Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Meets Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa

“We discussed the opportunity that the Church has of bringing BYU Pathway [Worldwide] to Samoa.."

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Samoa Prime Minister, Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa met with Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the Apostle’s 10-day ministry to four Pacific countries that included Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji.

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The meeting last Friday 22nd March discussed humanitarian projects jointly funded by the Government of Samoa and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), as well as areas to address the brain drain of youth leaving Samoa for overseas.

In a Church press release Elder Rasband said the Samoa Prime Minister expressed concern that many young adults are leaving Samoa for job opportunities abroad.

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“We discussed the opportunity that the Church has of bringing BYU Pathway [Worldwide] to Samoa, and she was very excited about that prospect,” said Elder Rasband.

BYU Pathway Worldwide is a program supported by the Church that offers spiritually-based degrees online.

“We will now follow up with her and our local Church leaders to make sure that we continue to focus on education, particularly college and university level so that returned missionaries, young adults and young single adults will have a desire to stay here in Samoa,” said the senior Church leader.

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“She has a great respect for the Church and our people, and she said they are very good citizens,” Elder Rasband added.

There are close to 88,000 Latter-day Saints members in Samoa with the most recent cencus showing it to be the fastest growing denomination in the country.

Prime Minister Fiame had also reminisced about her visit to Church headquarters in Utah last September where she had met with members of the First Presidency of The Church.

Elder Rasband was joined at the meeting by Elder Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy and his wife Jill; Elder Jeremy R. Jaggi, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency, and his wife Amy; and Elder Sapele Faalogo Jr., an Area Seventy.

Over two thousand Latter-day Saints gathered at a youth devotional where Elder Rasband inspired Church youth to be a witness.

“We need you, to do what you sang to me tonight.. Be a witness, that’s what we need.”

Elder Rasband also visited Sauniatu, a village in the east of Upolu island settled by LDS Church pioneers nearly 120 years ago.

He was received by enthusiastic Sauniatu Primary School children who sang and fellowshipped with the Church Leader.

Sauniatu Primary School Principal, Rubina Aiono, said it was an honour to have an Apostle of the Lord visit the school.

“Every time we have leaders visit us, they give us hope.. they share their love.”

Elder Rasband said Sauniatu is a special place. “My heart melted when I heard them sing,” he said.

“What stands out most is the wonderful people that I’ve met.. I’ve grown to love the Pacific. I’m sad to be leaving.. but I’d better get home and get ready for General Conference.”

Elder Rasband concluded his ministry in Fiji this week where he met with Prime Minister Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka on Monday.

Photos by Government of Samoa (Leaosa Faaifo Faaifo).

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