Papeete Tahiti Temple

See facts about the Papeete Tahiti Temple and read the dedicatory prayer given by President Hinckley in 1983

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Announced: April 2, 1980.

Location: Route de Fautaua; Peteete, Tahiti; French Polynesia; phone: (689) 503-939.

Site: 1.7; 5 acres with meetinghouse.

Exterior finish: Stucco, using imported white sand.

Temple design: Shows some European elements of French influence as well as Polynesian culture.

Architect: Emil B. Fetzer, Church architect; upgrade, Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects.

Construction adviser: George Bonnet; upgrade, Alan Rudolph.

Contractor: Comtrol Inc., a Midvale, Utah, construction firm.

Rooms: Baptistry, celestial room, two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms; upgrade, enlarged baptistry, additional sealing room.

Total floor area: 9,936 square feet; after remodeling, 12,150 square feet.

Dimensions: 125 feet by 105 feet, with an eight foot statue of Angel Moroni on a 66-foot spire.

District: Six stakes and three districts in French Polynesia and the Cook Islands.

Groundbreaking, site dedication: Feb. 13, 1981, by President Spencer W. Kimball.

Dedication: Oct. 27-29, 1983, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 6 sessions. Rededicated Nov. 12, 2006, by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Dedicatory Prayer

Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley

Thanks be to Thee, O God our Eternal Father, Thou mighty Elohim to whom we come in prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Thy Beloved Son and our Redeemer.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude as we are assembled together in this sacred house on this day of dedication. We thank thee, dear Father, for all who have gone before us to make this occasion possible. We look back with appreciation to the Prophet Joseph Smith to whom Thou didst reveal Thyself with Thy Son, and who became the instrument in Thy hands in the opening of this, the dispensation of the Fulness of Times. It was to him that Thou didst reveal the need for and the purpose of such temples as we dedicate this day. While he was yet alive and while the saints were yet in Nauvoo he was inspired to call the first missionaries to these beautiful Society Islands of the Pacific. From their dedicated labors in those early years there came a great harvest.

Since that time there have been seasons of prosperity and seasons when problems were many and the harvest was lean. But through all of these years Thy work has grown as with faith Thy servants have labored among the Tahitian people and found those who have been touched by the Spirit and who have come into the fold of the Church. There is now strength and maturity among the many thousands of the saints of French Polynesia, for which we express gratitude unto Thee. As a capstone to all of this effort we now have this beautiful and sacred house to present unto Thee.

In the authority of the Holy Priesthood in us vested, and in the name of Thy Beloved Son Jesus Christ, we dedicate unto Thee and unto Him this the Papeete Tahiti Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We dedicate the ground on which it stands, and the building in all of its parts and facilities, as well as the ancillary structures related thereto. We dedicate it as the house of the Lord with holiness unto Thee, to be used by Thy worthy saints to assist in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of Thy sons and daughters.

Wilt Thou accept it, dear Father, as the gift of Thy thankful children. Wilt Thou and Thy Son feel free to visit as seemeth Thee good, and may the presence of Thy Holy Spirit be felt here at all times by all who enter its sacred portals.

May it be holy to Thy people, a sanctuary of peace from the noise and the conflict of the world, and a house in which they may labor for eternal blessings for themselves and for those who have passed beyond the veil of death.

We ask that Thou wilt preserve it as Thy house. May it be protected by Thy power from any who would defile it. May it stand against the winds and the rains that beat upon it. May it be beautiful to all who see it, and sacred to all who enter it.

Bless those who shall preside here now and through the years to come, and bless all who shall serve in administering the ordinances of this Thy house.

We pray for those who govern these islands, that they may be guided by the Spirit to conduct the affairs of government in such a way that those who live here may rejoice in the privileges afforded them, and may the government and the people of these beautiful islands always be hospitable to Thine appointed servants. May Thy work flourish here, and become even stronger. Smile upon Thy faithful saints and prosper them as they walk in righteousness before Thee.

