Changes in Seventy Leadership
Church members sustained at general conference three new members to the Presidency of the Seventy: Elders D. Todd Christofferson, Marlin K. Jensen, and David E. Sorensen (see pp. 21, 56–57). The three vacancies in the Presidency of the Seventy were created by the release of Elder Monte J. Brough, who now serves as President of the North America Southeast Area and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and the releases of Elders W. Eugene Hansen and Jack H Goaslind, who were given emeritus status at conference. Continuing to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy are Elders L. Aldin Porter, Joe J. Christensen, Harold G. Hillam, and Earl C. Tingey.
In addition to Elders Hansen and Goaslind, Elders Ronald E. Poelman and James M. Paramore were given emeritus status during conference. Elder Paramore was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1977 and served in the Presidency of the Seventy from 1987 to 1993. Elder Goaslind was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1978 and recently served in the Presidency of the Seventy and as Young Men general president. Elder Poelman was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1978 and has served twice in the Sunday School general presidency. Elder Hansen was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1989 and recently served in the Presidency of the Seventy.
Also sustained at conference was a change in the Sunday School general presidency. Elder Harold G. Hillam continues as Sunday School general president, with previous second counselor Elder Neil L. Andersen sustained as first counselor and Elder John H. Groberg sustained as second counselor. Previously serving as first counselor was Elder Glenn L. Pace, now serving in the Africa West Area Presidency.
With the release of Elder Jack H Goaslind as Young Men general president, Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, previously first counselor, was called as Young Men general president. The previous second counselor, Elder F. Melvin Hammond, was called as first counselor, and Elder John M. Madsen was called as second counselor.
President Hinckley Visits Canada and Texas
During a journey from 31 July to 8 August 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley traveled across Canada and spoke to tens of thousands of members gathered in 12 meetings in 6 provinces. He was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie Hinckley; President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and his wife, Donna Packer.
During September, President Hinckley gave an hour-long interview on CNN’s Larry King Live program; addressed the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in Salt Lake City; visited members in Houston, Texas; and spoke to a conference of United States mayors held in Salt Lake City.
British Columbia, Canada
President Hinckley began his Canadian visit by meeting with about 2,400 members gathered on Friday, 31 July, in Victoria, a city at the southern end of Vancouver Island off Canada’s western coast. Also in attendance were Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy, then serving as President of the North America Northwest Area, and his wife, Jolene Pace.
“These are the last days, and this is the time to so live that we stand blameless before God,” President Hinckley said in Vancouver. “My heart is filled with gratitude … for this glorious work and what’s happening to it.”
After hearing President Hinckley speak, Joan Clark of the Victoria First Ward said: “I drew closer to my Father in Heaven as I absorbed the smile of President Hinckley. I felt the loving kindness of my Heavenly Father.”
The next day, Saturday, 1 August, President Hinckley addressed members in two additional British Columbia cities. In the mainland city of Vancouver, about 8,000 members from 6 stakes in Canada and Washington gathered. The Lord “expects us to be neighborly, to be kind, to be friendly, to be virtuous and a good people,” President Hinckley said. “He expects us to be men and women of faith who have a knowledge of Him, the God of the universe, our own Father of our spirits. He—the great Elohim, if you please—governs the entire universe, and yet He is my Father and your Father, and I can go to Him and speak with Him in prayer with the expectation of an answer.”
That afternoon, President Hinckley traveled 300 miles north to Prince George, where about 1,600 members assembled. Speaking of the Prince George stake’s wide distances and remoteness, President Hinckley said: “Wherever you live, you have the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible to read and give you comfort and build your faith. You have the sermons of the Brethren spoken in general conference. You have the Church magazines and all the great good that they contain. … And though it seems you are scattered all over British Columbia, you are a member of a ward or a branch or a stake, and the officers of that ward or branch or stake have an interest in you and a love for you and a great appreciation for you and great respect for you as members of the Church.”
Joined by Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency, and his wife, Pamela Johnson, President Hinckley spoke on Sunday, 2 August, in the Alberta cities of Lethbridge and Edmonton.
