News of the Church

President Hinckley Dedicates Temples, Meets Mexican President

President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated two temples in April, one in Texas and one in Mexico, bringing the total number of operating temples to 110. While in Mexico, he also met with Mexican president Vicente Fox.

The Lubbock Texas Temple was dedicated in four sessions on 21 April. “Our dear Father, as we dedicate this house we dedicate ourselves that we may more faithfully serve Thee as those called to work in Thy great kingdom,” President Hinckley said in his dedicatory prayer.

“We invoke Thy blessings upon this community, upon this state, upon this nation. Bless this chosen land that it may remain forever free, that peace and liberty may bless the lives of its people, and that righteousness may reign in the land.”

President Hinckley was accompanied by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and by Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy, President of the North America Southwest Area.

The Lubbock temple is the third in Texas, joining those dedicated in Dallas in 1984 and in Houston in 2000. Church leaders have announced plans for a fourth Texas temple to be built in San Antonio. The Lubbock temple will serve 13,545 members in four stakes in west Texas and one stake in eastern New Mexico. Some 4,130 members attended the dedication.

The dedication of the Lubbock temple came shortly after the announcement of the formation of the Texas Lubbock Mission. “I think that people in the area will be much more open to learning about the Church since the dedication of the temple,” said Lubbock temple president Jay B. Jensen. “Approximately 21,000 people attended the temple open house, and many left saying, ‘I know now that what I’ve been taught about this church not being Christian is not correct.’”

The Monterrey Temple

President Hinckley dedicated the Monterrey temple—Mexico’s 12th—in four sessions on 28 April. The event marked the 75th time President Hinckley has dedicated a temple.

“We express appreciation for the many missionaries who have labored in this great nation in teaching the eternal truths of Thy gospel,” President Hinckley said in his dedicatory prayer. “They have served with such devotion that today hundreds of thousands of Thy sons and daughters have entered the waters of baptism and have thereafter walked in faith before Thee.

“We are grateful for the many temples which grace this land. … Marvelous is the work which is going forward in these holy houses. And now to the many others that have been erected, we today add this beautiful edifice.”

Accompanying President Hinckley at the dedication were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and members of the Mexico North Area Presidency, Elders Lynn A. Mickelsen, Gary J. Coleman, and Adrián Ochoa.

The new temple will serve nearly 91,000 members in 31 stakes and districts in northeastern Mexico. More than 12,600 members attended the temple’s dedication.

The Monterrey temple is the realization of many hopes and dreams for local Latter-day Saints, said Alfa Casanova of the Contry Ward, Monterrey Mexico Roma Stake. “We’ve waited a long time for this,” said Sister Casanova, who in years past traveled 25 hours to the nearest temple in Mesa, Arizona. “Now we can come to the temple often to perform the saving ordinances that we have so long hoped for.”

Some 40,325 people attended the temple open house from 3–20 April, including business, government, and civic leaders as well as officials from other religious faiths.

Meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox

On the day following the Monterrey temple dedication, President Hinckley met with Mexican president Vicente Fox in the presidential residence in Mexico City. Also attending the meeting were Elder Eyring; Elder Richard H. Winkel, President of the Mexico South Area; Elder Benjamin de Hoyos, Area Authority Seventy; Jeffrey Davidow, U.S. ambassador to Mexico; Javier Moctezuma Baragan, Mexican minister of religious affairs; and Jeffrey Jones, a Latter-day Saint member of the Mexican senate.

The conversation between President Hinckley and President Fox focused on the Church’s efforts to assist people in Mexico—both Church members and members of other faiths. President Hinckley explained the Church’s Perpetual Education Fund, in which President Fox expressed interest. President Hinckley also spoke of a Church-funded instructional program in welding at the Technological University of Santa Catarina in Monterrey. Finally, President Hinckley presented President Fox with a donation from the Church Humanitarian Fund for Vamos México, a charitable organization for needy children championed by Mexican first lady Marta Sahagun de Fox. President Fox gratefully accepted the contribution on behalf of his wife, saying it would be most helpful to her charitable work.

[photo] The new Lubbock Texas Temple has already changed local misperceptions about the Church, says temple president Jay B. Jensen. (Photo by Greg Hill, Church News.)

[photo] Second only to the U.S. in its number of members and temples, Mexico gained its 12th temple with the dedication in Monterrey. (Photo by Jason Swensen, Church News.)

[photo] President Hinckley and Mexican president Vicente Fox discuss what the Church is doing to bless the lives of the Mexican people. (Photo courtesy Office of the President.)

President Hinckley Speaks to Children through New Video

Imagine what it could do for the children of the Church to have President Gordon B. Hinckley visit each ward’s Primary. This is now possible through a new Church video titled Sharing Time with President Gordon B. Hinckley.

