“Pacific Pioneers Celebrated in Hawaii,” Ensign, Jan. 1998, 77
For five days in October, Latter-day Saints from as far away as Papua New Guinea, where the Church is less than two decades old; French Polynesia, where the gospel was first preached four years before the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley; and other islands throughout the Pacific joined together to celebrate their faith in a climate of testimony and scholarship. President Gordon B. Hinckley delivered the keynote address to some 8,000 listeners on the final day of the conference (see story on page 74).
Held in Laie, Hawaii, at Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus and the 150 Years of Latter-day Saint History in the Pacific” conference featured more than 200 presenters sharing messages in more than 150 sessions. Topics included “The Spirit of a People: Telling the Gospel in Pacific Dance Forms,” “Intercultural Harmony in LDS Homes,” and “Pioneer Builders: Labor Missionaries in New Zealand.” Academic papers and presentations were complemented by pageants, plays, and other arts.
Conference presenters ranged from names familiar to many Church members to names hardly recognized outside their own villages. Chieko Okazaki, formerly a member of the general Relief Society presidency, helped set the tone for the conference with an impassioned plea for listeners to love one another. Other well-known presenters included Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and Sam K. Shimabukuro and Glen L. Rudd, former members of the Seventy.
“It was a very overwhelming feeling to be here,” said Irene Teio of Tahiti. “The high point is to reunite everyone, to come together as one and to uplift each other with a spiritual feeling and a partaking of the fruit of life.”
The conference was sponsored by BYU—Hawaii Campus, Hawaii Reserves Incorporated, the Hawaii Temple, the Laie Community Association, the Mormon Pacific Historical Society, and the Polynesian Cultural Center.