Mormon Helping Hands Video Nominated for CNN Award

June 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Mormon Moments

An unofficial video made by Mormon Joshua Brown followed Mormon volunteers as they cleaned up hard-hit areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. CNN’s Christina Zdanowicz said, “From the vivid imagery to the emotional interviews with residents affected by Sandy, Brown’s video takes you to a place that lost it all. The arc of the story goes from the despair people face to the hope they feel when volunteers come to save the day” (Sarah Petersen, Mormon Helping Hands video nominated for CNN award, Deseret News, April 4 2013). Although the video did not win, it captured the hearts of many and was widely circulated around the Internet.

Mormons began volunteering in the cleanup effort the day after the hurricane. Congregations were assigned locations after consultation with various local government officials and traveled by bus or car—some even flying in from other parts of the country at their own expense just because they wanted to help—to begin arduous cleanup. They tried not to impact the area any more than necessary so they camped out and brought all their own resources, including water. Many of the areas were without power and water. Volunteers included missionaries, who suspended their proselytizing work during the crisis, and ordinary Mormon adults and teenagers who gave up weekends to participate. Church services in many areas were cancelled because so many chose to volunteer.

Hurricane Sandy clean-up

work will winThey donned the now-familiar yellow vests that identified them as participants in the Mormon Helping Hands program. This allowed organizers to keep track of their volunteers and also allowed those receiving services or requesting them to identify the participants. They un-flooded basements, cleaned off mold, removed trash and debris, assisted home owners in sorting out what could be saved, listened when people needed to grieve, and did whatever else was needed. Some neighborhoods had received no help at all the first week—not even from the government. When hundreds of Mormons suddenly descended on their neighborhoods beginning the day after the storm, offering to help without wanting anything in return, many homeowners were moved to tears. They had been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that had to be done. Read more

Temecula Mormons Volunteer to Improve Community

Mormons in Temecula, California spent a Saturday in the spring of 2013 sprucing up their local community. This is an annual event for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is part of the popular Mormon Helping Hands program. The program encompasses both emergency cleanup after disasters and also scheduled service projects that simply give back to the communities in which they live and worship.

Mormons Serve Temecula

A quote about love from C.S. Lewis.The Temecula event took place at a variety of locations and non-Mormons were invited to join the efforts. One group worked to get Chaparral High School in shape following extensive budget cuts. Volunteers worked with the school’s principal to clean up the grounds for their upcoming graduation and were told the school had never looked nicer.

At the same time, other volunteers headed for Jacob’s House, a spiritual organization that serves as a hospitality house for families whose loved ones are in the nearby hospital. They were preparing for their upcoming open house and Mormon Helping Hands volunteers joined with other community volunteers to fix up the yard and gardens and to organize and clean the building. Read more

Mormon Apostles Testify of Christ around the World

May 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

A Mormon apostle fills the same role as the apostles who served under Jesus Christ and who ran the church after His death. They proclaim the message of the Savior’s divinity, ministry, and resurrection, they lead and govern the church, and they provide training and counsel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes nicknamed Mormons, has a quorum consisting of twelve apostles, plus two additional apostles who serve as counselors to the prophet. Although headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, they spend considerable time traveling the world to meet with Mormons in other countries. Following are some recent trips made by Mormon apostles:

Mormon Leader Travels to New Zealand and Samoa

Mormon Twelve ApostlesDallin H. Oaks traveled to New Zealand, where he spoke to an audience of Mormons and their guests in Wellington. He offered encouragement in the art of being Mormons in a place where the faith is a minority. President Uchtdorf suggested they get to know their neighbors, be a part of the community, serve others, and search for common ground when speaking to them. He reminded them that Mormons don’t believe being a Christian is something you do for a few hours at church, but is something you are every moment of your life. He reminded listeners to stand as witnesses of Christ at all times. Read more

Apostles Visit Mormons Worldwide

April 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Mormon Beliefs

get-on-your-kneesAfter the Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected, He appeared to His apostles and commanded them to be “witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church) is given the same charge. In a revelation on the priesthood given in 1835 through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the “twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23).