“In recent years President Hinckley has given special talks to the youth, mothers, and fathers of the Church. Now he has chosen to speak to every child of the Church through this video,” says Gayle M. Clegg, second counselor in the Primary general presidency.

The eight-minute video features President Hinckley teaching children in Primary Sharing Time. The President shares with the children his own childhood experiences in learning and living the principles of the gospel. He speaks of tithing, temples, the blessings of Church membership, and eternal families. As he shares his experiences, childhood photos of President Hinckley appear in the video. The presentation concludes with President Hinckley’s personal testimony and blessing for the children of the Church.

A copy of the video was recently mailed to Church units throughout the world so that it can be used in various Primary settings, including Sharing Time, lessons, and Achievement Days. But Sharing Time with President Gordon B. Hinckley (item no. 53331; U.S. $3.00) can also be purchased for home use. Coleen K. Menlove, Primary general president, says, “We can see it being used beyond Primary settings. Parents can play it and see President Hinckley teaching their children in their own home.”

The video is available in 22 languages. To obtain a copy, contact your local distribution center or visit the Church Web site

[photo] A scene from the new video in which President Hinckley shares with children his own experiences in living the gospel as a child.

President Monson Honors Scouts, Receives Scout Honor

The spirit of Scouting is alive and well, President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, told a gathering of 1,000 Eagle Scouts and their parents and Scout leaders in April.

“Here you see a monument in these Eagle Scouts, a monument which bespeaks patience, endurance, encouragement, and accomplishment,” he said at an annual breakfast sponsored by the Great Salt Lake Scout Council to honor those who had recently earned their Eagle Award. The event was held in Sandy, Utah.

Calling the Eagle Scouts “true champions,” President Monson said: “You truly give, for you give of yourselves. And when you do, you give to God.” The Church leader also praised Scoutmasters for their efforts in teaching and mentoring young men.

In turn, the Scout council honored President Monson by presenting him with its annual America’s Champion Award for being a “wonderful Scouter and champion of youth.” President Monson has served on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) since 1969. He is the recipient of BSA’s Silver Beaver and Silver Buffalo Awards and international Scouting’s highest award, the Bronze Wolf.

[photo] President Monson greets a Scout at a meeting honoring the Church leader and new Eagle Scouts. (Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News.)

Elder Russell M. Nelson Is Given American Heart Association Award

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has received the American Heart Association’s 2002 Gold Heart Award for his pioneering achievements in thoracic research and open-heart surgery.

His accomplishments in medicine have ranged from helping military surgeons in the field to building heart-lung machines for early open-heart operations.

Since being called as a member of the Twelve, “Dr. Nelson has been out of practice for 18 years, but there are a large number of surgeons in our specialty who still remember him for his goodness, his kindness, his professionalism, and his contributions,” said Dr. Donald B. Doty, an associate in cardiac surgery who presented the lifetime achievement award at an April banquet in Salt Lake City.

After the others had paid tribute to Elder Nelson at the banquet, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke. “You are a man of great learning, recognized over the world for your medical skills,” he said to Elder Nelson in his address. “Your achievements in medicine are so very many, and your contributions have been so remarkable that we cannot possibly enumerate them. …

“You have gone across the earth imparting your skills to surgeons in many lands. … Through faith you have moved ever forward and upward in the remarkable course of your life.”

Elder Nelson received his M.D. degree at the University of Utah. While completing his medical residency and earning a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, he was part of a team of physicians that built a heart-lung machine used in the first open-heart operation in the state. During the Korean War, he served in surgical research, visiting MASH units and field hospitals as a U.S. Army officer.

Later, as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Utah Medical School, he built his own heart-lung machine. The machine was used successfully in an open-heart operation in 1955, making Utah the third state in the United States where such surgery was successfully performed. The machine was used for some time until commercially manufactured machines became available.

Elder Nelson went on to become director of the thoracic surgery residency at the University of Utah, chairman of the division of thoracic surgery at Salt Lake City’s LDS Hospital, president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association, and president of the Utah State Medical Association. Throughout his career, Elder Nelson helped train many surgeons and published more than 100 scientific papers.

He also served as a stake president, Sunday School general president for the Church, and a regional representative before being called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1984.

[photo] Elder Nelson accepted the award at a banquet in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Scott Winterton, Deseret News.)

Offering Aid in Times of Need

When disaster strikes or a drought or famine is reported somewhere in the world, many Church members feel the generous impulse to aid those in need. To find out how Latter-day Saints can best extend aid to others in these situations, the Ensign talked with Garry R. Flake, director of Humanitarian Services for the Church’s Welfare Services Department.

Question: What is the best way for members to help the Church extend disaster relief or emergency aid to others?

