About a week ago we went with our neighbors, Elder and Sister Hammond to a place on the Island called Sauniatu. There is a church school there and they were having an in-service class with the teachers for this coming semester. To get there, we drove along the coast for about 30 minutes from Apia (where we live), where we saw the beautiful beaches and the Pacific Ocean rolling in. Then we drove to the top of one of the mountains. While they were teaching, we had a chance to see the area. A few pictures are below.
Sauniatu is considered by members of the church here to be one of the most sacred places on the islands of Samoa. Quoting from the plaque that is placed there (see the picture with me and Angela):
"In 1904, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased approximately 800 acres of land in this valley. It served as a refuge and gathering place for the early members of the church. The area was called Sauniatu which in English translates as "prepare to go forth."
Sauniatu's legacy is the result of the early pioneer experiences and sacrifices of people Liek Opapo and To'ai (who had eleven of their fourteen children die before adulthood), and Sai Masina who was head man of the village for many years.
On Tuesday, May 31, 1921, Elder David O. McKay dismounted from his horse near this spot, hung his folded umbrella on a branch of the tree and left an apostolic blessing on the people and land of Sauniatu. He called this place one of the "first temples" and blessed the people that their lands would be able to produce the necessities and comforts of life. He prayed that the plantations would be fruitful and the leaders would be wise. He asked for a special blessing on the mothers, fathers, young men and women and especially the little children. Above all, he prayed that they might have a "clear understanding of the truth" and make a rapid progress in gaining a knowledge of God and his work. "May thy peace abide here in the village of Sauniatu."
|Us at the Sauniatu plaque as you come into the area|
|The McKay Fale (house) built in 1968 in honor of |
David O. McKay when he visited as an apostle in 1921
|Bust of David O. Mckay inside the Fale|
|Bird of Paradise|
|Scene from on top a hill at the village|
|Waterfall a short distance from the chapel and school|
|Church building next to the school and teachers' housing|
|Beach scene on the way to Sauniatu|