About 7,500 people filled the Lethbridge Sportsplex, and nearly 2,000 more watched the conference via closed-circuit television in a nearby stake center. Speaking about the law of tithing, President Hinckley said: “Everywhere I go, and possibly everywhere you go across the world, as you see these marvelous meetinghouses, these temples, and all of the other things which come of the tithing funds of the Church, you can stand and say, ‘I did my part in building the kingdom of God in the earth.’ I think you can stand also and say, ‘I have never missed a penny which I have given—not one dime. In fact, the Lord has blessed me beyond my just deserts. How blessed I have been.’”
On Sunday afternoon, President Hinckley addressed an overflow crowd of about 10,000 people in a downtown Edmonton conference center. Talking of retaining new converts, President Hinckley said: “Be kind to them. Be generous. Welcome them. Some of them don’t know what it is all about. You can’t expect to learn all about the gospel in six lessons—of course not. Nobody knows all there is to know about the gospel—none of us. We are constantly learning. We are constantly adding to our knowledge, and these dear converts particularly need to be nurtured by the good word of God. I believe the Lord will hold us responsible if we fail to look after them and care for them.”
After the conference, Karin Jaffray of the Sherwood Park Second Ward, Edmonton Alberta Bonnie Doon Stake, said, “My children have always seen President Hinckley on TV, but they were thrilled to see him right here and know that he is real.”
Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada
Continuing his journey eastward across Canada, President Hinckley met with full-time missionaries and later with about 1,500 members in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Monday, 3 August. “You are good people,” President Hinckley said. “You get on your knees and pray to God. That is a wonderful thing, when all is said and done. … Many years ago, generations ago, family prayer was a very common phenomenon in Canada and the United States. There isn’t much of it anymore.”
Doug Archer, mayor of Regina, attended the conference. “As a guest at this very special meeting, I was struck by both the strength and simplicity of the message from President Gordon B. Hinckley—get a good education, be truthful, and live a clean life,” said Mayor Archer. “Those are good words for a good life.”
The next day, Tuesday, 4 August, President Hinckley traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he addressed full-time missionaries and about 1,500 members from the Winnipeg Manitoba Stake and the Fort Francis Ontario District, which together cover about 400,000 square miles. Seats in the stake center were full three hours before the conference began, and members watched a video about President Hinckley’s life while they waited. Music during the conference was provided by a choir of 177 youth, some of whom had traveled for many hours to attend rehearsals.
“People ask me what my favorite scripture is,” President Hinckley said in Winnipeg. “I say, ‘Well, I have several of them.’ One of them is this: ‘Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers’ (D&C 112:10). There is no room for arrogance in our lives. There is no room for conceit in our lives. There is no room for egotism in our lives. We must be humble before the Lord. He has so declared, and if we will do it He will hear our prayers and answer them with a blessing upon our heads.”
About 850 members gathered in a university auditorium to hear President Hinckley in Sudbury, Ontario, on Wednesday, 5 August. President Hinckley recalled being questioned about man’s potential. He replied: “There is before us a great model of the Redeemer of the world, whose life and precepts and teachings we try to follow. And that will lead to growth and opportunity and exaltation. He expects that of us. He has opened the way. And we, His grateful sons and daughters, ought to be working at it constantly.”
President Hinckley also said: “Every temple that we build becomes a memorial to the truth that we believe in the immortality of the human soul. Everything that occurs in those temples is concerned with the eternities, with everlasting life. We wouldn’t need a temple if we were just getting married for this life. We wouldn’t need a temple if all of our efforts were centered in this life. The temple becomes the great bridge from this life to the next and finds expression in the most unselfish kind of service of any service of which I am aware.”
Later that day, President Hinckley flew to Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, where 3,000 members gathered. Speaking of “the challenges of a polluted society,” President Hinckley said: “Every young man and every young woman in the Church faces it. Every adult in the Church faces it. There is pollution in our society. It is all about us. It is sweeping across the world like a flood, destroying people. My beloved brothers and sisters, stay away from it. Stay away from this sleazy pollution. Stay away from pornography of any kind. Stay away from anything which tears you down and makes you less than what you ought to be. I don’t care where you go these days: it’s on television, it’s in our theaters, it’s in the literature which we have, it’s everywhere.”
Karen McDonald, a convert of two months in the Ottawa Second Ward, said: “I’ve always been kind of shocked over the things on television and how society seems to be more accepting of the unacceptable. Hearing President Hinckley say how wrong these things are really meant a lot to me.”
