PAPEETE, Tahiti At the beginning of a grand celebration Nov. 11, Elder L. Tom Perry asked Church members here to lay aside the things of the world and seek after the better things in life.
"Tonight, let's enjoy the finer things of life, as we have opportunities to make new friendships, and use our talents for the benefit of others," said Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve in a member meeting the day prior to the rededication of the Papeete Tahiti Temple. "As we try to do our part, in all righteousness, the Lord will bless us in all things. This is His work that we are praising."
In a stadium decorated with bright flowers and plants donated by Church members, Elder Perry addressed thousands of Latter-day Saints. Children, youth and young adults filled the stadium floor, preparing to dance in a cultural celebration following the meeting. They sang "I Am a Child of God."
Elder Perry began his address, thanking French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru for attending the event.
"Mr. President, we are honored to have you here," Elder Perry said. "I bring you greetings from President (Gordon B.) Hinckley. He wishes he could be here."
Elder Perry told President Temaru and other government leaders in attendance that Latter-day saints now comprise 10 percent of French Polynesia's population. "They love the Lord. They try to serve Him. They try to serve the land in which they live.... They smile more than other people, because they have great joy in their hearts. They like to serve like no other people, because they appreciate all they have."
Elder Perry said that from its early days the Church has planned events for the development of the cultural arts. Today, he continued, Church leaders are concerned about the youth of the Church. "They spend too much time in front of the television and on computers and listening to iPods," he said.
Instead, Church leaders want them to "reach for the finer things in life. We want to live on a higher plain... to live the standards the Lord has required of us."
Cultural events, like the one that would take place after his address, would help the youth achieve that goal, he said.
Elder Perry said he remembers, as a youth, participating in a stake play. "The part they gave me was a young city slicker from New York, who had come to Utah to attract a young lady to return to New York with him," he recalled.
At the conclusion of the second act, he was to take the young woman in his arms, and hold her until the curtains closed. But the curtains stuck and would not close, leaving him in an uncomfortable position. "I have never been so embarrassed in my life," he said.
The play, however, ended well. The young woman turned the young city slicker down and sent him back to New York. To this day, Elder Perry said, he still laughs with others who were in the play about the curtain mishap.
These events, he said, can bring great friendships and help the youth "live the standards we believe in."
Elder Perry concluded by asking the members to find a balance in their lives between labor, study, rest and recreation.
"Let us live worthy of the teachings of our Father in Heaven and set aside worldly standards and follow the standards of the Lord."
Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department also addressed Church members, telling them he was pleased to be in their tropical paradise. Arriving in Tahiti "helped me to remember I live in the desert," he said.
The day, he declared, truly was a "day of celebration."
More than 100 years ago, Elder Koelliker's great-grandfather came to the Pacific Islands as a missionary. "His journal is filled with love for your people," he said.
He built one of the first chapels in Papeete and made many friends, especially with the youth.
"Because he was here and I have read his journal I feel like I have been here," Elder Koelliker said.
He said his great-grandfather wished for a temple in the islands. Today, he said, there is not just one temple, but seven temples in the South Pacific from New Zealand to Hawaii.
"The temple is complete and we are celebrating tonight the completion of this temple," he said. "Tomorrow we will dedicate the temple. But the real joy will be on Monday when the temple will be open."
Elder Koelliker asked members to turn their hearts and eyes toward the temple. "My testimony is that the temple is a house of God, a place of His holiness."
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