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Also attending were Idaho Gov. Brad Little and several representatives of Pocatello’s broad religious community. Thousands of bundled-up Idahoans attended the gathering, which was broadcast to congregations across the future Pocatello temple district.But perhaps the memory of a historic mid-March morning in his hometown will be the most lasting and meaningful moment in a year defined by highlights. Children take a turn turning soil at the March 16, 2019, groundbreaking service of the Pocatello Idaho Temple.
Photo by Jason Swensen.“The Lord empowers us in His holy temple as we make and keep sacred covenants. In the ordinances the power of godliness is manifest.”
A youth choir performs at the March 16, 2019, groundbreaking service of the Pocatello Idaho Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.In his prayer, Elder Andersen also noted the blessings that await a community that will soon become a “temple city.”Elder Taylor focused his remarks on the holiness that defines temples.“Having the opportunity to come back to your hometown and be part of such a special, historic event has been a highlight of the year for me,” he told the Church News.Following the dedicatory prayer, the visiting Brethren—along with Hill, Little, and representatives from the city’s religious community—were given commemorative shovels and each turned over a load of soil, symbolically commencing the building of the temple.“As it is transformed into a beautiful garden spot, we pray that it will bring a sense of peace and reverence to this wonderful city. We are thankful for the harmony and unity we feel among the citizens of this community, Father, and we pray that every righteous endeavor they undertake will be prospered by Thy all-powerful hand.” Artist's rendering of the future Pocatello Idaho Temple. It will be the Gem State's sixth temple. A festive mood was shared by Pocatello-area residents who participated in the March 16, 2019, groundbreaking service for the Pocatello Idaho Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.The temple will be located east of Satterfield Drive and Butte Street in Pocatello. Construction is expected to take between two and three years to complete. Once dedicated, the Pocatello Idaho Temple will serve more than 64,000 Latter-Day Saints from southeastern Idaho. A collection of representatives from religious, civic and athletic communities turn over ceremonial shovels of soil at the March 16, 2019, groundbreaking service of the Pocatello Idaho Temple. Participants include football star Taysom Hill, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Elder Wilford W. Andersen, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, and Elder Brian K. Taylor. Photo by Jason Swensen.Elder Taylor invited all participating in Saturday’s service to “make this groundbreaking experience a defining moment—our own personal offering and commitment to live in holiness to the Lord.”Holiness, he said, defined the pioneers, farmers, and professionals who came to Pocatello and faithfully fasted and prayed over the region’s flocks, crops, and endeavors.When asked what makes the Pocatello community a special place, she answered without hesitation: “It’s the people—there are just a lot of good people here.”In his conducting duties Saturday, Elder Nielsen saluted Idaho as “a wonderful place to live. A wonderful place to worship. A wonderful place to serve and to work and raise and family.” Scores of Latter-day Saints sing the closing hymn—”The Spirit of God“—at the conclusion of the March 16, 2019, groundbreaking service of the Pocatello Idaho Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen. A pair of former BYU quarterbacks—Elder S. Gifford Nielsen and current NFL player Taysom Hill—enjoy a moment together, along with Emily Hill, prior to the March 16, 2019, groundbreaking service of the Pocatello Idaho Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.Holiness is also found in Pocatello’s Latter-day Saint “greatest generation—“the pillars of this community.”“We are now a step closer to having a house of the Lord here in Pocatello,” he said. “It is exciting. What a blessing for us and this community.”In his remarks prior to the dedicatory prayer, Elder Andersen recognized the leaders from many local churches participating in Saturday’s service. “We thank you for your support and are touched and honored that you would come and be with us, and we want to reciprocate in the future as we work together, arm in arm, to accomplish our mutual goals of addressing human suffering and helping people turn to God and find peace in their hearts.”POCATELLO, Idaho
Ceremonial groundbreaking shovel emblazoned with an image of the future Pocatello Idaho Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.One of the “pillars” honored by Elder Taylor was 101-year-old Phyllis Moon, a long-time Pocatello resident. She was thrilled Saturday to pull on her winter jacket and gloves and sit among the thousands of others at the groundbreaking service.The past few months have been unforgettable for Latter-day Saint athlete Taysom Hill. The uber-versatile pro football player scored his first NFL touchdown, fell just a game short of the Super Bowl, and was even featured on a popular online cartoon series.Even as scores of Pocatello-area residents posed for photos taking their turns turning over ceremonial shovels of rich Idaho soil, Hill considered the impact temples have had in his life. He remembers youth excursions to the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple to perform baptisms. He later returned to that venerable temple prior to his mission to Australia to take out his own endowments.“This is a wonderful day—and maybe I’ll be able to return for the temple dedication,” she said with a smile.
Phyllis Moon, 101, was honored during the March 16, 2019, groundbreaking service of the Pocatello Idaho Temple. The centenarian hopes to participate in the temple dedication in a few years. Photo by Jason SwensenThousands gathered under brisk, clear skies on March 16, 2019, for the groundbreaking service of the Pocatello Idaho Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.In his dedicatory prayer commencing construction of the future temple, Elder Andersen expressed gratitude that the Pocatello temple will one day join the “holy temples” that “dot the earth” in fulfillment of prophecy:Talks were also shared Saturday by a pair of Pocatello-area youth—A. Morgan McDonald, 17, and 8-year-old Braiden Wilde.“The temple helped me to set goals and put everything into perspective,” he said. “I want to play football for as long as I can. But finding my wife (Emily) and taking her to the temple has been the greatest experience of my life.”Elder Wilford W. Andersen, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Idaho Area, presided over the event and offered the dedicatory prayer. Joining him Saturday were his counselors, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen and Elder Brian K. Taylor.On Saturday, Hill and thousands of his fellow Pocatello-area residents gathered under brisk, clear skies in an elevated corner of this eastern Idaho city for the groundbreaking service for the future Pocatello Idaho Temple. Once completed, it will be the Gem State’s sixth temple and an instant local landmark.“I dedicate this site for the construction of a House of the Lord. I pray that the Holy Spirit will be felt by all who participate in the building of this temple, that they will be safe and protected during their work, that they will sense the importance of the sanctuary they are building. I pray that the same Holy Spirit will be felt by all who watch it being built with anticipation for the day when they can enter its sacred walls and worship Thee.”Holiness, he added, was found in Pocatello recently when 3,000 youth converged, a few days ago, on the temple site to clear out sage brush and clean the area in preparation for Saturday’s groundbreaking services. “And [now they are] preparing to flock to the baptistry to perform sacred ordinances for your ancestors.Pocatello Idaho Alameda Stake President Douglas Alley said local preparations for the future temple began long before the groundbreaking. Still, Saturday’s service marked a key milestone for the Church in eastern Idaho.
“It’s not a center to reach out,” President Eyring said. “It's to draw in and to draw people here to us. And we’re hoping that it gives a feeling to people of a religious and God-fearing environment. And of course, that’s the great contribution we can make.”President Oaks said temple ordinances allow Latter-day Saints “to perform the essential ordinances of mortality for the benefit” of those who have died.Mastrolilli said he understood that Pope Francis had asked President Nelson to teach young people respect for their grandparents.Mastrolilli observed that in the United States, there is a strong participation of faith in public life, but in Europe, religion has been in general decline. He asked if the temple in Rome could start a process to reignite interest in religion.President Russell M. Nelson's private audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace was of deep interest to an Italian reporter granted an exclusive interview with the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.“Yes, he talked about their roots, and he likened it to a flower,” President Nelson said. “It’s beautiful when it’s connected with its roots. And then when it’s disconnected from its roots, it fades. So that was his feeling of compassion for our interests in the family.”“Rome is the capital of world Christianity,” President Oaks said. “Prior apostles preached here and/or were martyred here. And so it’s very important to us when we have a sufficient base of members in this part of Europe, and particularly in Italy, to have our highest house of worship located here.”Though they sat together with him on chairs placed on a rug bearing the symbols of an oval, olive leaves, and Michelangelo's 12-pointed star, Mastrolilli interviewed them one at a time because the newspaper also wanted to post a video and the videographer had only one mic.Paolo Mastrolilli, the New York correspondent for the national Italian newspaper La Stampa, flew home to conduct the interview in the lobby of the Church's new Rome Italy Temple on Monday with President Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.“Our belief,” President Eyring added, “is that that ability to seal families reaches back into our ancestors. So, the idea is those ordinances for the dead include the sealing of families together forever, so that I can, well, my great-great-great-grandpa, somehow I can be with him again, and his family.”