Father, we pray for Thy work in all the earth. Bless Thy covenant people everywhere. We pray for those who serve as missionaries in Polynesia and throughout the world. Sustain them, inspire them, and lead them to those who prayerfully look for eternal truth. We pray for Thy people who walk in faith and obedience wherever they may be found. Reward their faith and prosper their labors.

Father, we unite our faith in behalf of Thy prophet, Spencer W. Kimball. He it was, as Thine ordained servant, who determined that this temple should be built. Extend his life and give him joy according to Thy great design. Thy people throughout the earth love him and pray for him.

Bless his associates of the General Authorities of the Church and inspire and direct them in all of their sacred undertakings. Magnify Thy servants who have place and responsibility in Thy work in Tahiti.

Bring to naught the evil designs of any who seek to embarrass them or plot injury to Thy Church and kingdom.

Now, as Thy sons and daughters, and as Thy saints in these latter days, we dedicate this Thy holy house and rededicate ourselves to Thy service and the accomplishment of Thy eternal purposes.

O God, accept our thanks and hear our prayer, we ask in the name of Thy Beloved Son, our Savior, the Great Messiah, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Papeete Tahiti Temple | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Distant blessing: Family pays the price to visit temple

By C. Jay Larson

Church News contributor

HAMILTON, New Zealand — Our temples throughout the Church have seen many loving and dedicated workers who have served as temple missionaries and as regular ordinance workers. They have "given their all" as they have come early to the temple and served late each day.

Among those dedicated servants are Tarariana Mou Tham and his wife, Tihi Mou Tham, who have completed their third mission in the Papeete Tahiti Temple. They have served with great dignity and love.

Their home is on the beautiful island of Raiatea 150 miles west of Tahiti. All of their 10 children were born and reared there under very humble circumstances. Brother Mou Tham was a farmer and worked hard to sustain the needs of his family on their small plantation. They grew most of their food and sold enough produce to barely meet the additional day-to-day needs of their large family.

When the missionaries presented the gospel to the Mou Tham family in the early 1960s Sister Mou Tham and most of the children accepted the teachings readily. Brother Mou Tham gave permission for the others to be baptized but refused to have anything seriously to do with this strange religion himself. He also had Word of Wisdom problems which held him back.

However, when he finally investigated it more seriously and received the witness of the Spirit that the Church was true he directed all of his energy to assist the growth of the kingdom. He was one of the key figures in helping to establish the Church there on Raiatea.

Just as the early Latter-day Saints who sacrificed to gather to Zion, once Brother and Sister Mou Tham had firm testimonies they desired with all their hearts to receive the fullness of the blessings of the priesthood. They wanted to become an eternal family made possible only by being sealed in the temple.

At that time, the closest temple to them was in New Zealand 3,500 miles away to the southwest. But the possibility of saving enough money for 12 of them to purchase costly airplane tickets to New Zealand, plus the money for new clothes and food during their stay there, was almost unthinkable. They were poor, and reasonable paying jobs in Raiatea were just not available.

The only possibility appeared to be for Brother Mou Tham and their next oldest son, Gerard, to seek employment on the distant island of New Caledonia 3,000 miles to the west, then simply save their money until the necessary amount had been attained.

New Caledonia was also a French territory where the local nickel mine provided jobs for many Tahitian people who had moved there for employment purposes. Brother Mou Tham and Gerard traveled to New Caledonia in 1969. His eldest son, Emile, had already been there working for a year and was an influence in this decision. He, too, would assist in this joint family temple project.

Brother Mou Tham and his sons remained on New Caledonia for a period of four years, working and saving for the planned trip to the temple in far away New Zealand. Once a year he returned home to be with his family in Raiatea for a short time, then returned back to work, leaving the boys to remain in New Caledonia. Sister Mou Tham did the best she could to take care of the eight younger children at home by herself. She and the children grew the food required for their sustenance. They used a very small amount of Brother Mou Tham's wages for any additional items required.

