The adversary seems to work especially hard to prevent the Church from being permitted to work in a new country, and Angola was no exception. After more than a year of preparation, the First Presidency of the Church gave permission to dedicate Angola for missionary work in 2010. Elder D. Todd Christofferson was assigned to dedicate the land during his scheduled visit to the area in October. But it seems the adversary was determined to thwart that dedication.
After months of work, Church Travel in Salt Lake City had been unable to obtain visas for Elder and Sister Christofferson. So Joseph Mokoena, Government Relations Manager of the Africa Southeast Area, was assigned to work on the visa problem. On Tuesday, October 12th, Brother Mokoena discovered that the computer systems for all the Angolan offices in South Africa and Mozambique had gone off line. They were also down in Luanda, the capital city of Angola. By Friday, October 15th, the visa applications were at a complete dead end. The weekend was upon them, and the flights to Angola were scheduled for Tuesday morning, October 19th.
That’s when Sister Paulina Lassalete Da Cunha Goncalves, an Angolan member of the Church from Dondo who worked for the Angolan government came to the rescue. She flew to Luanda to see if she could get the visas facilitated in person. She contacted everyone she knew in the government, but she met with the same closed doors that everyone else had encountered. Finally she was able to obtain visa forms to be completed and submitted, with instructions to provide a letter from the Church guaranteeing that the Church would take full responsibility for the travellers. By the time she got the letter from the Church, though, the lady who controlled the official stamp had gone home and locked the stamp up in her desk.
The only other place that had an official stamp was at the airport itself, so Sister Lassalete hurried to the airport to meet the Deputy Director of Immigration before 5:00. She arrived at the airport at 4:40 pm and miraculously was allowed to get past security and immigration. The Deputy Director said he would give permission to the Church party to travel to Angola on Tuesday, but he couldn’t find his official stamp.
In the meantime, Elder Christofferson invited several of the area members who were working on the problem to meet with him. They were each asked if they had done everything in their power to obtain visas, and they each answered, “Yes.” Elder Christofferson then said that it was time to present the matter to the Lord. At 4:50 Luanda time, the group offered a fervent prayer.
At that very same time, Sister Lassalete was meeting with an airport authority, asking him to sign the visa applications without the official stamp, which he finally agreed to. Sister Lassalete showed him the embossed seal of the letterhead, and he signed the visa applications. That was at 4:55 pm Luanda time, just as the prayer was being offered.
Just five minutes after Elder Christofferson’s prayer, Sister Lassalete called the Area office, informing them that the group would be able to travel to Angola. Immediately, Elder Christofferson asked that the group again offer a prayer, this time one of sincere gratitude.
However, the signed visa permission letter was still in Angola, and no one in the group could leave South Africa without that letter. Sister Lassalete hurried to a chapel to use the computer to compose the letters required by immigration. By midnight, they had scanned all the forms into the computer and sent them to South Africa. Everything was ready for the scheduled flights the next morning.
As the Africa Southeast Area Public Affairs Directors testified, “Our testimonies grew with this experience, knowing how much our Heavenly Father loves the people of Angola and how much He wanted it dedicated. The Saints of Angola have prayed for this special day for many years.”
Despite the adversary’s efforts to stop the Kingdom from progressing, Heavenly Father reassures us: “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing….The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear….”