Family History Moment: Sixty Pages

Contributed By Carl A. Ollerton, Church News contributor

  • 27 July 2016

Home in Samoa.

As a youth I thought I would really like to serve my mission in Hawaii. When I went to Salt Lake City, Elder Delbert L. Stapley asked where I would like to serve. I said I would be happy to serve where I was called. He told me there was a place on the form for a choice. Foreign-language missions were two and a half years while English-language missions were two years.

About 10 days after my interview I received a telegram with a message over the signature of President David O. McKay calling me to serve in the Samoan Mission. I knew the Lord knew my heart.

The Cook Islands were part of the Samoan Mission. I and my two companions arrived at Rarotonga October 10, 1955. After two months President Stone assigned me and Elder Ted Smith to be the first elders to serve on the island of Atiu. We arrived December 6, 1955. I was assigned to serve on Atiu for the remainder of my mission.

All of those months of street meetings, tracting, and serving produced no converts. As individuals we were treated well by all, but they did not want us there as missionaries. One day as we entered the village of Tengatangi, we were met by three village leaders and were told not to return.

My second companion and I took board and room with Marama Toa, a minister of King Rongomatane. Marama told me he had written his genealogy. He allowed me to copy 60 pages of family names and to translate 20 pages of Atiu history.

About 15 years ago I began putting those Atiu names into FamilySearch. In doing so I found one of my names already submitted by Vaine Nooapii Ngatamatiki Manu. I contacted “Apii” by email. He was then living in New South Wales, Australia. He had been a member for three years and was the ward family history consultant. He was born in the village of Tengatangi, Atiu, seven months before I left Atiu for home.

Since Apii lived 200 miles from the nearest temple, he gave me permission to begin temple work for his ancestors. There are well over 1,500 names in Marama’s genealogy. My family, my friends, and I have done over 800 ordinances. The Temple Department has just begun to help with the work.

No live baptisms occurred during my mission to Atiu, but with the help of Marama Toa, Apii Manu, and family members, many baptisms have now been done.

—Carl A. Ollerton, Little Colorado Ward, St. Johns Arizona Stake