News Story

Sister Craven and Sister Eubank Visit New Zealand’s South Island

Offer words of love and encouragement to Latter-day Saints and friends of the Church

On October 23rd and 24th Sisters Sharon Eubank and Becky Craven travelled to the South Island of New Zealand to meet with women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   


They were accompanied by Elder Allistair Odgers, Area Seventy, and Sister Noeline Odgers, who live in Christchurch. Brother Ronald Craven accompanied Sister Craven.

Sister Eubank is a member of the Relief Society general presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Sister Craven is a member of the Young Women general presidency of the Church. 

Over the last few days they have met with members and friends of the Church in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. They will travel to Fiji next, before heading home to the United States.

The visiting leaders travelled to Dunedin, near the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, on 23 October.  Latter-day Saint women and young women gathered from the region to meet with the sisters.   

Sister Sharon Eubank

As part of their visit, Sister Eubank met in a focus group of women, including leaders in local congregations.  She spoke about the power of councils and emphasized their roles as members of Church councils.  


“When you are sitting in a ward [congregation] or stake [group of congregations] council you are an officer of that council,” she said. 

She reminded them that as an officer they are empowered to speak to any issue in the ward, not just Relief Society matters.   

Pointing to the assembled group, she said, “This is a council. This is a room full of answers if you have questions.”   

The women then shared a variety of concerns and issues and together they discussed options and ideas for each issue.   

Sister Eubank led them through a discussion about where to go for answers.  She reminded them of President Nelson’s recent talk in the women’s session of General Conference that when they are set apart they are given Priesthood authority to guide them in their callings.   

Reflecting later, Sister Eubank was impressed at the maturity of those in attendance.  She said she felt a real power in the room because of the strong faith and commitment possessed by them.

Sister Becky Craven

In a focus group comprising Latter-day Saint young women leaders in Dunedin, Sister Becky Craven asked the leaders to talk about the favourite part of their calling.  

“Seeing the growth in the young women, from being afraid to pray when they first come in, to asking for more opportunities to lead on Sundays,” said one leader.  

Another participant said, “I have them in my home and we cook. When we cook, they open up and talk to me, what is in their hearts.”   

Sister Craven shared three goals with the young women in attendance, with respect to identity, purpose and belonging: 

  • Identity—that each young woman knows who they are, a daughter of Heavenly Parents;
  • Purpose—that each young woman understands their purpose, Heavenly Father’s plan for them, and they are on the covenant path;
  • Belonging—that each young woman understands that they belong to something bigger, a community of Saints, because of the covenants they have made.  

She also said that when young women are set apart in class presidencies they receive Priesthood authority to fulfil their responsibilities.


Later that evening, in a devotional attended by local women of all ages, Sister Becky Craven spoke about voices we hear and recognize in life.  

She taught about hearing the voice of the Saviour.  

Sister Craven encouraged the girls to disconnect from outside noises such as radios or headphones and to listen spiritually to hear what the Lord has to tell them.   

She used various pictures of doors to illustrate a message that “the Lord is knocking on our door and we need to let Him in.”  

“There is never a ‘Closed’ sign on the Lord’s door.” 

“Instead,” she said, “it is more a sign which says: ‘Please come in.'"
Sister Sharon Eubank spoke next during the devotional using pictures of sheep-herding in New Zealand to illustrate the Saviour’s role as a shepherd.  

She shared stories of people who ministered to others as shepherds, changing their lives.  She reminded the women that “you are ministers.”   


The next day Sisters Craven and Eubank travelled to Christchurch.

They met with Mrs. Hafsa Ahmed, founder of the Lady Khadija Charitable Trust—an organisation that serves Christchurch Muslim communities, and bridges faith groups through service.   

Sister Eubank recognized Mrs. Ahmed’s work, especially earlier in the year when she initiated a service project known as “Boxes of Love,” following the 15 March attacks on two mosques.   

Sister Eubank said it was a privilege for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to work alongside Mrs. Ahmed in gathering and ethnic appropriate packaging food and other items for delivery to families affected by the attacks.  

As President of Latter-day Saint Charities, Sister Eubank noted many other projects that the Church’s humanitarian arm has done in partnership with Muslim charities all over the world.   

She also said she is grateful for the “Boxes of Love” project, and others like it, because it reaches people in a personal, one-on-one basis.

Sisters Eubank and Craven were next invited to visit the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, one of the two mosques which were the sites of the shootings in March.  

There, they were shown the re-building efforts which have taken place in the mosque. Both sisters reflected on how these buildings are holy places to Muslim worshippers in Christchurch.

Later that evening the sisters met with local Latter-day Saint leaders, listening to concerns and discussing ways to seek for solutions.


In a devotional attended by approximately 200 women and young women, both sisters gave words of encouragement and testimony.  

Sister Craven reminded the sisters that by virtue of their sacrament covenants, they each bear the name of Jesus Christ.  She encouraged that this name “should be engraved upon our hearts.”   

Sister Eubank shared stories and led a discussion about those who might feel isolated.  

“Every one of us has someone whom we love, who is struggling,” she said.  

She encouraged the women to never give up on those loved ones.  “We are the matriarchs of those people,” she said.

Sister Eubank expressed her love to the women gathered and encouraged them that it is never too late to love others, to repent and to follow Jesus Christ.

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