RELIGION

‘Everybody needed that news’: Maui members celebrate announcement of island’s first temple

Oct 3, 2023, 11:23 AM | Updated: 11:25 am

PROVO — It has been nearly two months since Hailey Chang’s hometown of Lahaina was destroyed by wildfires. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about what her community has lost.

“We did end up losing family members and family friends,” Chang said. “That day you could see all your aunties’ and uncles’ houses on fire.”

In all, 40 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lost their homes to the fires and 97 people were killed. Chang’s family’s home was damaged and deemed unlivable.

The 18-year-old recently made the difficult decision to leave her loved ones and move to Utah to start her freshman year at Brigham Young University.

Hailey Chang with family members at the Kahului airport in Maui. (Photo: Hailey Chang)

“My mom said, ‘I don’t want you to be bothered by this right now. I need you to be OK.’ So for her, moving here gives her peace of mind,” she said.

On Sunday, while on the phone with her mother listening to Church President Russell M. Nelson announce the locations of 20 new temples, she heard the big news that a temple would be built on Maui in Kahului, about 30 minutes away from her hometown.

“Both of us started screaming, and then instant tears,” she said.

Chang believed it was an answered prayer for the 4,500 members on the island of Maui who had to travel to different islands to go to the temple. Currently, the Church has two temples in Hawaii — one in Laie (Oahu) and one in Kailua Kona (Island of Hawaii), which is currently closed for renovations through 2025.

Hailey Chang, middle, and other young women at the Laie Hawaii Temple. (Photo: Hailey Chang)

“It wasn’t an easy sacrifice, and they definitely deserve it,” she said. “Families would have to save up their pennies to make these ward temple trips. It’s such a blessing they don’t have to do that now.”

She said with what her community has been through, this announcement could not have come at a better time.

“Right now, that’s the perfect time to have that type of news. Everybody needed that news,” she said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not yet announced the exact location of the temple or when it will be built.

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‘Everybody needed that news’: Maui members celebrate announcement of island’s first temple