Dear Family & Friends: We are having so many new and exciting adventures to tell you about. We get up around 5:45am and go as fast as we can until bedtime, learning our new responsibilities and having a peek at this BEAUTIFUL country. We hope in this blog we can express how blessed we are to testify of Jesus Christ and serve Him in this amazing corner of the world! HAERE MAI* to our blog, we're glad you are visiting us!.....(*This means 'WELCOME' in the Maori language)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Elder Tarati

Elder Tarati, Area 70 in Tahiti

Children in Tahiti

 Beautiful Children of Tahiti

Public Affairs Team in Tahiti

Our Public Affairs team in Tahiti

Public Affairs Training

Jeff training our Public Affairs team in New Caledonia

Thursday, February 16, 2012

French Polynesian Youth Prepare for a Bright Future

French Polynesian Youth are Preparing for a Bright Future

Sister Yesta Huea’s seminary students foresee a bright future before them because they know where they are going and how they will get there.  As part of a royal generation, they are preparing to become leaders of the future by the choices they are making now and the goals they are setting.  

In a world where disregard and disrespect for religious and moral values is growing, and enticements toward forbidden paths are tempting and popular, these teenagers from the Punavai Nui Ward, Punaauia Stake in French Polynesia, do not want to take detours that will detract them from their goals. 

“To be a young man or young woman, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints is not easy”, according to Sister Huea.  “They are exposed to all of the ills of the world and they live in enemy territory.  It is true that French Polynesia is a beautiful country, but temptations here are no less virulent.  Young people must learn to live surrounded by everything that would make them fall if they don’t cling to the scriptures and to our Heavenly Father’s gospel. If they follow the recommendations from the prophets and their loving leaders, they will live more peacefully and will be able to face their enemies without harm.”

Elder William H. Bennett gave counsel in 1975 that is just as relevant today.  He said, “Youth is the time to build a strong physical, mental, moral, and spiritual base, to prepare for missionary service and temple marriage, to establish challenging goals, and to experience the satisfaction that comes from worthy achievement.” (A Time to Prepare, Ensign-May,1975)  

And Sister Huea’s students are doing just that.  They are confident that by living Church standards and choosing worthy activities and goals, they will grow closer to their Savior, and this will bring them the greatest happiness they can find on earth and after. According to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Our happiness will come in living our lives the right way for the right reasons – reasons that are eternal, reasons that matter in this life and in the next.” (We want the Best for You, New Era-Jan, 2010)

Although their goals are varied, all agree with Elder Bennett that preparing to serve missions and being married in the temple take top priority.  They know that to be worthy to serve a mission and to receive the blessings of the temple requires both determination and a willingness to set their standards high.  They must have courage to avoid many of the worldly activities and self destructive behaviors that beset so many young people today.

Here are some of their ideas about how they plan to stay on track and reach their goals:

1.     Set smaller goals to help prepare for the big goals.
  “To go to the temple, I first set some goals such as obtaining my Young Womanhood Recognition award…”  “Seminary prepares me to go to the temple by helping me make good choices in life so that I can be worthy to enter the House of the Lord.”  I want to graduate from seminary and institute, and especially, cling to the Lord.”  -- Jennifer Clark

“Seminary really prepares me to serve a good mission, thanks to the scripture mastery program.  I will be strong spiritually.” – Raymond Teahuotoga

2.      Remembering why the goal is important will help to keep on track.
Kahealani says that going to the temple is important to her, “ To converse with the Lord to tell him that I am faithful, receive the promised blessings and his spirit to accompany me throughout my life.” – Kahealani Heuea
Tinaya says going to the temple is important to her “because we can be with our family forever and I want to be sealed to my family with my brothers and sisters for eternity.” --  Tinaya Mau

3.      Live the Church standards and be worthy to serve a mission and go to the temple now.
“I try my best to respect the standards, choose good friends and go to church for Sunday services and other activities.  I try not to criticize my leaders.  I pay my tithing, often bear my testimony and strive to fast.” – Kahealani Heuea

