"As we look back on the lives of Mormon pioneers here in American Samoa and Samoa, we can learn from their faith and goodness," said Elder F. Michael Watson at a recent Church History open house in Tutuila, American Samoa.
Elder Watson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' First Quorum of the Seventy and Pacific Area Presidency, was the keynote speaker at last week's [26 October 2012] event. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Jolene Watson.
American Samoan government leaders, media representatives, local Latter-day Saints and other guests attended the open house.
Approximately 700 people attended the open house that included an exhibit highlighting Samoan Mormon history. The event was held at the Pago Pago Samoa Stake Center on the island of Tutuila.
The exhibit has been taken to several villages and towns across American Samoa and Samoa over the last few months.
Reporters from newspaper, television and radio stations interviewed Church leaders and Latter-day Saint history experts during the open house, and several news reports were subsequently broadcast and published about the event.
Ketesemane Meaole, former mayor of the village of Auto, said, "Our history is a missing link in the lives of our people. I thank the Church for helping us remember who we are."
Latter-day Saint youth leaders, Ola Foster, Bethany Toelupe and Rachel Uelese said they went around the exhibit once, reading all the stories and looking at the pictures “because they were new to us."
"We went around a second time," one said, "to talk about how to share this with the young women in our stake."
Three local teenage boys, Kalifa Spitzenburg, Egypt Tuipelehake and Ropati Asiagi, eagerly wrote down information about Samoan Mormon history that they found on the exhibit posters.
Local government and community leaders who attended the open house included Representative Talo and Mrs Talo, Mrs Sesepasara and Representative Allen.
On Saturday and Sunday [27-28 October], a stake conference was held for Church members of the Pago Pago Samoa Stake, and their guests. Elder Watson presided and spoke during the conference. Government and community leaders in attendance included US Congressman Eni Faleomavaega.
Elder Watson reminded those in attendance of the success of the Church History open house, and urged all to "learn lessons from our faithful forebears."
"As we move forward with faith in a loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, loving and serving our families and those around us, we will have Heaven's help to overcome the challenges of life," he said.
"This is what our faithful ancestors have done, and we must build on their legacy of faith and faithfulness today, for the benefit of our families and nations."