News of the Church

By


Elder Sam K. Shimabukuro

Of the Seventy
Elder Sam K. Shimabukuro

He was a young teenager listening to the radio the first time he heard the word Mormon.

“I had just graduated from junior high school. I heard a choir singing a piece our school chorus had sung earlier that year,” recalls Elder Sam K. Shimabukuro, whose call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy was announced on July 13. “It really drew my attention. The choir was wonderful, and the piece was beautiful.”

He listened closely, eager to learn the name of this marvelous group. When the announcer identified the performers as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, he mentally stored the information away.

A year later, a co-worker invited Sam to a Church activity. “I recognized the name of the Church as the same name of that choir,” Elder Shimabukuro remembers. Although he was touched by the friendliness of the people, it was the music—again—that made the greatest impression.

“The hymns were outstanding,” Elder Shimabukuro explains. “Although I don’t play any musical instrument, I have a great love for music, and that music—and those words—were very different from other hymns I’d heard.”

Although the music fascinated this young teen, he recognized something even more important in this religion. “From the first time I attended church, I knew that this was something different. When the elders gave me a Book of Mormon, I started to read it. The names in this new book were strange; the only one I recognized was Sam, one of Nephi’s brothers. But the contents of the Book of Mormon really hit me. I can’t describe it in words; I just felt it. Of course, now I understand it was the Spirit telling me that the book I was reading was true and that I should pursue it. But at the time, I just knew I felt good about what I was doing.”

Sam acted on those feelings. After he had investigated the Church for six months, the missionaries invited him to be baptized, and he readily accepted. He became a member of the Church on 25 February 1942.

Born in Hawaii on 7 June 1925, Elder Shimabukuro was the youngest child of Kame and Ushi Nakasone Shimabukuro, migrant laborers from Okinawa, Japan. At the time of Sam’s baptism, his parents were already deceased, and he was living with his older brother.

One of the highlights of Elder Shimabukuro’s life has been his full-time mission to his parents’ homeland. “I served as a missionary for three years, half of that time in Japan proper, and half of the time on the island of Okinawa, where I opened up the area. I had never been there before, and it was a tremendous privilege for me to serve in the land my parents came from.”

There were other blessings that came from his mission. It was in Okinawa that this young elder met his future wife, Amy Michiko Hirose. After finishing his mission, Elder Shimabukuro returned to Okinawa to court her and then to ask the Hiroses’ approval for their daughter to return to Hawaii as his wife. “Fortunately, they consented,” says Elder Shimabukuro, chuckling.

“She keeps me on the straight and narrow,” says Elder Shimabukuro of his wife. There are other things she does for him, too. Sam feels blessed to have had her by his side while he was serving as president of the Japan Sendai Mission and then as president of the Tokyo Temple. “She helped me tremendously with the language,” he recalls. “Japanese is my second language, but it’s her first. She was able to help me communicate.”

The couple has one daughter, Phyllis, who died of lupus in 1974. “It was a tremendous blow; she was our only child,” Elder Shimabukuro says. “But we have to take the bitter with the sweet and accept these experiences with courage and faith.

“In my life I have learned that despite all the opposition and trials that we face, we must learn to implicitly trust the Lord. It’s so easy to get off on a tangent whenever things come up, when people don’t meet our expectations or we’ve been hurt. We need to learn to trust the Lord all the way, and he will take care of us. I’m counting on that now with this new calling.”

Alberta Temple Rededicated

CARDSTON, ALBERTA, CANADA—The Alberta Temple has been a white granite beacon rising against the backdrop of the Canadian Rockies for nearly seventy years.

The Alberta Temple dominates the landscape of Cardston

The Alberta Temple dominates the landscape of Cardston. (Photo by David Bly.)

That beacon drew more than 100,000 visitors to its open house in June and more than 25,000 Church members for dedicatory services following an extensive three-year renovation project.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, presided over the twelve dedicatory sessions held from June 22–24. President Hinckley spoke of his deep regret that President Ezra Taft Benson was unable to attend, citing President Benson’s love for temple work and for Alberta.

The dedicatory prayer, read by President Hinckley at the first session, petitioned, “May thy Holy Spirit dwell here and bring peace and love everlasting into the hearts of those who serve within this temple.

“Touch the hearts of thy people with the Spirit of Elijah the prophet, who restored the keys of the divine work of the redemption of the dead.”

