Sunday Morning Session

AND GREAT”] From the Conference Center
at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, this is the Sunday morning
session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with speakers selected
from the General Authorities and General Officers
of the Church. Music for this session is
provided by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. This broadcast is furnished
as a public service by Bonneville Distribution. Any reproduction,
recording, transcription, or other use of this program
without written consent is prohibited. President Henry B.
Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
of the Church, will conduct this session. Brothers and sisters,
we welcome you to the Sunday morning session
of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Russell M. Nelson,
who presides at the conference, has asked me to
conduct this session. We extend our greetings
and love to those of you who are participating
in these proceedings throughout the world by radio,
television, the internet, or satellite transmission. The music for this session will
be provided by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square under
the direction of Mack Wilberg, with Brian Mathias and
Richard Elliott at the organ. The choir opened this meeting
with “How Wondrous and Great” and will now favor us with
“High on the Mountain Top.” The invocation will then be
offered by Elder O. Vincent Haleck, who was
released yesterday as a member of the Seventy. The choir will then
sing “A Child’s Prayer.” [MUSIC PLAYING: “HIGH ON THE
MOUNTAIN TOP”] Our dear Heavenly Father,
with gratitude in our hearts we gather this morning to give
Thee thanks for bringing us together in general conference
to hear the messages that have been given
to us all thus far and to hear from the our
leaders this morning. We’re grateful to be gathered
under Thy prophet, Russell M. Nelson. Heavenly Father, we pray
for Thy Guiding Spirit to be with us this day so
that we may come to understand and know through the
messages that will be given, our great capacity to
do good and to be good and to reach out to
bless the lives of others who are around us. Wilt thou bless us
now as we proceed with the beginning of
this conference session, that Thy Spirit
will abide with us. For these things we pray
in the name of Thy Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING: “A CHILD’S
PRAYER”] We will now be pleased to
hear from Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles. He will be followed
by Sister Cristina B. Franco, who serves
as Second Counselor in the Primary
General Presidency. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will then address us. Dear brothers and
sisters, a Primary child is learning to pray. “Thank you for the letter
A, the letter B, … the letter G.” The child’s prayer
continues, “Thank you for the letters X, Y,
Z. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the
number 1, the number 2.” The Primary teacher
worries but wisely waits. The child says, “Thank
you for the number 5, the number 6–and thank
you for my Primary teacher. She’s the only person who’s
ever let me finish my prayer.” Heavenly Father does hear
every child’s prayer. With infinite love,
He beckons us to come believe and belong by covenant. This world is full of a mirage,
illusion, sleight of hand. So much seems transitory
and superficial. When we put aside the masks,
pretense, crowdsourced likes and dislikes, we yearn for
more than fleeting veneer, ephemeral connection,
or the pursuit of worldly self-interest. Gratefully, there is a way
through to answers that matter. When we come to God’s great
commandments to love Him and those around
us by covenant, we do so not as stranger or guest
but as His child at home. The age-old paradox
is still true. In losing our worldly self
through covenant belonging, we find and become our best
eternal self–free, alive, real–and define our most
important relationships. Covenant belonging is to
make and keep solemn promises to God and each other, through
sacred ordinances, that invite the power of godliness
to be manifest in our lives. When we covenant all we are,
we can become more than we are. Covenant belonging gives us
place, narrative, capacity to become. It produces faith unto
life and salvation. Divine covenants become a
source of love for and from God and thereby for and
with each other. God, our Heavenly
Father, loves us more and knows us better than
we love or know ourselves. Faith in Jesus Christ and
personal change (repentance) bring mercy, grace, forgiveness. These comfort the
hurt, loneliness, injustice we experience
in mortality. Being God, our Heavenly
Father wants us to receive God’s greatest gift–His
joy, His eternal life. Our God is a God of covenant. By His nature, He “keepest
covenant and showeth mercy.” His covenants endure “so
long as time [should] last, or the earth shall
stand, or there [should] be one man upon the
face thereof to be saved.” We are not meant to wander
in existential uncertainty and doubt but to rejoice in
cherished covenant relations “stronger than the
cords of death.” God’s ordinances
and covenants are universal in their
requirement and individual in their opportunity. In God’s fairness,
each individual in every place and age can
receive saving ordinances. Agency applies–individuals
choose whether to accept offered ordinances. God’s ordinances
provide guideposts on His path of covenants. We call God’s plan
to bring His children home the plan of redemption,
plan of salvation, plan of happiness. Redemption, salvation,
celestial happiness are possible because
Jesus Christ “wrought out this perfect atonement.” To belong with God and to walk
with each other on His covenant path is to be blessed
by covenant belonging. First, covenant belonging
centers in Jesus Christ as “mediator of
the new covenant.” All things can work together
for our good when we are “sanctified in Christ … in
the covenant of the Father.” Every good and promised
blessing comes to those who remain faithful to the end. The “happy state of those [who]
keep the commandments of God” is to be “blessed in all things,
… temporal and spiritual,” and to “dwell with God …
in never-ending happiness.” As we honor our covenants,
we may sometimes feel we are in the
company of angels. And we will be–those we love
and who bless us on this side of the veil and those who love
and bless us from the other side of the veil. Recently Sister Gong
and I saw covenant belonging at its tender
best in a hospital room. A young father desperately
needed a kidney transplant. His family had wept,
fasted, and prayed for him to receive a kidney. When news came a
lifesaving kidney had just become available, his
wife quietly said, “I hope the other family is OK.” To belong by covenant
is, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “that
I may be comforted together with you by the mutual
faith both of you and me.” Along life’s path, we
may lose faith in God, but He never loses faith in us. As it were, His porch
light is always on. He invites us to come or
return to the covenants that mark His path. He waits ready to
embrace us, even when we are “yet a great way off.” When we look with
an eye of faith for the patterns,
arc, or connected dots of our experience, we can
see His tender mercies and encouragement, especially
in our trials, sorrows, and challenges, as
well as in our joys. However often we
stumble or fall, if we keep moving toward Him, He
will help us, a step at a time. Second, the Book of
Mormon is evidence we can hold in our hand
of covenant belonging. The Book of Mormon is
the promised instrument for the gathering
of God’s children, prophesied as a new covenant. As we read the Book of Mormon,
by ourselves and with others, whether silently or
aloud, we can ask God “with a sincere heart,
with real intent, having faith in
Christ,” and receive, by the power of the Holy
Ghost, God’s assurance the Book of Mormon is true. This includes assurance
Jesus Christ is our Savior, Joseph Smith is the
prophet of the Restoration, and the Lord’s Church is
called by His name–The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. The Book of Mormon speaks by
ancient and modern covenant to you who are the
children of Lehi, “children of the prophets.” Your forefathers
received covenant promise that you, their descendants,
would recognize a voice as if from the dust
in the Book of Mormon. That voice you feel
as you read testifies you are “children
of the covenant” and Jesus is your Good Shepherd. The Book of Mormon invites
each of us, in Alma’s words, to enter “into a
covenant with [the Lord], that [we] will serve him
and keep his command … , that he may pour out his spirit
more abundantly upon [us].” When we want to change for the
better–as one person put it, “to stop being miserable and to
be happy being happy”–we can become open to direction,
help, and strength. We can come by covenant to
belong with God and a community of faithful believers and
receive the blessings promised in the doctrine of Christ–now. Restored priesthood
authority and power to bless all His children
is a third dimension of covenant belonging. In this dispensation, John
the Baptist and the Apostles Peter, James, and John have
come as glorified messengers from God to restore His
priesthood authority. God’s priesthood
and His ordinances sweeten relationships on
earth and can seal covenant relationships in heaven. Priesthood can bless literally
from cradle to grave–from an infant’s name and blessing
to a grave dedication. Priesthood blessings
heal, comfort, counsel. A father was angry with his
son until forgiving love came as the father gave his son
a tender priesthood blessing. The only member in her
family, a dear young woman was uncertain about
God’s love for her until she received an
inspired priesthood blessing. Across the world,
noble patriarchs prepare spiritually to
give patriarchal blessings. As the patriarch lays
his hands on your head, he feels and expresses
God’s love for you. He pronounces your lineage
in the house of Israel. He indicates blessings
from the Lord. Typically thoughtful,
one patriarch’s wife told me how she and her family
invite the Spirit, especially on days their papa is giving
