President Hinckley Addresses Largest-Ever International Gathering

President Gordon B. Hinckley recently spoke in Santiago, Chile, at what is thought to be the Church’s largest-ever gathering of international members. In between dedicatory sessions for the new Bogotá Colombia Temple, he flew to Santiago and addressed about 57,500 members—more than 10 percent of Chile’s total members—on 26 April.

“I will always carry with me love in my heart for the great and good and wonderful and humble people I have known in Chile, in this great city of Santiago and down south into Concepción, all the way down to where the wind blows so hard, and all the way north across the great desert lands between here and Antofagasta and on up to Arica,” President Hinckley said.

Sharing a memory of an early visit to Chile, President Hinckley related: “Brother Rodolfo Acevedo has reminded me of when I came here in 1969. I flew over the mountains from Mendoza, Argentina, and the mountains were dry. There had been a terrible drought in Chile. There had been no rainfall for a very long time, and I was here to dedicate a chapel in La Cisterna. During the prayer of dedication I prayed and pleaded with the Lord for moisture.” President Hinckley quoted the words of Robert Burton, who was serving as a mission president in Chile in 1969: “The day after Elder Hinckley’s visit, the rain began to fall in southern Chile. Gradually the rain clouds moved north, bringing welcome moisture to the entire country.” President Hinckley then continued: “That was not my doing. That was the work of God our Eternal Father in behalf of the people of this land. I believe that it was an answer to the faith and the prayers of the Latter-day Saints, then few in number, whose very presence and whose very faith came to bless the entire nation.”

Speaking about temples, President Hinckley said, “Now I look at all of you this morning, brothers and sisters and children, beautiful little children, beautiful boys and girls. Are they yours? Are they sealed to you? Will they be yours forever, even when the hand of death strikes? Will they be yours through time and all eternity? My brothers and sisters, you who have not been to the house of God, I plead with you this morning—with all the power that I have—to begin today to repent of the past, to get your lives in order so that you may go there and bind to you those whom you love most and who are most dear to you.”

[photos] Above: More than 57,000 people filled a stadium in Santiago, Chile, for regional conference. Right: President Hinckley waves a white handkerchief in farewell. (Photos courtesy of Rodolfo Acevedo.)

[photo] Despite intermittent rain, more than 10 percent of Chile’s total members attended the regional conference.

Temple Dedicated in Bogotá, Colombia

“From the initial announcement of this temple until now has been 15 years,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley at the dedication of the recently completed Bogotá Colombia Temple. “We’ve had trouble of one kind or another: the location, the site, trying to get property, and many other factors, but finally it has happened. … It is beautiful, a fitting monument to the good people of Colombia.”

President Hinckley presided at the cornerstone ceremony and the first dedicatory session on 24 April. He then traveled to Santiago, Chile, for a regional conference, leaving President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, to preside at six subsequent dedicatory sessions. After addressing members in Santiago, President Hinckley returned to Bogotá on 26 April to conduct the final four dedicatory sessions. He was accompanied by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Also speaking at dedicatory sessions were Elder Francisco J. Viñas of the Seventy, President of the South America North Area, and his first counselor, Elder Robert J. Whetten of the Seventy.

“We are overwhelmed by the magnificent beauty of the temple,” said President Faust. “It exceeds our expectations. The architecture is extraordinary, and the many features make it really quite distinct. The beautiful stonework which is found in the floors and elsewhere in the celestial room is extraordinary.” He continued: “Our Saints have been moved to tears to be able to participate in the dedicatory sessions. People have come from as far as Pasto and Medellín and other places, traveling by bus up to 22 hours.” A total of more than 11,300 members attended the 11 dedicatory sessions.

“It was a privilege to participate in the dedicatory services of the Bogotá Colombia Temple,” said Elder Nelson, “to speak with the people who were lined up to enter the temple on Tuesday morning after the temple was dedicated. They were lined up by the hundreds to enter that dedicated temple to receive their endowments, great joy in their faces, tears in many of their eyes. It was also a great experience to witness the power of the Lord descend upon the President of the Church, President Hinckley, and his counselor, President Faust, as they spoke to the people with great power and majesty.”

Located about 10 miles from downtown Bogotá, the Church’s 57th operating temple has four ordinance rooms and three sealing rooms, with a total of 53,500 square feet. Prior to the dedication, about 127,000 people toured the building during a three-week open house, and about 10,000 missionary referrals were received. “The members here worked very hard to invite people to attend the open house,” said Elder Viñas. The larger-sized temple serves about 130,000 members in Colombia and about 32,000 members in the neighboring country of Panama.

