Eyes once filled with sorrow and care again were lit with excitement. Last weekend, Samoans of all ages beamed at their new temple and anxiously awaited the coming of the Prophet to dedicate the new structure.
But just over two years ago, it was another story. On 9 July 2003, Samoan saints watched in dismay the burning of their blessed temple. “I feel so sad, so sad,” said Maria Paulino, a 20 year old sister from the Apia North Stake. “We all worry if the prophet will say to rebuild.”
The Lord did answer their prayers. Shortly after the fire, the First Presidency of the Church announced plans to rebuild the temple. It would be more space efficient and better use resources, and follow closely the design of other newly built temples.
“Temples are given to us as a testimony of our Father in Heaven’s love for His children,” Dorothea Condie, wife of Elder Spencer Condie, the Area Authority of the Seventy over New Zealand and the South Pacific, said in the Saturday afternoon fireside prior to the Sunday dedication.
“I missed the temple and the opportunity to do the work,” said Darrel Mulitalo, a recently returned missionary. “This new temple is bigger and so beautiful. I am so grateful our Father loves us enough to give it to us.”
The temple is a very important building to Western Samoa. On an island where minimum income per hour is just 2 Samoan Tala or just under a dollar, their new temple has given them a restored hope.
“The temple not only affected the saints of Samoa,” said Sister Summerhays, a full-time welfare missionary serving with her husband in the Samoa Apia Mission. “It is a landmark and it means a lot to everyone on the island.”
After two years of construction, the people of Samoa were anxiously awaiting the privilege to again attend the House of the Lord. “We all had to work hard to be worthy to attend the temple,” said Paulino. “So when it was again rebuilt, we still held our recommends and were able to enter.”
President Hinckley, along with President Monson, came to dedicate the temple. The dedication was held in two sessions, both broadcast to Stake Centers in Western and American Samoa. The people again rejoiced to have a temple.
“The new temple is so beautiful,” said Pili Vauaii, a recently returned missionary, away when the first temple burned. “I was so sad, but I am looking forward to being able to again attend the temple and take part in the blessings.”