News Release

Battling Neonatal Mortality, Renovating a University Auditorium and Documenting Forgotten Graves: Service from Latter-day Saints Around the World

Featuring stories from Guatemala, Colombia and Nigeria

Newsroom features stories from its dozens of websites around the world to show what members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are doing to serve their communities. Today, we feature news from Guatemala, Colombia and Nigeria.

Guatemala (Spanish): Over 8,000 Expectant Mothers Benefit From Donated Medical Equipment

The Permanent Care Center of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance in Santa Lucía Utatlán, Guatemala, now has greater resources to combat maternal and neonatal mortality, thanks to a donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On June 3, 2022, Dr. Jorge Noé González, district director of Santa Lucía Utatlán of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance received a 4D ultrasound machine, stretchers and other items from Vinicio Yaxon, president of the Sololá Stake (a group of congregations) on behalf of the Church.

It is estimated that the equipment will benefit over 8,000 women from Santa Lucía Utatlán and the surrounding area. “They are daughters of God,” said Yaxon, “who need attention in the process of their pregnancy.”

Colombia (Spanish): Service Project Helps Muslims and Latter-day Saints Find Common Ground

In a mosque situated north of the capital of the department (similar to a state in the U.S.) of Atlántico, the Muslim leader Mohamed Isa Garcia and President Manuel Ángulo, from the Presidency of the Barranquilla Colombia Paraíso Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ, met in hopes of strengthening bonds between the two faiths. The two discussed their common interests and doctrines, such as tithing and fasting.

According to Colombia Newsroom, the two leaders plan to meet again and hope to join members of both faiths in a service project to help less fortunate people in their community. “We agree on many more things than I thought at the beginning of this conversation,” said Angulo, “and that coincidence leads us to be able to unite and be stronger by leaving a mark or a service to the community and all people.”

Earlier this year, Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged Church members to find common ground with and understand Muslim neighbors and seek religious freedom for all. The booklet they published on the matter can be found here.

Honduras (Spanish): Urgent Eye Care Supported by Church Donations

On May 20, 2022, the Church of Jesus Christ donated $81,500USD (L2,000,000 Honduran Lempiras) and several pieces of equipment to the Vision Honduras eye clinic in Jutiapa, Atlántida. Because the clinic is part of the Fundación Projecto Honduras, the donations will help with urgent eye surgeries for low-income patients. “I have the privilege of receiving this aid, which will do so much good for our municipality of Jutiapa,” said Mayor Oscar Ayala.

To read more about this contribution, visit the Honduras Newsroom.

Nigeria (English): Church Supports Higher Education With University Renovation

A newly renovated auditorium, courtesy of the Church, was unveiled to the University of Benin, a public research university in Nigeria, on May 27, 2022. The school was established in 1970. Its Akin Deko Auditorium is often used for graduations and lectures but had fallen into disrepair. Upon completion of the renovation, Elder Hugo E. Martinez, president of the Africa West Area of the Church, presented the revitalized auditorium to school officials. Vice Chancellor Lilian I. Salami said the Church’s offer to renovate the space was an answer to prayer. “This is the first time in about 47 years that this auditorium [has received] this kind of extensive renovation work.” She also expressed her desire to build an ongoing relationship with the Church through its sister university, Brigham Young University.

United States (English): New England Church Members Honor the Dead Through Cemetery Service Projects and Veteran Flag Displays

In April and May 2022, members from 136 congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the New England region (northeastern United States) coordinated dozens of local cemetery-related service projects in six states. The projects were organized through JustServe, a volunteer organizing app that allows people of every age, various faiths and many backgrounds to participate in projects. Participants in the New England cemetery projects cleared overgrown greenery and cleaned headstones. The work also included digitally archiving headstone data using the BillionGraves app and promoting respect and honor for a diverse community of ancestors in New England.

Latter-day Saints and other community volunteers worked in 40 cemeteries, including a Chinese cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts, digitally archiving over 58,000 headstones and providing thousands of hours of community service. As one volunteer commented, participants “were determined [not to] leave any headstone unrecorded.” That often meant literally clawing through early spring mud to identify the person buried at a particular spot.

At the Mineral Spring Cemetery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, workers focused on a different form of service. In collaboration with the Blackstone Valley Historical Society and under the direction of Pastor Ken Postle of the New Hope Baptist Church, American Flags were placed on the graves of each confirmed military veteran; including some from the Civil War (1861-1865). Sister Corinne Walker, one of the project organizers and a missionary from the Massachusetts Boston Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ, said, "Pastor Ken, a veteran, is passionate about providing flags to honor veterans and works to restore many cemeteries, including the Mineral Spring Cemetery where the flags were placed."

Pastor Ken Postle of the New Hope Baptist Church gives instructions to volunteers at the Mineral Springs Cemetery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States, May 2022. 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The service projects were part of the New England Latter-day Saints’ commemoration of a new monument in Topsfield, Massachusetts, recognizing the family of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. The founder of the Church, Joseph Smith Jr. was born into the Smith family that had lived, worked, worshiped and served in Topsfield for five generations prior to his birth.

Cindy Baxter, a JustServe volunteer organizer, said of her experience, “My day was enriched by the people I served with. I saw lots of smiles and people committed to the errand of service that they were on. It wasn’t work. It was clearly an act of love, one for another. I could not imagine a finer place to be or a better group of people to be with on that beautiful, sunny spring morning.”

“We noticed that the hillside where we were working was covered with small spring flowers: forget-me-nots,” said volunteer Jeff Burdick. “We felt our service for the deceased ancestors and early New England pioneers … let each of them know that they had not been forgotten.” He continued, “We noticed that many family members were buried together or next to one another, and this gave me the opportunity to discuss with my small grandchildren the importance and significance of families and how the family is part of God’s eternal plan.”

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