As members here remain faithful, the Church will grow and grow, President Gordon B. Hinckley promised members in eastern Africa during a member meeting Feb. 17.
During the first trip of a Church president to Kenya and all of eastern Africa, President Hinckley also promised the 878 people in attendance that eventually the Lord would provide for them a temple."We are not just a little handful of people anymore. We are a great congregation, a tremendous family of worshippers who love the Lord and seek to do His will," he said. "Now, we are small here
in eastern AfricaT but that won't be forever. This work will grow and grow and grow in this land and in the other lands that are around."
The gathering was held in the conference room of a hotel. In attendance were members from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia. Some came at great sacrifice making a three days' journey by bus. The situation of many others prevented them from traveling, much as they would have liked to, explained local Church leaders.
The day after the meeting, President Hinckley and his group stopped briefly at the Nairobi National Park, which has an entrance gate on the airport highway.
In his address at the meeting, President Hinckley emphasized, "The gospel is for all people." After telling the members that he had announced a temple for Ghana, he noted, "There isn't the slightest doubt in my mind that the time will come if you will walk in faith and patience, that a temple will be built in this land to serve the needs of this people. Now, don't count on it for a few years . . . but it will be so.
"The Lord loves you. He wants to help you, He wants to honor you. He wants to bless you and He will do it. And your numbers will grow and you will rejoice in the spirit of the living Christ, the sweet and wonderful spirit which becomes the bedrock of this work of faith."
He emphasized that the gospel is for all people.
"It isn't who we are and where we live," asserted President Hinckley. "It is our attitude, our love and testimony, our faith and our conviction that make a difference in turning membership in this great and sacred Church."
He said that the membership will grow, "where there are now hundreds, there will be thousands, there will be tens of thousands. This gospel is true; it will spread over the earth.
"With 10 million members we've only begun. We've barely scratched the surface of what will come. I haven't the slightest doubt of that."
He said: "Wherever we go, the Saints all look alike. They do - all shined up, ready to go to Church, just beautiful. Whether it is the people of the Pacific, or Japan or Korea, or Hong Kong or Taiwan - those great nations of the earth, or Australia or New Zealand, or the people of South America who speak that beautiful language called Spanish and that other beautiful language called Portuguese, and here in Africa, in Mexico and Central America and everywhere. God bless you, my beloved associates."
Elder Holland also expressed love and appreciation to the members.
"You are easy to love. You are easy to embrace and you seem so pure," he said. "In so many cases, you have done without so much. It strikes me that it is both just and merciful that God would bless you with the restored gospel."
He said that the members in Africa seemed to have a "natural, instinctive, inherent spirituality. We feel it in the hymns you sing, we feel it in the prayers that are uttered, and in the very looks on your faces."
After the meeting concluded, members clustered in groups and talked until they boarded buses for their long rides home. Early the following morning, President Hinckley and Elders Holland and Mason, hosted by Pres. H. David Boucher of the Kenya Nairobi Mission, traveled in four-wheel drive vehicles over part of the famous Nairobi National Park.
Reporters scrambled to follow but at the last minute were only able to hire a London cab, a vintage long and black vehicle more at home on cobbled roads than muddy game preserves. As the four-wheel drive vehicles coursed over the often wet and rugged roads, the London cab bounced and rattled in pursuit. Its engine killed in one deep mudhole where water rose above the hubcaps. As reporters looked gloomily at the departing vehicles, the Kenyan driver tried desperately to start his cab. Finally, with a gurgle and cough, the cab started again, spewing black smoke and spattering oil. Gathering momentum, it spun sideways through the greasy mud and splashed miraculously out of the bog. Those in the front vehicles who had stopped to watch applauded. The cab was so far out of its environment that it became as interesting as rhinos or ostriches were in their environment.
The visitors in the park were treated to views of a number of the great African animals, but they did not take time to go to the Hippo Pool or see the Lion Dip. After all, President Hinckley was not in Africa to be entertained but to speak, not to look, but to be seen. And there were, in Zimbabwe, members waiting to see him.