In 1852, years before the handcart pioneers walked west and just one year after the first baptism in Hawaii, the Saints erected their first chapel. It still stands. George Q. Cannon remains somewhat legendary on the islands, but there are other great missionaries that followed. Frank Hammond, Joseph F. Smith, my father.
For the first time in my life last week, I walked with my father where fifty years ago he served as a missionary. He learned Hawaiian and was adopted by a family who had been in the church for generations. There were still people who called him by his Hawaiian name, Kamaka. The experience was a gift and while snorkeling and beaches were thrilling, it is the Church sites and conversations that persist (however, reaching for wild strawberry guavas on the road to Hana was also not too shabby).
Like the Gadfield Elm Chapel, the Pulehu Chapel (image above) is the heart of Mormonism. It is a monument to the Pioneers we don’t frequently celebrate. Thousands of Hawaiians joined the Church, participated in communal experiments, and endured to the end, but we rarely see their images or sing their songs.
The Chapel is a one room building. By the entrance lies a panel, which upon opening allows access to a rope to ring the tower bell. Vintage sacrament vessels are on display. The grounds are immaculate and next door is a small cottage for the local proselyting missionaries to stay in (I stayed in some pretty sweet apartments in France, but nothing like this! Bananas growing on your back patio?).
As a bonus, a picture of the Chapel in Hana. I can’t express how grateful I am that they didn’t sink a standard building here: