On 8 June 1978, I was attending BYU when the news of the revelation on the Priesthood reached the airwaves. The excitement on campus was explosive! I stood in line at a pay phone in the Harold B. Lee Library, to call home to share the news. My dad answered the phone in Reedley, out in the packing shed, with all the noise of the packing machines and packers. I had to yell so he could hear me. I was So Very Excited and thrilled.
Just 3 years later, I opened a big white envelope with a mission call. I was assigned to labor in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission. During that time, I more fully appreciated the gift that revelation was as I taught my brothers and sisters there.
After returning from South Africa, I lived in Nigeria, West Africa, for almost 3 more years, teaching and training village health workers in remote villages. My companion, Mary Ellen Edmunds and I were there in the early days of the Church in Africa. We witnessed entire congregations enter the waters of baptism as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grew and began to flourish. It was amazing to be a small part of that movement.
This week, Mary Ellen posted this about our Nigerian experience:
Good morning on a beautiful Sabbath in June. I want to share my feelings this morning about the commemoration of the June 1978 revelation which extended the blessings of the priesthood and the temple to ALL of God’s children. There aren’t enough words to adequately express my feelings – I wept through the whole celebration… zillions of tears of joy, tenderness, and love. And yes, I remember right where I was (at the MTC) and how I felt. Much of my emotion during the program came because of my time in Nigeria, West Africa, 6 years after the 1978 announcement. I cannot adequately share what I feel about being there. I met Anthony Obinna and his brothers. I saw the chapel they had built with the name of the Church on a little sign in front. My companion Ann and I sat behind Brother Obinna when the first chapel was dedicated in Nigeria – in Aba (where the Temple is now), not too far from our village of Eket. We worshipped with our neighbors in our small branch. And now there are thousands and thousands of members with many stakes and wards. I’m deeply thankful for the influence my dear, dear friends and neighbors continue to have on my heart even though many years and miles have come between us. Oh how I look forward to sweet reunions in a time to come!!!!! Have a beautiful, beautiful day! Love, MEE
Here we are in and after that meeting:
Here is a baptism we helped with, in a village far in the bush of Africa, where villagers had found a pamphlet and a Book of Mormon and then waited a long long time for the Church to send missionaries to them. They called themselves “The Church of Jesus Christ of Monongahela Pennsylvania” because that was the location of the ward stamped on the back of the pamphlet. On this day dozens and dozens were baptized. We didn’t have enough white clothing, so the new members went into the bush to change and hand the wet clothing on to the next. Young boys were baptized wearing only men’s white shirts. It was a sacred, reverent day, not unlike a day long ago at the Waters of Mormon, as described in Mosiah 18 in the Book of Mormon:
This is the ward where I lived and served as a Relief Society President much of the time between 1984-1987:
More recently, my husband and I have traveled many times to Mali, West Africa, where we continue to help our friends there, improving the quality of their lives. A large part of my heart still lingers in all of these places. These are my friends. Things in my life were destined to change because of what happened on that June day in 1978.
A year ago, Elder Bednar organized the first LDS Branch among our friends in Ouelessebougou, Mali. I will be back there soon. I am grateful for continuing revelation and goodness that flows to us from heaven. Today I remember my friends and the blessings we all freely enjoy!