The General Presidents of the Relief Society and Young Women organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in eastern and central Africa to meet with Latter-day Saints, government leaders and to visit humanitarian sites this week. Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson and Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon began their nine-day ministry tour in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday, February 25, 2023.
The Salt Lake City, Utah, leaders received a warm welcome by a group of local Latter-day Saint women, who sang and danced when they arrived at a meetinghouse in Nairobi for a Church leadership training meeting.
“I’m so thankful for the wonderful, beautiful greeting that we received from you,” President Johnson told the sisters.
On Sunday, President Johnson and her husband, Doug, attended a worship service at the Langata congregation, held in a school in Nairobi.
“We have gone to general conference [in Salt Lake City] several times, and we see them from the distance. So just sitting with Sister Johnson … it was uplifting,” said Happiness Balilemwa.
Evelyn Jepkemei said, “When we have opportunities to hear from leaders like Sister Johnson, I remember that we have this worldwide sisterhood and that we’re not really far from each other.”
On Monday, February 27, 2023, President Cordon, Elder Matthew L. Carpenter of the Africa Central Area Presidency and local leaders met with Pastor Dorcas Rigathi Gachagua, the wife of Kenya’s deputy president, Geoffrey Rigathi Gachagua. They discussed her focus on youth and the promotion of traditional family values.
“It’s not every day that we get visitors who want to talk about the kingdom,” said Pastor Rigathi Gachagua.
“I have been so impressed with your young people,” remarked President Cordon during the meeting at the deputy president’s residence.
Kenya’s second lady expressed her concern about the many young men in Kenya who suffer from drug and substance abuse, which may lead to a life of crime.
“Now we have girls who are very well educated, but they have no husbands,” she said. “If not corrected, we’re going to lose a generation.”
Earlier in the day, the leader of the Church’s young women traveled to a high school for girls in Kinale, Nairobi. The senior principal, Vuldrida Simiyu, is a member of the Church and currently serves as an area organization adviser. Sister Simiyu said more than 60 students at the county school participate in the Church’s seminary program.
“We have 62 girls in seminary. We started with only three,” said Vulfrida Simiyu, Senior Principal of the Kinale Girls School. “And as time went by and we talked to them about the importance of seminary, we sought permission from their parents.”
On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, President Cordon and her husband, Derek, were in Kampala, Uganda, to meet with local Church leaders, youth and missionaries. Some missionaries are returning to the Uganda Kampala Mission following COVID-19 and an Ebola outbreak.
President Johnson and President Cordon will also travel to central Africa, including the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Temples in Africa Central
Several new temples are currently under construction in central Africa. Latter-day Saints in Nairobi are watching their new temple take shape along a busy highway. Houses of the Lord have also been announced or are under construction in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, and in Kananga and Lubumbashi in the DRC. A temple is currently in operation in Kinshasa, DRC.
“I really feel like I understand the power of temples because they’re just such spiritual places,” said Liah Kazeh-Anfo, a local member. “They’re nothing like anything else, so I’m really excited that we’re going to have a temple here.”
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