Lord Fakafanua, the Prime Minister Reverend Dr. Pohiva Tuionetoa and other distinguished guests were also present.
Elder Inoke Kupu, Area Seventy, presided and conducted at the ground-breaking on the temple site. In a prayer, he said, “Bless the Saints of Vava'u and the Niua’s (northern islands of Tonga) that they may live worthily to receive the blessings of the temple.”
In further remarks, Elder Kupu said, “Temples are houses of the Lord and to have one on this beautiful Island of Vava’u is a blessing sent of God and a reflection of the goodness and faithfulness of citizens and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who live here and in the surrounding area.
“This temple is being built next to Saineha High School, a Church sponsored place of learning which will soon be bathed in the light of the Temple and a beacon of peace and safety to all. Temples are holy places of worship and a higher place of learning where individuals make sacred covenants with God, which when kept, enable people to return to live with God once more. To have the teachings of the world is good, to have the teachings of God is essential.”
Elder Kupu continued: “In a few brief years, the building of this temple will be complete and after an open house where people of all denominations can walk through the temple and receive an explanation of the rooms and their purposes, it will be dedicated to the Lord.”
Elder Kupu also read a message from Elder Ian S. Ardern, on behalf of the Pacific Area Presidency of the Church, to the King and Queen, and other dignitaries in attendance.
In part, the message from Elder Ardern read: “We are honoured that you chose to be at this groundbreaking ceremony for the temple. Your presence only serves to add to the importance and majesty of this occasion. I dearly wish I could be with you but world circumstances don’t permit such at the moment.”
The ground-breaking was broadcast live nationally on Tonga Broadcasting Commission’s radio network, and to guests in four over-flow facilities close by.
After the ground-breaking Elder Kupu said, “The temple teaches us of our responsibility. We have to get up, work together, work out our differences and build our nation.”
The Speaker of the House, Lord Fakafanua attended with his wife Fane. He said, “Fane and I were privileged to be a part of this momentous groundbreaking service. The temple will be an historic monument for the Vava'u Saints and the Kingdom of Tonga.”
Families living in the northern islands of Tonga try to attend the Nuku’alofa temple once a year. Linda Havea, coordinator for the temple ground-breaking committee, alongside her husband, said, “A temple here in Vava’u will enable us to receive the Saviour’s guidance more frequently.”
There are around 175 Latter-day Saint congregations in the Kingdom of Tonga. The first missionaries arrived in Tonga in 1891. Earlier this year the Church created a second mission in the country, serving the people of the outer islands.
Photo credit The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints