“First Branch Conference Held for Island Saints,” Ensign, Oct. 2003, 78
Over a quarter of the population of Lae, a small atoll in the Marshall Islands, joined with Latter-day Saints on the island in May 2003 for the first branch conference held in the Lae Branch.
Under a canopy of coconut and pandanus trees, branch members had the opportunity to sustain President Gordon B. Hinckley and other leaders of the Church for the first time since Lae Branch, part of the Kwajalein Micronesia District in the Micronesia Guam Mission, was organized in August 1992.
There are 40 Church members on this tiny atoll, which has a population of 400. The members were so excited about the branch conference they invited their friends and families of other faiths to join them. In all, 110 people attended. Because the small chapel could not hold them all, the meeting was held outdoors.
Elder Robert M. Mills, Second Counselor in the Micronesia Guam Mission presidency, spoke on the importance of the gospel and keeping the commandments. He explained the significance of the temple and receiving the fulness of the gospel.
The small group of leaders that traveled to Lae for the branch conference was also aware that the regular supply boat had not come for more than three months, creating a shortage of food on the island. Church leaders brought bags of rice, chicken, and other food items and delivered them to the branch president for disbursement.
Before the group of leaders left the island, three young men approached Elder Mills and asked how they could join the Church. Elder Mills promised them that he would see what he could do to send missionaries to Lae to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Marshall Islands are made up of two atoll chains in the South Pacific. As of 2002, there were 3,625 members in the Marshall Islands, with 1 in every 19 people being LDS. The Marshall Islands have two districts and 11 branches.