“We are grateful for those who have gone before us in establishing and strengthening Thy kingdom in this part of the earth,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “Now stands this beautiful temple as a witness and testimony of the truth of all that they taught and did. It offers the crowning blessing of the gospel to everyone who accepts the ordinances to be given herein. It extends Thy holy work from mortal life to the eternities that lie beyond. It gives greater understanding of the Atonement wrought by the Savior of all mankind.”

[photo] The 53,500-square-foot Bogotá Colombia Temple serves about 130,000 members in Colombia and about 32,000 members in Panama. (Photography courtesy of Church Public Affairs Department.)

[photo] The beautifully appointed celestial room is at the heart of the temple, which also has four ordinance rooms and three sealing rooms. (Photography courtesy of Church Public Affairs Department.)

Temple Update

Three new temples have been announced, one in the United States and two in Mexico:

  • The Reno Nevada Temple will serve about 25,000 members living in seven stakes in Nevada and one stake in California.

  • Mexico’s 11th temple will be built in Guadalajara, the nation’s second-largest city and the capital of the state of Jalisco. Guadalajara has eight stakes.

  • Mexico’s 12th temple will be built in Veracruz, capital of the state of Jalapa. Veracruz has four stakes, with four additional stakes within a 100-mile radius.

A groundbreaking ceremony signaling the start of construction was held on 9 April for the Montreal Quebec Temple. As of 1 May the Church had 57 temples in operation, 35 temples under construction, and 20 temples in planning stages, for a total of 112 temples.

President Monson Offers Counsel, Comfort

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, gave an address at Brigham Young University’s commencement exercises and later spoke at the funeral of a full-time missionary.

“Lessons from the past, challenges of the future display dramatically the need for heavenly help today,” said President Monson at BYU’s 124th annual spring commencement exercises, during which BYU’s largest class in history graduated. “Earnestly seek it, and you shall surely find it.”

Speaking of the past, President Monson said: “Remember that the roads you travel so briskly lead out of dim antiquity, and you study the past chiefly because of its bearing on the living present and its promise for the future. When one fails to learn from the lessons of the past, he is doomed to repeat the same mistakes and suffer their attendant consequences.”

Speaking of the future, he said: “Learning is not just an in-class activity but an all-day, everywhere process. It is not all formal, rarely neat, and not at all cut and made to order. The truth is that the person who quits learning upon leaving the university is giving in to an idea of limited usefulness, limited satisfaction, and limited happiness.” He continued: “Your future will present insurmountable problems only when you consider them insurmountable. Your challenge is to keep faith with the past while you keep pace with the future.”

Speaking of the present, he said: “Ahead is the open road. Those who walk it successfully ignore irrelevant attractions and refrain from activities which do not contribute to the attainment of their purpose. They disregard the billboards designed to divert them into this or that blind alley of ease and pleasure. They stand on their own feet, set their own goals, and win their own victories.”

Also speaking at the commencement were President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Jehan Sadat, wife of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat; and writer Madeleine L’Engle.

On 3 May President Monson spoke at the funeral of Jonathan Philip Barrett of Morgan, Utah, who was murdered in a random attack while serving in Africa’s Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission. After repeating President Joseph F. Smith’s teaching that missionaries who die in the mission field finish their missions in the spirit world, President Monson said, “He has just graduated a little early from mortality.” Also speaking at the funeral were Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the Seventy.

1881 British Census Available on CD-ROM

After more than two and a half million hours of volunteer labor, the Church has released a 25-disc CD-ROM package containing genealogical information for 30 million individuals in England, Wales, and Scotland from the 1881 British census. “The story behind this project is one of tremendous individual participation, the cooperation of literally thousands dedicated to the creation of the most complete, complex, and largest census database ever created to date,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Seventy, executive director of the Family History Department.

Begun in September 1987, the automated index is the result of a collective effort by about 10,000 volunteers from the United Kingdom’s Federation of Family History Societies and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every effort was made to reproduce the information as it was originally recorded by the British census takers in 1881; even obvious errors were left to allow users to make their own evaluation of the information.

“Each page of the census—over one million pages—was transferred to microfilm and photocopied,” said Richard E. Turley Jr., managing director of the Family History Department. He explained that each piece of census information was then painstakingly copied twice by transcribers, often from almost illegible photocopies or microfilm, and checked for accuracy several times prior to entry on computers. During the project, 369 computers were employed and 11,266 floppy disks containing census information were submitted.

