On the peaceful side of Oahu, in a place not very populated, are three Church-owned entities—the Laie Temple, BYU-Hawaii, and the Polynesian Cultural Center that together are acting as a quietly powerful gateway to missionary work in Polynesia and Asia.
Not very many people realize what is happening for it is a movement beneath most of our radars, but the Laie Temple Visitors’ Center is the second busiest LDS visitors’ center in the world and much of the strength of the Church in Polynesia comes through Laie.
Why Laie? It is not entirely clear, but like so many things the Lord does, it has been in the works for a long time. In fact, in 1865, Elder William W. Cluff was walking along the beach early one morning in Laie when Brigham Young appeared to him in a vision and said, “This is the place, and upon this land we will build a temple unto our God.”
To understand how unusual this is—Brigham Young was still living. At that time the Church had no temples beyond the one that had been abandoned in Nauvoo. St. George, the first temple completed in Utah, wouldn’t be announced until six years later in 1871. Hawaii was just a set of tiny islands in the most remote place in the Pacific.
Many people don’t know Jeffrey and Heidi Swinton. But then again, many of you might. Heidi Swinton wrote “To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson” and served as a member of the Relief Society General Board as well as at different times as both a Primary and Young Women president at the ward level. Her husband Jeffrey has served as an area seventy, stake president, and bishop in the LDS Church. He spent his career as a lawyer, working for the Salt Lake City law firm of Stoker and Swinton until 2006 when he was called be president of the England London South Mission.
They both are currently serving in the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center. One day, they started to notice that Chinese tour buses would stop by the temple and tourist would get out but not actually come onto the temple grounds. Curious, Elder Swinton went up to one of the drivers and asked them why they didn’t come onto the temple ground to which they replied, we didn’t know we could. He told them that it was free, air conditioned and that they even had sister missionaries that could explain what the temple was and tell them more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their native tongue. This is not even mentioning the spirit and calm that the tourists felt as they walk through and around the temple grounds there.