Thursday, July 1, 2010

LDS in Cote d'Ivoire

The experiences of one Latter-day Saint woman in the Ivory Coast:
Sister Powa served as first counselor in the Cocody Ivory Coast Stake Relief Society presidency during the Ivorian civil war in 2002. ... Visiting teaching — traveling to the nine wards in her stake and making sure all the sisters had food and water — were big responsibilities made harder when the police instigated a curfew, Sister Powa said. When they couldn't visit teach in person, they made telephone calls instead. But they were thankful they had followed President Gordon B. Hinckley's counsel when he advised members to collect food storage for emergencies. ...

When families from the war-stricken area of Ivory Coast left their homes, the bishops asked the members of Sister Powa's stake to host them. Most of them never returned home, but stayed and tried to begin life anew. ...

"We taught them that they should keep their faith; most of them did keep their faith," she said. "You have to rely on God. If you don't have hope, your life is gone. You have to keep praying that the war will stop; you shouldn't give up."
Eventually, the war did end, but members still face difficulties every day. What amazes Sister Powa about her ward and stake are the people who walk miles and hours to and from church, who have tough challenges in life and who sell goods on the street to feed their families when no other jobs are available. These people come to church with smiles on their faces, excited to be part of the gospel, she said. ...

When she came to Utah, Sister Powa was happy to discover that the Spirit works the same way here as it does in her own country. ... hen she arrived in Utah she noticed something different and was surprised by what she found.

"It's like you have something special, but you don't know it. You just take it for granted," she said. "When someone in Ivory Coast takes [the gospel] seriously, the life of that person changes a lot ... In Ivory Coast, you are excited about [it]. This is the Church of Jesus Christ."
"All I know is that I'm so happy to be in the Church. I love when I went to the temple; the Spirit is the same inside," she said. "This is what I like — the Church is the same no matter where you are...."

The nearest temple for LDS in Cote d'Ivoire is in neighboring Accra Ghana, approximately 260 miles from the capital, Abidjan.

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