore the risk of battling the blaze.
"We tried so hard, but the fire was out of control," Bishop Lameta said.
The shock of watching the temple fall was enhanced when Bishop Lameta considered the possibility that his own children might have to endure the same hardships once exacted on his forbearers to make temple trips abroad. His worries were forgotten Sept. 3-4 as he served as President Hinckley's translator during his Samoa visit.
"This temple," said Bishop Lameta, his eyes moving up the white-stoned edifice, "is a gift from our Father in Heaven."
Apia Samoa Temple President Suauupa'ia K. Pe'a's ties to the temple are deeply rooted. A native of Samoa, President Pe'a once presided over the country's lone mission. His many elders and sisters serving in the mission had found spiritual refreshment in the temple. "We were simply heartbroken when we learned of the fire," he said.
Still, he was confident that faithful LDS Samoans would continue to be the beneficiary of rich blessings.
"(God) would not let them go without . . . we prepared for a temple, and look what He has given us."
Despite not having a temple to visit, Samoan priesthood leaders admonished their congregations to remain temple worthy. Some have been unable to wait and have traveled to New Zealand and other lands to claim dormant temple blessings, often relying on "aiga" or family living abroad for help. "A majority have (remained) worthy," said President Stevenson, who presides over a American Samoa stake.
The past two temple-less years in Samoa have caused some to re-evaluate their own priorities.
"It made people sit back and realize what is important," said Albert Niuelua, the Church's service center manager on the island.
Such recommitment blesses the lives of all Samoans. "The members will step up — that example will permeate to their neighbors."
Miracles seem synonymous with Samoa and temples. In a land of oral traditions, access to birth records and other vital statistics can be limited. Still, after much prayer and revelation, members are able to locate and provide family information needed to perform temple work, Brother Niuelua said.
"I just marvel at the faith of the people, not just in Samoa but in the South Pacific in particular," added Brother Niuelua, a native Samoan who spent much of his life in New Zealand.
Now the work begins again. Much is to be done, but LDS Samoans seem eager to see it accomplished. A line of temple-goers could be found outside the building the day after the dedication, symbolic of the excitement being felt throughout the islands.
Now stay strong, said President Hinckley, and labor "where the blessings of eternal life will be available to you and your forbearers whom you will serve there."
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Flood waters rise near Samoa temple
Missionaries and members in Apia, Samoa, are still cleaning up following severe flooding that, on Feb. 5, damaged the Church's school, Latter-day Saint meetinghouses and the Church's Service Center on the Pacific island and encroached on the new Apia Samoa Temple, dedicated last fall.
Photo Michael Carter
Flood waters in Samoa hit Church's temple patron housing complex.
No members or missionaries were hurt in the widespread flooding, caused when Tropical Cyclone Vaianu buffeted Samoa and brought torrential rains. During the storm, more than 12 inches of rain fell in less than 48 hours — a larger amount than fell during the entire previous month.
The flooding damaged many buildings and roads throughout the island nation, flooded Church-owned homes and apartments, and sent Church members sandbagging to prevent damage to other Church facilities, according to Uele Vaaulu, national director public affairs.
"It was a marvelous sight to behold," said Michael Carter, finance manager of the Samoa Service Center. "The Distribution Center, CES School and other functions were back in service one week after the flood and the work of the Church continues without interruption."
President Suau'uapaie K. Pe'a reported there was no damage to the Apia Samoa Temple. However, he had 4 inches of water in his own home.
The temple was closed for cleaning when the flooding began. The storm, with flood water that went right to the front steps of the temple, delayed the opening of the temple.
"This is probably the largest rainfall we have had in many, many years," said Paul B. Price, president the Samoa Apia Mission. "Some said they have never seen a flood like this."
President Price and his wife, Sister Christine W. Price, said missionaries gave countless hours of service cleaning up from the flood, pulling carpet from damaged Church property.
"The people have bounced back and that has been good," said President Price.
Original dedicatory prayer
Dedicated Aug. 5-6, 1983
Done by Gordon B. Hinckley
O God our Eternal Father, our hearts rejoice as we gather together to dedicate unto Thee this holy house. We thank Thee for Thy marvelous and generous blessings. We thank Thee for the gift of Thine Only Begotten Son, who gave His life as our Savior and our Redeemer. We thank Thee for the Restoration of the gospel through the instrumentality of Thy Prophet, Joseph Smith, Thou didst visit him with Thy Beloved Son, opening this dispensation of the fulness of times. We thank Thee for that great manifestation, and for the visits of heavenly beings which followed, restoring to earth Thy holy priesthood with all its keys and power, including the authority to be exercised in the great work of salvation for the dead.
