Savior at Center of Yule Season Say President Benson, Elder Oaks
President Ezra Taft Benson bore a powerful testimony of Christ, urging all people of the world to seek after the Lord as did the wise men of old, in his first public address since being ordained President of the Church.
President Benson’s message was complemented by the testimony of Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve, who spoke of Christmas as a time to offer again the greeting of peace that was proclaimed by angels at the Savior’s birth.
They addressed Church members throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional December 1. The Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City was filled to capacity for the program, which was also broadcast via satellite to receiver-equipped stake centers.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the program. Christmas music was provided by the Tabernacle Choir, joined by the congregation on some carols.
President Benson noted in his address that the “major mission” of the Book of Mormon is to testify of Christ. “Every prophet from the days of Adam knew of that first Christmas and testified of the divine ministry of the mortal Messiah,” he said, and quoted from Jacob 4:4 in the Book of Mormon: “‘We knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming.’
“In Gethsemane and on Calvary, he worked out the infinite and eternal atonement,” President Benson explained. “It was the greatest single act of love in recorded history.”
The resurrection of Christ is “well attested in the Bible,” and the risen Lord revealed himself also to believers on this continent. “Today in Christ’s restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he is revealing himself and his will—from the first prophet of the Restoration, even Joseph Smith, to the present,” President Benson testified.
“And now, my beloved brothers and sisters, what must we do this Christmas season—and always? Why, we must do the same as the wise men of old. They sought out the Christ and found him. And so must we. Those who are wise still seek him today.”
He pointed out that “the Book of Mormon was designed by Deity to bring men to Christ and to his Church. Both we and our nonmember friends may know that the Book of Mormon is true by putting it to the divine test which Moroni proposed.”
He urged members to give to nonmembers the gift of greater knowledge of the Lord through making them acquainted with the Book of Mormon. He admonished Latter-day Saints to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moro. 10:32), to come “with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne. 12:19), hungering and thirsting after righteousness (see 3 Ne. 12:6), “feasting upon the word of Christ” (2 Ne. 31:20).
“Not many years hence Christ will come again. He will come in power and might as King of kings and Lord of lords. And ultimately every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.
“But I testify now that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is his prophet, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that his Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true, and that Christ is at its helm,” President Benson affirmed.
Elder Oaks said that “Jesus of Nazareth is the most important person who ever lived, … the Savior and God of this world.
“‘Peace, good will toward men’ (Luke 2:14) is the message of Christmas,” proclaimed at Christ’s birth, Elder Oaks said. The message is old and familiar; it has been preached repeatedly throughout the ages. Like other important teachings, “the repetitious message of Christmas is not a message to be revised but a message to be renewed in our lives.
“God bless the helping hands” who reach out to others—the aged, the hungry, the homeless, the sick—at Christmastime, he said. “We should all support them. Those who serve lovingly and unselfishly are true servants of the Prince of Peace.”
But there is more to Christmas than giving—even giving of one’s self. “Christmas is also a time for forgiving—a time to heal old wounds and restore relationships that have gone awry,” Elder Oaks said. “The heavenly hosts proclaimed good will to all men—to casual friends, to strangers, even to enemies.
“Whether Latter-day Saints are in the majority, as we are in Utah, or in the minority, as we are everywhere else, we should reach out to all the sons and daughters of God. We should extend the sincere hand of fellowship to all persons,” he counseled. “We ought to be the friendliest and most considerate of all peoples anywhere.”
He emphasized that Latter-day Saints can shun associations and practices which go against our beliefs without cutting ourselves off from cooperative efforts with those of other faiths.
“Just as Christmas celebrates the birth of him who gave his life for all of us, so each of us should use Christmas as a time for perfecting the ways we give to our fellowmen.
“As we do so—as the giving spirit of Christmas permeates our thoughts and our actions—we will each be making our own contribution to the eternal goal of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’”
Seoul Temple Dedicated
Recognition of the role of temples in salvation for both the living and the dead was part of the dedicatory prayer for the Seoul Korea Temple, read December 14 at the first of six dedicatory services scheduled over two days.
