PRAIA, Cabo Verde — “We love you. We need you. We promise you.”
That was the three-fold message from Elder Neil L. Andersen to the youth of Cabo Verde on Saturday, June 18, the eve of the dedication of the Praia Cape Verde Temple.
The same theme of love, need and promises permeated the day’s three gatherings held in the meetinghouse built alongside the new temple — a morning meeting with the full-time missionaries of the Cape Verde Praia Mission, an afternoon meeting with the long-time local “pioneer” members, and the evening youth devotional.
Missionaries to bring others to Christ. Pioneer members to build upon from past decades. And the “rising generation” to sustain it in coming decades.
In something expressed to the youth but applicable in all three meetings, Elder Andersen said: “I pray that as we dedicate the holy temple tomorrow, it may be a day that you and I never forget. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will be with you and with me, with all of us on these islands, that we may have it confirmed in our hearts that this is the house of the Lord and that He has blessed it, that He will be there with us, and that He will abide in His house in the months, and years, and decades ahead.”
Elder Andersen was accompanied for the dedication-weekend events by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Nancy Duncan; Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, a General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Europe North Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Fabiana Alliaud; and Elder Roseveltt de Pina Teixeira, an Area Seventy in the Europe North Area and resident of Cape Verde, and his wife, Sister Neia Teixeira.
In addition to Elder Andersen, Sister Andersen, Elder Duncan, Elder Alliaud and Elder Teixeira spoke at different times throughout the day.
Attendees at all three meetings Saturday were enthralled to have one of the Twelve among the Cabo Verdean faithful — one speaking to them in Portuguese, the language of the islands.
Zesibel Pereira Cabral Dias Fernandes, a 16-year-old young woman of the Praia 1st Ward, said: “For me, it’s very gratifying to have an Apostle coming to Cape Verde to teach the members and dedicate the temple because we can feel that the Lord really has a lot of love for us. And that’s why He sent His Apostle to teach and bless us, and I am very grateful to know that Heavenly Father cares about us.”
“I bear my testimony that Heavenly Father has an infinite love for us, because he blessed us with a temple and the opportunity to be close to one of his Apostles.”
Youth devotional: ‘We love you’
Some 275 attended the evening youth devotional at the new meetinghouse located less than 60 meters (200 feet) from the new temple.
Elder Andersen said the youth are loved because of their knowledge of being children of God and disciples of Christ — similar to the recent reminder from President Russell M. Nelson to young adults last month: “First and foremost, you are a child of God. … Second, as a member of the Church, … a child of the covenant. And third, [as] a disciple of Christ.”
Said the Apostle: “We love you because you believe. You believe in His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Always keep your powerful faith in Jesus Christ. As one of His Apostles, I promise you that He lives, that He is resurrected, and that He is our Savior and Redeemer.
He challenged the youth to keep their faith in Christ as the most important priority of their lives. “Trust in Him. Be serious about being His disciple. We love you because these things I have spoken to you are important to you. Thank you for who you are and who you are becoming.
‘We need you’
Elder Andersen emphasized to the youth that they could live their adult life in a country blessed with a temple — a sacred place to make covenants and receive ordinances, a holy place for marriage and sealing, and a safe place for times of trouble when one needs peace and revelation.
The Apostle told the youth they need to be worthy of, believing in and devoted to the restored gospel and to be unafraid to share the Savior and His gospel with their friends. They also to rely on the Holy Ghost and to be missionary-like examples in word and deed.
“We need you to come to this temple when you are of age and receive the holy ordinances, and to be willing to covenant and promise with the Lord,” Elder Andersen said. “We need you young men, and those young women who desire, to serve missions. We need you to marry in this holy house, to be committed to your eternal companion forever, and to raise a righteous family to follow in your footsteps. We need you to be light unto the world.”
‘We promise you’
Elder Andersen again quoted President Nelson’s talk to young adults last month to emphasize the third phrase.
“My dear young friends, I love you. I believe in you,” said President Nelson. “As the Lord’s prophet, I bless you to know the truth about who you are and to treasure the truth about what your glorious potential really is. I bless you to take charge of your own testimony. And I bless you to have the desire and strength to keep your covenants.
