In the News

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“In the News,” Ensign, June 2004, 78–79

In the News

Spanish Members Finding Comfort After Attacks

In the aftermath of the 11 March terrorist train bombings in Madrid, Spain, Spanish members of the Church are gaining comfort from the Lord and from one another.

Killing nearly 200 and injuring 1,400 more, the bombs exploded in several commuter trains carrying passengers into Madrid. Ángel Gómez, bishop of the Azuqueca Ward, Madrid Spain East Stake, said that when he learned of the bombings, he immediately called his ward members who frequently use the trains. He was relieved to find that none had been hurt.

A member of another ward, Bitin Uema, was seated not far from where one of the train bombs exploded. Knocked unconscious by the blast, he awoke in the wreckage and was at first counted among the dead. His hearing was damaged by the explosion, but Brother Uema is grateful his life was spared. “Although I was very [shaken] by the nightmare that I was going through, … I broke into tears and thanked Heavenly Father that I was still alive,” he wrote in an e-mail to Church News. A physician, Brother Uema regrets he was unable to use his skills to help other bomb victims.

One of the bombs detonated at the Santa Eugenia train station, located within a few kilometers of the Madrid Spain Temple. Though temple operations were not disrupted by the blasts, some evening sessions were cancelled the next day because of a national anti-terrorism rally. In an effort to help, a number of members also donated blood.

“The members are very sad,” said Bishop Gómez, but he noted that the tragedy has brought his ward closer together. “I have witnessed love and unity among the members. Our ward is big, and the members don’t see each other much. … But the members are showing love for each other.”

A commemoration of the organization of Relief Society for the Madrid Spain East Stake was held on 13 March, two days after the bombings. Stake leaders had considered canceling it in light of the attacks, but decided to go ahead with it. “It was a great activity. Attendance was strong,” said stake president José Reina. “It was good for the sisters to be together.” Approximately 34,000 Church members live in Spain.

Missionaries Transferred; Members in Haiti Continue to Meet

The Church pulled all 56 non-native single missionaries out of Haiti in February prior to the ousting of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide as intense civil conflict swept across the Caribbean nation. The missionaries were temporarily transferred to other missions. Native Haitian missionaries remaining in the country were transferred from unstable areas and continue to follow safety measures, avoiding crowds and demonstrations and staying indoors when they feel it is unsafe to be outside.

Despite the deaths of dozens of Haitians during the unrest, no Church members have been reported harmed. Several member families’ homes were destroyed in northern Haiti, where fighting was most intense. There has been no reported damage to Church property. Church membership in Haiti exceeds 10,000.

In an interview with Church News, President Eddy Bourdeau of the Port-au-Prince Haiti Stake reported that Sunday services and stake and ward business have mostly continued despite tension between insurgents and supporters of the former government. During the insurgency, some Church meetings were cancelled. As of press time, the Haiti–Dominican Republic border remained closed, preventing Haitian members from attending the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple.

Vanuatu Saints Picking Up after Tropical Cyclone Ivy

The lives of about 1,100 Church members on the islands of Vanuatu, west of Fiji, are finally beginning to return to normal after tropical cyclone Ivy tore through the southern and northern islands. The storm, which occurred on 26 February 2004, killed two people and caused major damage, with winds up to 125 mph (200 kph). All missionaries and members were reported safe.

Among the estimated 2,500 families seriously affected by the cyclone, 10 member families sustained major damage to their homes, while the homes of 62 other member families sustained less serious damage. The roofs of three temporary meetinghouses on the island of Tanna required repairs.

Residents of the islands are left facing potential hardships because of substantial crop losses. The Church has sent aid to the islands, including containers of clothing and medical supplies.

Two Family History Products Now Sold Together

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 5.2 and PAF Companion are now being sold together as a single package. PAF is the Church’s personal genealogy management software. It allows members to capture and organize their personal and family history electronically on a personal computer and helps in preparing and tracking ancestors’ names and information for temple ordinances. Users can attach digital pictures or images of original sources, print charts and reports, capture personal notes about an ancestor, and add research notes. PAF 5.2 can be downloaded for free from the Internet at

PAF Companion allows users to create additional reports and charts from their family history databases. Using information from the user’s PAF database, the Companion software can also print narrative reports on an ancestor in a book format that includes pictures, notes, and sources. PAF Companion is also compatible with earlier PAF versions (PAF 3, 4, and 5). The package of both CDs sells for $8.25 and is available at distribution centers (item no. 77065).

New Digital Keyboards Available to Units, Members

Two new digital keyboards, suitable for use in Church meetinghouses, are now available. Both instruments are combination piano/organ keyboards that never need tuning and can be played by members with limited or no keyboard skills.

The Kawai LH-1 Digital Piano/Organ is housed in a cabinet the size, appearance, and weight of an upright piano. It includes 176 prerecorded hymns and children’s songs in its memory that can be played automatically or as directed by a person tapping out the rhythm on any key. The price is $5,950 for individual purchase.

The Kawai L1-LDS Digital Piano/Organ is a keyboard designed to provide accompaniment for smaller groups, such as priesthood and auxiliary meetings, choir rehearsals, sacrament meetings with fewer than 50 people, or in the home. It includes 88 prerecorded hymns and children’s songs in its memory. The keyboard is supported by a wooden pedestal. It costs $895 for individual purchase.

Local priesthood leaders may request these items by contacting their physical facilities support team. The Kawai LH-1 is approved as an alternative instrument to an acoustical upright piano and may be provided for new meetinghouses. It is also approved as a replacement instrument for an existing upright.

Individual members may purchase the instruments for personal use by calling the Kawai America Corporation at 1-800-421-2177, ext. 358.

Church News contributed to these reports.

Workers and police search the debris of a train destroyed by terrorist attacks in Madrid, Spain. (Photograph by Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press.)