Soviet Ambassador Yuri V. Dubinin was "deeply touched" by a gift of $100,000 Wednesday from members worldwide of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help earthquake victims in Soviet Armenia.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the church's Council of the Twelve delivered the money to Dubinin at the Soviet Embassy and gave him a letter of condolence from the church's First Presidency. He also told Dubinin to expect future help from the church and its members.In a busy day, Elder Nelson also made a goodwill visit to ambassador of Poland - where the church is building its first chapel - and gave the ambassador of Norway his family genealogy prepared by church researchers.
But Elder Nelson's main mission was delivering condolences to the Soviets. "Let's face it. We are all brothers and sisters on this planet. And when something affects one society adversely, it affects us all adversely," he told reporters after his meeting with Dubinin.
Elder Nelson added, "As we made this presentation to Ambassador Dubinin and Mrs. Dubinin, they were deeply touched. Mrs. Dubinin's people are from Armenia. Her father is Armenian . . . This is a very personal thing to all of us, but particularly to Madam Dubinin is this evident."
Elder Nelson explained that the $100,000 came from donations that church members had made specifically for relief in natural disasters - and much of the money had been donated specifically for Armenian earthquake victims.
"It's been a very interesting thing how members of the church worldwide have had a compassionate feeling for the people touched by this tragedy in Armenia. They've sent in contributions and evidence of good wishes," Elder Nelson said.
He added that church members who want to contribute more may give donations to local bishops or send it to the church's Presiding Bishop in care of the Disaster Relief Fund. "It would be very much appreciated."
Elder Nelson told Dubinin that the $100,000 the church gave Wednesday is just the first of the help that Soviet earthquake victims may expect from the church and its members.
"I further assured the ambassador . . . that individual members of our church and some of the corporations that they represent will be giving their own donations . . . They could be expecting substantial donations to be coming forth."
Elder Nelson said it was not his place to detail the exact donations coming, saying the individuals and corporations making them can announce them if and when they desire.
When Elder Nelson was asked if those donations are "imminent and substantial," he replied, "By my standards it would be.
"By the standards of what is needed over there? I mean Mr. Dubinin was talking about the sum of $8 billion is their forecast now of what would be necessary to reconstruct the towns that have been damaged. So even a gift of $100,000 seems infinitesimal when you consider the magnitude of the work. Yet people want to help, and small contributions add up to a lot."
Elder Nelson said the church had considered sending commodities such as blankets and food instead of money but figured the logistics were too complicated. "This seemed to be a more practical solution, so they can acquire what they need from not so far away."
He said that Church President Ezra Taft Benson was so deeply involved in planning help for the Armenians that he even considered canceling a speech over the weekend to 16,000 people in Los Angeles.
"He's personally very deeply invested in his concern for the victims of this earthquake, and he was very pleased to affix his signature to this letter."
Nelson said that Dubinin indicated he would immediately transmit the money to Moscow, and that interestingly, "He said one of the things they need now most is mobile housing, trailers . . . so that people can start to live again."