Uniformity of Devotion Found in Elder Holland’s International Travels
By Gerry Avant, Church News editor
After traveling to the Middle East and three European nations from February 20 through March 4, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve summed up his trip by saying that the uniformity of faithful devotion he found among Latter-day Saints of diverse cultures and nations was more striking than the differences in their languages and geographies.
Elder Holland’s travels took him to the United Arab Emirates where he dedicated the Abu Dhabi Stake Center, the first building constructed by the Church in the Middle East, and on to the Netherlands, England, and Germany.
He described the devotion of Church members at each place as being “in their hearts, their spirits.”
“You hear someone bear testimony in a different language, or coming out of a different culture, or in a very distant part of the earth and yet it sounds like you are in your home ward,” he said in a conversation with the Church News. “The ability of the gospel to unite us on common strengths and common truths is one of the great miracles, one of the great powers of the gospel.”
One of the unique aspects of Elder Holland’s recent travels is that he presided over two stake conferences in two different countries—3,000 miles apart—on the same weekend. He presided at the stake conference in Abu Dhabi on Friday, Feb. 22, which was the Sabbath there, and then over to the Apeldoorn Netherlands Stake conference’s sessions Feb. 23 and 24.
Elder Holland’s wife, Sister Patricia Holland, traveled with him. They were joined in part of their travels by Elder José A. Teixeira of the Seventy and president of the Europe North Area and his wife, Filomena Teixeira.
In England Feb. 25–26, Elder Holland addressed missionaries at the Missionary Training Center in Chorley and, in London, met with several members of Parliament and participated in an interfaith dinner and outreach focus groups.
Elder Clifford Herbertson, an Area Seventy from Great Britain, said, “An important part of Elder Holland’s visit to London was to meet with a number of influential political, faith and community leaders. One particular event, a private dinner held in the BYU London Centre, created tangible goodwill and understanding that was recognized and appreciated by all those that attended. Doors were opened during Elder Holland’s visit that will greatly bless the lives of many.”
Elder Holland also visited London’s historic Hyde Park Chapel, which was recently remodeled to function as a church meetinghouse and a visitors’ center. The Hyde Park Chapel, which is situated in one of London’s most popular tourist areas, serves more than 2,000 members of the Church and is home to an interactive “I’m a Mormon” display.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland with his wife, Patricia, in front of an interactive exhibition in the Hyde Park Visitors’ Center in in London. © 2013 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
“I was in this building when it was dedicated, so my memories are very sweet today. My mission meant everything to me,” Elder Holland said, speaking of the time he served in the British Mission during the early 1960s. “I go all over this world telling missionaries that. Now to be ‘home,’ to be in the land of my mission and in the building where I served so much of it is a very, very special experience.”
Elder Holland spent several days in Germany, where he instructed mission presidents during a seminar in Frankfurt on Feb. 28–March 1. He spoke to members of the Berlin stake during a priesthood leadership meeting on Saturday, March 2, and also participated in an outreach group in Berlin.
He concluded his time in Germany by speaking at a combined meeting of the Leest and Potsdam branches on Sunday, March 3.
He talked about his many travels throughout the world, but said the Leest and Potsdam branches “felt like home.” He told the German members that we truly are all brothers and sisters in the gospel and encouraged them to continue meeting together in order to foster a spirit of love.
Vivienne Meier of the Potsdam Branch said, “His message just really touched my heart. I feel like everyone was feeling the same thing—that he was speaking just for us. We were all just in a different dimension hearing him speak. We all felt so good and so happy.”