Ottawa Citizen religion and ethics editor Bob Harvey attended the conference to hear President Hinckley’s words. “This evening was like entering a different culture,” he said. “I was mildly surprised at the emphasis he placed on practical things, things like getting married in the Church, getting an education, and staying away from pornography.”
Nearing the end of his journey, President Hinckley arrived in Montreal, Quebec, on Thursday, 6 August, to meet with full-time missionaries and later with about 3,000 members gathered in the Place des Arts. He said: “Well, it has been a very long and a very tiring trip but a truly remarkable journey where we have looked into the faces of thousands of the best people on earth, wonderful Latter-day Saints, men and women of great faith and integrity and kindness and goodness, men and women who love the Lord and seek to do His will. We have had a wonderful experience for which I feel so tremendously grateful.”
Speaking in Quebec City the next day to about 550 members gathered in the Grand Theatre, President Hinckley said: “This is a great nation of which you are a part. I believe that this nation is included in the promises of the Lord as set forth in the Book of Mormon, that as long as the nations of North America worship the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, that no other powers will prevail over them, that they shall enjoy freedom if they will live together in righteousness. I believe that same promise applies to Canada as it does to the United States. I believe that that imposes upon us a tremendous responsibility to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be faithful unto the Lord in every respect.”
Later in his remarks, President Hinckley said: “We don’t worry about the Nicene Creed. We don’t worry about the Athanasian Creed. We have direct, revealed knowledge of the Father and the Son. If Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son, then everything else which follows—the Book of Mormon; the restoration of the priesthood; the restoration of the great and eternal authority, the keys of salvation for the dead—if the First Vision is true, then all these others are true also.”
President Hinckley completed his Canadian tour on Saturday, 8 August, by returning to Ontario to meet with full-time missionaries and to address about 12,000 members gathered in Hamilton. Also in attendance were Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy, now serving as Second Counselor in the North America Northeast Area Presidency, and his wife, Judy Coleman.
In words of farewell, President Hinckley said: “I would like to throw my arms around every one of you, but that would take all day today and all day tomorrow. We have other appointments to keep. Please know, if we can’t shake your hands, if we can’t throw our arms around you, that we still love you. We are all together in this thing. God bless you temporally and spiritually. May you have food on your tables, clothing on your backs, a shelter over your heads, and above all the sweet, wonderful Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit to bless you, the Holy Ghost to prompt you and lead you.”
Larry King Live
On 8 September President Hinckley appeared on CNN’s cable-TV talk show Larry King Live, which is viewed worldwide. In an hour-long interview involving questions not only from host Larry King but from several telephone callers, President Hinckley talked about numerous topics relating to the Church, such as the Word of Wisdom, missionary work, Church growth, the Book of Mormon, and humanitarian aid.
“We stand solid and strong for something,” President Hinckley responded when asked why people are attracted to the Church. “We don’t equivocate. People are looking for something in this world of shifting values, of anchors that are slipping. Many people are looking for something they can hang onto, an anchor to which they can attach their lives.” President Hinckley also said: “It isn’t always easy to be a member of this Church. It is demanding, but it is wonderfully fruitful and has a tremendous effect upon people.”
Speaking about the scriptures, President Hinckley said: “The Bible is a testament of the Old World. The Book of Mormon is a testament of the New World. They go hand in hand in testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He described how the law of tithing helps fund the Church’s efforts worldwide: “As this Church grows, we have to accommodate our people. We will finish or dedicate 600 new buildings this year. This is a tremendous undertaking.” He also said, “My goal is to move [the Church] as fast and as solidly across the world as we can.”
At the end of the interview, President Hinckley was asked to describe his responsibilities as President of the Church. “My role is to declare doctrine,” he said. “My role is to stand as an example before the people. My role is to be a voice in defense of the truth. My role is to stand as a conservator of those values which are important in our civilization and our society. My role is to lead people.”
“I look back to our forebears and then to the present and ask, What has happened to your America?” said President Hinckley during his keynote address at a banquet of the board of assistants of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, held 12 September in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. President Hinckley is an 11th-generation Mayflower descendant and a member of the society.
After lamenting some widespread social and moral ills, such as gambling, drug abuse, single motherhood, and pornography, President Hinckley said: “Our forebears knew nothing of these things. Marriage was sacred, to be endured and made the very best of. But it was usually a very happy adventure. Children and families were regarded as a gift from God, with a responsibility to nurture them and bring them up in understanding and light and truth. Work was a thing to be enthroned as the enhancement of human dignity. Worship, worship of God, worship of the Almighty, worship of Jesus Christ—for these people were Christians—was as fundamental to our forebears as was eating and drinking and sleeping after the tiring labors of the day.”