patriarchal blessings. Finally, the blessings
of covenant belonging come when we follow the
Lord’s prophet and rejoice in temple covenant living,
including in marriage. Covenant marriage becomes
supernal and eternal as we daily choose the happiness
of our spouse and family before our own. As me becomes we,
we grow together. We grow old together;
we grow young together. As we bless each other across
a lifetime of forgetting ourselves, we find our
hopes and joys sanctified in time and eternity. While situations differ, when
we do all we can, the best we can, and sincerely ask and
seek His help along the way, the Lord will guide us,
in His time and manner, by the Holy Ghost. Marriage covenants are binding
by mutual choice of those making them–a reminder of
God’s and our respect for agency and the blessing of His help
when we unitedly seek it. The fruits of covenant belonging
across family generations are felt in our
homes and hearts. Please allow me to illustrate
with personal examples. When Sister Gong
and I were falling in love toward
marriage, I learned about agency and decisions. For a period of time,
we were studying in two different countries
in two different continents. It is why I can honestly
say I earned a PhD in international relations. When I asked, “Heavenly
Father, should I marry Susan?” I felt peace. But it was when I learned
to pray with real intent, “Heavenly Father, I love
Susan and want to marry her. I promise I will be the best
husband and father I can be”–when I acted and
made my best decisions, it was then the strongest
spiritual confirmations came. Now our Gong and Lindsay
FamilySearch family trees, stories, and photos help
us discover and connect through the lived experience
of generational covenant belonging. For us, respected
progenitors include: Great-Grandma Alice
Blauer Bangerter, who had three marriage
proposals in one day, later asked her husband to
rig a foot pedal to her butter churn so she could
churn butter, knit, and read at the same time. Great-Grandpa Loy Kuei
Char carried his children on his back and his family’s
few belongings on a donkey as they crossed the lava
fields on Hawaii’s Big Island. Generations of Char family
commitment and sacrifice bless our family today. Gram Mary Alice
Powell Lindsay was left with five young children
when her husband and oldest son both died suddenly
just days apart. A widow for 47 years,
Gram raised her family with sustaining love from
local leaders and members. During those many years,
Gram promised the Lord if He would help her,
she would never complain. The Lord helped her. She never complained. Brothers and sisters,
witnessed by the Holy Ghost, everything good and eternal is
centered in the living reality of God, our Eternal Father,
and His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, is the
mediator of the new covenant. Testifying of Jesus Christ
is a covenant purpose of the Book of Mormon. By oath and covenant, God’s
restored priesthood authority is intended to bless
all God’s children, including through covenant
marriage, generational family, and individual blessings. Our Savior declares, “I am Alpha
and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the
beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world.” With us at the
beginning, He is with us, in all our covenant
belonging, to the end. I so testify in the
sacred and holy name of Jesus Christ, amen. One of my favorite Primary
songs begins with these words: “I belong to The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God’s plan. I’ll follow him in faith. I believe in the
Savior, Jesus Christ.” What a simple and beautiful
statement of the truths we believe! As members of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we know who we are. We know that “God is the
Father of our spirits. We are … His children, and He loves us. We lived [with Him in heaven]
before we [came to] earth.” We know God’s plan. We were there with Him
as He presented it. Our Father in Heaven’s “whole
purpose–His work and His glory–is to enable each of
us to enjoy all His blessings. He … provided a perfect plan
to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted
this plan … of happiness, … [plan of] redemption
and … salvation” before we came to earth. “Jesus Christ is
central to God’s plan. Through His Atonement,
Jesus Christ fulfilled His Father’s
purpose and made it possible for
each of us to enjoy immortality and exaltation. Satan, or the devil, is
an enemy to God’s plan” and has been from the beginning. “Agency, or the
ability to choose, is one of God’s greatest
gifts to His children. … We must choose whether to follow
Jesus Christ or follow Satan.” These are simple truths
we can share with others. Let me tell you of a time
when my mother shared such a simple truth
by simply being open to having a conversation
and recognizing an opportunity. Many years ago, my mother
was returning to Argentina for a visit with my brother. And my mom never
liked, really, flying, so she asked one of my sons to
give her a blessing of comfort and protection. He felt prompted to
also bless his grandma with special guidance and
