ABA, Nigeria — They leaned in windows opened to let in the breeze. They crowded on the lawns listening to loudspeakers set up outside. They stood in hallways and in a courtyard. Anything to hear even a few words from their beloved prophet.
They were those who could not find seats in the stake center adjacent the new Aba Nigeria Temple for a member meeting Aug. 6 with President Gordon B. Hinckley.
"What a great pleasure to be with you," President Hinckley said during the meeting held the day before he dedicated the new temple, the second in West Africa.
Speaking to some 1,500 members seated in the new Aba Nigeria Stake Center and to others listening on the grounds of the new complex, President Hinckley encouraged Nigerian Latter-day Saints to be worthy to enter the temple and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel.
The Church president referred to this occasion as "a very solemn day for me," referring to his last trip to Africa in January 2004 during which he dedicated the Accra Ghana Temple. He related how during the return trip his wife, Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, fell ill. She died "on the sixth of April a year ago."
"I miss her very much. I wish she were here today to share this wonderful experience with you marvelous and remarkable people," President Hinckley added.
Also offering remarks were Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy and president of the Africa West Africa, Elder Lowell M. Snow of the Seventy and first counselor in the Africa West Area; and their wives, Sister Joan H. Child and Sister Tammy Snow.
Offering brief testimonies were Elder Adesina Olukanni, Area Seventy and second counselor in the area presidency; his wife, Sister Shadde Olukanni; and Aba Nigeria Temple President Jerry V. Kirk.
In his address, President Hinckley referred to his worldwide tour, during which he made a stop in Alaska and spoke to members during meetings in Russia, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India and Kenya before arriving in Nigeria on Aug. 5.
"It is a miracle, it is a marvelous thing to see the way the Church is growing all over the world," President Hinckley added, speaking of meeting with "beautiful, wonderful saints."
Continuing, the Church president said the new Aba Nigeria Temple is beautiful, but emphasized that "it is not a monument to architecture. It is to be used and used and worn out."
"Come to the temple, live worthy to come to the temple," President Hinckley urged. "Live the commandments of God so that you may come to the temple. Do those things that will make you eligible to serve in the House of the Lord.
"It's been built for you, my brothers and sisters, that you might have the opportunity to come here and receive the wonderful blessings that can be had nowhere else in all the world except in other temples, where you may be sealed together as husbands and wives, where your children may be sealed to you, where you may work in behalf of your forebears who have gone beyond, to do that great and marvelous and wonderfully unselfish work which occurs in the house of the Lord."
President Hinckley encouraged the Nigerian Latter-day Saints to pay their tithing, observe the Word of Wisdom and be true to one another as husbands and wives "so you can come to the temple."
"Make your coming to the temple the most important consideration in your life. Our Father in Heaven does not expect us to be only one-half Latter-day Saints. He doesn't expect us to live just part of the gospel. He expects us to live all of the gospel, to give our hearts to His work and His cause and His kingdom. And so please, that is my great plea with you today: qualify yourselves to come to the temple."
Tithing, President Hinckley continued, is the thing that keeps most people out of the house of the Lord. "Tithing is not a great sacrifice. It's a matter of faith."
He then gave the true account of a member who felt he did not have money to pay his tithing and feed his family. But on his wife's encouragement, he paid his tithing. The next day his boss gave him a raise and handed him an envelope. The member opened it and there was the "exact amount that he had paid in tithing the day before."
President Hinckley counseled: "Now, dear brothers and sisters . . . come to the temple and there I promise that you will enjoy blessings such as you have never known before."
In the temple, he said, "You will be sealed together in a compact that death cannot destroy and time cannot break."
Referring to a press conference held earlier that day, President Hinckley said he was asked about the Church in Africa and he spoke of the presence of a temple in Nigeria, which "will make of this a better country, a better nation, a better place to live, I'm confident of that."
The temple, he said, will strengthen families, "families are the basis of a good society. If you want to strengthen a nation, you strengthen the family and that's what will come as a result of this temple worship."
In his remarks, Elder Child spoke of African pioneers of the Church and related the account of Anthony Obinna, the first Nigerian to join the Church in Nigeria and who began requesting missionaries and literature from the Church in the 1960s. Speaking of the accelerated growth of the Church in Africa, he added, "The Lord has prepared the hearts of the Africans to receive the gospel."
Elder Snow spoke of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of the importance of preparing oneself to enter the House of the Lord, which will include "faith and sacrifice."
In his testimony, Elder Olukanni expounded on a Chinese proverb: "May you live in interesting times."
Elder Olukanni said, "This is the most interesting time in the history of mankind, a time of temple building."
6 — Church News
week ending August 13, 2005