News of the Church

Members Touched by Historic Conference

In a historic meeting on 12 September 2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke by satellite broadcast from Salt Lake City to more than 23,000 Latter-day Saints gathered at stake and district conferences in about 35 meetinghouses across Venezuela and on islands including the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie of the Seventy also addressed the conferences.

President Hinckley told the Saints that as a young boy he would often look into the night sky to find the North Star. “From looking at that star I learned a great lesson which has remained with me throughout my life,” he said. “I learned that there are fixed and constant points by which we may guide our lives.” He encouraged members to use unchanging gospel truths the same way in their own lives.

Each congregation had a few minutes to open its individual conference, pray, sing, and conduct stake business before receiving the transmission from Church headquarters. After the transmission, the congregations closed their meetings with a hymn and a prayer.

Venezuelan Saints felt the significance of the broadcast both on a personal level and as a momentous event for that nation’s membership as a whole.

Thirteen-year-old Marcel Farías of La Isabelica Ward, Valencia Venezuela Candelaria Stake, a recent convert in Valencia, said President Hinckley’s words were special to him. “What affected me most about his message was the great love he feels for us, the members of the Church in Venezuela.”

“To know that the Lord is concerned for each one of us and has chosen prophets to help us strengthen our faith will have a marvelous effect on our members,” said Bishop Julio Márquez of the Palo Verde Ward, Caracas Venezuela Palo Verde Stake.

“This satellite transmission,” said Freddy Guedez of the Tocuyito Ward, Valencia Venezuela Candelaria Stake, “is a unique and unprecedented event in the history of the Church in Venezuela.”

Alexis Uriepero, president of the Porlamar Venezuela District, said the conference proved to him that “the prophet and other leaders have their eyes on Venezuela.”

[photo] President Hinckley addresses Latter-day Saints in Venezuela via a satellite broadcast. (Copyright Intellectual Reserve.)

Church Provides Hurricane Relief

Four major hurricanes passed through islands in the Caribbean and parts of the United States in the months of August and September 2004, damaging homes and businesses and killing close to 1,700. Following hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, the Church and its members reacted quickly to bring relief to those of many faiths. The Church sent more than 1.5 million pounds (680,000 kg) of food, 350,000 hygiene kits, and 400,000 items of clothing in 70 semitruck loads. By mid-October, members had donated more than 310,000 hours of labor during cleanup and other relief efforts.

Hurricane Charley

On Friday, 14 August, Hurricane Charley slammed ashore in southwest Florida as a Category Four hurricane with winds up to 180 miles per hour (290 kph). At least 16 people were killed, hundreds were injured, and approximately 1,500 were left homeless. Millions went without power for as long as two weeks or more.

No Church members were reported killed or injured by the storm, but several were displaced from their homes. At least seven meetinghouses were damaged.

The Church and its members were quick to respond, organizing or participating in relief efforts in areas affected by the storm.

Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Frances brought 125 mph (200 kph) winds through the Bahamas and into Florida only a few weeks after Charley struck. Fourteen people were reported dead, none of whom were Church members. More than 3 million were without power after the storm. About 53,000 people stayed in emergency shelters. Close to a dozen Church buildings were damaged. The Orlando Florida Temple was undamaged.

Many disaster response agencies were already depleted or still recovering from Hurricane Charley, but the Church set up temporary bishops’ storehouses inside a number of meetinghouses within the disaster area. Supplies were transported from Utah and Georgia. Approximately 100,000 hygiene kits were distributed, and members continued to help with cleanup around the state.

Hurricane Ivan

On 7 September, the Category Four Hurricane Ivan tore through the small island of Grenada. Winds of 145 mph (230 kph) left 90 percent of the island’s buildings damaged or uninhabitable. At least 39 people died, and 40,000 were in temporary shelters.

The storm brushed the islands of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Vincent before arriving in Jamaica as a Category Five storm with winds of 160 mph (260 kph). Jamaica suffered 15 deaths, and 8,000 people were left in shelters.

The next day Ivan battered the Cayman Islands as the eye of the storm passed just offshore. Two died and 50 percent of the islands’ homes were left uninhabitable.

The storm caused heavy damage in Alabama and Florida. In the United States, 52 deaths were attributed to Ivan, and more than 440,000 homes were left without power for days.

No missionaries or members were hurt in any of the affected locations.

The Church and its members again responded to the need for relief. Humanitarian donations of hygiene kits, canned goods, food boxes, and medical supplies were sent from bishops’ storehouses in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Supplies were airlifted to Grenada, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman.

In Florida, priesthood leaders coordinated a major volunteer response. Many Church members came from hundreds of miles away to help meet members’ needs. Meetinghouses became shelters and/or distribution points for relief supplies not only from the Church, but from other relief agencies as well.

Hurricane Jeanne

The Caribbean didn’t have long to recover from Hurricane Ivan before Hurricane Jeanne struck. On 18 September, the storm hit Haiti, which sustained the greatest loss of life in any of the areas hit by the storms.

