Mission Presidents Learn from Church Leaders

The “grand theme of our message,” President Gordon B. Hinckley told new mission presidents on 25 June, is “that God has revealed Himself to men, that He has spoken and introduced His beloved Son. There can be no greater declaration than this.”

President Hinckley was the first speaker during the four-day new mission presidents’ seminar held at the Provo Missionary Training Center. During the seminar, the 129 newly called mission presidents and their wives also heard remarks from President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust of the First Presidency and from members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“You follow a long tradition of men and women who, in response to the calls from the Church, have left whatever they were doing and gone into the mission field,” President Hinckley said. “Thank you very much for your willingness to serve, for your prayers unto the Lord to bless you and make you equal to the responsibility.”

Speaking of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the early Latter-day Saints, President Hinckley said, “I’ve reflected on the great sacrifices which have gone into the building of this cause and kingdom.” He offered examples of early missionary efforts in Canada and of the 1837 missionary call of Heber C. Kimball, who with a few associates accepted the call from the Prophet Joseph. They undertook the long journey to England, “leaving sick families with practically nothing on their backs and nothing in their pockets.”

President Hinckley spoke of the great success that followed their efforts and the continuing efforts of other early missionaries under extreme hardship. He pointed out that even though most of those days of severe sacrifice are behind us, “the work will not be easy. It will be strenuous. It will be demanding. It will require all of your best efforts and your deepest searching prayers.”

“This is the work of God in which we are engaged,” President Hinckley testified. “It is His work, a part of His eternal plan for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations of time. …

“There is no greater message we can give than of the living reality of God, our Eternal Father, and His beloved Son and that They have spoken again in this time of history. You and I both know these things are true. Now we are sent forth to communicate them to others.”

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, pointed out in his address that it is the responsibility of the mission president to see that his missionaries succeed. “Love them, lift them, inspire them,” he said, “[and] your house will be a treasure house of eternal memories.”

He then spoke about the three M’s of successful missionary labor: the missionary, the message, and the member. The missionary: “If your relationship is sound, that relationship [with the missionaries] will last long after the mission.” The message: “You have the answers to man’s search for happiness. The message of the plan of salvation, coupled with your testimony, will touch more hearts and souls.” The member: “Use members to help missionaries teach, and you will see membership grow.”

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of 10 things he hoped his grandchildren would bring home from their missions: first, a “firm testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world; second, a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith; third, a love for the gospel; fourth, a knowledge of the scriptures; fifth, a love for the mission president and his wife; sixth, a love for the place and people where they served; seventh, an appreciation for missionary companions; eighth, an understanding of the importance and the power of prayer; ninth, a desire to serve; and tenth, an enduring faith that will carry them through the challenges of life.”

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, addressed the mission presidents and their wives on the topic of lessons learned through missionary service. “It is a great experience to learn that it is not your mission—it is the Lord’s mission,” he said.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve gave remarks on other aspects of missionary work: Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke on how the Book of Mormon helps us solve life’s challenges; Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke on understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ; Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke on the theme “Every missionary a member”; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke on involving members in missionary work; and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke about the Restoration of the gospel.

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley urged mission presidents to put forth their best efforts.

New Temple Announced for Downtown New York City

The Church has announced plans to build a temple in downtown New York City.

Located near Lincoln Center in Manhattan, the new temple will occupy the top floors of an existing Church facility, in a pattern already established successfully in Hong Kong. Like the temple in Hong Kong, the New York building is adjacent to other city buildings and blends into the surrounding urban landscape.

Also as in Hong Kong, the Manhattan building will continue to house a chapel and classrooms for Sunday worship services and a cultural hall for midweek social activities. A Public Affairs Department office and a family history center will remain.

Design and renovation work has already begun.

The temple in Manhattan will be the Church’s second in the state of New York, after the Palmyra New York Temple. The Church also has land and building permission for a temple at Harrison, New York.

[photo] Top floors of this building will be remodeled to serve as a temple. Other floors will house meeting facilities and Church offices.

Church Donates $1 Million for Famine Relief

A United Nations program to feed millions of starving Africans has received a cash donation of $1 million from the Church to purchase 2,746 tons of maize.

Drought conditions in southern Africa have caused crop failure, leaving up to 13 million people at risk of starvation.

“Wherever there are people who suffer, wherever there are people who hunger,” said Harold Brown, managing director of the Welfare Department of the Church, “we are anxious to reach out to them and help them where and when we can.”

The Church’s donation to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) will be used to purchase food grains in South Africa. WFP will ship these grains to several other countries where famine and other crises are threatening lives.