Addressing some 22,000 members gathered in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, on Sunday, 20 September, President Hinckley said: “My brothers and sisters, we are sons and daughters of God, and it becomes us to live with respect toward one another, with integrity, with goodness in our lives, with honesty and righteousness before the Lord.”
Discussing a broad range of gospel subjects, President Hinckley directed many of his remarks toward parents and spouses: “There is no man in this Church who holds the priesthood of God who deserves to exercise that priesthood, including eligibility to enter the temple, who carries in his heart an abusive attitude toward his wife, toward his children. And if there be any women who carry in their hearts an attitude of abusiveness, you have no place until you repent of any such actions.”
Also speaking at the 12-stake regional conference were President Hinckley’s wife, Marjorie; Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Angel Abrea of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency, and his wife, Maria Abrea. President Hinckley met Houston mayor Lee Brown at a reception prior to the conference, and Mayor Brown and other officials attended the conference. The day before the conference, the Houston Chronicle published a favorable article titled “Mormons on the Move: New President Adept with Media and General Public.”
U.S. Conference of Mayors
On 25 September President Hinckley addressed about 100 mayors and other public officials from cities throughout the United States, who were gathered in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City for a conference about youth violence.
“To you men and women of great influence, you who preside in the cities of the nation, to you I say that it will cost far less to reform our schools, to teach the virtues of good citizenship, than it will to go on building and maintaining costly jails and prisons in which to warehouse the many who violate the law,” said President Hinckley. “But there is another institution of even greater importance than the schools. It is the home. I believe that no nation can rise higher than the strength of its families.”
He also said, “There is no adequate substitute for husband and wife, father and mother, working together to strengthen each other and guide the destinies of their children.”
President Packer and Elder Scott Speak at BYU
“I know of no greater service that this, the Lord’s university, can give to His Church,” said President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at an announcement banquet held 10 September for Brigham Young University’s new School of Family Life. Also in attendance were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who serves as commissioner of education in the Church Educational System, and Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy, who serves as president of BYU.
Warning that “powerful and sinister forces are at work against the family,” President Packer charged the School of Family Life “to address the sacred family relationships in standards of scholarship worthy of a university. In doing so, you must honor those ever-enduring principles set forth in the great plan of happiness which was revealed to us.”
During his remarks, President Packer said that the proclamation on the family would become the new school’s charter. The School of Family Life replaces BYU’s Department of Family Science.
William H. Doherty, president of the National Council of Family Relations, said that “BYU is poised to offer, in a coordinated fashion, a breadth and depth of family-related courses that are unique in the nation” (quoted in Dan Egan, “BYU Creating School to Bolster Family,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Sept. 1998, B4).
Elder Scott Dedicates Health Center
On 15 September Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the new BYU Student Health Center. Earlier the same day he delivered a devotional address to BYU students.
Located across the street from the Provo Missionary Training Center, the new 36,380-square-foot health center serves BYU students, their spouses and children, and missionaries at the MTC. It replaces the McDonald Health Center, which “could not accommodate the electrical and mechanical demands of modern medical equipment,” said J. Michael Stratton, director of campus construction projects.
“When someone comes here,” said Elder Scott, “not only will they be in a wonderful, beautiful physical environment but they will be in a place where there is true caring and true feelings of wanting to help.” Also in attendance at the dedication were Elder Eyring and Elder Bateman.
More Small Temples Announced
Continuing the fast-paced series of new temple announcements, the First Presidency has announced sites for four more small temples, all located in the southeastern United States: Birmingham, Alabama; Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Memphis, Tennessee.
Columbus Ohio Temple Groundbreaking
Ground was broken on Saturday, 12 September, in Columbus, Ohio, about 150 miles southwest of Kirtland, where the Church’s first temple was dedicated in 1836.
The North America East Area Presidency presided over the early-morning groundbreaking ceremonies, which were attended by about 3,500 people. “The first temple in Ohio was for Moses, Elias, and Elijah to restore the keys to bind in heaven and earth,” said Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy, who serves as Area President.
