Five continents. Sixteen nations and territories. Twenty-four cities. And some 55,000 flight miles — well more than twice the earth’s circumference.
Those numbers underscore the seven ministering travels and tours of President Russell M. Nelson in his first year as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We don’t have time for jet lag,” President Nelson quipped at the end of his first global tour in April, which included eight cities in 11 days across Europe, Africa and Asia before a final stop in Hawaii.
But more meaningful than the distances traveled and locations visited are the tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who personally listened to President Nelson — many in a prophet’s presence for the first time. Many devotionals were also broadcast by satellite or closed-circuit to meetinghouses in outlying areas, reaching tens of thousands more.
“Really, we want to get to every country, to every person,” President Nelson said at one of his two-dozen stops. “And that won’t be possible — but we’ll try.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who accompanied President Nelson on his first trip in April, said the symbolism of that tour — which carries over to subsequent travels — is “so that the whole world, the whole Church, would know that their prophet cares about them.”
Below is a recap of President Nelson’s devotionals conducted across the globe since he was ordained as prophet on Jan. 14, 2018.
- Visited: Europe, Africa, Asia, Hawaii
- Meetings at: London, England; Jerusalem, Israel; Nairobi, Kenya; Harare, Zimbabwe; Bengaluru, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Hong Kong; and Laie, Hawaii
- Traveled with: Sister Wendy Nelson, Elder Holland and Sister Patricia Holland
“We’re bringing the love of the Lord to the people, and they will learn to love each other,” said President Nelson in London, England, the first stop of his inaugural tour not long after April 2018 general conference.
Member devotionals and missionary meetings were conducted from London’s Hyde Park to the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center overlooking the Old City’s Temple Mount and then on to cities that either host current temples (Hong Kong and Laie) or have temples either announced or under construction (Nairobi, Harare, Bengaluru and Bangkok).
“Really everything we’ve done in these last few days together circling the globe could be summed up in two words — the temple,” said President Nelson in the tour’s final stop on the island of Oahu.
- Visited: Canada
- Meetings at: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Raymond, Alberta, Canada
- Traveled with: Sister Nelson, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Melanie Rasband
For his next travels, President Nelson conducted three devotionals in as many weekend evenings in the province of Alberta, home of his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, who was born and raised in Raymond and then studied and worked as a marriage and family therapist in Calgary.
In conjunction with the Calgary and Raymond devotionals, Sister Nelson was able to introduce her husband to many of her extended family and friends in the Calgary and Raymond areas.
- Visited: Canada
- Meetings at: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
- Traveling with: Sister Nelson, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Kathy Andersen
It was another three-devotionals-in-three-days trip to Canada, but this time visiting a trio of provinces.
The Montreal devotional was provided in four languages — English, French, Spanish and Mandarin — as evidence of the Church’s multi-cultural presence in Quebec and Ontario.
As part of his teachings in the last two stops, President Nelson took time to underscore a public statement he had made earlier in the week about the correct use of the Church’s full name — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Visited: Caribbean, Pacific Northwest
- Meetings at: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Traveled with: Sister Nelson, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Ruth Renlund
Less than a month later, President Nelson was on the road again — this time to the Caribbean.
In his Sept. 1 devotional in Santo Domingo, he surprised those attending by offering his remarks in their native Spanish— the first time a Church president has delivered a substantial address in a language other than English.
And the next day in San Juan, less than a year after the island territory was hit by a terrible twosome of hurricanes, he encouraged members to find peace during difficult times. The next month, during October 2018 general conference, he would announce a temple for Puerto Rico.
- Visited: Pacific Northwest
- Meetings at: Seattle, Washington, and Langley British Columbia, Canada
- Traveled with: Sister Nelson and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency
Two weeks after speaking in the Caribbean, President Nelson visited the Pacific Northwest, highlighted by speaking at Seattle’s Safeco Field to a gathering of nearly 50,000 — making for the largest non-sporting event held in the baseball stadium.
He shared five lessons “life has taught me” while speaking from a stage set at second base.
The Nelsons — joined by President Eyring of the First Presidency — made a third foray into Canada by holding a second-evening devotional in Langley, of metropolitan Vancouver.
- Visited: South America
- Meetings at: Lima, Peru; El Alto, Bolivia; Asunción, Paraguay; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Concepción, Chile
- Traveled with: Sister Nelson, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Lesa Stevenson
Crisscrossing the southern half of South America, President Nelson spoke at missionary and member meetings in five countries, from Peru’s capital city overlooking the Pacific Ocean to Bolivia’s high-altitude reaches some 13,600 feet above sea level and next to one of the continent’s oldest cities in Asuncion and on to the South Atlantic harbor city of Montevideo.
In Lima, he met with Peru President Martín Vizcarr, and in Concepcion, he met with Governor Jorge Ulloa Aguillon.
A fitting conclusion to the five-country, nine-day trip was President Nelson’s dedication of the Concepcion Chile Temple, his first dedication as Church president. In addition to the three sessions conducted on Sunday, Oct. 28, he met with 1,500 local youth the evening before in a devotional setting.
- Visited: Texas
- Meeting at: San Antonio, Texas
- Traveled with: Sister Nelson, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan Bednar
Just three weeks after his South America travels, President Nelson spoke on Nov. 18 to a crowd of 23,000 at San Antonio’s Alamodome, exhorting them to exercise faith in God and to trust in His divine plan.
Prior to the devotional, he met with Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller, the Catholic Archbishop of San Antonio.