Samoa is located in the South Pacific Ocean about five thousand miles southwest of San Francisco, California. The country is an archipelago (group of islands), and is divided into two parts—Western Samoa with nine islands and American Samoa with seven islands. Most of these islands were formed by erupting volcanoes.
A large share of Samoa’s 200,000 people are farmers who raise bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, taro, and other tropical fruits and vegetables.
Late in December 1862 two Hawaiians left their homes and went to Samoa to teach the gospel. They baptized a number of natives and found them so lovable that they decided to stay and live among them. For twelve years these two men continued to share the gospel with their Samoan friends. Then in 1874 one of the men died. The other man continued the work until an accident caused him to become an invalid. For the next six years no missionary work was done there.
In the summer of 1888 Elder Joseph H. Dean was called to go to these beautiful South Pacific islands and open up missions. He found that many were eager to accept the gospel, and branches of the Church were soon organized in various areas.
Because Samoa is in the tropics, some of the islands have more than two hundred inches of rain a year, and winds are sometimes of hurricane force. Missionaries often must travel around the islands in heavy rain and mud on foot or on bicycles.
They travel between the smaller islands in little boats, and between Western and American Samoa in planes. But regardless of weather or other difficulties, the missionaries find a special joy in serving in Samoa because of the lush green beauty all around them and because the Samoans have a natural reverence for life, a great love for each other, a deep faith in our Heavenly Father, and a simple gratitude for His goodness.
The Church has built schools and established villages so that the Latter-day Saint families might live close to one another. It has also developed plantations so the members can work near their homes. There are now nearly 20,000 members of the Church living in Samoa where there are many stakes, wards, and branches.