Elder Andersen Commemorates 30-Year Anniversary of Church in Haiti
Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Three decades ago, President Thomas S. Monson—then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve—visited Haiti and dedicated the land for the preaching of the restored gospel. Since that time, the Haitian members and their neighbors have endured staggering economic struggles and, three years ago, a devastating earthquake.
But when Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve recently visited Haiti, he was welcomed by devout, hopeful Latter-day Saints who are dedicating their lives to gospel service. With Elder Andersen speaking in all the meetings in French, the members for the first time heard the gospel from a member of the Quorum of the Twelve without translation. The Apostle was in Haiti as part of a tour of the Church’s Caribbean Area.
“Elder Andersen’s visit to Haiti will never be forgotten by the members of the Church,” Elder Wilford W. Andersen, president of the Caribbean Area, said. “He shook their hands, expressed his love, and gave them inspired counsel in a language they understood.”
Elder Andersen’s visit to Haiti commemorated the Church’s 30-year anniversary in the country. On February 12, Elder and Sister Andersen and a large group of Haitian members drove high above the capital city of Port au Prince to Mt. Boutillier—the mountain site where Elder Monson delivered his dedicatory prayer.
There Elder Andersen presided over the unveiling of a commemorative plaque that will serve as a permanent reminder of the beginnings of the Church in Haiti. The members who gathered for the unveiling ceremony were thrilled to view a televised message from President Monson that was recorded prior to the event.
In his message, President Monson said his duties precluded him from being in Haiti in person, “but my heart is surely with you as we reflect together on the remarkable progress of the kingdom of God in your country, as well as on the blessings that we all enjoy as children of our Heavenly Father.”
The Church President noted the growth that had occurred in Haiti since his 1983 visit when the Church was in its infancy.
“Now, with nearly 20,000 members in four stakes and three districts, the Church is becoming a great blessing to the country of Haiti and to her people,” he said. “Thousands of faithful families kneel together daily in family prayer to thank God for His blessings and to seek His protection. I know that those prayers are heard and answered.”
President Monson concluded his message by saying that “glorious days” await the members who keep their sacred covenants.
“President Monson’s message was full of faith and hope. It touched the hearts of our Haitian saints. They know that their Prophet remembers them and loves them,” Elder Wilford W. Andersen said.
At the commemoration event, Elder Andersen spoke of the Church’s “deep appreciation” for the many who have played key roles in setting the foundations of the gospel upon Haitian soil. The work of the gospel, he added, is primarily spiritual work, saying, “The important things in life are not between wealth and poverty or between fame and obscurity—the important choices in life are between good and evil.”
Missionary service, he added, has been a miracle in Haiti. “Nothing will change this country as the gospel of Jesus Christ will change this country. Let us speak of Christ. Let us speak of His example, His atoning power, and His Resurrection.
“You … are a light to the country.”