Thirteen members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently traveled from the small South Pacific island of Tubuai to the United States to attend the Church’s semi-annual general conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
For Apia Harevaa and his wife, Tehiarii, who have lived their entire life on the island 400 miles south of Tahiti in the Austral archipelago, it was their first trip to the United States and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. The couple, who are in their 80s, are the descendants of the first converts to the Church in the South Pacific, where the gospel was first preached in 1844 on the island of Tubuai 175 years ago. They were accompanied by two of their adult daughters, Valérie and Terii.
The group was hosted by several former missionaries who served in the Tahiti Papeete Mission. While in Utah, the group visited a number of the Church’s historical sites including Temple Square, as well as the campus of Brigham Young University. They also attended the Tahiti Mission reunion in Salt Lake City, where they performed several traditional Tahitian songs for more than 400 former missionaries and Tahitian members, who participated in the event.
Following the Saturday morning session of the general conference, the group met with Elder Ian S. Ardern, a member of Church’s Quorum of the Seventy and the president of the Church’s South Pacific Area, which includes the Austral Islands at the southernmost tip of French Polynesia.