After four years of working and saving, Sister Mou Tham and all the children at home, except their oldest daughter, joined a temple excursion group from Tahiti and traveled to New Zealand. There they were joined by Brother Mou Tham and the two elder boys who had made the three-day trip from New Caledonia by traveling via Australia.

Once in New Zealand they entered the sacred temple together where they were sealed for time and eternity, an indescribable and joyful experience. They remained at the temple for two weeks where they continued to serve every available minute of their time, along with the other Tahitian members, to perform sacred ordinances for those who had passed on.

After this supernal and unforgettable experience they were not yet satisfied; they were not a complete family. During the previous four years their oldest daughter, Rona, had married and, at the time of the temple trip, was close to the delivery date of their first child, which made traveling impossible for her. Additional money would be required for her and her husband and baby to go to the temple.

Now, while many tried to persuade Brother Mou Tham to return to Raiatea and remain with his family he simply replied that his family was not yet complete. They could not be an eternal family until all members were sealed together. Thus motivated, he again returned to New Caledonia directly from New Zealand and worked for another two years to make this possible. One more interim vacation trip to Raiatea was made to be with his family during those two years.

But now, after a total of six years of separation while living and working far away from each other, their final goal of being sealed together as a complete family would soon be achieved. With adequate funds now available the married daughter, son-in-law and grandchild, along with Brother and Sister Mou Tham, made the trip to New Zealand where the new family was sealed together, and Rona was sealed to her parents — to be eternally united as a complete family.

After these unforgettable experiences the Mou Tham family members know that it will be up to them to continue faithful in the Church to assure that these sacred sealing ordinances will be effective eternally.

The Mou Tham children are now grown up, all have been married in the temple and all are busy serving in their respective wards, branches and stakes. Brother and Sister Mou Tham greatly attribute the success with their children to the sacrifices they have made to attend the temple, both in New Zealand and in Tahiti.

Since those first two temple trips, Brother and Sister Mou Tham sacrificed the means to take two additional trips to the New Zealand temple prior to the dedication of the Papeete Tahiti Temple in 1981. Since the dedication they have made regular trips with their branch and ward excursions to their own temple, ultimately serving three temple missions. — C. Jay Larson of the Taylorsville 30th Ward, Taylorsville Utah Central Stake, is a sealer in the Jordan River Utah Temple and former mission president and temple president in Tahiti.

Tahitian temple, pearl of the Pacific

Elder Perry rededicates Church's renovated edifice

By Sarah Jane Weaver

PAPEETE, Tahiti — Near the tropical waters off Tahiti's black sand beaches, locals perform a delicate grafting operation in a pinctada margaritifera or black-lipped oyster that ultimately yields a beautiful black pearl.

The black pearl — extremely rare when occurring naturally — is a symbol of this island paradise, home today to more than 22,000 Church members.

Their nation is the leading exporter of the rare treasure, produced only in the rich Pacific waters. Yet the Latter-day Saints here, who comprise 10 percent of this nation's population, talk of an even greater pearl: the Papeete Tahiti Temple.

First dedicated Oct. 27, 1983, the Tahiti temple has been closed during the past 15 months for renovations. On Nov. 12 — 23 years after it first opened — Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve rededicated the Church's 25th temple.

The rededication was "a wonderful time," said Elder Perry outside the temple after the event.

"We love this great country. It is beautiful....

"The people are just wonderful. There are not a friendlier people in all the earth than the people here in Tahiti. The ones that came (to the rededication) came reverently this morning. I think it was a very spiritual experience for all of them."

A deeply spiritual people, Tahitian Latter-day Saints share a legacy equal to the beauty of their land, filled with lush foliage and bright flowers surrounded by blue waters.

More than 100 years after the first missionaries arrived in Tahiti, which was the Church's first foreign-speaking mission, 64 Latter-day Saints traveled from this island paradise to the Auckland New Zealand Temple. Arriving late on Christmas Eve in 1963, the group spent Christmas day and the next few weeks in the temple performing the first temple ordinances for Tahitian Church members.

