Sunday, December 2, 2012

Freetown Sierra Leone Stake Creation

The weekend of the stake creation was a time to gather with old and new friends.  We met, for the first time, Elder and Sister Kirkham who are serving in Liberia.  We email back and forth to each other about mission concerns, but had never met face to face.  Markus and Rose Wallace are our good friends here in Freetown.  Markus was ordained a high priest and called to be a bishop. Rose had her baby five days later and they named him Jeffrey Moroni Wallace.  Elder Holland had Rose stand in the meeting and pointed out that she had waited to have her baby so she could be there for the stake creation.  Elder Holland announced that his birthday was the next day and if the baby was born then, he encouraged them to name him Jeffrey.  Jeffrey Moroni doesn't share the same birthday, but he does share the same name.
President and Sister Roggia, Sister and Elder Dickson, Africa West Area President,   and Elder Freebody Mensah, Area Seventy.  Note the beautiful transfer board that Sister Lauritzen designed for President Roggia's office.  Elder Dickson had just honored the couples by telling us in advance that the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake would become the 3000th stake of the church.  It was a secret we were happy to keep until Elder Holland made the announcement.
The hovercraft coming in with Elder and Sister Holland.  Note that dog in the foreground.  He stayed there until the very last minute.
Because the hovercraft rides on a layer of air it can come right up on shore on this cement pad, but it always blows a big cloud of sand ahead of it.
Our honored guests, Elder and Sister Holland.
Here are four of the seven couples in our mission:  Randalls, Kirkhams, Burns and Lauritzens.  We were invited to have lunch when they fed the guests who were interviewing all of the leaders.
With five of the seven couples in our mission gathered for the conference, it was an opportunity to socialize and rejoice together with President and Sister Roggia.  We met at the Mamba Point restaurant.  Elder and Sister Schlehuber had arrived for this dinner and added the fifth couple.  They serve in Bo where there are not any restaurants like this.  Elder Schlehuber said the next day that he dreamt all night about eating yummy food in a good restaurant.
Feimatta Doe and her son, Bob.  Her husband, Sahr, is a student at BYU-Hawaii.  She joined the church in September.  She brought her iPad to the meeting and Skyped with Sahr so he could be a part of history in the making. 
Elder Holland and Elder Dickson with the new Freetown Sierra Leone Stake Presidency--Abibu Charles, 1st Counselor, President Patrick Swarray, Jr, Stake President, and Theophilus Minnah, second counselor.  An article in the Church News appeared  in the afternoon after the stake creation saying, "A historic milestone was reached today (Sunday, Dec. 2) with the creation of the 3,000th stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve organized the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake, the first stake in this nation in western Africa.'It is part of the latter-day miracle, evidence of our "marvelous work and a wonder" that the Church has grown to the point where its 3,000th stake is in far-off Sierra Leone,' Elder Holland said to the Church News.  'What is particularly poignant for me is not only that this historic stake is created in a distant land for a people who have only relatively recently had the gospel brought to them but it is also created in a war-torn and tragic land where there has been so much bloodshed, so much violence and vice in an earlier time.'"

On a personal note, this was a very special occasion for us.  We have been working with the Freetown District offering training for district and branch leaders since we arrived in the mission.  We are happy to have placed our small layer of service on the foundation laid by so many other couples before us and rejoice to see this wonderful day arrive for the saints here. This is only the beginning of many more stakes to come in Sierra Leone. 

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