Elder Andersen’s visit to the Pacific leaves members with ‘increased faith in Jesus Christ’

Elder Neil L. Andersen bears witness of the Savior to Latter-day Saints throughout New Zealand, Fiji and Australia

Young missionary Elder Myshaan Komene, who is serving in the New Zealand Wellington Mission, recently shared on social media about a special visitor to his mission. 

Elder Neil L. Andersen is a special witness of Jesus Christ, and he helped me gain a greater understanding of my calling and my purpose,” Elder Komene said in a Facebook reel on the Church’s Pacific Area account.

Elder Komene was one of several missionaries, leaders and Church members in the South Pacific who shared how a visit by Elder Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles blessed their lives. 

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional for members and friends of the Church in Wellington, New Zealand, on Nov. 6, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Andersen visited Wellington, New Zealand, the weekend of Nov. 6 before traveling on to Fiji and western Australia. Throughout his travels, Elder Andersen offered counsel, direction and blessings to a variety of Latter-day Saint congregations.

Elder Andersen was accompanied on his Pacific tour by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, and three General Authority Seventies who make up the Pacific Area presidency and their wives: Elder K. Brett Nattress and Sister Shawna Nattress; Elder Peter F. Meurs and Sister Maxine Meurs; and Elder Taniela Wakolo and Sister Anita Wakolo.

Elder Wakolo shared with the Church News that “the members felt uplifted and inspired and grateful that an Apostle of the Lord had come to visit and speak to them. [The Andersens] left behind people who have increased their faith in Jesus Christ.”

A photo of the Porirua New Zealand Stake Center in Wellington, New Zealand, where Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke in a devotional on Nov. 6, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The dispersed islands and cultures of the South Pacific — with roughly 600,000 Latter-day Saints in about 1,300 congregations and 10 operating temples with seven more either announced or under construction — have welcomed several general Church leaders this year. 

Regarding Elder Andersen’s visit, Kim Smith commented on social media, “The light and goodness of the apostles always shines through. [Elder Andersen] is truly an apostle of the Lord.”

What Elder Andersen taught Saints in New Zealand

During a devotional on Sunday morning, Nov. 6, Elder Andersen told local leaders from Palmerston North and Hawke’s Bay on the North Island to Dunedin on the South Island, “You are the defenders of the faith.” 

Elder Andersen taught, “We all need to pray deeply for the Holy Ghost to be able to lift and strengthen and help both those in and out of the Church to come unto Christ.”

Elder Wakolo noted that Elder Andersen shook hands with all the members who attended the leadership meeting, which was a highlight for many. “Some members have never shaken an Apostle’s hand and this was meaningful to them,” Elder Wakolo said.

Amy Brunton from Levin, New Zealand, told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom, “I felt the importance for us to feel the Savior’s love personally in our lives, and to help others to feel His love as well.”

Amy Brunton of Levin, New Zealand, attends a leadership meeting with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Wellington, New Zealand, on Nov. 6, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Glen Whautere-Witehira had a simple takeaway from Elder Andersen’s devotional. “We need to pull up our [socks] and get to work,” he commented on Facebook.

In a meeting with missionaries later that day, Elder Andersen encouraged them to study the words Jesus Christ spoke during His mortal ministry, as found in the New Testament, “so you can have His words deeply in your hearts and minds, and never forget them.”

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, he taught, is “a manual for drawing closer to God.” 

On the Church’s Pacific Area Instagram account, Elder Komene shared a song he wrote about what he felt and learned from the meeting about following Jesus Christ. The lyrics include the words, “Make me a fisher of men. I will have courage to stand for Your knowledge … whenever You call my name, I will follow You.” 

In a devotional that was broadcast across the country that evening, Elder Andersen read the last four verses of Alma 32, saying, “We need faith in Jesus Christ; we need to be diligent, putting in the effort every day; and we need to be patient with ourselves as we become who we are to become.”

Sister Andersen shared the story of President Spencer W. Kimball, who toured the South Pacific in 1976. On the day when 3,000 youth and young adults were gathered in Hamilton, New Zealand, to perform a cultural event for the Prophet, he and his wife, Sister Camilla Kimball, were ill and unable to attend.

