Church History
Clear and Wonderful

“Clear and Wonderful,” Global Histories: Haiti (2019)

“Clear and Wonderful,” Global Histories: Haiti

Clear and Wonderful

All his life, Alexandre Mourra prayed God would lead him to truth. One day in 1977, he felt impressed to visit relatives he hadn’t seen in years. During his visit, he was given a pamphlet about Joseph Smith. When he read it, he knew immediately it was true. “I was beside myself with excitement,” Mourra said. He wrote to Church headquarters and to President Richard L. Millett, the president of the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission, telling them he wanted “to be baptized for remission of sins.” When he received a Book of Mormon in response, he stayed up all night reading. “I was crying tears of joy as I read and understood the words the Lord has given to his ancient prophets in the Americas,” he recalled. As dawn broke, he read the promise in the final chapter (see Moroni 10:3–5). “I did not even need to pray for an answer,” he said. “The Holy Ghost had been witnessing to me of these eternal truths all through the hours of darkness.” Mourra immediately arranged to travel to Fort Lauderdale to be baptized.

When Mourra returned to Haiti, he shared his new faith with everyone he met. “I could hardly believe it when others did not accept the truth,” he recalled. “It was all so clear and wonderful to me.” He soon started preaching to a congregation in Hatte-Marré. After the June 1978 revelation extending the priesthood to all worthy men, Mourra hoped missionary work could formally begin in Haiti. “I have many people ready for baptism,” Mourra told Millett in a phone call. “When are you coming down?”

On July 2, 22 Haitians were baptized in a shallow irrigation ditch in Hatte-Marré. Fred and Michele Templeman, Latter-day Saints from Canada and France, had moved with their children to Port-au-Prince for work and assisted Mourra in teaching the small but growing group of converts.

First baptisms in Haiti

Alexandre Mourra baptizes one of the 22 new members of the Church in Haiti, July 2, 1978.

Mourra learned to lead in the Church as he went. One Sunday, while driving to church in Hatte-Marré, Mourra saw some people searching for help transporting a sick woman to the hospital. Stopping, he told them he could not take her to the hospital but offered to heal her through the power of God’s priesthood. Though he was inexperienced, Mourra gave her a blessing and told her she was healed. The woman rose up and went her way. Afterward, Mourra continued to church and recounted his experience to Fred Templeman, who gave him further instructions on how to anoint and bless the sick. Where Mourra’s knowledge of Church doctrine and practice was still developing, his faith sustained him. “He had all the faith in the world,” Michele Templeman observed.

In March 1980 the Petionville Branch, the first in Haiti, was organized in Port-au-Prince with Mourra as president. Two months later, four missionaries were transferred from France to preach in Haiti.