Sunday, August 25, 2013

Samoa in Church History

Artist's rendering of the once-planned Mormon temple in American Samoa

I always like to hear or read of our church leaders' experiences in Samoa. It serves, somewhat, as a reminder of my own days in the Samoan islands as a missionary, and of the faith and faithfulness of the Samoan people. Here's one from this April 1985 talk by then Elder (now President) Boyd K. Packer, of the 12 Apostles:
On one occasion I was organizing a new stake on Upolu Island in Samoa. As is customary, we were conducting interviews with local priesthood leaders, asking each to suggest a few names of brethren of stature to be considered for a call.
One dignified branch president had walked from the other side of the island. He stood before us in a white shirt and tie, with a lavalava, or skirt, tied about his waist. He wore no shoes; he had never owned shoes.
I asked for names. He gave but one: “Bishop Iono will be our stake president.” He was right, for that had already been revealed to me. But I did not feel he should make the announcement.
So I asked for other names, for we had counselors and others to call as well. He replied, holding up his finger, “Just one name.” “But,” I said, “suppose he could not serve, would you not like to name others?” This humble priesthood president then asked me a question, “Brother Packer, are you asking me to go against the witness of the Spirit?”
How marvelous! This wonderful man had reminded me that each member of the Church, in prayer, can receive confirmation that the fifth article of faith has been honored.
“We believe that a man [and this applies to sisters as well] must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”

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