The 25-disc census includes an 8-disc national index and also a viewer that allows users to quickly search the entire database of 30 million names. To make the census indexes more manageable and easier to use, the data is divided into eight regions: East Anglia, Greater London, Midlands, North Central, Northern Borders and Miscellany, Southwestern, Scotland, and Wales and Monmouth. The automated index includes people who were working or traveling on boats or ships or who were living in poorhouses, mental institutions, workhouses, schools, hospitals, and other nontraditional residences at the time the census was taken.

The census is available for purchase in its 25-disc entirety ($33 U.S., item no. 50169) or as separate regional discs through Church distribution outlets; copies may also be ordered by calling 1-800-537-5971 in the United States or visiting Computer system requirements are: Pentium processor (or equivalent); Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0+; 8 MB RAM minimum (16 MB recommended); CD-ROM drive (8x recommended); SVGA monitor with 256-color-capable video card; and 25 MB available hard disk space. For more information, contact Family History Support via e-mail at or telephone 1-801-240-2584 or 1-800-346-6044.

Church Building Efforts Accelerate

Speaking of the need for new meetinghouses, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We must house our people as they come into the Church.” His remarks were given during a speech at Brigham Young University on 6 November 1998. “We are experiencing a combined growth of converts and natural increase of some 400,000 a year. Every single year that is the equivalent of 160 new stakes of 2,500 people each. We are building more than 350 to 400 new buildings a year, and we are getting behind. We must increase our efforts and will do so.”

In addition to meetinghouses and temples worldwide, major construction projects are also moving forward at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Across the street north of Temple Square, a 21,000-seat assembly building is within a year of completion.

In May, Main Street was permanently closed between North Temple and South Temple Streets so construction could begin on a pedestrian plaza linking Temple Square and the block containing the Church Office Building and other facilities. Work is also going forward on a 168,500-square-foot automated storage and distribution facility at the Church’s main distribution center.

Church Buildings Worldwide (as of 1 May 1999)

  • More than 5,400 meetinghouses in the United States and Canada

  • More than 6,600 meetinghouses outside the United States and Canada

  • 57 temples

  • 18 missionary training centers

  • 434 seminary buildings

  • 313 institutes of religion

BYU Announces Nauvoo Study Center

In September 1999 Brigham Young University will begin offering credit courses at a recently acquired study center in Nauvoo, Illinois. Located across the street from the Nauvoo Temple site, the center was formerly a Catholic boarding school and will be called the Joseph Smith Academy.

“We are pleased to offer this study opportunity in one of the most important historical sites in the Church, particularly now with the announcement of a temple in Nauvoo,” said Debby Bennion, student coordinator of the program.

BYU has held study programs in Nauvoo during winter semester for the last five years, with students living in restored homes during the off-season. “The new study center will provide an excellent campus and enhance study opportunities,” Sister Bennion said. “Students have told us this is a powerful learning experience. To study the early days of the Church in Nauvoo brings the history to life.”

Included in the Nauvoo semester will be a study tour of Church and American history sites in Chicago, Illinois; Kirtland, Ohio; Palmyra, New York; Niagara Falls, New York; Winter Quarters, Nebraska; and several Missouri locations. Field trips will be made to sites in Carthage and Springfield, Illinois, and Hannibal, Missouri. Classes at the Nauvoo study center will include American history, American literature, English, the Doctrine and Covenants, and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Social activities will include sledding, firesides, and service activities in the community.

Larry Dahl, professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU, has been named director of the center. “There’s a spirit of place about Nauvoo that’s very real and will tie students to their spiritual heritage,” he said. “We want to help them build their faith and courage to face what they have to face in their own lives.”

BYU’s Semester in Nauvoo program will be limited to 80 students for fall semester and expanded to 120 students for winter semester. Students enrolled in a degree program at any college or university may take between 12 and 16 credit hours of courses at the academy. Students attending BYU, Ricks College, or BYU—Hawaii Campus will have the credit transferred to their transcripts; students at other colleges or universities will need to work with their institution to have the credit transferred. The Semester in Nauvoo program is coordinated by BYU Travel Study; for more information, call 1-800-525-2049 or 1-801-378-3946.

Hawaiian Saints on the Big Island

When Church officials presented their proposal for a new temple to Hawaii’s Kailua Village Planning and Design Committee, more than 250 faithful Church members and friends showed up at the meeting in their Sunday best. The committee members were astonished at the support the proposal had generated, and the proposal passed easily. The temple groundbreaking was held 13 March 1999.