“An apostle is an ordained leader in the Melchizedek Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apostles are chosen through inspiration by the president of the Church, sustained by the general membership of the Church, and ordained by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by the laying on of hands. They serve as general authorities as distinguished from local and regional officers—holding their office as apostle for the duration of their lives. The senior apostle is the president of the Church.”1

With over 14 million members of the Church worldwide, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ “traverse the globe to meet with members, train local Church leaders, visit government and civic leaders,” and administer the affairs of the Church. Like the Apostle Paul in the early church, they proclaim the gospel, bear testimony, and strengthen the members of the church.

For example, Elder Russell M. Nelson visited Japan in March 2013, where he met with Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, and justice minister, Sadakazu Tanigaki.

“Foreign Minister Kishida and Justice Minister Tanigaki thanked the Church for the service it provided following the devastating tsunami in 2011, including financial contributions and 400,000-plus man-hours of service from local Latter-day Saints.”

Russell M. Nelson in japan MormonElder Nelson also devoted time to ministering to Church members in Japan and Guam.

During February, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland traveled to Europe where he visited with Latter-day Saints in Holland and Germany. While visiting England on the same trip, he spoke to Mormons and missionaries in the Church’s London Missionary Training Center, participated in an interfaith dinner, and met with members of Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Also in February, Elder Neil L. Andersen traveled to the Caribbean where he met with local priesthood leaders, missionaries, and members of the Church through the Caribbean region. He also visited Haiti to commemorate the Church’s 30-year anniversary in the country. As part of his visit, he unveiled a commemorative plaque on a hill above Port au Prince—the same spot where Church President Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated the land for the preaching of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ

Mormons dedicate lands and countries for “divinely appointed purposes.”

“Dedication is the act of devoting or consecrating something to the Lord, or ‘setting apart’ something for a specific purpose in building the kingdom of God. It is a priesthood function performed through an official and formal act of prayer.”2

Elder Andersen said that several Church-sponsored projects continue in Haiti, each intended to continue to help members of the Church and the citizens of Haiti progress after the devastating effects of the earthquake that struck three years ago.

Elder Quentin L. Cook visited the Ivory Coast in February. He met with 9,000 members of the Church, trained local Church leaders, and visited local government officials.

In January, Elder D. Todd Christofferson visited with Latter-day Saints in several countries in Central America. “Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla extended the time allotted for Elder Christofferson’s visit to speak at greater length about the importance of strengthening the family.” He thanked President Chinchilla for “ways in which the national government has made it easier for the Church to do charitable work in the country.”

Missionary service was one of the topics Elder Christofferson discussed with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina. Almost 1,000 Mormon missionaries serve in Guatemala and about the same number of missionaries from Guatemala serve in other countries. They also discussed a Guatemala initiative that encourages reading in Guatemalan families.

Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley once quipped that he traveled so extensively, he had to check the LDS Church News to find out where he’d been.

Although members of the Church of Jesus Christ gather twice a year for General Conference of the Church, most Latter-day Saints watch the conference through television, satellite broadcast, or through the Internet. The personal visits from the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency of the Church to their countries excite, encourage, and strengthen them.

Notes:

1. What is an Apostle?

2. What do Mormons mean by “dedicating” something?

Reference:

Apostles Travel the World

This article was written by Paula Hicken, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Paula Hicken Mormon

Paula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.

Additional Resource:

Worship with Mormons

Mormons in Africa: Ugandan Latter-day Saints Help Further the Gospel

April 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Mormon Beliefs

The organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mistakenly referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others) is in its infant stages. The Church of Jesus Christ was organized in the early 1990s, and since its inception, nearly 7,000 people in this East African nation have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, and are now members of the global faith.

“Missionaries are baptizing [new members] almost every Sunday,” said Ugandan Jimmy Carter Okot, President of the Kampala Uganda Stake (a stake is similar to a Catholic diocese). “The Church is growing rapidly and the members are very faithful.” [1]

“People are looking for a solid anchor in a world of shifting values,” said Gordon B. Hinckley, former Church president. “They are welcomed as new converts and are made to feel at home. They feel the warmth of the fellowship of the Saints.” [1]

Uganda Stake Presidency MormonPresident Okot, with the assistance of other Stake leaders, spend their time teaching congregational leaders how to care for those of whom they have immediate stewardship, as well as, how to reach out to friends and neighbors that are not of the LDS faith. Their task is to help the young leadership to first understand the scope of their responsibilities, and then to have them go forth and perform those duties. They teach how to strengthen members of the Relief Society, the women’s organization, and to provide guidance to youth in the Young Men and Young Women programs and to children ages 18 months to 11 years in what is called Primary.

