President Monson related an event as he described the circumstances surrounding the decision made by the government of the German Democratic Republic (East Communist Germany) to allow missionaries to preach in that land after years of restricted Church activity:
“Our ultimate goal was to seek permission for the doorway of missionary work to open. Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder Hans B. Ringger, and I, along with our local German Democratic Republic church leaders, initially met with State Secretary for Religious Affairs Kurt Löffler as he hosted a lovely luncheon in our honor. He addressed our group by saying, ‘We want to be helpful to you. We’ve observed you and your people for twenty years. We know you are what you profess to be: honest men and women.’
“… We were driven to the chambers of the chief representatives of the government....
“Beyond the exquisite entry to the building, we were greeted by (head of state) Chairman Honecker. He then escorted us into his private council room. There, around a large round table, we were seated. Others at the table included Chairman Honecker and his deputies of government.
“Chairman Honecker began, ‘We know members of your Church believe in work; you’ve proven that. We know you believe in the family; you’ve demonstrated that. We know you are good citizens in whatever country you claim as home; we have observed that. The floor is yours. Make your desires known.’
“I began, ‘Chairman Honecker, at the dedication and open house for the temple in Freiberg, 89,890 of your countrymen stood in line, at times up to four hours, frequently in the rain, that they might see a house of God. In the city of Leipzig, at the dedication of the stake center, 12,000 people attended the open house. In the city of Dresden there were 29,000 visitors; in the city of Zwickau, 5,300. And every week of the year 1,500 to 1,800 people visit the temple grounds in the city of Freiberg. They want to know what we believe. We would like to tell them that we believe in honoring and obeying and sustaining the law of the land. We would like to explain our desire to achieve strong family units. These are but two of our beliefs. We cannot answer questions, and we cannot convey our feelings, because we have no missionary representatives here as we do in other countries. The young men and young women whom we would like to have come to your country as missionary representatives would love your nation and your people. More particularly, they would leave an influence with your people which would be ennobling. Then we would like to see young men and young women from your nation who are members of our Church serve as missionary representatives in many nations, such as in America, in Canada, and in a host of others. They will return better prepared to assume positions of responsibility in your land.’
“Chairman Honecker then spoke for perhaps thirty minutes, describing his objectives and viewpoints and detailing the progress made by his nation. At length, he smiled and addressed me and the group, saying, ‘We know you. We trust you. We have had experience with you. Your missionary request is approved.’
“The black darkness of night had ended. The bright light of day had dawned. The gospel of Jesus Christ would now be carried to the millions of people in that nation. Their questions concerning the Church will be answered, and the Kingdom of God will go forth.
“(in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 68–69; or
The purpose of our missionary work is not simply to bring people into the waters of baptism. We want to help people change their lives for the better. To become closer to their Heavenly Father, to learn to serve others, to become self-reliant, independent, to strengten their families, to become successful in every aspect of their lives, to "have no more dispostion to do evil, but to do good continually"...in other words we want the Gospel to change peoples hearts. What good does it do to confess that Jesus Christ is one's Savior only to continue to live the type of life one lead before doing so? Being born again means a new life, starting over, repenting of transgressions daily and trying to become more like Jesus Christ...it was he who said, "Come, follow me." and, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." In other words, do as I taught you...don't just think about it. Very similar to "The 10 Commandments, not the 10 Suggestions."
Former President of the Church, Gordon B Hinckley liked to say, "The purpose of the Church is to make bad men good and good men better."
We had a young man show up on our apt porch last Thurs. His story is that he was run over by a car 4-5 years ago. His ankle is in terrible shape with open rotting flesh - no skin - all the way around his leg. The stench was almost imbearable to be around. We have a neighbor doctor from Serbia that came over to look at him He said he must be admitted to a hospital immediately or he'd lose his leg or his life sooner than later. We allowed him to sleep on our porch. Pam fed him and changed his dressing until we could take him to Lacor (pronounced La cho) hospital the next day for admittance. He says he didn't fall asleep til about 5:00 am which surprised me a little because I overdosed him on some prescription pain pills but he was in terrible pain. The Elder's administered to him; he was told
We got him admitted the next day at the catholic charity hospital, St. Mary's Lacor (pronounced "law cho". (Even though it in no way compares to what we have in the states, people from all over Uganda come here to this hospital. Catholic Charities does a wonderful job on extremely limited funds.) His bandage must be changed daily and his wounds scrubbed. It is very painful. Therefore, he refused to have it done. When we learned this the day following his admittance, we gave him a stern lecture telling him he MUST do as he was instructed or we'd pull him out of the hospital and let him fend for himself. Today is Tuesday. He behaved today. We'll see about him each day this week. One slip up and he will be on the street. Why? He was in this same hospital due to someone's goodness earlier this year for 3 months. Because he couldn't get enough food, he said, he left unauthorized. Now he is in as bad a condition as he was when he first checked in. People have to learn to take care of themselves to the extent possible. We can't help him if he won't help himself. Over the past week many of our church friends have gone to visit him. He is very appreciative. Our Relief Society president noticed on his chart that he also has sickle cell anemia. Thanks for those of our family members who have sent money so we can pay for his stay and prepare food for him each day. (The hospitals do not provide any food. That is why you see so many people out on the "lawn". They have brought their charcoal or wood and prepare whatever they can afford for their friend or loved one. You also have to bring your own toilet paper, blanket, towel, soap, basin for bathing and other similar things. We purchased these for Martin. Martin's parents are dead and his grandmother, who lives in a village is too old to assist. Normally there are extended family member that can help but he claims that they have also died. Over the course of the previous time he was in the hospital, the nurses never saw anyone visit him. I was concerned who would be able to feed him when go out of town because the hospital is a long distance from where our members live and most are too poor to ask to feed him. Fortunately, we learned of a service across the street from the hospital that will prepare a simple meal (beans and greens) and occasionally a little meat, for about 7,000 shillings. That will be a great blessing to use at time.
Opio Martin. He's not sure of his age but thinks he is 19. His last schooling was Primary 7, which is about 6th grade. He is anxious to learn so we will purchase a couple school books for him. He lights up when we come in the room.
95 yrs old, 6 months and 6 days, he told us, when we took this picture. Former military instructor...new recruits, basic training...excellent English, quoted scripture from Isaiah and other books of the Bible. He recognized our name tags immediately saying he has attended our Church before and brought us out a church pamphlet he had been given. If you enlarge the picture, you'll see that hhe has only one tooth and his gum is grossly swollen. It must be very painful, but he was very cheerful. It was a delight to converse with this good, humble man.