News Release

Members of the Church Express Feelings About American Samoa Temple

In a beautiful ceremony, ground was broken on October 30 for the Pago Pago American Samoan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

The event was attended by hundreds of members and friends at the site in the Ottoville area, and was broadcast live to other stake centres around American Samoa.

Alamoana Fidow Maeva serves on the American Samoa National Communications Council and helped with the event. 

“During this week of so much preparation, we have been amazed by how much we all felt the love and the mercy of our dear Heavenly Father for his children in American Samoa,” she said.

She asked several other Church members how they felt about the new temple.

Faaletaua Forgetmenot Saili was a member of the Temple Groundbreaking Committee. 

She said, “God truly knows that American Samoa needs a temple especially during these trying and difficult days. I have seen the hand of the Lord from the beginning of our preparations leading up to the day of the groundbreaking. Usually, it always rains during this time of the year, but it was a really beautiful day. Tender mercies indeed.”

Jody Toleafoa Meleisea played violin for the choir during the ceremony. She also serves as the Relief Society president of the Pago Pago Central stake.  

“Having our very own temple here in the Territory inspires and uplifts my spirit and tells me that God always answers prayers and that He remembers us, even ‘on the isles of the sea,’” she said.

“The spirit was so strong throughout the ceremony, with inspired talks and heavenly music. I have no doubt that our ancestors and family members on both sides of the veil were present.”

“I was grateful, that my wife and my son were able to be part of the turning of the soil,” said Jason Seitoga Magalei, President of the Pago Pago Samoa Mapusaga Stake. 

“It is my hope and prayer that as we turned the soil for the temple, that the members of my stake will also symbolically continue to turn their hearts to the temple and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Salu Hunkin-Finau was also a member of the groundbreaking committee and a speaker on the program. 

“I think this new temple is going to create greater understanding of the Church in our community. As our friends and neighbors see us doing family history and doing temple work for our ancestors, it will help bring our community together spiritually."


“This is a moment for eternity,” said Jay Leonard Maeva from Pago Pago Central Stake. “It is the work glory that we give to the Lord. Families will be united under God forever - husbands and wives, children to their parents, lost and loved ones.”

“For this day to finally arrive, the flood gates could not be restrained, neither could my joy. It was so spiritually uplifting from the beginning to the end that one had to be there to witness the heavens open and see the light over that sacred ground,” said Shirley De La Rosa. 

Rachel Tuiolosega serves as a family history consultant in the Pago Pago Malaeimi Stake.

“I know that the spirit will be felt on a greater scale here and this is our opportunity to share what the feeling is. What is that feeling? It is the spirit of Elijah, who came to turn our hearts,” she said.

Leata Hunt watched the event from Utah. “As a young convert to the Church in American Samoa, my widowed mother worked two jobs but could never afford to pay for me to attend youth baptisms at the temple in Apia. When it was announced that there would be a temple here, I remember crying tears of joy. I thought of every youth in American Samoa that has never had the privilege to attend a temple baptism session. My heart was overjoyed and gave thanks to the Lord for his love, grace and tender mercies.”

Vagana Siaosi Liuvaega is from the Tui Pago Samoa Stake. “It is beyond words of how grateful I am to have this blessing upon our island after people sacrificed all these years travelling to Apia to visit the Temple. I am grateful that I will have the chance to strengthen my testimony, stay worthy and I will offer all my time to serve Him as a temple worker at our island temple.”


Mikayah Si’ufanua is a project engineer for the temple. “The reason I studied construction was because of my grandfather who was one of the pioneers to help build a lot of the buildings for the Church in the South Pacific. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be part of the construction management team to continue the legacy of my grandfather in building the kingdom of God. I felt his presence at the groundbreaking ceremony. That gave me strength and a confirmation that God lives and knows us by name. He is in the details of our lives.”

“As I watched the ceremony, I thought about the revelations to Joseph Smith about building the temple in Kirtland. I can’t wait to see our new temple and to sacrifice my time working inside the sacred house of the Lord,” said Mainifo Iutita Mulitalo Seiuli from Pago Pago Malaeimi Stake.

William and Sisi Spitzenberg have been called as temple construction missionaries and will assist in the building process over the next few years.

William said, “I remember in my youth how I always looked forward to going to the temple in Apia. The challenge was finding money to pay to travel there. My brothers and I would do yard work for my Aunty Logotaeao Hirata who was so kind to pay for all our fares and give us pocket money each year so we could do baptisms for the dead. It was such a sacred experience and one that I always looked forward to. As an adult, my wife and I try to attend the Apia Samoa temple as often as we can each year.”

Sisi said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the temple groundbreaking event. It's been an amazing feeling.  It gives me hope that one day I will have my parents, who are not members of the Church, take part in the temple open house. After Saturday, these are the three words that came to mind: hope, ancestors and courage. It will be up to us as members to fill up this temple by doing our part.”


Tina Fonoimoana Reid attended with her husband Adney, who is the president of the Pago Pago West Stake. Her grandfather Opapo was a pioneering member of the Church in American Samoa.

“The groundbreaking ceremony was an event that I will never forget,” she said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the Spirit so strongly for such a prolonged amount of time. For me, it was as if the heavens opened that day. I felt the support and love of my ancestors who sacrificed so much with hopes this would one day come to pass. I imagined my own posterity standing on that holy ground for generations to come to partake of the blessings of the temple.”

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