From around the world

Mexico North Area: `Great champions' perform

LOS MOCHIS, MEXICO - Some 150 Primary children and their friends took part in a recent "Mini-Olympic Games," sponsored by the Los Mochis Mexico Stake, said Pres. Arnoldo Felix, first counselor in the stake presidency.

The children participated in both physical and spiritual activities and helped each other compete. About a third of the children were non-members or less-active members. Each of the children was given recognition as a "Great Champion," said Pres. Felix.

"Children aren't the future of the Church; they are the present," he said during the introduction of the activity.

Chile Area: Senator's roots researched

SANTIAGO, CHILE - A prominent elected official, Sen. Miguel Otero Lathrop, recently received his family history, presented by Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy and president of the Chile Area. Sen. Otero had sent a letter to the Church requesting assistance in researching his family tree. The information given to him extended his paternal line six generations.

At the presentation, Elder Hammond also gave the official a framed copy of the Proclamation on the Family that was issued by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in September 1995.

Sen. Otero expressed admiration for the work of the Church, its growth and the spiritual influence it exerts as membership in Chile nears half a million. He also visited the local missionary training center and talked with the missionaries being trained at that facility.

Europe West Area: 10,000 invited to open house

PREGNANA, ITALY - The recently organized Rho Branch in the Italy Milan Stake celebrated the opening of its new meetinghouse by sponsoring an open house, and distributed more than 10,000 fliers as part of a major effort to publicize the event.

Among those who visited the open house was the mayor of Pregnana, Maury Primo. The mayor said he was impressed with the organization of the Church and asked the branch president, Sabatino Santarelli, to organize activities with the city to help the local community.

North America Northeast Area: Choir joins concert

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A choir from the New York New York Stake sang "The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning," as well as traditional spirituals during its performance in the Martin Luther King Jr. Vigil Concert on Jan. 18. The choir was given special permission to include an LDS hymn among its three selections.

The choir, billed as "The New York Mormon Choir," was one of six musical groups from different religions participating in the concert. It was the second year in a row that the Church choir was invited to sing in the event.

The 25-voice choir included a number of professional opera and musical stage singers. It was conducted by David Skousen and accompanied by Royce Twitchell. Noel Twitchell was soloist.

South America North Area: `A clean, happy city'

QUEVADO, ECUADOR - A citywide clean-up project that involved multiple civic-minded groups was recently sponsored by the Church.

With the theme, "A clean city is a happy city," the activity involved such groups as the Lions Club, Boy Scouts, a local attorneys association, firefighters and police associations and others. Pres. Felix Lara Castro of the Quevado Ecuador Stake and Rafael Meza, stake director of public affairs, worked with Mayor Eloy Mueckay B. and other community leaders in the effort.

More than 140 students and many community residents took part in the effort. River banks were cleaned, streets were swept, walls and curbs were painted white, and tons of litter were removed. In the process, the Church gained additional respect in the city.

North America Southwest Area: Battalion march remembered

PHOENIX, ARIZ. - Hundreds of Church members living in the Phoenix area remembered the Mormon pioneers and the Mormon Battalion by participating in a number of activities.

A Mormon Battalion Sesquicentennial fireside was held by the Tempe Arizona Stake Jan. 12. It featured a narrated slide presentation and vignettes by descendants of members of the Mormon Battalion.

Another event included youth and leaders of the Phoenix Arizona West Maricopa Stake attending an evening campfire program, at which a short history of the Mormon Battalion was presented. The next morning, the stake divided into wards and the youth pulled handcarts along part of the route taken by the Mormon Battalion 150 years ago.

Another recent activity involved more than 1,300 youth and 200 adults from four Arizona stakes camping along a 12-mile segment of the Mormon Battalion Trail. Elder Vaughn J Featherstone of the Seventy visited with several groups of Church members, who took the opportunity to learn about the history of the Mormon Battalion.

North America Southeast Area: Orphanage assisted

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - Carrying a donation from the First Presidency and the name of an obscure orphanage in this city, missionaries of the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission searched for three days until they found the orphanage.

"In Haiti are many orphanages," explained mission Pres. Howard W. Bodon. "With the lack of street maps and phone numbers, finding the orphanage was like finding a needle in a haystack.

"The orphanage was one of the most shocking things we have seen so far in Haiti," he continued. "Their living conditions and lack of facilities and food are unbelievable." He said that a dedicated pastor, who had sent a petition to the First Presidency, was helping the children receive one meal a day. Sometimes there are 50 children crowded into a small classroom for daily instruction.

"There is no question the First Presidency was inspired to make a donation here," said Pres. Bodon. He said the donation provided the children with food and a few toys each.

North America West Area: Fast-growing stake celebrates

COVINA, CALIF. - More than 1,000 members and friends of the Covina California Spanish Stake recently took part in a pioneer celebration, held on the second anniversary of the stake's creation.

In attendance was Mayor Tom O'Leary of Covina, who presented a proclamation honoring California Church members for 100 community work projects and 150,000 hours of service given since July 27, 1996.

At the celebration was a frontier village composed of replicas of various buildings made by early Church members. In the village were replicas of the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples, cabins, shops and covered wagons. From the village were served more than 100 kinds of foods from 10 Latin American countries representing the nationalities of stake members.

Many of those attending were non-members. In 1996, 900 converts were baptized in the stake, one of the fastest growing in the Church.

Europe West Area: Students visit meetinghouse

BONN, GERMANY - A group of 48 students, along with their professor from the University of Bonn, spent a recent evening visiting the Bonn Ward in the Duesseldorf Germany Stake. The students were participating in a comparative religion course and were investigating many of the non-mainstream religions to discover how the practice of various religions meshed with German culture and traditions.

The students were welcomed by newly called Bishop Wolfgang Titz who explained the structural organization of the Church and how each member plays an important part in the function of the Ward. A tour of the building was also organized.

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