Conference Includes Notice of Five New Temples
President Thomas S. Monson opened the Church’s 179th Semiannual General Conference, held on Saturday and Sunday, October 3 and 4, 2009, by announcing the locations of five new temples planned for future construction in Brigham City, Utah, USA; Concepción, Chile; Fortaleza, Brazil; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; and Sapporo, Japan.
Members around the world participated in the conference in as many as 92 languages at the Conference Center and by television, satellite, Internet, and radio broadcasts. Recordings of the broadcast will be made available on DVD and CD and online.
The new temples bring to 21 the number of temples that are announced or under construction. Once completed, these 21 temples will bring the Church’s worldwide total to 151.
“We continue to build temples,” said President Monson. “We desire that as many members as possible have an opportunity to attend the temple without having to travel inordinate distances.”
The temple in Brigham City will be Utah’s 14th; two temples, the Draper Utah and Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temples, were dedicated in Utah earlier this year.
There are currently 14 temples in operation in South America. The temple in Concepción, Chile, will be the second in Chile.
The temple in Fortaleza, Brazil, will be the seventh in Brazil. A temple in Manaus was announced in May 2007, and there are five currently in operation.
Serving the needs of members in South Florida and the Bahamas, the temple in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will be the second in Florida.
The Sapporo Japan Temple will be the third in that country, after the Tokyo and Fukuoka Japan Temples.
President Monson said that 83 percent of Church members live within 200 miles (320 km) of a temple. “That percentage will continue to increase as we construct new temples around the world,” he added.
Members Blessed for Faith in Face of Disasters
Latter-day Saints in the Samoan Islands, which experienced substantial destruction caused by an earthquake and ensuing tsunami, momentarily set aside personal or family concerns of a temporal nature in order to meet spiritual needs during general conference.
The magnitude-8.0 quake struck about 120 miles (190 km) southeast of Apia, Samoa, on September 29, 2009—only a few days before general conference. The quake and subsequent tsunami—with four waves around 15 feet (5 m) high—killed more than 180 people in the Pacific, all but 9 of them on the Samoan Islands.
In spite of the disaster, which left at least 26 Church members dead, and the recovery efforts that followed, Latter-day Saints were richly rewarded for making time to participate in general conference by radio, television, or satellite.
Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, a member of the Church who serves as a delegate to the United States Congress from the U.S. territory of American Samoa, said the Saints drew strength from participating in conference in the midst of the crisis. “There was a sense of assurance hearing from the prophet … during a time of life or death,” he said.
The members’ ability to receive, in their native tongue, that reassurance from modern-day prophets was thanks in large measure to a team of translators who suffered their own losses during the disaster.
Assigned to provide live interpretation from the islands for the first time rather than from Salt Lake City, the translation team had a choice to make after the disaster struck. The team could turn interpretation over to Salt Lake City on short notice so that they could tend to the needs of friends and family affected by the quake, or they could fulfill their assignment.
Aliitasi Talataina, the translation supervisor and interpretation coordinator, said she felt an impression that there were many who could tend to the physical needs of the people or bury the dead but that “this is what the Lord would have us do [for] the living and generations to come.”
Because a disaster management team took over the service center where the interpretation equipment had been set up, the team had to find a facility that had the digital telephone lines and other technical requirements necessary to provide remote, simultaneous translation.
Sister Talataina said the team’s faith was like Nephi’s in that they said, “Even if we [had] to do this under a tree, we [would] go and do” (see 1 Nephi 3:7).
With the Lord’s help they found a location, and the necessary equipment was transferred, set up, and tested in the few days prior to conference.
“We felt the hand of the Lord in accomplishing what we were commanded,” Sister Talataina said.
Because of the team’s efforts, when conference began, members who took time from the massive cleanup effort to participate in the proceedings were able to hear and understand the Lord’s message for them.
Tsunami Strikes South Pacific Islands
Church members are helping their neighbors and each other clean up after a magnitude-8.0 quake triggered a tsunami in the South Pacific on September 29, 2009.
The quake and tsunami waves killed more than 180, leaving hundreds missing or injured and destroying numerous buildings. Some 140 were confirmed dead in Samoa, with more than 30 in American Samoa and 9 in Tonga. The dead included at least 26 Church members—22 in Samoa and 4 in neighboring American Samoa.
Local priesthood leaders helped with immediate needs, including distributing food, water, and hygiene items. Priesthood leaders have also worked with government officials and relief organizations to organize a long-term response. The Church helped provide a planeload of relief supplies sent from Salt Lake City on October 6.
Philippines, Vietnam Hit by Typhoons
The Church and Church members mobilized to provide relief after Typhoon Ketsana pummeled the Philippines and Southeast Asia, killing more than 300 people in September and October 2009.
The storm first made landfall in the Philippines, displacing half a million people. More than 560,000 people were evacuated to more than 600 camps. Among the more than 275 confirmed deaths were 12 Church members. Another 14 were missing. The flooding destroyed 44 member homes and damaged 223 others. At least 25 meetinghouses suffered flood damage, and another 25 were used as temporary shelters.
In Vietnam, the typhoon killed more than 40 people in flooding and landslides. Some 200,000 people were evacuated from central provinces before the storm hit. All Church members and missionaries in Vietnam are safe and accounted for.
The following week, Typhoon Parma reached the northern provinces of the Philippines, killing at least another 160 people.
Multiple Earthquakes Devastate Indonesia
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 struck 30 miles (50 km) off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on September 30, 2009. A second quake, this one a magnitude 6.8, struck nearby the next day.
At least 1,100 people were killed, and hundreds more were injured, many trapped beneath rubble and displaced earth. The quake destroyed hospitals, schools, shopping malls, bridges, and roads. It cut power lines and triggered landslides.
All Church members are safe, and no damage to Church property has been reported; the epicenter of the quake was 500 miles (800 km) from any members.
AP Photo/New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Herald