APIA, Samoa Faamoana Utai is just days into his calling as president of the Apia Samoa Stake. President Utai is an earnest man, the sort of priesthood leader who's anxious to share wise, inspired counsel with his flock particularly among the young people.
He discovered just the direction he need give to the Apia LDS youth and young adults Sept. 3 listening to his own priesthood leader, President Gordon B. Hinckley.
The Church president's message to the young people of Samoa: Don't sacrifice your dreams by meddling with the world's many dangers. Stand firm. Stand strong.
"I'll take with me the thoughts President Hinckley shared with the youth of Samoa to stay strong and remember they're part of a special generation. I will be reminding the youth and young adults in my stake of this special day until I'm released," said President Utai.
Indeed, President Hinckley's comments during the special member meeting at Apia Park Stadium were anchored by his concern for Samoa's youth. Thousands gathered at the venue typically reserved for rugby and other sporting events to hear the words of President Hinckley and his first counselor in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson.
The meeting was followed by a celebration of song and dance that captured the spirit of Polynesia and gave a cast of thousands the opportunity to express their thanks for a new temple and to President Hinckley and President Monson for visiting their island nation.
"Tonight, I look over these wonderful young people and I say to myself, 'What a generation this is,' " said President Hinckley.
While traveling to the stadium, President Hinckley spotted a billboard announcing the 2007 South Pacific Games to be hosted by Western Samoa. The theme of the 2007 Games Make Your Dream Come True can apply to the lives of LDS Samoan youth, he said.
The world is filled with dangers, President Hinckley said. Some young people find themselves mixed up with drugs or gangs. Soon their dreams begin to fade and disappear.
President Hinckley said he is sorry to say that some Polynesian youth living in the United States are struggling. Some have found themselves living outside the law or in jail. Their dreams have faded and disappeared.
Realize your dreams, not your nightmares, President Hinckley told the many youth gathered at the outdoor meeting.
"Stand strong, stand tall, be faithful, be true, my beloved young people of Samoa."
It is a great season in the Church. Anniversaries are marking the 175th birthday of the Church's restoration and the bicentennial anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth.
"We are here today because of one man Joseph Smith," President Hinckley said.
He then went on to speak of the contributions of Joseph Smith.
President Hinckley extended a Talofa'lava to the Samoan members, adding, "May you have the strength and the will and the resolution to do what is right at all times and grow in faithfulness."
President Monson testified of President Hinckley's prophetic calling.
"It is a joy to sit by his side to sustain him with all my heart," President Monson said.
The dedication of the rebuilt Apia Samoa Temple will be rich with meaningful messages, particularly the dedicatory prayer, President Monson said. "It will be a day never to be forgotten."
He quoted the Apostle Paul, who said to the Corinthians, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
That question pertains to us today, President Monson said. "We're building a personal temple which we occupy."
In the 88th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants is found a "blueprint" of the Kirtland Temple revealed to Joseph Smith. It remains an apt "blueprint" today during a time of temple dedication in Samoa, President Monson said.
"The Lord said, 'Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.'
"This is a blueprint for us which came from the Lord Himself," President Monson said. "With all my heart, I urge that you adopt that blueprint."
Those who do, added President Monson, will be recipients of another promise of the Lord: "I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
"To the Samoan Saints whom I dearly love, I recommend that blueprint for you," President Monson said.
Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy bore his testimony in Samoan and expressed his belief in Christ and the prophetic callings of Joseph Smith and Gordon B. Hinckley.
Elder Condie's wife, Sister Dorothea Condie, said the Pacific Islands were prepared by the Lord for a special people. In a land of pearls, she said, the most precious pearls are the testimonies in the hearts of the people.
The cultural pageant that followed the member meeting offered President Hinckley, President Monson and the other visiting Church officials a colorful glimpse of Polynesia. Some 5,000 members of all ages from the Samoan islands performed songs and dances from their own land, as well as Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and Hawaii.
The popular Samoan Police Band added flavor to the event, which demanded months of production and practice. The evening ended with a spiritual medley of hymns as President Hinckley saluted the cast, waving a white handkerchief.
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