President Hinckley Visits Members in Atlanta, Georgia
“We are a biblical church,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley to about 7,000 listeners gathered in the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta on Sunday morning, 17 May. “This wonderful testament of the Old World, this great and good Holy Bible is one of our standard works. We teach from it. We bear testimony of it. We read from it. It strengthens our testimony. And we add to that this great second witness, the Book of Mormon, the testament of the New World, for as the Bible says, in the mouths of two or three witnesses shall all things be established” (see Matt. 18:16). President Hinckley then went on to review “a half dozen or so scriptural statements for which we have an interpretation and an understanding, but of which others do not seem to have an understanding” (see John 10:16, 1 Cor. 15:29, 2 Thes. 2:3, 1 Pet. 2:9, and Rev. 14:6).
President Hinckley spoke to 6,000 additional members during an afternoon session. The previous day he met with missionaries and spoke at a priesthood leadership meeting. He was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Marjorie; Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Barbara; and Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy, President of the North America Southeast Area, and his wife, Shirley.
“We may not be Christians by the interpretation which others may put on that term,” President Hinckley said. “In fact, we are not Christians by the standard under which they are Christians. If we were, there would have been no need for a restoration of the gospel. The restoration of the gospel occurred to correct all the mistakes of the past. … We are Christians in terms of following the teachings, the example, and the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it doesn’t bother me a bit when people say we are not Christians, because they are looking at what they are saying in terms of a long tradition, whereas we speak from the depth of our hearts out of the words of modern revelation.”
President Monson Receives Award, Addresses Red Cross
“We are all our brothers’ keepers,” said President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, at an awards banquet held in Salt Lake City on 29 April by the National Conference of Community and Justice, formerly called the National Conference of Christians and Jews. President Monson was presented with an award for his “lifetime of advocacy, service, and dedication to the state of Utah and the betterment of humanity.” He was also recognized as a “friend [and] man of compassion, insight, wisdom, and good humor.”
Speaking at the banquet, President Monson thanked NCCJ leaders for “being who you are and what you are, and for what you do and how you influence others to walk the better way.” Sanford Cloud Jr., national president and chief executive officer of NCCJ, commented that President Monson represents “the mission of NCCJ in fighting bias, bigotry, and racism and promoting understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution, and education.”
On 30 May, President Monson spoke to some 2,000 American Red Cross (ARC) delegates gathered in Salt Lake City for a national convention. “The Church and the American Red Cross have enjoyed a good working relationship through a formal statement of understanding for more than a decade,” remarked President Monson.
Recalling a pioneer saying related to irrigation—“Get the water to the end of the row”—President Monson said: “It’s a mammoth thing to obtain the contributions in time, in cash, and in services. It’s a massive thing to get the aid that is necessary to the countries where havoc reigns, but it is really getting the water to the end of the row when you see the Red Cross deliver aid to starving people and to those who are bereft of their homes or their future.”
President Monson said that hundreds of examples of cooperation between the Church and the Red Cross could be shared, but he would highlight just two. Speaking of a recent blood drive among Church employees in Salt Lake City, he said: “We seldom thank them publicly, but without that contribution other people might very well not have the privilege of life. We are committed as Church members to providing this gift of life for people in need.”
His other example was the cooperative relief effort during recent tornados and flooding in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. “The situation was desperate,” President Monson said. “Thousands of homes were destroyed. Thousands of people had nowhere to go. They had little to eat and only the clothes on their backs. We were pleased that we could have 700 men on the scene and set up in our chapels stations where blood could be given and help could be administered. All this was done in cooperation with the Red Cross.”
Also speaking at the convention were Elizabeth Dole, president of the American Red Cross, and Elder Jon M. Huntsman, Area Authority Seventy and also a member of the ARC board of governors.
President Faust Honored, Breaks Ground for Two Brazil Temples
During a visit to Brazil, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, presided at groundbreaking ceremonies for the Campinas Brazil and Pôrto Alegre Brazil Temples. He also held member meetings in Brasilia and São Paulo, visited a total of 2,000 missionaries laboring in 11 missions and the new São Paulo Missionary Training Center, and was honored by São Paulo’s Municipal Council as an honorary citizen. President Faust was accompanied to Brazil by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and by Elder Craig B. Zwick of the Seventy, President of the Brazil Area, and his counselors, Elders Claudio R. M. Costa and J. Kent Jolley, both of the Seventy.
“None of us will ever forget how we feel today because of the Spirit of the Lord that is present,” remarked President Faust at the Campinas groundbreaking on 1 May, which was attended by about 3,000 people. The groundbreaking in Pôrto Alegre was held the next day and was attended by about 3,500 people.
