In the summer of 1956, my grandfather and grandma Lundquist were called to serve a labor mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Their mission? To assist in the construction of the Church College of Hawaii (now known as BYU-Hawaii). Most of my information comes from a fantastic book I found online called “Church College of Hawaii and Its Builders.”
On February 7, 1921, LDS President David O. McKay attended a flag raising ceremony at a church elementary school in Laie, Hawaii. It was then that he decided to build a school of higher learning: “Here on the island where the power of God has been shown to man to a greater degree than upon any of the other Islands, it has been resolved to build a school at Laie, Hawaii.”
President David O. McKay and his wife, Emma Ray McKay
On September 1, 1955, the LDS Church established a labor missionary program throughout the Pacific Islands for the purpose of building chapels and schools. In December of 1955, labor missionaries began working on the campus of the Church College of Hawaii.
While on his mission, my grandfather supervised the painting and decorating of the college, as well as the LDS temple. My grandma took care of my mom, who attended Kahuku High School, and worked in the visitor center of the Hawaiian temple.
The Lundquists: my grandfather, mom, and grandma
The labor missionaries in front of the Hawaiian temple; my grandfather and grandma are highlighted in red
My grandfather’s paint crew was comprised of a group of young Polynesian men who were described as “rowdy” and “unruly.” It turns out that none of them had ever seen a paint brush prior to this.
My grandfather (far right) and his paint crew in front of the Hawaiian temple
One particularly challenging task my grandfather faced during his mission was the hanging of the murals in the foyer of the administration building. One of these, entitled “Kapiolani Defies Pele," depicts the first Christian missionaries who arrived in Hawaii in 1820. The mural is quite large (32 feet by 12 feet) and had to be hung in sections. My grandfather had learned the art of hanging murals from his dad, Eric Benjamin Lundquist. The paste my grandfather used to adhere the murals contained white lead, linseed oil, and other ingredients.
"Kapiolani Defies Pele”
After being gone for more than three years, my grandfather, grandma, and mom returned to Los Angeles.
As you would imagine, Hawaii is a very special place for my family, not only because of this experience, but because my family moved there in the 1970’s. In 1978, I was born at Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu.
Church College of Hawaii: when naming the school, President David O. McKay said, "This is the Church; so this college should be named THE CHURCH COLLEGE OF HAWAII, not Mormon, not Latter-Day-Saint, but THE CHURCH COLLEGE OF HAWAII.“