President Okot has only been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ for the past decade, and has said that his path to membership began the day he walked past the construction of a new church building. There he noticed a sign that read: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visitors Welcome.” Yearning to know more, he listened intently as the full-time missionaries taught about Jesus Christ.

He later spoke with two Sister missionaries who expressed their fervent belief in the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ. He gained strength from their powerful, heartfelt testimonies. He recalls, “When they shared their feelings about the Book of Mormon, immediately I had a very strong and powerful feeling.” [1] He continued with the missionary lessons and was baptized the next week.

A decade later, President Okot has matured as a leader of the LDS Church. He has served a full-time Mormon mission. He has also served as a lay leader of multiple congregations and is now serving as the Stake President of the Kampala Uganda Stake. “I’m grateful to witness the Church flourishing; everyone has a part to play,” explained President Okot. “As a stake, we are able to solve our own challenges.” [1]

Latter-day Saints in Uganda attend six wards (congregations) and five branches (a smaller congregation) in the villages and communities of Kajjansi, Mengo, Mutungo, Ntinda, Seeta, Entebbe, Kabowa, Kololo, Makindye, Mukono and Nsambya. The six wards comprise the Kampala Uganda Stake, the first Stake in Uganda, created in January 2010.

The organization of The Church of Jesus Christ and its leadership in Uganda operate the same as any other congregation of Latter-day Saints around the world. If a person were to attend worship services on any given Sunday in the United States, Italy, Japan, or even the nation of Africa, he will find congregations singing sacred hymns, offering gratitude through prayer, partaking of the sacrament of bread and water in remembrance of the Savior’s sacrifice and sharing their beliefs.

The Church in Uganda has come a long way, President Okot concluded. As the leadership understands the doctrine of the Church and gains experience, they are strengthened. “The Lord is blessing us; He hasn’t left us alone.” [1]

 

Mormon Apostle, Jeffrey R. Holland, Visits Europe

March 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Mormon Testimonies

The word apostle comes from the Greek “apostolos” meaning “one sent forth.” An apostle, therefore, is one sent forth to serve as a special witness of Jesus Christ. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest presiding body in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly referred to by the media and others as the Mormon Church), is one of those special witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Elder Holland, accompanied by his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, recently paid a visit to several European countries. He began his visit on Saturday, 23 February 2013 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, where he spoke at a meeting of several congregations in the Apeldoorn area about the importance of spreading the Church’s beliefs and referred to the Church’s recent creation of 58 new missions across the world.

“Elder Holland stressed the fact that Christ’s work does not take place in church buildings, but just the opposite,” Lisette Dalliga,  a member of the LDS Church’s congregation in nearby Zwolle: said. “Christ spoke to the people on the streets, on the market square and along the shore of the lake. Everyone needs the gospel (and) we should reach out our hands to them.”  [1]

Dalliga further stated that those in attendance during Elder Holland’s address were blessed by the messages of love and inspiration that he shared.

On 25-26 February 2013, Elder Holland spent time in England. During his time there he spoke to missionaries at the LDS Church’s Missionary Training Center, met with several members of Parliament and participated in an interfaith dinner and outreach focus group. Elder Clifford Herbertson, a church leader from Great Britain, commented:

An important part of Elder Holland’s visit to London was to meet with a number of influential political, faith and community leaders. One particular event, a private dinner held in the BYU London Centre, created tangible goodwill and understanding that was recognized and appreciated by all those that attended.  Doors were opened during Elder Holland’s visit that will greatly bless the lives of many. [1]

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland visits Hyde Park ChapelLondon’s Hyde Park Chapel which was rededicated on 30 June 2012, and recently remodeled to function as a church meetinghouse and a visitors’ center for those interested in learning about the Church of Jesus Christ, was also visited by Elder Holland. As he had completed a two-year Mormon mission in Britain during the early 1960s, visiting the Hyde Park Chapel was particularly special for him.