“At the heart of our mission is to strengthen and fortify eternal families,” said President Faust during a 27 April ceremony held at São Paulo’s city hall, where some 200 city dignitaries and about 100 Church members gathered for the presentation of his honorary citizenship. “My wonderful wife of 55 years, Ruth, who is here this evening, and I were sealed in the temple in Salt Lake City for time and all eternity. We believe that our 5 children and our 22 grandchildren and our 2 great-grandchildren are sealed to us eternally if we are worthy of that blessing.”
President Faust was honored for his many years of service in Brazil, where he served as a missionary from 1939 to 1942 and as a General Authority from 1975 to 1977. He noted that while the Church has 26 missions in Brazil and more than 650,000 members organized into 183 stakes, there are about 140 Brazilian cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and 400 cities with more than 40,000 inhabitants which have never had missionaries. When the two new temples are completed, Brazil will have four operating temples.
Church Formally Recognized in Russia
During May of this year, the Church was officially recognized as a centralized religious organization by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in Moscow. The certificate of registration allows the National Religious Association of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to continue its humanitarian and missionary efforts in Russia and provide meeting places for its members.
“We are grateful to the Ministry of Justice and to other Russian officials for their prompt response to our filings for reregistration,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who oversees the Church’s efforts in Russia. “We feel the Lord has answered our prayers in this important matter.”
Education Week to Be Broadcast to Stake Centers
To extend educational opportunities to more Church members, the Church Educational System and Brigham Young University will broadcast portions of the university’s Campus Education Week during 18–21 August. These sessions will be broadcast over the Church satellite system to stake centers in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean and will also be seen on KBYU-TV.
Videotapes of these presentations will not be commercially available. However, presentations may be recorded for home use only, and meetinghouse libraries have been authorized to record and retain a set of the broadcasts for Church use only. For more information, contact the CES Continuing Education Program at 801-378-2087 or on the Internet at coned.byu.edu/ed/edweek.htm.
Tuesday, 18 August
5:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Significance of Living in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times
6:00 P.M. (MDT)—“Be One; and if Ye Are Not One Ye Are Not Mine” (D&C 38:27)
7:00 P.M. (MDT)—Devotional address by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
8:00 P.M. (MDT)—Gospel Values for Youth
9:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Mission and Work of the Savior
Wednesday, 19 August
5:00 P.M. (MDT)—Follow the Living Prophet: Our Part Is to Listen and Obey
6:00 P.M. (MDT)—What the Restoration Means to Families: A Gospel View of Everyday Life
7:00 P.M. (MDT)—Temples: The Connecting Link between Time and Eternity
8:00 P.M. (MDT)—Basic Financial Planning Techniques and the Law of the Harvest
9:00 P.M. (MDT)—Out of Obscurity: The Gospel, the Media, and the Individual in Furthering the Work of the Kingdom
Thursday, 20 August
5:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Great Plan of Happiness
6:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Still Small Voice That Whispers: Revelation and How It Comes
7:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Scriptures: Our Best Marriage Manual
8:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Power of Music to Lift and Teach
9:00 P.M. (MDT)—Prayer: The Soul’s Sincere Desire
Friday, 21 August
5:00 P.M. (MDT)—Some “Plain and Precious Things” Restored and Clarified in the Doctrine and Covenants
6:00 P.M. (MDT)—That We May Always Remember Him
7:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Post-Earthly Spiritual Existence
8:00 P.M. (MDT)—DNA and the Dead Sea Scrolls: How Do the Pieces Fit?
9:00 P.M. (MDT)—Lessons from LDS Church History: The Martyrdom at Carthage
Gospel Growth in Kenya
When Peter and Elizabeth Ndungu met the LDS missionaries in 1992, Peter was the young pastor of a local church in Kenya. He had a paid position with a promising career ahead of him, and his family lived in a house provided by his parishioners. On learning of the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the Ndungus willingly gave up their job and house to join the Church.
“I read the Book of Mormon in three days,” says Brother Ndungu. “Because I knew the Bible so well, the unanswered questions that I had while training at the Bible school—such as questions on the Godhead, mode of baptism, continuous revelation, and what happened to families after death—started falling into place. I now knew for myself that the Church was true. Knowing the Church is true has helped me overcome many obstacles.”
