NAIROBI, Kenya — Beginning their journeys on Sunday night, some African members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints slept on buses and waited outside the venue for hours before a special conference with President Russell M. Nelson Monday.
“We left our home at nine. We had to stay, waiting for the bus until midnight,” said Jane Bungei, a member from the Eldoret branch in western Kenya. “I was like ‘I’m going to give up’ then I thought ‘No. I have to see the prophet because I’ve been preparing for a month to see him’.”
Many members in East Africa spent weeks planning and saving in order to make the trip to Nairobi. They came in busloads and filled the venue well before President Nelson arrived.
Excitement over the recent General Conference was still high among the members as they waited to be let inside.
“Conference was the best thing that ever happened,” said Eunice Onen Lawino, a member from the Jinja State in Uganda. “There were lots of talks that I listened to and there (was) lots of things that I really needed. For me, I learned a lot and that’s the reason I’m even here. To learn more. So I can’t miss a bit of it.”
Excitement over the future Nairobi temple was also high. Members cheered and clapped when asked about the anticipation. Currently, the closest temple to the people of Kenya is in Johannesburg, South Africa, a more than 2,000-mile journey by road. It’s a journey that for some is financially impossible.
President Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland both spoke of the Nairobi temple in their addresses.
“You prayed a temple here,” said Elder Holland.
The temple was announced April 2, 2017, by then LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson. No temple site nor groundbreaking date have been announced.
Elder Holland told members he prayed that they “will point toward this temple and wait for it, and live for it and then celebrate it when it comes and use that temple as the gift that has been given to you.”
President Nelson issued a challenge to the saints.
“I don’t know how long it will take to build that temple,” he said. “But let’s have a little contest. See if you can build your lives to be ready and your ancestral documentation to be ready for when the temple comes.”
President Nelson and Elder Holland both urged members to compile their family histories.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” said Elder Holland.
President Nelson also offered his testimony of gospel principles and plead with members to read the scriptures.
His next stop on the Global Ministry Tour will take him to Harare, Zimbabwe, another African nation anticipating a temple. After that, he’ll fly to Bangalaru, India.