The prayer sought the blessings of the Lord upon Canada, “where is found freedom of worship, freedom to assemble, and freedom of expression. …

“Bless the Latter-day Saints of Canada that they may be good citizens of the nation, men and women of integrity worthy of the respect of the people of this nation, and contributing of their talents and strength to its well-being.”

“May this beautiful house, which is God’s holy house, become as a magnet which will draw you here,” President Hinckley told those attending the first session. At a later session, he called on members to use the temple “doubly to make up for the loss of time” while it was being renovated.

“This temple is beautiful and magnificent, but it isn’t a place to be looked upon, it’s a place to be used,” he said.

President Monson told those attending, “This is an opportunity today to rededicate ourselves as we rededicate this temple. Let us examine our lives and make that improvement where improvement needs to be made.”

Both President Hinckley and President Monson complimented young people who attended the dedicatory sessions. President Monson told the youth in one session, “Remember the spirit you feel. Remember this day and pledge to yourself, ‘I will return and partake of the ordinances here.’”

Other speakers at the dedicatory sessions included President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elders Boyd K. Packer, Marvin J. Ashton, M. Russell Ballard, and Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Dean L. Larsen of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elders Alexander B. Morrison and H. Burke Peterson of the Seventy.

Also speaking were Elder Victor L. Brown, an emeritus member of the Seventy; President Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society general president; President Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president; President Roy R. Spackman and Sister Donna Mae Spackman, temple president and matron; and President Grant Matkin and President John R. Milne, counselors in the temple presidency.

President Thomas Young, Jr., of the Canada Calgary Mission and President Karl Keeler of the Canada Winnipeg Mission attended the dedication, as did regional representatives Phillip G. Redd (Calgary Alberta, Edmonton Alberta, and Saskatoon Saskatchewan regions), Lynn A. Rosenvall (Big Horn Wyoming, Great Falls Montana, and Missoula Montana regions), and Don Salmon (Cardston Alberta and Lethbridge Alberta regions).

The dedication was a homecoming for Elder Brown, Elder Morrison, Sister Jack, Sister Kapp, and President Keeler, all of whom grew up in Alberta.

The dedication was also an occasion for the First Presidency to announce the calling of a new temple president—Heber L. Matkin, formerly a stake president in Lethbridge. His calling takes effect September 1.

Both Latter-day Saints and those of other faiths were touched by what they felt at the temple.

Martha Woolley of the Taber Third Ward, Taber Alberta Stake, had watched the walls of the temple rise during its ten-year construction when she was a child. She would follow President E. J. Wood (then stake president in Cardston and the first Alberta Temple president) and other Church leaders when they gave tours of the uncompleted structure. She was thirteen when the temple was first dedicated in 1923. Being a witness to two dedications in the same temple was “just wonderful,” she said.

For Dixie Beaton, a member of the Okotoks Ward, Calgary Alberta South Stake, attending the dedication brought back memories of when she and her husband, Perry, and their children were sealed there in 1977, a year after they joined the Church. “It is so good to return there and show my children where we were sealed,” she said. In the five years since her husband died, the family has been strengthened by the knowledge of their eternal bond.

She said the dedication session she attended gave her tremendous spiritual strength. “I left feeling that there isn’t anything I can’t accomplish,” she added.

The number of visitors who streamed through the temple during the nine-day open house surprised members of the dedication committee, who had planned for 60,000. Neldon Hatch, who coordinated public relations for the open house and the dedication, praised the 5,000 volunteers who accommodated the 100,000-plus open house visitors and the crowds who attended the dedication. The number of open house visitors was surprising because Cardston, a small community, is removed from large population centers; many who attended had to travel more than one hundred miles.

Both broadcast and print media covered the open house amply. A chain of newspapers in southern Alberta published a 32-page insert for its editions. The number of people streaming into Cardston became a news story in itself, with reporters interviewing residents and business people about the impact of the events.

It was estimated that 50 percent of the visitors were not Latter-day Saints.

The temple is a well-known landmark on the prairie of southern Alberta

The temple is a well-known landmark on the prairie of southern Alberta. (Photo by David Bly.)

Alberta premier Don Getty, members of his cabinet, members of the legislature, and their wives flew to Cardston to attend a temple tour for government and civic leaders, conducted by Elder Ballard. Brother Rosenvall, who was in the group, reported that the premier was deeply impressed by the temple, as well as the Church’s orientation toward eternal families. During the tour, Mr. Getty asked if he could have a copy of the Book of Mormon; at a dinner later, he was given a copy of the triple combination (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) with his name embossed on it.

