The hearts of Zimbabwean brothers and sisters have been warmed in a way that they cannot explain.
This follows the announcement by President Thomas S. Monson in the recent April general conference that the very first Latter-Day Saint temple in Zimbabwe will be built in its capital, Harare. The news has sparked huge anticipation amongst Zimbabwean members all around the globe.
Soon after the announcement, Elder Chatora received a “flurry of messages” from the saints in Zimbabwe.
“One could feel the jubilation on the ground. It is a new day for Zimbabwe!” he said.
Courage Mlilo, a member from Harare, could not contain his excitement. “The people have been so patient for a long time through all the difficulties that the country has gone through, such as having a bad economy,” said Courage. “I am really grateful because now we are also going to experience the mercies of our Father in Heaven on a higher level. It is the biggest blessing we have received as a country,” he said.
Loretta Kumire said that she felt blessed and humbled that Heavenly Father had blessed her country. “It has made me recognise how the Lord is continually watching over his children,” said Loretta. “This whole experience and announcement made me remember the scripture in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that reads ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him.’” She also added that the news came sooner than expected. “I have always known that we would be blessed with a temple in Zimbabwe but I didn’t know that it would be this soon,” she said.
Translating temple ordinances into Shona
Dorothy Tembo, a Zimbabwean member who currently lives in South Africa, believes that preparation for this day began in 2010 when Zimbabwean members helped to translate church materials into their home language of Shona.
“I was one of the people who translated the Book of Mormon into Shona and helped with getting the material online so that it was accessible for many other people,” said Dorothy. In that same year, they also translated the temple ordinances, even though there was no temple in the country. “Heavenly Father was testing our faith here because my team and I were asked to translate the temple ordinances into Shona,” she said.
Changing the lives of the saints
Elder Chatora said that a new temple in Zimbabwe would mean that local members could attend the temple more frequently.
Nigel Blessings Ndlovu, who lives in Bulawayo, said: “I love the temple so much and I always make sure I visit the temple in Johannesburg at least once a year. Now this will be a thing of the past as a temple will be close by. Instead of a 12-hour drive, it will take only four hours to get to the temple, and that will mean instead of one trip to the temple a year, now I will be able to go to the temple even twice a month!”
Nigel said he would prepare for the special event by continuing to worship in the Johannesburg temple and remaining worthy to hold a current recommend.
According to church history records, the church was first recognized in Zimbabwe in 1950. However, missionaries and church leaders started visiting the country as early as 1930. In the year 1987, the church opened its first mission in the capital city and it served Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. By mid-2012, the Zimbabwe Harare Mission became a stand-alone mission.
According to Elder Chatora, the church in this land will continue to grow from strength to strength. “The church is growing steadily, with the fourth stake in Harare on the horizon,” he said. “The saints are resilient, humble and faithful. This was the answer to many fervent prayers.”
Read more about the reactions of the Zimbabwe members here.