On a beautiful sunny day in the city of Luputa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 10th Congolese stake in Africa was organized. More than 1,800 members gathered from villages and farms — some traveling by riding bikes and others riding in the backs of trucks — to the Church building on June 26. Most came walking, some even for 6-8 hours, just to attend the conference.
Assigned by the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Paul E. Koelliker and Elder Alfred Kyungu of the Seventy met with local leaders and members to call the new stake presidency.
The growth of the Church in this somewhat remote part of central Africa is quite a remarkable story. For the previous five years, since the district was organized, there have been no full-time missionaries assigned to these villages. Each of the branches had only branch missionaries who worked under the leadership of the district and mission presidents.
In 2008, Elder and Sister William W. Parmley visited the Luputa District Conference where they were surprised to find nearly 700 members and friends gathered. A district choir sang hymns of Zion and thus began this unlikely chapter in Church history. Less than three years later, the numbers had grown to more than 2,000 members with many more eager to join the Church.
Many young men and women have responded to the counsel of President Thomas S. Monson to serve as full-time missionaries. From this one district — where no full-time missionaries were assigned — 34 full-time missionaries have been called to serve in missions around the world. It has only been in the last six months that full-time missionaries have been assigned to teach and serve those living in Luputa.
In the stake conference, 21 brethren were sustained as high priests and are now members of the new high priest quorum presided over by President Willy Sabowe Binene. These brethren are well organized and very capable in leading the establishment of the Church and the teaching of the gospel. Missionaries are beginning to return home to find work, obtain an education and apply the principles learned as missionaries.
Several of the messages of the conference sessions focused on preparing for temple blessings and although only a few of the leaders and the returning missionaries have received the blessings of the temple, many are preparing to enter the temple.
Following the Luputa Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake Conference, Elder Koelliker, Elder Kyungu and President Binene met with 14 young brothers and sisters, giving each of them their letter from President Monson calling them to serve as a full-time missionary. They were full of missionary zeal and anxious to begin serving.
The first stake in Africa Southeast Area was organized in 1970. It has taken until June 26 to organize 30 stakes in this area.
This is a season of growth for the people living in the nations of Africa and they are responding with great faith.