Humble members, including fishermen and pearl farmers, spent their life savings on the trip. Today, that level of sacrifice is no longer needed, said temple President Thomas R. Stone, who as a mission president in 1963 accompanied the members to New Zealand.

"That is why the temple is such a blessing to the people. It is here. It is accessible."

An estimated 10,000 Tahitians from six stakes and three districts participated locally in the rededication, held during two sessions in the Papeete temple and broadcast to local stake centers. In addition, the meeting was broadcast via the Church satellite system to Salt Lake City, New Caledonia, and the BYU-Hawaii campus in Laie, Hawaii. The rededication was the final event during a weekend of grand celebration. Members gathered Nov. 11 for a member meeting and cultural event. (Please see reports on pages 6 and 8-9.)

Many Tahitian Church members had hoped President Gordon B. Hinckley, who participated in the rededication from Salt Lake City, would rededicate the temple. However, nothing, they said, can take away from the great joy they feel to have the temple open again.

The updated temple, which will serve all of French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, now includes a larger temple-style baptismal font, larger sealing rooms, an office for the temple engineer, and a youth center for children being sealed to their parents.

The cost of travel for large Polynesian families is one reason the temple is such a blessing to the people here, said Iotua Brothers, Arue Tahiti Stake patriarch.

The members "are happy to have the house of the Lord," he said. Without a temple in French Polynesia it would be "too expensive to have all the children sealed."

He said when Church members learned the temple was coming they cried tears of joy. "They cried and they expressed gratitude to the Lord for the temple."

Although Tahitian Latter-day Saints have always known the great value of their temple, the open house before the rededication was an opportunity to share their pearl with others.

Each has stories of the open house, attended by 36,800 people. Many members shared the temple with family members and neighbors of other faiths. Others had deeply spiritual experiences while inside the temple after more than a year away from it.

Many Church members made time to share their stories, traveling to the chapel adjacent to the temple or the Church office in Papeete. They wore their great feelings for the temple as they came outside.

Tiare Tauaoar, a new member, felt forgiveness in the temple. Maima Tamu of the Papeete stake — through an experience with her 1-year-old son — felt close to her deceased father. Kelly O'Connor, who traveled to the St. George Utah Temple to be married while the Tahiti temple was closed, said she received peace in the temple for the concerns of her heart.

Of being in the temple, "It seemed like the Lord was opening His arms and waiting for me to come in," said Regina Teinanuarii of the Taharaa Ward, Arue Tahiti Stake.

Henri Teaurai, bishop of the Taharaa ward, Arue Tahiti Stake, said the period of renovation made members appreciate the temple even more.

"They are very lucky now," he said. "They are very happy. They feel something very strong to be again in the temple."

Dorina Pangsiang of the Auera Ward, Raromatai Tahiti Stake, attended the first temple dedication in 1983. "I have no way to tell the feeling we had at that time," she said.

Most members of her stake must travel all night by boat to reach Papeete. She remembers local leaders asking members to pray for a temple, promising with faith one could be built. What they said came true, she said. "We have our temple."

On site near Papeete's wharf where local vendors sell food, Zaina Vitali — demonstrating typical Tahitian hospitality — shares crepes with visitors. She then enthusiastically tells the story of her family's first trip to the temple, a story that is woven with dozens of others into the rich Church legacy of French Polynesia. Collectively the stories are like a strand of priceless pearls.

One of 12 children, Sister Vitali traveled with her parents, siblings and grandparents to New Zealand before the Papeete temple was built. Her father sold the family car and the family land to earn money for the trip. The family sustained themselves on a diet of mainly rice and sugar for almost two years to make up the difference. And when they could not afford enough white fabric to make temple clothing for everyone, they supplemented the cloth by bleaching rice and sugar bags.

Sister Vitali remembers the trip well. Hearing the children perform traditional music and dance during the cultural event before the temple rededication — and singing along with them — made her miss her father and the other early Tahitian pioneers who laid the foundation of the Church in French Polynesia.

"It made me thankful," she said, "for what they left behind."


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