The Church itself has overcome many challenges since the 1970s when American USAID employees and their families serving in Kenya first held services in their own homes. Because of restrictions on missionary work, it was not until 1979 that the first African converts in Kenya were baptized. The Kenya District, with two branches in Nairobi and Kiboko, was created in 1981. And after years of working with government authorities, the Church received official recognition in 1991. Slowly the Church grew, and in February 1992 more than 200 members and investigators from five branches attended a district conference in the capital city of Nairobi. The first meetinghouse was completed in July 1994 for the Langata Branch in Nairobi. Today membership has grown to 2,650 in 2 districts, Nairobi and Chulu, which are organized into 13 branches.
There are 97 missionaries serving in the Kenya Nairobi Mission, which serves four African nations: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Currently most of the missionaries serving in Kenya are native Africans and missionary couples because permits for young elders entering the country have been difficult to obtain. Still, the Church is gaining strength as new members join and grow in the gospel.
In 1986, when Elizabeth Masibo joined the little flock of about 20 members at a rented house in Nairobi, she was the only young African woman. “Among the Church members, I saw a unity of different races which I had never seen anywhere else in my life,” she recalls. “I quickly grasped the truthfulness and sacredness of the gospel taught to me.” Sister Masibo and her husband, Peter, whom she helped convert after their marriage, now diligently work to teach these gospel truths to their daughters. “As a mother of three,” says Sister Masibo, “I am not worried about my children’s future in this difficult world. The knowledge of Christ they are acquiring now will become their beacon when they face challenges in their lives.”
Another faithful mother of several children, Jane Ngatia, joined the Church while studying in Britain. She came back to Kenya excited to share the gospel with her son and daughter. Her daughter, Joyce, accepted it immediately, but her son did not want to see the missionaries. Two years later, her son, Joseph, joined the Church; he has since served a mission. Sister Ngatia is now the district Relief Society president in Nairobi. When she found the Church, she says, “I felt like heaven had come down.”
Since that young pastor and his wife gave up their job and house to join the Church in 1992, they also have been richly blessed. One year after Peter and Elizabeth Ndungu were baptized, they were sealed in the Johannesburg temple with their daughter, Joy. The Ndungus were then blessed with a son they named Byron. Brother Ndungu now serves as a counselor in the Nairobi District presidency and is the CES director for Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. As a result of their temple sealing, Brother Ndungu says: “The quality of my family life is better. The temple experience has helped me appreciate the teachings about patterning our lives to that of Christ. I now understand the principle of growth to perfection.”
The goal of the Saints in Kenya is to joyfully share the gospel with the 30 million people who live in this beautiful African nation.
Conversation: The Church in Central America
The seven countries of the Church’s Central America Area—Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama—are together growing at the rate of between 20,000 and 25,000 new members per year. To find out more about the progress of the Church in that part of the world, the Ensign spoke with Elder of the Seventy, President of the Central America Area, and Elders and , Area Authority Seventies who were serving, respectively, as First and Second Counselors in the Area Presidency.
Question: May we begin by looking at each individual country?
Response: The Church has grown quickly in Guatemala, with about 166,000 members presently, the most of any Central American country. The area offices are located in Guatemala City near the area’s only operating temple, and the Guatemala Missionary Training Center prepares missionaries called from all over the area. Of the 2,200 missionaries serving in the area, about 900 are native to Central America.
Belize was a British colony for more than 120 years before gaining independence in the late 1970s. About 211,000 people live there, most of them descendants of Africans who came via Caribbean islands to work. The people speak a creole language, and the official language is English. Church growth has been steady in Belize, with about 2,300 members presently and 24 missionaries from the Honduras San Pedro Sula Mission laboring there.
A small country geographically, El Salvador is the most densely populated Latin American nation. It has been involved in civil wars for 20 years or more, but the situation is more peaceful now. Today the work is going well, with about 79,000 members presently.
Honduras, with 84,000 members, is the country where the Church is currently growing the fastest in Central America. Much of the growth is happening in and around San Pedro Sula, a hot, humid, flat, coastal area where international fruit companies operate and considerable manufacturing takes place, particularly in textiles. The Area Presidency’s emphasis on priesthood leadership training is progressing particularly well in Honduras.
Nicaragua was under a communist dictator in recent history but is now led by a democratic president. The country’s economic progress is gaining momentum. The Church has no stakes there yet, but about 26,000 members are organized into several strong districts. Membership in Nicaragua is growing at about the average rate as in other Central American countries, and soon stakes will be created.
Costa Rica has enjoyed a stable, democratic government for some 70 years, making it a safe haven in the middle of politically troubled Central America. The nation’s standard of living is the highest in Central America, with many consumer goods available and a strong infrastructure. The Church has about 29,000 members there.
