First Stake Created in Cape Verde
Contributed By By Sister Marilyn Foster, Public Affairs missionary
Sunday, April 29, 2012, was a historic day for members of the Church in Cape Verde (also known as Cabo Verde) as the first stake in that country was organized by Elder Erich W. Kopischke, Europe Area President, with assistance from his second counselor Elder José A. Teixeira.
This island nation, located 350 miles off the coast of West Africa, has a population of about 500,000 and was a former Portuguese colony. Growth of the Church has been steady since the first missionaries arrived in early 1989, and today more than 8,000 Latter-day Saints are scattered throughout six of the nine inhabited islands.
The meeting to organize the stake in the capital city of Praia was held in the National Assembly Building—a venue large enough to accommodate the more than 1,000 people in attendance. Called and set apart to preside over the new Praia Cape Verde Stake was Roseveltt Teixeira, president, with Adilson Monteiro as first counselor and José Pires as second counselor.
The Church population in Cape Verde is very young, but over the years members have matured in their leadership skills and gospel understanding. In commenting about his visit to Cape Verde a few years ago, Elder Kopischke said, “We had a priesthood leadership meeting, and I realized that these brethren could develop and become the leadership of a functioning and wonderful stake.” That has now become a reality.
Members of the Church in Cape Verde are humble and sincere. Many have benefitted from participation in the Perpetual Education Fund, and many have served or are serving missions. In fact, Cape Verde is “missionary self-sufficient,” which means that the country sends out at least as many missionaries as are called to serve there. Leaders estimate that a hundred Cape Verdeans will begin their missionary service in 2012, which is a significant increase over the 40 that left to serve in 2011.
Elder Teixeira has deep roots in Cape Verde and special feelings for its people. He visited Cape Verde often as a Church employee from 1994 to 1995. When he was called as an Area Seventy in 1996, he was assigned to work with the country’s leaders and members as part of his responsibilities, and he served in that capacity until 2005. One of the highlights during this time was his opportunity to translate for President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) when he visited the islands in 1998. Elder Teixeira has felt blessed to continue his association with the Latter-day Saints as a member of the Area Presidency. He noted, “It was with emotion and gratitude that in 2012 we returned to the National Assembly Building—the same location where President Hinckley spoke—to witness the creation of the first stake of the Church in Cabo Verde.”
Returning to Cape Verde
Returning to Cape Verde nearly 10 years after their arrival on July 1, 2002, when the islands became their own mission, former Cape Verde Praia Mission president Daryl K. Hobson and his wife, Ann Hobson, were welcomed by the members with the intense joy that being together after separation brings.
“The members have long anticipated the day when they would become a stake, and they were delighted to share their happiness with those who had awaited this specific milestone with them,” Sister Hobson wrote to the Church News in an e-mail.
“We experienced their excitement in the hugs, smiles, and handshakes, and we felt their humility and their reverence in their tears of joy and in their firm ‘amens’ following talks and prayers.”
Sister Hobson further said, “From our first meetings with the Saints a decade ago, we felt their faith in their Heavenly Father and their love of the Savior. Though young and new in the Church, their talks and lessons were meaningful and tender. Through the devotion that the members felt from missionaries who served and taught them, they knew they were loved by the Lord and by those in the Church who were far from them. The members and missionaries felt the power of the message of 2 Nephi 29:7, that the Lord remembers His children who are upon the isles of the sea.”
Sister Hobson noted that Capeverdean members have always enjoyed singing the hymns, “but the congregation sounded like a heavenly chorus as they met for the adult session on Saturday night.
“Carlos Pires, an ebullient returned missionary whose family dates back to the first days of the Church on the island of Fogo, led the congregation, accompanied by Ricardo Cardoso, now with a wife and two daughters, who learned to play piano from senior couple missionaries in the late 1990s.”
Strength in the Rising Generation
Sister Hobson observed that the congregation at the organization of the stake was as youthful as 10 years ago, with many young single adults but now with many more families. “More weddings are in the near future, as worthy returned missionary sisters and elders seek worthy companions to be sealed to in the temple,” she said.
The newly called stake president, Roseveltt Teixeira, was a missionary when the Hobsons arrived a decade ago.
“We witnessed then his awareness of the future of the Church in his island country as members grasped the programs and practices that could affect their lives for good, such as seminary and institute and temple marriage,” Sister Hobson said.
“The Saints and missionaries love and admire [Cape Verde Praia Mission] President Roberto Oliveira and Sister [Eliana] Oliveira for their dedication in encouraging them to reach this goal, and the members of the two remaining districts are inspired to work toward the same objective on their islands,” she said.
When Brother and Sister Hobson learned that a stake was to be created in Cape Verde, they contacted missionaries who had served with them there. They collected photos of the returned missionaries, many of whom now have families. They compiled photo albums, along with greetings from the returned missionaries, to share with members before and after the meetings.
“The members and former missionary companions were delighted to see the photos and to read that the missionaries remembered and loved them and were pleased with their efforts to bring the mission to the creation its first stake.”
On April 27, while in Cape Verde to create the first stake that county, the Europe Area Presidency and President Oliveria had the privilege of meeting with José Carlos Fonseca, the President of the Republic of Capo Verde.
The Church leaders presented President Fonseca with a statue of the family, and explained its significance as being symbolic of the importance of the family in society and in the Church. They made special mention of the extraordinary spirit of service among Church members and their desire to contribute to the good of society. They also explained the Perpetual Education Fund, which gives young adults the opportunity for education and training to prepare them for the future. President Fonseca expressed appreciation for the Church’s Helping Hands projects that have benefited the people of his country.