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Celebrating 180 Years of the Church in French Polynesia

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Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with over 10,000 members and friends of the Church this weekend to celebrate the 180th anniversary of the arrival of the first missionaries to French Polynesia.

In 1844, Addison Pratt and other early missionaries arrived on the island of Tubuai, beginning the history of the Church of Jesus Christ in the islands of French Polynesia.

On Wednesday 24 April, Elder Soares and other Church leaders visited Tubuai. They met with local Church and government leaders. The visitors also met with descendants of the first converts to the Church of Jesus Christ in French Polynesia and addressed all members in the island.

On Friday 26 April, Elder and Sister Soares and those traveling with them visited the leader of the Government of French Polynesia, President Moetai Brotherson.

The leaders discussed some of the ways that members of the Church of Jesus Christ have become part of the fabric of French Polynesian society, contributing in positive ways to neighbourhoods and communities. Read more about that visit here.

Watch a video message Elder Soares shared with the people of French Polynesia after this visit.

After meeting with close to 200 missionaries currently serving in the Tahiti Papeete Mission, Elder Soares and Pirae City Mayor, Tavana Edouard Fritch, officially opened a Church history exhibition at City Hall, welcoming members of the Church and guests to the event. Read more and view pictures at the Pirae City Facebook page.

A highlight of the opening of the exhibition was the launch of a new Church history book for children — in French, Tahitian and English languages. The book tells the story of the early missionaries and Saints in the Pacific country.

On Saturday morning 27 April, 120 youth from Bora Bora visited the exhibition. Many expressed their delight when they saw their island depicted in the book’s artwork. Read more about their visit here. The exhibition continues this week.

Also on Saturday, after conducting a leadership meeting with stake, ward, and branch leaders of the Church, Elder Soares dedicated a historical marker in Mahina on the island of Tahiti. The marker honours the early missionaries and members of the Church. Read more about this here.

That evening, approximately 10,000 members of the Church and guests enjoyed a cultural celebration, followed by a devotional, to mark the anniversary.

Read more about this celebration and devotional on the TNTV website and at the Pirae City Facebook page.

Watch a TNTV news report in the Tahitian language.

Watch a French language news report on Polynésie Première TV.

Start at the 46:45 minutes mark to watch a YouTube video of the cultural event and devotional.

On Sunday 28 April, Elder Soares and other visiting and local leaders spoke at special stake conferences for members and friends of the Church. A stake is a group of Latter-day Saint congregations.

That evening, Elder Soares and other leaders spoke to around 800 youth at a devotional in Papeete.

Elder Soares said, “My dear friends, through Jesus Christ and His loving atoning sacrifice, we can qualify to return to live with God one day. If we repent of our sins with a sincere desire to change our lives, we can be totally clean before God, and we will not need to carry any of the pain or other negative effects of our mistakes.”

“God has great confidence in you and me, that we can walk on this earth and turn our hearts to our Saviour Jesus Christ, when we make mistakes.”

He continued, “We love you, our dear friends. You represent the future of the gospel in this beautiful part of the world. The people in French Polynesia have soft hearts. They embrace each other, they rejoice in life. We have a great opportunity to bless others with our light as we hold fast to the iron rod.”

“Jesus Christ stands before us with His arms open to embrace us at the beginning of our day. Let us embrace this marvelous opportunity and accept His invitation to follow Him in every way we can.”

Elder Soares was accompanied at these events and meetings by his wife, Sister Rosanna Soares; as well as Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Presidency of the Seventy, and his wife, Sister Marcia Nielson.

Members of the Pacific Area Presidency, and their wives, also participated in the anniversary events and meetings. Elder Peter F. Meurs and Sister Maxine Meurs; Elder Taniela B. Wakolo and Sister Anita Wakolo; and Elder Jeremy R. Jaggi and Sister Amy Jaggi.

Elder Frederic Riemer, Area Seventy, lives in French Polynesia and hosted the visiting leaders at the various meetings and events.

Reflecting on the visit, Elder Soares said, “The Lord loves the people of French Polynesia and the South Pacific. He sent His missionaries to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and brought His blessings to this region. We should share that love, joy, and blessings with everyone!”

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