La Stampa correspondent Paolo Mastrolilli gestures as he interviews President Russell M. Nelson, far left, and his counselors in the Rome Italy Temple on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Tad Walch, Deseret News.That portion of the interview was not published by La Stampa. In fact, the newspaper published only responses from President Nelson in a question-and-answer format.The dynamic changed when the topic turned to what happens inside Latter-day Saint temples. Though President Eyring wore the mic, the three leaders began to play off each other.“In the temple we have the highest ordinances and blessings that God can give to His people,” President Nelson said. “And the people of Italy are no exception. They deserve these blessings.” President Dallin H. Oaks, President Russell M. Nelson, and President Henry B. Eyring shake hands with La Stampa correspondent Paolo Mastrolilli after the reporter interviewed the First Presidency in the Rome Italy Temple. Photo by Tad Walch, Deseret News.Then President Eyring said ordinances performed in the Rome temple would allow people to have the expectation they can be together forever in a family. He told Mastrolilli he believed Latter-day Saints share that feeling with many Italians.Mastrolilli asked President Eyring if Church leaders hoped the temple and visitors’ center would be a magnet to attract people looking for information about the Church.Even so, the Church's temple work dominated the 25-minute discussion.“Rome is the center of Catholicism,” the reporter asked. “Why have you chosen it?”“So,” President Oaks concluded, “we might say that the temple in Rome is for the benefit of Italians, living and dead.”“I think many will come, and I think that message is the one we want to have them feel, that this is a place where people who worship Jesus Christ come,” he said, adding, “We think of Jesus Christ as the heart of our church. We are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And so this temple is a symbol of our faith in Jesus Christ, trying to build our lives around Him.”ROME
While living in Italy, Roberto Deni recalled helping plan an event with missionaries aimed at introducing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to people in the community. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni.For the next few months the missionaries, with the help of another local convert named Nicoletta Pangani, taught Deni while he attempted to let go of drinking and smoking habits.“We can do nothing more for you. You need to decide what you want to do,” Deni recalled the missionaries saying. “You know everything. What are you waiting for?”“Hey, God, what happened? If you can hear me, let me know. I need to know if the Church is good for me,” Deni said in his prayer. “Then I felt something that made my heart explode.”“I cried a lot,” the 70-year-old Deni said with a thick Italian accent. “When you work hard a long time in the Church and you can't have everything because of difficulties, for us getting a temple was a dream. The Lord is blessing this area.” Left, Roberto Deni served as a branch president in Rome, Italy, about 40 years ago. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni.Deni has not yet returned to Italy to tour the new temple, but he hopes to visit this summer. While living in Italy, Roberto Deni helped organize a Boy Scout troop that later attended a World Jamboree. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni. Roberto Deni helped organize a Boy Scout troop in Italy that later attended a World Jamboree. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni.MURRAYDeni wasn't very interested at first and told the missionaries to come back another time just to get them to leave. But return the missionaries did.“I had received revelation for the first time,” he said. “With the missionaries watching, I smashed my pack of cigarettes and I trashed them. The couple of beers I had I dumped in the sink. It was the beginning of my conversion.” Right, Roberto Deni stands with Sharman Smoot, one of the Latter-day Saint missionaries who taught and baptized Deni in Italy in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni.Deni was a little angry with the missionaries and didn't believe God would answer him. Yet, that night he couldn't sleep. Around 4 a.m., Deni decided to pray.Within three years, Deni was called as a branch president.Now with the Rome temple dedicated, Deni, who lives with his wife in the Murray area and serves in a local Spanish ward bishopric, gladly reflected on fond memories of his time in Italy in an interview with the Deseret News.Roberto Deni, a self-proclaimed “proud Italian,” recalls removing his glasses and using a tissue to dab at his eyes, first in 2008 when President Thomas S. Monson announced that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would build a temple in Rome; then again when ground was broken at the new temple site.Around 7 a.m., Deni called one of the missionaries, Elder Sharman Smoot, the son of Sister Mary Ellen Smoot, who served as Relief Society General President from 1997–2002. Deni told Elder Smoot about his experience and was baptized on December 3, 1976, Deni said.More than a decade ago, Deni had an opportunity to come to Utah and work with an Italian friend as a chef in his restaurant. He eventually met his wife, Maria Gonzalez, and they married in the Bountiful Utah Temple, he said. Left, Elder Massimo De Feo, a General Authority Seventy, stands with Roberto and Maria Deni. Several years ago, Elder De Feo and Deni served together in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Italy. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni.When the branch became large enough to divide, the district president told Deni he needed to find a new place for his branch to meet with a week’s notice. When he failed to locate a place, Deni hosted more than 40 members for Sunday services in his home. Later, he rented a hotel room, and after that, a villa that was near where the temple now stands, he said.Finally the missionaries reached a point where Deni wasn't progressing and had to say, “Ciao, Roberto,” Deni said. Roberto Deni recalled helping plan an event with missionaries aimed at introducing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to people in the community. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni.In the decades that followed, Deni continued to serve and saw the growth of the Church in Italy. He assisted in planning missionary activities that shared the story of the Church. He helped organize a Boy Scout troop that went to the World Jamboree in Germany. He also became a close friend of Elder Massimo De Feo, a General Authority Seventy from Italy.Deni was first introduced to missionaries from the Church in 1976. At that time, the local branch of less than 80 members met in a rented space on the fifth floor of a building just outside of Rome. A group of Latter-day Saints smiles outside a chapel in Rome, Italy. Photo courtesy of Roberto Deni.As a boy, Deni said he played on the ground where the temple would one day be constructed. Many years later, as a Latter-day Saint convert and local Church leader, the temple site was one of three he and two other members had scouted and recommended to Church leaders for a future temple, he said.
Using crochet to “Pay It Forward, Save It Forward”FamilySearch engineer Steven Collings—who’s visited the jail a handful of times for work—has attended several of the services that the Church offers in jails across Utah and Idaho, including a Sunday service and a seminary class. While feeling the Spirit and jail aren’t two things commonly associated with each other, he said he’s had choice spiritual experiences in jails before due to the atmosphere of repentance.That’s what, in part, makes the program so remarkable to Young, who was blown away by the talent level and heartfelt intentions the crocheted items given to Welfare Square represented. The inmates at the San Juan County Jail create a variety of crocheted items as part of their “Pay It Forward, Save It Forward” program, which emphasizes selfless service to others. Photo courtesy of Mark B. Bradford.How to donate yarnThe question might sound like the beginning of a lame joke, but the answer is far from a punch line: They’re all subjects of intricately crocheted items created and donated to the poor and needy by an unlikely service group—inmates at the San Juan County Jail in Utah.“We’re just trying to make it [so that] by the time they leave, regardless [of] how long they’ve been here—a day, a week, a month, a year, whatever—they’re better off than when they came,” said Mark B. Bradford, the Education Center director for San Juan County Jail. “Our mission statement is to have a healthy educational environment where it’s safe to learn.”During his work trips, Collings found out about the crocheted items and was the one who initially connected Young and Bradford to see about giving the items a home on Welfare Square. “The thought of the incarcerated ones crocheting something and it ends up in the hands of someone who’s just been out and needs some help was a cool idea,” Collings said.The inmates at San Juan County don’t have funds to purchase yarn for their projects and rely completely on outside donors to provide, Bradford said. “It’s just fantastic that this service of crocheting these items has a place now to find a home to distribute to those that are in need,” he said.“We’re not doing it because we want to get patted on the back. We’re just doing it as an act of kindness and rendering service,” Bradford said. “[Inmates] have to be willing to have dedication and ‘stickity tooty’ and give not wanting something in return, not knowing where it’s going to go, or when somebody is going to get the benefit of it.”Jimmy Zimmerman, the product manager of the Correctional Facility Family History Program, said he’s happy to know that the connection between the jail and Welfare Square has impacted so many lives.The best way to donate is through the San Juan Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves the county. To find out more, contact Lisa Carr at the San Juan Foundation online or by phone at 435-678-4000. Bradford said donating a variety of colors is preferred.Young said it’s a partnership he hopes to keep. He plans to meet with the missionaries on Welfare Square to gather yarn to help the crochet program continue.
A man holds up a crocheted hat donated by inmates at the San Juan County Jail at the Transitional Services Office at Welfare Square. Photo courtesy of Greg Young.Sitting on Main Street in the rural, southeastern Utah town of Monticello, the San Juan County Jail is a medium-sized detention center that can service more than 100 prisoners from the state and county systems. Inmates stay there anywhere from a day to 2 years, and the jail has a robust education program offering high school, music, art, and—yes—even crochet classes.The inmates’ most recent recipients? Individuals exiting correctional facilities who come seeking aid at the Transitional Services Office at Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. The San Juan County Jail also offers several Church services for inmates who want them, Bradford said, including a Sunday service as well as family history and seminary classes.And they’re not just making simple designs, Bradford said. He’s known inmates to create their own patterns and even develop their own unique stitches to complete certain projects. What do Tigger, the Yankees, and FamilySearch all have in common? Inmates at the San Juan County Jail crocheted these camouflage hat liners for U.S. troops on active duty. Jail Education Center director Mark B. Bradford said one troop member’s son wore his hat liner to feel more connected to his dad until he came home. Photo courtesy of Mark B. Bradford.In fact, inmates become so expert at crochet, it’s typical for them to enter their best creations into the San Juan County Fair and earn awards. Last year alone they took home almost 20 blue ribbons and even nabbed one “Best of Show” ribbon for a New York Yankees blanket donning the franchise moniker and Yankee logo across it.“It’s this big cycle—there’s so many people helping when you look at the whole chain: people donating yarn, [inmates] volunteering their time, them giving it back to the Transitional Services, those people being blessed that don’t have anything,” Collings said. “It’s just this big circle of people being blessed by a bunch of simple acts.”
More crocheted items made by the inmates at the San Juan County Jail sit on display. Photo courtesy of Mark B. Bradford.
A family at the Transitional Services Office at Welfare Square poses with donated winter crochet items from the San Juan County Jail. Transitional Services general manager Greg Young said the donated items have helped over 150 individuals and families this winter. Photo courtesy of Greg Young.“These aren’t just regular blankets and regular hats. These are carefully thought-out items—almost like art forms,” Young said. “It’s touching to see that these inmates are putting forth that much heart and time, knowing that these items are going to go to help others.”For Collings, thinking of the entire chain of small acts of service that help the crocheted items come to fruition—whether it be a stuffed Tigger toy, a Yankees or FamilySearch blanket, or anything else—is what’s most remarkable.Bradford said this selfless work—whether as a TA or making crocheted items to donate—helps inmates develop self-esteem, pride in their work, and satisfaction in themselves. The same end goal of the program is behind everything they create: Help others with no expectation of reward.
