By Mike Foley
For the Church News
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated a major new addition to the Church-affiliated Polynesian Cultural Center here on Aug. 29, after which he dedicated the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Church-owned property adjacent to the center.
Speaking from the new Hukilau Marketplace at the PCC, President Uchtdorf recalled he and his wife, Harriet, who accompanied him, first visited the attraction in 1976, and have enjoyed it ever since. “Your friendship, your kindness, your openness, your spirit of aloha is really what makes the difference,” he said.
President Uchtdorf was also accompanied to Hawaii by President Kim B. Clark of the Seventy, who is Commissioner of the Church Educational System, and his wife, Susan; and Bishop Gérald K. Caussé, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric and his wife, Valérie.
In his remarks prior to the dedication, President Uchtdorf said, “I think it’s really the spirit of aloha which we feel here, and I’m very grateful for the privilege to be assigned by President Monson to be here to dedicate … this beautiful place.
“As beautiful as everything is,” he said, referring to a tour of the grounds he took earlier that morning, “we will remember you as individuals.”
President Uchtdorf praised the combination of faith and spiritual power, extending back to 1865 — 150 years ago — when the Church purchased Laie Plantation. “This is the place where everything started: The building of the temple, the establishment of the university, and the creation of the Polynesian Cultural Center. The faith of the people made this possible. … I’m very grateful to all of you for what you do here.”
President Uchtdorf continued, “I want to tell you how grateful I am for each and every one of you, and how much the First Presidency appreciates everything you do.
“Here in this vast mass of water, you’re a wonderful source of spiritual power, of joy, of friendship, of love for your neighbors. You have a radiance of goodness about you which is truly a marvelous example of what the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ can do for us.”
As President Uchtdorf dedicated the PCC, he asked that those who come with heavy hearts or weariness might be re-energized, enriched, comforted and uplifted.
He expressed the hope that they could find a place of refuge, and come out of a hectic world with a hope for serenity, neighborly love and wholesome recreational activities.
Following the dedication of the Hukilau Marketplace, the official delegation moved quickly from the PCC to the dedication of a new Marriot Courtyard hotel which is located nearby.
President Uchtdorf recounted how even before Hawaii became a state in 1959, “the Church was heavily invested here in the development of our people,” referring to the temple and the university.
“The students … needed employment, so we established the Polynesian Cultural Center [in 1963],” he continued, “so they could provide for their own education, but also portray and preserve the cultures, arts and crafts of Polynesia.
“We wanted to help the people of Polynesia to find their own identities. Many of the students at BYU-Hawaii learn for the first time important things of their cultures as they work at the Polynesian Cultural Center. What a marvelous thing to help them move forward. …
“After we have these three points — the temple, community and the PCC — we needed a place people could stay. In this place where the temple is our first focus, and the PCC has a supporting wonderful role for this community, the new hotel fits in perfectly.
“This place has a future. It has also an obligation … to protect this beautiful community we have here,” President Uchtdorf said. “That’s why President Monson asked me to come here.”
President Uchtdorf expressed gratitude for the faithful members who many years ago built the community of Laie as a place of gathering and refuge from spiritual storms. He also gave thanks for the vision and courage of modern-day prophets who established the many wonderful Church facilities in Laie. It was a day of celebration, renewal, and looking to a bright future for Laie and its faithful community.