Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Branch in Vietnam

For the first time since the organization of the Vietnam Hanoi Mission in March 2016, the Church in Vietnam has created a new branch. The District 6 Branch was organized from a division of the Than Son Nhat Branch in Ho Chi Minh City. The new branch services the entire western half of Ho Chi Minh City - an area distant from the two LDS meetinghouses located in the northeastern area of the city. Overcrowding in the Than Son Nhat Branch and a need for a separate congregation that assembles in western Ho Chi Minh City prompted the organization of the new branch. Missionaries report that there are small groups of members who reside outside of the established church centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However, there remain no official LDS congregations outside of these two cities. Prospects appear favorable for the establishment of additional congregations within the near future, especially within Ho Chi Minh City and southern areas of Vietnam.

See below for a map of LDS branches Vietnam.

44 comments:

James said...

This is absolutely thrilling news, Matt! Thanks for sharing. I take it as a good sign that we might see some very positive developments in Vietnam in the not-too-distant future. It has been a mere 7 months since that nation officially granted recognition to the Church. It will be most interesting to watch future events as they happen there. Many have wondered about the near-future possibility of a temple in Vietnam. I personally don't think that will happen for a little while yet. But to see the growth that has happened there in less than a year has been a sure indication to me that the Lord is very much aware of the work of His Church in that nation. I look forward to the things we might witness in the future. Thanks again, Matt! You made my day once again!

Christopher Nicholson said...

Whichever Apostle, I forget, was present at the ceremony where the Vietnamese government granted full legal recognition to the Church said something about organizing branches for those isolated groups over time in accordance with the law. Apparently they have to move slowly for some reason.

John Pack Lambert said...

This is a good development. Still Ho Chi Minh City has a population of 8 and a half million and a total area of 800 square miles although I am not sure all is urbanized. There is an article about a sister from Ho Chi Minh City on the Church History website by Sister Gong (the wife of Elder Gong of the presidency of the 70 who served her mission in Taiwan and spent a few years living in Hong Kong and traveling to countries such as Vietnam wgile her husband was in the Asia Area Presidency) that is not only insightful about the convert who was later a missuinary it speaks of but notes that Ho Chi Minh City has seen a sifnificant rise in the population from people moving there from rural areas.

I really think Ho Chi Minh City could benefit from making groyps all across the city thatcan develop to branches, basically the Daloa Plan. The one thing is to be fair Daloa only worked because the in country development in Ivory Coast meant an almost all Ivorian mission force was large enough to carry off such a move. Still I hope the Church not only moves forward on new branches in other parts of Vietnam but on more in Ho Chi Minh City since no city of that physical size let alone population can be adequately served by three branches.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Azccra Ghana Adenta Stake just got another branch pushing it to 10 wards and 6 branches. This is technically enough to split but in the hopeful event that some of the branches are soon to become wards it is probably a safe guess for being split this year.

James said...

Christopher, two apostles were at the ceremony where the Vietnamese government granted official recognition to the Church. The two were Elders Quentin L. Cook and Gary E. Stevenson. I imagine it was probably Elder Cook that made the statement you cited above. While Elder Stevenson has personal ties to Asia (having served there as a missionary, mission president, and general authority seventy), Elder Cook was in that case the "presiding official", which makes him the most likely one to have made that statement. Let me do the research, since that is always something I enjoy. Okay. I am right now looking at the article from Mormon Newsroom. And it appears that I was wrong. Elder Stevenson's exact statement was not that the Church had to be careful in unit establishment there. He said: "According to the law and working closely with local Vietnam authorities, we look forward, gradually, over time, to establishing groups or branches for ... additional Church members." FWIW, that's exactly what he said.

And also, excellent observations, as always, John! I definitely am looking forward to many important and significant developments in terms of future Church growth milestones in Vietnam.

Eduardo Clinch said...