The prayer was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency. Acting under the direction of President Ezra Taft Benson, he led the party of General Authorities who attended, and conducted the first dedicatory service.
The dedicatory prayer expressed gratitude for establishment and growth of the Church in Korea and for the temple and the blessings it will bring.
“May understanding of thy divine purposes grow in the minds of all who are here instructed. May the covenants they make with thee be engraven upon their hearts and the light of eternal truth be reflected from their countenances,” President Hinckley read.
“Dear Father, bless this land and its people. May this nation remain free from bondage and servitude. Free the faithful Saints from oppression and poverty. Bless them for their industry,” the prayer petitioned.
The dedicatory prayer asked for blessings upon the Church’s missionaries and those who might hear them.
“Wilt thou smile upon the people of other nations of Asia. May they open their doors to thy servants as has this nation of the Republic of Korea, that their people may also receive and be blessed by the truths of the everlasting gospel.”
President Hinckley also expressed gratitude for a living prophet, so recently called to lead the Church.
“We have seen in recent days, with the passing of a great and good leader, the calling of another who has been prepared over a period of many years for the heavy responsibility that has fallen upon him. We have seen the quiet and wonderful transition of authority from one leader to another. We thank thee for thy servant, President Benson, and invoke thy blessings upon him that he may find favor in thy sight, that he may have strength and vitality to advance thy work, and that he may be loved and honored by thy people throughout the earth.”
In remarks before the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley reminded those present that the Seoul Korea Temple is the only building on all the vast mainland of Asia where work can be done which will endure not only in this life, “but in eternity as well.”
During the cornerstone-laying ceremony which preceded the dedicatory services, President Howard W. Hunter, Acting President of the Council of the Twelve, called it a privilege to be present at the “last act of construction” for the temple, and commented, “This is a day when dreams are coming true.” Elder Jacob de Jager of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a counselor in the Presidency of the Church’s Asia Area, exhorted the Saints: “Come back often. It will be a spiritual experience every time you come. It will truly enrich your life and strengthen you.” The Spirit of the Lord was felt so intensely during the cornerstone-laying that the Korean translators could barely speak at times.
In addition to President Hinckley, speakers at the first dedicatory session were President Hunter and Elder de Jager. Other General Authorities attending the dedicatory services included Elder William R. Bradford of the First Quorum of the Seventy, President of the Asia Area; Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Elder Keith W. Wilcox of the First Quorum of the Seventy, also a counselor to Elder Bradford.
Also in attendance were David M. Kennedy, special representative of the First Presidency; a number of men who had formerly served as mission presidents in Korea (including temple president Robert Slover), and priesthood leaders from throughout the country.
A total of 5,500 Saints attended the five dedicatory services for Korean members and one for English-speaking Saints—United States military personnel and other members living in Korea. The temple will serve more than 41,000 Saints.
The interior of the 12,000-square-foot temple is decorated with delicate Korean brush paintings and screens of traditional design, as well as Korean white lacquer furniture with mother-of-pearl inlay. Its Korean granite exterior and traditional tile “100-year roof” give the architecture of the temple a Korean flavor. The grounds are so meticulously landscaped that the building seems to be nestled in a natural garden. Six shining white pillars circle the building; the pillar in front is topped by a statue of the angel Moroni.
Despite the urban location of the temple, not far from downtown Seoul, those who visit the grounds enjoy a marked feeling of peace and serenity recognized by members of the Church as the influence of the Spirit of the Lord.
Several of the dignitaries invited to a special tour November 25, before the public open house, commented on the feeling of peace they experienced there. Among the sixty-nine government and business leaders were a former Korean prime minister, the country’s assistant minister of Culture and Information, and a national assemblyman.
The temple drew approximately 13,000 people during its open house period, November 26 to December 7. Local Church leaders considered it a very good showing, considering that most Koreans work ten- to twelve-hour days, six days a week. But more important than numbers, leaders observed, was the opportunity for members to share the gospel with friends and acquaintances.
