Restoration and Church History
The Lord Vindicates Vaikato

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The Lord Vindicates Vaikato

Vaikato Tāvutu, Relief Society president on the island of ‘Uiha in the late 1930s, became very ill and feared she would be released from her calling. When Apostle George Albert Smith visited the island, she asked him to give her a blessing. She understood his entire prayer although she spoke no English. When Smith promised her that if she remained faithful she would see a chapel built on her island, she saw a beautiful building in a vision. She told her people this good news, but as the years passed without a chapel being built, they mocked her and said she was a liar. She never wavered.

Years later, the Church sent Tongan building missionaries and a supervisor to ‘Uiha to construct a chapel. Her description of the building’s layout was so accurate that the Tongan missionaries wondered if she had read the blueprints. Vaikato had also described a shining gold steeple, but the steeple originally sent to them was silver. Unexpectedly, that steeple was diverted to Tongatapu, and another was sent in its place. The new steeple was bronze that shone like gold in the sun.

Although she was about 102 years old during the construction of the chapel, Vaikato worked hard to make her vision tangible. She voluntarily arrived before anyone else to prepare the site, and all day she would carry sharp, heavy coral bricks—two at a time when the supervisor wasn’t looking. If the building missionaries slowed down in the heat, she would motivate them into greater action. When her hands bled and she was given gloves, she said that “the Savior’s hands had bled for her and that she was not ashamed to have her hands bleed for the Savior’s work.” She often raised her hands in grateful prayer, tears streaking her cheeks.

When the chapel was almost completed, Vaikato said she knew how Joseph Smith felt when the Lord provided witnesses to the Book of Mormon. The Lord had furnished her a witness—the chapel—that she had told her people the truth those many years ago.