My mother and step-father loved their LDS Charities mission in Cambodia, noting that there are Vietnamese units in Phnom Penh.
The future is bright.
I just ran into an old friend in Maryland whose nephew was called to Vietnam. I wonder how many elders and sisters are there now.
Also, Laos needs to open, along with more activity in Myanmar.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church does have a Hamoi District Branch indicating that there are probably groups of the Church in other locations in Vietnam. While there may be some hurdles to get local recognition, there is also the hurdle of getting enough local priesthood leadership for a branch. I believe it is fairly low for a branch in a district, but still I believe they want at least a melchezidek preisthood holder, and generally ordination to that office is at least a few months after baptism, and the Church really tries as much as possible to not have full time missionaries counted for branch leadership, at least not as branch presidents, so the Church could easily have set up multiple official locations where sacrament meeting occurs in Vietnam that are designated as groups under the Hanoi District Branch and not yet substantial enough to be their own branches.

John Pack Lambert said...

LDS Church Temples only reported one change in Church units today. It was an additional ward in the Maceió Brazil Stake. The Church seems to be experiencing real growth in Brazil.

I predict that Brasilia will get a temple announced this year and Salvador by the time 2020 is out. I would love to see a temple announced for Cuiaba, but am less sure in giving a time frame.

James said...

Interesting insights about Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. Thanks for sharing, Eduardo and John!

And great news about the newly reported unit in Brazil. Brazil has always been a country where people seem to be very receptive to the gospel, and the Church is spreading quickly. I could definitely see the number of temples in Brazil being equal to or surpassing the number of temples in Utah. Utah has 16 temples in operation. The dedication of the temple in Cedar City will make it 17. In the meantime, Brazil has six temples. One is under construction in Fortaleza, and the one in Rio will be underway soon. The temple announced for Belem will bring the total to nine, so Brazil is over halfway there. And for a nation that is growing as swiftly as Brazil seems to be, I could definitely see that happening someday. Maybe not for a while, but someday. The future seems bright for the Church in Brazil.

John, as to your comments about a temple being announced in Brasilia this year, along with one for Salvador by or before 2020, I hope that is the case. Belo Horizonte seems to be another strong contender for a temple in the near future. How imminently likely that is remains to be seen.

In terms of future temple announcements, I can see several in unexpected places within the next few years, as well as some that everyone seems to be anticipating. President Monson's stated goal of having every Church member within a 200 mile radius of a temple is fast becoming a reality. I have often made reference to my theory that the Church might have 200 temples or more by or before its 200th anniversary on April 6, 2030. We only need to have 23 more announced. By early spring of 2019, the Church might only have 32 to complete, which is more than doable in the 11 years that would then remain until that anniversary. I strongly believe it will happen, whether or not the Church sets an official goal to do so.

Thanks for continuing to let me ramble. Hope this comment has been helpful to some of you.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I don't know if anybody follows any full time missionary blogs; a few years ago I read a couple. Maybe there has been a policy change to publishing one? I would like to see one fron Vietnam.

John Pack Lambert said...

I hope we got to 200 temples well before 2030, but have not worked out how it would come about.

I was thinking about the issues involved in Spanish-speaking units. I know some people view than as more ethnic than linguistic. However the only reason the Church has them is linguistic. Otherwise we would do groups along the lines of the Genesis Groups, where the people remain fully in regular wards but also have a special, often once a month, meeting outside normal meeting times.

So it is possible that the decision in Northern Arizona was that there was not linguistic justification for seperate Spanish-speaking units, and there was a need to integrate all people into unified units.

While I think this is a good policy in theory, at times it has been pushed in ways that are not good. Too many American linguistic imperialists end up being too antagonistic to the use of Spanish in Church. In some cases Hispanic people feel too isolated if the integration is not done in a sensitive way. Some people are militaristic about using their mother tongue, especially in something so close to their heart as worship.

For some the last means they will insist on going to Spanish-language sacrament meeting as long as they can, even if they have a PhD with their disseration written in English and have published multiple books in English. For others this means wanting to pray in Spanish. I say let them pray in Spanish. I remember when I was little there was a sister in my ward who would give her testimony in Spanish and it would be interpreted by a brother who served his mission in Chile (and whose wife was from Venezuela). Evidently when I was really little there was also a point where the primary presidency meetings where held in Spanish. So I am fully for letting people use the language they are most comfortable in. I have seen people overly stressing because they were going to have to give a prayer in English, and always thought they should be allowed to give it in Spanish.

