'Isles of the sea' — First Apostle visit to the Marshall Islands
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Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve spent 13 days traveling in the Pacific Area during January. Stops on his itinerary included Tonga, New Zealand, Hawaii and the Marshall Islands.
"According to information provided by the mission president, it was the first time a member of the Quorum of the Twelve had been to and walked on Majuro," said Elder Bednar. "The people of the Marshall Islands were very warm and welcoming."
Accompanying Elder Bednar during his travels was his wife, Sister Susan Bednar; also joining him for part or all of his travels were Elder Claudio R.M. Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy, Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric, Elder Tad R. Callister of the Seventy and President of the Pacific Area, and Elder James J. Hamula of the Seventy and first counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency.
"As we travel to the isles of the sea and the uttermost parts of the earth, we see the Church is everywhere," Elder Bednar said. "It is firmly established, it is growing, and there are faithful, good people. It is truly miraculous."
Elder Bednar shared with the Church News some of the highlights of his travels, such as the spiritual strength of the local priesthood leaders, the faithfulness of the members, the benefits that come to an area through missionary and humanitarian efforts and the opportunity to meet with the acting president of the Marshall Islands, Honorable Jack Ading, Minister of Finance.
Whether it was the youth preparing to serve a mission or senior couples who had been assigned to the area, Elder and Sister Bednar spoke of the commitment the members have as they accept calls and serve the Lord.
"We saw couple missionaries at work," Sister Bednar said. "It was inspiring to see those couples who have left home and family, comfort and convenience, to serve in a remote and isolated place. They were incredible."
In addition to seeing the full-time missionaries at work, Elder and Sister Bednar spoke of the youth preparing to serve.
"They meet every Sunday afternoon," he said of the missionary preparation class. "They have instructors who are returned missionaries and they focus on the scriptures and Preach My Gospel.
Sister Bednar visited the local hospital and helped in humanitarian efforts.
"A humanitarian missionary couple arranged for funds to be sent to the island, and young single adults procured all of the necessary items and assembled newborn baby kits," she said. "I was blessed to visit the maternity wing, greet the new mothers and give them a kit courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Most important, Elder Bednar spoke of the great example of faith the members of the Marshall Islands are to all members of the Church.
"Many of these brothers and sisters are first-generation members of the Church," Elder Bednar said. "These people have a simple abiding faith in the Savior. They are not diverted by things that do not matter. ... They are generous and loving. We have much to learn from these modern-day pioneers who live and serve in areas where the Church is beginning to be established."