Tuning In To General Conference In The South Pacific
For the first time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ general conference sessions were broadcast on national television and radio stations in the South Pacific over the last few days.
Television stations in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Kiribati broadcast all sessions of conference. Radio stations in Tonga, Kiribati and French Polynesia also aired sessions.
In years past, people have watched, listened to or read general conference proceedings via Internet, satellite, thumb drive video file, DVD or in the Church’s magazines, The Ensign and The Liahona.
The norm for many has been to watch conference in meetinghouses across the Pacific. Due to restrictions on gathering in places of worship because of COVID-19, that was not an option for those who wanted to view the 190th annual general conference of the Church, which originated in Salt Lake City on 4-5 April 2020.
To make it possible for members of the Church and others to participate in general conference this month, TV and radio stations were approached by Church representatives, seeking time slots over the weekend of 11-12 April.
The five sessions of conference were broadcast on national TV and radio stations in many parts of the South Pacific, making it possible for many more people to watch and listen, including those of other faiths.
Milli Naivedru, from Fiji, wrote: “We are so blessed to be watching the April 2020 General Conference from the comfort of our home. This conference is truly unforgettable and indeed a memorable one.”
She said she was grateful to watch conference with her mother-in-law, who is not a member of the Church.
“During this lockdown period, she has been joining us every Sunday [for home worship], and even participated in the worldwide fast on Easter Friday. We know that truly this is the time that Heavenly Father has provided for us to share the gospel with our family members.”
Sulueti Kama, also from Fiji, wrote: “What a blessing for our Fijian members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to view our 2020 April General Conference on TV1 & FBC TV2 this morning. So grateful to hear it in our I Taukei [Fijian] language.”
Apimeleki Tuitubou has seen general conference become more accessible to more people in Fiji over the last few years.
"Wow this is just so cool," he wrote. "Never dreamt that it would be this way on our national broadcasters FIJI TV and FBC TV."
He added, "I remember always having the task to deliever general conference DVDs in my truck to our remote units so that members had the opportunity to gather at the meetinghouses to watch, and today we are all watching from the comfort of our homes with our families."
"How wonderful!! We are living in an incredible age," Janet Kroupa wrote.
One woman, married, with six children, living in Suva, shared the following story: “This morning our neighbour was still up partying from last night. While we were preparing breakfast, the swearing and loud music with singing, and all that, was still on. We cleared our house and got ready, but it was just so noisy. The kids were looking at us while we were seated in front of the TV.”
She continued: “We told them before we start let’s just shut out the world and prepare spiritually to receive the message today. The neighbour's house is very close to us so we said a prayer and turned the volume of our TV up. Their music was still louder, but when the first hymn started we just sang along with the choir…we heard the neighbour beginning to calm down from dancing and shouting. As the conference started they began to quieten down…
“When the Prophet gave his opening remarks the neighbour was quiet and they turned their loud music off and sat beside the fence quietly. I don’t know if they were listening but they were all quiet and my husband [suggested] we turn the volume down of the TV. I told him I think they are listening.
“We felt the spirit so strong in our area today and all was peaceful when we listened to the Prophet.”
When Aucklander Daena Moller heard that conference was going to be broadcast on television in New Zealand, she said, “I just told grandpa who doesn’t have Internet and he is stoked he can watch it!!”
Watch President Russell M. Nelson speaking at conference, translated into French, here.
Watch, listen to or read all sessions of general conference in Pacific languages here.