Members in African nations eager to learn

There may not be an abundance of material goods among many people living in African nations, but they are blessed with an abundance of Heavenly Father's creations, said Janette C. Hales, Young Women general president.

Pres. Hales recently returned from visiting Church members in five African nations where she met with youth and participated in leadership training, youth firesides and other Church meetings from May 6 to 24. Young Women administrative assistant Carolyn J. Rasmus accompanied Pres. Hales and helped conduct leadership training.They traveled to Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the Ivory Coast and Ghana at the request of the Africa Area Presidency. Pres. Hale's trip to Kenya and Zimbabwe marks the first time an auxiliary president has visited the two countries, she said.

In a Church News interview, Pres. Hales reflected on her trip. "I constantly felt an abundance of what Heavenly Father provides for His children. There were beautiful fruits and vegetables and flowers, and many other things for the eye to behold. We usually don't think of that as abundance.

"How overwhelmed we were with the beauties of nature everywhere - the landscape and the clear skies and stars. But the most beautiful of all was the people. They are a happy people."

Pres. Hales referred to the 59th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, which states that the things of the earth "are made for the benefit and use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart." (Verse 18.) She added that verse 23 gives a promise that those "who doeth works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come."

She said members are eager to have peace in their land, and noted the prayer of one young woman in Durban, South Africa, who prayed for peace and for everyone to be healers.

"With the tremendous diversity among the people in this area, members of the Church work extremely well together in a gospel setting," she commented.

Her trip included visits with members in Nairobi, Kenya; in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, South Africa; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Accra and Cape Coast, Ghana; and Harare, Zimbabwe. She also spoke at a stake conference in Cape Coast, Ghana.

"I was impressed with the members and the emphasis they put on fundamentals of gospel living such as prayer," Pres. Hales remarked. "They seemed familiar with the scriptures. They sang with tremendous enthusiasm and knew the words and all verses to every hymn. They seem to have an amazing capacity to memorize the scriptures and songs.

"There is an eagerness among members to learn and to do what's right. Because some young women don't have the opportunity to go to school, I think they see the Young Women program as an opportunity to learn.

"In our visit, we hoped to emphasize the importance of preparing young women to become righteous women of faith, of understanding their place in the kingdom of God, and of developing their abilities to help strengthen the Church. They really are the future."

In almost every meeting, the Young Women theme was repeated by young women, Pres. Hales noted.

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