Elder Andersen was accompanied on his visit to the Cook Islands by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, their son Derek, and daughter-in-law Erica.
Pacific Area president of the Church, Elder Kevin W Pearson, and Sister June Pearson also travelled with Elder and Sister Andersen to the Cook Islands.
Others visiting the Cook Islands included President Fredrick Balli and Sister Robyn Balli of the New Zealand Auckland Mission of the church, which includes the Cook Islands.
After their arrival here on the evening of May 19 they had a very busy schedule. The party travelled to Mangaia the next day on a full day trip to the island to visit with the saints and friends that Elder Andersen’s son Derek had developed relationships with during his mission there. They also visited historical church sites and had a special meeting with the saints and friends at the Mangaia LDS Chapel, followed by music and dance and lunch.
Speaking in a meeting to church members in Mangaia, Elder Andersen said, “From very simple things we learn the eternal truths of God. The truths are the same no matter where you live in the world.”
He said that his son had learned and loved the principles taught to him by the people of Mangaia while he served among them.
Referring to the church in Mangaia, he said, “The future of the church lies in the youth. We need to strengthen them.
“Share your faith with the younger ones. Sit them down and read the scriptures with them. Talk to them about the Saviour. Teach them,” he advised.
Elder Andersen and his travelling party returned to Rarotonga late Friday afternoon.
The next day Elder Andersen met with leaders and was treated to a cultural extravaganza at the outside domes of the National Auditorium in the early evening.
Each of the three LDS branches on the island performed aspects of Cook Islands culture on stage.
“It was fantastic, and one of the best cultural events I have seen in the Pacific” said Elder Kevin Pearson president of the Pacific Area.
The 38-minute show was well performed by each of the branches, who were given specific instructions to ensure that the shows were professionally staged.
“It was better than a Broadway show…” said one of the visitors.
“The dancing was bright, colourful and full of energy and the little children were simply delightful,” Elder Pearson said.
Following the cultural show the saints and friends and invited guests were treated to a beautiful island style banquet in which everyone enjoyed the island food.
Elder Andersen’s Cook Islands visit ended with a special conference meeting held at the Arorangi LDS Chapel on Sunday morning. Around 400 members and friends were there to listen to an apostle from The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles address them and give them counsel.
“Apostles are ordinary men who are given an extraordinary blessing to be close to the Saviour and teach of Him,” he said.
For the Saviour to return to the Earth there needed to be a righteous people in every nation, he said.
Elder Andersen told the Cook Islands Latter-day Saints that they would grow and strengthen as they reached out in faith and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
“Let us open our arms,” he said. “This is a special place. Let everyone come. If you approach this challenge with faith and courage it will happen.”
“We need strong members, people who love the Lord, who are willing to make covenants with the Lord.”
He invited the youth in attendance to follow the Saviour and try to be perfect like Him.
He also said the Church needed young people who love education.
“We need your faith, your goodness and your kindness,” he said. “The gospel that we proclaim is bold. We cannot be afraid to be different, to be unique.
Elder Pearson said The Saints in Rarotonga and Mangaia had been very excited to see and meet a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and welcome his son Derek back to Cook Islands.
“There were church members and others who knew him then and who flocked to meet him again as he arrived.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has five congregations in the Cook Islands and over 1,000 members. The first convert of the church was baptised in 1942. - Release