“As you do, I promise that you will experience spiritual growth, freedom from fear, and a confidence that you can scarcely imagine now. You will have the strength to have a positive influence far beyond your natural capacity. And I promise that your future will be more exhilarating than anything you can presently believe.”
Added Elder Andersen: “I give you my witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that He guides His holy work upon the earth, that this house of the Lord is His house, and the things we do there will be honored both on earth and in heaven.
“We love you. We need you. We promise you.”
Early Saturday afternoon, Elder Andersen met with Cabo Verde’s long-time Latter-day Saints.. He took an informal poll by raised hands of attendees’ year of baptism — some who have been Church members of the Church since the early 1990s, soon after missionary work started in Praia in 1989. He also inquired where they had been endowed — from temples in Frankfurt, Germany, and Bern, Switzerland, from thoses in Madrid, Spain, and Lisbon, Portugal, and on to Brazil and the United States.
With President Roberto F. Oliveira and Sister Eliana Oliveira, the president and matron of the new Praia Cape Verde Temple, helping provide profiles of some of the long-time Latter-day Saints in Cabo Verde, Elder Andersen introduced a handful of members, reviewing briefly their conversion and service, then inviting them and others to share a brief testimony. They included:
- Beatriz Lima, who with her husband, Jorge, and two of their children, joined the Church in 1990; she became the first Relief Society president in Cabo Verde. She was present when then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks dedicated the island nation in 1994.
- Celestino Mascarenhas, who at age 22, heard the restored gospel and was baptized 19 days later, impressed with Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the power of the Book of Mormon. After serving a mission in Portugal and Cabo Verde and being endowed in the London England Temple, he felt impressed to return to Praia to help strengthen the Church there.
- Brothers Cesar Fortes and Joselito Neves, who lived in Mindelo on the island of São Vicente and had an older brother serving a mission in Brazil. Joselito saw missionaries in the street and introduced himself, and the brothers were soon baptized. Later in life, Joselito Neves and his wife, Mafalda, served as mission leaders of the Cape Verde Praia Mission. Cesar Fortes and his wife, Liliana, served in many callings since their conversion several decades earlier.
To the 100-plus pioneer members in attendance, Elder Andersen expressed the Lord’s thankfulness for their courage of the early days of the Church on the islands to accept truth and stand as a witness of Christ to others. “May the Lord bless you, your children, your grandchildren, and the generations that follow, that your name might be ever held in reverence and respect in this wonderful country. I bless you that this will be your destiny.”
The morning meeting with the 120-plus full-time missionaries of the Cape Verde Praia Mission was historic — the first time in the mission’s 20-year history that all missionaries serving at the same time were gathered together.
With some coming from various other islands and some arriving to the mission just days earlier, a number of the missionaries were seeing the temple for the first time and given a quick tour of the temple the day before its dedication.
Sister Andersen reflected on when she and her husband, then living in Florida, went to the 1983 dedication of Atlanta George Temple , without a recommend ticket to enter. They arrived in Atlanta the night before and went to the temple in the early morning hours, arriving before anyone else and waiting in the dark and in the rain until invited in to help usher ticketed guests — and then to sit in for the dedication.
In the temple that day, Sister Andersen said, she had “experiences of understanding how close heaven is at a temple dedication.”
Elder Alliaud saluted past missionaries serving in Cabo Verde over the past three decades as those who helped “build” the temple with a foundation of faithful members. Current missionaries are now the ones who will help “fill” the temple with families and individuals gathering on both sides of the veil.
Elder Andersen encouraged missionaries to get a photo of the new Praia Cape Verde and show it as often to as many as possible. “You can say, ‘My friend, this is literally the house of the Lord.’”
“’What is that?’ they’ll ask.
“You can say, ‘It’s a halfway house — between heaven and earth. It’s a place with the Lord’s spirit is,’” he said, underscoring the importance of the ordinances and covenants performed within and telling the elders and sisters to invite all to “go see the house of the Lord.”
He also told them to speak to the Cabo Verdean Latter-day Saints, showing the picture of the temple and saying: “The Kingdom of God will be here until the Savior returns. His house is here. … This is a time to say, ‘Come, be a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.’”