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Former Fiji Temple President Shares Memories

On 21 February 2016 the Suva Fiji Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be rededicated after being closed for extensive renovation. A former president of the temple and his wife, Sitiveni and Vasiti Bale, understand the many blessings that will then come into the lives of those who enter the temple because of their own life’s story.

Sitiveni and Vasiti Bale were called to serve as the first temple president and matron of the Suva Fiji Temple in 2000.  The first temple open house in that year took place amidst great political upheaval and uncertainty following a civilian coup in Fiji on 19 May 2000.

Despite the original open house having received little publicity, people of many ethnicities and religious beliefs entered through the temple doors to witness the interior of the beautiful structure.

Remembering that occasion, Sitiveni said, “I am thankful to the 15,000 visitors who attended the temple open house.  I am grateful that they have taken time out of their busy schedules to walk through the House of the Lord to feel the peace and serenity offered within its walls and to witness the beauty of its structure and its rooms.  It is indeed a sanctuary for our people from all evils and all problems faced in life.  I am grateful that the Lord has seen it fit to bless our people with His house.”

Sitiveni and Vasiti Bale were raised in Fiji villages and sent to Suva to attend school. Sitiveni was sent by his parents to boarding school in Suva when he was 14 years old. Vasiti moved to Suva with two of her siblings where she lived with her aunt.

Both were raised in families with strong Christian religious backgrounds. As a teenager, Vasiti became disillusioned with the preaching of her church and stopped attending.  Sitiveni was not particularly interested in religion, despite both parents being lay preachers in the village church. 

After they were married, the Bales investigated other churches. Vasiti was interested in the teachings of one particular church but when challenged to be baptized, Sitiveni asked her to wait so they could be baptized together.

After 17 years of marriage, Sitiveni searched for a religion that would help him change his lifestyle.  Vasiti was willing to accept any religion that would help her husband change his habits and bring peace to their home.

In September 1976, after listening to two American missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Elder Nelson of Utah and Elder Evans of Idaho—they were baptized.

When the Fiji Temple originally opened in 2000, Sitiveni said, “As I stand in the temple foyer, I feel gratitude to my Heavenly Father for giving me and my wife the opportunity to serve him in His holy house.  I feel grateful to my son who introduced us to the Church and for the chance that he could live a short, mortal life of 34 years here on earth with our family.  I am grateful to my wife for her great support, courage and patience.”

When Sitiveni and Vasiti were new members of the Church, they attended a small Latter-day Saint branch which met at the old SPC buildings in Nabua, before moving to a house on Vunakece Road.

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