Country Profile

Fiji Suva Mission President Ebbie L. Davis organized the Port Vila Branch (a small congregation) in July 1973 with Lanipota Fehoko as president. Missionary work began in Vanuatu in 1974 after several Latter-day Saint Tongan families moved there. Elder Harman Rector Jr., of the Seventy (one of the highest governing bodies of the Church) and President Davis visited Port Vila in April 1974 to determine the possibility of assigning full-time missionaries to the island. Elder Rector felt it was essential that the area receive missionaries. Asaeli Mokofisi and Peni Malohifo’ou, two Tongans, began missionary work in Port Vila in January 1975. Over the years, government restrictions on visas slowed the work. Non-native missionaries were expelled from Vanuatu in 1982.

Between 1987-1989, Fred Massing and Timothy Proveau, both natives of Vanuatu, were the only missionaries on the island. They found success and baptized more than 40 people, including several family members. More missionaries were eventually allowed and Church membership increased. Additional branches were organized in the 1990s on the islands of Efate, Espiritu Santo, Tanna, and Ambae.

In October 1998, Tom and Janet Tarohati, the first couple to be called on a mission from Vanuatu, began their mission in their native land. That same year, seminary and institute classes for religious education were organized. At the request of Church members living on the island of Mere Lava, missionaries began visiting that island in 2002. The Church responded with aid via the missionaries in the wake of an earthquake in November 2002.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, in planning a tour of the Pacific Islands, looked on a map of the South Pacific to see where he had never been and saw Vanuatu. He determined to visit there. He addressed the largest group of members ever known to have assembled in Port Vila when 2,212 members gathered in June 2003. Members filled classrooms, clustered around doorways and on the lawn, and sat outside the chapel where they caught a glimpse of President Hinckley through louvered windows. The full Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ was published in the Bislama language in July 2004.

Richard Hunter
New Zealand
Phone:  64(9)488-5572
Mobile: 64-21-240-7804


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