Republic of Cape Verde dedicated by apostle

The Republic of Cape Verde – which consists of a string of ten rugged volcanic islands and five islets about 385 miles off the western coast of Africa – was dedicated Sept. 14 by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve.

Accompanying Elder Oaks and his wife, Sister June D. Oaks, to the republic's principal island of Santiago were Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy, who is a member of the Europe Mediterranean Area presidency, and Portugal Lisbon South Mission Pres. W. Robert Coleman and his wife, Sister Marilyn W. Coleman.In a Church News interview after his return to Salt Lake City, Elder Oaks described the islands of Cape Verde as being isolated, about a four-hour flight from mission headquarters in Portugal. Missionaries, he said, love serving in Cape Verde. He described the people as being "very spiritual."

"The people are very poor, but they appear to be well fed. They love their land," he said. "We made courtesy calls on the mayor of Praia, Jacinto Santos; the president of the Republic, Antonio Mascarenhas; and the president of the National Assembly, Amilcar Spencer Lopes. The president of the National Assembly said, `We love our country. Otherwise, why would we live on this pile of rocks?' "

Elder Oaks said that what he saw of the republic was extremely dry and barren. "The whole place looks drier than the driest Arizona desert," he said. "There's hardly a blade of glass in the whole place." The park where he offered the dedicatory prayer, he said, was about the only place he saw trees. He said four missionaries who share living quarters told him they spend about $200 a month for bottled water. "People wait in line to get buckets of water from a government truck each day," he said. "Fresh water is very precious."

Cape Verde has a population of 350,000. An equal number of people of Cape Verdean ancestry live in the United States. Portugal, Senegal and Angola have large Cape Verdean communities, and Cape Verdeans live in such countries as the Netherlands, France, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and other countries of South America, and in Scandinavia, and Guinea-Bissau. Many who have left Cape Verde send money back home to help support their families.

There are some 2,500 members of the Church in the Republic of Cape Verde. The LDS Church's presence here began when Spain Las Palmas Mission Pres. Marion K. Hamblin visited the islands in November 1988. On Jan. 26, 1989, he sent Elders Christopher Lee and Ken Margetts to create the Praia/Lajes Branch. Elder Oaks said 50 members of the Church from Cape Verde have been called to serve as full-time missionaries. Two have returned, and 48 are still serving; most are serving in Portugal.

Forty-eight full-time missionaries, who are part of the Portugal Lisbon South Mission, now serve in the Republic of Cape Verde.

At 7 o'clock, on a typically dry and warm morning, Sept. 14, Elder Oaks and those accompanying him met with 43 local leaders and members and the 48 full-time missionaries in the Fifth of July Park, the name of which commemorates the republic's gaining of independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975. With Pres. Coleman conducting the dedicatory exercise, Elder Ringger delivered remarks. Brief remarks were made also by Cape Verde Dist. Pres. A.M. Anibal Moreira and one of his counselors, Policarpo Gomes. Members and missionaries joined in singing a hymn.

In his prayer of dedication, Elder Oaks offered thanks for the restoration of the gospel, for the messages sent through the Lord's prophets, and for the blessings that have come since the restoration of the priesthood.

He expressed gratitude for the missionaries who have served in the Republic of Cape Verde, and for the blessings they have received. He expressed gratitude for those who have accepted the gospel message in Cape Verde, and who now serve as officers and teachers of the Church in the land. He acknowledged with gratitude Cape Verdeans who have accepted calls to serve as missionaries in their own land and in other nations.

He petitioned for blessings upon the faithful members of the Church in Cape Verde, and upon "the people of Cape Verde who have scattered over the other nations." He asked the Lord to "keep bright in their minds the recollection of their native land," and that they would be blessed in their efforts "to support this country and be loyal to its government and its people."

Elder Oaks asked that the mothers, fathers and children of Cape Verde be blessed, that they will be helped to remember the commandments and "be strong in keeping them, for we know that in obedience to thee we receive blessings. . . . "

In dedicating the land for the preaching of the gospel, Elder Oaks "turned the key for the blessings of heaven" for the land and all the Lord's servants who labor in it that the gospel may be proclaimed to all upon the islands, that all may have the opportunity to accept it and, "if they choose to do so, to receive the ordinances of salvation and to make the covenants that open the windows of heaven for blessings unlimited."

He invoked blessings upon the missionaries who labor in Cape Verde, and prayed for the leaders of the country "and for all who seek to serve thy people here that they may be blessed in their efforts to bless the people."

Elder Oaks asked that the land be blessed: "This land is struggling with many deficiencies – deficiencies in its commerce, and in its moisture, and in the hope of its people, and in many other things known to thee. We bless this land that it may bring forth abundantly for its people. We bless the clouds that they may produce rain. We bless the ocean that it may yield its fruits. We bless the people who labor here that they may have vision and energy and freedom, that they may see how to use these things to bless the people, that there may be food and water and light and knowledge, ambition and hope, and obedience and covenants. We bless the land that it will provide for its people. We bless the forces of commerce that the people may be able to prosper here by the fruits of their labors and of thy blessings."