News Story

Latter-day Saint Apostle Meets with Thousands, Focuses on Individuals

Elder Neil L. Andersen Visits Fiji

Over a three day visit to Fiji this month, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, met with thousands of Latter-day Saints, but always managed to help individuals feel special.

Elder Andersen visited Fiji with his wife, Sister Kathy Sue Andersen, as well as Elder Tad R. Callister of the Church’s Presidency of the Seventy, and Sister Kathryn Callister. Elder O. Vincent Haleck of the Church’s Pacific Area Presidency, and Sister Peggy Haleck accompanied the Andersens and Callisters. The visiting leaders were hosted by local Latter-day Saint, Elder Taniela Wakolo, who serves as a Pacific Area Seventy.

While in Fiji [14-17 February] Elder Andersen presided over a leadership conference which involved leaders of the four stakes (similar to dioceses in other churches) in Fiji and leaders from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and New Caledonia. He also presided over a meeting with all the missionaries and their mission presidents from Fiji, Vanuatu and the Marshall islands; a stake conference for the Suva Fiji North Stake; and a devotional for youth and young adults.

In each of the meetings Elder Andersen took time to meet the members, shaking their hands and sharing with them encouraging words. On one occasion he carried a baby to the delight of the Fijian Latter-day Saints.

His messages were simple, succinct and straight to the point.

He encouraged local Latter-day Saint leaders to hasten the work of the Lord, to rescue the lost, and seek out the one. “We are on the Lord’s team so we have a reason to smile. We are the Lord’s pick and the Lord has called us to hasten his work wherever we are,” he said.

Elder Andersen encouraged the local leaders to invite Church members who are currently not participating in their congregations to join with us in serving God and each other. He counseled bishops (leaders of Mormon congregations) to work closely with missionaries, involving them in visits to members and others, so “the missionaries’ special light can radiate.”

During a meeting with missionaries he shook hands and visited with all the 142 missionaries and senior couples of the Fiji Suva Mission.

On Saturday evening [15 February] Elder and Sister Andersen along with Elder and Sister Haleck were special guests at a cultural show hosted by the three Latter-day Saint stakes in Suva. The one and a half hour show was held at the LDS Church College gymnasium. At the end of the show a special gift of a tabua (whale’s tooth) was presented to Elder and Sister Andersen by David Breckterfield, the son of an early pioneer family in Fiji. 

At the stake conference for the Suva Fiji North Stake, held on Sunday, Sister Andersen touched the hearts of the Fiji Latter-day Saints when she shared her testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Fijian.

While speaking to the members of the stake, Elder Andersen showed them a copy of the new “My Family” booklet, a resource to help people record information and stories about their ancestors in a simple format. He encouraged all members to get a copy and complete it.

Elder Andersen commended the youth of Fiji for attending the temple and participating in ordinances on behalf of their ancestors.

Over 900 youth, young adults, leaders and parents attended a special devotional on Sunday evening. Before the meeting Elder Andersen requested that they be photographed with the 130 students of LDS Church College Choir who were going to sing that evening. For prelude the choir sang “How great is the miracle,” which set the tone for the devotional.

In his opening remarks Elder Andersen said: “I didn’t know the Fijians could sing. I will tell the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that they have competition from Fiji.”

He introduced a young woman by the name of Jijilia Vuni whom they invited to attend the devotional when they met her serving them at the Holiday Inn.

Elder Andersen told the young people in attendance: “You are a child of God with eternal possibilities available to you. When life is confusing you must never forget that you are a child of God.”

Elder and Sister Andersen departed Fiji on Monday 17th February on their way to Noumea. 

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