Burundi is in the news right now because of the political unrest. The reports and pictures are disturbing, and many members of the LDS Church may know very little about the country except that it’s in Africa, and the missionaries have been evacuated.

Here at LDS Missionaries we believe in the spirit of optimism, especially when it comes to missionary work. When we report on missionaries who have been evacuated for any reason, our hope is that the news will inspire prayers and hope, not fear or discouragement. So here are two news stories from a few years back that will help us all feel peace and a little more connected to the country of Burundi. Our prayers are with the country and the Latter-day Saints who reside there. May this political unrest subside soon.

The first story is from LDS.org, Africa South East

For the Strength of Youth in Burundi

Strength of Youth in Burundi

Copies of this little booklet opened up a whole country to the Church. (Image via africase.lds.org)

Elder Earl C.Tingey

When Sister Tingey and I were living in Africa, I was sent to the little country of Burundi in east-central Africa. Several faithful families had been holding Church services in their homes, and they desired to have missionaries assigned to help them.

I met with a fine gentleman who represented the government. I explained who we were, what we taught, and how establishing our Church in his country would bless the lives of the people. When I finished, he said, “I do not see where anything you have told me is any different from what is currently available in our country. I see no reason to approve your request to bring missionaries into our country.”

I was devastated. My meeting was almost over, and in a moment I would be ushered out. I prayed secretly in my heart for something to say. In an instant, a thought came to my mind. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a little copy of the For the Strength of Youth booklet, which I have always carried. In the remaining moments of our visit, I quickly shared with him how each of the young people in our Church had a copy of this pamphlet. I read some of the topics and explained that we teach our young people these patterns.

“You mean to tell me you expect the youth of your church to live these standards?” he asked.

“Yes, and they do,” I replied.

“That is amazing,” he said. “Could you send me some of these booklets so that I could distribute them to the youth of my church?”

I returned to Johannesburg and sent about 500 copies of the pamphlets in French and English. A month or so later we received official recognition from the government of Burundi, authorizing our Church to be established in that country.

I do not know the significance of my participation in that event, but I definitely know that the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet was quickly recognized by this good man as something of great value and was likely instrumental in our securing official recognition.

Taken from “Establishing Eternal Patterns,” Elder Earl C. Tingey, Ensign, October, 2004.

The second story is from is from LDS Church News
(Originally Published: Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010)

Apostles bless two African nations

LDS missionaries in Burundi

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve, center, and Elder Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy stand with missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo Lubumbashi Mission. (Image via www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com)

Two African countries — Angola and Burundi — have been dedicated for the preaching of the gospel after two apostles traveled a combined distance of 120,000 miles — 34,000 of them in seven African countries. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve traveled for two weeks visiting and instructing Church members gathered throughout the Africa Southeast Area. …

The chosen dedication spot for the country of Burundi was located on a hill overlooking Bujumbura, the capital city, with Lake Tanganyika shining in the distance beyond.

Elder Holland offered a blessing on the people and the nation, dedicating the country of Burundi for missionary work on Oct. 19.

Elder Holland in Burundi

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve pronounced a blessing upon the country of Burundi in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa. (Image via www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com)

As Elder Holland spoke prior to the dedicatory prayer, he commented on the nearly three million people in the busy city below who had no idea of the great event that was happening, quietly and without fanfare, on the hillside above them. They were unaware of the blessings about to be invoked by an apostle of the Lord over this long-suffering, war-torn land. With the blessing that was pronounced, the gospel in its fullness could be extended to Burundi and thousands would hear the message and embrace it.

Elder Holland encouraged those present to dedicate their lives as he dedicated the land. He encouraged them to join their prayers with his as he acted as voice to ask for the blessings of the Lord on the little African country of Burundi. He spoke of the group’s rare opportunity to be present at the dedication of a country for the preaching of the gospel.

Citing his commission from the prophet and president of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, Elder Holland then formally dedicated Burundi for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the building up of the kingdom of God and for the establishment of Zion in the country.

Elder Holland spoke of growth and progress in Burundi’s future. He asked God to bless all who would play a role in the growth of the Church in Burundi. He made mention of members, missionaries and government officials. He asked the Lord to bless the land to be fruitful and prosperous. …

Elder Holland expressed his feeling that Africa had been held in reserve by the Lord in the spirit of “the last shall be first” and that Africa would someday be seen as a bright land full of gospel hope and happiness.

Read more at LDS Church News