This New York Yankees blanket crocheted by an inmate at the San Juan County Jail won the “Best of Show” award at the San Juan County Fair. The jail offers beginner to advanced classes for inmates to perfect their crochet technique. Photo courtesy of Mark B. Bradford.The spirit of serviceThe crochet program has long been an important part of inmates’ education, Bradford said. He estimates San Juan County inmates have been creating and donating various crocheted items for at least 18 years. They’ve crocheted hats, scarves, throws, stuffed animals, blankets, and more, and they have donated their end products—usually enough to fill up 12 to 15 apple crates—everywhere, from orphans in Africa to troops in Afghanistan.The program, which relies completely on outside yarn donations, is part of the Education Center’s “Pay It Forward, Save It Forward” program, which focuses on service. In fact, inmates can even get hired as TAs, or teaching assistants, who help teach other inmates the art of crochet to that end. There are even different class levels, from a 101 class for beginners to an advanced class that gives inmates the freedom to make whatever they choose.
Last year the inmates at the San Juan County Jail received almost 20 blue ribbons at the San Juan County Fair for their crocheted items. Photo courtesy of Mark B. Bradford.“[Inmates are] helping out other formerly incarcerated individuals,” Young said. “This group is actually, in turn, helping other people that are coming out of the system, as well as the homeless, and even some knitted items … for these little kids that come into our office. It just reaches your heart when you see that.” A crocheted owl, Tigger, and elephant toy each sit on display at the Transitional Services Office at Welfare Square. Transitional Services general manager Greg Young said one young girl excitedly took a baby owl doll with her when she and her mom visited the office. Photo courtesy of Greg Young.“I think everybody you talk to will say that they’re surprised when they find that they can feel the Spirit there—maybe even more than their own sacrament meeting,” Collings said. “I just get to see little glimpses of this, but it’s always a very spirit-filled experience, and it’s amazing to think that you’re feeling the Spirit so strongly in the midst of a prison. It’s humbling.”Although they do get thank-you notes on occasion, Bradford said the inmates don’t expect it. They just do their best regardless. Greg Young, the general manager of Transitional Services, said having the additional crocheted hats, blankets, and warm clothing on hand has helped over 150 individuals and families who have come through the office during the cold winter months. The thought of inmates serving recently released inmates made the items especially unique, he said.
A man holds up a crocheted blanket that he received at the Transitional Services Office at Welfare Square. The blanket was created and donated by inmates at the San Juan County Jail. Photo courtesy of Greg Young.
This blanket, displaying the FamilySearch tree logo in four different directions, was created by an inmate at the San Juan County Jail. Inmates there often create their own crochet patterns and designs. Photo courtesy of Mark B. Bradford.
Sister Romney said that she quietly replied, “Yes, but I still don’t know it.”She said attending productions at the Salt Lake Theater was their chief amusement. “Sometimes we couldn’t afford two tickets,” she said. “I remember one play we attended. I was in the dress circle, and he was in [a less expensive seat] in the balcony. We didn’t even get to sit together, but we communicated by looking at each other.”She reviewed a time when she had to know for herself that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. As a member of a stake Sunday School board, she was assigned to teach the teachers in the stake. Although she didn’t have a college degree, she had a teaching certificate.Relating that incident, Sister Romney said that her mother counseled her, saying, “My dear, what did Joseph Smith do when he had to know which was the right church? I suggest you follow his example.”With all the responsibilities she had as a General Authority’s wife, she felt a sense of humor was essential to maintaining a youthful attitude. She said she and President Romney laughed a lot together. “We were at the breakfast table the other day, laughing about something he had said. ... He tries to bring something cheerful home. We laugh and enjoy each other. That’s our dessert in life.”She said she delighted in simple acts of love and kindness, displaying the philosophy that a lot of money doesn’t have to be spent to express love and concern, but that taking time to express appreciation or to offer encouragement is important.Serving as a visiting teacher, she said, was a choice calling. She said she was recovering from a stroke when her ward’s Relief Society president visited. “I’ll never forget the day when ... she came in and said, ‘Sister Romney, we think you’re well enough to take a job.’ She said they wanted me to be a visiting teacher. I started to cry. I said that this was the most thrilling job I had been called to.”“I’ll never forget that,” Sister Romney said. “I went upstairs, needing to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I pleaded with the Lord; I told Him I had to know that this was true for myself, or I couldn’t give the lesson.“Sister Romney often read books and magazine articles, looking for something she felt would interest President Romney. In the evenings, she would read an article or relate a book review to him. “He doesn’t have time to read as widely as he’d like,” she told me. “Finding those interesting things to share with him is one of my chief enjoyments, and he appreciates it too.”“I was so in love—so was he,” she said. “We didn’t have anything; that is, we didn’t have any money at all. I had been teaching while he had gone on his mission before we were married, and I had saved some money, but I didn’t dare tell him I had it. He was very independent. I could have taught school in Salt Lake City, where we lived, but he didn’t want me to. He wanted to make it on his own.”“I went to the meeting that Sunday,” Sister Romney said as she reflected on that long-ago quest for a testimony. “When I gave that lesson, I looked at that woman. I knew I didn’t have to just say words; I didn’t have to just repeat what I’d been taught. This time, I knew. It has been a great strength to me all my life.”After I wrote about Sister Camilla Eyring Kimball, I began thinking about other women of faith I’ve met during my career at the Church News. One of them was Ida Jensen Romney, wife of President Marion G. Romney, who was then a counselor in the First Presidency. (He had been a General Authority since 1941; he died in 1988.)I interviewed Sister Romney in their home in preparation for a feature article about her that was published on January 16, 1974.She was a support to her husband throughout their life together. They were married on September 12, 1924.Grateful for that personal knowledge, Sister Romney drew upon her testimony to help others as she made gospel living a part of her daily life.
Sister Ida Jensen Romney and President Marion G. Romney walk in front of the Salt Lake Temple in 1948. Photo courtesy of the Church History Library.Sister Romney died in 1979.Her mother replied, “You do too! You’ve been taught it all your life, and you’ve taught it in other classes. I’ve heard you bear your testimony that you know it’s true.”“It never bothered me to have her in the class until one day our lesson was about Joseph Smith’s First Vision. I was preparing it, and I thought about this woman.“‘She’s an educated woman,’ I thought to myself. ‘She’s going to think I’m crazy when I tell this story.’”“One man was a graduate of the University of Idaho,” she said. “His wife (who was not a member of the Church) was also a college graduate. She attended the meetings with her husband.Feeling discouraged over the lesson’s preparation, she went downstairs to talk with her mother, explaining that she wouldn’t be able to give that lesson. “I don’t know that it’s true,” she tearfully told her mother.
Olivia is the oldest of three Moultrie girls. Eleven-year-old Gabriella loves to play basketball, while Bella, 7, usually has a soccer ball at her feet.The Moultries realized their daughter has a special talent and endeavored to support Olivia in the best possible manner. With each new milestone in her development, K.C. and Jessica sought to determine what was the best path to follow.No surprise, the news of a junior high-age teen stepping away from the amateur ranks has snagged headlines.No surprise, Olivia’s decision to forgo college, sign the Nike endorsement, and follow an untraditional route prompts different opinions across social media and other platforms. And yes, said K.C., there has been some negativity. But most recognize Olivia is a young woman who happens to have an unusual talent and have been supportive and excited for her success.Now you can add a 13-year-old Latter-day Saint girl to that list.Being a Latter-day Saint girl is a bit of a curiosity in the hyper-competitive world of elite soccer. Most of the people Olivia trains or competes with don’t have a full understanding of her faith. That offers unique opportunities.Soccer phenom Olivia Moultrie—a Beehive from Southern California—is officially a pro after recently inking an endorsement deal with Nike. She also signed with Wasserman, a sports and entertainment agency that represents fellow Latter-day Saint Tony Finau and several other A-list athletes.“The outpouring of support, and how people have received this, has been amazing and positive.”Even as Olivia navigates largely unchartered waters for a young athlete, the family plans to draw upon their faith and family bond for ongoing direction. They rely upon prayer and the gospel for strength and stability.Olivia first made news in the soccer community a couple of years ago when, at 11, she verbally committed to play at the University of North Carolina, an elite women’s college soccer program led by legendary coach (and Church convert) Anson Dorrance.
Latter-day Saint soccer player Olivia Moultrie, 13, recently signed an endorsement deal with Nike and plans to pursue a professional career. Photo courtesy of K.C. Moultrie.
