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LDS Apostles and leaders complete major tours

By Genelle Pugmire - | Nov 2, 2021

Latter-day Saint Charities President Sharon Eubank, second from left, and Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, third from left, tour Camp Sharya, located just south of Iraq’s border with Turkey in northern Iraq. (Courtesy Intellectual Reserve)

The world may still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is not stopping members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other auxiliary leaders with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from their appointed callings to minister to the world.

In the past week or so, President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with Elders Jeffery R. Holland and Quentin L. Cook, spent a week in the British Isles talking to missionaries and congregations, touring church historic sites and their own family historic sites.

All three men served missions in Great Britain with Holland and Cook serving as mission companions for a stint between 1960 and 1962. Ballard served from 1948-1950.

On Sunday, a special conference was held for all of the members in Great Britain and Ireland from the Stake Center in Hyde Park London. The conference was broadcast to the saints and has since been put on YouTube for other members of the church.

The message was clear to the members — you have the gospel, now give it away. Ballard challenged each member to pray and pick one person to share the gospel message with before Christmas.

Latter-day Saint Charities President Sharon Eubank meets with Omed Khoshnaw, the governor of Erbil. (Courtesy Intellectual Reserve)

Elder Holland said, “The great days of the U.K. are still ahead of us. There is much of the blood of Israel still to be found here,” according to Martin Henderson a member living in Britain.

In a combined meeting for missionaries in the London and Birmingham Missions on Oct. 29, Sister Mary G. Cook encouraged the missionaries to face challenges with faith.

“I testify that as you strive to become like the savior, you will have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. And the windows of heaven will open up to you in ways that you can’t even imagine. I know you are on the Lord’s errand and will be blessed by your service,” she said.

Speaking in the same meeting, Sister Patricia T. Holland told the missionaries to consider themselves as a “companion” with the three Apostles who were there to teach and testify to them.

“These three men love this land. They loved their missions. You are companions with all of these great people. You can have a very similar experience, if you can just keep your eyes single to the glory of God,” Sister Holland said.

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, Susan, visit the Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (Courtesy Intellectual Reserve)

While these apostles were ministering in the British Isles, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve visited in the Middle East.

Bednar and his wife Susan concluded a week-long ministry to the Middle East, where they connected with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. They also visited the general area where the announced Dubai, UAE temple will be built.

In the April 2020 general conference, Church President Russell M. Nelson announced the first temple to be built in the Middle East. He announced that the temple will be built in Dubai.

“It makes great sense that the temple would be located here,” Elder Bednar said. “Transportation systems have been oriented to bring people here. It will provide ease of access, and it is in a very dynamic area. It seems to me the Lord has picked a perfect location for His temple.”

He added, “It will bless the Saints here in Dubai, in Middle Eastern countries, and Saints from throughout Eastern Europe. Dubai is a transportation hub; it will be easier for them to come to this temple.”

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

Elder David A. Bednar speaks to members of the church in Dubai. (Courtesy Intellectual Reserve)

He expressed appreciation for government leaders. “The United Arab Emirates has been most supportive,” he said. “They are providing the opportunity for synagogues, for cathedrals, for various Christian churches, obviously for mosques, and for a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

“I think the United Arab Emirates is playing a key role in trying to show an openness and an inviting nature,” Elder Bednar said.

There are dozens of humanitarian projects in operation across the Middle East, something noted by Sister Bednar.

“I have been impressed with the work Latter-day Saint Charities is accomplishing all over this region. The work is helping to bless the lives of people,” Sister Bednar continued. “I had an opportunity a few years ago to visit a refugee camp in Kurdistan. The church has worked in a remarkable way to provide better living conditions for the people who are away from their countries.”

“There is an endless need,” Elder Bednar said. “We cannot address every single need, but we can address many. And we will assist as many people as we possibly can.”

Addressing some of those needs were President Jeanne B. Bingham and her first counselor Sister Sharon Eubank of the Relief Society General Presidency.

The women just wrapped up a trip to the Middle East to visit the Kurdistan region of Iraq. They met with government leaders and visited Camp Sharya, located just south of its border with Turkey in northern Iraq.

Built seven years ago, the refugee camp is now home to 12,000 Yazidi people, who were relocated against their will after experiencing violence and political unrest. Some missing family members were taken by ISIS in Sinjar.

Bingham and Eubank, who serves as President of Latter-day Saint Charities, walked through some of the thousands of tents that are home to 2,350 families, including many women with children.

“They have faith, and they have trust that God will help them. And that’s something that we have in common with those who were in this area who have a different faith than we do,” Bingham said.

In June, a portion of the camp burned, destroying nearly 188 tents. Now, thanks to the Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF) and Latter-day Saint Charities, new concrete structures have replaced the lost homes.

“They had a cement floor [and] cement walls,” Bingham said. “They had privacy. It was clean and new, and you could see that they felt much better about themselves.”

Sister Eubank recalls visiting the camp four years ago, “We sat down with a mother and her family, and I said, ‘Is this any better?’ … And she said, ‘I have a kitchen, I have a bathroom. So, this makes the whole difference. We feel safe and secure.'”

Sister Eubank continued, “You absolutely can’t replace sitting in somebody’s new home, asking about their children, looking at their new sewing machine that they’ve just bought with their little savings. You just can’t ever get that without being here in person.”

While a bit closer to home, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles what in Canada Sunday to dedicate the Winnipeg Manitoba Canada Temple in three dedicatory services.

In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Gong honored and acknowledged the patience of the local members. He said, “Dear Father, please smile on those who come to this house of the Lord. We gratefully acknowledge the pioneer spirit, consecrated sacrifice and heritage of gospel living and service of generations past and present offered in hearts, homes and communities here.”

This has been one of the largest contingencies out-of-country touring assignments for church leaders since COVID-19 shut down traveling in March 2020.

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