At press time, more than 1,500 people were reported killed and another 900 people were missing in the small country located on the island of Hispaniola. One of those killed was a 70-year-old man who was a member of the Church. No missionaries were serving in the areas hit hardest. They had been evacuated earlier in the year due to political unrest in the area.

Hundreds of thousands were left homeless in the cities of Gonaïves, Port-de-Paix, and Terre-Neuve; 800 Church members were displaced. The majority of the damage occurred in Gonaïves, where 80 percent of the area remained underwater days after the storm’s landfall. The city’s meetinghouse was flooded with several feet of water and mud. In the city of Saint-Marc, approximately 150 members were living in tents next to the local meetinghouse.

Local Church leaders responded to members’ needs with the distribution of relief items and fast offering funds. Sixteen pallets of essential emergency items were airlifted to Haiti, and thirteen 40-foot (12-m) containers of clothing, shoes, blankets, and hygiene kits were sent from the Church’s Humanitarian Center.

The Red Cross requested grief counselors to help many of the people. Church Welfare Services sent 10 counselors to help those who had lost everything to cope with their circumstances and find hope for the future.

After devastating Haiti, the storm moved on to Florida, making landfall on September 26. No state in the U.S. has endured four hurricanes in a single season in more than 100 years. However, Jeanne was the fourth to hit Florida in two months, following Charley on 13 August, Frances on 5 September, and Ivan on 16 September.

Many Florida cities were in the path of multiple storms. The death toll in the U.S. for all four storms was 91.

[photo] Latter-day Saint volunteers help remove a tree that damaged this home in Florida.

[photo] Wind and waves from the hurricanes destroyed many structures, including part of this home in Florida.

New Temple Presidents and Matrons Begin Service

Fifty-two new temple presidents recently began three-year terms of service with their wives. Most of the couples began their service on 1 November 2004.


President and Matron

Aba Nigeria

Jerry V. and Joanne O. Kirk

Anchorage Alaska

Gary E. and Joyce S. Cox

Atlanta Georgia

Jim David and K. Caroline Echard

Birmingham Alabama

John Reid and DeAnn H. Giles

Caracas Venezuela

David Craig and Diane T. Hoopes

Chicago Illinois

Glenn Allan and Betty J. Hansen

Ciudad Juárez Mexico

Ashton Harvey and Naomi H. Taylor

Cochabamba Bolivia

David Evans and Sylvia L. Heywood

Colonia Juárez Chihuahua Mexico

John Brentnell and Ellen L. Robinson

Columbia River Washington

Earl J. and Rayola Wheelwright

Columbus Ohio

Don Lee and Darlene T. Tobler

Copenhagen Denmark

Dee Valentine and Kay P. Jacobs

Dallas Texas

Philip Hichborn and Peggy J. Besselievre

Denver Colorado

Grant Elggren and Edith R. Marsh

Detroit Michigan

David Ray and Bonnie L. Shurtz

Edmonton Alberta

Robert Steven and Belva E. Patterson

Frankfurt Germany

Richard Woolley and Kathleen M. Fetzer

Fresno California

Charles Allen and Anne Kropf

Guadalajara Mexico

Robert Savage and Kathleen Gabbitas

Halifax Nova Scotia

Byron Ronald and Zelma Christensen

Hamilton New Zealand

James Anthony and Tepua Morley

Hong Kong China

Kwok Yuen and Hui Hua (Flora) Tai

Johannesburg South Africa

Louis and Rina Groenewald

Laie Hawaii

Wayne Octave and Bernice O. Ursenbach

Lima Peru

Royden John and Rebecca B. Glade

London England

Rowland Edward and Barbara J. Elvidge

Los Angeles California

Richard Morris and Darlene A. Andrus

Louisville Kentucky

James Wayne and Karen L. Hansen

Lubbock Texas

Thomas Scott and Marian Hendricks

Manhattan New York

John Roger and Helen B. Stone

Medford Oregon

Gene “B” and Carol L. Welling

Melbourne Australia

Graeme Edward and Marie L. Cray

Memphis Tennessee

John Richard and Carol K. Thorderson

Mérida Mexico

Carl Lavon and Jean S. Call

Monterrey Mexico

Jesús and Adelfa A. Santos

Nashville Tennessee

Billy Joe and Marianne Eaves

Nauvoo Illinois

David Bitner and Anne Wirthlin

Orlando Florida

Blaine W. and Jeanette Johnson

Perth Australia

John Anthony and Vicki T. Grinceri

Portland Oregon

Nicholas Peery and Susan R. Collins

Provo Utah

Carl William and Carolyn S. Bacon

Raleigh North Carolina

Grady Lynn and Genevieve B. Barnes

Reno Nevada

Oris Lorenzo and Alice A. Corbridge

Santiago Chile

Julio Humberto and Maria Jaramillo

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic

Edward Harry and JoAnn A. Petersen

Seattle Washington

Denzel Nolan and Beverly M. Wiser

Spokane Washington

Farrell Newren and Joyce L. Binns

St. George Utah

Harold Harrison and Mona E. Hiskey

St. Paul Minnesota

Thomas Albert and Bonnie A. Holt

Tampico Mexico

Ricardo and Maria Torres

Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mexico

Wilbur Thayne and Carel R. Wagner

Winter Quarters Nebraska

Robert B. and Rene Harbertson

[photo] The Oakland California Temple and its newly renovated visitors’ center have been a community gathering point for Christmas activities for more than 25 years.

