News Release

First Sister Missionary from Mali to Serve in Democratic Republic of the Congo

One of 132 Members of the Church in Mali

On June 6, 2023 Sister Habiba Yakouba Ouattara entered the Missionary Training Center in Accra Ghana with many other missionaries from throughout the world. Sister Ouattara was there to prepare for her mission to DR Congo.  She was grateful to serve the Lord in DR Congo, especially because she would be speaking French, her native language.

Although Sister Ouattara looked like all the other anxious missionaries checking in, there was something unique about her missionary experience.  She is the first sister missionary from Mali, and only the second missionary ever called from that West African country.  Her journey from baptism to full-time missionary service was strewn with unique challenges and the path was never easy.  Blessed with astonishing faith amid these difficulties, Sister Ouattara has emerged with a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and a burning desire to serve.

Mali is a country in West Africa with a population of almost 22 million people.  90% of the population is Muslim and just 5% is Christian.  In May of 2017, Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated Mali to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  In July 2017 the first branch of the Church was established in Bamako.  In January of 2019, the government of Mali officially recognized the Church.

Currently there are 132 members of the Church in Mali and one branch in Bamako.  Sister Ouattara noted the difficulty of attending church with so few members and the church building so far away. “Sometimes it takes members 3 or 4 taxi rides and many hours to get to the church building,” she said, but added that, “many people are still faithful in attending.”

Sister Outtara studying at the Accra Ghana Missionary Training Center2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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In early 2017, Sister Ouattara's mother decided that she needed to take her children to church.  Her mother had been raised as a catholic but was not attending services.  She wanted to provide her family with religious and moral teaching. “Things were very difficult for us, we had no money, no food, and my mother hoped that if we went to church, things would be better,” said Sister Ouattara. 

Through an acquaintance, the family was introduced to missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The two sister missionaries taught the Ouattara family the gospel of Jesus Christ and Sister Ouattara, along with her mother and younger sister, committed to being baptized.  They would become the first family baptized in the country of Mali.

Her family travelled from Bamako to Accra Ghana to be baptized.  This was a journey of over 1500 Kilometers, a 40 hour bus ride each way.

After their baptism, the Ouattara family struggled to attend church regularly.  “We were very far away from the church and did not have the money for taxis,” said Sister Ouattara, and added, “we also had to work in our shop every day to have enough money for food.”  After much prayer the family was blessed with the opportunity to open a shop and move closer to church building in Bamako.  “This was a great blessing for us and allowed me to attend church every Sunday”. 

Sister Ouattara always wanted to serve a mission.  She has received support from her mother and other branch members.  She also has been blessed to receive support from her friends outside of the Church. “I shook the hand of one of my friends who was not a member and found a significant amount of money in my hand”. 

She is grateful for her experience at the Missionary Training Center. “I have a wonderful companion and a great district.  My teachers have also been very helpful.”  Nevertheless, she is anxious to get out into the mission field. “Teaching the Gospel in my own language is a real blessing, I hope to make a big difference in DR Congo”.  During her MTC experience she was also able to meet Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Sister Susan Gong.

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