Elder Cook and Elder Stevenson Visit Asia Area, Witness Hope Rising

Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor

  • 13 June 2016

Church leaders stand in front of the Sapporo Japan Temple. From left: Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, Sister Tazuko T. Yamashita, Elder Scott D. Whiting, Sister Jeri O. Whiting, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, Sister Susan L. Gong, Sister Mary G. Cook, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Sister Lesa H. Stevenson, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Sister Bon Kyung Koo Choi, Elder Yoon Hwan Choi.

During the past five years as Japan has rebuilt cities and infrastructure following a horrific disaster in the country, the Church has built the Sapporo Japan Temple.

As Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong visited the country in May, they saw signs of resiliency and hope rising from both the recovered disaster zone and the temple site.

Japan just marked the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, Tohoku 9.0-magnitude earthquake and powerful tsunami that left 18,000 people dead or missing, displaced thousands, and destroyed more than 551,000 homes throughout the nation. Six months after the disaster, Church leaders—including Elder Stevenson—broke ground for the new temple.

“It is interesting to note the groundbreaking of the Sapporo temple came just over six months following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of northeastern Japan,” said Elder Stevenson. “The period of construction to completion of this magnificent temple and grounds serves as a symbol of the recovery and reconstruction of hundreds of miles of coastal Japan. This temple will bring promised blessings to faithful, resilient Latter-day Saints who attend it and will be an inspiration to thousands of Japanese who visit its grounds.”

The brethren and their wives visited Japan, Guam, Micronesia, and Vietnam May 19 through June 1.

Elder Quentin L. Cook shares a message during a May 2016 priesthood leadership conference in Guam.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Quentin L. Cook speak during a visit to the Asia North Area.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson delivers a message during a May 2016 priesthood leadership conference in Guam.

Japan and Saipan

During the trip, Elder Cook, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Gong conducted a review of the Asia North Area; visited the site of the Sapporo Japan Temple, which will be dedicated later this year; checked on the progress of areas in Japan impacted by natural disasters; and spoke to members and missionaries. They also participated in a ceremony in Vietnam during which the government granted the Church official recognition. (See related story.)

In Japan, the group visited members and missionaries across the country. They also visited the Church’s temple grounds in Tokyo, Fukuoka, and Sapporo.

“We traversed all of Japan, from the southernmost to the northernmost,” said Elder Cook. “Members in the area are strong in priesthood leadership and missionary service. Most members who attend sacrament meeting also hold a current temple recommend.”

“The most faithful Saints in Japan are as faithful as anywhere in the world,” he said.

As part of the trip, Elder Stevenson and Elder Gong traveled to Saipan, an area of the world not often visited by top Church leaders.

 

 

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks during a May 2016 priesthood leadership conference in Guam.

Sapporo Japan Temple.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy gather with members in Saipan in May 2016.

Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Gary R. Stevenson stand with Bin Kikuchi and Hiroko Kanesake Kikuchi, who will serve as president and matron of the Sapporo Japan Temple.

Members attend a May 2016 stake conference in Hiroshima, Japan.

Guam

In Guam, Elder Cook and the other leaders met with all the priesthood leaders on Guam and the Micronesian islands.

“I was last in Guam in 2001,” recalled Elder Cook, who visited Guam regularly during his service as President of the Church’s Pacific Area. “This was a wonderful homecoming for me. I am grateful for the spirit I felt.”

Church leaders who had assignments on the trip included:

  • Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary G. Cook.
  • Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Lesa H. Stevenson.
  • Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Susan L. Gong.
  • Elder Randy D. Funk, General Authority Seventy and President of the Asia Area, and his wife, Andrea C. Funk.
  • Elder Scott D. Whiting, General Authority Seventy and President of the Asia North Area, and his wife, Jeri O. Whiting.
  • Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy and a member of the Asia North Area Presidency, and his wife, Tazuko T. Yamashita.
  • Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, General Authority Seventy and a member of the Asia North Area Presidency, and his wife, Bon Kyung Koo Choi.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Quentin L. Cook address local priesthood leaders in Guam during a May 2016 priesthood leadership conference.

Priesthood leaders in Guam attend a May 2016 leadership conference where Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and other Church leaders spoke.

Priesthood leaders in Guam attend a May 2016 leadership conference where Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and other Church leaders spoke.

Members attend a May 2016 stake conference in Guam.

Priesthood leaders in Guam attend a May 2016 leadership conference where Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and other Church leaders spoke.

Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Gary E. Stevenson greet leaders in Guam during a May 2016 priesthood leadership conference.