On January 3, the Community of Christ’s First Presidency called Maureva M. Arnaud Tchong to serve in the Council of Twelve Apostles. The current mission center president over 60 congregations in French Polynesia, Arnaud will be the first individual of native Polynesian heritage to serve as an apostle in any church descended from Joseph Smith’s nineteenth-century Restoration movement. She will also be the first woman from outside of the United States to serve in the Community of Christ’s Council of Twelve Apostles.  Even though Arnaud represents a breakthrough for women in Mormon churches, she stands in a long line of matriarchs who have sustained the Community of Christ in generation after generation. In fact, Arnaud can trace her spiritual heritage through a line of matriarchs that stand at the very origins of the church—all the way back to Tupuai.
In April 1844 on the island of Tupuai, a woman named Tehinaarrii encountered three strangers. Addison Pratt and two other missionaries from Nauvoo, Illinois, were hungry and a long ways from home. They needed help. Tehinaarri took them into her home and “gave them food, housing, and much needed assistance.”  Her act of hospitality marked the beginning of the church on the island.