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"We're Going Away with New Hearts": Relief Society, Young Women Presidents Share Insights from West Africa Tour

Sister Jean B. BinghamRelief Society general president, and Sister Bonnie H. CordonYoung Women general president, wrapped up their 11-day tour of West Africa in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, before returning to Utah.

“I'll tell you what's top of mind for me is the love that just emanates from the people here in each of the countries that we've been in,” reflected Sister Bingham. “We've met so many wonderful people.”

The leaders also traveled to Ghana and Nigeria to meet with government leaders and Latter-day Saints.

On Saturday, March 9, the sisters met with missionaries and held a training for local Relief Society and Young Women leaders at a meetinghouse in Abidjan, located next to the construction site of the new temple. They also visited some Latter-day Saints in their homes.

“Even when they come, we feel the greetings of our prophet,” said Dorothee Assad, a stake Primary president. “We feel also that they love us, as we love them. So, it’s nice to have them here, not also in Ivory Coast but in Africa.”

“It is my first time to meet them, and what they are seeing touched me personally, so I'm very happy,” said Kouin Matinaise.

“Today it is very special for us,” explained Khadijah Balie, a local Relief Society leader who joined the Church when she was 14 years old and later served a mission in Durban, South Africa.

Oule Justine also attended the training for the Abidjan auxiliary leaders. “I feel very happy for their message for us. … [They] gave a message with love.” She attended the dedication of the temple in Ghana in 2004 and is considered a pioneer of the Church in West Africa.

“I think that's what's so amazing about these people is [that] they trust in God,” said Sister Cordon. “I also love their understanding and their reliance on their families. Family is a big part of the West Africa area.”

“These people want to be together forever,” said Sister Bingham. “I love the idea that we're going to have more temples dotted around because it's very difficult for them to get to the temple where they are now.”

Abidjan Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) Temple

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held November 8, 2018, for the Abidjan Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) Temple. Read more on the Côte d'Ivoire Newsroom (French).

“It was my prayers to have a temple in Ivory Coast in West Africa,” added Balie.

“We now [have] to travel to Ghana,” said local Young Women leader Tah Benin Benedicte. The closest temple is in Accra, about a 10-hour drive from Abidjan.

“We cannot wait for the temple to be completed and to go to the temple here in Abidjan,” agreed Julie Beugre Bowa, a stake Relief Society president.

“No more long traveling,” said Dorothee Assad, a stake Primary president. “My greatest hope for the children here in Ivory Coast [is for them] to believe in Jesus Christ and get the chance to go to the temple.”

“It is like the Savior is close to us anytime,” said local leader Kouin Matinaise. “We can come here and feel his love.”

“Because of the temple, I'm so blessed for my family and my friends,” expressed Fofana Nathalie, who was at the meetinghouse with her infant daughter.

“It really has been a privilege and an honor to be here to feel the spirit of these wonderful Saints wherever we've been,” said Sister Bingham. “I am so grateful for the testimony that they've shared with me. … I think each one of us can learn that despite whatever challenges we have, we can keep that testimony bright in our hearts and live the gospel as the West Africans do.”

“We're going away with African eyes,” said Sister Cordon. “We're going away with new hearts and understanding how we can better live the gospel of Jesus Christ and truly focus our lives on the Savior.”

She continued, “It has been a remarkable experience to be here with these dear people. If we can trust like the people in West Africa … and to love more, and to minister more and to open our homes to others like they do, we will continue to see the blessings pour down from heaven.”

To learn more about temples of the Church of Jesus Christ, watch this virtual tour of the recently dedicated Rome Italy Temple.

Lead image from Newsroom

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