As part of the sesquicentennial celebration of the Church’s arrival in French Polynesia, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve offered a dedicatory prayer and blessing on the land.
The May 8 ceremony was held in the quiet morning air on the west lawn behind the Papeete Tahiti Temple with only Elder Nelson and thirty-four other Church members in attendance.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a rich and remarkable history among these islands of the south Pacific Ocean,” Elder Nelson noted in his prayer. “Its missionaries served here even before its leaders reached Utah’s valleys of the Great Salt Lake where its world headquarters was to be established. Missionaries sent by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1843 from Nauvoo, Illinois, to these islands were the Church’s first to be called to a language and culture foreign to them. Here they served for many years while separated from families, colleagues, and modes of transportation and communication. Their initial success on Tubuai and in the Tuamotus set the pattern for other missionaries to emulate. …
“Wilt thou bless these islands with a rich portion of thy holy Spirit, that its citizens and their visitors may learn thy commandments and be obedient to them, that they may prosper in love. Let there be a resurgence of missionary zeal, that thine elect may be gathered prior to the second coming of thy Son, which is nigh. These islands are rich with the blood of Israel. Bless thine elect to find thee and enter the waters of baptism.”
Although the gospel has been preached in French Polynesia for the last 150 years, Elder Nelson noted that Church history had been searched in vain for any record of a formal dedication. “The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve made the decision, in conjunction with the sesquicentennial, … that an apostolic prayer of dedication should be given.”
The islands specifically mentioned in the prayer were the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Gambier Islands, and the Austral Islands.