APIA, Samoa The newly rebuilt temple in Apia, Samoa, already has an unofficial new name: "The Pearl of the Pacific." It is described by many, who first saw the edifice during an open house that began Aug. 3, as "majestic."
A total of 2,063 people attended the open house during the first three days, taking media and VIP tours hosted by members of the New Zealand/Pacific Islands Area presidency: Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, Elder Spencer J. Condie and Elder Richard H. Winkel, all of the Seventy
The public tours began Aug. 6 and during the following week 16,578 people viewed the new temple.
The first Apia Samoa Temple was dedicated in 1983 by President Gordon B. Hinckley and functioned until being closed in 2003 for renovation to expand the baptistry and other areas. The renovation was well under way and preparations were being made for rededication when it was destroyed by fire on July 9, 2003. Now rebuilt, the temple will be rededicated Sept. 4, 2005.
Most the people of Samoa including clergy of other faiths were saddened when the temple was destroyed by fire. They acknowledged this by attending the open house, referring to the building as "our temple."
One Samoan member the only Church member in his extended family reported the impact the temple had on his family. First, the member's brother came to the temple. The brother returned the following day with his mother. And the day after that their mother returned again. After going through the tour a second time she burst into tears in the celestial room, and later asked the question "If I join this church and am sealed to my deceased husband, will I get to be with him again?"
One of the most interesting sightseeing groups at the open house was a unit of 200 8-year-old school children from Pesega Fou School. While only a few were members of the Church, the Latter-day Saint children answered questions for their classmates. The children loved the ornate chandeliers, the beautiful furnishings, and especially the baptismal font.
Many who viewed the temple said it reflects the construction motto of Elder William Naylor, who served with his wife, Linda, as a temple construction missionary. While supervising the reconstruction of the Church's 22nd temple, he would say, "Perfect is good enough!"