“President Hinckley Joins in Island Celebrations, Groundbreaking,” Ensign, Jan. 2004, 74–75
President Gordon B. Hinckley praised the people, institutions, and buildings of Hawaii during a weekend visit to the islands on 24–26 October 2003. The tour included festivities for the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 40th anniversary, a groundbreaking ceremony for the beautification project of the area surrounding the Laie Hawaii Temple, and an address to island members at a special combined conference on the Brigham Young University—Hawaii campus.
“We have here something that we have nowhere else in all the Church: we have the beautiful temple and all of its environs, we have Brigham Young University—Hawaii … , and we have the cultural center—and they work together,” said President Hinckley to 2,000 residents, visitors, and alumni gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of a project that will renovate Hale La’a Boulevard from the Pacific Ocean to the Laie Temple and will include a new front entrance for BYU—Hawaii.
While asking the Lord’s blessing on the project, President Hinckley prayed that those who drive along the Kamehameha Highway may be inspired to “slow down and look to the House of the Lord and be constrained in their hearts to come and go about the grounds and visit these beautiful places. We pray that this project may result in greater respect for [Thy] church and its people and its purposes and its desires.”
The project will include an enclosed meditation garden on the beachfront, six-foot blue rock walls lining the boulevard, a new traffic roundabout for the temple, and extensive relandscaping.
“The project will open up a beautiful vista for the temple,” said John Hoag, director of Church public affairs for Honolulu. “It will set the tone for the community to upgrade and improve the neighborhoods surrounding the temple.”
Community leaders, including state senator Melodie Aduja and state House of Representatives member Michael Magaoay, also participated in the ceremonies.
After the groundbreaking, President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, served as grand marshals for the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 40th anniversary community parade. The prophet’s visit was the culmination of a year-long celebration commemorating the center’s 40th anniversary, which was 12 October 2003.
Dressed in matching Hawaiian-print outfits and beautiful leis, President and Sister Hinckley joined in a traditional Hawaiian Alii (royal) Luau and traditional Polynesian entertainment at the cultural center on Friday with alumni and local Latter-day Saints.
On Sunday President Hinckley spoke to Church members in an address broadcast from BYU—Hawaii’s Cannon Activities Center throughout the Hawaiian Islands. During his remarks, President Hinckley recalled being sent to Hawaii by President David O. McKay to look over the site for the cultural center. While walking through taro fields, then-Elder Hinckley and Elder Delbert L. Stapley of the Council of the Twelve decided on a location on the Kamehameha Highway.
“I have watched [the Polynesian Cultural Center] grow through the years and it has been phenomenal and wonderful,” said President Hinckley. “What a significant and wonderful institution it has become. How profound is its effect upon people.”
In this his second visit to Hawaii this year, President Hinckley also urged the island Saints to be a light and example for their friends, families, and neighbors.
“Let people see in us virtue that they would want to emulate in their own lives,” President Hinckley told the 7,000 Church members gathered for the conference.
“For many members it was historic and breathtaking,” commented Brother Hoag on President Hinckley’s visit. “It was a momentous occasion for the Saints as well as for other community members.”