Hironui Johnston, 16, and his sister Merirani, 15, spend a lot of time at the Papeete Tahiti Temple.
They aren’t performing baptisms for the dead, except for a couple times each year. They aren’t even inside the temple. They’re on the temple grounds—not gardening or doing some other service project—just sitting or walking around. But always looking.
“I love to see the temple,” says Merirani. “We have a lot of good memories here.”
Hironui and Merirani go to the temple grounds because of how they feel there. It’s a place where they can get away from the world.
“Our neighborhood isn’t bad, but there are some bad kids there,” says Hironui. “So we spend time here. It feels so good to be on the temple grounds.”
Sometimes their whole family comes, whether for a family home evening activity or just to spend time together.
“Sometimes when we aren’t getting along, we come here to put things right again,” Hironui says. But even when the Johnstons aren’t at the temple, the temple is part of their lives.
“I think we have a picture of the temple in every room in our house,” Hironui says. “It’s beautiful. It reminds us that our family can be together forever. Seeing it helps us feel the same peaceful spirit.”
A Blessed Generation
Hironui and Merirani are part of the first generation of Tahitian members who don’t know what Tahiti was like without the temple, which is now more than 20 years old.
That could make it easy for the youth to take the temple for granted. But for many of these young Tahitian Saints, the temple isn’t overlooked; it’s looked at. It’s part of their lives.
“When I see it, I want to go inside,” says Wawona Auraa, 12, of the Tiapa Ward, Paea Tahiti Stake. “We love the temple.”
But what has made the temple so important to a new generation of Tahitians? The answer was obvious after speaking with the youth in Wawona’s ward. These young men and women understand temple blessings. They understand that being worthy to attend the temple can bless their lives, that temple ordinances can bring salvation to their ancestors, and that temple covenants can unite their families forever.
“Knowing that you have to be worthy to go there, you live in such a way that you know you can go,” says Marvia Tauira, who was born only a few months before the temple was dedicated. “It helps me live a good life.”
“It helps us prepare ourselves spiritually to return to our Heavenly Father,” says Tenaya Auraa, 14.
Performing baptisms for the dead is special to these youth. Until they’re older, it’s the only temple ordinance the youth of the Church can perform. These young men and women see it as a blessing, not only to themselves but also to others.
“By performing baptisms for the dead, we can help some of our ancestors receive saving ordinances,” says Mataitini Auraa, 18. “It’s such a blessing to have a temple so close.”
The youth of the Paea Tahiti Stake are looking forward to the day when they can go to the temple to receive their endowment.
For Heifara Tauira, 18, who is looking forward to serving a mission, that day isn’t far away. He’s excited, he says, because he has grown up listening to the testimonies of those who have received their endowment. “They seem so strong in the Church,” he says. “Their testimonies of the temple are strong.”
Not only do these youth share a love of the temple, but they share the same hope—that through temple covenants they can be with their families forever.
“The temple can unite our families,” says Mahearii Tauira, 12. “And we can be together forever.”
The blessings of the temple link families together through the generations. And a love for the temple can also be passed from one generation to the next.
“We watch our parents go to the temple,” says Hironui. “We see them living worthy to go. We see how their temple attendance blesses us, and we choose to follow them.”
That love for the temple, which began with the Johnstons’ parents, has been passed on to Hironui and Merirani. And it won’t end there. Their actions can pass it on to the next generation.
“I want to have children someday,” says Merirani. “I want to teach them that the temple is the house of the Lord and that if we are faithful we can be together forever because of the temple.”
The blessings of the temple go both ways. This generation is being blessed today. As they grow and do the work for their ancestors, those blessings reach into the past. And as this generation begins raising the next, those blessings will roll on into the future.
“The Lord has given us a real blessing by building His house in our land,” Merirani says. “But the greatest blessing is that through the ordinances of the temple, our ancestors and families can be sealed together, and we can all live with our Father again. I would do anything for that blessing.”
[Want to Come to the Temple]
“There are many reasons one should want to come to the temple. Even its external appearance seems to hint of its deeply spiritual purposes. This is much more evident within its walls. Over the door to the temple appears the tribute ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ When you enter any dedicated temple, you are in the house of the Lord.” —President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Holy Temple,” Tambuli, June 1992, 14; Ensign, Feb. 1995, 32.