Olivia Moultrie with a friend at a national youth division soccer camp.“Every day, the second or third thing out of her mouth is, ‘Hey Dad, where are we training today?’ ... From early on, [soccer] was all she wanted to do.”“We are at a time and place with our family where we need those blessings. … We know our Heavenly Father will hear our prayers and answer them and put us in a position where we can make good decisions for our kids,” said K.C.She has also represented the United States in international competition and has trained with top-level boys at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.She appreciates her family and faith keeping her anchored at an unusual moment in her life.Olivia and her family recently moved to Oregon to be closer to the Portland Thorns organization of the National Women’s Soccer League to continue her development, although she is not a rostered member of the team.Sports help define the family, said K.C. “We all love to compete. ... It’s just a part of us.”Take a peek at the many online videos showcasing Olivia’s foot skills and soccer IQ. It’s obvious that her abilities stretch far beyond her years. But the affable teenager is unusually mature in other ways. In interviews, she articulately responds to questions and comfortably shares her thoughts on her goals, her family, and her religious beliefs.“We always say in our family—‘It’s faith. Then family. Then soccer.’ That’s what means more to me than anything. That’s what always comes first, and I just try to be the best person I can possibly be.”Olivia comes from an athletic family. Both of her parents competed in intercollegiate sports. Her father, K.C., played basketball, while her mother, Jessica, was a college soccer player. Some sort of ball is always bouncing about the Moultrie household.“We tell Olivia, ‘You have two responsibilities: First, to love and be accepting and treat everyone with kindness. And second, never be afraid of what you believe.’”“The best times for Liv are when she is with her sisters, when she can be silly. She loves them and they love her. As parents, those are our favorite moments,” said K.C.Even if you’re not a soccer fan, you may recognize Olivia’s face. She made a cameo appearance in a Nike commercial that aired during the recent Academy Awards and featured Serena Williams, Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles—and even Latter-day Saint youth football sensation Sam Gordon.K.C. added that he and his wife were both successful college athletes. “We’re not the [type] of people who need to live our athletic goals through our kids.”“It’s been super exciting for me,” Olivia told the Church News, adding, “I’m just ready for us to start this new chapter.”“There was a lot of thought and prayer that went into these decisions,” said K.C. “I know that might seem weird to people, but it was that important to us. It was that important to her.”Meanwhile, Olivia is simply excited for the possibilities that await. “I just want to keep developing and getting better every single day.”They have also watched Olivia closely, looking for any sign that her enthusiasm for soccer was not keeping pace with her skill.Big sister Olivia started playing soccer when she was four in her local youth league and learned early to “make friends” with the ball. “And even from a young age, she was very fast and aggressive,” remembered her father.Scan the roster of names sponsored by that iconic sportswear brand with the Swoosh logo and you’ll spot some of the world’s top athletes—Lebron James, Serena Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo.The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today are just a few of the globally read publications that have filed stories about the lifelong Church member.
A photo of a young Olivia Moultrie on a plane with her father, K.C. Moultrie.Olivia may be a focused young woman when it’s time to, say, finish her homework or compete with other players who are often several years older. But mom and dad say when she steps off the playing field, she’s a full-fledged 13-year-old.By the time she was 9, her skill and dedication had snagged the attention of the hotbed youth soccer community in Southern California. Before long, she was playing with older athletes to challenge her advanced skills and facilitate her growth.
The statement was attributed to the area president, Elder O. Vincent Haleck of Samoa, and his counselors, Elder Ian S. Ardern of New Zealand and Elder K. Brett Nattress of the United States.“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of so many lives as a result of yesterday’s senseless attacks in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” the statement said. “Our prayers are with the families of the deceased, the injured and all others impacted by this tragedy. We also pray for all New Zealanders and our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world.”The Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Friday responding to Thursday’s mass shootings in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Then the world began a search—Asked to know Christ’s chosen way——Boyd C. MathesonThat scene and that moment also brought tears of testimony. As I sat in the Vor Frue Kirke, I pulled out a notepad and wrote words to match my testimony and attempted to capture the visual majesty before me of the Savior Jesus Christ with His beloved and valiant Apostles:They must come to truly know HimOn March 11, photographs of the 15 Apostles were taken in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors' Center, in front of statues of the Christus and the original Twelve Apostles. The photos electrified members of the Church around the world.Christ called for new Apostles
Peter and the Twelve held keys Elder David A. Bednar pauses for a photograph in the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Where wickedness did reign,Boyd Matheson is the opinion editor and head of strategic reach at the Deseret News.That Jesus is the way, the truth President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland share a laugh in the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.To exalt the human family.For Jesus Christ the Living and Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posed for an iconic photograph in the Rome Italy Temple visitors center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Mere faith alone is not enoughHis resurrection and gospel plan,His doctrines—and covenants of great worth. The Rome Italy Temple in Rome, Italy. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.While a picture may be worth a thousand words, the actual taking of the photograph left most in the room utterly speechless—without any words to adequately express what was seen and felt. But maybe 15 words would be a good place to start: Savior, Apostles, Unity, Keys, Love, Witness, Testimony, Power, Prophets, Temple, Family, Covenants, Revelation, Jesus, Christ.To establish His Father’s kingdomAnd still today Christ’s Apostles dearProphets, Seers whose witness shows—All can know the joy salvation brings.The moment was historic. The image instantly iconic. But all the pictures combined are no match for the Spirit-witnessing confirmation of the unity and brotherhood of this mighty and heroic band of Christ’s disciples. Elder D. Todd Christofferson walks through the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Quentin L. Cook talk in the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Our Lord and Savior, God and King.Became special witnesses here on earthAnd from among them twelve He choseMonday in Rome, the picture captured the moment. But all the words and photos in the world wither in the face of the silent yet stirring testimony to be found in the lives, teachings, and examples of the Apostles. They share with the world their sweet unity of spirit and certain witnesses as they continue to “go and teach all nations,” as Christ has commissioned them to do. This is ministering in the Savior’s higher, holier way.
President M. Russell Ballard looks over the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Invite us to pursue discipleship Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf looks over the Rome Italy Temple visitors center in Rome, Italy. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Thus Joseph, then the chosen TwelveRestoring sacred priesthood powerChrist called to Him, His disciples Members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, walk between photograph locations in the Rome Italy Temple visitors center in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Sent Peter, James, and John with keysAs the brethren took their places, a hush came over all who had crowded in to watch the gathering of these special witnesses documented by photograph. After the pictures of them in their traditional dark suits, the Twelve went into the temple to change into their white clothing.And then when it was day—As the second set of pictures was about to be taken, a similar reverence fell up on the group. The Christus statue was, as the Savior always is, the center point and uniting force for the Apostles. I happened to be standing next to Sister Wendy Nelson. She clearly felt the spiritual magnitude of the moment and softly said, “That will bring tears to your eyes.”They sought the keys to the ApostleshipWhom He also named ApostlesTo guide the Saints and lead the Church,Christ and His ApostlesThen bear that witness to all of man—At last the Heavens opened up Sister Rosana Soares, Sister Susan Gong, Sister Ruth Renlund, Sister Lesa Stevenson, Sister Melanie Rasband, Sister Kathy Andersen, Sister Kristen Oaks, Sister Wendy Nelson, Sister Kathy Christofferson, Sister Mary Cook, Sister Susan Bednar, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, and Sister Patricia Holland pose for a photograph near the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.To restore Christ’s Church again.His call, “Come, follow me.”And proclaim Christ’s true divinityChrist went to a mount to prayThere must be certainty.June 2008, Copenhagen, DenmarkThe pathway to discipleshipThrough ages dark and centuries longThe light by which we seeNow to become a special witnessAnd the long dark night, turned day,President Russell M. Nelson brought, under the direction of the Lord, all of the Apostles to the Eternal City for what he would later describe as an important hinge point in the history of the gospel. Of the many images that could have been taken, the Prophet was only concerned with one photo—the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles all together. The message was unity. The signal of the importance of being one was a leadership masterclass for the ages.
Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dressed in white temple clothing, pose for an iconic photograph outside the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Russell M. Nelson walks with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in the Rome Italy Temple visitors' center on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Then prayed to God straight through the night President M. Russell Ballard and President Russell M. Nelson react to a photograph taken earlier in the day of themselves in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Apostles can’t just know of Christ,As the Apostles began to assemble in the visitors' center, energy, power, and love cascaded into the rotunda. Everyone sensed the historic nature of what was taking place. The Apostles were together. The sweetest association of brotherhood was on full display. The joy of the gospel and the culture of a group so absolutely absorbed in the cause of proclaiming the reality of the living Savior to the world was palpable and real.The Risen Lord to seek!Boldly testify and speak;The Twelve emerged together and began walking down the piazza steps alongside the water flowing from the front of the temple down to the visitors' center, where the statue representing the Savior they serve waited with arms outstretched. The sight of these Apostles walking together, talking, and clearly rejoicing in their unity literally took one's breath away. It was a scene that would have fit perfectly on the road to Emmaus or along the shore of Galilee.But persecution was strong, the martyred Apostles soon gone,That Jesus is the Living ChristWhen a humble boy in a Sacred GroveThat through His grand AtonementMy eyes were already wet, and in my mind I was suddenly transported to a place and time that had nearly vanished from my memory. I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, in June of 2008, sitting in the Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady), where the original Thorvaldsen statues of the Christus and of the Twelve Apostles stand. I remember sitting toward the back of that small cathedral while reading Elder Boyd K. Packer’s 1976 account of his visit there with President Spencer W. Kimball. Looking at the statue of Peter, President Kimball boldly declared that he then held the same Apostolic keys.