4.      Learn and study about the goal.
“To prepare for the temple”, says Raymond, “I’m learning spiritual and temporal things.  I must know about the sacred ordinances in the temple, like baptism for the dead for example….” –Raymond Teahuotoga

In preparing to serve a mission, Kahealani says, “I learn my scripture masteries by heart in order to be ready when I teach others.  I look up to the full time missionaries and I ask them questions.  I realize it is important and I gain more knowledge about the ancient prophets’ stories.  I try to pay more attention to the leaders’ messages and most of all I pray personally for divine help.” – Kahealani Heuea

5.      Pray and stay close to the spirit.
“I can pay close attention to the whisperings of the Spirit.  It strengthens my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in God the Father.” – Kane Tuhoe-Touatini

“I pray a lot and I learn as much as I can to be able to speak about our Heavenly Father to others without doubting.” -- Tinaya Mau

6.      Attend seminary.
“Seminary helps me to become spiritually strong and prepared.” –Blaise Teahuotoga

“Seminary allows me….to have my spiritual side nurtured every week so I do not stray from my goal of getting married in the temple.  Seminary gives me the will to go to the temple and therefore do everything necessary to prepare myself.” – Kahealani Heuea

7.      Study the scriptures.
According to Sister Heuea, “Young Polynesian seminary students are not, by custom, voracious readers or even simple readers.  Our people have lived by oral traditions, hence their difficulty in reading the scriptures.  But thanks to the teachings and encouragements of those around them, many of these young people end up reading the scriptures and appreciating their content”

Kane is preparing to go on a mission “By learning the scripture masteries, which strengthen my testimony of my Heavenly Father.” – Kane Tuhoe-Touatini

“Seminary helps me as it requires that I study the scriptures, which is useful to preach the gospel.  It is so much better when we know what we’re talking about.” --  Jennifer Clark

8.      Stay close to family and leaders.
Family is important to Raymond.  “It is important to go to the temple because we find there our heavenly Father in a family unit.  I am sealed to my parents with my siblings and I know we can inherit eternal life as a family.” – Raymond Teahuotoga

“I attend seminary and follow my leaders’ instructions and my parents’ teachings.” – Kane Tuhoe-Touantini

Although Sister Heuea is concerned for her students because of the challenges they must bear at this age, she admires them for the choices they are making and for their courage to set high standards and goals.  She says, “They have all my sympathy and my love…”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Photos in Deseret News

Today we noticed that my photos were used as part of an article about Elder Cook's visit to the Pacific Area, in the Deseret News.  Here is the link, and note that you can see Jeff in the background on the left side of the last photo.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

 Scripture Study Program for Youth Marks 100th Anniversary

  Sabrina M. is one of hundreds of thousands of seminary students around the world

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Even though the daily scripture study class for Mormon youth, called seminary, is now 100 years old, taking part is still a day-to-day proposition. Take New Zealander Sabrina M. as an example. She rises early each school day, prepares for her day, and then attends an hour of scripture study before her regular school classes begin.

She and hundreds of thousands of other young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide are making seminary a priority, and seeing the benefits in their lives.

The following transcript of an interview with Sabrina sheds some light on why young Latter-day Saints participate in seminary, and how it is helping them develop into strong and capable adults.

Q: Why do you go to seminary?
A: "I really enjoy it, but sometimes I don't feel like going, so I just push myself and those are the times I have really needed it. It helps me at school throughout the year, and helps me to focus."

Q: What is your seminary teacher like?
A: "She is very kind and makes it easy to understand everything. She can explain things very well."

Q: What style of teacher do you have? How does she teach you?
A: "She uses the chalkboard a lot, which makes it a lot easier to see what is happening. It is very easy to understand that way."