direction from the Holy Ghost to strengthen and touch
the hearts of many who were desirous to
learn of the gospel. At the Salt Lake airport,
my mother and brother met a seven-year-old girl
who was returning home from a skiing trip
with her family. Her parents noticed
how long she had been talking to
my mom and brother and decided to join them. They introduced themselves
and their daughter as Eduardo, Maria Susana, and Giada Pol. There was a natural
and warm connection to this sweet family. Both families were excited
to be traveling together on the same flight to
Buenos Aires, Argentina. As their conversation
continued, my mother noted that until
that moment, they’d never heard about the restored
Church of Jesus Christ. One of the first
questions Susana asked was “Would you tell me
about that beautiful museum with that golden statue on top?” My mom explained that the
beautiful edifice was not a museum but a
temple of the Lord where we make covenants
with God so we can return to live with Him one day. Susana confessed to my mom that
before their trip to Salt Lake, she had prayed for something
to strengthen her spirit. During the flight, my mom bore
her simple but strong testimony of the gospel and invited
Susana to find the missionaries in her hometown. Susana asked my mom,
“How will I find them?” My mom replied, “You
can’t miss them; they are either two young
men dressed in white shirts and ties or two nicely
dressed young women, and they always wear a tag
showing their name and also ‘The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints.'” The families exchanged
phone numbers and said goodbye at the
Buenos Aires airport. Susana, who since then
has become my good friend, told me many times that
she felt so sad to leave my mom at the airport. She said, “Your mom glowed. I can’t explain it, but she
had a brightness about her that I didn’t want
to leave behind.” As soon as Susana got
back to her hometown, she and her
daughter, Giada, went to share this experience
with Susana’s mom, who lived just a few blocks
away from their home. As they were driving,
Susana happened to see two young men walking
down the street, dressed as my mom described. She stopped the car in
the middle of the street, got out, and asked
these two young men, “Are you by chance from the
Church of Jesus Christ?” They said, “Yes.” “Missionaries?” she asked. They both replied,
“Yes, we are!” She then said, “Get
into my car; you’re coming home to teach me.” [LAUGHTER] You’ve got to love her. Two months later, Maria
Susana was baptized. Her daughter, Giada, was also
baptized when she turned nine. We are still working on Eduardo,
whom we love no matter what. Since then, Susana has
become one of the greatest missionaries I have ever met. She is like the sons of Mosiah,
bringing many souls to Christ. In one of our
conversations, I asked her, “What is your secret? How do you share the
gospel with others?” She told me, “It is very simple. Every day before
I leave my house, I pray, asking Heavenly Father
to direct me to someone who needs the gospel in their life. I sometimes take
a Book of Mormon to share with them or pass-along
cards from the missionaries, and when I start
talking to someone, I simply ask them if they
have heard about the Church.” Susana also said,
“Other times I just smile while I am
waiting for the train. One day a man looked
at me and said, ‘What are you smiling about?’ He kind of caught me off guard. “I replied, ‘I’m smiling
because I’m happy!’ “He then said, ‘And what
are you so happy about?’ “I answered, ‘I am a
member of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, and that makes me happy. Have you heard about it?'” When he said no, she gave
him a pass-along card and invited him to attend
the upcoming Sunday services. The following Sunday, she
greeted him at the door. President Dallin H. Oaks taught: “There are three
things all members can do to help share the gospel. … “First, we can all
pray for desire to help with this vital part
of the work of salvation. … “Second, we can keep the
commandments [ourselves]. … Faithful members will always
have the Savior’s Spirit … with them to guide them as
they seek to participate in the great work of sharing
the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. “Third, we can pray for
inspiration on what we can do … to share the
gospel with others … [and] pray with a commitment
to act upon the inspiration you receive.” Brothers and sisters,
children and youth, can we be like my friend
Susana and share the gospel with others? Can we invite a
friend who is not of our faith to come to
church with us on Sunday? Or can we perhaps share a
copy of the Book of Mormon with a relative or a friend? Can we help others find their
ancestors on FamilySearch or share with others what we
have learned during the week as we have been studying
Come, Follow Me? Can we be more like our
Savior, Jesus Christ, and share with others what brings
us joy to our lives? The answer to all of
these questions is yes! We can do it! In the scriptures we read that
“members of The Church of Jesus Christ are sent forth
‘to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of
