Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Family History Work on the Island of Niue

As I mentioned in my last post, the first LDS missionaries arrived in Niue in 1951.  On 14 Aug 1952 the first baptism were held in a pool at Amanau Cave, bringing 26 new converts into the gospel.  On 28 Aug 1952 12 more people were baptized.  

Elder Pennington and Elder Childs, the two young missionaries currently serving in Niue, took us to the Cave so we could see this historic site.


                                                                      Elders Pennington & Child at Amanau Cave,        
                                                               Site of first LDS baptisms in Niue   

Rosalina was in the second group of saints to be baptized on the island.  Here she is shown with her daughter who is filling in family information on a pedigree chart for the "My Family 15 in 15" Pacific Area Presidency Goal.
 Currently there are about 200 people on the rolls of the church living on Niue, but many are not active.  The Alofi Branch has about 40 – 50 active members.  We spent most of our time in this area.  

On the northern side of the island is the  Lakepa-Toi Branch which has about 25 active members.  Currently Lakepa-Toi alternates their meetings between two different chapels – one in Lakepa Village and one in Toi.   At one time there were more active members which justified additional meeting houses.  (At its peak the island had 5 meeting houses).  After the major cyclone in 2004 many people left the island.  So now the Lakepa and Toi congregations are combined to one congregation and they take turns meeting at the two different buildings so as to meet needs of folks in both places.       

Alofi Chapel – built 1954-1958                                           


Alofi Branch Presidency
There is abundant fresh fruit on the island .  Pictured here is the mission home where the full time missionaries live and a shot from their back yard where they have papaya, coconut and mango trees.  Coconuts are routinely kept in the refrigerator for a cold drink.  We would knock a hole in the top, insert a straw and enjoy the fresh juice

 Elder Pennington and Elder Child were a tremendous help to us, introducing us to families all over the island.  They were also great learners when it came time to train them in how to use FamilySearch, the church's online program for tracking genealogy.

Missionary Activities:

We had four main goals for this trip, all of which were accomplished.

     1)  Set up Family History Center with new computer  

     2)  Train full time missionaries in using FamilySearch 

3)  Educate branch leaders about My 15 in 15 Pacific Area Goal

4)  Meet with someone from government to establish contact for future negotiations regarding publication of microfilm records.

We felt that our trip was very successful and had a positive impact in terms of promoting the Pacific Area Goal of My Family 15 in 15  as well as supporting the full time missionaries and giving them tools to be more effective in their service there.

Elder Child's Pedigree chart was the first to be printed
 in the newly opened Niue FHC

In addition to helping quite a few members learn how to use FamilySearch to track their family history, in just the first two days the newly opened Family History Center was open there were four people who submitted names for ordinances to be completed in the temple.  The people were so grateful for this.

We also had opportunities to visit in many members homes and to help teach a gospel lesson to a young girl preparing for baptism.   

We had dinner with the Lavini family one night.
They were wonderful folks and fed us a delicious meal.

We had a great gospel discussion with Avi, the owner of the pizza house and fish stand where we ate a couple times.  He is an immigrant from Israel who is married to a Niuean woman. We gave him a "My Family" booklet and encouraged him to record stories about his family, then teach them to his young daughters.
 We put in long days and worked hard.  It  was hot and I got eaten up by mosquitoes.  Still, we would not have traded this experience for anything in the world.  In addition to meeting all the objectives for this trip, we felt our time in Niue strengthened our own testimonies and provided vital experience for us which will make us more effective on future travels throughout the Pacific.

Elder Bennett getting his Niue driver's license at the Police Station

Sister Bennett with a Coconut Crab

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