“Around the Church,” Liahona, Mar. 2010, 76–77
Young women in Liberia, Africa, taught each other about their divine nature and the Young Women Personal Progress program with a little help from young women on the other side of the world during a special district Young Women conference in August 2009.
Training and preparation began three months in advance for the young women, who live in the Monrovia Liberia Bushrod Island District of the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission. The theme for the conference was “Princess for a Day, Queen for Eternity.” Each branch in the district was responsible to present a workshop on a value and create a short skit teaching another value, emphasizing how a daughter of God would treat others and herself.
“These young women are the future of Africa, the pioneers of their country in this glorious gospel,” said Sister Belinda Wire, a full-time missionary who participated in the conference with her husband, Elder Bill Wire.
After the workshops, skits, and other activities, organizers presented the young women with letters sent by young women from a different country, sharing their testimonies of the gospel and Personal Progress.
“Hearts were united across the world,” Sister Wire said. “As these young sisters held the letters, they knew that those young women believe as they do, read the same books, follow the same programs, are guided by the same prophet, and are loved by the same God.”
Though few in number, Saints in the Galapagos Islands, located off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, are strong in faith. In September the members saw the completion of the islands’ first meetinghouse.
The rented building where the Galapagos Islands Branch previously held services, referred to as “el Castillo Blanco” by the members, wasn’t large enough to hold sacrament meeting in any single room, so members had to meet in three rooms at one time.
When Elder Floyd and Sister Susan Baum, the senior missionary couple assigned to the islands, first entered the new building, they were humbled to tears. “It is absolutely beautiful,” said Elder Baum. “The workmanship is of the highest order.”
Emma Bastidas remembered when she and her family had to travel to the mainland of Ecuador to be baptized in 1985. She and her family watched the branch form, and she cried when the first missionaries arrived in the islands.
“Now they have built a chapel close enough I can walk to it,” Sister Bastidas said.
Aside from providing a meetingplace for the little group of Saints, the new chapel has brought other blessings. Leonor Machua heard of the new meetinghouse just before leaving on a brief trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador. While in Ecuador she asked someone about the new building and the religion it represented. The stranger answered her questions and suggested she meet with missionaries once she returned home. A few days later she saw the missionaries on a street corner and accepted the invitation to be taught. Sister Machua was baptized immediately after the Saturday afternoon session of general conference in October 2009, the first person to be baptized in the new meetinghouse’s baptismal font.
The Church is relatively new in the islands. Before the formal organization of the branch, four families began meeting in the town of Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz. In 1998 Church leaders organized the branch within the Guayaquil Ecuador South Mission and the members began meeting on the island of San Cristobal before moving into el Castillo Blanco.
Now about 120 members attend every week in the new meetinghouse on the island of Santa Cruz.
Though the branch is small and far from the mainland, the Saints in the Galapagos Islands have been blessed, said Daniel Calapucha, branch president.
“I truly don’t feel isolated because we have the guidance of our Father in Heaven,” he said.
More than a dozen Primary children from the Fusagasuga Ward, Soacha Colombia Stake, spent a special day at the Bogotá Colombia Temple, learning about the temple’s importance.
In November 2009 the ward Primary presidency accompanied 15 Primary children to the temple. There the children had the opportunity to meet the temple president, Jorge J. Escobar, and ask questions. The children learned why they had to wait until they were 12 to enter the temple to do temple work, why the figure of the angel Moroni on the temple spire holds a trumpet, and why he often faces east.
At the end of the activity, the children shared their feelings about the experience.
Maria Fernanda Sanchez, ward Primary secretary, said it was a spiritual experience. “It was a special, unforgettable day not only for them but for us as their Primary leaders,” she said.