The temple, however, was serving as a boon to missionary work well before the open house. One early visitor was a young man who toured the temple grounds with a missionary couple while the building was being finished. At the end of the tour, the missionaries asked if he had any questions. Just one, he said: When could he be baptized? After instruction by missionaries and fellow-shipping by Church members, he was baptized September 29.
Correspondent: , historical chairman for the Temple Committee.
Ground Broken for Temple in Las Vegas
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, told those attending the November 30 groundbreaking for the new Las Vegas Nevada Temple that “the spirit of the temple will be a blessing to all in the community, not only to those who enter.”
Under the direction of President Ezra Taft Benson, President Hinckley presided at the groundbreaking. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve and Elder Hartman Rector, Jr., of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a member of the presidency of the Church’s North America Southwest Area, also participated.
The temple site is located on the slope of Sunrise Mountain in the eastern part of Las Vegas. But the groundbreaking program was scheduled in the Las Vegas Convention Center downtown, where some 9,000 people were able to attend. As part of the program presented there, they viewed a videotape of the spading of the earth that had been performed by dignitaries minutes earlier at the temple site.
President Hinckley told those present that a temple groundbreaking “speaks of our eternal values” and is “a visible testimony … of the everlasting nature of the family.” In the Church’s temples, he said, we may “seal families together through the power of the priesthood. It is a more important work than any other I know.” While temple work sometimes requires sacrifice, that sacrifice is a fundamental part of the gospel—one that God the Father exemplified when he allowed his Son to be sacrificed as the Savior of mankind, he said.
Elder Packer said that Las Vegas might seem an unusual place to construct a temple, “unless you know Las Vegas and the number of worthy and faithful Saints who live here.” The temple will be an indicator, he said, that Church members can be “in the world, but not of the world.” The temple will serve about 70,000 Latter-day Saints in Nevada and parts of Arizona and California.
Elder Rector said the temple “will add moral tone” to the city and that it is an honor to the community. He welcomed the many civic and religious leaders who attended the groundbreaking program.
Nevada Governor Richard Bryan, who had assisted with the ground-breaking, and Clark County Commission Chairman Thalia Dondero also spoke on the program. Former Nevada Governor Michael O’Callaghan was among those attending.
Ireland Dedicated for Proselyting
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve formally dedicated Ireland for the preaching of the restored gospel this past October—nearly a century and a half after Elder John Taylor of the Quorum of the Twelve performed the first baptism there.
Addressing the prayer in gratitude to “Almighty God, Father of us all,” Elder Maxwell petitioned: “We plead with thee to look with fresh favor upon all of Ireland to the end that this Emerald Isle will know further greening through the fulness of the restored gospel.
“Where there has been strife, may there be peace, and if not full peace, enough peace for thy cause to move forward as never before. May thy soothing Spirit, Father, encourage reconciliation through the Restoration, and may thy Saints be kept from harm’s way,” he said.
He prayed that those “prepared from before the foundation of this world” might be sought out, and he dedicated the land “to the spreading of the gospel of thy Son and to the more complete establishment of His Church here to the end that the elect will heed the call and come home to thy kingdom. …
“May the fiery darts of the adversary be quenched by the shield of faith held aloft by the leaders and members of the Church in Ireland.”
The dedicatory prayer was offered October 23 near Loughbrickland, the lake in which John Taylor performed the first baptism in Ireland in this dispensation, during a brief mid-1840 visit as missionary work there was commencing. Loughbrickland is in Northern Ireland, not far from that country’s border with the republic of Ireland (Eire).
The small group gathered for the dedication included Elder Maxwell; his wife, Colleen; President Vernon J. Tipton of the Ireland Dublin Mission; President Charles Raymond Lowry of the Belfast Ireland Stake; and President John Connolly of the Dublin Ireland District.
“As far as we have been able to tell, no formal dedicatory prayer for Ireland, as such, has been given,” Elder Maxwell said. He told those present, in brief remarks before offering the prayer, that the Emerald Isle may well have been included at some time in a dedicatory prayer for the area including the British Isles. But, he said, it was the feeling of President Tipton and local Church leaders “that we ought to dedicate Ireland, at long last, even though there are one hundred and forty-five years of gospel history on this island.”
