Some art and music from Latter-day Saints beyond America

Some art and music from Latter-day Saints beyond America June 11, 2024


Mozart's birthstreet
Getreidegasse, a street in the Salzburger Altstadt.  Mozart’s birthplace is on Getreidegasse.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)

I participated in a FAIR conference in Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden, several years ago, and we’ll be doing another conference there this coming Saturday.  The organizer for that previous event — which was extraordinarily well attended by members from Denmark, Norway, Finland, and even Germany, as well as from Sweden itself — was Louis Herrey, a member of the Göteborg Ward.  He is also the organizer of the event that will take place on Saturday, though one never knows in advance whether it will be as well attended.

Brother Herrey is a coordinator for Seminaries and Institutes in the Church Educational System.  Here is a twenty-minute interview with him (in English) on “The Many Resources of CES.”

Interestingly, Brother Herrey and his two older brothers, Per and Richard, performing under the name of “The Herreys” and representing Sweden, won the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest with a song called — brace yourself! — “Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley.”  It’s an upbeat dance song, very much in the style of the 1980s.  (I am a child of the 1960s, and from California, no less.)  According to Wikipedia, Richard and Louis Herrey became the first teenage males ever to win in the Eurovision competition, and they remain the youngest-ever male winners, with Richard having been 19 years and 260 days old and Louis having been 17 years and 184 days of age.

The Swedish group ABBA had already won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, ten years earlier.  They have a museum in Stockholm, and I’m told that the golden shoes worn by The Herrey’s in the 1984 Eurovision performance — the shoes are important for the story told in “Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley” — are on display there.

Here is a video recording of their winning 1984 Eurovision performance:  (Louis is, I believe, the one in dark blue on the audience’s left.)

They performed the song again — in London and, this time, in English — at the end of March 2015, in a program of Eurovision’s “Greatest Hits”:  Alas, though, you will notice that Louis has lost his hair.

And they still perform sometimes to this very day.  Here they are about a month ago, singing their winning song forty years later to a large and very enthusiastic audience as the concluding act at the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest:

Last night, I listened to their cover of “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” — one of my very favorite old-time pop songs — and, although the Righteous Brothers will always own that melody, I thought that they did a very respectable job of it.  I wanted to share it here but, for the life of me, I just haven’t been able to find it this morning.  Quite the mystery.

Africa in colors!
A more or less current public domain political map of the continent of Africa from Wikimedia Commons

I now share another set of photographs just sent to me a few hours ago by Jeff Bradshaw, who is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working on an Interpreter Foundation film project called Not by Bread Alone.  “Yesterday,” he writes, “among other things, we visited with an artist and a historian. This morning we leave Kananga for Kinshasa.”

The question that occurs to me, quite honestly, as I look at the photos that Jeff sends and read what he has to say about them, is this:  Am I worthy to be a member of the same church as Latter-day Saints such as these?

Tres bien, non?
The Kananga Institute of Fine Arts (Beaux Arts) is located down the hill from an elementary school and a secondary school. As we left the car, we were literally mobbed by a crowd of perhaps 100 cheering children in their uniforms who must have thought we were celebrities.
Doing art in the DR Congo
Directly behind the institute is the home of a Latter-day Saint artist who has a unique approach to “painting.” He collects discarded scraps of local fabric, cuts them into small pieces and glues them one by one onto a canvas to create a picture. He has been working on this image for a week so far.
We are all pilgrims
This is an image of a “pilgrim” (representing all of the wanderers on earth seeking their heavenly home—see Hebrews 11:13–16). This image also illustrates his frequent use of the symbolism of a “vase” as a marker of “fragility”—easily broken into pieces. You can see the vase as part of the pilgrim’s belly. The scriptures sometimes refer to our bodies as “vessels of clay” (e.g., Jeremiah 18, Romans 9) or “tabernacles of clay” (e.g., Moroni 9).
A patriotic image
If you look carefully at the blue image behind the seated woman, you will see that the background is in the shape of a map of the DR Congo. The colors of the flag are visible in the top right. She is being assailed from all sides by arrows seeking to destroy the soul of the country and to extract its precious resources.
More LDS Congolese art
This painting is supposed to remind us to look steadfastly at our own personal star and to follow its light—not to look elsewhere at the stars of other people.
Inside the home of an LDS Congolese artist okjmoioi
Inside his home was a picture of Jesus and this sketch of the temple—not sure which temple. He spoke of how his faith informs his work and his life. He was introduced to the Church by the historian I will mention next—who teaches “next door” in the secondary school.
a Congolese Church historian
This local church historian, Edouard Ngindu, and his wife Susannah (spelling?) gave us the story of their conversion. Soon after a small group of Latter-day Saints who discovered the Church in Kinshasa began meeting in a home, Edouard received a copy of the Book of Mormon from a friend. He brought it home and secretly began to read it, worrying that his wife would not approve of his interest in a new faith. That night she had a dream where she saw a book with a blue cover and gold lettering that had come from God. She woke up and told him of his dream. He took the book out from its hiding place and showed her, and she said it was the same book.
The next Sunday they went to the house meeting and, since most of those meeting were not able to read and understand the Book of Mormon in French (and it didn’t exist in Tshiluba), he was appointed to be their Book of Mormon teacher—a role he fulfilled for many years. He shared the gospel with his friend, Erick Kapanga, now the mission president in Kananga, and the latter became the Gospel Principles teacher the next week. It would be about nine years before anyone was authorized to be baptized.
The home of the Ngindus
The Ngindus were worried that there were no Church members in this area of the city when they purchased an empty lot here. But they felt led here by the Lord. They and their children built this house brick-by-brick over a period of five years—and at the same time built the Church in the area through their missionary work. Many members now live nearby.
Surveying a local Church historian's work
Here Sister Ngindu and Jeremiah Machio are in Edouard’s study. Brother Ngindu has many priceless stories and photos he has compiled over more than a decade as a church historian and leader. He promised to put them in order and scan them before the end of June so that they can be permanently preserved and made available in the Church History library.
This is invaluable Church history. Invaluable.
Then we went to the swimming pool where the first baptisms took place—at a hotel where they had to pay $50 for the use. We were glad to get a photo of some of those who had been baptized there at the very beginning in 1996. L to R: Mission President and Sister Kapanga, Sister Kasongo, and Sister Ngindu.
Sie hat kein Französisch.
Our final stop of the day was at the home of Brother Martin and his family, in a “suburb” of winding footpaths on the edge of a beautiful ravine. His wife spoke to us in Tshiluba as Edouard translated into French for us.
A pillar couple in the Kananga Church
Brother Martin received this copy of the Book of Mormon from the pastor of another Church. He read it and believed. Eventually, he learned that Church members had recently started meeting in Katoka. They would leave on foot (or, when the children were small, on a single bicycle) each Sunday morning at 4 or 5 AM to travel the distance to Church meetings.
They have raised faithful children, including some who have been called as full-time missionaries. Brother Martin is now serving as a counselor in the mission presidency. He was a chauffeur and mechanic in the last part of the reign of Mobutu (1980s-90s), but now struggles to find any kind of work.
How can members in the United States help?
Very fittingly for the end of a sweet day and a sweet stay in Kananga, two of the daughters and three of the grandchildren joined to sing a heartfelt rendition of “Abide with Me.” Knowing the worthiness and the many needs and responsibilities of this family, we pray with all our hearts that the Lord will abide with and bless them with every blessing they so much deserve.

Posted from Salzburg, Austria



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