“This significant contribution comes at such an important time, when millions of people are facing more and more hunger each day, and some are barely surviving,” said James Morris, executive director of the WFP. Mr. Morris noted that this cash contribution to the program is the most effective way to help. Cash can be used to purchase the grain and distribute it immediately to the areas of need.

WFP is the United Nations’ frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. In 2001 WFP fed more than 77 million people in 82 countries, including most of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people.

Before this contribution to the WFP, the Church had already dispatched 6,750 emergency food boxes and four large shipping containers of clothing from Salt Lake City to aid the needy in Malawi. An additional 500 tons of maize and beans had already been purchased in Africa a month earlier to help famine victims.

Mr. Morris had made an appeal for $507 million to feed at least 10.2 million people until March 2003. With the donation from the Church, one-quarter of the needed dollar amount has been received from charitable and other nongovernment organizations.

[photo] Volunteers in Salt Lake City pack food boxes for famine relief. (Photo by Don Searle.)

Nauvoo Temple Dedication around the World

Satellite broadcasts of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedicatory sessions on 27–30 June allowed members gathered at 2,983 sites in 68 countries to take part in the dedication. Through television cameras and the satellite broadcast, members were able to view the proceedings and look into the beautiful new temple from meetinghouses around the world.

Sixteen of these countries had never before received a Church satellite broadcast. But for many of those members, the broadcast, in 37 different languages, was much more than a technical achievement. It was a spiritual feast and in many cases an answer to prayer.

“It was as if I were literally in the Nauvoo temple, listening to the prophet,” said Grace Taito of the Nausori Fiji Stake. More than 750 members attended the dedicatory sessions in the Suva Fiji Stake Center. Members of the Lautoka Fiji Stake traveled four hours to arrive early enough to attend a session at the Suva Fiji Temple before the dedication broadcast in the afternoon. “I feel special when I think that President Gordon B. Hinckley has made it possible for us to be part of this dedication by helping provide a satellite for us,” said Lanieta Damuyawa of the Lautoka stake.

In Armenia, the new Komitas chapel was used for the first time just a week before the Nauvoo temple dedication. During the preceding weeks, Armenian members had prayed that the anticipated satellite receiving equipment would arrive and be installed in time for the dedication. As they received the broadcast, said Virab Minasyan, “I felt as if I were present at the ceremony, cut off from the world in the temple in Nauvoo.”

For months, members in Bulgaria anticipated the temple dedication. A special fireside described the history of the Nauvoo temple, and Geo Milev Vest, a monthly bulletin of the Church in Bulgaria, published an issue focusing on the Nauvoo temple dedication. Relief Society sisters prepared white handkerchiefs, and the chapel in Sofia was cleaned and decorated with fresh flowers and pictures of temples. On 28 June, members from Bulgaria, Serbia, and Turkey came dressed in Sunday attire and carrying flowers to participate reverently in the dedication, their preparations at last complete.

In the Philippines, Melinda Vitor recalls that she and her friends, Adelaida Lapid and Bellarose Medes, “could not sleep the night before! We woke up every hour, watching the time. We did not want to miss this historic moment!” Filipino members met in 14 different locations to participate in the dedicatory sessions. “I feel the struggles of the early Saints,” commented President Ramon A. Baraquiel of the Cavite Philippines Stake after the dedication. “They gave up their property, belongings, and treasures to build the house of the Lord. I believe that is the kind of faith we need.”

In Russia, members waited in anxious anticipation, praying that the necessary satellite receiving equipment would be given government approval to enter the country before the dedication. Approval had been in process for weeks. But as late as the evening before the broadcast, prospects looked dim. Elena Nechiporova, director of Church Public Affairs in Russia and an attorney by profession, was told at the customs office at 4:30 that afternoon to return the next day. “We can’t wait,” she said. “We must have it tonight.” There was nothing more she could do, but when a customs official asked why the requests had seemed so earnest and pleading, Sister Nechiporova followed the impression that came to mind. She told him why the equipment was so important to Latter-day Saints in their country, relating the history of Nauvoo and speaking of the thousands of people in Russia awaiting the broadcast.

Moved by what he heard, the customs official signed the necessary papers at 5:45 P.M. The receiving equipment was delivered to the broadcast sites and installed that night. When members, some of whom had been traveling for up to 26 hours, arrived at meetinghouses the next day, they were able to see the prophet of the Church addressing them from the Nauvoo temple. “When the history of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedication is written,” remarked Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy, President of the Europe East Area, “I hope a chapter explains how the Lord worked a miracle to include these members in Eastern Europe.”

