Love emanates from West Africa, said Sister Jean B. Bingham after she wrapped up an 11-day tour of West Africa on March 13, according to Newsroom.
“We’ve met so many wonderful people,” she said.
Sister Bingham, Relief Society general president, and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, traveled to Ghana, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire, meeting with government leaders, speaking to members and missionaries, visiting the site of the temple in Abidjan, and training Relief Society and Young Women leaders.
The women leaders were in West Africa the same weekend members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were participating in the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple.
“Even when they come, we feel the greetings of our prophet,” said Dorothee Assad, a stake Primary president. “We feel also that they love us, as we love them. So, it’s nice to have them here, not also in Ivory Coast but in Africa.”
“It is my first time to meet them, and what they are seeing touched me personally, so I’m very happy,” said local leader Kouin Matinaise.
“Today it is very special for us,” explained Khadijah Balie, a local Relief Society leader who joined the Church when she was 14 years old and later served a mission in Durban, South Africa.
She now looks forward to the dedication of the Abidjan Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) Temple; Church leaders broke ground for the temple on Nov. 8, 2018.
“It was my prayers to have a temple in Ivory Coast in West Africa,” added Balie.
Oule Justine, who attended the dedication of the temple in Ghana in 2004 and is considered a pioneer of the Church in West Africa, said the leaders shared a message with love.
“What’s so amazing about these people is (that) they trust in God,” said Sister Cordon. “I also love their understanding and their reliance on their families. Family is a big part of the West Africa area.”
“These people want to be together forever,” said Sister Bingham. “I love the idea that we’re going to have more temples dotted around because it’s very difficult for them to get to the temple where they are now.”
Young Women leader Tah Benin Benedicte said the closest temple is in Accra, about a 10-hour drive from Abidjan.
“We cannot wait for the temple to be completed and to go to the temple here in Abidjan,” said Julie Beugre Bowa, a stake Relief Society president.
“It is like the Savior is close to us anytime,” said Matinaise. “We can come here and feel His love.”
Sister Bingham said it was a privilege to feel the spirit of the Latter-day Saints in the area. “I am so grateful for the testimony that they’ve shared with me. … I think each one of us can learn that despite whatever challenges we have, we can keep that testimony bright in our hearts and live the gospel as the West Africans do.”
“We’re going away with African eyes,” said Sister Cordon. “We’re going away with new hearts and understanding how we can better live the gospel of Jesus Christ and truly focus our lives on the Savior.”
She continued, “It has been a remarkable experience to be here with these dear people. If we can trust like the people in West Africa … and to love more, and to minister more and to open our homes to others like they do, we will continue to see the blessings pour down from heaven.”