The dedication was performed, he explained, “in the spirit of asking the Lord to hasten the work,” as He has done in other areas where dedicatory prayers have been pronounced.
During his October visit, Elder Maxwell spoke to several hundred members and investigators at meetings in Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Dublin, Ireland. There are about 3,800 Church members in the two countries.
An Apostate—but a Friend to the Book of Mormon
William E. McLellin, one of the original members of the Council of the Twelve, apostatized and lost his membership in the Church, but he never lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon. He remained firmly convinced of its truth.
The strength of his conviction is evident in a letter written in 1880, three years before his death. “I have set to my seal that the Book of Mormon is a true, divine record and it will require more evidence than I have ever seen to ever shake me relative to its purity.”
The text of that letter was released by the Church December 8, along with a statement by Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Church’s Public Communications Department.
The statement and release of the letter came not long after disclosure by Salt Lake City newspapers and broadcast stations that a Texas family has in its possession some of William McLellin’s writings. The statement by Brother Lindsay took note of attention that has recently been directed toward “letters, journals, and other materials said to be, or to derive from, the personal writings of William E. McLellin. We will watch with interest the study of the documents said to have been in the possession for more than a century of the family of Mr. H. Otis Traughber, of Houston, Texas.”
Brother Lindsay pointed out that “the Church’s concern for all matters relating to its history was mandated through revelation” when the Church was organized.
William McLellin, who had been ordained to the Council of the Twelve when it was organized in 1835, became critical of Joseph Smith and other Church leaders, apostatized, and was excommunicated in 1838. His critical nature was evidenced in 1831, not long after he had joined the Church, when he questioned Joseph Smith’s ability to receive revelation. The result was section 67 of the Doctrine and Covenants, in which he was challenged to try to write a revelation like those that had been given through the Prophet. McLellin tried, and failed miserably. Although he held antagonistic views of the Church and its leaders until his death, he also kept his strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
On 14 August 1880, William McLellin replied to a letter from James T. Cobb of Salt Lake City. The McLellin letter is now in possession of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division of the New York Public Library, as part of the Astor Lenox and Tilden Foundations collections. The Church released the text of the letter with the library’s permission.
In it, William McLellin wrote: “But when a man goes at the Book of M. he touches the apple of my eye. He fights against truth—against purity—against light—against the purist, or one of the truest, purist books on earth. I have more confidence in the Book of Mormon than any book of this wide earth! …
“I have probably read it through 20 times,” he wrote, and added, “It must be that a man does not love purity when he finds falt with the Book of Mormon!” (Original spelling and punctuation retained.)
He told Mr. Cobb that he had seen David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, who had also apostatized but never recanted his testimony of the book, a year earlier. David Whitmer, William McLellin said, had lost his thumb and could not write, but he “would not be willing to write much to a man who fights the Book of M. which he knows to be true. … You seem to think he and I ought to come out and tell something—some darkness relative to that book. We should lie if we did, for we know nothing against its credibility or divine truth.”
Church Schools Raising Tuition
Tuition will go up this fall at Brigham Young University, Ricks College, and Brigham Young University—Hawaii.
At BYU, undergraduate tuition for Church members will go up from $740 to $775 per semester. Tuition for BYU graduate students will be $900. For students in the Graduate School of Management and the J. Reuben Clark Law School, it will be $1,460.
Tuition for Ricks’ students will rise from $550 to $575 in 1985–86.
BYU—Hawaii tuition will go from $600 to $625.
Update: Seminary and Institute Enrollment
Enrollment in Church Educational System seminary programs grew by 23,497 in the five-year period beginning with the 1980–81 school year, for an increase of more than 12 percent. Enrollment in institute programs grew by 9,914, an increase of nearly 8 percent. Total enrollment in both programs grew by 33,411, an increase of almost 10.6 percent. At the end of the 1984–85 school year, seminary and institute programs were operating in seventy-two countries and territories, with materials in eighteen languages.
Alma P. Burton, a sealer at the Provo Temple and former professor of Church history at Brigham Young University, has been called to preside over the Manti Temple. His wife, Clea M. Burton, will serve as temple matron.
