Apostle’s visit to far-flung outback shows how the Lord loves His children everywhere

Elder D. Todd Christofferson recently visited cities throughout Australia, including the remote town of Alice Springs in the country’s interior

Remote is one word that certainly describes Alice Springs. The town lies at the center of Australia, roughly 1,500 kilometers — or more than 900 miles — from Darwin to the north and Adelaide to the south. 

It’s a popular hub for travelers wanting to explore the Red Center, the name given to the about 260,000 square kilometers (100,000 square miles) of desert terrain of Australia’s interior. The huge outback region is known for its ocher landscapes, rugged mountain ranges and rocky gorges that are home to cockatoos and kangaroos.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles traveled to Alice Springs — close to 14,000 kilometers (8,500 miles) from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City — as part of a recent ministry tour to Australia and New Zealand, marking the first time an Apostle has ever traveled to that part of the outback.

Accompanied by his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, Elder Christofferson met with and spoke to several dozen missionaries and Church members and their friends during devotionals on Thursday, May 25.

A map showing the location of Alice Springs, Australia. | Church News graphic

Cheydon Tuifua, a local Church member who attended the devotional, told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom, “Having an Apostle of the Lord come to Alice Springs was very powerful because it shows that the Lord does love us, and He does recognize us here, and I’m very grateful for that.”

Elder Taniela Wakolo, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Pacific Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Anita Wakolo, also traveled to the outback town. In introducing the Apostle, Elder Wakolo said, “If there are those of you in Alice Springs who have been praying for an Apostle to visit, your prayers have been answered.”

During the meeting, Elder Christofferson spoke of the goodness he sensed from those in attendance. “As we follow the Savior’s example, we can become a light unto all those around us,” he promised.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, and Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, a General Authority Seventy, look out over Alice Springs in central Australia, during a visit on May 26, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

‘The Lord knows your heart’

As a youth, Elder Christofferson visited and prayed in the Sacred Grove in upstate New York where the Prophet Joseph Smith experienced the First Vision. “Nothing happened,” Elder Christofferson recalled during the Alice Springs meeting.

A few months after visiting the grove, however, he felt a spiritual outpouring while reading the Book of Mormon. Elder Christofferson said he learned, “You don’t have to be any place special for the Lord to find you or answer your prayers,” he said.

God is aware of His children — even in a remote town in the outback of Australia. “The Lord knows precisely where you are, and He knows your heart,” Elder Christofferson said. “I want to promise you who are seeking the truth, if that is your desire, you will receive a confirmation — just as I did — in His time and in His way, that the Book of Mormon is true. He will find you. He knows precisely where you are, and He knows your heart.”

Jonathan R. Schwalger, president of the Alice Springs Branch, described Elder Christofferson’s visit as both an honor and a blessing. In an email to the Church News, President Schwalger wrote, When asked by one of our Saints why he chose to visit Alice Springs of all places, [Elder Christofferson] simply said ’It was the Lord’s will.’”

Many local members and their friends — even ones they haven’t seen for a while — were able to attend and feel the Spirit and meet Elder Christofferson, President Schwalger reported.

“The following Sunday, blessings continued as many Saints shared their experiences, and it was not surprising that Elder Christofferson’s message touched so many in different ways.”

Ministering in Australia, New Zealand

Alice Springs was one of several stops during Elder Christofferson’s travels. While in Australia, Elder Christofferson also visited Melbourne, the country’s coastal capital of the southeastern state of Victoria; Hobart, the capital of the island state of Tasmania; Adelaide, South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital; and Darwin, also known as the “Top End” which is the capital of the Northern Territory.

While in the various locations, the Apostle met with mission, temple, stake and ward leaders; greeted missionaries; and spoke in member meetings.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, visit the construction site for the Auckland New Zealand Temple on Saturday, May 27, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Other members of the Pacific Area presidency — Elder K. Brett Nattress and his wife, Sister Shawna Nattress, and Elder Peter F. Meurs and his wife, Sister Maxine Meurs — also participated in the various locations and meetings.

The final stop of Elder Christofferson’s whirlwind tour of the southwestern Pacific was Auckland, New Zealand. He met with Latter-day Saints on Sunday, May 28 — his and Sister Christofferson’s 55th wedding anniversary. “Thank you for coming and celebrating our anniversary,” Elder Christofferson said with a smile.

In his remarks during a special stake conference, Elder Christofferson invited Church members to prepare for the future dedication of the Auckland temple by asking themselves, “What could I do that would make me a holier person, a better offering and gift of myself to present to the Lord on that day of the dedication?” 

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