Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Thanks to the pandemic . . .

. . . we got to view, via the internet, the groundbreaking of the Nairobi Kenya Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And we also got to see the stake conference of the Taber Alberta Stake.  Both on the same weekend in September.  So thank you, pandemic!

First . . . a little history.

The Nairobi Temple was announced by President Monson on 2017 April 1 at General Conference.  We were living in Nairobi and were watching the conference via the internet.  We were absolutely stunned by the announcement.  We knew that former President Hinckley had prophesied that a temple would be built someday in Nairobi, but we honestly thought it would not be in our lifetime.

Elder Thomas was staying with us for a couple of days, and as soon as the announcement was made, Elder Torrie and Elder Thomas were on the phone to spread the news.  It was so exciting that we never finished watching the session of conference at that time.  First thing, Elder Torrie phoned our mission president, President Msane, whom we knew was traveling in other parts of the mission and may not have heard the news, since internet reception is spotty throughout Kenya.  He hadn't heard the news and wondered if Elder Torrie had heard right.  "No," Elder Torrie said, "this is NOT an April Fool's joke!"

Kenyans were absolutely jubilant at the announcement.  But they thought they would have a temple in a few months.  We had to burst their bubbles by telling them that temples are not built as quickly as homes in Kenya are.  Temples are built of the finest materials and are built to last for a millennia.  We told them that the Rome Italy Temple took 10 years to build from the time of its announcement, so not to expect a temple in Nairobi in just a few months.

Now, 4 1/2 years later, the groundbreaking of the Nairobi Kenya Temple has taken place on 2021 September 11.  September 11 is a day to remember for many reasons!  I remember clearly the morning of September 11, 2001 when I turned on my computer and the screen was absolutely blank.  The internet had crashed.  Then I learned from a phone call from our son, Eric, what had happened to the twin towers at the New York Trade Center.  What a shock!  Not just Americans, but even Canadians were shocked.  I was so shocked that I never went anywhere for two weeks.  At least, when I looked back at my cheque book, I found that I had written NO cheques for two weeks, so I must not have shopped for 2 weeks.  (Yes, we used cheques back then).  Now, 20 years on . . . the groundbreaking for the Nairobi Kenya Temple has taken place.  Enjoy the very short video below showing bits and pieces of the groundbreaking.

So excited that we can watch the temple groundbreaking in Nairobi from our home in Sweden.  It's a small world with the internet that I never knew existed until about 1999.  I mean it existed but I didn't understand it.  My brother Bruce explained it to me several times but it was such a new thing that it was almost incomprehensible.  When our two oldest sons, Michael and Craig, went on their missions in 1995 and 1997, we communicated by snail mail.  By the time Eric went on his mission in 2004, we were more internet-literate, and communicated with him by email.  By the way, we have used computers on our farm since 1981, when PC's first became available.  But the internet . . . that was another thing.

This young man is probably 10 or 11 and he gave an amazing talk at the temple groundbreaking.  It was all memorized and he even sang I Love to See the Temple during his talk.  He was like the little boys that LeRon and I taught in Primary in the Langata Branch when we were there in 2016 and 2017.

Elder Sitati of the Quorum of the Seventy presided and gave a talk and the lovely dedicatory prayer.  Elder Sitati was born in Kenya.

So nice to see young missionaries serving in Kenya.  They are waiting to hand the groundbreaking shovels to those who will break the ground.  You can see on the wall, that we have reminders of Kenya with us every day here in Sweden!

Elder Sitati and his wife, Sister Sitati, digging the first shovels full.

We knew well the couple on the left, Brother & Sister Luvai.  They were in charge of the groundbreaking ceremony and it was lovely.

The government representative gave a good talk about the need for religions to cooperate and to have love and tolerance.  He spoke of his own experiences of being imprisoned and tortured and of friends disappearing.  There is such a great need for the love of God to spread throughout the world.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same God and we need to treat each other with love and respect.

The closing prayer was given by our dear Nairobi West Stake president, President Munene.  Such a great man.  We loved and respected him a lot.
Artist's rendition of the Nairobi Kenya Temple.  Note the palm trees.  We loved the palm trees in Kenya, along with the acacia trees, jacaranda trees, Australian flame trees and other beautiful foliage.

And then on 2021 September 13, we were able to tune into the Taber Stake Conference.  Again, what a blessing the internet is and what a blessing (in many ways) the pandemic is.  We have been able to watch sacrament meetings, baptisms, and conferences that we would never have been able to watch had it not been for the pandemic.

Our son Craig is the stake organist and he plays beautiful music!  He's to the right of the picture behind the hymnbook that's sitting on the organ.  So proud of him!  President Baldry (standing in front) is our stake president.  He spoke about the importance of following the prophet who follows Jesus Christ who is the head of our church.  He quoted from the Primary children's song, Follow the Prophet:  Now we have a world where people are confused, If you don't believe it, go and watch the news, We can get direction all along our way, If we heed the prophets, Follow what they say. Follow the prophet.  Don't go astray.  Follow the prophet.  He knows the way.  I'm so grateful for the guidance of living prophets on the earth today!

And what a treat to hear from one of our Apostles, Elder Gong.  There are only 12 Apostles and there are almost 3500 stakes or districts (geographical areas containing several church units -- wards and branches, of which there are about 32,000) in the world, so a visit from an apostle is a very special thing.  We got to meet Elder Gong, before he was an apostle, (when he was a member of the Quorum of the Seventy), in Nairobi and I got my picture taken with him.  He is so personable and warm.  So it was very special to hear him speak in Taber on the same weekend as the Nairobi Temple groundbreaking.  And . . . he started his talk by talking about penguins (which are my favorite animals next to zebras), about how they jump into the water together for safety from predators.  Unity is so important and it's so needed in the world today. 
I went back to my Kenya blog (kenya.torriefamily.org) and found the picture of me and Elder Gong and found, surprisingly, that President Munene is in the picture too.  How appropriate, since President Munene gave the closing prayer at the Nairobi Temple groundbreaking, and Elder Gong spoke at the Taber Stake Conference.  I remember now telling Elder Gong that our sons and daughter (Michael, Craig, and Heather) all remember that he was their stake president in Provo when they were students at BYU.  What a small world!

We are always saying goodbye to missionaries and welcoming new ones.  Elder Thomas beside LeRon, and Elder Peterson beside me have finished their 2-year missions and are returning home.  The three in between are Swedes who came on 6-week missions and they had great experiences.  It was good for them, and good for us too.


  1. OH, I wish I had known about the Taber Stake Conference. I would have loved to Zoom into that!

  2. I got to watch that, too - I LOVED it when Elder Gong kept on being a penguin! So funny. But when I stop to think about him doing that, I remember the point he was making about unity...

  3. He was my stake president too! Can't remember if he was Heather's or if that was when she was in Russia. Fun to see all these pictures, and memories of Kenya too! I was surprised to see Pres Monson, as it feels like longer ago that he died!