“Why go forth to fight?” he asked. “Let me start with a broader vision of why we are here on earth. … Each one of us has assignments to fulfill in this life, just like the apostles and prophets do.”“I was then an MBA student, under scholarship at the Marriott School of Management,” he said. “Now, finally, I was here as a real student, entering to learn, but it was not easy.”He reminded them that some school classes and degrees are not as easy for some as it is for others.An important part of that fight is enlisting against the great deceiver. Elder Godoy warned of being passive with the things of the Lord and encouraged all to be a part of the “latter-day battle.”To stand up for truth is not a Church calling, but rather a life calling, he said.Ten years later, Elder Godoy realized that dream as he returned to the Provo, Utah, campus. He had married, obtained a degree in economics from a good Brazilian university, had served as a bishop, and had three small children.After obtaining knowledge, it is important to “go forth to fight,” Elder Godoy said.Remembering the hard work to get the requisite scores for graduate school admission, Elder Godoy shared that it took him three years to get the minimum scores for acceptance to the program. Year after year, all of his free time was spent studying until finally he received a scholarship and was accepted into the MBA program.His experience was like that of some students at BYU—filled with struggle to get good grades and a feeling of not being as successful as he desired. Despite the struggles, Elder Godoy continued on, remembering that learning and growing is essential to a mortal experience, even when it is not easy.“Enter to learn, go forth to—fight.”That message came to him as he reflected on his own experience as a student at BYU.When he first attended the university, Elder Godoy had just returned from his mission and was able to leave his native Brazil to learn English at BYU.His English ability was enough to barely pass the admission tests, but it was not enough to keep up with his bright classmates.“Most of the time, I was behind to a point that some professors recommended I take extra writing and speaking English classes,” Elder Godoy said. “So, during my first semester, besides my MBA classes, I took parallel English classes during my free time.”“It doesn’t matter how behind you are in your classes, how bad some of your grades have been. Stand up and fight. You can do it. In the same manner, it doesn’t matter how behind you are in your spiritual life, how many mistakes you have made. Stand up and fight. You can do it. More than that, you were called to do it. We are in the latter days, and you are an important part of this latter-day’s journey.”As the battle becomes more difficult in these latter-days, Elder Godoy spoke of three recent teachings of President Russell M. Nelson—ministering, priesthood quorums, and a home-centered, Church-supported gospel learning—that are “counter strategies and proactive plans to protect [the Lord's] kingdom, His Church, His children. They are to protect you.”“Stand up, aim towards the temple, and keep going. There are so many things still to be done in this life and the Lord still expects a lot from you.”To students who feel the same way he did, Elder Godoy said, “Please don’t get discouraged, or even if you get discouraged, don’t stay there for too long.”On a personal note, Elder Godoy spoke directly to those who have not served a mission or didn’t finish their mission at the scheduled time.“You are here to learn, and it does not matter how behind you are or how hard it seems to be, you can do it,” he reminded students. “When we are willing to pay the price, anything is possible.”“Don’t punish yourself for the rest of your life,” he said. “Just stand up and aim at the next ordinance. Ordinances are the keys for our salvation and exaltation. And the next ordinance after your mission is sealing. This should be your main concern, to be worthy to get there with the right person at the right time.That familiar phrase—with a twist—was the message he had for students during a campus devotional on March 12 at the Marriott Center.“What battle is that?” he asked. “It is the fight for right, the fight to establish the kingdom of God, the fight to survive, the fight to help others along the way. It is the fight to protect our family. It is the fight for truth. In sum, it is the fight against the enemy of this great cause and plan of salvation.”While dining with his family a few weeks ago just west of the Brigham Young University campus, Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy saw the familiar entrance sign welcoming all to “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.”Elder Godoy left his Utah days with a dream in his heart that maybe, someday, he would be able to return to BYU as a regular student.“I was amazed with the idea of how nice it would be to be a student here,” he recalled. “But that was not my situation at the time. I had come just to learn English and to go back to Brazil, and that was what I did.”“The Lord is aware of your struggles and your challenges,” he said. “He knows you, your potential, your dreams. His Atonement is real, and can help you become clean, but more than that, His Atonement can give you strength to do better. Sometimes it’s not a matter of worthiness, it’s just strength needed to keep going. I know He is on your side because He loves you. ...“I was in the ‘not easy for some’ group,” he said. “I know the feeling of receiving below-average grades or being left behind when study groups are formed or taking days to get an assignment done when others would do it in few hours. I know how it is to feel inadequate to do something or to feel frustrated with your own progress. But I want to assure you that you can do it. If I could do it, you can also do it.”By his second year, his grades had improved—he was above average—and after a good summer internship experience, he received an impressive employment offer in his home country, Brazil.“And I almost didn’t make it,” he said.“If not me, hopefully I would be able to provide my children with such an opportunity in the future.”
“The man that I literally kiss goodbye in the morning is just a little different when he comes home,” she said. “He is even more joyful. He is even more filled with love. … He is finally doing at 94 what he premortally said he would do.”“So, I can take any witness stand in any nation on the earth to tell you for sure that Russell Marion Nelson has been called by God to be the Lord’s prophet on the earth at this time,” she said.The hymn “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” came to her mind. In that moment in the darkness, she focused on the line, “Where can I run?”“So, I went downstairs and did some family history research and then puttered with some other things,” she recalled. “Two hours later, my husband emerged from our bedroom, and said, ‘Wendy, you won’t believe what has been happening for two hours. The Lord has given me detailed instruction about a process I am to follow.’”Still, “I can say that I am a witness by being present and I am a witness by being absent that the Lord indeed instructs His prophet,” she said. Wendy Nelson greets interpreter Serena Pagnani in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Some of the great photographs taken during that moment capture Sister Nelson’s hand raised high. She was immersed in peace, she said.Sister Nelson said she never reads the private messages the Lord has for President Nelson.“I remember staring out into the dark … and into our future,” she said. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with youth in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.ROMETuesday, January 2, 2018, started out as a typical day for Sister Wendy Nelson.She spoke at the funeral of a dear, 100-year-old friend. Then she and her husband, President Russell M. Nelson, went to the temple, did a little Costco shopping, completed some projects, and turned in early for bed.The couple was stunned to learn of the death of President Thomas S. Monson, the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.She had no idea then she would witness so much “action, movement, innovation, and change” in the Church in the following months.Two days later, however, the Lord gave Sister Nelson “a most unique, most distinctive experience that I could never deny or forget,” she said. From the experience, Sister Nelson knew “the mantle of prophet was upon my husband.”At 11:01 p.m. the phone rang.Other times the Lord has prompted Sister Nelson to stay close to her husband when he is receiving instruction. “My husband will say during the night, ‘OK, dear, it is happening.’ I remain quiet and then soon he is sitting up on the side of the bed writing.” President Russell M. Nelson walks with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors' Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, place mortar during the corner stone ceremony for the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.After marrying President Nelson in 2006, Sister Nelson had, on numerous occasions, witnessed him receive revelation from the Lord during the night, especially as general conference approached. But after he was ordained as the Lord’s prophet, the revelation came with frequency and intensity. “My husband is trying to get every bit of instruction that he can,” she said.She and President Nelson cried, talked for a long while, made some phone calls, and turned out the lights.Still, two days later, the Lord gave her exactly the same experience again.For example, early one Saturday morning, Sister Nelson awoke and knew she was to get out of bed. She was not done sleeping, but she could feel the prompting to “move out of bed now.”“The experience was so dramatic, so clear, that it really was embedded upon my heart and my mind right in the moment,” she said.EDITOR'S NOTE: While participating in the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple, Sister Wendy W. Nelson testified to the Church News of President Russell M. Nelson’s prophetic calling.At 94, President Nelson is becoming “more of his true self every day,” she said.Sister Nelson knew her husband, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, would be ordained as the Church’s next prophet.Sister Nelson remembers watching her husband as he was sustained on March 31, 2018, during the Church’s solemn assembly at general conference. She was filled with peace from the Prince of Peace.
