Auxiliary Leaders Visit Africa Southeast Area
By Sondra Hansen, Africa Southeast Web Site Editor
Representatives of the Relief Sociey, Young Women, and Primary general presidencies recently visited African Saints. They described the African people as "noble in spirit and strong in the gospel" as they taught African members and visited schools, meetinghouses, and the only chapel in Tanzania.
When asked how these sisters felt about this vast, diverse continent and its inhabitants, Kathleen H. Hughes, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency; Susan W. Tanner, Young Women general president; and Cheryl C. Lant, Primary general president, described African spirituality as "exemplary to all of us."
Accompanied by Elder William W. Parmley of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency and his wife, Shanna, the sisters visited a private school in Nairobi where 400 children were being taught. The women traveled to Kenya's dry and parched Chyulu to meet in the Makutano building and there be entertained by a marching choir of 20 children, who kept rhythm with their arms and legs as they performed for the visiting auxiliary leaders.
"This was as nice a program by Primary children as I've seen anywhere," said Elder Parmley of the Seventy and first counsellor in the Area Presidency, and his wife, who were the attending companions during this leg of the visitors' journey.
The sisters conducted training in Dar es Salam, Tanzania; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Harare, Zimbabwe, before traveling back to Salt Lake City.
"I was impressed especially with the youth," said Sister Tanner, who commented on a 15-year-old youth speaker in a Nairobi stake meeting. "He stood at the pulpit with only his scriptures, a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. This young man moved from one foot to the other, as many teenagers do, when he began his talk," she said smiling, "but he knew the principles and he knew the scriptures."
Gina Randall, stake Relief Society president of the Johannesburg stake, attended the Johannesburg training night with the three auxiliary leaders and found her Relief Society instruction tailored to her sisters' needs. Sister Hughes understood that Africa is a large continent, and because of transportation and distance, it may be difficult for visiting teachers to visit teach in every home each month, Sister Randall said. "I was told that my visiting teachers could get their sisters together in a group, if they needed to," she said, "and meet after church in a quiet classroom."
Sister Randall learned to be flexible as a Relief Society president. "Visiting teachers should just keep personal contact each month . . . a phone call, a plate of cookies," she said. "It was helpful."