Featured Story

'Prayers do get answered, no matter when' -- Cape Town members react to temple announcement

Church members in Cape Town have been praying for a temple for decades. They share their feelings at the Prophet's announcement that this will soon become a reality.

When Elder Neil L. Andersen visited Cape Town, South Africa in 2018, members bombarded him with questions about when a temple would be built in their city. The Apostle’s response was eye-opening for all of them.

“He said: ‘don’t petition me for a temple; petition the Lord,’” says Ryan Holmes, who is currently serving as the Cape Town stake president. The Apostle’s admonishment to the people of the Cape  “completely changed our focus,” says President Holmes. “Instead of asking leaders what they were doing to get a temple in Cape Town, members began to solicit the Lord.”

Cape Town Coastline (Photo Courtesy of Anthony Tuil, Unsplash)
Cape Town Coastline (Photo Courtesy of Anthony Tuil, Unsplash)
Cape Town Coastline (Photo Courtesy of Anthony Tuil, Unsplash) © 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Andew Herbert, a counsellor in the Belville South Africa stake presidency, said that for him, Elder Andersen’s counsel meant “not just asking Him continuously, but explaining to the Lord why we need a temple here; saying to Him: ‘these are the things that will change for us if we have a temple.’”

The Herbert family prayed for this blessing daily, and President Herbert made a similar prayerful request in every temple recommend interview he held.

“I don’t know if people in other parts of the world realise what a privilege it is to see the temple spires in their home cities,” says President Herbert.

“To have that feeling of rightness, to know that there is a place nearby that is consecrated to the Lord.

“To be able to take a group of youth to the temple to do baptisms regularly; to be able to take your children to the temple grounds to teach them about its importance.

“To be able to give Young Single Adults callings to serve in the temple; to have the ability to visit the temple, without having to save for a big trip. To be able to attend even if you are sickly, old or frail and can’t travel long distances.

“it’s just a huge thing,” he says.

It was almost midnight in South Africa when President Russell M. Nelson announced in the last conference session on April 4, 2021 that 20 new temples would be built.


President Herbert’s wife, Sister Shelley Herbert, who had been watching the session in bed whilst her husband slept, sat up a little straighter. President Henry B. Eyring’s earlier address, in which he invited the saints to ready themselves “for the increased opportunities for temple experiences that are coming for us,”[1] had piqued her interest.

When the Prophet read the words ‘Cape Town, South Africa’, “the tears were just streaming down my face,” says Sister Herbert. “As I cried, I shook my husband to wake him up and said, ‘it’s happened!’”

“There were so many people who doubted that we would get a temple, but we expected it, because we believe in petitioning the Lord.” 

"There were so many people who doubted that we would get a temple, but we expected it, because we believe in petitioning the Lord."

Sister Thirsly Motolwana from the Cape Town Gugulethu branch says that when she heard the news, “I felt like a baby, jumping for joy!” A member of the Church for the past 24 years, Sister Motolwana, too, had been praying for this moment since Elder Andersen’s visit.

“I thought, wow, it took three years of prayers, but it has happened! It’s so exciting to know that prayers do get answered, no matter when.”

She says she and her fellow members can start preparing now for the blessings of a local temple. “If we read more scriptures and understand more about the temple, it will help us prepare,” she says. “We need to fast be fasting more so that we can be equipped with the spirit.”

While the temple announcement was an answer to many prayers, President Holmes says, “I can’t think of any actions we have taken to deserve this blessing.

“But it is definitely a reach out from Heavenly Father. It’s like He’s giving us a hug and saying, ‘I’m aware of how difficult things have been; this will help you focus on what’s most important.’”


[1]Eyring, H. ‘I love to see the Temple’, Liahona, May 2021

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.