World Leaders Visiting Utah to Learn about Church

World leaders are recognizing the need to learn more about the Church as they become aware of the presence of a growing religion in their area or notice the good works the Church is doing through its humanitarian arm. Two leaders recently made separate visits to Salt Lake City to tour Temple Square and learn more about the Church.

Kyrgyzstan’s President and First Lady

Askar Akayev and Mairam Akaeva, president and first lady of Kyrgyzstan, toured Temple Square and attended a live broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word on 26 September 2004. They also visited with Church leaders.

While in Utah, President Akayev and First Lady Akaeva received honorary degrees from Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah. They were recognized for their contributions to the world community. The couple has helped build orphanages, children’s schools, and centers for those with special needs.

Chile’s First Lady

Chile’s first lady, Luisa Durán de Lagos, visited Salt Lake City on 21 September 2004 to personally thank the Church for the many humanitarian efforts taking place in her country.

Mrs. Durán de Lagos met and talked with the First Presidency before touring the Humanitarian Center. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the tour, ending it with the presentation of a gift: 600 computers donated by Brigham Young University for schoolchildren in Chile.

“I came here because I wanted to personally thank the Church for what it has given us,” she said. “We have received from the [Church] assistance with ‘Chile Solidario,’ a program designed to help Chile’s poorest families arise from poverty.”

[photo] The first lady of Chile, Luisa Durán de Lagos, visits Church leaders, including Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in Salt Lake City. (Photograph courtesy of Church News.)

In the News

New Mission Makes 338 Worldwide

Three missions in the northern part of Luzon in the Philippines have been reorganized to create a fourth mission, the Philippines Laoag Mission.

The Ilagan, Baguio, and Olongapo missions, with a combined estimated population of 7.6 million residents, were reconfigured to create the Laoag mission, the 14th mission in the Philippines. The mission will be headquartered in Laoag, located on the northwestern tip of the island.

The new mission was created in October, making it the 338th mission of the Church.

About 18,910 members reside in the Laoag mission. Stakes within the mission include Batac, Laoag, and Narvacan. Districts include Aparri, Ballesteros, Bangued, Bangui, and Vigan.

Jerry W. Hatch of the Idaho Falls Seventh Ward, Idaho Falls Idaho North Stake, has been called to preside over the new mission. He will be accompanied by his wife, Marilyn Kay Hatch. At the time of their call, they were serving as senior missionaries in the Philippines Area.

Adapted from Church News, 25 September 2004.

Map of the Philippines

Three existing missions in the Philippines were reconfigured to create the Philippines Laoag Mission, the 14th in the Philippines and the 338th in the Church.

Nativity Festival Helps Saints to Share the Gospel

Church members in St. George, Utah, know many ways to remember Christ during the Christmas season, and one way is to provide an opportunity for others to learn more about Him and His Church. For the past four years, members have invited the community to a nativity festival, to be held this year on 3–4 December at the Green Valley Stake Center. The festival has grown every year, with almost 2,000 visitors viewing the displays last year.

At this year’s festival, more than 100 paintings and 500 nativities from around the world will be on display. One nativity was made from mud and dried in the sun by children in Africa—the fingernail marks used to create the eyes and mouths of the figures are visible. A nativity from Russia is made of brightly colored, hand-painted wooden figures. Another shows Mary and the Christ child dressed in Chinese silk.

Young Single Adults Hold Conference in Poland

Some 65 Church members from throughout the country met in Zakopane, Poland, on 3–5 September 2004 for the second all-Poland young single adult conference. They enjoyed both recreation and gospel learning activities.

Friday afternoon included time to explore Krupówki Street, a tourist attraction in this internationally known ski-resort city. Saturday included a brief visit to historical sites and a conference session that took place during a hike into nearby Tatrzanski National Park. In a meeting on Saturday evening, they heard counsel from Poland Warsaw Mission president David J. Barnett. On Sunday, the conference ended with a fast and testimony meeting.

Share Joy to the World This Christmas Season

This issue of the Ensign includes a sheet of pass-along cards offering the Church’s Joy to the World DVD. The DVD includes the story of Christ’s birth as experienced in both Jerusalem and the Americas, music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and an introduction to the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Those who call the toll-free number on the card will be given the option of having the DVD delivered to them by mail or by missionaries who will also share a message about the Savior. When giving the pass-along cards, allow enough time for delivery of the DVD.

Copies of Joy to the World and additional pass-along cards are also available through local distribution centers.

[photo] Various creches at the Green Valley Stake’s Nativity Festival in St. George, Utah, draw thousands of visitors each year.

[photo] Young single adults from across Poland met together in a nationwide conference. (Photograph by Don Searle.)