Mendene’s wife was soon taught the missionary lessons and shortly afterwards was baptized a member of the Church.“This must have been an absolute crisis for Joseph,” Elder Hamilton said. “For weeks and months, he struggled forward without the gift of translation and without a clear knowledge of when or even whether he would ever translate again.”Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, General Authority Seventy, spoke on how God’s children can learn to walk by faith in a BYU-Idaho devotional on March 12.Faith in Jesus Christ creates a firm bedrock for each person’s life. But to create that foundation, it has to be built every day in small and simple ways, Elder Hamilton said.Later, when tasked with recovering the plates after his brothers had failed, he said, “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6).“Gabin Mendene learned to walk by faith,” Elder Hamilton said. “In spite of all the challenges, he simply kept moving forward in faith, not knowing the end from the beginning, led by the Spirit. … Gabin had learned that sometimes we have to simply righteously move forward.”The Mendenes were soon sealed together in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple and Gabin Mendene was called to serve as president of the Libreville 2nd Branch.The first was the prophet Nephi from the Book of Mormon. When Nephi received instructions to retrieve the brass plates from Laban, he said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” (1 Nephi 3:7).“Trust in Him. Believe in Him. Rely on Him. Walk with Him. Walk by faith, not by sight. As we do, we establish our foundation faithfully on the bedrock of Jesus Christ, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.”Mendene wrote to the mission president and soon was visited by a senior missionary couple. He wanted to know where he could pay the tithing he had been saving for eight years, and where to buy more temple garments since he had been carefully washing his one pair each night to wear the next day.Despite humbling himself and trying to make amends, it was many months before the Prophet Joseph could translate the Book of Mormon again. Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Claudia Hamilton, greet students following a BYU-Idaho devotional on March 12, 2019. Photo by Cami Su, BYU-Idaho.Due to issues with his visa, Mendene was denied the opportunity to serve a mission and was deported back to Gabon. “So, in the spring of 2006,” Elder Hamilton said, “he packed a small suitcase, and among his personal possessions were two copies of the Book of Mormon, his mission call, DVDs of both 2004 general conferences, his patriarchal blessing, a few tithing slips, and one pair of temple garments.” Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, General Authority Seventy, speaks about having faith, like his friend from Gabon, at a BYU-Idaho devotional on March 12, 2019. Photo by Cami Su, BYU-Idaho.Walking by faith rather than by sight can be likened to standing under a streetlight and taking a few steps into the darkness. Once one has moved forward with faith and trust, he or she waits patiently. “Slowly our eyes adjust to the darkness, and we find that we can actually see farther than we thought,” Elder Hamilton said.In closing, Elder Hamilton shared the ultimate statement on living by faith, which is found in the Book of Mormon when Moroni invites all to “come unto Christ and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32).Mendene found no organized Church unit in Gabon, and so began holding unofficial meetings on Sundays and family home evenings on Mondays in his home. He met and married a young woman and began teaching her the missionary lessons.Eight years later, Mendene came across an article online about Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicating Gabon for the preaching of the gospel and organizing the first branch in the country. He was stunned to learn that he was not the only Latter-day Saint in Gabon and there was a branch in his own home city.“We are sometimes required, whether we like it or not, to live by faith,” Elder Hamilton said.He gave the examples of three men who have had to live by faith.Faith, Elder Hamilton explained, is to hope or believe in true things even when one cannot see or does not have proof. Answers to spiritual questions often do not come as instantly or spontaneously as a Google search, and requires learning little by little.After years of not knowing what happened to his friend, Elder Hamilton was in Gabon as a member of the Area Presidency. “During one of the meetings, as I was speaking at the pulpit, the door to the room opened and to my joyful surprise, in walked my friend—Gabin from Gabon.”“He did not give up, he did not lose faith,” Elder Hamilton said. “He simply continued to move forward to the best of his ability until the gift of translation was again restored to him.”Faith centered in Jesus Christ is a key and essential part of mortality. God’s plan for His children requires that at least in this life, they learn to live by faith. The Apostle Paul taught, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).“Our foundation is established every time we read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. We build our foundation with each personal prayer, every time we partake of the sacrament, each time we attend the temple, and every time we minister to our fellow brothers and sisters. Each time we repent, we are laying the foundation of our spiritual home on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ.”Another example was Joseph Smith. In the early stages of translating the Book of Mormon, he allowed Martin Harris to take 116 pages of the manuscript to show to Harris’s wife. When the 116 pages were lost, Joseph came under serious condemnation and received a severe chastisement from the Lord.The third example was that of a man named Gabin Mendene. While Elder Hamilton served as a mission president in Belgium in 2005, he was introduced to a convert from the African country Gabon who was attending a university in Belgium. He was thus known to the Hamilton family as Gabin from Gabon.
“I was excited to learn of the theme of this year's competition,” said Utah artist Paige Anderson, whose non-representative oil “Fitting Fragment” enlists “faith, doubt, incongruities, and paradoxes” and the Church’s celebrated history of quilting. “Christ Healing,” a terra-cotta piece by Leroy Transfield, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.
This painting by Jenedy Paige is on display at the 11th International Art Competition at the Church History Museum.Viewers of Yuen Yim's piece will likely recognize key moments from their own lives. They are key players in the plan of salvation.Many of the pieces on display are far different from what members might find, say, hanging in the hallways of their ward meetinghouse. But that’s the point. The competition captures “new voices” while expanding a cultural legacy “and redefining our visual heritage.”Meanwhile, legions of visitors to the Church History Museum can engage with artwork marked by its diversity of artistic tradition and media. This year’s iteration features the works of artists from Argentina to Malawi and dozens of locales in between.The galleries showcasing the international competition are filled “with so many artists I admire,” she added.But there's a spiritual unity in the 11th International Art Competition—a consortium of creative voices articulating a joint witness and gospel testimony.
Julie Yuen Yim’s “The Plan of Salvation” is crafted from cut Chinese paper and depict the plan of happiness—from the Creation, to the Fall, to the birth and crucifixion of Christ, to the Resurrection and the Restoration and, finally, eternal life with loved ones.Despite the openness of the theme, several familiar gospel-anchored subjects organically emerged—including the importance of families, defining moments from the scriptures, devotion to God and His creations, reverence and awe for the divine, the temple, and the central role of women in the gospel.As in past international competitions, this year’s show allows museum patrons to discover and “identify new artists,” said Carrie Snow, the museum’s manager of Collections and Care.Julie Yuen Yim’s “The Plan of Salvation,” for example, reflects the “familiar diversity” of the Church’s International Art Competition. Her piece is cut Chinese paper and, in a single panel, teaches the plan of happiness—from the Creation, to the Fall, to the birth and crucifixion of Christ, to the Resurrection and the Restoration and, finally, eternal life with loved ones. A detail of “The Children Sing: Syracuse, New York,” a mixed-media piece by Jacqui Larsen, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News. Sarah Anne Winegar, of Springville, and her 3-month-old son, Luca, tour the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum during a media preview in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Winegar has a relief reduction print titled “Come Unto Me,” included in the exhibit. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News. Micah Chistensen, founder of Zion Art Society, walks in front of “Lights of Night,” an acrylic piece by Roland Thompson, while touring the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum during a media preview in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.Selecting the 151 pieces of art for the competition wasn’t easy. Over 900 pieces of art were submitted from almost 30 countries. The artwork was selected by a team of five jurors representing the continents of Africa, the Americas, and Europe. “And I am Here,” by Danielle Hatch, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News. A detail of “Ask of God,” by Janna Siebert, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.Each of the 151 pieces of art on display in the Church History Museum’s upper floor reveal “the hand of God and meditates upon all His wonders,” said curator Laura Allred Hurtado.Anderson hopes visitors take a few moments to study each piece of art, read its explanatory label and discover shared spiritual connections with its creator.For Latter-day Saint artists across the globe, the Church’s International Art Competition remains a tradition offering unparalleled opportunities to share their talents and testimonies with thousands.The artwork on display ranges from traditional oil paintings and wood carvings to sculptures crafted from paper and even Legos. Even a panel of recycled cardboard was utilized on a painting from Peru depicting a heroic moment from the Book of Joshua.Several competition entries will be purchased and added to the Church History Museum’s permanent collection.The year’s competition theme—“Meditations on Belief”—draws from Psalm 77:11-12: “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”For each artist, that Old Testament passage invited a personal, wide-open interpretation.Admission is free.The International Art Competition runs through October 7, 2019. The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.For Juror Herman du Toit of South Africa, reading the testimonies of the submitting artists highlighted the judging process. He was also enthused by the broad range of participants. Their artwork, he noted, “broadens our cannon and introduces new voices.” A detail of “Never a Murmur,” a cast bronze sculpture by Craig Cunningham, is pictured in front of “Lights of Night,” an acrylic piece by Roland Thompson, during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.The entries demonstrate the evolution of Latter-day Saint art, she added. “Come Unto Me,” a relief reduction print by Sarah Anne Winegar, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.[Experience the online exhibit now.] “Refuge from the Storm,” by Hames Shelley, “Abraham and the Stars,” by Benjamin Pack, and “Pondering God’s Promise,” by Courtney Vander Veur Matz, left to right, are pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News. The diverse artwork found in the 11th International Art Competition was crafted by Latter-day Saints from more than two dozen countries.
President Russell M. Nelson
“The dedication of the Rome Italy Temple is “a hinge-point in the history of the Church. Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace. The Church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. We're just building up to what is ahead now.”Elder Ulisses Soares
“I was astonished and happy as you can imagine, to be part of this historic and marvelous event, along with the First Presidency and all the other Apostles. As a junior Apostle, as the new one in the group, I am just enjoying the blessings of the hard work these great leaders, senior leaders, have done all these years.”Photographs are taken of members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles walks through the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Dallin H. Oaks
“It means so much for the restored Church and its members to have a temple in Rome, which is the capital of all Christianity and a place where our predecessors as Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ gave their lives. It is a blessing of the Lord to be here and to have our spirits lifted and to receive the inspiration of the Lord to perform the tasks assigned to us as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”President Russell M. Nelson and President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speak to media after the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles high-fives temple attendees in Rome on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Gary E. Stevenson
“There is a certain grandeur in Rome — the architecture, the history, the buildings. When I hear people speak of Rome as the ‘Eternal City,’ I will think about that just a little differently than I have heretofore. It is truly the ‘Eternal City’ for us, as Latter-day Saints, knowing there is a temple of the Lord here.”Elder Dale G. Renlund
“We know that two former-day Apostles, Peter and Paul, were here. And then to have modern-day Apostles here, all of us, is just a moving experience, in some ways paying homage to them and homage to the gospel that we all preach.”President M. Russell Ballard
“I don’t think anything this significant has passed by without the angels in heaven, the former apostles, those who gave their lives here and even those who made possible the Restoration. I think they look down on these activities. I have felt their presence.”
Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dressed in white temple clothing pose for an iconic photograph in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Elder David A. Bednar
“The dedication of the Rome Italy Temple is “a hinge-point in the history of the Church. Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace. The Church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. We're just building up to what is ahead now.”Elder Ronald A. Rasband
“Behind me in the rotunda, we have a statue of Peter holding keys. As in ancient times, the modern-day Apostles also hold all of the keys. However, there is only one who exercises all of the keys on earth, and that is President Russell M. Nelson, who is the Senior Apostle. I was there when he was ordained and set apart as President of the Church; it was an overwhelming confirmation to me that he is God’s prophet on the earth today.”Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shakes hands with temple attendees in Rome on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder Dale G. Renlund, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak to media after the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles signs a book in Rome on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Gerrit W. Gong
“I was struck by how our wonderful Italian Saints, with tears in their eyes, said ‘This is not the end, this is the beginning. This brings life and light to families and individuals on both sides of the veil. This is the beginning of many wonderful blessings.’”President Henry B. Eyring
“It has been a wonderful experience to be at the dedication of a temple in Rome. In temples we have families sealed forever. Somehow for me it is especially important because of the Italian families I have known and how much families mean to them. ... What a blessing this temple is going to be to all the families in Rome.”President Russell M. Nelson walks with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak to media after the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple in Rome, Italy on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“A living prophet and living Apostles have the same call as apostles did anciently, to proclaim the gospel to all the world. We are here with the prophet in Rome to do just that in our modern times.”Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pauses for a photograph in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles share a laugh in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Neil L. Andersen
“One of the things that happens to the members of the Church in these areas when the temple comes is that they realize this: The gospel is going to be here until the Savior returns. And His power is going to be here. ... What will be sealed on earth in the Lord’s house in Italy will be sealed in heaven from now through the time that the Lord returns.”Elder Quentin L. Cook
“It has been absolutely incredible. We were ordained as Apostles to the world. And it is very comparable to what happened to Peter and Paul in their time. They were Apostles to the world, and Rome was one of the centers of the world at that time.”Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles waves to attendees after a meeting in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder D. Todd Christofferson
“Something that struck me more forcefully is that the restored Church and the primitive church are the same Church. I felt that more strongly than ever. This is The Church of Jesus Christ as He organized it, and now as He has restored it. And here we are in the land of its beginnings in the primitive era. And now in the latter-day era, here is the temple that the Lord has established for the preparations for the Second Coming. It is a grand thought really to feel the kinship and the unity of the Church across the centuries.”Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
“In a city filled with historic monuments and very important buildings, the temple of the Lord, the house of the Lord, will be the most important building in all of Rome.”President M. Russell Ballard and President Russell M. Nelson react to a photograph taken earlier in the day of themselves in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talk in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Lesa, pose for a photograph in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Members of the First Presidency expressed deep gratitude for the invitation President Nelson gave them to participate in the historic events surrounding the dedication of the Rome temple.Only a few times in history has the entire senior leadership of the Church been together outside of Utah, the most recent being the Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedication in 2002. The Rome Italy Temple in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Dressed in white temple clothing, President Russell M. Nelson stands in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors' Center next to a statue of Peter, by sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. The keys held in Peter’s right hand are symbolic of Matthew 16:19, where Christ promises Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Nelson said the Church leaders’ time in Rome will be “a blessing for the people all over the world, because these Apostles now will go all over the world and recap the experiences that they felt here as this holy house was dedicated.”Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Everything in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ focuses on Him and ordinances and covenants. Period. End of sentence. Exclamation point. …. And that is what we’ll take all over.” Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dressed in white temple clothing, posed for an iconic photograph in the Rome Italy Temple visitors center in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Front center are President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. Also included are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, and Elder Ulisses Soares. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson presents Pope Francis with a small statue of the Christus and a framed copy of the Church’s proclamation on the family. President Nelson and President M. Russell Ballard visited with the Pope on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo courtesy of The Vatican.Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added: “We know that two former-day apostles, Peter and Paul, were here, and then to have modern-day Apostles here, all of us, is just a moving experience, in some ways paying homage to them and homage to the gospel that we all preach.” President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, greet attendees after a devotional in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.President Nelson was joined by every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Rome, one of the most influential cities in the history of Christianity. The Church leaders stood together on March 11 in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center for iconic photographs—symbols of their unified testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posed for an iconic photograph in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Front center are President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. Also included are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, and Elder Ulisses Soares. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claps during the cornerstone ceremony for the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace,” said President Nelson. “The Church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. We’re just building up to what’s ahead now.”President Nelson’s words followed a historic weekend March 9-12 in which the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated the Rome Italy Temple, addressed youth in the temple district, and met with Pope Francis—becoming the first prophet to have a formal audience with the head of the Roman Catholic Church.The dedication of the Rome Italy Temple is “a hinge point in the history of the Church,” said President Russell M. Nelson while visiting an ancient and great city where two millennia ago Peter and Paul preached and died.In addition to the group photograph, President Nelson—who holds all the keys to the Church—stood near the statue of Peter. The keys held in Peter’s hand are symbolic of Matthew 16:19, where Christ promised Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”ROMEAfter the photographs, President Nelson looked forward with characteristic energy and optimism. The many historic firsts of the weekend are “only the beginning,” he said.He said this marks “the beginning of something very majestic, and President Nelson has already highlighted the fact that this experience here is a hinge point not just for the Church in this temple district, but in all the world.”The Lord, he said, told him to take all the senior leaders to Rome for the dedication. “I was just following the instructions I received,” he said. “It was very clear to me.”
During a 90-day period from April to July in 1994, 1 million people in Rwanda died in civil war genocide.In Madagascar, for example, the Church has two stakes and five districts and is growing dramatically. “Missionaries are teaching 40 lessons a week,” said Elder Stevenson. “They are very receptive to our message of hope which comes through our unique message of the Restoration and the great plan of happiness. So it fits with their outlook.”In this somber moment, Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stopped and wrote in the memorial guest book of the sorrow he felt as he learned of the heroes and victims of the genocide. Elder Gary E. Stevenson meets with leaders in Uganda during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.Elder and Sister Stevenson traveled to Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Madagascar—conducting priesthood leadership conferences, speaking to members and missionaries, participating in a youth and young single adult devotional, visiting government officials, and answering media questions.Elder Stevenson said everyone in Rwanda lost someone in the genocide.“Rather than hopelessness, they are filled with hope,” Elder Stevenson said of his experience in these countries. Sisters in Madagascar gather to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Elder Gary E. Stevenson holds a zone conference with missionaries serving in Ethiopia during a trip to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Elder Gary E. Stevenson holds a zone conference with missionaries serving in Uganda during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson traveled to Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Madagascar in the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.Before leaving Rwanda, Elder Stevenson presented a donation from the Church to the genocide memorial, which stands as a reminder to all of the profound love of Jesus Christ, which should never be taken for granted, he said.They don’t talk about it much, but if asked they will acknowledge the loss, he said. “It is just striking how horrific it is and how deeply it has affected everyone and how forgiving they are today.”Among the Rwandan people there is “a kindness, gentleness, reconciliation, and forgiveness” that is an example of the best of humanity, he said. “Humanity caused the genocide,” he said, noting that 25 years later, humanity is “reconciling, forgiving, and coming back together now as a united society.”A spirit of forgiveness permeates Rwanda—one of five countries the Stevensons visited in the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14 through February 25. A young couple in Tanzania gathers to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Elder Gary E. Stevenson holds a zone conference with missionaries serving in Tanzania.As Elder and Sister Stevenson looked at the congregations of members and missionaries—large and small—they were particularly touched by the bright eyes and smiles of the youth and children.In the member meeting in Madagascar, 1,200 members gathered in the meeting hall and another 1,300 in the overflow. Elder Stevenson also greeted members in the overflow area after the meeting.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Sister Lesa Stevenson write in a memorial guest book at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda during a visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.In Tanzania, Elder Stevenson participated in a press conference with 25 news organizations. Reporters asked him how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is different from other churches and what the Church was doing to help its members in Tanzania.An IGIHE reporter recorded his words: “It has been a deeply touching experience for my wife and I to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and witness the record of the terrible consequences of human conflict promoted by hatred based on perceived differences,” he wrote. Elder Gary E. Stevenson greets children in Uganda during a visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.He also saw this bright hope and spiritual depth in the missionaries serving in this area. In Rwanda, as part of the Uganda Kampala Mission, there is a zone which includes 22 missionaries who represent 14 countries in total. Elder Gary E. Stevenson greets members in Tanzania during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.In a quiet location at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, Rwanda, Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Sister Lesa Stevenson were contemplating what had occurred in this country a quarter of a century ago.In Ethiopia, a country of 110 million, Elder and Sister Stevenson participated in a mission meeting with 12 missionaries, part of the Church’s mission in Uganda. In all, Elder Stevenson participated in 21 meetings in 10 days in five countries. “The members are so faithful,” he said. “They come with their families. They look so good.” Children and their families in Ethiopia gather to hear Gary E. Stevenson during his visit to Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.Elder Stevenson said government leaders and reporters in each of the countries had noticed hope and goodness in the Latter-day Saints.In Tanzania, the Stevensons participated in a member meeting with 200 people. Many present had memories of a member meeting in 2003 when a member of the Quorum of the Twelve last visited the country—with then Elder Russell M. Nelson, who dedicated the country for the preaching of the gospel.Many live in destitute conditions in the area, “but they are a hopeful, happy people,” said Elder Stevenson. “They have a spirituality about them that is palpable.” Elder Gary E. Stevenson and other leaders visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda during a visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Sisters in Uganda gather to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Elder Stevenson greets members in Rwanda during a visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Elder Sister Lesa Stevenson poses with choir members during a member meeting to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Latter-day Saints gather to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson speak during a visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. A child in Ethiopia and his family gather to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Elder Gary E. Stevenson greets members in Tanzania during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Sister Lesa Stevenson pose for a picture with sisters in Madagascar during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.“Isn’t that amazing?” said Elder Stevenson. “It is striking to see that kind of geographic diversity in just this one zone in the Church.”The Stevensons were accompanied by the Africa Southeast Area presidency—Elder Mark S. Palmer, Elder Joseph W. Sitati, and Elder Joni L. Koch, all General Authority Seventies. Sister Jacqueline W. Palmer, Sister Michele Koch, and Sister Gladys Sitati also participated in the visit.“These youth and children were all aware of President Nelson’s message to the youth titled ‘Hope of Israel’ from last year,” he said. “They recognize that they are the future hope of the Church.” Latter-day Saints gather to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson speak during a visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. A young family in Uganda gathers to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25. Youth in Madagascar gather at a meetinghouse to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson speak during his visit to the Church’s Africa Southeast Area February 14–25.