the souls of men.’ This work of salvation includes
member missionary work, convert retention, activation
of less-active members, temple and family history work,
and teaching the gospel.” My dear friends, the Lord
needs us to gather Israel. In the Doctrine and
Covenants He has said, “Neither take ye thought
beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds
continually the words of life, and it shall be given
you in the very hour that portion that shall
be meted unto every man.” In addition, He has promised us: “And if it so be
that you should labor all your days in crying
repentance unto this people, and bring, save it
be one soul unto me, how great shall be
your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! “And now, if your joy will
be great with one soul that you have brought unto me
[in] the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if
you should bring many souls unto me!” The Primary song I
began with concludes with this profound statement: “I believe in the
Savior, Jesus Christ. I’ll honor his name. I’ll do what is right; I’ll follow his light. His truth I will proclaim.” I bear witness that
these words are true and that we have a
loving Father in Heaven, who is waiting for us to turn
to Him to bless our lives and the lives of
those around us. May we have the desire
to bring our brothers and sisters to
Christ is my prayer, in the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. Thank you, Sister
Franco, Elder Gong. Thank you, choir. Thank you, President
Nelson, First Presidency, for already a wonderful general
conference week and weekend. A beloved children’s fantasy
novel written many years ago begins with the sentence
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” The story of Bilbo
Baggins is about a most normal and
unremarkable hobbit who is presented with a
most remarkable opportunity: the wonderful
chance at adventure and the promise
of a great reward. The problem is that most
self-respecting hobbits want nothing to do with adventures. Their lives are
all about comfort. They enjoy eating
six meals a day when they can get them and spend
their days in their gardens, swapping tales with
visitors, singing, playing musical
instruments, and basking in the simple joys of life. However, when Bilbo is
presented with the prospect of a grand adventure, something
surges deep within his heart. He understands from the
outset that the journey will be challenging. Even dangerous. There is even a possibility
he might not return. And yet, the call to
adventure has reached deep into his heart. And so, this unremarkable
hobbit leaves comfort behind and enters the path
to a great adventure that will take him all the
way to “there and back again.” Perhaps one of the reasons this
story resonates with so many is because it is our story too. Long, long ago,
even before we were born, in an age dimmed by
time and clouded from memory, we too were invited to
embark on an adventure. It was proposed by God,
our Heavenly Father. Accepting this
adventure would mean leaving the comfort and security
of His immediate presence. It would mean coming to
earth for a journey filled with unknown danger and trial. We knew it would not be easy. But we also knew that we
would gain precious treasures, including a physical body and
experiencing the intense joys and sorrows of mortality. We would learn to strive,
to seek, and to struggle. We would discover truths
about God and ourselves. Of course, we knew we would make
many mistakes along the way. But we also had a
promise: that because of the great sacrifice
of Jesus Christ, we could be cleansed
of our transgressions, refined and purified
in our spirits, and one day resurrected and
reunited with those we love. We learned how
much God loves us. He gave us life and He
wants us to succeed. Therefore, He prepared
a Savior for us. “Nevertheless,” our
Father in Heaven said, “thou mayest choose for thyself,
for it is given unto thee.” There must have been parts
of the mortal adventure that worried and even
terrified God’s children, since a large number of our
spiritual brothers and sisters decided against it. By the gift and power
of moral agency, we determined that
the potential of what we could learn and eternally
become was well worth the risk. And so, trusting the promise
and power of God and His Beloved Son, we accepted the challenge. I did. And so did you. We agreed to leave the
security of our first estate and embark on our
own great adventure of “there and back again.” And yet, mortal life has a way
of distracting us, doesn’t it? We tend to lose sight of our
great quest, preferring comfort and ease over
growth and progress. Still, there remains
something undeniable deep within our hearts
that hungers for a higher and nobler purpose. This hunger is one reason why
people are drawn to the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ. The restored gospel
is, in a sense, a renewal of the
call to adventure we accepted so long ago. The Savior invites us, each
day, to set aside our comforts and securities and join Him on
the journey of discipleship. There are many