On the other hand I have been told there are youth in some Spanish-speaking units who are not fluent in Spanish at all. I know on my mission we at times wished the Spanish-speakers were in the English wards because then they would not be as white. Hispanics being in the wards may or may not have made blacks feel more welcome, and the only person I baptized on my mission who was ordained to the melchezidek priesthood before I went home was a black person baptized in a ward with no current blacks (although when I first got there there was a black sister of Haitian descent who was along with her white husband staying with her inlaws, I think she had met her husband while he was a missionary in the Boston Mission, so a similar story to Jason and Mia Love, just a little further east). The ward did have a Navajo Ward Mission leader (whose wife was white), a Hawaiian 1st counselor in the bishopric (whose wife was white) and there was a Nicaraguan who was in the stake mission presidency in the ward (whose wife was white).

So if you have large numbers of English-proficient Hisapnics in an area, it might well be the best method to do missionary work to get all Hispanics to go to the geographical ward.

Then of course you always have people like The Villapondos. The Villapondos went to both the English and Spanish ward, and my companion was hesitant about going their for dinner. He mentioned that his last companion had gone there on exchanges and felt out of place. I went there, and my little Spanish helped me, but I also could tell Sister Villapondo had exhausted her English when she said "Thankyou for coming to dinner."

People need to realize that those speaking in a language you do not understnad are not doing it because of some actual desire to exclude you.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Working in the former San Bernardino 6th Branch, I realized that I was more effective speaking with young adults and youth in English. Immigrants and people over 30 was better in Spanish.
Lots of mixed culture families, including Salvadorans who resented being considered Mexican. Or other non-Mexicans, including Anglo people who were married into the families of Latinos.

John Pack Lambert said...

Some of my studies suggest that couples most often go with the language of the wife. This means in some cases people with the last name Johnson are more likely to be in the Spanish-branch than those with the last name of Sanchez.

Ryan Searcy said...

According to LDSChurchTemples.com, the Dakar Branch (Senegal) is now part of the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan West Mission.

James Anderson said...

I don't see Cuiaba getting a temple in the near term unless Mato Grosso and MS do Sul see stronger groth, they are less populated despite having a lot of small towns.

Eventually things will fill in, Maceio is a good size city and appears to be the largest in Alagoas, while Aracaju/Nossa Senhora do Socorro seems to be the largest in Sergipe, and I think that Salvador will be the next big eastern city to get a temple.

John Pack Lambert said...

I was going to mention the reasignment of the Dakar Branch but that has already been done. Hopefully this is a sign missionar work is going to begin in ernest in Senegal. Hopefully the same thing can also happen in Mali. It would be awesome to see Senegal get its own mission but if the Ivory Coast Abijan West Mission President repeats the Daloa plan in Dakar and Bamako things will be good.

John Pack Lambert said...

So I figured out the current mission president of Ivory Coast Abijan West is David Ehounou who is 43. I hope President Ehounou can push forward strong growth in Senegal. Any idea how easy it would be for Ivorians to be admitted to Senegal as missionaries since most of President Ehounou's missionaries are Ivorians?

President Ehounou is part of the 25% of mission presidents who worked full time for the Church before their mission call. President Ehounou was a materials management supervisor for the office of the presiding bishopric, I guess for some or all of Ivory Coast. Does anyone know enough to explain what this meant he actually did. I understand the facilities management side are the people who oversee the maintenance of buildings, but what do the materials management people do?

John Pack Lambert said...

This week the Church news started the biographies of new mission presidents. One a native of Porto Alegre Brazil who lives in Manaus where his wife was born and is goibg to serve as president of the Sao Paulo South Mission is described as an enployee of the Corporation of the President. Is this the Corporation of the President of the LDS Church?

The new President Bednar is 53 and a native of Provo. His father is named Richard Bednar. He is not a brother of David A. Bednar who is the youngest of 3 children. I cant rule out this being Elder Bednar's nephew considering Elder Bednar is called the youngest by 15 years in the Ensign biography of him.

John Pack Lambert said...

This week the Church news started the biographies of new mission presidents. One a native of Porto Alegre Brazil who lives in Manaus where his wife was born and is goibg to serve as president of the Sao Paulo South Mission is described as an enployee of the Corporation of the President. Is this the Corporation of the President of the LDS Church?