Teri McGlaughlin, an Ohio member whose parents joined the Church when she was a child, said: “I never thought that in my lifetime we would have a temple so close by. I grew up thinking temples were only in Utah and you went there to get married.”
During the groundbreaking ceremony, a choir of Primary children from seven stakes gathered on a knoll and sang “I Love to See the Temple.” After the temple is built near an existing meetinghouse, it will serve members of 10 stakes in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, and Kirtland, Ohio.
Minnesota Temple Groundbreaking
The new Minnesota temple “will stand as a remarkable symbol of God’s love of our ancestors,” said Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, President of the North America Central Presidency, at a groundbreaking ceremony held on 26 September and attended by about 3,500 people. After the small-model temple is built on the wooded grounds of the St. Paul Minnesota Stake center in the suburb of Oakdale City, it will serve about 20,000 members living in six Minnesota stakes—St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester, Burnsville, and Anoka—and Canada’s Fort Frances Ontario District.
Temple Presidents Called
The First Presidency has announced the names of 19 new presidents for temples around the world:
Karl F. Borcherding of the Stadthagen Ward, Hanover Germany Stake, will serve as president of the Frankfurt Germany Temple. His wife, Hanna Ruth Wolfert Borcherding, will serve as temple matron.
Heber S. Branham of the Columbia Ward, Columbia South Carolina Stake, will serve as president of the Atlanta Georgia Temple. His wife, Glenda L. Player Branham, will serve as temple matron.
Elder J. Richard Clarke of the Mount Olympus 12th Ward, Salt Lake Mount Olympus North Stake, an Emeritus General Authority, will serve as president of the Hawaii Temple. His wife, Barbara Jean Reed Clarke, will serve as temple matron.
Rulon G. Craven of the Pheasant Ward, Centerville Utah Stake, a former member of the Seventy, will serve as president of the New Zealand Temple. His wife, Donna Lunt Craven, will serve as temple matron.
George S. Goble of the Dartmouth Ward, Lakewood Colorado Stake, will serve as president of the Denver Colorado Temple. His wife, Joan Buckwalter Goble, will serve as temple matron.
W. Brent Hardy of the Orchard Valley Ward, Las Vegas Nevada East Stake, will serve as president of the Hong Kong Temple. His wife, Elaine Taylor Hardy, will serve as temple matron.
Don H. Hendricks of the Blackfoot Fifth Ward, Blackfoot Idaho Stake, will serve as president of the Papeete Tahiti Temple. His wife, Betty Ann Pruhs Hendricks, will serve as temple matron.
Owen Drew Jacobsen of the Oak Hills Ninth Ward, Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake, will serve as president of the Dallas Texas Temple. His wife, Joyce Whiteley Jacobsen, will serve as temple matron.
Malcolm S. Jeppsen of the Morningside Third Ward, St. George Utah Morningside Stake, a former Seventy, will serve as president of the St. George Temple. His wife, Marian Davis Jeppsen, will serve as temple matron.
Paul Judd of the Curtis Park Ward, Las Vegas Nevada Meadows Stake, will serve as president of the Las Vegas Nevada Temple. His wife, Eula Mae Earl Judd, will serve as temple matron.
Elder Dean L. Larsen of the Green Valley Fourth Ward, St. George Utah Green Valley Stake, an Emeritus General Authority, will serve as president of the Provo Temple. His wife, Geneal Johnson Larsen, will serve as temple matron.
Magnus R. Meiser of the Wetterau Ward, Frankfurt Germany Stake, is serving as president of the Freiberg Germany Temple. His wife, Ingeborg Bartelt Meiser, serves as temple matron.
Charles Kenneth Powrie of the Gold Reef Ward, Johannesburg South Africa Stake, will serve as president of the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. His wife, Anna Maria Basson Powrie, will serve as temple matron.
Keith L. Sellers of the Hobble Creek Ward, Eagle Idaho Stake, will serve as president of the Portland Oregon Temple. His wife, Elva Louise Last Sellers, will serve as temple matron.
Nile Alma Sorenson of the Carbon Canyon Ward, Chino California Stake, will serve as president of the Los Angeles Temple. His wife, Charlene Wight Sorenson, will serve as temple matron.
R. Paul Thompson of the Washington Ninth Ward, Washington Utah Stake, will serve as president of the Seattle Temple. His wife, Geniel Parry Thompson, will serve as temple matron.
