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SALT LAKE CITY -- Thousands of Latter-day Saints in Russia and Ukraine are participating in an historic event: They are meeting with a member of their faith's First Presidency and the Church's newest apostle.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from throughout Eastern Europe, thousands of them, traveled hundreds of miles to see and hear from President Dieter and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf and Elder Neil and Sister Kathy Andersen.
The couples visited Kiev, where a temple is under construction. President Gordon B. Hinckley announced it in 1998 but problems with Ukrainian local bureaucracy delayed groundbreaking until June of 2007.
President Uchtdorf told Church members, "The temple will be a blessing. People will join the Church by the hundreds and thousands."
Church membership is growing in Eastern Europe; in 20 years, from dozens to 10,000 in Ukraine and now 20,000 in Russia.
The Church leaders also met with government officials and the head of a Diagnostic Medical Center, to which the Church made a donation. Low-income and at-risk patients are treated here, including victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
A hospital administrator expressed gratitude to President Uchtdorf, saying, "Without the Church's contribution, the center would not be here today."