Saturday, February 28, 2015


David Oman McKay (September 8, 1873 – January 18, 1970) was the ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), serving from 1951 until his death. Ordained an apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1906, McKay was a general authority for nearly 64 years  (Wikipedia)

David O. McKay was the leader of the Church when my parents converted in 1956 and is the first prophet I have memory of.

He is especially revered here on the island of Samoa

The following info comes from "The Work of Miracles in Samoa", a blog written by Debra Tolman, the wife of our current mission president here.

Early Samoan mission presidents found the Church thrived when members gathers together and could strengthen each other. Thus, several "gathering places" were established to bring strength to the Church, including Mapusaga (Tutuila), Viola (Savai'i) and Sauniatu (Upolu).  The Church began to develop churches, schools, and plantations in these villages, which remain as strongholds of the Church in Samoa today. Between 1900-1920, 23 branches were established.


Through the years, many prophets and apostles have visited the Saints in Samoa. None were more memorable and significant to the Samoans than the visit of David O. McKay in 1921. While there, then Elder McKay visited Sauniatu, where the Saints had endured many persecutions, and pronounced marvelous blessings upon the faithful Samoan Saints. David O. McKay returned to Sauniatu in 1955 as President of the Church. There stands today a monument to memorialize those sacred events and Samoans' beloved Prophet.

President David O. McKay

Elder Bennett and I had an opportunity to visit Sauniatu recently.   According to an article from the Church Newes written by Jason Swenson in 2005  "Apostle David O. Mckay was so moved by his 1921 visit that he reportedly dubbed the village "the most beautiful place I have ever seen."  Swenson goes on to say "Often called "the Nauvoo of the Pacific," Sauniatu is revered by LDS Samoans as sacred ground. Originally established as a refuge by early island converts who were persecuted for their deep gospel faith, the village remains a place of Eden-like learning and worship."


While we were there we took a walk over to the waterfall.  Local kids were having a blast playing in the pools up at the top, but I admit it made me nervous to see some getting pretty close to the edge and look like they were toying with the possibility of jumping.  It's a LONG way down!

 Our good friend Brother Ah Hoy was part of the crew that built the staircase down to the bottom back in 1969.  Many feet have taken those stairs in the years since.  We met some fellow senior missionaries who were on their way down for a refreshing swim.

Today the campus at Sauniato houses the church, school, agricultural center and several residences.  There is also a church camp for the youth.



The road to get up here is a bit of an adventure.  It is so rough with potholes and ruts that we joke the way Samoans make butter is to take a car of cream with them whenever they go to Saniatu.  By the time they get to the top, it will be butter!

Still, is truly is a lovely spot.  I hope we get a chance to spend a bit more time there before we leave.


  1. We visited Sauniatu in early Jan 2016. School was not in session but the campus and camp were worth being there. We loved the waterfall and children swimming

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  4. Opapo Fonoimoana was one of the founders of this village. A plaque commends him and his wife Toai for their work building up the church in Samoa.