Historical trail

New plaques mark sites of Church history in Hawaii

LAIE, Hawaii — An ongoing "historical trail" project that highlights Church history in Hawaii now includes two new markers here.

The small markers — the first, near the Laie 1st Ward chapel, recognizes the site of the Church mission school, and the second, near the site of the Old Plantation Store — were dedicated in services Oct. 20 during the week of the Jubilee activities at BYU-Hawaii.

BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway, also an Area Seventy, offered the dedicatory prayer during the morning event. The historical trail project is co-sponsored by Hawaii Reserves Inc. and the Mormon Historical Sites Foundation, with support from the Mormon Pacific Historical Society and the Laie Community Association. (A marker at Lanai City was dedicated in 2004; please see Oct. 16, 2004, Church News.)

"Laie has a unique and rich history," said President R. Eric Beaver of Hawaii Reserves and president of the Laie Hawaii Stake during brief remarks. "A few years ago the idea came up of pulling it off the shelves of the archives and making it live in the minds and hearts of those who live here."

The first marker at the site of the mission school is where then-Elder David O. McKay of the Quorum of the Twelve witnessed the flag-raising ceremony on Feb. 7, 1921, which led him to envision the establishment of a university in the community. The Laie 1st Ward chapel was originally built with funds raised at the Hukilau and dedicated by Elder Matthew Cowley in 1951.

Riley Moffat, president of the Laie-based Mormon Pacific Historical Society, explained that missionaries — including Flora Amundsen, who later married Church President Ezra Taft Benson — and their spouses taught all the children of Laie at the school, including two who still live in the area and were in attendance at the dedication program: Haleola Broad Kanahele, 89, and Thomas Nakayama, 92.

Brother Moffat also noted both of the structures were built during a "building boom" sparked by the construction of the new Hawaii Temple starting in 1915.

Jeffrey Walker, president of the Mormon Historical Sites Foundation, told the audience he has found "the Lord usually picks some pretty obscure properties," noting few would have initially stopped at the river's bend at Nauvoo or the valley of the Great Salt Lake.

"The Lord works the same way in all places. The Lord makes great prophecies to fulfill, but the truth is the groundwork is done by people like you. As we celebrate these things, might we remember the great gifts that we have been given."

In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Shumway asked that community residents rededicate themselves "to what we should be, must be, in order to carry forward the wonderful visions and prophecies spoken by Thy prophets on this hallowed ground."

He also prayed that visitors would "have a sense this is a hallowed place," and that the "significance of Laie is not only contained in the tiny environment of the community, but actually extends outward into the whole world."

"Laie has become a training ground for leaders from all over the world, who will train here, and go back out into the world and bless the lives of millions."

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