bends in this road. There are hills,
valleys, and detours. There may even be
metaphorical spiders, trolls, and even a dragon or two. But if you stay on the
path and trust in God, you will eventually find the
way to our glorious destiny and back to our heavenly home. So how do you begin? It’s quite simple. First, you need to choose to
incline your heart to God. Strive each day to find Him. Learn to love Him. And then let that
love inspire you to learn, understand,
and follow His teachings and keep God’s commandments. The restored gospel
of Jesus Christ is given to us in a
plain and simple way that a child can understand. Yet the gospel of Jesus
Christ has the answers to the most complex
questions in life and has such profound
depth and complexity that even with a
lifetime of study and pondering, we can scarcely
comprehend even the smallest part. If you hesitate
in this adventure because you doubt your ability,
remember that discipleship is not about doing
things perfectly; it’s about doing
things intentionally. It is your choices that
show what you truly are, far more than your abilities. Even when you fail,
you can choose not to give up, but rather
discover your courage, press forward, and rise up. That is the great
test of the journey. God knows that you
are not perfect, that you will fail at times. God loves you no less when you
struggle than when you triumph. Like a loving parent, He merely
wants you to keep intentionally trying. Discipleship is like
learning to play the piano. Perhaps all you can do at first
is play a barely recognizable rendition of “Chopsticks.” But if you continue
practicing, the simple tunes will one day give way to
wondrous sonatas, rhapsodies, and concertos. Now, that day may not
come during this life, but it will come. All God asks is that you
consciously keep striving. There is something interesting,
almost paradoxical, about this path you’ve
chosen: the only way for you to progress in your
gospel adventure is to help others
progress as well. To help others is the
path of discipleship. Faith, hope, love,
compassion, and service refine us as disciples. Through your efforts to
help the poor and the needy, to reach out to
those in distress, your own character is
purified and forged, your spirit is enlarged, and
you walk a little taller. But this love cannot come with
expectations of repayment. It cannot be the kind of service
that expects recognition, adulation, or favor. True disciples of Jesus Christ
love God and His children without expectation of
something in return. We love those who disappoint
us, who don’t like us. Even those who ridicule,
abuse, and seek to hurt us. When you fill your hearts
with the pure love of Christ, you leave no room for rancor,
judgment, and shaming. You keep God’s commandments
because you love Him. In the process, you slowly
become more Christlike in your thoughts and deeds. And what adventure could
be greater than this? The third thing we strive
to master in this journey is to take upon ourselves
the name of Jesus Christ and not be ashamed of being a
member of the Church of Jesus Christ. We do not hide our faith. We do not bury it. To the contrary, we
talk about our journey with others in normal
and natural ways. That’s what friends do–they
talk about things that are important to them. Things that are
close to their heart and make a difference to them. That’s what you do. You tell your stories
and experiences as a member of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes your stories
make people laugh. Sometimes they
bring them to tears. Sometimes they will help
people to continue in patience, resilience,
and courage to face another
hour, another day and come a little closer to God. Share your experiences in
person, on social media, in groups, everywhere. One of the last
things Jesus told His disciples was that they
were to go throughout the world and share the story
of the risen Christ. Today we too joyfully accept
that great commission. What a glorious message
we have to share: because of Jesus Christ,
every man, woman, and child can return home safely
to their heavenly home and there dwell in
glory and righteousness! There is even more
good news to share. God has appeared
to man in our day! We have a living prophet. May I remind you
that God does not need you to “sell” the restored
gospel or the Church of Jesus Christ. He simply expects you to
not hide it under a bushel. And if people decide the
Church is not for them, that is their decision. It does not mean
that you have failed. You continue to
treat them kindly. Nor does it exclude that
you invite them again. The difference between
casual social contacts and compassionate, courageous
discipleship is invitation! We love and respect
all of God’s children, regardless of their
position in life, regardless of their
race or religion, regardless of their
life’s decisions. For our part, we will
say, “Come and see! Find out for
yourself how walking the path of discipleship will
be rewarding and ennobling.” We invite people
to “come and help, as we try to make the
world a better place.” And we say, “Come and stay! We are your brothers
