In what country was LDS births exceeding deaths in the 1870s when the opposite was true for the remainder of the country?
B The labor missionaries
In reference to the building of the New Zealand Temple: Because no General Authorities were available, Church leaders directed Mission President Ariel S. Ballif to conduct the temple’s ground- breaking. It was done on the warm afternoon of December 21, 1955, the first day of the Southern Hemisphere summer. As soon as this service concluded, two caterpillar tractors and five dump trucks moved onto the site and began excavating while an interested crowd looked on. Within seventy-two hours the 190 by 95 foot exaction was completed to an average depth of 19 feet. Thirty-seven “labor missionaries” gave up their Christmas holiday to prepare the footings. They did not walk, but ran with loaded wheelbarrow “as if the temple could not be built soon enough.”
All the construction on the New Zealand Temple was done by volunteer labor. Beginning in 1950 the Church had devised the “labor missionary” program to build needed chapels and schools in the Pacific. Experienced builders responded to mission calls and acted as supervisors. Young men from the islands, also serving as missionaries, donated their labor, learning valuable skills in the process. The local Saints did their part by feeding and housing these missionaries. Most of the volunteers working on the temple were Maori from New Zealand, although each of the other pacific missions agree to provide for workers throughout the period do construction, despite having extensive building projects of their own. One group, who had come from a branch 350 miles away, declined to take any days off despite heavy rains (seventy inches fell during the first year of construction). Some changed into dry clothing at noon in order to continue their work. During one weekend, half of the volunteers happened to be members of other religions. Of a group of fifty people of other faiths who worked on the temple, forty-five were eventually baptized.
Voyages of Faith-Explorations in Mormon Pacific History, Grant Underwood, (Brigham Young University Press, Provo, Utah: 2000), 136-137.