News Story

Visiting Latter-day Saint Leaders Meet with Vanuatu Journalists

Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with news media professionals in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Tuesday 12 November.


Elder Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy and First Counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency was joined by Elder Adolf Johansson, Area Seventy; Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President; and Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President.

Also in attendance was Yvon Basil, president of the Port Vila Vanuatu Stake of the Church, as well as Derek Cordon and Robert Jones, who are travelling with their wives.

The meeting was arranged to give local news media the chance to learn about the work of the Church in Vanuatu, and worldwide, to alleviate suffering, increase personal and family self-reliance, and strengthen individuals, families and communities through living, learning and teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Ardern introduced Sister Jones and Sister Cordon, explaining that they lead approximately 1.2 million children and 600,000 young women, respectively, around the world.

He also described the roles of President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other worldwide and local Church leaders.

In answer to a question about what members of the Church do for the people of Vanuatu, Sister Cordon stated: "It is critical that young people have a voice." 

She said the general auxiliary leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have "full confidence in our young people."  

“Our young women can look outward,” she added, “and try to bless the lives of those around them. Their works have a ripple effect throughout the communities in which they live." 

Sister Jones said that “young Latter-day Saints also bring courage, hope and love to people as they live more as the Lord lives.”

"Doing good brings happiness into other people's lives.”

In response to a reporter's question as to what Sister Cordon and Sister Jones can do for Vanuatu, Sister Cordon said "they bring their testimonies," and that "nations are strengthened through families." 

Elder Adolf Johansson provided several examples of how the Church has helped the people of Vanuatu in recent years. He gave details of the Church’s efforts to help the island nation recover after cyclones. He spoke of the Church's current efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of diabetes, as well as self-reliance, education and community development initiatives.

Elder Ardern noted that Church leaders have met with a number of government, faith and other community leaders in Vanuatu—and will continue to find ways to support the work of Ni-Vanuatu to lift lives, fortify families and strengthen communities.

Another question related to how the Church keeps young people engaged in today's changing world.

Sister Jones shared information about the new home-centred, Church-supported emphasis that will be launched in January 2019. It encourages families to learn together and to have wholesome activities as well as family councils. 

She said that closeness to God and our families strengthens us all and helps to keep young women and children engaged in the Church.

Sister Cordon stated that "the commandments of God don't ever change, but the young women and children can look for new ways to help and bless others."

Paulini Mahit, a young woman from the Church's Blacksands Ward (congregation), spoke of the "Personal Progress" program that she and many other young Latter-day Saint women participate in.

She said it helps her set goals that bring her “closer to the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Sister Cordon suggested Paulini's interest in geography may one day help her influence the people in Vanuatu as to how best to care for their environment and respond to natural disasters and other challenges.

Sister Cordon explained to the journalists that the Church values education very highly and teaches members to seek opportunities to learn at school, home and in other settings—and to use our acquired knowledge and skills to provide for our families as well as serve and improve our communities.

Newsroom contributor: Tessa Dewsbury

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