The new President Bednar is 53 and a native of Provo. His father is named Richard Bednar. He is not a brother of David A. Bednar who is the youngest of 3 children. I cant rule out this being Elder Bednar's nephew considering Elder Bednar is called the youngest by 15 years in the Ensign biography of him.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church News has an article about the first regional conference of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society in Mexico where Dallin H. Oaks spoke on religious freedom. Also speaking was a former chief justice of Mexico's Supreme Court. The society has gone from 1 to 8 chapters in Mexico in if I read it right about a year.

This tells me the Church is being positioned to influence society in Mexico more.

I firmly believe we will see Church growth in Mexico over the next 15 years on a significant kevel but I am also an eternal optimist.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church News has an article about the first regional conference of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society in Mexico where Dallin H. Oaks spoke on religious freedom. Also speaking was a former chief justice of Mexico's Supreme Court. The society has gone from 1 to 8 chapters in Mexico in if I read it right about a year.

This tells me the Church is being positioned to influence society in Mexico more.

I firmly believe we will see Church growth in Mexico over the next 15 years on a significant kevel but I am also an eternal optimist.

John Pack Lambert said...

Of the 8 new mission presidents in this weeks Church News 6 are from the US. Besides the Brazilian there is a New Zealander who is being calked to serve as a mission president in New Zealand replacing a couple that were from my home ward here in Michigan.

The wife in the New Zealand couple was born in Tonga and served her mission there. The husband like all other Maori served his mission in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. OK that is a slight exageration.

James said...

Eduardo, I don't know much about blogs done by missionaries. From what little I do know, I can tell you that they used to be quite common but are not so much anymore. I imagine that is because lately the regulations for missionaries and what they are allowed to do with modern technology has been more restricted to mainly staying in touch with immediate family members. And that makes perfect sense. While I would enjoy reading a blog maintained by an actively-serving missionary, I understand completely the notion that there are more important, longer lasting things upon which such full-time missionaries should be focusing. So in a way I get it.

John, as to your query regarding how the Church could have 200 temples before 2030, I have crunched the numbers, so I have some idea of how to answer that. I have often said that if current plans hold, we could have as many as 166 temples dedicated by the early months of 2019. That would mean that we would only need 34 temples to be completed in the 11 years remaining. 34/11 is roughly 3 per year, so if after early 2019 the Church completed four or more per year, then 200 could easily be reached before 2030. Does that help?

In the meantime, John, my thanks to you and to Eduardo also for your additional comments about the nuances related to how Spanish-speaking units are formed, governed, and maintained. Interesting stuff as always. I have had some exposure to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Saints by virtue of my six-year service as a temple worker. I was the go-to brother to help with foreign language patrons. By the end of my six-year service, I had received patrons in at least 11 languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Thai. I think I also may have almost done a patron or two in Italian as well, but that opportunity fell through.

That said, ask me how many of those languages I actually had experience with, and I will tell you: English (my native language) and French (which I studied for three years in High School). I had had limited exposure to Spanish and German by virtue of an Introduction to Foreign languages course which I had taken in Junior High, where the semester course was divided evenly between those two and French.

But before I had even taken that course, I had cultivated a lifelong love of the French language and I was determined to study as much of it as I could as soon as I could. All of that backstory is a side issue, though. My point is that I had no skills in any of these languages other than English and French. The only reason I took a chance on doing the other ones was because, except for Spanish and Portuguese, which many of my fellow workers felt comfortable with, no one else was volunteering to assist in these other languages. And I didn't undertake these experiences because I could do them with any degree of perfection or accuracy. I did so because I felt that these patrons deserved to have someone at least attempt to assist them in their native language when so much else of their temple experience was so foreign to them except those things are universally common to it in spite of the languages involved.

And it paid off. Without fail, each patron who I helped thanked me so profusely and so sweetly in the very best broken English they could muster. When their words failed, their smiles and sometimes their tears said it all. For that reason, among many others, my temple service will always and forever be looked upon by me as one of the fondest, best, and most formative experiences in my life. It awakened in me a life-long desire to embrace differences, to transcend boundaries, and to expand the borders of the love which the Lord has and by which I tried my best to govern and regulate the service rendered.

James said...

Ryan, thanks for the comment regarding the transfer of the Dakar Branch. It is amazing to see how the Lord sees fit to regulate and refocus the efforts of the individual units of the Church.

