Two African countries — Angola and Burundi — have been dedicated for the preaching of the gospel after two apostles traveled a combined distance of 120,000 miles — 34,000 of them in seven African countries. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve traveled for two weeks visiting and instructing Church members gathered throughout the Africa Southeast Area.
Elder Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy and Bishop H. David Burton of the Presiding Bishopric were also on assignment in the area.
A host of meetings including nine member meetings, eight missionary meetings, four priesthood leadership meetings, four young single adult devotionals and other special meetings, including interviews with media, were held as the Church leaders and their party divided up responsibilities and traveled throughout the area. Elder Holland visited the countries of Burundi and two areas in South Africa, and Elder Christofferson visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
Also on their agenda was a comprehensive review of the activities and programs of the Africa Southeast Area Office of the Church. The apostles concluded their two-week visit to Africa on Oct. 27.
BUJUMBURA, REPUBLIC OF BURUNDI
The chosen dedication spot for the country of Burundi was located on a hill overlooking Bujumbura, the capital city, with Lake Tanganyika shining in the distance beyond.
Elder Holland offered a blessing on the people and the nation, dedicating the country of Burundi for missionary work on Oct. 19.
As Elder Holland spoke prior to the dedicatory prayer, he commented on the nearly three million people in the busy city below who had no idea of the great event that was happening, quietly and without fanfare, on the hillside above them. They were unaware of the blessings about to be invoked by an apostle of the Lord over this long-suffering, war-torn land. With the blessing that was pronounced, the gospel in its fullness could be extended to Burundi and thousands would hear the message and embrace it.
Elder Holland encouraged those present to dedicate their lives as he dedicated the land. He encouraged them to join their prayers with his as he acted as voice to ask for the blessings of the Lord on the little African country of Burundi. He spoke of the group's rare opportunity to be present at the dedication of a country for the preaching of the gospel.
Citing his commission from the prophet and president of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, Elder Holland then formally dedicated Burundi for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the building up of the kingdom of God and for the establishment of Zion in the country.
Elder Holland spoke of growth and progress in Burundi's future. He asked God to bless all who would play a role in the growth of the Church in Burundi. He made mention of members, missionaries and government officials. He asked the Lord to bless the land to be fruitful and prosperous.
Accompanying Elder Holland during the dedication was Elder Snow; President Gary Packer and his wife, Sister Paula Packer, of the Democratic Republic of Congo Lubumbashi Mission; Kyubi Wakyubi Malabi, group leader for the Bujumbura Branch in Burundi, and his wife, Sister Nanjira Veronique Malabi; eight young missionaries from the Democratic Republic of Congo Lubumbashi Mission and three senior missionary couples.
Elder Holland expressed his feeling that Africa had been held in reserve by the Lord in the spirit of "the last shall be first" and that Africa would someday be seen as a bright land full of gospel hope and happiness.
On Wednesday, Oct. 20, a small group of Church leaders and members gathered at the base of a large, several-hundred-year-old baobab tree on a quiet hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the capital city of Luanda, Angola, to the north, where Elder Christofferson pronounced a blessing upon the country and formally opened Angola to missionary work.
Offering the dedicatory prayer in Portuguese, Elder Christofferson called to mind the 2½ centuries slave trade and the 25-year civil war that ended less than a decade ago and prayed that the suffering and conflicts of the past would have an end and the yoke of poverty and ignorance be removed.
Recalling Angola's long tradition of religious freedom, he prayed that religious liberty would endure and become a foundation for future strength and stability as the gospel is preached without hindrance and the kingdom of God goes forth to bless individuals, families, and the entire country. He invoked a blessing upon government leaders as they seek to serve the people and prayed that persons of ability and integrity would be drawn to public service.
Elder Christofferson made mention of the members and missionaries in Angola, although currently small in number, and asked that they be strengthened and become a shining light guiding the nation to the Lord and His gospel as the source of ultimate relief, peace, and happiness.
Elder Christofferson was accompanied by his wife, Sister Katherine Christofferson, Elder F. Michael Watson of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Jolene Watson, and President Loren Spendlove and Sister Tina Spendlove of the Mozambique Maputo Mission. Others present included the presidents of the three existing branches of the Church in Angola and their respective wives and the eight missionaries serving in the country, all in Luanda and its environs.
The day before the dedication, Elder Christofferson, along with Elder Watson and President Spendlove, met with three Angolan government ministers to discuss the need to strengthen families and the Church's family home evening program, which could be adapted as a government-sponsored family enrichment effort.
Elder Christofferson shared with them his conviction that strong parents and families will be fundamental to the progress of Angolan society. He bore his witness of Jesus Christ and left a blessing on those in attendance.