[photo] Alema Fitisemanu, director of public affairs for the Church in Samoa, answers questions from a local television interviewer about the Nauvoo temple dedication broadcast.

[photo] Members from the Makeyevka Ukraine District gathered to participate in the broadcast of the temple dedication.

Commemorative Service, Parades Mark Pioneer Day

“There is not another episode in the history of this great land to compare with the movement of the Mormon pioneers from Nauvoo to the valley of the Great Salt Lake,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, in commemorating the accomplishments and sacrifices of the early pioneers who made their way to Utah in 1847. President Hinckley spoke on Sunday, 21 July, before a full house at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The program was broadcast live via the Church satellite system throughout the United States and Canada.

Set before a background depicting interior and exterior views of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square preceded President Hinckley’s remarks with a stirring musical program. They performed selections from the reconstructed temple’s dedicatory services, along with two anthems from pioneer times arranged by Mack Wilberg. The program also included narration by Lloyd Newell, reading selected writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith about the Nauvoo Temple.

“From my childhood, I’ve had an appreciation for the pioneers,” President Hinckley said, “and that initial respect has been enhanced tremendously, far beyond my own expectations, by two recent events. The first was the Winter Olympics. … The other event which has left its mark upon me was the recent dedication of the new and beautiful Nauvoo temple.

“Those glorious days in the house of the Lord in the city on the Mississippi stirred within me an overpowering emotion of gratitude for the courage, for the tenacity, for the faith that were of the very fiber of those who lived there and then left in 1846. I sensed in a new and wonderful way the magnitude of the thing they did in building that community and then leaving it.”

President Hinckley went on to recount his invitation to those attending the temple dedication to take a walk down Parley’s Street in Nauvoo and remember the Saints who left so much behind to build a new home in the West.

Of Salt Lake City, President Hinckley said: “Here in this lonely wilderness, those first settlers laid out a city where we live in comfort today. Now this has become a great metropolitan community, where people of many faiths live together with appreciation and respect one for another. Without forsaking our own faith, we can and must respect the faith of others. As I have said repeatedly, we can practice our own religion without offending others. We can be good neighbors, working together to build our community.”

Annual parades were also a part of the 24 July Pioneer Day commemorations in Utah, marking the anniversary of the Latter-day Saint pioneers’ arrival in the valley. President Hinckley was grand marshal of the Days of ’47 parade in downtown Salt Lake City. The parade heralded heroism. Floats sponsored by local stakes and other organizations or businesses throughout the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding communities celebrated the patriotic spirit of the pioneers and modern-day patriots in the wake of the tragedies of 11 September. President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, brought spectators to their feet in applause as they rode in a convertible near the head of the parade.

The 2002 Days of ’47 youth parade was held 20 July with some 4,300 children and youth walking the route of several downtown blocks, symbolizing the pioneers’ entry into the Salt Lake Valley.

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, was grand marshal of the Handcart Days parade in Bountiful, Utah, on 23 July. He and his wife, Frances, waved to thousands of spectators along the parade route.

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson, top, and President James E. Faust, right, honored pioneers at a program broadcast from the Conference Center. (Photo by Kelly Larsen.)

[photo] President Hinckley, grand marshal of the Days of ’47 parade in Salt Lake City, and his wife, Marjorie, respond to paradegoers. (Photo by Kelly Larsen.)

Disasters Impact Lives of Members in Four Countries

Church members in Chuuk (Truk Islands) and in Texas, Peru, and the Philippines were affected by recent disasters that struck their areas.

Among 47 confirmed dead in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Chata’an in the Pacific Ocean was a member of the Church, his wife, and three children. The storm dumped over 20 inches of rain on the islands of Chuuk in a two-day period, triggering over 30 landslides. Numerous member families had homes damaged or destroyed.

The Church responded quickly, sending a shipment that included food, water, tents, and medicine. Local leaders also distributed supplies and food to needy families in nine branches throughout the islands.

Torrential rains in south Texas damaged or destroyed an estimated 48,000 homes in early July. Near San Antonio there were reports of two inches of rain falling an hour, some areas receiving 30 to 37 inches. The homes of 11 member families were damaged in the flooding.

Approximately 1,000 members and missionaries turned out to help in massive cleanup efforts. Volunteers—many clad in yellow T-shirts with the insignia “Helping Hands—Flood Relief 2002” and the Church’s name—cleaned and helped at 186 houses and other community areas. The owner of one house commented, “A lot of churches profess to be Christians, but your church members came out and were Christians.”