Dr. Russell M. Nelson holds a model of the human heart. Photo courtesy of the Nelson family.President Russell M. Nelson salmon fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska, in July 2016. Photo courtesy of the Nelson family. Photo courtesy of Elder Mervyn B. Arnold.He also has more energy than most people his age, said President Oaks in a Church News article. “I always try to keep up with him and I can’t do it. I grab hold of the banister to balance and I skip along as well as I can.”Read more about the event on Newsroom. President M. Russell Ballard and President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints react to an photograph taken earlier in the day of themselves in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.His legacy continues “in the lives of many physicians who are cardiovascular surgeons who were trained under his watchful eye,” Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer, a doctor and General Authority Seventy, told the Church News following President Nelson’s call to lead the Church in January 2018.A celebration in honor of the 95th birthday of President Russell M. Nelson will bring together family, friends, and others from around the world to honor the life of the living prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.President Nelson, 94, was set apart as the 17th President of the Church on January 14, after serving 34 years in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In addition to his service as an Apostle, President Nelson is known for his long and esteemed medical career.As a father of 10 children, President Nelson is also known by many as a beloved father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.Tickets for the free event celebrating President Nelson's 95th birthday will become available on ChurchofJesusChrist.org beginning July 30 at 10:00 a.m. Tickets will be limited to two tickets per individual.“These types of celebrations, which we have seen since the early years of the Church, give us inspiring insight into the lives of those chosen by God to serve as His prophets,” said President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency. “I have personally attended many such events for past prophets, and each time I leave with a sense of wonder and gratitude for the way in which our Father in Heaven shapes, trains, and teaches His prophets. It will be a privilege for all of us to participate and to celebrate President Nelson’s 95th birthday.” President Russell M. Nelson on a swing. Photo courtesy of the Nelson family.President Nelson is only the second prophet—the first being Joseph Fielding Smith—to be called as President of the Church while over the age of 90. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walks with his wife Sister Wendy Nelson in the Rome Italy Temple visitors center in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson poses with family members. Photo courtesy of the Nelson family. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome, Italy on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo courtesy of The Vatican.Newsroom announced on March 14, that the large celebration for President Nelson's birthday will be held on September 6 at 7:00 p.m. mountain daylight time at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The celebration will include acclaimed performers, and distinguished guests will share personal tributes and insights into the life and ministry of President Nelson.
Responding to the variety of settings, as well as the numbers and attitudes of His listeners, the Savior used a variety of teaching methods. Let’s consider a few:
Sister Hurley is a ward Young Women president and a former ward Relief Society presidency counselor, Young Women adviser, and ward Primary presidency secretary. She was born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to Kenneth Jerome Erler and Nancy Lee Erler.Brother Fatani is a mission presidency counselor and a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, bishopric counselor, ward mission leader, and missionary in the California Ventura Mission. He was born in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga, to Tevita Lupeitu’u Fatani and Lolo ’Olive Langi.México Monterrey West MissionBrother Ashcraft is a former stake presidency counselor, stake Young Men presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, bishopric counselor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Canada Montreal Mission. He was born in Tucson, Arizona, to Ronnie Dean Ashcraft and Jeanne Bryars Ashcraft.México Monterrey East Mission
L. Jean Claude and Mimie Kanyanga-MabayaBrother Fernández is a mission presidency counselor and youth adviser and a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, elders quorum president, and missionary in the Argentina Bahía Blanca Mission. He was born in Resistencia, Argentina, to Carlos Rubén Fernández and Beatríz Ogayar.Florida Orlando MissionJavier Romero, 59, and Leticia Escobarete de Romero, four children, Camacho Ward, Poza Rica México Palmas Stake: México Monterrey East Mission, succeeding President Jorge A. Regalado Campos and Sister Norma Ramos de Regalado. Sister Isaguirre is a Sunday School teacher, a former stake Young Women president, and ward Relief Society and Young Women president. She was born in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, México, to José Luís Gastélum Bejarano and Mariana Ávila Mendoza.
José L. and Iris Gastelum de IsaguirreSister Mabaya is a former ward Primary president, ward Primary and Relief Society presidency counselor, and branch Young Women presidency counselor. She was born in Kananga, Zaire, DR Congo, to Gustave Kanyanga and Brigitte Kuedi.Brother Isaguirre is an Area Seventy and a former assistant area auditor, stake president, high councilor, bishopric counselor, elders quorum president, and missionary in the México Monterrey South Mission. He was born in Navojoa, Sonora, México, to Leobardo Isaguirre Peralta and Petra Leyva Gaxiola.Papua New Guinea Lae MissionDemocratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission
Javier and Leticia Escobarete de RomeroIdaho Idaho Falls MissionBrother Mabaya is a former Area Seventy, stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, branch president, and branch presidency counselor. He was born in Kalunga, Kasai-Occidental, DR Congo, to Simon Kisanga Lutumba and Mitshika Simonade Nyange.
Cindy and Clint EnsignSister Fernández is a youth adviser and a former stake Relief Society president, ward Relief Society and Young Women president, missionary preparation teacher, and missionary in the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission. She was born in Resistencia, Argentina, to Juan Osvaldo López and Rosita Mambrín.Sister Ensign is a former Relief Society compassionate service leader, institute teacher, gospel doctrine teacher, and early morning seminary teacher. She was born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, to Karl J. Toth and Virginia Monahan.José L. Isaguirre, 44, and Iris Gastelum de Isaguirre, three children, Infonavit Ward, Culiacán México Humaya Stake: México Monterrey West Mission, succeeding President Mark J. Maucotel and Sister Audrey Pratt Maucotel. Sister Ashcraft is a Primary activity days leader and a former stake Young Women president, Primary pianist, Primary activity days leader, and missionary in the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission. She was born in Provo, Utah, to C. Scott Grow and Rhonda Lee Grow.L. Jean Claude Mabaya, 58, and Mimie Kanyanga-Mabaya, four children, Sans-Fil Ward, Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Masina Stake: Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission, succeeding President Larry D. Shumard and Sister Gayle Shumard. Sister Romero is a Ward Relief Society president and a former stake Primary and Relief Society presidency counselor, ward Young Women presidency counselor, and institute teacher. She was born in San Luis Potosí, México, to Jose Asuncion Escobarete and Irene Aranda Cisneros.Brother Romero is a current stake clerk and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, and missionary in the México México City North Mission. He was born in San Luis Potosí, México, to Javier Romero Martínez and Ana Maria Romero.Brother Hurley is a stake president and a former bishop, stake Young Men presidency secretary, ward Young Men president, elders quorum president, and missionary in the California San Diego Mission. He was born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to Robert Eugene Hurley and Barbara Ann Rock.The following new mission presidents and their wives have been called by the First Presidency. They will begin their service in July of 2019. Biographies of other mission presidency couples will be published throughout 2019 on news.lds.org. (See other published biographies.)Brother Ensign is a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, bishopric counselor, and missionary in the Canada Halifax Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City to Milton Dale Ensign and Joyce Murdock.Clint Ensign, 63, and Cindy Ensign, four children, Newcastle Ward, Sandy Utah Granite Stake: Canada Toronto Mission, succeeding President Jeffrey L. Shields and Sister Patricia Shields. Argentina Buenos Aires South MissionSister Fatani is a former ward Young Women president. She was born in Ha’ateiho, Tongatapu, Tonga, to Sione Taulanga Vake and ’Akanesi Paletu’a.’Isileli T. Fatani, 51, and Milika M. Fatani, five children, Mapelu Ward, Nuku’alofa Tonga Liahona Stake: Papua New Guinea Lae Mission, succeeding President Sitiveni Fehoko and Sister Kilisitina Fehoko.
Shannon R. and Matthew S. Hurley
Martín P. and Gabriela FernándezMartín P. Fernández, 46, and Gabriela Fernández, three children, Resistencia 2nd Ward, Resistencia Argentina Stake: Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission, succeeding President Alejandro Calquín Sepulveda and Sister Susana Calquín.
Leticia and Darren Ashcraft
'Isileli T. and Milika M. FataniCanada Toronto MissionDarren Ashcraft, 49, and Leticia Ashcraft, six children, Nampa 34th Ward, Nampa Idaho East Stake: Florida Orlando Mission, succeeding President David K. Clark and Sister Denise Clark. Matthew S. Hurley, 46, and Shannon R. Hurley, six children, Chambersburg 2nd Ward, Chambersburg Pennsylvania Stake: Idaho Idaho Falls Mission, succeeding President Brent J. Nelson and Sister Cheryl A. Nelson.