News Story

Elder Watson Joins Samoans in Marking Major Milestones

Samoan Mormons are joining their friends and neighbours in marking the 50th anniversary of the Pacific island nation's independence. Celebrations will take place in June, but preparations have been ongoing for many months.  

Elder F. Michael Watson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' First Quorum of the Seventy and Pacific Area Presidency will travel to Samoa today for an extended visit. He will meet with Samoan Latter-day Saint leaders, members and missionaries as well as guests of the Church in various meetings.

The Church leader will preside at two stake conferences and will conduct a tour of the Samoa Apia Mission. He has visited Samoa several times previously.

"The people of Samoa are faithful, and want to serve the Lord," Elder Watson says. "This is an important year as Samoans celebrate 50 years of independence. It is also the 50th anniversary of the organization of the Church's first stake."

On March 18 of this year Elder Watson participated in a special meeting held in Apia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first stake of the Church in Samoa. In June Church members will participate in the nation's independence anniversary celebrations in several ways.

Church leaders from Samoa and New Zealand will represent the Church at national events to commemorate independence in 1962.  Latter-day saint youth will assist in preparing public areas and facilities for the various events.

In addition to Latter-day Saints' participation in anniversary commemorations throughout the year, the Church continues to have an ongoing presence and influence throughout the country.

For example, the Church maintains a facility in Sauniatu called a 'Bishop's Garden.' It is a place where Latter-day Saints and others can come to receive training to assist them in growing and preparing nutritious food. The April 2012 World Report television program featured the Samoan Bishop's Garden.

"The Bishop's Garden is blessing many Samoans" Elder Watson says, "and as the model is taken to other Pacific islands it will help many more families to feed their own."

Volunteer missionary couples are also contributing. Elder and Sister Erekson, Doctor and Sister Preece and Elder and Sister Roth are three of the several couples in Samoa who are making their mark on the nation.

The Ereksons, from Utah, United States, are assisting local men Brett McDonald and Sam Williams and their team in the development and promotion of the Bishop's Garden. They have also been working with the Roths in the production of a DVD that teaches dental hygiene principles and practices. Dr Preece has video-taped his lectures and prepared written educational material on medicine for the National University of Samoa.

These senior missionaries, and others, join the younger Mormon missionaries, of whom there are around 150, in serving Samoan families and communities for 18 months to two years.

"The Church is a vibrant and contributing part of Samoan society," says Elder Watson. "Most Samoans have a family member, a teacher, a neighbour or friend who is a Latter-day Saint. We are part of the society and we are striving to make our homes, villages and the nation better by following Christ, and by being good neighbours and citizens."

Elder Watson says that there is a rich legacy of senior Latter-day Saint leaders who have visited Samoa, from President David O. McKay to the Church's current worldwide leader, President Thomas S. Monson.


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