L. Blaine Vorwaller of the Jacksonville Second Ward, Jacksonville Florida East Stake, will serve as president of the Orlando Florida Temple. His wife, Joyce Bedenbaugh Vorwaller, will serve as temple matron.
J. Marlan Walker of the Mission Hills Ward, Henderson Nevada Black Mountain Stake, will serve as president of the Lima Peru Temple. His wife, Colleen Heaton Walker, will serve as temple matron.
Elder Robert E. Wells of the Moss Hill Ward, Bountiful Utah Central Stake, an Emeritus General Authority, will serve as president of the Santiago Chile Temple. His wife, Helen Walser Wells, will serve as temple matron.
Natural Disasters Affect Members Worldwide
Hurricane Georges struck several Caribbean islands and the U.S. mainland during September. A branch president’s child died in the Dominican Republic, and about 125 member families lost their homes. In Puerto Rico, about 20 member families lost their homes.
“Trees were denuded, broken, or uprooted, power lines and poles were broken, and roofs and some of the homes made of wood were destroyed,” reported Neil Van Leeuwen, a public affairs missionary serving in Puerto Rico.
Dean M. Davies, president of the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission, said: “Nuestra casa es su casa [Our home is your home] has taken on a new meaning as member homes are opened to the homeless. Members of the San Juan stake traveled to distant locations to assist in the cleanup and repair of members’ homes.”
In the hard-hit Dominican Republic, several Church meetinghouses were damaged. The temple under construction in Santo Domingo was not damaged. “The biggest problem is the tens of thousands of downed trees and telephone and electricity poles, which have closed hundreds of roads,” reported David R. Stone, president of the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West Mission.
In the Mesopotamia Valley area of San Juan, Dominican Republic, full-time missionaries followed spiritual promptings in the middle of the night to move more than 30 members and others who had taken refuge in a Church meetinghouse. The people crowded into the missionaries’ pickup truck, and the pickup with two missionaries running behind it crossed a flooded bridge not long before it collapsed. Later, the meetinghouse and surrounding houses were found destroyed by mud and debris.
Local leaders in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic organized relief efforts. Several Church-owned satellite dishes were damaged, but many were repaired in time to receive transmission of the October 1998 general conference.
On 4 August 1998 two earthquakes struck off the coast of Ecuador near the resort town of Bahía de Caráquez, 130 miles southwest of Quito. One Church member was among three people killed in the earthquake. No damage was reported to Church property, and full-time missionaries were reported safe.
During August, extensive flooding occurred along the Rio Grande River near Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. In Del Rio, a Church member drowned, 9 member families experienced severe damage to their homes and cars, and another 25 member families experienced some property damage. In Ciudad Acuña, the homes of 22 member families were reported flooded.
“Brethren on both sides of the Rio Grande River worked harmoniously and efficiently to procure and deliver relief items,” said Brother Jean Whetten, Mexico North Area welfare agent.
Kim Allred, Primary president in the Eagle Pass Texas District, said: “Our youth in the Church have been serving at the civic center and with the Salvation Army. This is the gospel in action.”
During the first week of September, rains from a tropical storm caused flooding along the Pacific Coast of southwestern Mexico. About 30 member families in the Tapachula and Tapachula Izapa stakes and the Arriaga district lost homes or possessions in the floods, but no members were seriously injured.
“Neighboring stakes sent several tons of food and water and emergency funds,”reported Aurelio Valdespino Ortiz, national director of Church public affairs for Mexico. “Help was difficult to provide to members because highways and secondary roads were destroyed.”
About 1,700 miles up Mexico’s Pacific Coast from the flooding in Tapachula, Hurricane Isis caused damage during the first week of September to the homes of some 50 member families in Guasave, a town of about 25,000 people. “The water rose very quickly, and many people did not have time to get their belongings up onto their housetops,” reported Sister DeeAnne Whetten, Mexico North Area welfare agent. “It was very heartwarming to see the love that the members had for one another in the Guasave Ward and Alameda Branch.”
Several member families went to the Guasave meetinghouse for shelter, and other members took refuge in government shelters. Working together under the organization of stake leaders, members delivered mattresses and food to the homes of victims.
In response to floods that devastated China during the summer, the Church provided charitable funds. Chinese ambassador Li Zhaoxing responded: “This is just another sign of our excellent friendship between China and the Church.”
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