For many years, Saints on the island of Hawaii, called the Big Island, had to sacrifice to attend the Laie Hawaii Temple on the island of Oahu. “It cost approximately $500 for a couple to visit the temple,” says John Sakamaki, president of the Hilo Hawaii Stake. “A new temple on the Big Island will be a great blessing to members both economically and spiritually.”

Philip A. Harris, president of the Kona Hawaii Stake, agrees. “This is one of the most significant events to happen on the Big Island,” he says. “The temple will bless all people in the area with its presence.”

The history of the Church in the Hawaiian Islands dates back to 1850, when the first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Missionaries went on to explore neighboring islands, including the Big Island, hoping to spread the good news of the restored gospel. Most of Hawaii’s anglo population rejected the message, but native Hawaiians were more receptive.

Most of the native converts on the Big Island were fishermen and small farming families. Pioneering missionaries helped establish more than two dozen tiny branches throughout the Big Island, wherever there were enough converts to worship together and study the restored gospel message.

Joseph Borges, age 81, a member of the Hilo Hawaii Stake, recalls that early members of the Church loved the Lord, loved the gospel, and possessed strong testimonies. For 10 years Brother Borges was president of the Keaukaha Branch and was the first bishop when it became a ward.

Shirley Keakealani, from the tiny ranching community of Puuanahulu, says that for many years missionaries in the Kalaoa Branch, North Kona District, would trudge over lava beds and gravel roads—a distance of some 20 miles—to visit Saints in this community. “They were humble missionaries, and we had so much aloha [warm regard] for them,” she says. She recalls that her aunt Hattie Sanford opened her home for Church services and later donated a piece of property where the first Puuanahulu meetinghouse was built.

Today there are two stakes on the island: the Hilo Hawaii Stake, with six wards and one branch and a total membership of 3,400, and the Kona Hawaii Stake, with eight wards and 3,000 members. New converts are being baptized at a steady rate through the efforts of faithful, energetic full-time and member missionaries.

One convert, Ben Utrera of Kailua-Kona, says that prior to discovering the LDS faith he had been attending another church but realized something was missing. One Sunday he happened to drive near the Kona stake center, where Kona’s stake conference was being held. Curious, he parked his car and walked into the building, where he was met by Richard Hunt of the Honomakau Ward, who invited him in and answered some of his questions. Later that day Brother Utrera was introduced to the full-time missionaries, and two months later he was baptized. “I believe I was led by the Spirit to the Church,” he says. “I have never been so happy. I have a strong testimony, and I pray that I can motivate my family to enjoy the blessings of the restored gospel.”

Many Latter-day Saint families in both the Hilo and the Kona stakes have diligently been applying the gospel in their lives. The Junichi and Shirley Nakamoto family of the Kealakekua Ward, Kona stake, are examples of parents who are rearing their children in love and righteousness. Brother Nakamoto is a poultry farmer, and their seven children have worked on the farm to earn enough money to support themselves in school. To date, five of the children have served missions, four have been married in the temple, and all have graduated from or are enrolled in college. The four boys in the family are Eagle Scouts. When asked about the reason for his family’s success, Brother Nakamoto paraphrases a statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith: “We teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.”

Members of the Hilo and Kona stakes continue to reap the blessings the gospel brings into their lives as they eagerly await the completion of their new temple. Their examples of diligence and faith inspire those around them and help the Church thrive on the island of Hawaii.

[photo] The Kona Hawaii Stake Center. The Kona Hawaii Stake and the Hilo Hawaii Stake encompass the island of Hawaii. (Photo by Doug Green.)

[photo] Carol Lightner and her sister, Shirley Keakealani, Kona First Ward members. (Photo by Doug Green.)

[photo] John Sakamaki, president of the Hilo Hawaii Stake, with his wife, Ann

Wally Bell is director of public affairs for the Kona Hawaii Stake.

LDS Scene

  • Several tornadoes struck Oklahoma and Kansas in early May, including one tornado with winds in excess of 250 miles per hour. A member and his nonmember wife were among more than 40 people killed, and 15 member homes were destroyed and 16 member homes extensively damaged. Emergency supplies were distributed from bishops’ storehouses in Oklahoma City and Dallas, Texas, and disaster relief centers were established in the Oklahoma City Oklahoma South Stake center and that stake’s Tuttle Branch meetinghouse.