“It is a wonderful memory just to be in this building. … I was in this building when it was dedicated, so my memories in this building and in this mission mean everything to me,” Elder Holland said during his visit. “I go all over this world telling missionaries how much my mission meant to me, and to be home, to be in the land of my mission and in the building where I served so much of it is a very, very special experience.” [1]

He also spent several days in Germany. From 28 February through 1 March 2013, he instructed mission presidents during a seminar held in Frankfurt, Germany. On 2 March, he spoke to members of the Church of Jesus Christ in Berlin, Germany, and participated in an outreach focus group. He concluded his time in Germany on Sunday, 3 March, by speaking to Latter-day Saints from the Leest and Potsdam congregations. He said he thought he was the first member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to visit those congregations and that he felt like home. In his remarks he spoke about the congregations’ importance in the LDS Church’s work, including bolstering missionary numbers and building temples across the world and assured the members that all the work they do is important.

Vivienne Meier, a member of the Potsdam congregation, said she was grateful for Elder Holland’s visit to her congregation.

“I was very surprised when I heard he was coming, but very happy, too,” Meier said. “His message just really touched my heart. … We were all just in a different dimension hearing him speak. We all felt so good and so happy.” [1]

Elder José Teixeira, President of the church in the Europe Area, commented that having Elder Holland in Europe was a special experience for all involved.

“As we traveled throughout Europe with Elder and Sister Holland, we saw the goodness of an Apostle of the Lord,” Elder Teixeira said. “The members of the Leest and Potsdam branches in Germany, in particular, will never forget the blessing it was to have Elder Holland in their midst and the blessings and love he left with them.” [1]

Additional Resource:

Mormon Missionary Work

 

LDS African Smiles Engaged in Good Works

March 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Mormons Giving Aid Globally

Joseph Smith, the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church), was once asked by a member of the legislature how he was able to govern so many people and preserve order. The Prophet Joseph Smith replied, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”1

Through a revelation Joseph Smith received, members of the Church of Jesus Christ were taught the principle of being “anxiously engaged in a good cause” doing “many things of their own free will.” Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called Mormons, endeavor to find good causes—small and large—because they believe that the “power is in them” to do good. (See Doctrine and Covenants 58:27–28.)

Mormon Dentist in UgandaLatter-day Saint, Dr. Philip Openshaw, of Modesto, California, is “anxiously engaged” in the good cause of providing dental training and care to people in Africa. His group, LDS African Smiles Inc. travels to Africa annually. (LDS African Smiles is not funded by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) The group’s goals are to provide training for African dental providers, to take care of the hundreds of native Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in Africa who have never seen a dentist before, and to help other non-profit organizations.

Dr. Openshaw and his team of dental professionals traveled to Kampala, Uganda, Africa, where they were invited to practice at the Mulago Dental School. The school, described by Dr. Openshaw as “one of the most modern dental schools in East Africa and maybe anywhere in Africa” was created through donations by many groups, including Rotary International and the Church of Jesus Christ.

Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world and its capital, Kampala, has a population of over 1.6 million. Dr. Openshaw said that dental treatment in Uganda is predominantly tooth extraction. He and his group of dental professionals seek to help move the dental profession in Uganda into prevention, and dental student training was the primary focus of this trip.

“The digital X-rays blew their socks off. They had never seen anything that cool before,” said Dr. Openshaw. “Even dentists in the outlying areas came into town for a demonstration.” During their two weeks at the dental school, they had “completed 81 exams, 148 X-rays, 65 deep cleanings, 156 fillings, removed 16 teeth, and performed one root canal.” The students at the dental school assisted with every patient and asked many questions.

Preventive treatment was approximately 95 percent of what LDS African Smiles helped provide. “X-rays and cleaning are the building blocks,” Dr. Openshaw said. “It makes great medical sense as well as financial, since it costs the same amount to remove a tooth as it does to do a filling, if it is done at the right time. Prevention is everything in Africa.”

anxiously-engagedThe group accomplished their other goals on their trip to Uganda. They provided free dental services to many LDS missionaries serving in Uganda from other African countries, such as, Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Madagascar.

The Church of Jesus Christ seeks to improve the lives of all members of the Church and has designated a special fund to improve the lives of its missionaries.2 Although Dr. Openshaw’s efforts are independent of the Church’s efforts, his vision is the same. LDS Africa Smiles has the goal to provide dental work to at least 1,000 African missionaries serving in the continent.

About 30 girls from the non-profit organization “Set Her Free” were also patients of Dr. Openshaw and his team. “Set Her Free” is a safe house in Uganda for young girls who have been rescued from human trafficking. The home provides food, shelter, education, medical care, and resettlement opportunities.

