Latter-day Saints from Ethiopia attend the temple for the first time
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Members of the newly formed Addis Ababa Ethiopia District — two families and two single adults — attended the temple for their first time, in Accra, Ghana, the week of Dec. 7, 2009. The shorter distance from Ethiopia to Ghana rather than Johannesburg, South Africa, makes it easier for some members to attend the temple.
"Those who come from great distances, like Ethiopia, are thrilled with the temple experience," said Elder John Bingham, a public affairs missionary serving in the Africa West Area, in an e-mail to the Church News. "The beauty of the temple building, the sacredness of the ordinances, and in particular, the sacred promise of the sealing ordinance — to be a family forever — is overwhelming to them."
In order to attend the Accra Ghana Temple, the Ethiopian members spent six hours traveling the approximate 4,316 kilometers, or 2,686 miles, to the temple.
After visiting the Mormon temple, one of the young women in the group said, "You who have a temple in your country are lucky! We traveled [a long way] to get here. When we get married, we will come to this temple or maybe one in Ethiopia."
The temple group consisted of the district president, Ayele Asfew, and his wife, Belaynesh Asfew, and their five children; Yonas Haile and his wife, Yiragalem Haile, and their three children, and Sirgut, a young single adult. The group of 13 was the third group from Ethiopia to visit the Ghana Temple in 2009.
Fikadu Yonas and Dewit Asfew, the young men of the group, said that they felt they were "at the right place at the right time."
The first district of the Church in Ethiopia, the Addis Ababa Ethiopia District, was formed Nov. 15, 2009, by President Edward Christensen, president of the Uganda Kampala Mission. President Asfew was called to preside over the district including approximately 1,000 members of the Church in Ethiopia. Only days after the district was created, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve visited the country (see the Church News, Sept. 5, 2009).
For some African Latter-day Saints, trips to the temple come once a lifetime. For that reason, making covenants as they visited the temple was a very sacred and memorable experience.
"Feelings are enhanced and made more poignant with the realization that many of them may never return to the temple in this life," Elder Bingham said. "They performed many proxy sealings on their only temple experience to cement the words of the ceremony in their minds and hearts."