Panama is preparing to assume control of the Panama Canal in 1999, and consequently hundreds of U.S. military and civilian expatriates have left or are now leaving. Local people are stepping up to fill the gap in leadership, and the Church is doing well. Panama has experienced some political turmoil, but the work of the Church has gone forward steadily. Membership there is nearly 32,000.
Q: What are some strengths of the Church in Central America?
R: Home teaching and visiting teaching are showing improvement. The Church is moving ahead with leadership training so that a solid priesthood infrastructure can operate. The goal is to have what we refer to as the “shepherding ratio” be 10 members per active priesthood holder. Missionaries are concentrating on baptizing potential Melchizedek Priesthood holders, with the goal of adult men representing at least 25 percent of total baptisms.
Members are working hard to set up employment resources. The Church has a good reputation within Central America for providing honest and reliable workers. In many countries Church members are involved in the upper levels of politics and business. The Church’s relationship with governments, the community, and other churches is the strongest it has ever been. Even the area’s dominant religion, which used to preach widely against the Church, has been cooperative about letting members microfilm records for family history work.
Now that most of the countries of Central America are relatively peaceful, people can travel throughout the region on highways. The Guatemala City Temple is seeing a large increase in members visiting from other countries. Patron housing at the temple can handle about 100 people, but demand is high enough that reservations must be made well in advance. Temple activity has increased in the last two years by nearly 40 percent, which signals that members are better preparing themselves for temple recommends.
New converts in Central America are pointed toward the temple, and members and full-time missionaries are working closely with them for a greater emphasis on retention. Recently members and missionaries teamed up to perform an intensive membership audit. Tens of thousands of hours have been devoted to finding less-active members and updating records so we can better serve them. All these efforts and developments point toward increased gospel maturity in Central America, which is poised not only for more growth but for higher levels of strength and commitment.
Central America at a Glance
Total Church membership:
1 (Guatemala City)
Wards and branches:
475 owned, 277 rented
Lisle G. Adams of the Monticello Second Ward, Monticello Utah Stake, has been called as president of the new Monticello Utah Temple, which is scheduled for dedication 26–27 July 1998. His wife, Jewell Redd Adams, will serve as temple matron.
New national officers have been announced for Lambda Delta Sigma, the Church’s sorority for college women. Jeannene N. Barham of the Crescent Second Ward, Sandy Utah Crescent West Stake, has been named national president. Kathleen Cannon Pinnock of the Cottonwood Fourth Ward, Salt Lake Big Cottonwood Stake, is first counselor. Deanna M. Elggren of the Eastridge Seventh Ward, Draper Utah Eastridge Stake, is second counselor. Bonnie B. Robinson of the 18th North Ward, Salt Lake Eagle Gate Stake, is executive secretary.
For the second year in a row, the BYU—Hawaii women’s tennis team won the NAIA national tournament held 18–23 May in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Playing at the same tournament, the men’s tennis team came in third.
BYU—Hawaii has now earned a total of 13 national championships: eight in women’s volleyball, two in men’s volleyball, two in women’s tennis, and one in rugby.
Husband and Wife Team
Thank you for “Putting Our Marriage Back Together” (April 1998). The insights into keeping Mother at home with the children are very helpful. Others in similar situations can understand that the path they have chosen together with Heavenly Father’s help is right for them.
When I went to work full time to get my husband through school, we took many things into consideration. Classes and work had begun to conflict, making it almost impossible to finish his degree. We felt it would be better for me to work for 2 years now rather than working for 10 or 15 years to help pay off a student loan.
Our goal is to get Mom home as soon as possible, with as little debt as possible. We realize that the way we have chosen may not be right for another family. It takes careful consideration of the family’s needs. Through prayer and personal revelation, we can receive the guidance we need for our own families.
Jennifer R. Decker Logan, Utah
Thanks for “Behold Thy Mother”
I have just read the April 1998 issue and had to write concerning the superb article “Behold Thy Mother” by President Thomas S. Monson. Having been without my mother since 10 months of age, the article caught my eye and I read it with eagerness. The youngest of six girls, I was raised by my oldest sister. The joy I received from that article is beyond description. It provided peace and comfort after many years of feeling sorry for myself for not knowing my mother.
Pinkie Ratliff Rolla, Missouri
I guess you could call me a first-time reader. I always thought that I was too young. One night I picked up the January 1998 Ensign, and I read it from cover to cover. I really grew to know Adam, Noah, and Enoch. I felt as if they were sitting there telling me of their lives. The Spirit was strong, and I grew to love these men. Thank you!
Jeni Bybee Boise, Idaho