Spirit of President Hinckley’s visits lingers

President Gordon B. Hinckley's visits in Nova Scotia, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde – en route to and returning from his history-making tour of Africa – have left a profound influence on members as the Spirit continues to linger.

In Nova Scotia, Stephen Maxwell, president of the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake, said, "Members still talk of the spirit they felt when President Hinckley and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland [of the Quorum of the Twelve] spoke."From the time we learned they were coming, the stake has been electrified with excitement; that Spirit permeated everyone."

President Hinckley and Elder Holland spoke Feb. 12 to approximately 2,000 members who had assembled in a convention hall in Halifax. They came to the meeting from the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, an area roughly equivalent to California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah in the western United States.

Some members in Newfoundland traveled approximately 15 hours by car to the coast, then boarded a ferry for several hours during the night, then drove another seven hours to Halifax.

"This may be the only opportunity many of these members will have to personally see the prophet since it is too expensive for most to attend general conference," Pres. Maxwell said.

In his comments at the meeting, President Hinckley emphasized the qualities of gratitude by referring to a book he received in the 1970s when he visited Halifax as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The book detailed an explosion that took place in Halifax during World War I when an ammunition ship collided with another ship in the harbor, killing several thousand people in the heart of the city. The explosion was catastrophic and was the worst recorded explosion in history until World War II.

Medical assistance was immediantly sent from Boston. Every year since then, in response to their generosity, the community of Halifax has donated a Christmas tree to the city of Boston.

"President Hinckley was impressed that the tradition has continued all these years," Pres. Maxwell said.

"And it impressed the members that President Hinckley knew so much about the incident, including dates and names of the ships.

"President Hinckley was also aware of the economically depressed plight of the area and how some are unemployed and struggling to find work. He urged them to keep the commandments.

"The combined effect of President Hinckley's visit strengthened the members spiritually, and helped them to feel they are a valued part of the Church."

After meeting with members in Halifax, President Hinckley spoke the next day, Feb. 13, with 775 members in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic between Spain and Africa. Returning from his five-nation tour of Africa (see Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 Church News), President Hinckley stopped at Cape Verde, a chain of islands off the northwest coast of Africa, where three districts and 18 branches are functioning.

There, on Feb. 22, he spoke to 780 members who had traveled at considerable expense and sacrifice.

"The boat ride costs half a month's income," said Elder Jose A. Teixeira da Silva, an Area Authority Seventy. He said the boat comes once a week and travels 17 hours one-way to the capital island of Santiago. Members arrived several days early so they could attend the meeting, and then stayed several days later waiting for the boat.

"Some, however, were unable to attend because boats were delayed due to harmattan, a condition particular to this time of year when desert winds kick up sand from the Sahara desert and make the air hazy and visibility low.

"But President Hinckley was sensitive to those who couldn't attend and requested that video tapes of the proceedings be sent," he said.