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Carole Mikita Reporting Hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints throughout the South Pacific and the U.S. participated in the rededication services for the Tongan Temple today.
What Tongans are proud of is their faith. It is the most Christian nation on earth -- Weslean or Methodist, Catholic, and Jehovah's Witnesses, but Tonga has the highest percentage of Latter-day Saints, about half the population for 116 years now with third, fourth and even fifth generations.
Hundreds of thousands gathered at the temple and in meetinghouses throughout Tonga's island, the South Pacific, and even in America to participate in temple dedicatory services.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles led the sealing ceremony for the new cornerstone. He said, "The dates on this cornerstone read 1981, at which time the ground was broken by President Spencer W. Kimball in partnership with the king of Tonga. And the closing date was 1983, when the temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley."
Bountiful resident Sioseline Tahi said, "It's so important for me 'cause my parents live here, and I was born and raised here. To witness this great day, it's a history for me."
The temple is 5,000 square feet larger with a new baptistry and waiting rooms. The renovation colors reflect the earth, sea and sky, the natural beauty of Tonga.
Alisi Helu said, "I guess this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can never get this again. So being here at the rededication is a great opportunity for me to tell my future generations."
Tongan Stake President Funeasi Nau said, "Our hearts go with gratitude and thank you to our parents, grandparents, and our forefathers, and even other members here in Tonga, for what they have done to bring the church to this point."
Tongans also commemorate Constitution Day, November 4. It's cause for reflection, as nearly one year ago a pro-Democracy movement brought riots, looting and fires that destroyed much of the capitol city of this monarchy.
Latter-day Saints join their fellow countrymen in hoping for a peaceful future and look to their newly rededicated temple for spiritual guidance.
Some 50,000 Latter-day Saints from all of Tonga's islands will begin using their newly rededicated temple tomorrow.