and sisters. We are not perfect. We trust God and seek to
keep His commandments. “Join with us, and you
will make us better. And in the process, you
will become better as well. Let’s take this
adventure together.” When our friend Bilbo Baggins
felt the call to adventure stir within him, he decided
to get a good night’s rest, enjoy a hearty
breakfast, and start out first thing in the morning. When Bilbo awoke, he noticed
his house was a mess, and he was almost distracted
from his noble plan. But then his friend Gandalf came
and asked, “Whenever are you going to come?” To catch up with
his friends, Bilbo had to decide for
himself what to do. And so, the very normal
and unremarkable hobbit found himself darting
out his front door to the path of
adventure so quickly that he forgot his hat, walking
stick, and pocket handkerchief. He even left his second
breakfast unfinished. Perhaps there is a lesson
here for us as well. If you and I have
felt the stirrings to join the great adventure
of living and sharing what our loving Heavenly Father
has prepared for us a long time ago, I assure you,
today is the day to follow God’s Son and our
Savior on His path of service and discipleship. We could spend a lifetime
waiting for that moment when everything lines up perfectly. But now is the time
to commit fully to seeking God,
ministering to others, and sharing our
experience with others. Leave behind your hat,
walking stick, handkerchief, and messy house. To those of us already
walking that path, take courage, compassion,
have confidence, and continue! To those who have left the
path, please come back, join again with us,
make us stronger. And to those who have
not yet begun, why delay? If you want to
experience the wonders of this great spiritual
journey, set foot upon your own grand adventure! Speak with the missionaries. Speak with your
Latter-day Saint friends. Speak with them about this
marvelous work and a wonder. It’s time to begin! If you sense that
your life could have more meaning, a higher
purpose, stronger family bonds, and a closer connection
with God, please, come, join with us. If you seek a
community of people who are working to become the
best versions of themselves, help those in need, and make
this world a better place, come, join with us! Come and see what this
marvelous, wonderous, and adventurous
journey is all about. Along the way you will
discover yourself. You will discover meaning. You will discover God. You will discover
the most adventurous and glorious journey
of your life. Of this I testify in the name
of our Redeemer and Savior, in the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. The congregation will
now join the choir in singing “Teach Me
to Walk in the Light.” After the singing, we
will be pleased to hear from Elder Walter F.
Gonzalez of the Seventy. He will be followed by Elder
Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. [MUSIC PLAYING: “TEACH ME TO
WALK IN THE LIGHT”] This is the 189th Semiannual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. Roughly two thousand
years ago, the Savior came down from the mountain
after teaching the Beatitudes and other gospel principles. As He walked, He was approached
by a man sick with leprosy. The man showed
reverence and respect as he knelt before
Christ, seeking relief from his affliction. His request was simple:
“Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” The Savior then extended
His hand and, touching him, said, “I will; be thou clean.” We learn here that our Savior
always wants to bless us. Some blessings may
come immediately, others may take longer, and some
may even come after this life, but blessings will
come in due time. Much like the leper, we can
find strength and comfort in this life by
accepting His will and knowing that He
wants to bless us. We can find the strength
to face any challenge, to overcome temptations,
and to understand and endure our difficult circumstances. Surely, in the most
crushing moment of His life, the Savior’s strength
to endure was deepened as He said to His
Father, “Thy will be done.” The leper did not make his
request in a pretentious or demanding manner. His words reveal a humble
attitude with high expectations but also with a sincere desire
that the will of the Savior be done. This is an example of the
attitude with which we should come unto Christ. We can come unto Christ
with the certainty that His desire currently
is and always will be the best for our
mortal and eternal lives. He has an eternal perspective
that we do not always have. We must come unto Christ
with a sincere desire that our will be swallowed up
in His, which will prepare us for eternal life. It is very hard to imagine
the physical and emotional suffering that weighed on the
leper who came unto the Savior. Leprosy affects the nerves and
skin, causing disfigurement and disability. Additionally, it led
to great social stigma. Someone stricken with leprosy
had to leave their loved ones and live isolated from society. Lepers were considered
unclean both physically and spiritually. For this reason,
the law of Moses required that lepers