Area General Board
Helen Fyans has been called as an area general board representative for the South America South Area. She will serve as a representative of the Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society in the area, joining the other members of the board called earlier. (See Ensign, Aug. 1985, p. 79.) Sister Fyans has extensive experience in Church callings. She is married to Elder J. Thomas Fyans of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Area President of the South America South Area.
Lynn J. Thomsen, an Anaheim, California, realtor and building contractor, has been called to preside over the Illinois Nauvoo Mission. He is a former stake high councilor and temple worker. He succeeds Dr. J. LeRoy Kimball, who will continue as president of Nauvoo Restoration, Inc.
Osorno and La Cisterna Chile regions, Wilfredo Lopez, a businessman and former stake president and president’s counselor.
Provo Utah West Region, William Duncan Oswald, a Salt Lake City attorney and former counselor in the Sunday School general presidency and stake high councilor.
Lisbon Portugal Stake, Vitor Manuel Pereira Martins; Topeka Kansas Stake, Carver Dean Long; Great Falls Montana East Stake, Brian Loyal Pfile; Cape Girardeau Missouri Stake (new, from a division of the Fairview Heights Illinois Stake and the St. Louis Missouri South Stake), David Emer Payne; Fairview Heights Illinois Stake, Joseph Howard Gossett; Vancouver Washington North Stake (new, from a division of the Vancouver Washington Stake and the Vancouver Washington West Stake), Bruce A. Schreiner.
Mexico City Mexico Chapultepec Stake, Alberto Ruiz (Salas); Frankfurt Germany Stake, Dieter Uchtdorf; Akron Ohio Stake, Donald Lee Tobler; Glendale Arizona North Stake, Thomas Glenn Jones; Joinville Brazil Stake, Antonio M. Rodrigues Lemos; Florianopolis Brazil Stake (new, from a division of the Joinville Brazil Stake), Cesar Augusto Seigwer Milder; Temple View New Zealand Stake, Walter Philip Hague; Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, Donald Gene Holtry.
London Ontario Stake, Ross Harry McEachran; Mobile Alabama stake, Robert L. Constantine; Monterrey Mexico Anahuac Stake, Elpidio Contreras; Cadiz Philippines Stake (new, from a division of the Bacolod Philippines North Stake), Carmelino M. Cawit; Baguio Philippines Stake (new, from a division of the San Fernando La Union Philippines Stake), Carlos F. Chavez; Santiago Chile Independencia Stake, Luis Neira Lopez; Temuco Chile Stake, Hugo Quinones Silva.
Fortaleza Brazil Stake, Moroni Bing Torgan; Fortaleza Brazil West Stake (new, from a division of the Fortaleza Brazil Stake and the Fortaleza Brazil Montese Stake), Antenor Silva Junior.
Establishing a Righteous Identity: A Conversation with, Young Women General President
At the Young Women’s Fireside broadcast last November, young women were called upon to “stand for truth and righteousness” and were introduced to the Young Women Values. In conjunction with that fireside, the Ensign visited with Sister Ardeth Kapp, Young Women general president.
Here is part of that conversation:
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing our young women today?
A: Many of our young women seem to have an unclear sense of identity. They don’t have a sure understanding of what it means to be young women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This leaves them susceptible to the negative influences of the world. Advertisements, entertainment, and the media promote the idea that to be physically attractive and popular with young men is of utmost importance. Thus, the more dates, the more boyfriends a young woman has, the greater her worth.
If this is the only standard by which a young woman judges her worth, the result is often low self-esteem. As young women come to better understand who they are and gain a sense of their divine destiny, they will be better prepared to withstand the temptations of the world. They will also find fulfillment through gaining knowledge, rendering service to others, and making decisions based on their knowledge of right and wrong.
Q: What image or identity would you like to see our young women have?
A: I believe all women, younger and older, should have the desire to become “righteous women.” Such a woman is grounded in gospel principles and understands that the Lord has a purpose for her life; she desires to discover and magnify her God-given talents.