James Anderson, thanks for the continuing insights about potential Brazilian temples. I am not as up on my geography as I should be, and this is especially true of Brazil. I have no knowledge of Church growth developments anywhere in Brazil where there is not a temple, with the possible exception of the three cities I keep mentioning as more-than-likely candidates for Brazil's next temples (Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, and Salvador). Having done the research, I will say that, at least in terms of the number of operating Church units, these three cities have the highest Church presence without having an operating temple.

So while any one of them may be equally likely to have a temple announced soon, it also wouldn't surprise me in the least to find out that other cities in Brazil will have temples announced before any of them. And given the precedent of at least the two Utah cities and Lima Peru having two temples, I also feel that we cannot in any way rule out the future possibility of other world cities, including some of the bigger Brazilian ones, having two temples at some point.

John, your continuing comments and your extensive knowledge of so much history in terms of missions and mission presidents is inspiring. In answer to some specific questions you posed and some particular comments you made, let me say this: I believe that the phrase "Corporation of the President" does indeed refer to that of the President of the Church. As to your comments on the new Misson President Bednar, you are right that he is not Elder Bednar's brother. There might be a chance that Mission President Bednar is Elder Bednar's nephew, if, as you say, the Ensign article refers to him as being the youngest in his family by 15 years. My wife is the youngest in her family, and her oldest nephew is just younger than I am. So it is possible.

Thanks also for your comment about the J. Reuben Clark Law School regional conference in Mexico as reported by the Deseret News. Interesting thoughts, as always. The growth of the Church in Mexico has been astounding, to say the least. And I have no doubts that this will continue. The Lord is far from done with expanding the Church in Mexico. It wouldn't surprise me to have many more missions and temples announced in Mexico within the next several years. Always interesting to consider how well the Church has taken off there. Thanks.

John Pack Lambert said...

Of the 8 new mission presidents in this weeks Church News 6 are from the US. Besides the Brazilian there is a New Zealander who is being calked to serve as a mission president in New Zealand replacing a couple that were from my home ward here in Michigan.

The wife in the New Zealand couple was born in Tonga and served her mission there. The husband like all other Maori served his mission in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. OK that is a slight exageration.

John Pack Lambert said...

I just added in a paragraph about area presidencies. still 1 of the 5 paragraphs about the time President Hinckley was a member of the 1st presidency (a total of 14 years) is about the Hoffman case, and that is by far the longest paragraph. The article mentions no temple dedications for example.

James said...

John, your comments above are interesting, to be sure, but in some ways, I am not sure what you are referencing. A couple of specific questions and comments: It is interesting to note the connections people on this blog have had with mission presidents. I have mentioned before how a brother from my parent's ward has gone on to serve as a mission president. I believe he also has subsequently served as an MTC president as well. And then of course there was my first stake president who had been put in to that position shortly before we moved to American Fork. He was released from his service after about 9 or 10 years because of his call to serve as president of one of the Brazil missions. So I do think it's awesome that you knew a couple who presided over a New Zealand mission. But one thing I don't understand what you meant about Maori people serving in the South Dakota Rapid City mission. That was my dad's field of labor way back when. And as far as I know, he hasn't mentioned anyone in his mission being a native Maori. Is that a recent development? It is the first I've heard of something like that.

As to your comment about adding paragraphs, I'm not sure at all what you are talking about. Where did you add these paragraphs? You seemed to make the statement without any context. I would particularly love to know where it was you added the information about area presidencies, President Hinckley and the Hoffman case, and the temple dedications. It seems that you went along a train of thought on this without referencing what it is that you are referring to. Thanks for the clarification.

John Pack Lambert said...

Well, on the Maori in the Rapid City South Dakota mission when I was at BYU I met a guy from New Zealand whose Dad was Maori and his Mom was Sioux. I asked how his parents had met and he said "In the usual way, my Dad was a missionary in South Dakota" implying this was common. Then later on I met a Navajo guy while riding the bus in Provo. He served in the Rapid City South Dakota mission, and told me his mission president heavily discouraged the Polynesian missionaries from coming back and marrying women they met on their mission, because it happened so often.