Dr. Openshaw recalled a favorite experience with one of the girls in the “Set Her Free” house. “When we first met her, I couldn’t get her to smile. . . . We spent a good hour or more repairing her front teeth and then when we asked her to smile again, she still wouldn’t—until we handed her a mirror. Then she started to cry and laugh all at the same time! Her friends were so excited to see her new smile! It sounded like a New Year’s Eve party with everyone singing and dancing!” He said that at that moment he realized the full impact of his dental team’s visit to Uganda.

In the past, LDS Africa Smiles provided dental care in South Africa and Rwanda. They plan to return to Africa again next year because of their “life-changing experiences that will never be forgotten.”

Notes:

1. “The Organization of the Church,” Millennial Star, November 15, 1851, 339

2. Perpetual Education Fund

Reference:

Missionary Moment: Smiles in Uganda

This article was written by Paula Hicken, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Paula Hicken MormonPaula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.

Additional Resource:

LDS Humanitarian Aid

Mormon Apostle Teaches and Testifies in Asia North Area

March 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Mormon Beliefs

On 10 December 2010, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited the island of Guam and organized the country’s first stake (an administrative unit composed of multiple congregations.) Just a little more than two years later, another Apostle of the Lord, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve visited the Western Pacific island during his first stop on an almost two-week long visit to the Asia North Area.

Tokyo, Japan Mormon TempleHe was accompanied by his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson; Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Kathryn Callister; and Bishop Dean M. Davies, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, and his wife, Sister Darla Davies. Elder Michael T. Ringwood, Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, and Elder Koichi Aoyagi, all of the Seventy and members of the Asia North Area Presidency, also accompanied the Church leaders at various times during their visit.

The visit to the area began on 23 February 2013 with a Priesthood Leadership Conference in Guam. Following that meeting, Elder Nelson held special meetings with members, missionaries, and local Church leaders in Japan. He also met with Japanese government leaders. The visit ended on 3 March 2013 with a military district meeting in Okinawa, Japan.

Elder Nelson commented to the Church News that it was a wonderful assignment to be with the people in that area of the world, but no matter where he is, his message remains the same. He stated in part:

“We can learn two things from the [Asian] people,” he said. “First is honesty, and second is a reverence for ancestors.”

“We are here to teach and testify of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel restored,” he said. “That is the way to find joy and purpose in life. While the world and the people of the world do the best they can in darkness and in despair, they can’t find best-is-yet-to-comehappiness any other way. So ours is a message of peace and joy, of strengthening families, bonding husband and wife, children to their parents, and people to their ancestors … that they can all enjoy eternal life in the presence of God when their sojourn on earth is over.

“Most people live from day to day without a thought of what they will do after this life is over, so we try to give them that eternal perspective. This mortal experience is just act two of a three-act play—the best is yet to come.” [1]

Elder Nelson further stated that one of the main highlights of the visit was when he and Sister Nelson were able to attend the Temple in Tokyo, Japan.

“It is a great blessing to have two temples in Japan, and a third one (located in Sapporo) is under construction,” he said. “We went to the Tokyo Temple and did an endowment session. We did proxy work for [Sister Nelson’s] ancestors. That’s what we do now—we don’t just go to the temple and draw names of unknown people; we take family names.” [1]

Sister Nelson, along with Sister Callister and Sister Davies, divided up and made special visits to some Church members. “They did a lot of good,” Elder Nelson said. “They accomplished a great work, maybe even more valuable than what we did with the area review. They were in their homes and took pictures—it was pretty tender.” [1]

On 3 March 2013 a special meeting was held with the Okinawa District—a district for American military personnel and their families.

“It’s pretty rare for us to meet with a military district,” he said. It was also during his visit to Tokyo that Elder Nelson, along with the Area Presidency, met with two local government leaders—Fumio Kishida, minister of foreign affairs for Japan, and Sadakazu Tanigaki, the minister of justice for Japan.

“They spoke in glowing terms of the Church, expressing gratitude for our help following the earthquake, for the high moral standards and responsible citizenship of Japanese Latter-day Saints,” he said. “They were very warm and friendly, and we expressed our gratitude to them for their making it [possible] … for our missionaries and visitors such as us to come into Japan.” [1]

Japan has six missions. Elder Nelson remarked that after President Thomas S. Monson’s announcement concerning the change in age requirements for serving a full-time mission for both young men and young women, there still remains a “wave of excitement throughout the entire earth”, and the excitement among missionary age young people in Guam and Japan matches that of the rest of the world.