At the completion of a media tour conducted by Elder Peterson, one reporter asked if he could return to the room where the tour began, to sit there and enjoy the feeling of peace he had felt. Another reporter, Dean Pootz of Fort Macleod, north of Cardston, commented, “That was the most beautiful experience of my life. I’m so glad I was able to go there and see that beautiful building.”

[photo] The opportunity to visit the renovated temple drew more than 100,000 visitors during the open house. (Photo by David Bly.)

David Bly, a member of the Taber Third Ward, Taber Alberta Stake, is an editor for the Calgary Herald.

Two Milestones for the Church in the Soviet Union

On the same day in June, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic announced official recognition for the Church, and the government of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic gave the Church a plot of land for a building in Yerevan, the republic’s capital.

Official recognition by the Russian republic means the Church now has a legal voice to make requests of government ministries and can establish congregations throughout the republic. The Russian republic covers three-quarters of the Soviet Union’s land area and has a population of more than 140 million.

Alexander Rutskoi, vice president of the republic, announced the official recognition at a dinner following the Tabernacle Choir’s concert in Moscow on June 24 by reading a document that had actually been signed on May 28.

LDS missionaries from the Finland Helsinki East and Austria Vienna East missions have been serving in Russia since the Church was given limited recognition last year. Branches in Leningrad, Vyborg, and Moscow have a total of about three hundred members.

Also on June 24, Elders Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve were in Yerevan, along with Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy, President of the Church’s Europe Area, to accept a gift of land.

The Armenian government gave the land in appreciation for the humanitarian efforts of the Church and of LDS philanthropist Jon Huntsman, a Utah-based businessman and president of the Salt Lake Monument Park Stake. Both the Church and President Huntsman contributed to medical relief efforts after an earthquake wracked Armenia in 1988.

The land, about three acres, has a view of Mt. Ararat, across the border in Turkey. The Church will construct a four-story building on the site. The building will be used as a meetinghouse, office building, and residential space for Church members who have volunteered to help manage a concrete plant. The plant, using equipment donated by President Huntsman, will be operated jointly by the Huntsman Chemical Company and the Armenian government. It will produce concrete panels to be used in housing for Armenians left homeless by the quake.

Elder Nelson, in expressing gratitude for the gift, promised that the planned Church building will be used to “teach of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.” Elder Oaks said that while the concrete plant would help provide shelter for the body, the Church building would offer food for the soul.

[photo] Alexander Rutskoi, vice president of the Russian Republic, listens as Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve expresses appreciation for the republic’s granting of legal recognition to the Church. (Photo by Craig Dimond.)

Dedication Prayer Asks Blessings on Honduras

Honduras was dedicated on June 1 for missionary work by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Although missionaries have been working in the country since 1952, and Central America was long ago dedicated for missionary work, Honduras itself had not been dedicated. The country has nine stakes, two missions, and more than thirty thousand members.

In the prayer, Elder Nelson expressed gratitude for the restoration of the gospel and the reestablishment of the Church and asked that the Church might be additionally strengthened in Honduras. The prayer also asked a blessing on the Honduran people, that they might be receptive to the gospel, and on the nation’s present and future leaders, that they might support freedom of worship.

Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Gardner H. Russell of the Seventy, a counselor in the Central America Area Presidency, accompanied Elder Nelson and spoke at the dedicatory service. About fifty local Church leaders attended the service, which was held on a mountainside overlooking Tegucigalpa, the capital city.

Church Expands in Countries, Colonies, and Territories

In 1990, the number of countries, colonies, territories, and possessions with organized wards and branches of the Church reached 130. That number has steadily increased over the last several years.

Year

Countries

1986

122

1987

122

1988

125

1989

128

1990

130

Five Chilean Members Die in Mud Slides

Five Church members were among those killed in Antofagasta, Chile, when rare heavy rains in the desert area triggered killer mud slides in June.

More than one hundred Chileans died in the slides. It was estimated that seven hundred people were injured and more than twenty thousand left homeless by the disaster, with at least six thousand homes destroyed or damaged.

Homes of four LDS families were destroyed, and two more were damaged. Thirty-eight member families lost all of their clothing, furniture, and belongings.

