Gathered on the darkened boulevard of Hale La’a, community members came together to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Laie temple through singing and listening to talks.
Students and community members were sitting and standing on lawn chairs, fences, rooftops, and porches watching as the choirs and participants paraded down the boulevard commemorating the temple anniversary.
Participants were graced with the voices of multiple choirs, singing in different languages such as Tongan, Samoan, Fijian and Hawaiian. Andrea Doucette, a sophomore from Utah studying exercise science, shared the different languages featured by the different choirs touched her as she was able to recognize the hymns while also enjoying them in an unconventional way.
“I loved the musical aspect of it. I thought that was so incredible and unique, and it brought a special spirit to the event. Laie is like a gathering place, so all the different people coming together and celebrating the temple strengthened my testimony of the temple and why it is here.”
Similarly, Abigail Smith, a freshman from Ohio studying computer science, said, “I really love choral music so that was one of the draws to it, and I love the temple too.”
Kyle Mullins, a senior from Indiana studying psychology, shared the temple has a special place in his heart as his parents are converts who were able to be sealed in the temple just before he was born. He said the Laie temple is especially important because it symbolizes a culmination of cultures.
“I know the Laie temple is very important. Among temples it is pretty significant because it was the first temple built outside of the continental United States... It’s a big cultural symbol to anyone outside of the US, especially Polynesia and Asia.”
At the end of the walk, people grew in anticipation of the lighting of the temple, which didnot have its lights turned on throughout the whole event. As the Hawaiian choir and audience joined together in singing “The Spirit of God,” the temple was finally lit.
After the temple was lit and Temple President, James Hallstrom gave the closing prayer, the crowds dispersed to the North Stake Center, where a luau was held. People were treated to performances and food to end the night.
“[The temple walk] was a good unique way of celebrating,” remarked Abigail Peterson, a freshman from Utah studying psychology. She had been attending the firesides throughout the month, and explained the walk was a fantastic way to culminate the centennial of the Laie temple.
As the audience waited for the fireside to begin, a slideshow with pictures of the Laie temple, Hawaiian ancestors, and even the Cardston templeflickered above the pulpit. A choir of mostly community members and students opened up the fireside.”
Carolina Beristain, a sophomore from Mexico studying business said she was most impressed with the community choir. She said the choir brought the spirit. She was amazed at the dedication and sacrifice of the early Hawaiian Saints in building and maintaining the temple in the last one hundred years.
Speaking at the fireside, Eric Marlowe said the power of the temple cannot be felt in the beautiful architecture, but on the inside. “The next hundred years of temple history will be written by us.”
Marlowe told stories of past Latter-day Saints who have contributed to the history of the temple. He explained how the Hawaiian Saints moved to Iosepa, to be closer to the temple in Salt Lake. He also shared the experience of apostle Reed Smoot.
Smoot visited Hawaii with President Joseph F. Smith and said, “I never saw a more perfect night in all my life; the surroundings were perfect. You who have been to Laie know the surroundings; all nature smiles.
“We walked toward the meetinghouse. Nothing was said of what we were going for until we stood at the back of the meetinghouse, and President Smith then said: Brethren I feel impressed to dedicate this ground for the erection of a temple to God, for a place where the peoples of the Pacific Isles can come and do their temple work.’
“I have heard President Smith pray hundreds of times. Never in all my life did I hear such a prayer. The very ground seemed to be sacred, and he seemed as if he were talking face to face with the Father.”
He also shared the story of when the temple was dedicated, President Joseph F. Smith brought the children into the temple and asked them to sing his favorite song, “Who’s on the Lord’s Side.”
Attending the temple
Matron Sister Kathleen Hallstrom and President Hallstrom spoke about the importance of attending the temple the audience was celebrating. Referring to how the temple was dedicated on Thanksgiving of 1919, President Hallstrom said the temple was an act of thanksgiving. He said there were “thirty-nine ‘we thank thee’ expressions in the dedicatory prayer.”
President Hallstrom quoted a play called My Turn on Earth. He said there is a girl who misses her heavenly home during a difficult time and comes to the conclusion, “I’ll try with my heart, I’ll try with my might, to make a heaven here.”
Sister Hallstrom said she has tried to do the same. To her, the temple is a heavenly place and she hopes to bring more heaven there, as well as in her family.
Revelation at the Temple
Sister Whiting explained the temple is a place to receive revelation and said she received it in almost every room of the Laie temple.
She emphasized President Nelson’s counsel to keep the end in mind and attend the temple. President Nelson emphasized this by having his first press conference in the temple. He recalled the recent revelation to have eleven-year olds come to the temple and how some of these youths treaded water in the baptistery font.