That evening, sitting up suddenly in bed, President Kimball announced that he and Sister Kimball were going after all. As they drove to the stadium “there was a very loud shout that erupted spontaneously.” A young man had prayed at the beginning of the event that President and Sister Kimball would be able to come and the thousands gathered in the stadium cheered when that prayer was answered.

Sister Kathy Andersen, wife of Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks during a devotional in Wellington, New Zealand, on Nov. 6, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Sister Andersen said this account of the faith of the people of New Zealand strengthened her own faith in Jesus Christ.

Many listening to Elder and Sister Andersen were in attendance all those years ago in Hamilton, Elder Wakolo said, and it was impactful to them to know that it also touched the life of Sister Andersen.

Elder Andersen concluded with his testimony: “Jesus is the Christ. He lives. Our faith in Him will take us to Him. He will lift from us those things we cannot lift ourselves.”

Elder Andersen’s message to mission leaders in the Pacific

During a gathering of the leaders of the 17 missions throughout Oceania — from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and beyond — held in Fiji on Nov. 10, Elder Andersen promised that the Lord would inspire them to know what was needed to help young missionaries become Christlike leaders. 

“You will know God is speaking to you. You will have confidence that you are hearing Him and that your prayers will be answered,” he said.

Elder Andersen reminded mission leaders to rejoice in their service and in their knowledge that the Lord “knows you and loves you.”

Papua New Guinea Port Moresby Mission leaders, President Tevita E. Kinikini and Sister Eugenia Kinikini, told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom that the meeting was uplifting and rejuvenating. 

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets missionaries serving in the Fiji Suva Mission on Nov. 10, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Later in the day, Elder and Sister Andersen also ministered to missionaries serving in the Fiji Suva Mission. Elder Andersen encouraged missionaries to “put the words of Christ into your mind and heart.”

He invited them to find five verses to memorize from the Bible’s New Testament as well as the Book of Mormon.

Of these verses, he said to “love them and make them yours. Learning these can change your life.”

If missionaries will do this, Elder Andersen promised, “When you need them, the Lord will put the words on the tip of your tongue.”

After sharing experiences of miracles in her own life and family, Sister Andersen testified, “God is a God of miracles, yesterday, today and forever.”

For Sister Camryn Stone, the key takeaway from the meeting was “if I keep the words of Christ in my mind and in my heart, I will be ready to help people learn the truth about Him.”

Elder Andersen’s testimony to members in Western Australia

While in Perth, Western Australia, on Saturday, Nov. 12, and Sunday, Nov. 13, Elder Andersen once again reached out to local leaders and missionaries and shared messages to members of the Church and their friends.

Kate Anderson, who attended the leadership meeting on Nov. 12, told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom, “When I heard all those voices of other Saints singing the opening hymn, I felt so happy to be gathered with them to hear an Apostle of the Lord.”

During the meeting, Elder Andersen referenced President Russell M. Nelson’s most recent conference address. “In coming days, we will see the  greatestmanifestations of the Savior’s power that the world has ever seen. Between now and the time He returns ‘with power and great glory,’ He will bestow countless privileges, blessings, and miracles upon the faithful,” Elder Andersen said.

Today is perhaps “the most complicated time in the history of the world,” he noted. “The complexities and challenges leave many people feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.”

Elder Neil L Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles thanks young men acting as car-park attendants in following a devotional in Perth, Australia, on Nov. 12, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

However, “the miracles of the Lord are real,” Elder Andersen declared. “See through believing eyes, trust Him, trust in your faith and look for things that happen to you.”

Local leader Geoff Grant said: “The overwhelming spiritual impression I received tonight was to take time each day to find the Savior. … I know we don’t have to look too hard to find Him.”

In each of the many meetings, Elder Andersen bore witness of the Savior. In his concluding testimony from the trip, he testified, “As a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, I witness that I have experienced sacred moments, unforgettable, powerful spiritual experiences and my faith, which is a simple faith, has been channeled into a sure and certain witness that He lives, that He is resurrected, and that He is our Savior and Redeemer.”

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