News Release

Papua New Guinean Mormon Pioneers Reflect on Early Days

Twenty-five years ago four young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints left their island home and headed to Australia. They were the first Latter-day Saint missionaries called from Papua New Guinea to serve full-time two-year missions, and they are respected as Mormon pioneers in their country.

Elders Ako, Ambuia, Idumi, and Woro each had a different native language, but they mustered up their courage and their basic knowledge of English and served honourably in the cities and towns of Queensland. Looking back, Barney Ambuia says, “We were well prepared in gospel understanding. All four of us were graduates of Seminary and Institute classes.”

Sue Owen of Brisbane was a young girl when one of those early missionaries served in her ward. “He was cold and wore two suits to keep warm. Brisbane was an entirely new world for him.”

Little did those four missionaries imagine the events soon to take place in their land. Just five years later the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Port Moresby Mission was organized.

After his mission, Elder Ambuia hoped to marry a girl in Port Moresby and settle there. He did marry a girl in Port Moresby, but together they went back to his home to the Sepik Province. Within eight years they introduced around 400 people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Ambuia is now President Ambuia of the Sepik River District.

Last year Papua New Guinea’s second stake was formed on the small island of Daru, which has a population of about 20,000, and a Church membership of 2,000. More than 2,300 people attended the stake conference. Five weeks later 116 people were baptised. Ground was broken for the first chapel to be constructed in the Western Highlands last December.

water filter

Photo: President Ambuia, with his son, demonstrates a water filter in a villagein the Sepik River District.

See what is happening in the Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands Mission here .

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.