News Story

An Apostle Returns to Samoa

This past Sunday [21 April 2013], Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke to several hundred people in an overflowing church meetinghouse in Samoa.

This is Elder Oaks’ fourth journey to a nation for which he has deep feelings and an important family connection.

He told the congregation, “I’m thrilled to be here with you. I have a special feeling for Samoa…I grew up hearing stories about Samoa from my grandmother, so I feel a closeness to you.”

As an apostle, his primary responsibility is to be a special witness for Jesus Christ throughout the world. Members of the Apia Samoa Stake (an ecclesiastical unit similar to a diocese) had begun gathering more than two hours prior to the scheduled start time of the meeting for a chance to see and hear him.

He arrived 45 minutes early himself and walked row by row through the assembled congregation, greeting and shaking hands with each person.

As the concluding speaker of the Sunday service he told those gathered that his grandmother told him stories about Samoa, because her father, Abinadi Olsen, had been called by Church leaders to serve as a missionary there in the latter half of the 1890s.

Elder Oaks explained that after struggling unsuccessfully for some months to learn the language, Abinadi became discouraged and thought of giving up.

One night he had a dream in which a man took him to a nearly vertical cliff and told him to climb. Seeing no handholds or footholds he hesitated and said it was impossible.  The man responded, “How do you know…you haven’t tried.” He then told him to reach with his hand.

When Abinadi did so, he felt a niche open up in the cliff face. Similarly, when he stepped up his foot caught a toehold. Finding other finger- and toeholds he progressed up the cliff — laboriously at first, but with increasing ease as he moved upwards. He eventually reached the top.

Awaking from that dream with a resolve to move ahead in the Lord’s work he became fluent in the language and an effective missionary and teacher.

Elder Oaks then told the congregation that when they face difficult obstacles in their lives, they should “Reach out and climb!”

“Heavenly Father can help you overcome the hard obstacles in your life.  You can do this, because you have a Heavenly Father who loves you.”

He reminded the congregation of the Saviour’s words to his disciples: “If you love me keep my commandments.” He added that if a commandment becomes an obstacle, the solution is to “Reach out and climb.”

He encouraged the Samoan people to “grow and become the people Heavenly Father desires of you.”

“As a servant of the Lord I testify that the things I have told you are true.”

He pronounced a blessing on those at the meeting that they would be able to know the truth through the influence of the Holy Ghost and concluded his remarks in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Elder Oaks arrived in Samoa Thursday afternoon [18 April]. He was accompanied by Elder James J. Hamula, President of the Church’s Pacific Area; Elder Kevin W. Pearson, First Counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency; Elder Douglas W. Jessop, Area Seventy; and Elder Meliula M. Fata, Area Seventy.

Friday morning they conducted a special conference for all full-time missionaries serving on the island of Upolu, Samoa. Later that evening they attended a cultural celebration of Samoan dance and music put on by members from four stakes in the Apia area at the gymnasium of the Church College of Samoa.

Saturday morning they conducted a priesthood leadership conference for local Church leaders. That evening they held a special prospective missionary meeting for young single adults ages 17 and older. Both meetings were broadcast live by satellite transmission to meetinghouses in Upolu, Savaii and American Samoa.

On Sunday, while Elder Oaks presided at the conference of the Apia Samoa Stake, Elder Hamula presided at the Samoa Navu Stake conference and Elder Pearson presided at the Upolu Samoa Saleilua Stake conference.



Additional Resources

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.