I added the paragraphs I mentioned to the Wikipedia article on Gordon B. Hinckley. I am sorry I was not at all clear about that. After I wrote that post I also added a paragraph mentioning the temples President Hinckley dedicated as a counselor to Spencer W. Kimball. The Wikipedia article on President Hinckley could be fleshed out quite a bit still. I will also see if I can come across anything from J. D. Haws wonderful book "The Mormon Image in the American Mind" to add to the article.

John Pack Lambert said...

Some of the confusion came about because my initial post about my views on Wikipedia content was on the thread about the Podcast and not this thread. Sorry about the confusion.

John Pack Lambert said...

I look forward to the day that ever city in Brazil with 1 million or more people has a temple.

One city where I would love to see a temple is Sao Luis. The situation in the Church there is interesting. There are 2 stakes there. In the Sao Luis Stake there are 5 wards. 4 are basically all in the city. Then the 5th is the Sao Luis Ward, which takes in part of the city, but also entirely wraps around the East Stake, and about a hundred miles of so both east and west from the city. I have to wonder if there are groups that function under this ward. If there are, hopefully some will soon progress to being branches.

R. Jofre said...

I wouldn't put much faith in accuracy of those boundaries John, unless you can confirm with someone that those are actually correct. I know that in the case of Chile some boundaries are absolutely wrong.

Christopher Nicholson said...

It occurs to me that there may be significant reluctance among church leadership to have units named after a Communist leader. What about when Ho Chi Minh City gets its own district, and then stakes? What about a temple? Awkward.

John Pack Lambert said...

In the Southfield Ward that I go to a woman and her 12 year old daughter were confirmed today. This brings to 6 the number of people confirmed since I started attending at the beginning of November, all African-Americans. A brother who was baptized back in November was sustained as a ward missionary today.

John Pack Lambert said...

In the Southfield Ward that I go to a woman and her 12 year old daughter were confirmed today. This brings to 6 the number of people confirmed since I started attending at the beginning of November, all African-Americans. A brother who was baptized back in November was sustained as a ward missionary today.

James said...

John, thanks for the clarifications. My dad, as I said, served his mission in the South Dakota Rapid City mission. As far as I can recall, he hasn't mentioned anything regarding any Maori people serving in his mission. That said, I am not exactly sure how many races may have been restrited from serving missions or holding the priesthood due to the "priesthood ban". Don't know if the restriction applied to the Maoris. But my dad hasn't recently spoken about his mission experiences. So he could have worked with a Maori companion and he just hasn't mentioned it. I will have to ask him sometime. But I do know that he served (I think) from 1979-1981 or thereabouts. All I do know is that my dad had met and somewhat developed feelings for my mom before his mission (she was a native South African that came here on a "short vacation" and served her own mission partly in concurrence with his.) So even if the opportunity had presented itself for him to possibly be attracted to someone else during his mission, it did not happen that way. Sorry. There I go mentioning random anecdotes from my life again. Hope I am not offending or bothering anyone. My point was that, as far as I know, my dad never encountered anything like that when he served. I may ask him about that in the future. It could be interesting to find out about.

Thanks also for clarifying the point on what it was you were referencing. I realized after asking you for that clarification that you had likely followed the same line of thought and response on two separate threads. I am sorry I didn't think of that before.

James said...

As I said, the future is bright in terms of the Church growth potential in Brazil. I could see many more temples there in the near future, including cities that are not at all well populated right now in terms of Church presence. The growth in Brazil is something I watch with great interest, primarily because of the many wonderful things that have happened there within the last couple of years. We are sure to see many more such wonderful developments in the future. There are many cities where we could see a temple within the next few years. I am trying to keep an eye out for and report on all such developments as I can.

It seems to me that the Church is very careful in the names they choose for newly-established units, and even for temples. I am sure many factors are considered as that is approached. And I can see the Church developing future unit and temple names that are very appropriate. I have no worries on that point.

And thanks for your continuing reports, John, regarding developments in your local unit. These reports have inspired me. It is interesting. Right now, my wife and I have two home teachers that have been very diligent since getting their assignment to visit us late last year. They are always there when we need them. And one of them is from Armenia. The service of these good men have been inspiring. It seems that both of them are not very experienced in giving priesthood blessings, but my situation has given them numerous opportunities to administer to me and encourage me. They have been great. I think that particular assignment, for them to visit us, was meant to be for all of us right now. It's just a perfect fit. The Armenian brother was voice in administering to me a couple of weeks ago, and it was the most beautiful and inspirational blessing I think I have ever received. He always apologizes for his accent, but I couldn't be more thrilled that he is one of our home teachers. It means a lot to me to have them drop everything every time we have needed them. My own diligence as a home teacher is one of the very many things I need to fix in my life. My health has been such that I have not once been able to go since receiving the assignment to be in a companionship with the executive secretary in our ward. But he has been very good to take care of things while I cannot.

