In 1995 Leah and Kharine were baptized in Moscow, Russia. Leah was from the Republic of Georgia and Kharine was from rural Armenia. Each sister returned home to her native country soon after her baptism. Leah was the first and only Georgian member; Kharine, the first in her region. Leah and Kharine’s stories aren’t that unusual to other stories from around the globe. Because I am most familiar with Russia and Eurasia, for the sake of this discussion my examples will continue to be from that region of the world.
Though the church did have a presence in Armenia, Kharine did not read the dialect of Armenian excerpts of the Book of Mormon had been translated into, and could not easily maintain contact with members in Yerevan because of distance once she returned home. The church did not (and still does not to my knowledge) have an established presence in Georgia.
As membership grow in different regions of the globe, Area Presidencies formally organize the members into a Group—kind of the pre-cursor to a Branch. It is my understanding that this entails the presence of men as priesthood holders so there can be a designated ‘Group Leader’. However new converts are most often women. Sisters living far from the organized church are isolated, and often feel lonely and less important in the church. They may not be sure of their place in the church. [Read more...]