|Fautasi boat oarsmen from the LDS Church College Pesega|
On Thursday, the nineteenth, [February 1981,] we proceeded to Samoa, where we broke ground in Apia for a temple in those lovely islands. Several thousand Saints sat out in the open during a heavy tropical rainstorm during the entire service. Present for this occasion were the Chief of State of Western Samoa, the Prime Minister, and several members of Parliament.
Early the next morning we had one of the loveliest experiences of our lives, as we visited the Church School of Western Samoa. As we entered the gymnasium, the largest building on the campus, we saw seventeen hundred children sitting cross-legged on the gymnasium floor, crowded in as tightly as little sardines in a can. They ranged from small four-and five-year-old kindergarten children in the front to teenaged high-school youngsters in the back of the hall. What a beautiful, thrilling sight they were as they sang “I Am a Child of God”! They were all dressed in their school uniforms in colors of blue and gold. With their beautiful dark hair and big brown eyes, they presented a picture of youth and beauty that was breathtaking. The tears came to our eyes quickly and without shame. At the close of my remarks, I announced to the students that in honor of the occasion I was declaring a holiday for the rest of the day. Judging by the sound of the applause, I think I may have become an instant hero—at least for that day. After the brief meeting, we left the hall with the haunting strains of the Samoan farewell song, “Tofa My Faleni,” ringing in our ears and warming our hearts.
Image credit: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org.nz/article/much-more-than-a-boat-race