Answer: The best way is to make ongoing contributions to the humanitarian fund. When Church members offer regular donations through their ward or branch, it gives the Church the greatest flexibility in response. Because the small administrative overhead we have in handling these donations is paid by the Church, every dollar can help those in need.

Q: What if people have food or other emergency supplies they would like to contribute?

A: Most people don’t realize the practical or logistical difficulties of packing relief items, transporting them, and getting them into a country. The food stored by members in America or Europe, for example, may not be part of the local diet where the disaster has taken place. And there is often very little time for gathering and packing. Usually when we send commodities, we draw on items already packaged and ready for shipment. In many cases it is more practical and cheaper to buy commodities in the area and distribute them immediately where they are needed. In addition, certain foods cannot be shipped into selected countries. It is generous of members to want to donate what they have at hand, but it is always disappointing if they gather a lot of donations that we can’t get into a country.

Q: How is it that Church shipments seem to get through so quickly and effectively?

A: They are carefully packed for the safest, most effective immediate transport. The Church is viewed as an excellent relief agency in the world because of the quality of our response in disaster situations, and a part of that response is our ability to pull together a local delivery system using members under priesthood direction. And we have learned to work well with other relief organizations, such as the Red Cross, knowing that the Church is only a part of the solution in any emergency situation. Sometimes our shipments are distributed through these agencies. The organization that the Church provides worldwide makes us the envy of many other disaster response organizations.

Q: In addition to donating to the humanitarian fund, what are some other ways members might help?

A: There are nearly 50 Deseret Industries stores, spread over seven states in the western United States: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Much of the clothing donated to these stores is eventually baled for shipment to areas where there is an emergency need. We distributed 13 million pounds of clothing last year in about 50 countries. We’re always in need of warm winter clothing, and we always need children’s clothing. We also send out with each shipment a quantity of used shoes.

Q: What can members do if they don’t live near a Deseret Industries store?

A: They can put together personal hygiene kits, school kits, or newborn kits and deliver or send them to a bishops’ storehouse. These three items are in great demand around the world. We never have enough of them. Members can obtain directions for producing these kits by calling 801-240-6060 or by writing the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center, 1665 Bennett Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84104. They can also find the directions for the kits through the Church’s Internet site On the home page, they should click successively on “Other Resources,” then “LDS Foundation,” “Ways I Can Give,” “Welfare Services and Humanitarian Aid,” and finally “How Can I Help with Humanitarian Service Projects?” The information can also be obtained at We’ve tried to match our hygiene kits very closely to emergency kits that the United Nations or other organizations would offer, so it is important to follow the directions carefully.

We also have a constant need for quilts and blankets. We will take infant receiving blankets and quilts in any size, any color, any time.

Q: Are there other needed items members could donate?

A: It is possible some members might know of bulk medical supplies that could be donated. These would be useful in the emergency medical modules we keep on hand. We put together 700-pound medical modules that can be shipped immediately to an area where an emergency exists. These modules include 25 basic items that can be used by any hospital—things like gauze and bandage material, sterile gloves, syringes, stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, surgical gowns, and soap.

“Could I Be Your Friend For Life?”

Not long ago, Humanitarian Services received this report from Sister Norma Smith, serving in Indonesia with her husband, Richard, as a missionary with a humanitarian assignment. After visits to two orphanages, Sister Smith received a call from the director of one. Verifying that the missionaries were Christians, the director of the orphanage asked again about the work of Latter-day Saint Charities, and then “she inquired, ‘But why would you come to a Muslim orphanage? Don’t you hate us because of the bombings of Christian churches [in Indonesia]?’ I told her that she didn’t bomb the churches and expressed how grateful I was for her service to the children and the great work she is doing. She said, ‘But I just don’t understand. No Christian has ever offered to help us.’ I told her that our church believes in helping all people, no matter what their religion. She thanked me again and again, then said, ‘Mrs. Smith, could I be your friend for life?’” Sister Smith ended her report: “Life can’t get any better than this!”

Church Humanitarian Service Since 1985

Cash donations: more than $73 million

Value of material assistance: more than $370 million

Countries of service: 147

Food distributed: nearly 39,000 tons (more than 35,000,000 kilos)

Surplus clothing distributed: nearly 44,000 tons (more than 40,000,000 kilos)

[photo] Garry R. Flake. (Photo by Don Searle.)

Washington, D.C., Multifunction Center Dedicated

A four-story Church facility in a historic Washington, D.C., neighborhood opened its doors on 12 April. Tenants in the newly renovated building include the Public Affairs office for Washington, an institute of religion, a local branch, and Brigham Young University student interns who will live on the top two floors.

