Reflections on Africa


Recently upon returning home for April General Conference, it was determined that Sister Stanfill and I would be reassigned to headquarters.   It was a sudden and unexpected reassignment.  We fully anticipated returning to Africa to continue our work and associating with people that we had come to love so dearly.  Since conference we have had the opportunity to settle and spend time with our family.  It has also given us time to reflect upon our remarkable time spent in Africa with the African Saints. 

We have thought much about what we learned not only about Africa and its wonderful people but also the Savior’s love for all his children.  We watched as thousands across the area developed faith, repented and were baptized into the Lord’s church. 

We watched faithful missionaries seek out and teach those sincere in heart and mind.  We watched families come to the temple to receive sacred ordinances of exaltation for themselves and their kindred dead.  One of my favorite sights from my office window overlooking the entrance of the temple was the families who, having completed their temple work, came out to have their photographs taken on their memorable day.  They were so happy. 

 We learned that Africa and its beautiful people, while unique in many ways, are just the same as faithful, sincere, people all over the world.   I felt a strong kinship develop with the Saints and came to understand more than ever before the eternal nature of our relationships.  Sister Stanfill and I felt at home with and loved by our African brothers and sisters.  We love you and pray for you.  We have felt your prayers and are grateful to you. 

 As we look forward, we encourage you to follow the direction of the Area Presidency to follow the admonition in D&C 84:106.  Seek out those who need help.  Find someone to bring into the waters of baptism, find someone to take to church, find someone to bring to the temple. 

The Lord promises us great joy as we become his partners in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of men.  We never know what effect our efforts will have on generations to come.  Entire families, villages, even cities may come to know the Savior because of a simple invitation that we extend to others.   We can only be sure that if we do nothing, we will not receive the blessings and joy of being involved in this work. 

I am quite sure that the Savior will find a way to have the work done.  The real question is, do we want to participate?   The Savior makes it clear that he is willing to share his sacred title in this work with us.  He makes it clear that he expects us to accept a role in the salvation of others. [1]

 Exciting things are happening in the heart of Africa from Nigeria to Senegal, the Lord is opening the hearts and minds of people who are coming into the fold. 

The Area Presidency is feeling and watching the hand of the Lord in this work.   Countless times while meeting with these great inspired men, we would feel a oneness as it became apparent what the Lord wanted us to do.   While the world seems to stumble around us we must have faith that our Heavenly Father is pressing his work forward.  For those whose faith continues to grow, the challenges that we face should be no surprise.  

The Adversary becomes enraged as he sees the Saviors work progressing.  He will do everything he can to stop the spread of the gospel across this continent.  One should expect great evil and destruction in the hearts and minds of men.  Yet we also should take great joy in knowing the end of the story.  Nothing can inhibit this great work.  

I am reminded of the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith when he said: “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done”. [2]

We can look forward to that day, when the work will be finished in Africa, America, Europe, India, and throughout the world.  While Satan may rage upon the land, it is of no consequence to this work.  His only power will be upon those who allow it. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, God be with you until we meet again.  We love you.  I bear a humble, but bold testimony that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the World.   I know that we will gather at his feet one day.  I anticipate and look forward to this great day with you.   May God bless you!  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

1.     History of the Church, 4:540

            2.     D&C 103:9-10