Church History
“A Temple in These Islands”
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“A Temple in These Islands”

In 1955 Church President David O. McKay visited Tonga on his way to New Zealand for the groundbreaking of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. “Last night in vision,” McKay said in a meeting in Vava‘u, “I saw a temple in these islands.”

Word of McKay’s prophecy spread throughout the islands and inspired a desire for temple covenants among members. When the Hamilton New Zealand Temple was dedicated in 1958, many Tongan Saints longed to go there, but the almost 1,300-mile journey was beyond the means of most.

The opportunity for Vili and Lu‘isa Kongaika to travel to the temple arose in December 1958. Unable to pay for their children to join them, they determined they would wait until the whole family could go together. “When we go,” Vili declared, “we are all going.”

“We put a ‘for sale’ on everything we owned, large and small,” Lu‘isa said. “Our frame house, our little cook house, and all they contained.” When they couldn’t sell their home all together, they began selling the roofing, the stove, and the other furnishings. After selling all they owned, including Vili’s bicycle and Lu‘isa’s sewing machine, they finally had enough to make the journey as a family.

“The experience at the temple was wonderful for our family,” Lu‘isa recalled, “but when we finally got back to Ha‘apai we were destitute.” The family found places to sleep with family and friends until a small fale Tonga (Tongan hut) could be built.

Two years later a devastating hurricane swept across the islands, destroying homes and devastating Ha‘apai. Vili later said that their decision to sell all their possessions “was the Lord prompting me to get rid of my goods for a holy cause, because he was going to take them away from me anyway in the hurricane. I came back from the temple a poor man in terms of worldly goods. But after the hurricane, everyone else was just as poor as we were. The difference between us was that we were sealed as an eternal family in the Holy Temple of God.”

President McKay’s prophecy was fulfilled in 1983, when the Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple was dedicated.