News Release

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles Inspires Kenyan Saints

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles Concludes 9 Day Africa Ministry in Nairobi, Kenya

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles completed a 9 day ministry in the Africa Central Area with 3 busy days in Nairobi, Kenya.  Upon landing in Nairobi from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Elder Stevenson motored to the Africa Central Area office where he thanked and counseled the employees and senior missionaries of the Area.  Joining him were Elder Ian S Ardern, Africa Central Area President, Elder Paul B. Pieper, 2nd Counselor in the Area Presidency, and Francis Kazeh-Anfo, Director of Temporal Affairs in the Area.   Elder Stevenson reminded the gathering that even though the employees are led by a Director of Temporal Affairs, their work is not temporal by saying, “All things in the Lord’s Kingdom have a spiritual nature about them.  Everything you do has a spiritual nature about it…we are grateful for you.  We are proud of you.”  He referenced the youth theme for 2024 – “I am a Disciple of Jesus Christ,” and the same focus for the Africa Central Area as stated in the Area Priorities – “I am a Disciple of Jesus Christ.”  “I am really grateful that we are finding this focus on Jesus Christ as part of the culture of the Africa Central Area,” said Elder Stevenson. 

After personally greeting each member of the Africa Central Area staff in Nairobi, Elder Stevenson made a short trip to meet with, exhort, counsel and inspire missionaries of the Kenya, Nairobi Mission.   Over 100 full time missionaries were patiently and enthusiastically ready for a group photo with Elder and Sister Stevenson, followed by the opportunity to meet and be greeted by an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and his faithful wife.  And then, for over an hour, Elder Stevenson taught the missionaries.  In introducing Elder Stevenson to the missionaries, Kenya Nairobi Mission President David H. Sturt shared his personal experience with Elder Stevenson.  When President Sturt was a new Stake President of the Cottonwood Stake in Holladay, Utah (USA), Elder Stevenson was assigned to preside at the Cottonwood Stake Conference.  First on the schedule of that Stake Conference weekend was a one on one meeting with Elder Stevenson and Stake President Sturt.  President Sturt was expecting to be asked for an accounting  of things in the Cottonwood Stake and to receive some correction and instruction.  Instead, Elder Stevenson personified the Savior’s “new commandment,” to “love one another,” by asking President Sturt, “How are YOU doing?”  “Tell me about your family.”  Tell me about each of your children.”  The interview was devoted to Elder Stevenson focusing on the new Stake President’s life and family.  It exemplified the Savior’s commandment to love one another. 

Elder Stevenson affirmed to the missionaries that their mission calls were a heavenly process.  “Some of you I assigned to this mission,” he said.  And then he explained the heavenly process.  “The process of assigning missionaries is a manifestation of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ because it means that the heavens are open and revelation comes to those who are given this responsibility that comes to members of the Quorum of the Twelve.  Each one of you can say that at this moment you are where Heavenly Father wants you to be.”  He then assured the missionaries that President Sturt also relies on revelation in where he assigns missionaries.  Anticipating the upcoming split of the Nairobi Mission into the Nairobi East and Nairobi West missions and the concerns of the young missionaries about the mission split, he said, “we are one mission, one country for a few more months.  We are going to have two missions, one country.  Don’t worry about it.  Everything is going to work out according to Heaven’s plan.”

On day 2 in Nairobi, Elder Stevenson led a 2.5 hour leadership meeting followed by a one hour meeting with Bishops, Branch Presidents, District Presidents and Stake Presidents in Kenya.  He was joined in providing instruction by Africa Central Area President Elder Ian S. Ardern, and 2nd Counselor Elder Paul B. Pieper and by Area Seventy for Kenya Elder Johnny Baddoo.  Each provided counsel to the large gathering of leaders and then for leaders responded to questions.  Elder Stevenson focused his instruction on the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  He pointed out that in a world of over eight billion people, only 17 million are gifted with the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  “How do we learn to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost?” queried Elder Stevenson.  He answered his own question by saying that “the Spirit communicates quietly through feelings, impressions to the mind and heart.  Communications from the Spirit feel different to different people.”  He encouraged the leaders to learn to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and to act on those promptings.  Elder Ardern referenced the Area Priority to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ and harmonized it with President Nelson’s sermon to Think Celestial.  “The invitation to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ is an invitation to Think Celestial,” Elder Ardern taught.

Elder Stevenson’s busy Nairobi Day 2 continued with a Press Conference before nearly 30 members of print, radio and television media outlets.  The Press Conference gave Elder Stevenson the opportunity to speak to a nationwide audience of Kenyans.  After the Press Conference, Elder Stevenson, Elder Ardern, Elder Pieper and their wives traveled across Nairobi to see the construction progress of the Kenya Nairobi Temple.  The Nairobi Temple will be the first Temple in east Central Africa and will bring the blessings of the House of the Lord much closer to Saints in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopa, Uganda and Rwanda.

Elder Stevenson’s final day in Kenya began with a special Stake Conference of the Nairobi East Stake.  Three Stake Conferences were held in Nairobi simultaneously with each presided over and sermons given by a General Authority.  In addition to Elder Stevenson being at the Nairobi East Stake Conference, Elder Ian S. Ardern, presided and spoke at the Nairobi South Stake Conference and Elder Paul B. Pieper presided and spoke at the Nairobi West Stake Conference.  Elder Stevenson brought attention to the full time missionaries in attendance at the Nairobi East Stake Conference and said, “it is one of our divinely appointed responsibilities to share the Gospel.  President Nelson talks often about gathering Israel on both sides of the veil.  The way we gather Israel on this side of the veil – mortality - is by sharing the Gospel with everyone.  This is an important part of gathering.  It is an important part of who we are and what we do.  We even talk about how we do that with some beautiful principles like love, share and invite.”  On Sunday, Across Nairobi, there was an outpouring of the Spirit.  Many latter-day saints were edified and many rejoiced together during a pentecostal day in Kenya.

A busy nine days in Central Africa for Elder and Sister Stevenson concluded with a Young Single Adult (YSA) Devotional.  Elder Paul and Sister Lisa Pieper and Sister Lesa Stevenson shared testimony and counsel with an overflowing chapel of Young Single Adults.  Elder Stevenson, acknowledging the large gathering of Young Single Adults encouraged them to participate in Institute classes.  He pointed out that in addition to learning the gospel in Institute, other good things happen.  Indeed, a young Gary Stevenson met Lesa Higley in an Institute Class when they were young single adults.  Gary and Lesa have now been a happily married couple for nearly 45 years.  Good things come from Institute.

As had been Elder and Sister Stevenson’s practice in three Central Africa countries, they invited all of those who attended the YSA devotional to shake hands and exchange greetings with President and Sister Sturt, with Elder and Sister Pieper, and with Elder and Sister Stevenson.  At the close of the gathering, and after the departure of the Stevensons for the Jomo Kenyatta Airport for their return flight to Salt Lake City, the large gathering of young single adults lingered to bask in the glow of having been taught at the feet of a prophet, seer and revelator. 

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