Hailed as an expert in Laie history by community members, Cy Bridges addressed the BYU–Hawaii Women’s Organization on Nov. 14 with storytelling and his testimony of the sacred Laie Hawaii Temple. Bridges worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center for 47 years and currently serves as Second Counselor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Laie Temple Presidency.
Throughout Bridges’ address to students and community members in the Aloha Center Ballroom, he emphasized those who participate in the temple work are a part of a great legacy.
“You are on a hill that is steep in history, a hill that is steep in prophecy. This is a special place.”
Wanda Kamauoha, a member of the Women’s Organization from Laie, said she came to the luncheon because she wanted to hear from Bridges. Since she is not from Laie originally, she hoped his storytelling would offer insights about Laie, the joining communities and the temple.
“[The temple] is not only sacred to me, but that is where you go to connect families here and past, to be together forever. Knowing that makes it a little easier for when your time comes.”
Bridges also noted the sacred history of how the temple came to Hawaii. He talked about how the Saints went to Utah in 1889, creating a community called Iosepa–after missionary and prophet Joseph F. Smith. He said although the Hawaiians struggle to adjust from a tropical climate to a desert, they received the distinction five times of being the most beautiful community in Utah.
While in Utah, Bridges added that church leaders instructed the Hawaiians to pay their tithing and research their family history if they wanted a temple in Hawaii.
After the temple was announced in 1915, Joseph F. Smith went to Iosepa and told them to travel back to their warm homeland. Bridges added Smith was almost a protector to the Hawaiians because the Prophet said to Saints in Iosepa, “I will soon die. I don’t know what will become of you Hawaiians.”
President of the Women’s Organization Nancy Eastwood said due to Bridges’s knowledge and status in the community, his address was taped for the archives.
She added that there were more in attendance than some of their other monthly meetings. “A lot of them are excited to be part of the [temple] celebration. It is 100 years old, and the history of Laie is a beautiful place. It was a place of refugee, and that is what the temple symbolizes.”
As the luncheon progressed, Bridges also discussed his personal conversion story. He said he was unsure of gospel principles and stubborn until he learned the Church connected to what he was taught growing up.
Bridges said he knew nothing about Hawaiians being descendants of Joseph, who was one of the 12 sons of Jacob, but he did know as a Hawaiian that one of his ancestors was one of 12 sons. Also, he knew his ancestors left their home and then traveled across the sea, found land and built nations.
Alpha Harper, a volunteer for the Women’s Organization and a BYUH 2018 graduate, said hearing his conversion impressed her. “I had heard some story he related to us about his family history and genealogy, it really didn’t hit home until I heard it this time. All the connections took place that created his testimony of the gospel.”
She added, “It was a real blessing to hear it first hand as he filled us in on his conversion. He doubted things until he realized it was what he was taught all over the years. It has also made me think of my ancestors as he encouraged us to all go inside the temple. Now I want to make sure my family is connected.”
Along with sharing an oral history of the temple and his life, Bridges noted the importance of temple attendance. He shared a story he once gave as a high counselor.
“I was speaking at the Laie Hawaii Stake as a high councilman, and there was a big storm outside. You could see the wind was whipping against the windows.”
He said to those ward members as the storm was blowing outside that people tell him they are too busy to go to the temple. Then, he asked, “If you looked out the window and you see your grandmother out there in the rain and whipping whip, and the only way to come in this room and get warm is you have to do her [temple] work, would you say to your grandma you are too busy?”
Bridges added, “I assure you we all have family members who are waiting. Many times people who brought family files have impressions that these people were there watching the work be done.”
Harper said this example of the storm personally touched her because she and her sister sealed their family together in the Laie Hawaii Temple. “If you had someone you loved so dearly standing outside shivering in the cold, would that make you want to open the door and let them in?”
Yang Liang, a freshman from China majoring in accounting, said she came to the event for her Church Language EIL 215 course to learn more formal church language.
She also was touched by Bridges’ invitation to make the temple more of a priority. “After learning more of the temple’s history, I think I need to go to the Laie Temple. I want to go after hearing [Cy]. It is my first semester, and I have only been here for two months. People say you are busy, but you still need to go to the temple.”
Bridges closed his message by saying he was humbled. “I thank thee for this opportunity. If you were inspired and touched, investigate more, and if you love your ancestors, seeth them out because they are waiting.”