  • About 125 Latter-day Saint students were attending Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, when a shooting and bombing attack on 20 April resulted in the deaths of 12 students, 1 teacher, and the 2 assailants. No members were killed, but one LDS youth suffered multiple gunshot wounds and several others witnessed the carnage. “One of our students had a gun held to his head,” reported seminary teacher Rob Hildebrandt. “Many of our students huddled in the corners of classrooms.” During the attack about 70 people took sanctuary in a nearby LDS seminary, and that evening about 600 members gathered at the stake center for a devotional, after which counselors and therapists from LDS Social Services and other organizations talked with youth and parents. Subsequent meetings and service projects were held in support of victims and witnesses.

  • Brigham Young University’s men’s volleyball team won this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association volleyball championship, beating Long Beach State in three games in Los Angeles. The BYU volleyball team was ranked number one for much of the season. BYU’s other NCAA championships include men’s track and field in 1970, men’s golf in 1981, football in 1984, and women’s cross country in 1997.

  • Diplomats from 22 countries attended the 15th annual BYU Management Society dinner recently in Washington, D.C. Also present were eight LDS members of the U.S. Congress and numerous Church leaders, including Elder J. Willard Marriott Jr., an Area Authority Seventy. “We had a record turnout of international guests this year, not only because they know we host a great evening but because of the values we stand for and the friendships we have cultivated over the years,” said Ann Santini, Church director of international affairs. U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said, “It is important for the Church, as we become more and more of a worldwide religion, that we reach out to representatives of other countries and provide a good example for them to take back to their homelands.” Countries represented included Botswana, Cape Verde, China, Croatia, Fiji, Gambia, Hungary, India, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mauritius, Pakistan, Philippines, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

  • Foreign-language missionaries normally spend eight weeks in the Provo Missionary Training Center. However, missionaries called to serve in Brazil now leave the Provo MTC after four weeks and study for another four weeks at the missionary training center in São Paulo. During their time in the Brazil MTC, missionaries mix with native Brazilian missionaries and go proselyting once a week, which helps increase their language skills and eases their transition into the mission field.

[photo] The BYU men’s volleyball team is the university’s fifth sports team ever to win an NCAA championship. (Photo by Jaron Wilkey.)


Derrill H. Richards of the Ensign First Ward, Salt Lake Ensign Stake, has been called as president of the Salt Lake Temple, succeeding Elder Carlos E. Asay, an emeritus member of the Seventy who recently passed away. Brother Richards’s wife, Colleen Germer Richards, serves as temple matron.

Garold Monroe Sessions of the Manhattan Beach Ward, Torrance California North Stake, has been called to direct the Mormon Handcart Historic Site in Wyoming. He is accompanied by his wife, Pauline Langolf Sessions.

Richard W. Winder of the Jordan North Second Ward, Salt Lake Jordan North Stake, has been called to preside over missionaries and volunteers in the Church’s Family History Department. He is accompanied by his wife, Barbara Woodhead Winder.

Policies and Announcements

Philanthropic Gifts

The following letter from the First Presidency was mailed to priesthood leaders in the United States and Canada on 12 April 1999:

From time to time, members of the Church inquire as to how they might donate beyond the normal contributions made through the ward. Operating under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric, the LDS Foundation was established by the First Presidency to receive such gifts. Outright gifts, or gifts through wills or living trusts, as well as tax-advantaged charitable trusts that provide an income during the life of the donor may be made to the Church through LDS Foundation. These gifts may be in the form of real or personal property, securities, or cash. LDS Foundation representatives are available to assist members and their financial advisors to understand these options and the many Church programs to which they might donate.

Those interested in taking advantage of the services at LDS Foundation in order to make such donations should be referred to the Foundation at 1-800-453-3860, extension 5567, or 1-801-240-5567. In addition, Deseret Trust Company, established by the Church in 1972, works closely with LDS Foundation and donors in managing charitable trusts and annuities where the Church is the recipient benefactor. Deseret Trust Company provides professional administration of charitable trusts and may be reached at 1-801-363-2991.


Ensign Christmas Gifts

Thanks for a wonderful, uplifting magazine. My dad gave it to us as a Christmas gift, and we’ve been getting it for three years now.

Recently we had financial problems. I was depressed as I had no money to buy Christmas gifts. I received the December Friend and Ensign on 23 December 1998 and was admiring the beautiful pictures of Mary and baby Jesus and the Nativity scenes. I decided to take my photo frames off the wall, and I cut out the pictures, and I framed them in my old frames. I was able to give Christmas gifts, and I felt great.

Melissa Lyn Quinn Ferndale, South Africa