Missionary moments: 'Church on the hill'

In 1972, Elder Brent Bowden and I were serving as full-time missionaries in the picturesque city of Dunedin, New Zealand. The homes and buildings of Dunedin nestle on beautiful green hillsides that surround a large bay on the southeast coast of the South Island.

At the time we were serving, there was only one LDS meetinghouse in this city, but what a striking chapel it was! Built of glistening white stone and brick, it stood near the top of one of Dunedin's prominent green hills and was easily visible from most parts of the city. At night, with lights illuminating the white walls and steeple, it was a most impressive sight.A faithful Samoan LDS family, the Taylors, lived in the area in which we were laboring. One evening, we were informed by Sister Taylor that she had a great-aunt living in Dunedin who recently had expressed an interest in learning about the Church.

Sister Falefia Ifimoa`ivao was a native Samoan who had immigrated to New Zealand several years previously. Upon moving to Dunedin, she became impressed and inexplicably drawn to the beautiful white building she saw overlooking the city, by day and by night. She had an overwhelming feeling that this church, both the building and those who met there, would play an important role in her life. She was inspired to know that the religion represented by this church would lead her to the spiritual fulfillment she had sought for in her life. However, she was unable to learn more of the church. Months passed until, during a visit, Sister Taylor mentioned her love of the Savior and His Church. Upon inquiry, Sister Falefia was overcome with joy to learn that her niece's church was the beautiful "white church on the hill."

With Sister Taylor as our interpreter, Elder Bowden and I presented the missionary discussions to Sister Falefia. Her joy became complete when on April 8, 1972, she entered the waters of the baptismal font in the beautiful "white church on the hill." Sister Falefia passed away just a few weeks after her baptism due to a chronic illness, but how elated her loved ones and friends were to realize that she had at last found the spiritual fulfillment and love for which she had longed.

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