There were no reports of damage to Church property. Five meetinghouses in the Caliche and Antofagasta Chile stakes were used to house members and nonmembers displaced in the disaster; at one point, there were more than three hundred people being sheltered in Church buildings.

Roads were blocked by the slides, limiting access to the city. Damage to the water system was extensive, making potable water a scarce and precious commodity.

The Church’s regional office in Santiago sent shipments of food, water, and other supplies to the city. Members of stakes and districts in other areas of the country, particularly Santiago, also donated food and clothing that were shipped to the homeless and needy in Antofagasta.

[photo] Residents of Antofagasta, Chile, clean mud from a street. (Photo by Patricio R. Ortega.)

Eruption of Mount Pinatubo Causes Death, Destruction

In the Philippines, volcanic eruptions of Mount Pinatubo killed two Church members and damaged some Church property.

Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy, President of the Philippines/Micronesia Area, praised local Church members’ efforts: “We are tremendously pleased with how the members and leaders are responding to this disaster. In many cases, members have been frightened, but they are very ‘up’ and have performed in a remarkable way under very adverse conditions. We have great faith in our members that they will bounce back and get on with their lives.”

After more than six hundred years, Mount Pinatubo erupted on June 9, with other eruptions following over the next few weeks. Thick ash has blanketed the area, which is located approximately fifty miles north of Manila. Seasonal rains and winds are scattering the ash and debris hundreds of miles in all directions. Some ash has even reached Africa.

Benjamin Ravanta Doctolero of the Olongapo Second Ward, Olongapo Philippines Stake, and Jewel F. Celestino of the San Felipe Branch, in the Iba District, were killed in separate incidents when the roofs of their homes collapsed on them. In addition, Elder Kendrick reported that at least thirty member families lost their homes and that many more may have to permanently leave the area due to the fallout and ash.

Following the initial eruption, several Church meetinghouses in the area were used for evacuation shelters. The roof on the stake center in Olongapo sustained roof damage, as did a ward meetinghouse in San Marcelina. Other meetinghouses received minor damage, but the Manila Philippines Temple was not damaged.

Food shipments from the Church were sent from Manila, and the local Church employment office has been assisting those who lost jobs as a result of the eruptions.

Mount Pinatubo, which first began spewing steam in April, has ejected about two billion tons of debris, or ten percent of its reservoir of magma (molten rock), according to Philippine chief volcanologist Raymundo Punongbayan. So far, a total of more than three hundred people have been killed as a result of the eruptions.

At least 30 percent of the cattle in the area have died because volcanic ash has covered the grass they use for food. Many tenant farmers have been forced to leave the area. Thousands of people, including servicemen and women and their families stationed at Clark U.S. Air Force Base and Subic Bay Naval Station, have also been evacuated from the area.

Appointments

New Temple Presidents

The First Presidency has called six new temple presidents, who will assume their assignments this month:

Reid H. Johnson of Salt Lake City will preside over the Stockholm Sweden Temple.

Heber L. Matkin of Lethbridge, Alberta, will serve as president of the Alberta Temple.

Garth P. Monson of Ephraim, Utah, will serve as president of the Manti Temple.

Jiri Snederfler of Prague, Czechoslovakia, will preside over the Freiberg Germany Temple.

John H. Tanner of Mesa, Arizona, will preside over the Arizona Temple.

Paul W. Wilson of Plymouth, Minnesota, will preside over the Chicago Illinois Temple.

Video on the Church in Africa Now Available

A recently produced videotape dealing with the lives and activities of Church members in Africa, entitled Lives of Service, is now available through Church distribution centers.

Originally produced to acquaint African government leaders with the Church and its teachings, the video was sponsored by the Church’s Public Affairs Department.

Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve, who oversees the work of the Church in Africa, commented that the film conveys a powerful message about selfless service: “Dedicated members of the Church in Africa and throughout the world are truly becoming the leaven of their people as they not only serve in the Church, but use their skills to improve the lot of those around them.”

Lives of Service was filmed on location. It focuses on several Church members who have devoted their lives to serving their fellowmen. One of those is 74-year-old Julia Mavimbela of Soweto, South Africa. Already a well-known public figure when she joined the Church in 1981, Sister Mavimbela has been repeatedly elected president of the National Women of South Africa. She also founded Women for Peace, a multiracial organization that now numbers more than sixteen thousand women.

Also featured are Dr. Emmanuel Kissi, a surgeon and regional representative in Ghana, and electrical engineer David Eka, who was the first stake president in black Africa and who is currently serving as a regional representative in Nigeria.

Bruce L. Olsen, managing director of the Church’s Public Affairs Department, reports that the film has been shown to various heads of state in Africa and “is proving very effective in removing misconceptions and communicating a Christ-centered message. We felt others might benefit from it also, so it is being made available to members, leaders, and missionaries throughout the world to use as a tool in introducing the Church.”

The sixteen-minute video (stock no. 53079) is available through Church distribution centers for $4.00.

[photos] Shot on location, Lives of Service inlcudes interviews with Church members like Emmanuel and Benedicta Elizabeth Kissi of Ghana.

Responses of Single Adults Sought

In an attempt to help Church leaders understand single members’ concerns, the Church’s Research Information Division is launching a study, under the sponsorship of the Priesthood Executive Council, of single adult Church members.

The research division plans to conduct personal interviews with single members. In preparation for those interviews, division personnel are interested in hearing from any single adult members who wish to share their thoughts and opinions on the key issues and concerns of LDS singles. Both those who have never married and those who are divorced or widowed are encouraged to write and share their experiences and feelings. Address letters to: Church Office Building, Research Information Division, Floor 18, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150. Responses will remain confidential and will not be published.

LDS Scene

PROVO, UTAH—A survey of accounting professors has ranked the undergraduate program at Brigham Young University fourth in the nation. The School of Accountancy was also identified as one of the five or six schools in the nation to develop academic curricula for the twenty-first century.

Comment

Waiting for “Mr. Right”

I am twenty-nine years of age and unmarried. I have been an active member of the Church since my baptism at age sixteen.

When I reached marriageable age, I assumed that all I needed to do was wait for “Mr. Right” to come along and then get married. So I developed a waiting habit. After a long day at work, I would lounge at home in front of the television, feeling too tired for outside activities. Eventually, loneliness would overtake me, and then, in desperation, I would consent to a date with someone I had no real interest in.

I finally decided one day to do what our leaders have often encouraged us to do—get involved in life, rather than just contemplating it. I enrolled in an institute class and faithfully attended. I got tickets to the local symphony and took a different friend to each concert. I went to Church activities and got involved in service projects I had formerly passed up.

A daily study of the Book of Mormon and the New Testament (for Sunday School class) fit easily into my schedule. I started attending ward choir more regularly, and I became a substitute teacher in Relief Society in addition to my regular Church calling.

Since I made the decision to get involved, my life has been happier, my energy has increased, and my loneliness has disappeared. The gospel does provide a foundation for an abundant life; we only have to get out and DO IT!

Claudia Green Mesa, Arizona

Pass It On!

I have consistently seen articles in the Ensign on sharing the gospel with others. Although I now live in the Salt Lake Valley, I lived in southern California for twenty-five years. My ward there, the Canoga Park Ward, had established an outstanding missionary program. Each Sunday, a ward member was given a Book of Mormon. During the week, that individual would write his or her testimony inside the book and give it to someone that he or she felt might be moved by it. In sacrament meeting the following Sunday, the individual would tell about his or her experience in passing on the book, then give a book to another ward member to share the next week. The pattern was repeated each Sunday.

I don’t know how many people were baptized as a direct result of this activity, but I do know of some that were reactivated.

Boyd Olson West Valley City, Utah

Keep Office Relationships Businesslike

After reading the September 1990 issue of the Ensign, I feel compelled to write. In one article you talk about excommunication and in another about how men should be nicer to women at work. But I feel we need an article on what I perceive to be one of the biggest problems—relationships between men and women who work together.

I know of several people who have been excommunicated after having extramarital affairs with co-workers. It’s really no wonder. Most people probably spend more waking hours with their co-workers than at home with their families. Adding to the problem is that companies often require a man and a woman to travel together.

Another problem is the number of activities that go on outside the office. My husband has always had bosses who feel good relationships are important in the office, so whenever the men get together to play golf or tennis after work, the boss invites the women to come along. And many companies have coed sports teams, so co-workers not only spend their days with each other, but two or three evenings a week practicing and playing.

Yes, men should treat women well at work, but we must stick to businesslike behavior. Flirting is rampant in the work force, and so are extramarital affairs. We need to be on our guard.

Name withheld upon request