Q: Do your friends at school, who are not members of the Church, know that you go to seminary?
A: "Yes they do, and I brought one once, and she really enjoyed it quite a bit."

Q: Can you think of something that you have studied, that has carried with you, or something that stands out in your mind?
A: "I really like in the Book of Mormon the 2000 stripling warriors, how they were faithful and courageous."

Q: Has there been something in the past that this story has helped you get through?
A: "Actually last year in Social Studies my class was learning about our faith, and so I was able to share with my class everything we were learning about in the Doctrine and Covenants."

Q: Did you learn about other religions as well as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
A: "Yes, but really not as much as we did about Mormons."

Q: Was the information your teacher was giving you fairly accurate?
A: "Yes, it was quite correct, but anything she was iffy about, I was able to help her."

Q: Were you the only Mormon teenager in the class?
A: "Yes, I was the only one in the class, but they all know I am a member."

Q: Do you notice some of the other students acting differently around you?
A: "Yes, I have a good friend who I notice does things differently around me than she does with other people."

Q: If you had a good friend who was debating as to whether to go to seminary, what would you tell her?
A: "I would tell her that at the end, it would all be worth it, because it helps you with your school....and [you] feel the spirit a lot more."

Q: Do you learn about the scriptures in seminary?
A: "Yes we do, we have scripture mastery, and we have to memorize scriptures."

Q: How many scriptures do you have memorized?
A: "About 10."

Q: Do you feel like you are a close knit group of seminary students?
A: "We are quite good friends, and if we are alone we can go to each other, and talk about things, it is quite comforting. Everybody knows that I have standards."

Q: What are you learning about as you study the Doctrine and Covenants?
A: "Learning about the Doctrine and Covenants, and Joseph Smith, and the things that he went through for this Church, it is amazing and just makes me think it is so true, and no one would risk their life for a book, unless it was true."

Apostle Visits Christchurch

Visiting Apostle Expresses Love and Concern to People of Christchurch

Tuesday, January 17 2012 

Elder Quentin L. Cook visits with Christchurch, New Zealand Latter-day Saints.

CHRISTCHURCH - More than 500 people listened as Elder Quentin L. Cook, an apostle from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed his love and concern for the people of quake-ravaged Christchurch at a special meeting last night.
Among those in attendance were Hon Amy Adams Associate Minister of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Hon Lianne Dalziel Labour Spokesperson for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, four other members of parliament, members of the Christchurch Interfaith Council, and other community leaders. They shared a common concern for the recovery of Christchurch and were undeterred by a 4.1 magnitude earthquake that struck 20 minutes into the meeting.
Elder Cook's message that Christchurch will recover and be "magnificent" was well received and left a feeling of hope and reassurance. He encouraged people to not only focus on rebuilding the city, but also to strengthen and look after each other.
"Parents, love and look after your children," he said. "Couples love and look after each other."

The apostle has a special empathy for Christchurch having been a stake president in San Francisco at the time of their 6.9 magnitude earthquake in 1989 that resulted in multiple deaths. His own personal experience supporting that community through their natural disaster motivated the Church leader to visit Christchurch as part of his tour of the Pacific.

Elder Cook will also visit Auckland and Melbourne before flying home to the United States next week.

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Church's Welfare Plan

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Church's Welfare Pan

Latter-day Saint volunteers in Wellington, New Zealand participate in a Mormon Helping Hands project

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — "In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Church welfare plan, the First Presidency invites members worldwide to render service to the poor and needy. The length of this service may be flexible depending on the service rendered and may be undertaken at any time during 2011," states an article on
An invitation has also been extended to Church members the world over to submit stories, photos and videos reporting on branch, ward, district and stake activities to mark this significant milestone: "We invite you to record your service activity through either video or photographs and a written can submit your media to be considered for inclusion on the new Welfare 75th Anniversary site," according to
Many wards and stakes across the world have organised service efforts as part of this year-long celebration. Learn about some of them here.
It is not too late to submit a video, photograph or article about your local activity to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Church welfare plan. Learn how to make a submission here.

