Our take: Latter-day Saints in Samoa participated in recent celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the country's day of independence from New Zealand and held a special meeting recognizing the anniversary of Samoa's first organized LDS stake. An 18-year-old Samoan Latter-day Saint participated in a fautasi (long canoe) race as part of the independence celebration and learned to believe that "good things can be accomplished when you work for them."

"Samoa is a nation of faith. Visit any village on Sunday and you will find people going to church, singing in church choirs, helping one another. Religion is a part of everyday life for most Samoans," the LDS newsroom wrote in an article June 2.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Samoa's day of independence from New Zealand as well as the organization of its first LDS stake.

"For many Samoans it has been a double celebration: The same year Samoa gained its independence, the first stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country was organized," a second article published June 13 said. "Alapati Taula is an example of how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints values its neighbours and friends in religiously diverse communities."

Taula, an 18-year-old Latter-day Saint from the island of Upolu, joined the celebration in the form of an annual fautasi (long canoe) race. Part of a predominantly Catholic student crew, he and his team practiced together for weeks before the race.

"For nearly four years I thought I was the only Mormon boy at the school," Taula told the LDS Newsroom. "Then one day during the fautasi training, another member of the crew was asked to pray. He prayed like I pray. Afterwards, I asked him if he was a member of the LDS Church and he said he was. I found out that there were a few other Mormon students at Don Bosco."

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