An open house attracted diplomats, White House officials, members of the United States Congress and federal judiciary, and neighboring residents. Elder Merrill J. Bateman, a member of the Seventy and BYU president, offered the dedicatory prayer following remarks from representatives of each Church department housed in the building. Each speaker commented on the unique combination of functions brought together under one roof, pointing out how the four groups involved will benefit from their associations. Elder Bateman expressed the hope, for example, that the BYU students will enroll in institute classes and spoke of the close cooperation between BYU and Church Public Affairs efforts.

[photo] The new facility hosts a Church Public Affairs office, an institute of religion, a local branch, and living quarters for interns from BYU. (Photo by Jon Stephenson.)

Family and Church History Department Receives Two Awards

The Family and Church History Department recently received two awards for its FamilySearch Web site and for its publication Denmark: Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Part A.

The Computerworld Honors Program honored the department for its use of information technology in its Web site, one of the largest genealogical research sites on the Internet. Information about the site will now be included in the more than 150 libraries, museums, and universities throughout the world that make up the Computerworld Honors Archives.

The Intermountain Chapter of the Society for Technical Communications presented the department a merit award for Denmark: Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Part A. The workbook provides step-by-step, user-friendly directions for beginning researchers of Danish genealogy. The same format is being used by the Family and Church History Department in the development of similar workbooks for research in other genealogical backgrounds, including Eastern and Western European, Asian, African-American, American Indian, and Pacific Islander.

In the Spotlight

Stake Relief Society Offers Humanitarian Service

Relief Society sisters of the Westland Michigan Stake pulled together in March to offer humanitarian service in various ways.

The sisters spent an entire Saturday making fleece blankets, knitting leper bandages, painting toy cars, donating blood, and stuffing envelopes for an organization that assists the visually impaired. Half of the 126 blankets completed were sent to the Pordenone Military Branch, Trieste Italy District, whose members occasionally take donated supplies to a refugee camp near Zagreb, Croatia. The other blankets, along with the bandages, were donated to the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City. The toys were given to the Happy Factory, an organization that distributes toys to needy children worldwide.

After the sisters stuffed 1,500 envelopes for an information center for the visually impaired, the center’s president was so impressed that he added information about Church curriculum materials for the visually impaired to his next informational brochure.

California Church Member Is “Santa’s Helper”

Emory Sonderegger recently led members of his Irvine California Stake in a project to make 1,200 wooden toys for children in need. Some 65 families enjoyed helping Brother Sonderegger by sanding and painting wooden trucks and cars in their own homes. The toys were donated to the humanitarian center, which then distributed the toys to refugee camps in Afghanistan and to homeless shelters, orphanages, and hospitals in other parts of the world.

Brother Sonderegger, 71, has been making and donating wooden toys for the past seven years and now completes dozens of toys on his own each month, including automobiles, airplanes, bags of blocks, and doll cradles. “I’m retired now, so this is my way of rendering service,” he says.

[photo] Emory Sonderegger loves to make and donate toys to needy children. (Photo by Hung Leung Wong.)


New Visiting Teaching Messages Inspired

When the new format for the visiting teaching messages came out, I was disappointed. I’d always looked forward to the personal story that went along with the messages, and when I discovered that the new format no longer included stories, but only scriptures and quotations from Church leaders, I wondered if I could teach the message. I told my teaching companion, “I’m not sure how to use these new messages. I always liked centering my lesson around the story.”

A sister in my ward must have been listening to the Spirit when she prepared a Relief Society lesson on how to share visiting teaching messages. She gave each of us a copy of a recent message and asked us to read each scripture and quotation and to discuss each one. As we did so, I realized that experiences from my own life were coming to mind. The other sisters also had personal stories to share that related to the message. The Spirit bore witness that this was how the lessons were intended to be taught—using the word of the Lord through scriptures, quotations from Church leaders, and personal experiences of our own.

I realized more clearly that we are to liken the scriptures unto ourselves (see 1 Ne. 19:23). I also realized that stories are not usually “one size fits all.” We each have different circumstances and backgrounds, and it makes a visit more meaningful if we can share with each other our own stories. I left Relief Society feeling grateful that Heavenly Father cares about each of our needs.

Christine Hall Oahu, Hawaii

Thanks for Your Voices

Recently I made a goal to read every issue of the Ensign cover to cover. I want to thank the authors of the various articles published in this wonderful magazine. Reading it every morning has really helped me have the Spirit of the Lord with me while proselyting as a full-time missionary. I especially enjoy the Latter-day Saint Voices section of the magazine. Reading others’ conversion stories in this section has truly strengthened my testimony.

Elder Jacob Harmon Georgia Atlanta Mission

We wanted to say thank you for the articles published in the Ensign. We especially enjoy the ones found in Latter-day Saint Voices. Many of the stories are shared with the entire family during home evenings or in gospel discussions. Keep the great articles coming.

Evelina and Sterling Day West Valley, Utah