Hamilton New Zealand Temple

New Zealand Family Featured in the Ensign

Hamilton, New Zealand Temple

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — "Shortly before turning 30, Roberta Tuilimu realized she wasn't happy. She had three beautiful children, and she loved their father, Daniel Nepia, but Roberta and Daniel weren't married. Daniel wasn't a member of the Church, and it had been a long time since Roberta had attended regularly," begins a feature article in this month's global edition of the Ensign, a magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The article, written by Adam C. Olson and titled 'Lost and Found,' continues: "She was a long way from the temple marriage she had always dreamed of as a young girl who went to church every week with her parents in Auckland, New Zealand. But turning her back on her eternal goals wasn't a one-time decision; it had been a slow turn completed gradually through little decisions she made each day."

Read the full article here.

Pacific Area Review with Elder Cook

A Visit from Elder Quentin L. Cook, Bishop Keith B. McMullin, and Tad R. Callister

We have been preparing for a visit by General Authorities for an area review.  For several days during this month, Quentin L. Cook of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric, Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the First Quorum of Seventy, traveled to various places within the Pacific Area.  One of their stops was to Christchurch to view the earthquake damage and to offer encouragement and give a blessing to the Saints in that area.  We flew down to assist with all the arrangements, host at a special fireside and a 'meet and greet' for the Brethren to visit with local dignitaries who were invited to join us. 

The fireside was especially touching and inspiring, with words of comfort and hope for the future.  We were told that natural disasters and calamities of all types will continue during the last days, but those who are faithful will find peace and joy. 
Bishop McMullin gave an especially stirring message and told our VIP visitors the best way to know what we are all about is to read the New Testament and learn what Jesus did and what he told his disciples to do.  He said that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strive to do these same things.

In attendance were 6 members of parliament, 1 former member of parliament, the area representative from Archives New Zealand, and about 4 interfaith representatives.  This was a record I’m sure, and certainly something for Melanie, (our local Director of Public Affairs), to be proud of, because she has been the one to bring the Church out of obscurity in Christchurch and form friendships and relationships with community leaders.

As the concluding speaker, Elder Cook said being in Christchurch brought back memories of when he was serving in San Francisco during a large earthquake that destroyed buildings, collapsed freeways and killed many people.  He assured the Saints that the future for Christchurch is bright.  He gave an apostolic blessing to the Saints and assured them they were being remembered and prayed for.  As a little exclamation point adding emphasis to the evening, there was a 4.1 earthquake during the meeting.!

  Below are some of my photos of that night:
Jeff introducing Elder Cook to Nicky Wagner, Member of Parliament

 Bishop & Sister McMullin visiting at a 'Meet & Greet' prior to the Fireside

 Our DPA Melanie visiting with Elder Cook

 Bishop and Sister McMullin visiting with Bishop Riwai-Couch 

Elder & Sister Callister in reception line

 Visiting Church Authorities with Local Dignitaries

After the fireside the Brethren were gracious and spent much time meeting the Saints and offering encouragement.  Here are some more photos with members:


The next morning the Brethren toured the Avonside chapel which was severely damaged by the last major earthquake.  This chapel is beyond repair and because of the location will not be rebuilt.

 Stake President and Sister Ormsby with Elder & Sister Cook

Standing in dried silt/sludge.  During the earthquakes the earth mixes with underground water and under pressure, forces its way to the surface of the earth.  This is called liquifaction and has been a major aftereffect of the earthquakes, since Christchurch is built on an underground delta.  We are told that since the first major earthquake in the fall of 2010, there have been about 10,000 additional quakes.


 Elder Cook was gracious to pose with us

Later that afternoon there was a meeting with the Earthquake Recovery committee and then with Mayor Bob Parker of Christchurch.

 Jeff with the Mayor and Mayoress of Christchurch