Latter-day Saints in the United Arab Emirates welcomed Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Susan, along with other Church leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.
In Dubai, Elder Bednar was joined by a number of area and organizational leaders ministering in the region, including Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Jennifer; Elder Randy D. Funk of the Middle East/Africa North Area Presidency and his wife, Andrea; Relief Society general president Jean B. Bingham and her husband, Bruce and her First Counselor, Sister Sharon Eubank. The leaders met with the leadership of the Abu Dhabi Stake.
Local women’s organization leader Jo Ann Marker, who has lived in Dubai for 32 years, said she felt uplifted and inspired by Elder Bednar’s remarks.
“I feel the presence of the Spirit,” she explained. “When an Apostle of the Lord tells everyone he loves you, you know that it comes from above. I know that through him, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are telling me: ‘Hold on, we love you, keep it up.’”
At the session Elder Bednar taught, “The focus of everything we do in this Church is helping people to become yoked to and with the Savior through the covenants and ordinances of his restored gospel. Period. Exclamation point. End of sentence. That’s it. That’s all we do.”
As the meeting concluded Elder Bednar invited the visiting leaders to provide their witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sister Bednar said, “I testify that God loves us, so He sent His Son, our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. And that our Savior is the way that we can return to our Father in Heaven.”
While in Dubai, the Bednars and Funks also visited Expo 2020. As announced in April 2020, a parcel of land on the expansive property of Expo 2020, will one day be the site of the Dubai Temple. Following a gracious invitation from the Dubai government to build the temple, it will be the first to be built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Middle East.
The temple will serve 8,000 Latter-day Saints living in two stakes in the Gulf states and a number of congregations in the Middle East, northern Africa, eastern Europe and western Asia. Currently members who want to worship in temples need to travel to places such as Ukraine, Italy and Germany.
Amanda Fristrom, a member of a Dubai congregation who was raised in South Dakota, looks forward to the closeness of the temple. “I’ve never lived in a place with easy access, and so my involvement with the ordinances and covenants is going to completely change. I look forward to feeling the spirit of the temple and to be able to sit and ponder in the temple,” she said.
Georges and Sylvie Mojica moved to the United Arab Emirates from France in 1987. They never expected to see a temple in the country in their lifetimes.
“Having the chance to go to the temple is also something so important for all of us,” Sylvie Mojica said. “We love the temple and having the temple here. We just can’t wait for that.”
When the Dubai temple is finished, British Latter-day Saint Linton Crockford-Moore looks forward to inviting his Muslim friends to the open house.
“All of the members here are really looking forward to the opportunity to invite members of the community to go to the open house,” he said. “I think there is nothing better to actually experience our beliefs than [visiting] inside the house of the Lord.”
As announced, the temple property will include both a meetinghouse and a temple. Our most sacred rites and ceremonies are performed in holy temples, such as marriages which unite families for eternity. Meetinghouses are for weekday activities and Sabbath worship services.