Missionaries were sent to Southern Rhodesia for a limited time in the early 1930s. By 1935 all missionaries were pulled from Southern Rhodesia (then part of the South African Mission) and the area was closed because of the shortage of missionaries and the distance from the mission home in Cape Town, South Africa. In September 1950, eight missionaries were sent to reopen Southern Rhodesia. Five months later, the first convert baptism in the area took place.
Born in England in 1926, Hubert Henry Hodgkiss moved to Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, in 1949. He initially learned about the LDS Church from a friend who was investigating the gospel. Hugh had doubts about the restored gospel and set out to prove to his friend that the Church was not true. Instead, after searching the gospel closely, Hugh developed a testimony of its truthfulness and decided to be baptized. “I was wrong,” he told his friend. “I am joining the Church.”
Hugh was baptized in February 1951, marking the first convert baptism in Southern Rhodesia. He enjoyed being around people and made friends everywhere he went. His friendly nature allowed him to make great contributions to the growth of the Church in the area.
In 1959 Hugh became president of the Salisbury Branch. His counsellors were also local members. This was the first time this branch presidency consisted of local members. Before this, full-time missionaries had always filled the responsibilities of the branch presidency.
Even though the Church grew slowly in Zimbabwe to begin with, because of the efforts of Brother Hodgkiss and other early pioneers, there are now more than 26,000 members of the Church living there.
Taken from 'Zimbabwe--Land of Beauty, People of Faith,' Liahona, March, 2014.