News Story

Cook Islands Youth Visit Hamilton New Zealand Temple

Motivated by a desire to worship and serve in the Latter-day Saint temple in Hamilton, New Zealand, 32 Cook Islands teenagers prepared for a year to make the trip last month.

The youth created fund raising projects throughout 2013 to help with their expenses for airfares, housing and food for the four days they spent in the Hamilton suburb of Temple View. 

Projects included holding a movie night at the local cinema for family, friends and neighbours to enjoy a family-oriented movie. 

Other projects included garage sales, selling goods at the Saturday markets and taking pre-orders for mid-week lunches for school children.  Some contributions came from those just wishing to help the youth meet their goals.

Some of the youth were in New Zealand for the first time while others have previously visited with family members who now live in New Zealand. 

Along with the youth, some parents and siblings also made the trip bringing the group total to 75 in all. Latter-day Saints representing all five branches (congregations) in the Cook Islands ― Avarua, Takituma, Arorangi, Aitutaki and Mangaia ― were part of the group.

Church leader, President Piltz Napa, said, “The initiative was to bring the youth to the temple for their own personal experience, give service, and recognize the spirit and blessings of the temple.”

Each day the young men and young women spent up to four hours giving service in the temple and afterward there was plenty of time to relax, play games and enjoy the company of their friends and make new friends with those from other islands.

“Would you come again?” the youth were asked.  To which they replied resoundingly, “Yes!”

“I felt nervous at first, but was calmed by the beautiful Spirit” said Montel Williams. 

Helen Aberahama added, “It was beautiful, quiet, and the people in the temple were very kind.”  

“I liked going to the temple to give service, it was a good feeling,” Jonah Ezekiela stated.

“Knowing you are serving others makes you feel humble and helpful,” Zacharia Simpson said.

The youth were accompanied by their church leaders, some parents, siblings and 15 others who come yearly to serve in the temple for a period of two weeks or more.  Ten children and two babies also made the trip. 

Leader of the New Zealand Auckland Mission, President Paul N. Lekias, with his wife Sister Rebecca Lekias, attended the temple with the visitors.  The Cook Islands is a part of the New Zealand Auckland Mission of the Church.

President Lekias commented, “The saints of the Cook Islands truly love the Temple.  I was able to witness their true devotion in serving in the House of the Lord.” 

“For many, the travel to New Zealand and time away from the Island comes at great personal sacrifice, however they know that great blessings come in return,” President Lekias said.

“As I attended the temple with them, I felt as if they were saying it’s good to be home,” President Lekias added. 

Temples are not regular places of Sunday worship for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are quite different from the thousands of regular chapels or meetinghouses all over the world that are used for Sunday services. 

Anyone, regardless of religion, may enter a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse and attend services. However, because of the sacredness of temples as “houses of the Lord,” only members of the Church, who are in good standing are allowed to enter the temples. A member must be observing the basic principles of the faith and attest to that fact to his or her local leaders once every two years in order to enter a temple.

Temples serve as the only place where ceremonies such as baptism and eternal marriage can be performed in behalf of those who have died —a practice that Latter-day Saints believe was followed in New Testament times but that later was lost.

Temples point Latter-day Saints to Jesus Christ and their eventual life with Him, their Heavenly Father and their family members on the condition of faithfulness to Christ’s teachings.

Read more about temples.




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