From the international Church

From the international Church June 9, 2024


vmijij4vivi Stift Nonnberg
Nonnberg Abbey is the oldest convent north of the Alps. (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)

We attended church today in the Salzburg Ward.  It was really fun for me to again sit in German-language sacrament and priesthood meetings, as I did so many times so many years ago during my mission in Switzerland.  I had the chance to speak in Arabic for a while, too; the missionaries had an investigator with them who comes from Damascus, Syria.  He seems a pleasant young man.

My wife and I devoted two or three hours in the afternoon to some pressing matters related to the forthcoming Six Days in August film.  (It’s been difficult to find spare moments.)  Then, in the early evening, some of us attended Vespers at the Stift Nonnberg, partway up the hill toward the famous fortress of Salzburg.  Stift Nonnberg is a Benedictine convent or abbey — in fact, the oldest continuously-maintained nunnery in German-speaking Europe, having been founded in either 712 0r 715 AD.  (It also happens to be the place where Maria von Trapp was a postulant and, accordingly, it was a filming location for The Sound of Music.)

We never saw the nuns, of course.  But we heard their beautiful monophonic singing, which seemed both unearthly and entirely appropriate for that very old stone church with its striking late-Gothic winged altar..

Now, though, I’m going to share some photos that Jeff Bradshaw sent to me today from Africa — specifically, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo — where he’s working on the Interpreter Foundation’s Not by Bread Alone film project.  He titled today’s post “Bricks on bikes, A humble meetinghouse, Unit History Tool Training, and the Three Nephites.”  I’ve fallen terribly far behind in sharing Jeff’s photographs.  But I’ll catch up a little bit right now, and I’ll use his captions: “A potpourri of experiences yesterday and today—culminating in the three Nephites!”

bricks and brick carriers
This morning after Church on our way to do some more B-roll filming at the Kalala home where the Church started here, we again went into one of the more humble neighborhoods on the way to the river—with bricks for sale on the sides of the roads and heavy piles of bricks loaded on specially fortified bicycles.
kjbhvjkjn Bradshaw africa
This is one of the most humble church buildings we have seen in Africa. Three wards meet here—but it is too small and the facilities are in very poor condition.
An African bishop in his office. [koiouiyu
Bishop Joseph Muamba Kalenga, a former bishopric counselor to our local historian friend Edouard Ngindu, occupied this large office that also served as a storage center for materials. The truthfulness of the Church was revealed to him in a dream, and he has never wavered since.
An LDS family in Africa.
With his wife and seven-month-old daughter.


Jeff, Chris, and future missionary
While we were in the office, Daniel Tshimanga, to whom I’d given my “Think Celestial” wristband, came by to say hello. Later that day, Edouard told us their family’s conversion story. A sister had joined first, but her family was opposed. Then Edouard, then the bishop, had a chance to give the sister—who had been seriously ill—a blessing. In his one-on-one interview with her, he felt inspired to discuss the principle of repentance, then came back three days later fasting, with his counselors. She was blessed and immediately healed—and the family, who had spent what little they had on treatments, was astonished and all joined the Church. Daniel, showing off his new wristband, is a very special young man—I asked the bishop to let us know when he receives his mission call.
kjdslkflskjflak Primary kids
Despite the humble building, the Primary was first class. Under the direction of a 10-11 year old girl, they sang a version of “Nephi’s Courage” a cappella with a little variation on the tune.
Kenyan Church employee
Yesterday, we had our first chance to accompany our brother from Kenya, area Church history supervisor Jeremiah Machio (shown with his translator Pierre), on a training session for the new Unit History Tool. Using this new tool, historians and organization leaders are encouraged to record significant ward and stake events throughout the year rather than just in a year-end report.
lsdjfljsjflasj unit history lesson
This session was well-attended, as was the one we attended today. We were pleased that so many sisters attended. At the end of the training today, I got to spend some time telling them about our “Not By Bread Alone” project and showing them the introductory video. Jeremiah told me it was a thrilling capstone to their training. When a mature sister missionary from Kananga (Sis. Kasongo, below) showed up on the film for a few seconds, the room erupted with whispers!
Gruppenfoto a[soijdiahsoaj
Here are some of the participants in a group photo.
Schwester Kasongo. sdjlsjljisoijojis
I had taken the oral history of Sister Kasongo and her husband in Kinshasa when we were missionaries there. Now she is a widow and has returned from a Family History mission in Kinshasa, where she helped temple patrons prepare family names and did indexing.
Son and mother in Africa bhnjm
Her son Paul was tall like his father—and his brother Athanase Ngandu with whom my wife and I frequently worked as a contractor in the mission office.
Drei Nephiten
What about the three Nephites? Here they are—these three missionaries to Benin from Kananga, who left and returned on the same day, took that name on them when they left and have stayed good friends ever since. We had a chance to interview them about their missions.

Looking at Jeff’s photos, I find myself excitedly recalling a couple of passages from the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

“Brethren [and sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren [and sisters]; and on, on to the victory! …

“… Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” [Doctrine and Covenants 128:22, 24; emphasis added]

Posted from Salzburg, Austria

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