Welcome to Samoa President Nelson. Thank you for your generosity

Rejoice with those who rejoice. In Samoa today, it’s undeniable that thousands of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are rejoicing in the arrival of their Prophet and Leader, President Russell M. Nelson.

In scenes rarely seen in this country, thousands of church members braved the hot sun yesterday to welcome their leader who is here just to meet and speak with them. At a devotional service at the Pesega temple grounds last night, close to ten thousand also braved the rain to hear from their Prophet.

We live in a religious country. Which is why it is easy to understand the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the members of the L.D.S. Church to such a high profile visitor.

You see being isolated from the rest of the world, these visits don’t come around often and in the eyes of L.D.S. church members, President Nelson’s visit is the equivalent of the Pope coming to Samoa for the Catholics. The same as other denominations would view the arrival of their most senior leader.

Today is obviously an exciting time for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And rightly so. The visit is the culmination of countless months in preparations as well as the dreams for many church members to rub shoulders and see their Prophet in person.

When the President arrived yesterday, he made a direct trip to meet with the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II at Vailele where he was officially welcomed to Samoa.

Today, the Samoa Observer News Group joins the Head of State and all the people of Samoa to extend a warm welcome to President Nelson, Sister Nelson and the rest of their delegation. We hope they take back plenty of wonderful memories about their short time on our shores.

The truth is that not everyone agrees with their doctrines and all the beliefs of the L.D.S church. But that’s life. Just like the fact that not everyone agrees with the doctrines of the Catholic Church, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, Methodist or the Assemblies of God for that matter.

But then that is the beauty of freedom of religion and freedom of expression, which is alive and well in this country. It allows people the freedom to choose the religion of their choice and where to worship.

What’s important is the amount of good works that all these churches are doing to improve the lives of our people. 

Today, it’s a fact that for many people who are not members of the L.D.S church, their humanitarian work is the public face of their ministry.

Since 1863 when the church’s first missionaries arrived in Samoa, the estimated value of the church’s sponsored humanitarian work is $18.4million. That ladies and gentlemen is not a small amount. It’s fair to say it is perhaps the highest of all the churches in Samoa and it is something to acknowledge.

When President Nelson arrived, I had the privilege of sitting down with him yesterday. The church’s humanitarian work was part of the conversation. I was curious about what drives such an effort. Is it merely for church growth? Or what? 

“We are humanitarian because Jesus taught us to be a caring people,” President Nelson said.

“So wherever we go, whatever the country is, we are caring for the needs of the people.”

At that point, President Nelson remembered 1992 when Samoa was hit by Hurricane Val.

“We saw palm trees like matchsticks on the road, and many homes and schools and churches had no roof,” he said.

“Our humanitarian aid was about the first that came in here in Samoa to help out. It could be anywhere.

“We are helping the children of Yemen right now, nobody knows about it because we don’t like to talk about the good things we do but our people are generous. They contribute freely to the humanitarian needs of other people. When box loads of supplies come in there is not one box that is labeled for Church members only. They are for everyone.”

Well isn’t that wonderful? Wouldn’t it be awesome if all the churches were to adopt this mindset in terms of helping our people?

Folks, you can fault and criticise the L.D.S. church all you want but at the end of the day, thousands of Samoans are better off today because of that humanitarian work. People have gotten homes, they have food and clothes, water tanks, wheelchairs, medical supplies, dental care and much, much more.

It’s often a thankless job.

But today while President Nelson, Sister Nelson and their delegation is in the country, we want to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the generosity of the L.D.S. Church not just for our people who are members but for the thousands of other Samoans who are non members who have benefitted one way or another. Thank you. 

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

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