In southeastern Peru, unusually heavy snow and freezing temperatures claimed the lives of some 30 people. About 15,000 homes were damaged or destroyed; an estimated 80,000 livestock died from the freeze, and many crops were ruined. Thirty member families living in three stakes received damage to their homes.

The Church provided emergency funds to purchase blankets locally for distribution among the needy. Relief supplies were also shipped from the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City, including heavy clothing, hygiene kits, and medical supplies.

Monsoon rains caused flooding throughout the Philippines, including metropolitan Manila. Some 65 people were killed, and about 2,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. Members have been affected by flooding in five provinces with damage to their homes. Priesthood leaders assisted members with food and repairs, using local welfare resources.

[photo] LDS volunteers help clean out mud left by Texas floodwaters.

Church Helps Feed Hungry Argentine Children

Joining in an effort to help those affected by political and economic crisis in Argentina, the Church recently donated food to feed 4,300 children for five months.

The food went to 31 nongovernment institutions that provide food for needy children, 16 of them in Buenos Aires and 15 in the interior of Argentina.

The number of people living in poverty in Argentina has risen dramatically this year as a result of changes in economic conditions. The Church was among a number of institutions donating to help alleviate the crisis.

Church leaders, including Elder Carlos E. Agüero, Area Authority Seventy, met with Juan Pablo Cafiero, vice chair of the national cabinet, who suggested the institutions to receive the Church’s donations. The donated food was purchased locally, and local Church leaders helped with some of the deliveries.

Mr. Cafiero thanked Church leaders on behalf of the government and the people of Argentina for the Church’s donations, which he called “a very important act of caring that we appreciate and esteem highly.”

Perhaps the strongest expression of thanks for the donations came from Susana Gomez of the Pantalon Cortito children’s home, who told those delivering the Church’s donation: “What you have given us is of first quality. To feed these children we have to do much pleading, and generally what we receive is that which is left over. You have given us the best and made me feel that I am important to someone.”

[photo] Church donations helped workers in Argentine institutions feed a growing number of children.


We Don’t Feel Alone

In the March 2001 issue of the Ensign, you printed the story of my father and his faith in prayer and priesthood power. It was called “Sand Trap” (p. 44). Our dad passed away on 19 May this year after a long battle with cancer. He died a man without guile, pure and clean. I am dropping this note to thank you not just for publishing his story of faith but also for your ongoing work of publishing peace and increasing understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the struggles of others. We don’t feel so alone in our daily battles of mortal probation knowing the trials of other Saints.

We have recently faced the death of our infant grandson, and now my wife is battling with cancer. Our focus in life has become much more clear. This is not so much because death knocks at our door but because life has become so much more precious as it gives us the opportunity to repent and prepare for that great day when we will stand before the Savior.

I have just read “Coping with Chronic Illness” (Mar. 2002, 58). We appreciate what we gained from it. Thank you again for your work.

Gary M. Johnson Needles, California

Seeing Nauvoo—in Britain

Another landmark: This past week that beautiful temple at Nauvoo was dedicated, and it was possible for the British Saints to participate via satellite. Then four days later my July Ensign arrived. When the Ensign first came out, there was normally a delay of three months; in fact, we counted ourselves lucky if instructions for cooking the Christmas turkey arrived in time for Easter. Now it normally arrives during the second week of the publication month, and this is marvelous. May I congratulate everyone involved in this effort. It really has made my day. Thank you for this wonderful publication. I really do look forward to its arrival each month.

R. Ray Moss Stoke on Trent, England

Like Old Friends

The picture of the 12-year-old boy with “The Case of the Flat Tires” by Marvin Kitchen in Latter-day Saint Voices (July 2002, 62) touched my heart and brought a smile to my face. For me he absolutely captures the essence of a rascally youth who just needed a little guided kindness. I am so grateful for the artists and designers who organize and beautify the Church magazines so magnificently every month. Even if I don’t get around to reading every article, I look forward to the new issues coming in the mail so that I can pore through the beautiful, inspiring pages. And even though we haven’t kept all of our magazines through the years, when I come across old issues, it’s like finding long-lost friends.

Verena B. Beckstrand Commerce City, Colorado

An Indispensable Article

I am a recent convert from Judaism and was particularly pleased to read the article “An Indispensable Foundation” (Mar. 2002), which placed a strong emphasis on the Old Testament as a basis for understanding the scriptures, both ancient and modern. The article was brilliantly written and was obviously the thoughtful work of quite an inspired author. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reinforced my belief in the continuation of God’s revelations to mankind.

Sandra S. Vinson Austin, Texas