We sometimes look at a young woman in a very narrow way, usually in terms of what she should do—becoming a mother, for example, or preparing for employment. But what a young woman should do foremost is to become increasingly more righteous, so that she will be in tune with the Lord’s will for her.
Becoming a wife and mother should be an important goal for every young woman. Still, the realities of our day are such that many of our young women won’t have that opportunity at the time they may have anticipated it.
Every young woman can prepare to enrich, protect, and guard the home. For some, and we hope for most, this will mean being at the hearth with their family. But for others, it may mean being in the chemistry lab fighting disease or in the political arena defending eternal values. All of this contributes to and guards the home.
Q: What are the Young Women Values mentioned in the fireside and how can they help young women?
A: The Young Women Values—Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, and Integrity—serve as a guide to every young woman. These values can help a young woman understand who she really is and give her an identity apart from the world. The gospel principles expressed in the Values help her to increase her faith in Heavenly Father and to realize that the qualities she possesses are part of her divine nature. These understandings will guide her in setting goals, in evaluating her progress, and in making her life purposeful.
The Values do not represent a change in the Young Women program; rather, they are meant to be integrated with the existing program. When a lesson relates to one of the Values, the lesson should be identified with it. The Values should also provide a guide for planning all activities with a purpose—that of strengthening young women in the gospel.
Q: How can youth activities do that?
A: I prefer the word experiences to the term activities. All our experiences ought to provide us with opportunities for learning and growth. We need fun times, but even in the fun we need experiences which bring the warm and satisfying feelings that come when living the gospel—experiences that provide opportunities for serving others, learning leadership skills, and developing and sharing talents.
Q: What can we as parents and leaders do to help?
A: The Young Women Values have been selected to help young women know who they are and what to stand for during a time when peer pressure and acceptance by others exert a major influence in their lives. Understanding the values expressed in the Young Women program can help parents reinforce these principles as they help their daughters realize a righteous, happy life and strengthen their commitment to the gospel.
It is the responsibility of Young Women leaders to assist and support the parents in strengthening the youth. The purpose of the Young Women program, in fact, is to provide experiences that reinforce the values parents teach their children. Thus, parents who become familiar with the programs of the Young Women organization encourage participation in it because they see it as a resource that supports and strengthens their own efforts.
Q: What of those who have problems reaching the youth?
A: We are very much aware that these are not easy times. But we are confident that youth can be reached. We need to show them unconditional love and forgiveness and teach the principles of faith and repentance, showing them the clear, narrow path to a secure happiness. We need adult leaders with strong testimonies of the restored gospel who provide examples of righteous living.
Our goals are to keep the spiritually strong youth growing in testimony and to reach out to those who are not as strong. We need to let those who stray know that there is a way back and that we truly want them back. Whatever time or commitment it takes is worth the sacrifice if even one young person is guided safely home.
Tiny Branches Bear Fruit in Mascarene Islands
Alain and Danielle Chion-Hock might reasonably have felt a bit isolated when they returned home after completing their university studies in France.
The young couple had been baptized into the Church in Montpellier, France, in 1969. But back on La Reunion, their island home in the Indian Ocean, they were the only Latter-day Saints in a population of approximately half a million.
The faith of the Chion-Hocks was not to be overcome by simple isolation, however. Brother Chion-Hock recalls a talk he gave in Perpignan, France, in 1970, in which he spoke of the course he and Danielle had chosen for their lives. It was the same course Joshua urged for the ancient Israelites: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15.)
That is a commitment that has only deepened through the years, says Alain Chion-Hock, now president of the St. Denis Branch on La Reunion and, a professor at the teachers’ college on the island. Danielle, a pharmacist, agrees. “The Church has meant everything to me,” she comments. When one knows the truths of the gospel, “there is no other way to live.”
The Chion-Hocks, along with a handful of immigrants from France, were instrumental in helping the Church gain a foothold on La Reunion.
The volcanic island, located east of Madagascar and near the southern edge of the Tropic of Capricorn, is an overseas departement of France. It was settled in the 1660s as a layover station for French ships rounding the Cape of Good Hope bound for India. Today, its economy is almost entirely dependent on the export of its sugar and sugar products. Those who come to know La Reunion’s delightful people, tropical beaches, magnificent mountain vistas, and primitive forests come to love the place.