Describing the next generation of Church members—the youth and young adults—he met on his travels, Elder Nelson said that they are “bright, light-filled young people” who “know who they are, and they know where they are going. … It is fun to teach them because they are so very receptive. They are the cream of the crop.” [1]

Mormon Missionary Work

 

30-Year-Anniversary of Church of Jesus Christ in Haiti

March 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Mormon Beliefs

There have been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mistakenly referred to as the Mormon Church by people of other faiths) in the country of Haiti since 1977. The first member was Alexandre Mourra. After reading the Book of Mormon, Alexandre traveled from his home to Florida where he was taught by missionaries and baptized on 30 June 1977.

On 2 July 1978, 22 Haitians were baptized in Hatte-Maree, near Port-au-Prince. In September of that same year, J. Frederick Templeman of the Canadian embassy arrived. He worked with Alexandre Mourra to organize the first branch (a small congregation), created in October 1980 in Port-au-Prince. Missionary work began in Haiti in May 1980 under the direction of the West Indies Mission, and in 1982 there were 12 missionaries serving in the country.

30-Year-Anniversary of Church in HaitiOn 31 March 1981 a branch was created in Petionville, and Alexandre Mourra was called to serve as the Branch President. In 1982 the branch was divided and the Haiti District was created. Four missionaries were then sent to Cap Hatien.

As of December 2011, total Church membership in Haiti is 17,407. There is 1 mission in Haiti, 37 congregations, and 2 Family History Centers. Even as members in Haiti labor to build a promising future for their faith and families, they remain grateful for the Church’s humble beginnings—and the pivotal, historic role of a prophet in their island nation.

Three decades ago, Thomas S. Monson, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ – then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – visited the island of Haiti and dedicated the land for the preaching of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Since that time, the members in Haiti have endured staggering economic struggles and in 2010, the country was ravaged by a devastating earthquake. Yet, through it all, the Saints have remained faithful.

When Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited Haiti recently, he received a warm welcome from devout, hopeful Lattter-day Saints who have dedicated their lives to living the principles of the gospel. Elder Andersen was in Haiti as part of a tour of the Caribbean Area of The Church of Jesus Christ that included an Area review, and several meetings with local priesthood leaders, missionaries, and members throughout the Caribbean region. His visit commemorated the 30th anniversary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country of Haiti.

On 12 February 2013, Elder and Sister Andersen accompanied by a large group of Haitian members drove high above the capital city of Port-au-Prince to Mt. Boutillier—the mountain site where Elder Monson delivered his dedicatory prayer. There Elder Andersen presided over the unveiling of a commemorative plaque that will serve as a permanent reminder of the beginnings of the LDS Church in Haiti. The members who gathered were excited to be able to view a televised message from President Monson which was recorded prior to the event.

In his remarks, President Monson stated that his duties would not allow him to be in Haiti at that time, “but my heart is surely with you as we reflect together on the remarkable progress of the kingdom of God in your country, as well as on the blessings that we all enjoy as children of our Heavenly Father.” [1] He also noted the growth that had occurred in Haiti since his 1983 visit when the Church was in its infancy:

Now, with nearly 20,000 members in four stakes and three districts, the Church is becoming a great blessing to the country of Haiti and to her people,” he said. “Thousands of faithful families kneel together daily in family prayer to thank God for His blessings and to seek His protection. I know that those prayers are heard and answered. [1]

He further noted the number of youth attending seminary and institute and serving full-time missions. “Surely, our Heavenly Father is honoring and answering the dedicatory prayer it was my privilege to offer those long years ago.” [1] He concluded his message by stating, “”glorious days” await the members who keep their sacred covenants.” [1]

Elder Andersen noted the struggles that the Haitian Saints have endured since the dedicatory prayer and spoke of the Church’s “deep appreciation” for the many who have played key roles in setting the foundations of the gospel upon Haitian soil. He added that the work of the gospel is primarily spiritual work, and ““The important things in life are not between wealth and poverty or between fame and obscurity—the important choices in life are between good and evil.” [1]

He continued his remarks by stating:

Three years ago following the terrible earthquake, all the Church and all the world cried with you. These have not been easy days for you. We thank you for your examples of courage, of faith, of seeing blessings even in the difficulties.

