Elder Nelson Visits Madagascar, Dedicates Malawi
Heather Whittle Wrigley, Church News and Events
Arriving on Friday, October 21, 2011, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spent four days in Antananarivo, Madagascar, where he met with members, missionaries, priesthood leaders, and local officials. He then traveled to Malawi, where he dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel.
In a devotional on Friday, Elder Nelson told young adults, “Of all the people on the earth, members of this Church should know more about Jesus Christ than anyone else.”
He said that knowledge of the identity of Jesus Christ and of themselves is crucial for the Saints to have. He used the scriptures to explain Christ’s many roles and titles—Creator, Advocate, Judge, and Savior.
Elder Nelson told the audience that confidence would fill their lives if they filled their thoughts with virtue.
“As you perfect your own purity, you can draw power and righteousness into your lives,” he said.
He then asked the members to put a picture of the temple in their homes. Acknowledging that every Church class and every advancement in the Church leads to the ordinances obtained in these sacred buildings, he said, “Don’t settle for anything less than the blessings of the temple.”
In a meeting with local priesthood leaders on October 22, Elder Nelson said, “The most important teaching [you] get will be from the Holy Spirit. … Our great desire is for you to receive revelation for your own benefit.”
Elder Nelson referred to the resources available to leaders to help them resolve problems and lead members: “You teach yourself, you have the scriptures, you have the new handbook, you have Handbook 1 and Handbook 2, and access to the worldwide priesthood leadership broadcasts, and you know how to pray, so we expect you to teach yourselves. … You as leaders have the high council or the ward or branch council.”
On Sunday, October 23, both Elder Nelson and Bishop Richard C. Edgley, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, addressed more than 2,000 members in a multistake conference.
Elder Nelson stressed to the parents in attendance the necessity of teaching their children gospel principles—paying tithing, partaking of the sacrament, preparing for the temple.
The difference between wanting to do good for other people and being able to do good for other people, he said, is teaching them “to be good citizens—in their home, in their school, in their country, and in the Church.”
Stake President Rakotoson E. Tahina also addressed members: “We are surrounded by storms that can destroy us and our families,” he said. “My question to us today is this: How does the Lord want you and me to build our lives?”
He reminded members that the Lord will instruct them how to build their lives and marriages, if they continue to ask and seek for answers and listen to the prophet.
In a previous meeting with missionaries in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission, Elder Nelson told missionaries they should be witnesses, set wise goals, and read each issue of the Church magazines to help them keep the spirit of general conference.
He also emphasized the importance of keeping good records about missionary activity, but said it wasn’t the most important thing.
“You know how many people have temple recommends, but some of the most important work you will do you can’t measure,” he explained. “You can’t measure faith. You can’t measure devotion. You can’t measure the love that a man has for his wife or a wife has for her husband, yet this is where the greatest work will be done. It is in developing faith among your people, faith in God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith in his prophets, and faith in people’s own capacity to do what’s right.”
The first purpose of the Church is to bring souls to Christ, he said, and the second is to change people to the point that they are worthy to go to the temple.
In each meeting, the question was raised about when a temple would be built in Madagascar. Elder Nelson said he didn’t know when one would be built in the island nation.
“But I do know this, that temples come from the faith of the people,” he said. “I’ve seen temples come to people who believe in God, who believe in Christ, and live according to His commandments, against all difficulties. Their faith has brought them a temple.”
After leaving Madagascar, Elder Nelson traveled to nearby Malawi on October 25, 2011, where he dedicated the country and blessed the people. Nearly 1,000 members of the Church, spread among four branches, call Malawi home.
Elder Nelson said the dedication will have long-lasting effects on the country.
“It means a completely different future. It’s like a train going down a railroad track, and the tracks are turned, so with the passage of time, it turns and goes a different direction,” he said.