The Chion-Hocks were not alone for long as Church members on the island. Within a few years, there was a handful of faithful Saints drawn there from France by occupational opportunities or assignments—people like Raphael Amourdon, Pierre Riviere, and Max Payet.
It was not until 1975, however, that La Reunion had its first baptism—the Chion-Hocks’ oldest child, Catherine, now a student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
The Chion-Hocks, with the permission of the International Mission, held the LDS group’s sacrament meetings in their home at St. Gilles for several years. The group grew as members reached out to those around them, trying to share the joy of the gospel. Rose Thia Soui Tchong (Alain Chion-Hock’s sister) and her two sons were baptized in 1979, Andre and Lucile Payet and their family in 1980, the Bobeche and Savigny families in 1981.
It was in October of 1979 that Brother and Sister Joseph Edmunds arrived, sent as representatives of the International Mission, following a request for missionaries by the Saints on La Reunion. On December 30 of that year, the St. Denis Branch was organized with Alain Chion-Hock as president.
Through the past six years, several other couples have served on the island as representatives of the International Mission, lending strength and leadership to the Church organization and making friends for the Church. Currently, Max Wheelwright, a former mission president in France, and his wife, Ann, are serving there, along with Glen and Mable Barlow.
The introduction of full-time proselyting missionaries in January of 1984 helped boost the number of baptisms on La Reunion to twenty-five in 1985. Growth made possible the formation of a second branch, at St. Pierre, in 1984, and a third one, at St. Paul, late in 1985.
Through the workings of the Spirit of the Lord, the way was also opened not long ago for missionary work on nearby Mauritius, a small independent island nation that is a member of the British commonwealth. Stephen and Margery Hatch are serving there as representatives of the International Mission; Brother Hatch is also a former mission president. There are now thirty-five members in the branch on Mauritius. Along with the branches on La Reunion, it is part of the 128-member Mascarene District of the International Mission. Brother Wheelwright is district president.
The membership of the branches reflects the ethnic mix found in the area—French and other European stock, Chinese, Indian, African, and Malagache (from Madagascar). The Saints of the district enjoy the special closeness often found among Latter-day Saints where they are a small minority. And they try very hard to set an example of Christlike living for those around them.
Nelly Lycurgue, the first person from La Reunion to receive a mission call, is now serving in Paris, France. But across the thousands of miles that separate them, her work touches her family.
“Nelly’s influence as a missionary is felt by all of us,” says her mother, Marie-Rose Lycurgue. “It’s wonderful to see the change in my girls’ lives and to feel the Spirit in our home.”
Jacky Thia Soui Tchong is another young Latter-day Saint whose influence is felt among his peers. “The only work that really interests me is that of the Savior,” he says. “My greatest ambition is to be totally obedient to God.”
Philippe Rifosta’s sentiments speak for many other Saints in the Mascarene District: “I have searched for the gospel all of my life, and after fifty years I have finally found it. What a blessing!”
One of two surviving 1847-vintage log cabins built by early pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley has been restored and opened to the public. The Osmyn M. and William H. Deuel Pioneer Log Home is located on the plaza between the Museum of Church History and Art and the new genealogical library, just west of Temple Square. Osmyn and William Deuel, their wives, and William’s little daughters spent the winter of 1847–48 in the cabin. It was later owned by Albert Carrington, who became a member of the Council of the Twelve. It was in the Deseret Museum from 1912–18, then stood on Temple Square until 1976, when it was stored away, awaiting the move to its present location. It has been equipped with period furnishings.
Primary general president Dwan J. Young has been appointed to the National Advisory Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Involved in Scouting as a mother and as a leader over the past twenty-five years, Sister Young serves on the Cub Scout National Committee and as a member of the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts. She has been honored for her service with Scouting’s Silver Beaver award.
The Cayman Islands have been opened to missionary work. The islands, about four hundred miles south of Florida, are part of the Jamaica Kingston Mission. There have already been several baptisms to add to the strength of the tiny branch which already existed there.