Nothing will change this country as the gospel of Jesus Christ will change this country. Let us speak of Christ. Let us speak of His example, His atoning power, and His Resurrection.

You … are a light to the country. [1]

References:

Elder Andersen Marks 30-Year-Anniversary of Church in Haiti

Additional Resource:

Missionary Work

 

Mormons Assist in Typhoon Pablo

On December 3, Typhoon Pablo touched ground at Mindanao in the Philippines. More than 1000 people died and some 2000 homes were damaged. Unfortunately, due to low international publicity, the United Nations struggled to obtain the funds needed to step in and help. Despite the fact that the storm was a category five and Hurricane Sandy, which warranted a great deal of attention and donation, was only a one, the international community seemed less interested in this storm and the desperate needs of the people there.

Typhoon Pablo Mormon Helping HandsThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons, are headquartered in the United States but are an international church. They go wherever they are needed in the world. The Mormons immediately went to work, providing much needed funds, supplies, and volunteer manpower to help ease the suffering. They provided 4,000 bags of relief goods, 400 volunteers from local Mormon congregations, nearly 2,000 hours of volunteer service, and 300 toilet bowls. They also brought in medical supplies, and kitchen supplies. They donated their meetinghouses as shelters. Volunteers went to work performing clean-up assistance in schools and other local facilities. To increase their efficiency, they partnered with non-government organizations that already had programs in place and understood the local needs.

Mormon volunteers gathered to repackage rice, canned foods, and essential supplies so that other volunteers could distribute them to people who received claim stubs in hard-hit areas.

Many government buildings were destroyed or rendered unusuable, making it hard for local areas to even get started. 50 Mormon volunteers, ages twelve and older, traveled 67 kilometers to reach Compostela Valley, one of the hardest hit areas. They were delayed by a bus engine failure, but received training on arrival and then camped out. At six the next morning, they were ready to start work. They spent the morning cleaning the gym and high school inside and out. They removed trees and collected debris. When they finished their work, they donated their tools to the municipality so they would be available for other projects. They then spent days distributing much needed supplies—food, hygiene kits, medicine, tents, and toilets. Other volunteers joined them and in some activities, they partnered with Catholic Relief Services, with whom they had worked in the past.

Services were given to anyone in need, not just the Mormons. No missionary work took place in conjunction with the humanitarian project.

Read about another rescue effort during flooding in the Philippines.

AriseandShineQuoteThe project was a function of Mormon Helping Hands, which began as a grass roots effort to help local areas in times of need or to provide civic and charitable improvements in a local area. The program gained in popularity and is now mobilized world-wide when help is needed. The volunteers, members of Mormon congregations and those who wish to assist them, wear bright yellow vests, which allow local citizens to approach them when they have needs. They are seen in force after weather emergencies, usually long after most volunteers have moved on to the next news-worthy project.

LDS Charities is in charge of the donations of supplies and the coordination of services in these emergencies. In 2012, the Mormons stepped in to assist with 104 disasters in 52 countries. They provided 8 million dollars in aid and 1.1 million hours of volunteer labor was provided by church members for these projects. The services relieved suffering in weather-related disasters, areas of famine, and in cases of civil unrest causing refugee suffering.

LDS Charities exists to carry out the Savior’s command to love and serve one another. Although the Mormons have been involved in humanitarian efforts since its earliest days, LDS Charities was formed in 1996 to enhance the church’s ability to reach out.

“Sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS Charities is an application of the admonition of Jesus Christ to help others in need. Jesus Christ taught His followers to give meat to the hungry and drink to those who thirst. His is a gospel that includes taking in the stranger, loving neighbors as self, and visiting those who are sick or imprisoned. He taught that we are to love and care for each other, visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and lift up those whose hands hang down and whose knees are feeble” (LDS Charities website).

The program is funded by donations from Church members and even from those outside the church, often people who have received assistance or simply want to participate in the program’s initiatives. All donations go directly to aid and overhead is covered by other church funds.

In addition to disaster relief, LDS Charities carries out a number of initiatives, including neonatal resuscitation, clean water, immunizations, vision care, food production and health concerns. They often partner with other organizations, including Islamic Relief Worldwide and L V Prasad Eye Institute in India.

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