From Stephen Russell: My wife and I recently returned from a marvelous holiday to Malta. When we were making the arrangements to go, we wondered if there would be a branch of the Church on the island, so we checked in the Church almanac. We found out that there was one listed, but with no address, so I made some inquires and I was told that it is in Hope Street, Mosta.
On the Friday after we arrived, we took a bus trip to Mosta and found Hope Street. We started at one end slowly worked our way down the street, checking all the doors for a sign. We could not find the church so we sat down on a bench to rest and were about to give up. As we rose to return home, the Church found us! We saw two Elders walking towards us.
The branch is in a rented house and it does have a church sign on the door. As the branch president and his wife showed us around, I was humbled by the way they try so hard to make the branch work. We talked about their problems with the people. This island is ninety percent Roman Catholic, with 365 churches on it. If any member of a family joined the LDS church, they would probably be ostracized by family and friends, as well as being an outcast in the community.
There are ten missionaries working in Malta, eight Elders and two Sisters. They are so happy in their work and are having some success.
They were about to have lunch and we were invited to join with them. It was good to hear their stories and to explain that we had trouble finding them. They were already aware of this problem and as they were going around the island they were putting signs on the hotel information boards, for Latter-day Saint visitors. They invited us back that evening to a branch activity where we would meet other members of the branch.
We arrived that evening and went up to the flat roof to play some games and to meet other members. We felt the wonderful family unity that we find in the Lord's church. We told them we would return on Sunday, for the Sunday School lesson and Sacrament Meeting. It would be Fast and Testimony Meeting.
When Sunday arrived we caught the bus to Mosta for the church meetings. Because of the shortage of Priesthood holders, we and another couple who were visiting from England were invited to accept assignments to help the branch. There were about thirty people in the congregation, a small group of saints with the same purpose -- to worship our Lord and take the sacrament as instructed by the Saviour. When we got to the testimony portion of the meeting, many of the Maltese people got up to bear their testimonies, some for the first time.
After Sacrament Meeting we met the local members of the branch. There was a feeling of wanting to know and understand. They have such little contact with the Church in the rest of the world. We were invited to come to the Family Home Evening on Monday at the chapel. They have it there because of the number of single people whose homes are not suitable.
On Monday we went to the Family Home Evening. They had the largest turnout they had ever experienced. We played a few games and told a few stories. We then had a lesson on gratitude presented by one of the sister missionaries. We finished off the night with orange squash and cookies. When my wife and I left that night we felt quite humbled at the dedication of the saints in this little struggling branch. We have so much here in England and they have so little, but I am sure this corner or the Lords vineyard will grow in time.
We met one delightful woman, who has been a member for two years and wants to go to the Temple. The Branch President has sent away for Temple Preparation Lesson material. She will be coming to the Preston Temple later this year. We were pleased to offer her support and accommodation while she is doing this most important work.
We have made many friends in the Church on our travels and would ask all those members who travel the world, to seek out our brothers and sisters and show you care. We have been very impressed by these new friends that we have made in this branch in Malta. Materials and outside influences are small but the spirituality is great. They have spiritual needs that are being met by a dedicated missionary couple, who have risen to the challenge of leading this little Branch of the Lord's Church. We are sure the Lord will bless the Branch President, his wife and the other missionary Elders and Sisters, who work with them, for the miracle they are performing in Malta.