When President Russell M. Nelson announced the temple during October 2020 general conference, Luganville Vanuatu District President William Boehula told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom he was “very surprised and very, very happy.”
He immediately started messaging his friends to share the wonderful news, he said. “I felt strongly the love of the Lord for the people of Vanuatu.”
Church News reports young adult Eunice Hoiesi James, a member of the Port Vila Vanuatu Stake, wrote in the Liahona magazine the announcement was like “our dreams were becoming a reality.”
The returned missionary said having a temple in Vanuatu will make the lives of Latter-day Saints there much busier “but in a good way, because we will have the ability to do more temple and family history work.”
Elder K. Brett Nattress, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Pacific Area, will preside at the Saturday, March 4, groundbreaking in Port Vila, the capital city of the nation comprised of 80 islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
Vanuatu is home to more than 11,000 Latter-day Saints, one stake, three districts and 37 congregations. The first stake was created in June 2015.
“One of my dreams is to have a temple beside our doorstep,” said Paul Hillman, a pioneer of the Church from Port Vila, “so that we don’t need to worry about the fare traveling to another country, [to do] our ordinances and receiving a blessing for the temple.”
Port Vila Vanuatu Stake President Yvon Basil shared of his experience going to the temple in Suva, Fiji, more than 1,000 kilometers or 600 miles away. “A temple in Vanuatu will bless the lives of the people and bring them closer to the Savior, when they perform sacred ordinances for themselves and for their ancestors. People will feel the joy of serving in the Lord’s holy temple and will feel closer to Jesus Christ as they make covenants with Him and keep them.”
The Church released in May 2021 the site location and exterior rendering of the temple, which will be a single-story 10,000-square-foot building with a center spire. Plans also call for the construction of an arrival center, patron housing and distribution center.
Dack Tivles, a young adult from the Luganville District, wrote in the Liahona magazine that he feels humbled to know that his family can more easily partake of the blessings of the temple. “Right now, members of the Church in Vanuatu sacrifice a lot just to get to the temple in Fiji or New Zealand. Some get to attend only once in their lifetime. Now we are blessed to have the Lord’s house built in our own land. For that I am eternally grateful.”
An exterior rendering of the Port Vila Vanuatu Temple, released May 19, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints