News of the Church


Seven New Missions Created, Total Now 275

The First Presidency has announced the creation of seven new missions. The new missions, combined with three recently announced in Russia and Ukraine, will bring the number worldwide to 275. Following are the new missions:

  • Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission. Created January 20, this mission is already operating and was formed by the division of the Argentina Buenos Aires South and Argentina Buenos Aires North missions. The new mission has approximately 14,500 members in five stakes within a total population of 3.9 million.

  • Colombia Bogotá South Mission. Created January 17, the mission is already operating and was formed by a division of the Colombia Bogotá Mission. The new mission has 9,981 members within a population of 5.3 million.

  • Cameroon Yaounde Mission. This mission, scheduled to open July 1, includes the African nations of Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. The mission area has a total population of approximately 12,359,000. Few Church members live within its boundaries.

  • Nigeria Ilorin Mission. Also scheduled to begin operation on July 1, this mission was created by a division of the Nigeria Lagos Mission. The mission will have approximately 500 members living in a population of more than 25 million.

  • Nigeria Jos Mission. This mission will be created July 1 from a division of the Nigeria Aba Mission. The total population of the mission area is approximately 30 million, with some thirty members.

  • Papua New Guinea Port Moresby Mission. Created February 13, this mission was formed from a division of the Australia Brisbane Mission. The mission has more than 2,600 members in an area with a population of 3.6 million.

  • Philippines Cabatuan Mission. Created February 1, this mission was formed by a division of the Philippines San Fernando Mission. The new mission has almost 16,000 members in four stakes in an area with a total population of 2.4 million.

Map of the world(click to view larger)

North America, 87 Missions; Caribbean, 8 Missions; Mexico, Central America, 27 Missions; South America, 50 Missions; Europe, 38 Missions; British Isles, 8 Missions; Africa, 12 Missions; Asia, 19 Missions; Philippines, Micronesia, 14 Missions; South Pacific, 12 Missions

Church Donates Medical Gift to Vietnam

Lives of disfigured Vietnamese children can be changed, thanks to a medical gift donated by the Church to Vietnam.

Elder Merlin R. Lybbert of the Seventy, president of the Asia Area, accompanied a group of United States doctors to Vietnam to witness the treatment and training that accompanied the medical gift.

“This wasn’t only a matter of treating a few young people; it was also a matter of training, because the Vietnamese surgeons didn’t have the instrumentality and know-how to perform the surgeries,” Elder Lybbert explained.

The gift allows surgeons to perform microsurgery, an operation that reconstructs body parts with tissue from other parts of a patient’s body. Working under a microscope, surgeons sew small arteries and veins of the grafted tissue to the new site to keep the tissue alive.

The trip was sponsored by Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that sends medical teams to developing countries to perform free corrective surgery on disfigured children. During the Vietnam trip, doctors performed seven surgeries in five days and conducted two and a half days of training seminars.

“This training and gift now open the doors to these extremely talented Vietnamese surgeons to perform state-of-the-art surgery and life-transforming surgery to thousands of patients over the years,” remarked Dr. Craig Merrell, leader of the reconstructive surgery team and president of the Chesapeake Virginia Stake.

“Just to see these patients with smiles on their faces, to see them able to walk or shake your hand, brings to your heart a good, warm feeling. That feeling comes from serving and helping other people.”

As the first General Authority to visit Vietnam since the war ended in 1975, Elder Lybbert met with several of the country’s top government officials.

“I had a very good conversation with the minister of foreign relations and religious affairs,” he said. “The meeting gave us an opportunity to correct some misinformation and establish a contact there. We’ve been invited back.”

The Saints in Estipac, Mexico

“Hóla, Presidente Robins. I’m visiting here from Fresno, California. My brother-in-law, Aurelio, is a member of the Church, baptized in Fresno, and my sister and her family want to learn about the Church. Could you send missionaries to teach them?” Thus, in 1985, missionaries were sent to Estipac, Mexico.

Fifty miles southwest of Guadalajara is a small sign on the highway indicating the turn-off for the town of Estipac. A man on horseback, a boy seated behind him, drives a herd of skinny cattle along the road. The scenery is typically Mexican: brilliant blue sky with billowy white clouds and verdant valleys with fields of corn and sugarcane ripening under the hot sun. In Estipac, the village streets are cobblestone; the houses, adobe, with pots of paper flowers lining the rooftops.

In 1985 Aurelio Valle met LDS missionaries at his door. A strong, impressive young man, his rich black hair flecked with gray, he welcomed the missionaries, as did his wife and children. Missionary tracts and the Book of Mormon were read avidly. Within weeks, Concepción Valle and her children were ready for baptism. She remarked simply, “I had a dream and I know the Church is true.”

The Valle family took seriously their new responsibility to share the gospel with their neighbors. Each time the missionaries visited, the Valles had a new family for them to teach. Aurelio eagerly attended each discussion, and the Church grew rapidly in Estipac.

The first Latter-day Saint meeting in Estipac was held in an electrical shop. Water had been sprinkled on the dirt floor to keep down the dust. A fifty-gallon oil drum draped with a white cloth served as a pulpit; a borrowed tablecloth covered the cardboard sacrament table. Twenty people attended and listened eagerly as a young missionary spoke on the Atonement.

The next Sunday, the various investigators met at the shop and found it closed without notice. But that week, a member, Nicolás Gonzalez, quietly told the missionaries, “You may use my house. I have been building two extra rooms onto my house. I don’t need the rooms. I don’t know why I was building them. But now I know—there is space there for the people.”

Brother Gonzalez—a campesino, a man of the earth—was not seeking a change in his life, but when he and his friend Ramón Garcia went to a neighbor’s home to investigate the new religion, the doctrine the missionaries preached seemed logical and important to him. He was impressed.

Two weeks after Nicolás’s baptism, former fellow workers told him and Ramón, “If you continue in this religion, no one will talk to you.” When Nicolás and Ramón did not back down, they were further threatened: “Your house will be burned down.” “Brethren,” Nicolás said, “I have been baptized and confirmed; I will not change. If you must burn the house, burn it.” The threat was not carried out. He is now president of the Sunday School and has been to the temple.

Sara Allende is another member who comes to church faithfully, with her baby in her arms and her children—two of whom were recently baptized—by her side. She feels comfortable at church, unashamed to be known as a follower.

“I have only missed one meeting since I have known the Church—when my baby was ill,” she says proudly.

Sister Valle smiles when others criticize her for being a member of the Church. “Why are you so blind?” she asks. One day she asked the missionaries about a point of doctrine. She listened carefully and then said, “That’s what I told them! I wonder at how I am blessed to answer their questions.”

The Valle children are excited about the Church and love to sing the hymns. They sit on the front row and have many of the songs memorized. Eight-year-old Edgar, recently baptized, plans to go on a mission as soon as he is old enough.

Economic conditions are difficult in Estipac. Most of the Church members work in the sugar factory, the town’s main industry. But the factory operates only six months of the year. Because few people own their own land and other work is scarce, some members must find work in Guadalajara or elsewhere when the factory closes. Still, faithful members manage well enough and give credit to the Lord.

“We don’t make any more money than we did before,” Aurelio Valle says, “but we have been blessed for paying tithing and somehow have money left over that we never had before.” Aurelio Valle now has a new home. His wife is Relief Society president, and he is branch president.

When Spain conquered Mexico in 1520, the conquistadors divided up the land by giving each designated officer all the land within eyesight. Estipac was the central point of one such parcel, and the remnants of the old hacienda that marked that spot are visible even today.

Now there is a chapel located at the outskirts of Estipac. That building, too, is a center point, an enduring one—of faith and fellowship in the restored gospel—as more than a hundred members of the Church continue to grow in the gospel and share its blessings with others.

[photo] Estipac youth transporting a load of sugarcane.

[photo] Sunday School president Nicolás Gonzalez (left) and his friend Ramón Garcia were baptized on the same day.

[photo] Concepción Valle (left) and a neighbor enjoy preparing meals for missionaries and other guests.

[photo] A bumpy cobblestone road stretches to Estipac.

M. Moreno Robins, former president of the Guadalajara Mexico Mission, is a member of the Edgemont Seventh Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont South Stake.

Environment Is Focus of New Homefront Series

The environment is the focus of the latest “Homefront” campaign, sponsored by the Church’s Missionary Department and created by Bonneville Communications.

Two television spots, “Computer Lesson” and “Earth Perspective,” and six thirty-second and sixty-second radio spots titled “Environment” are being distributed to more than one thousand television stations and one thousand radio stations in the United States and Canada. The campaign is designed to express the need for individual effort and concern in protecting the environment.

“The environment is of great concern to every individual and therefore to the family as well,” said Gary Dixon, Bonneville creative vice president. “‘Homefront’ is a perfect vehicle for addressing important social concerns such as the environment.”

Dixon noted that this campaign is the second “Homefront” to embrace a social issue. The first dealt with drugs and was issued in early 1991.

Tennessee Stakes Pay Tribute to Black History

Members and nonmembers alike gathered for a Tennessee tribute to black history during February, National Black History Month. The tribute, hosted by the Nashville and Franklin Tennessee stakes, was an opportunity to show love and appreciation to early and latter-day black Saints and establish new friendships in the community.

“In the sight of God, race, color, and nationality make no difference,” explained Alan G. Perriton, president of the Franklin Tennessee Stake during the February 29 activity. “[God] invites them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness.”

Guest speaker Catherine Stokes, a nurse from Chicago, Illinois, spoke of the lessons she had learned from children who had touched her life. One little French girl had become particularly close to her. The young girl was white but saw no difference between herself and her “Aunt Catherine.” On one particular outing to the movies, the girl remarked, “Aunt Catherine, if you keep taking me out like this, people will think I’m your daughter.”

Sister Stokes assured the girl that this would not happen. “But why?” the child inquired.

“Because I don’t speak French,” Sister Stokes replied. Her answer was accepted without hesitation.

“I believe that women have a special assignment from God,” Sister Stokes stated, commenting on the fact that black women have traditionally been known for their roles as caretakers of children of all races. “If we could open our hearts like children do, we wouldn’t have the problems we have.”

Communication is a major factor in solving problems that face people of different cultures and races, Sister Stokes continued.

Other activities on the program included a musical performance by the First Baptist Church Capitol Hill Choir and a dramatic presentation depicting excerpts from the lives of Jane Manning James and her brother, Isaac Lewis Manning. The two were black Saints who lived with the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Other prominent black historical figures were also featured in the presentation. In addition, a booth dedicated to the memory of Alex Haley was set up to provide information and assistance to those interested in family history.

“There are many ways to bear one’s testimony and proclaim the gospel,” explained President Perriton. “As Latter-day Saints, it is incumbent upon us to reach out into our respective communities to increase understanding, to break down barriers, and overcome misconceptions and distrust. As we foster good will toward the Church among our neighbors, the work of the Lord will go forth with increased success and we will be blessed.”Elisha Clark and Stacy Dunaway, Franklin Tennessee Stake

[photo] Robert Allensworth, portraying Isaac Lewis Manning, and Georgia Harris, playing Jane Manning James, participate in a dramatic presentation. (Photography by Gary Thurman.)

[photo] Keynote speaker Catherine Stokes (center) with Stacy Dunaway (left) and Gail Cherry, coordinators of the tribute.

Policies and Announcements

The following items were among those appearing in 1992–1 Bulletin:

Family Home Evening

In addition to the Family Home Evening Resource Book (31106), an excellent resource for family home evening lessons is Gospel Principles (31110). This manual contains forty-seven chapters of easily understood material outlining the basic principles of the gospel. It is ideally suited to the teaching of young children and is equally valuable for youth and adults. Using this manual is a very effective means of studying the gospel.

Church Policy Regarding Islam

As the Church grows around the world, Latter-day Saints find themselves in increasingly frequent contact with members of the Islamic faith. Islam teaches much that is inspiring, noble, and worthy of the highest respect. Missionaries and other Church members must be sensitive and respectful toward the deeply held beliefs of Muslims and endeavor to avoid offending them. Latter-day Saints must be ever mindful of the need to obey, honor, and sustain the law in whatever country they find themselves, including those where the laws may prohibit proselyting activities.

Services Available for Members with Disabilities

The Church can provide limited materials to serve members who have a disability or a handicap. The Church has prepared recorded materials that can be used on equipment provided by the Library of Congress in the United States and the National Canadian Government in Canada. Members of the Church in the United States and Canada who are visually impaired or physically handicapped may receive this equipment on loan for as long as they need it.

Any person in the United States diagnosed by a physician as legally blind, physically disabled, learning disabled, or dyslexic is eligible to receive a slow-speed audiocassette player. Citizens of Canada who have visual impairments may also receive a slow-speed machine.

Special materials that accommodate the slow-speed machines with half-speed, four-track audiocassettes are available for most Church materials. Those members in the United States who are eligible for machines are also eligible to borrow gospel literature from the Utah State Library.

Lists of materials for the visually impaired and physically disabled, the learning disabled, and the hearing impaired and deaf are provided by request to the address listed below. Also, the Salt Lake Distribution Center Catalog (92001) contains sections listing the available materials for each of the above disabilities. These catalogs should be in every meetinghouse library or every bishop’s or branch president’s office. This information should be made available to all members of ward councils.

For more information, contact:

Special Curriculum
Attention: Douglas L. Hind
50 East North Temple Street, Floor 24
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
Telephone: 1-800-453-3860, ext. 2477

Brides’ Dresses for Temple Marriages

A marriage ceremony in the temple is a sacred and happy occasion for which careful preparation should be made. Church leaders have a responsibility to counsel those who are to be married regarding these preparations.

Some brides have brought inappropriate wedding dresses to the temple for the marriage ceremony. Brides and their parents or guardians should understand the requirements clearly before they make or purchase the wedding dress. They should also be aware that lovely and tasteful wedding dresses are available at the temple for use during the endowment and marriage ceremonies.

All dresses worn in the temple should be white, have long sleeves, be modest in design and fabric, and be free of elaborate ornamentation. Sheer fabric should be lined. Women’s pants are not permitted in the temple. The dress should not have a train unless it is removable so that it will not be encumbering during the temple ceremonies, though it could be worn for photographs following the marriage or at a later reception.

Dress for Those Attending Temple Marriages

Members of the Church being married in the temple should not request that all their wedding guests be dressed in white. Those who come to a wedding directly from an endowment session may wear their ordinance clothing, and white clothing must be worn in cases where the sealing room must be entered from the Celestial Room.

Reuse of Manuals

Adult members should be aware that current study guides for the Relief Society and the Melchizedek Priesthood are scheduled for reuse and are coordinated with the scripture study in the Sunday School Gospel Doctrine classes. Members may wish to retain these manuals for reference books and for future reuse.







(Melchizedek Priesthood)



Lay Hold upon the Word of God

Old Testament




To Make Thee a Minister and a Witness

New Testament




Come unto the Father in the Name of Jesus

Book of Mormon




Strengthen Thy Brethren

Doctrine and Covenants




(Relief Society)



Remember Me

Old Testament




Learn of Me

New Testament




Come unto Me

Book of Mormon




Follow Me

Doctrine and Covenants



Missionary Referrals

Referrals should be forwarded to the missionaries only if the nonmembers have explicitly agreed to be visited. The most productive referrals are from nonmembers who have expressed a willingness to have the missionaries visit them. When a nonmember has not expressed this willingness, the missionaries are rarely able to teach the gospel. (This procedure does not change policies on friendshipping or on tracting and other types of normal missionary contacts.)

The Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued the following statement:

“Recent symposia sponsored and attended by some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have included some presentations relating to the House of the Lord, the holy temples, that are offensive. We deplore the bad taste and insensitivity of these public discussions of things we hold sacred. We are especially saddened at the participation of our own members, especially those who hold Church or other positions that give them stature among Latter-day Saints and who have allowed their stature to be used to promote such presentations.

“We have a different concern about some of the other topics at these symposia. Some of the presentations by persons whom we believe to be faithful members of the Church have included matters that were seized upon and publicized in such a way as to injure the Church or its members or to jeopardize the effectiveness or safety of our missionaries. We appreciate the search for knowledge and the discussion of gospel subjects. However, we believe that Latter-day Saints who are committed to the mission of their Church and the well-being of their fellow members will strive to be sensitive to those matters that are more appropriate for private conferring and correction than for public debate. Jesus taught that when a person has trespassed against us, we should ‘go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone,’ and if he will ‘neglect to hear’ this private communication we should ‘tell it unto the church’ (Matt. 18:15, 17). Modern revelation tells us that this last step ‘shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world’ (Doctrine and Covenants 42:89). There are times when public discussion of sacred or personal matters is inappropriate. [D&C 42:89]

“Some of our faithful members have doubtless participated in these symposia because they were invited to state or to defend the Church’s position on a particular topic. There are times when it is better to have the Church without representation than to have implications of Church participation used to promote a program that contains some (though admittedly not all) presentations that result in ridiculing sacred things or injuring The Church of Jesus Christ, detracting from its mission, or jeopardizing the well-being of its members.”

The following letter, signed by the First Presidency, has been sent to all general and local priesthood leaders:

“We occasionally receive reports from some areas about the activities of people who engage in ritualistic practices including forms of so-called Satan worship.

“We express love and concern to innocent victims who have been subjected to these practices by conspiring men and women. We are sensitive to their suffering and assure them that help is available through the mercy and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“We caution all members of the Church not to affiliate in any way with the occult or those mysterious powers it espouses. Such activities are among the works of darkness spoken of in the scriptures. They are designed to destroy one’s faith in Christ, and will jeopardize the salvation of those who knowingly promote this wickedness. These things should not be pursued as games, be topics in Church meetings, or be delved into in private, personal conversations.

“If bishops and branch presidents encounter such activities and feel that they need assistance, we ask that they seek counsel from their stake or mission leaders. Stake and mission presidents can seek guidance from their Area Presidencies.”


Begin the Healing Process

My heart went out to the author of “A Refuge for the Oppressed” (January 1992). As a bishop, I talked with several women in similar situations. It is difficult for me to see how a father can betray the faith of one of his children. However, all the women I counseled longed for their father to come to them, sincerely acknowledging sorrow, so that the healing process may begin for both of them. Eternity is such a long time to carry the sorrows of childhood.

I pray this article may stir the souls of those who have been party to such activities, that they may make their activities a matter of prayer and that through repentance and confession, the healing process might begin.

Peter J. Dyson Athens, Georgia

Use of Church Magazines

I’ve enjoyed the Ensign over the years and have discovered an interesting way to use the magazines I’ve already read. This past month, I gave my used editions to a health club and found that people are really looking for good reading material that uplifts and builds. I just wanted to express my deep love for one of the greatest publications I’ve ever read.

Kelly K. Bergquist Phoenix, Arizona

Think and Refocus

Thank you for the wonderful articles about Christ. There are times when I feel pressured in my life. There is stress in my work as a special educator, in my service in the Church, and with my family. Decisions must be made daily, and they are often difficult ones.

But I have many blessings and I am learning more about Jesus. I was baptized four years ago and am realizing that by myself I will never be perfect. That doesn’t mean I give up. I need to trust and rely on Jesus more than I do now and realize that there is a reason he loves me. Thank you for helping me to think and refocus.

Laura Jean Washburn Lake Mary, Florida

Hearts of Gold

With eagerness I read “Testimonies from the Inner City” (April 1992). I was born and raised in a Chicago suburb, and my heart has wept as I’ve seen the trials faced by many of our members in the inner city.

I taught home-study seminary for two years to youth faced with daily pressures to do drugs, join gangs, and engage in sexual perversions. I see these same kids at church every Sunday giving talks, listening to their teachers, and passing the sacrament. They have much to offer and have taught me much.

Thank you for recognizing members of the Church in all inner cities through your sensitive article. It’s a different world out there, much different than in Salt Lake City. But there are good people with hearts of gold desiring only to do all they can to return to their Father in Heaven. I have always been grateful to be a Latter-day Saint in Chicago! Thank you for your attention to some of Father’s finest.

Gina D. Focosi Niles, Illinois

Blessings from Heavenly Father

We are writing as members of the Russian Branch of the Church in Tallinn, Estonia. Our branch is very young—only one year and four months old. We have forty-four members at this writing, but our small community is constantly growing due to the energy and efforts of our missionaries.

The first Russian-speaking missionaries came to Tallinn in the fall of 1990. From them we learned about the Church and its doctrines. They had a most difficult but rewarding experience in setting up a new branch here. The missionaries have helped us to live as one family, and they became the very heart of our small community.

We are thankful for their teachers who made them so kind and helpful. Also we would like to express gratitude for their parents. The missionaries of our church are one of the blessings from our Heavenly Father.

Russian Branch Members Tallinn, Estonia

Love to Give

Thank you so much for “A Safe Haven” (April 1992). I have been a foster parent for two and one-half years. I recently “retired,” and Cari is the reason. She came to me right out of the hospital. It didn’t take long for me to decide I could not give her up. She became “adoptable” at the age of six months. After our fasting, prayer, and priesthood blessings, she officially became ours seven months later.

Foster parents do not need to be rich, married, or own their own homes. If you have love to give, you are needed.

Sandra K. Willeston Kansas City, Missouri

Singleness No Misfortune

I am the Relief Society president in our stake singles branch and have spoken with many of the sisters in our branch, and elsewhere, about their concerns as single people in the Church.

Many of us feel that when others call us “single,” we are being segregated because of our marital status. The truth is that both married and single women struggle with feeling important, feeling attractive, and obtaining a formal education. It would be helpful for us to share experiences and possible solutions with each other. All people have something to offer regardless of their marital status.

We are aware, and appreciative, of the efforts made in our behalf. Many of us would like to find a companion. However, the facts exist: some single women may never marry or remarry. Our lives are not on hold because we are single. We are living productive lives and trying to use our time wisely, educating ourselves, and serving others. Keep in mind that being single is not a misfortune.

Tamara Langevin Kaysville, Utah

“What If …”

I am an inmate at the Utah State Prison. It pains me to realize that, at nineteen, I should be serving the Lord on a mission. I am serving, instead, a sentence for burglary. I have often thought about the “what ifs.” What if I had remained strong? What if I had listened? What if I had had goals?

Not long ago I started to ask myself another set of “what ifs”: What if I tried to be a servant of the Lord while in prison? What if … well, it was then that I picked up a copy of the March 1991 Ensign. In it I found an article entitled “In Prison, and Ye Came unto Me.” I was thrilled. The Lord knew I was here, and he loves me! It was as if I had gone back to the day of my baptism.

I am now working hard toward my release from prison and have been attending an institute class. I have rediscovered the Book of Mormon and have just finished reading it for the first time. I so hope to serve not only my debt to society, but to my Savior as well. There are so many great things happening in the Church today. I want to be a part of them.

Name Withheld Utah State Prison

Spotlight on Disabilities

As the mother of two “exceptional” children, I have been impressed by the increasing frequency of articles spotlighting the Church’s programs for members with physical and mental disabilities. I have also appreciated the efforts made by our General Authorities and others to offer words of encouragement and comfort to the disabled and their families. Although I feel much progress has been made in recognizing and reaching out to those who are “different,” it is still a challenge to be in that position.

Many of us are not fortunate to live in an area where our numbers are many. As such, there are no special Primaries or other individuals close by with whom we may compare our feelings in a gospel-centered context. We may be the only one with a child ready to leave Primary yet unable to comprehend the regular Sunday School or priesthood curriculum. It can be very lonely sometimes.

I have often thought how nice it would be to talk or correspond with others in the Church who must face the disappointment of having sons who may never have a missionary farewell or daughters who may be unable to attend seminary. While we parents understand that someday our loved ones will be made whole, we still feel a sense of loss and sadness while on this earth.

Cheryl Knaub York, Pennsylvania

A Beautiful Magazine

I have been a subscriber to the Improvement Era and the Ensign for many years. The Ensign has improved and become a beautiful magazine, a leader for others to follow.

Norma Wells Murray, Utah

Family Home Evening Help

I truly appreciate the ideas found in the Ensign that help me plan and present family home evening. Please continue to include these to encourage members to share this special time together each week.

Norma Rex Mount Vernon, Washington