The Voices of Lovely Laie

March 8, 2019

Yesterday I attended a presentation by Kathy Pulotu about the labor missionaries.  It was informative and inspiring. Just wonderful! Kathy invited her father and father-in-law, Sione Feinga and Tuione Pulotu, to speak. Both served here as labor missionaries. Today, in fact, marks the anniversary of their arrival on island as labor missionaries on March 8, 1960. I especially enjoyed hearing the voices of these great and good men as they shared their memories and feelings. 


They spoke of hard work and lessons learned; of fun and camaraderie; of skills acquired and of their love for the Lord and for Laie. I wish that the whole campus—no, the whole community—could have heard the presentation. 


Kathy framed her remarks with a scripture: “But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish” (2 Ne. 26:31). She spoke of the spirit of consecration among the labor missionaries, both the young men from the islands and their adult supervisors mostly from the mainland. All labored for Zion. Tuione spoke about being paid by a divine Paymaster in blessings. You can see the long-lasting legacy of this spiritual compensation in the lives of these faithful missionaries and of their posterity. They came to build buildings, but ended up building Zion. Their legacy is more than buildings and carvings. It is a legacy engraved on many hearts.


Their voices are the voices of “lovely Laie” about which we sing and which I have come to love and treasure since my first day on campus. When I gathered with the kupuna that day, I felt the same spirit that I felt yesterday. It is a spirit of aloha. 


I have felt this many times: As I visited with Auntie Gladys before she moved. As I listen to Cy Bridges tell of Hawaiian genealogies. As I talk with Charlie Goo about growing up in Laie and with Napua Baker about her love for CCH and BYUH. As I see Auntie Kela dance the hula, beautifully passing on an art form that was preserved right here in Laie. And as I heard Uncle Joe sing “Behold Laie! Lovely Laie!”


Many others have felt this, too. It is something we need to preserve and cherish.  I often read and ponder President McKay’s words on February 12, 1955, when he dedicated the ground where labor missionaries would build a campus.  He spoke directly to the community.  Said he:


“Now just a word to you citizens of Laie. You have made our hearts happy to see how you’ve cleaned up that town. Why, it’s a different village from what it was thirty-four years ago. It’s beautiful, and yet you have further to go.  Keep your yards beautiful. Keep your streets clean and make it an attractive village, the best in the Hawaiian Islands. Why shouldn’t it be, in the shadow of that house of God, standing out in beautiful white in the daytime and as an illuminated building at night? But, above all, may the beauty of your town merely be a symbol of the beauty of your characters. This must be a moral town with no hatred, no backbiting, and no faultfinding. May you love and live in peace so the people who enter this village may feel that there is something different here from any other town they have ever visited—and that isn’t imagination.”


The voice of the prophet and of the kupuna I mentioned above are the truest and noblest voices of Laie. They are voices of testimony, goodness, love, and aloha. May we all measure up to the invitation of a prophet to this community by becoming part of the voices of Laie which eschew hatred, backbiting, and faultfinding, choosing instead to live in love and peace. Susan and I hope to join our voices to those who sing and feel: “Behold Laie! Lovely Laie!”


John Tanner