I am doing it again. I apologize for sharing so many personal experiences. I hope none of you are bothered by my doing so. If it ever becomes a problem, please do let me know. Thanks for letting me comment so much. I continue to be blown away by the many wonderful insights shared here. And in my own small way, I likewise hope my comments and shared experiences can be helpful to some of you who read them. Thanks for indulging my ramblings.

Johnathan Whiting said...

@John Pack Lambert:

I agree with you on the statement that "Too many American linguistic imperialists end up being too antagonistic to the use of Spanish in Church."

About a year ago, my current English ward had a combined primary with the Spanish ward in our stake. I thought it was great, as I'm bilingual and I got to mingle with a lot of Spanish speakers fairly often. Also, my sister was the primary chorister and about half of her 7 kids were in the primary, so I got to help her translate lessons, learn songs in Spanish, and teach her and her kids new Spanish words. They were also beginning to make new friends with the Spanish-speaking kids and learn about their cultures.

Unfortunately, politics intervened. Some local higher ups and some of the primary teachers were getting on my sister's case for "not teaching and speaking enough in English" in the primary. On the other hand, several of the Spanish-speaking teachers and leaders were getting on her case for "not teaching and speaking enough in Spanish" at the same time.

Because of the conflict, the combined primary was dissolved.

It seems very unfortunate to me, as now my ward, the English ward, has a comparatively small and dwindling primary and youth program (especially after many move-outs over these last few months), whereas the Spanish ward seems to be thriving and prospering.

During my tenure as a youth leader and while attending the combined primary and teaching a lesson on art to the Spanish youth, I came to discover that most of the Spanish ward youth and primary in this area are exceptionally fluent in English. The really sad part is that, because of some old fuddy duddies on either side of the issue weren't willing to get a little out of their comfort zone and embrace some change, the youth and primary programs have suffered in our stake (especially in my current English ward).

Oh, well. Sometimes we just have to wait for the old guard to die off (like the wicked Children of Israel who stayed in the desert for 40 years), so that the new kids can inherit the Promised Land. I just wish it didn't come at the cost of the friendships and social connections that could have been made had people been a little more flexible.



Johnathan Whiting said...

@James:

Here's the some info on Race and the Priesthood as it applies to Pacific Islanders and Polynesians:

https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

"The Church had always allowed Pacific Islanders to hold the priesthood, and President McKay clarified that black Fijians and Australian Aborigines could also be ordained to the priesthood and instituted missionary work among them."

"Even before this time, President George Albert Smith concluded that the priesthood ban did not apply to Filipino Negritos."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_people_and_Mormonism

"The racial restriction policy was applied to black Africans, persons of black African descent, and any one with mixed race that included any black African ancestry. The policy was not applied to Native Americans, Hispanics, Melanesians, or Polynesians."

James said...

To John Pack Lambert and Jonathan Whiting, I appreciate your continuing comments on this issue. As I mentioned (I believe) earlier on this thread, the first ward my parent's family lived in at one time had a Spanish-speaking brother, I believe a recent convert, who had married a lady who lived down the street from us. He struggled to follow along with the lessons and in Sacrament Meeting, and he always seemed so stressed when trying to communicate. But there were a couple of times I remember clearly when he was asked to pray in our Sacrament Meeting and was given permission to do it in Spanish, which he felt most comfortable with. The prayer was difficult for me to understand, except for a few words I clearly recognized from my limited Spanish. But everyone felt the Spirit associated with the intent and feeling behind that prayer, and that feeling was a language understood by all.

I think it is the height of ignorance and narrowmindedness to assume and to assert that the native language of a designated unit should be used by all in every case, regardless of the fact that some people simply cannot integrate. I can see where there might be reasons to not hold joint events where there might be a possibility that either langauge involved might be underutilized. But I for one have always loved diversity.

