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A 'Talofa' evening for LDS Samoans

Thousands welcome Church leaders to Samoa through music, song and dance

APIA, Samoa — If it were possible, the thousands of LDS Samoans who staged the massive Polynesian cultural celebration Sept. 3 at the Apia Park Stadium would each sit down with President Gordon B. Hinckley and thank him personally for making the long flight to Samoa to dedicate their new temple.

Actor dressed in Fijian regalia strikes a dramatic pose. Above, thousands of dancers spent months practicing for cultural celebration at Apia Park Stadium.
Actor dressed in Fijian regalia strikes a dramatic pose. Above, thousands of dancers spent months practicing for cultural celebration at Apia Park Stadium. Photo: Photo by Jason Swensen

Instead, they communicated their love and gratitude via music, song and dance.

Some 5,000 members of all ages from Samoa and American Samoa donned colorful traditional costumes, stretched out across the stadium's rugby field and performed the Polynesian dances of Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and, of course, Samoa. The talents of the Samoan Police Band were also enlisted throughout the evening.

The feeling was warm, festive and animated as cast members hit their marks for President Hinckley; President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency; a host of local Church leaders and an audience of thousands.

Anxious for the next day's dedication of the rebuilt Apia Samoa Temple, the performers and scores of full-time missionaries ended the evening with a medley of hymns.

As the celebration concluded, President Hinckley stood and saluted the cast by waving a white handkerchief high over his head. Their thanks had been accepted.

Young Hawaiian dance performer awaits his cue. Children made up much of the cultural celebration staged on the eve of temple dedication.
Young Hawaiian dance performer awaits his cue. Children made up much of the cultural celebration staged on the eve of temple dedication. Photo: Photo by Jason Swensen
Folks of all ages from Samoa and American Samoa participated in the Sept. 3 show.  Above a group of friends have fun together before taking the field for a Fijian dance.
Folks of all ages from Samoa and American Samoa participated in the Sept. 3 show. Above a group of friends have fun together before taking the field for a Fijian dance. Photo: Photo by Jason Swensen
Thousands of dancers spent months practicing for cultural celebration at Apia Park Stadium.
Thousands of dancers spent months practicing for cultural celebration at Apia Park Stadium. Photo: Photo by Jason Swensen

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