We are grateful for these beautiful islands of Samoa, and for Thy faithful saints who dwell here. Jacob, son of Lehi, declared anciently: "Great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea." We have witnessed the fulfillment of Thy covenant, for Thou hast not forgotten them.
We pray for Thy blessings upon those who govern these islands and the people who dwell here that principles of peace and equity may prevail and that the citizens of these islands may have cause to rejoice in the liberty that is theirs.
Long years ago Thy servants, the elders of Thy Church, came to these beautiful islands and here taught the restored gospel of Thy Son. Touched by Thy Holy Spirit, many received that great message of everlasting truth. They and their posterity have lived in faithfulness. Thy work here has grown and multiplied. Stakes of Zion have been established and Thy children have come to be recognized for their faith and their virtue. Houses of worship, scores of them, and schools of learning have been built upon these lands, for the blessing of Thy sons and daughters who live here. And now, crowning all of this, we have built this, Thy sacred house.
Father, it is beautiful to us. May it be beautiful and acceptable to Thee. May all who look upon it be constrained in their hearts to recognize it as Thy sanctuary. And may all who enter its portals feel of Thy Holy Spirit and conduct themselves as Thy favored saints.
Now, in the name of Jesus Christ, and in the authority of the Holy Priesthood in us vested, and under appointment from Thy prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball, we dedicate to Thee this, the Apia Samoa Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the structure with all of its components, facilities and furnishings, together with the grounds and gardens which surround it and the adjacent buildings which are ancillary to it. We ask that Thou wilt accept of these as the gift of our hands and our hearts. Wilt Thou acknowledge this temple as an offering given gladly out of the love of Thy people for Thee, the great Elohim, and Thy Beloved Son, our living Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. May it be in very deed Thy holy house, and wilt Thou and Thy Son be pleased to visit it and sanctify it by Thy presence. We pray that Thy Holy Spirit may always be felt here. We dedicate it for the performance of those sacred ordinances which Thou in Thy mercy hast provided for the eternal blessing of Thy sons and daughters. May Thy faithful children here receive their washings and anointings and become clean before Thee. May they receive their eternal sealings, pronounced under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, that husbands and wives and children may be joined together as families in an everlasting bond of love and companionship.
Wilt Thou smile with favor upon this holy edifice and by Thy power preserve and protect it. Frustrate the designs of any who would conspire to damage it or defile it in any way. May the grounds on which it stands be ever beautiful with the grass, the flowers, the shrubs, and trees which are of Thy creation. May the structure in all of its aspects be preserved from the ravages of nature and any vandalism or defilement of man. May the building function properly in all of its facilities. May Thy people of this generation and of generations to come visit it frequently and use it for the accomplishment of Thy divine purposes remembering always while so doing that they are guests in Thy sacred house.
We invoke Thy choice blessings upon the temple president and his counselors, those who will serve now and those who will serve in years to come. We likewise invoke Thy blessings upon all who will labor here as workers and as patrons. May all feel of Thy holy presence, and ever tune their hearts to the promptings of Thy spirit.
Wilt Thou open the way for Thy people to seek out the records of their forebears that they may serve as saviors on Mount Zion in opening the prison doors of those whose progress has been stopped beyond the veil, that these may now become the beneficiaries of the sacred ordinances of Thy holy house, and go forward on the way to eternal life and exaltation in Thy presence.
Father in Heaven we remember before Thee Thy servant, President Spencer W. Kimball. We regret his absence on this great and sacred occasion and invoke Thy special blessings upon him. The people of Thy Church throughout the world love him and pray that Thou wilt extend his life according to Thy divine purposes and the fulfillment of Thy plans. We know that this is Thy work and that Thou wilt govern it according to Thy will and wisdom.
Now, Father, may this temple stand as a symbol of the faith and the integrity of Thy people, and their knowledge, divinely given, of the immortality of the soul. May there emanate from it a spirit of peace and righteousness that will reach out into the homes of Thy people that there may be love and harmony in those homes and that all evil may be kept therefrom. May even those who are not of the Church experience something of Thy divine spirit radiated from this, Thy holy house.
Dear Father, accept of our thanks for this blessing and the many others Thou hast so generously showered upon us. Look with favor upon us as Thy children and help us to walk acceptably before Thee. We honor Thee. We love Thee. We worship Thee and offer our prayer of dedication unto Thee in the name of Thy Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.