That has been one most amazing things about our current ward. The first person to introduce himself to me in Church other than the bishopric was a man with a Spanish or Portuguese accent who speaks English very well, and he is one of the friendliest and concerned people in our ward, especially taking opportunities to seek me out at Church and find out how I'm doing each week. In the meantime, our ward is very diverse.

As I said, (again, I believe it was in this very thread. If not, I apologize) the first home teachers that have ever come to our house are a great pair. They came to visit us the night they got the assignment. One of them is a native Armenian with a thick accent. He has felt self-conscious about his accent and usually has not felt confident enough to be the voice in administering to me in times past. But this most recent time, he took the main role in our visit, and he shared some of the experiences he has had working in America as a non-native by way of showing me that my situation, being the only active Latter-day Saint at work, was not all that separated from what his experiences have been. Both of us have had to adjust to less-than-ideal situations that have made it hard. After my home teachers had given me the needed encouragement, this good Armenian brother indicated to me that he felt confident in being voice in administering to me if I wanted him to. The blessing he gave was one of the most beautiful I have received. It will be another one of the many in my life where the words have been indelibly written on my heart. And it is because of that blessing that I had the courage to not only press on this week in the less-than-ideal work environment, but also to ask for and be granted the additional accommodations I needed. I am absolutely convinced that these men are meant to be our home teachers at this time. And the Armenian brother was meant to give me that blessing right when I needed it. And so, I press on.

That said, I want to thank you additionally, Jonathan, for the insights you shared regarding the priesthood restrictions. I was aware that Matthew Cowley had been called "the apostle to the Maoris" of the Church, but I had not been aware of what the racial restrictions relating to the priesthood and its blessings had entailed. I have never been afraid or bothered to learn about anything that is beyond what I know. Knowledge is power, and I do feel that my knowledge on the subject has been greatly enhanced by your insights. Thank you.

John Pack Lambert said...

Lds church temples dot com reports the creation of the Ha Dong and Long Bien Branches. These are two areas within the Hamoi Urban Area, suggesting that Urban Hanoi now has 3 branches. As I understand it Long Bien is part of the city, and Ha Dong is outside the city but in the urban area, but I might have misinterpreted what I read.

On the priesthood restriction, despite claims that it was applied to anyone with known African-Ancestry this was not always the case. Growing up in Filmore, Utah there was a family in my grandfather's ward in the 1920s and 1930s who had known African ancestry, but they had gotten permission from higher up to ordain members of the family to the priesthood.

In South Africa Davoid O. McKay, when he visited in 1954, changed the rule from having to trace all ancestry out of Africa to only not ordaining when African ancestry was known.

In Brazil many people of some African ancestry were ordained to the priesthood because their African ancestry was not known. I am not sure what the policy was if this fact was determined later. I know my Dad on his mission dealt with situations where people who had been baptized and then did their family history and determined they had African ancestry left the Church because they disliked the policy and took many of their friends with them, but I do not know what the policy was.

I also know in Jamaica the first native Jamaican converts, Victor Nugent and his wife, persisted in holding meetings without the sacarament when those who had converted them moved away. The Nugents named one of their children Spencer after President Kimball.

John Pack Lambert said...

At one point while New Zealand was about 80% white and 20% Maori, the Church was the other way around.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

It looks like 2 mere branch's in Vietnam this week, I hope we be able to see a stack there soon.

James said...

John, thanks for the additional insights about the priesthood restrictions and the Maori people. Thanks also for the comments about the growth of the Church in Vietnam that seems to have really taken off since the officially recognition last year. I love that such progress has been made in such a short period of time. I look forward to the continuing progress in Vietnam. I would love to see a temple there soon.

And Bryce, I would also love to see a stake in Vietnam. One being created in the not-too-distant future would indicate to me that we might see a temple in Vietnam sooner rather than later. As with most issues related to the timing of temple announcements, and this is especially true in the case of Vietnam, it is comforting to know that the Lord is in control of such developments. When the time is right, we will see stakes, more missions, and even temples, plural. I can't wait for further developments to unfold in this regard.

Johnathan Whiting said...

@James: You're welcome.

@John Pack Lambert: Thank you for the clarification and additional info on the Priesthood Ban.