wear torn clothing and call out, “Unclean!” as they walked. Sick and despised,
lepers ended up living in abandoned houses or tombs. It is not hard to imagine
that the leper who approached the Savior was broken. In one way or another,
we too can feel broken, whether due to our own
actions or those of others, due to circumstances we
can or cannot control. In such moments, we can
place our will in His hands. Some years ago, Zulma, my wife,
my better half, my best part, received some difficult news. She had a cyst in
her parotid gland, and it was growing rapidly. Her face began swelling, and
she was to immediately undergo a delicate operation. Many thoughts ran through her
mind and weighed on her heart. Was the tumor malignant? How would her body recover? Would her face become paralyzed? How intense would the pain be? Would her face be
permanently scarred? Would the tumor
return once removed? Even if she could attend the
wedding of one of our sons that was going to take
place two weeks later. As she lay in the operating
room, she felt broken. In that very important
moment, the Spirit whispered to her that she had
to accept the will of the Lord. Then she decided to
place her trust in God. She felt strongly that
whatever the result, His will would be
the best for her. Soon she drifted
into surgical sleep. Later, she wrote
poetically in her diary: “On the surgeon’s table
I bowed before Thee, and surrendering to Thy
will, I fell asleep. I knew I could turn to Thee,
knowing that nothing bad can come from Thee.” She found strength and comfort
from surrendering her will to that of the Father. That day God
blessed her greatly. Whatever our
circumstances might be, we can exercise our
faith to come unto Christ and find a God we can trust. As my son once wrote: “According to the prophet, God’s
face is brighter than the sun and His long hair
is whiter than snow and His voice roars like
the rushing of a river, and next to Him man is nothing. … I am crushed as I realize
that even I am nothing. And only then do I fumble
my way to a god I can trust. And only then do I discover
the God I can trust.” We can trust Him because He
loves us and wants what is best for us in every circumstance. The leper came forward
because of the power of hope. And hope is emboldened by
a god that we can trust. The world gave him no
solutions, not even comfort. Thus, the Savior’s
simple touch must have felt like a caress
unto his entire soul. We can only imagine the
deep feelings of gratitude the leper must have had
at the Savior’s touch, especially when he heard the
words “I will; be thou clean.” The story states that
“immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” We too can feel the touch of the
Savior’s loving, healing hand. What joy, hope, and
gratefulness comes to our souls in knowing that He wants
to help us to be clean! As we come unto Him, God
will come to our rescue, whether to heal us or
to give us the strength to face any situation. At any rate, accepting His
will–not our own–will help us understand our circumstances. Nothing bad can come from God. He knows what is
the best for us. Perhaps He will not remove
our burdens right away. Sometimes He can make those
burdens feel lighter, as He did with Alma and his people. Ultimately, because of
covenants, the burdens will be lifted,
either in this life or at the holy Resurrection. A sincere desire that
His will be done, along with an understanding of
our Redeemer’s divine nature, helps us develop
the kind of faith that the leper showed
in order to be cleansed. Jesus Christ is a God of love,
a God of hope, a God of healing, a God who wants to bless
us and help us be clean. That is what He wanted before
coming to this earth, when He volunteered to rescue us
when we fall into transgression. That is what He
wanted in Gethsemane, when He faced humanly
incomprehensible pain during the agony of
paying the price of sin. That is what He wants now,
when He pleads on our behalf before the Father. That is why His voice
echoes still: “Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He can heal us and lift us
up because He has the ability to do it. He took upon Himself all
the pains of body and spirit so that His bowels would be
filled with mercy in order to be able to help
us in all things and to heal us and lift us up. The words of Isaiah,
as cited by Abinadi, put it beautifully and movingly: “Surely he has borne our
griefs, and carried our sorrows. … “… He was wounded for
our transgressions, he was bruised for
our iniquities; the chastisement of
our peace was upon him; and with his stripes
we are healed.” A similar concept is
taught in this poem: “‘O Carpenter of Nazareth, This heart, that’s
broken past repair, This life, that’s
shattered nigh to death, Oh, can You mend
them, Carpenter?’ And by His kind and ready hand, His own sweet life
is woven through Our broken lives,
until they stand A New Creation–‘all
things new.’ ‘The shattered [substance]
of [the] heart, Desire, ambition,
hope, and faith, Mould Thou into
… perfect part, O, Carpenter of Nazareth!'” If you feel that in any
way you are not clean, if you feel broken, please
know you can be made clean, you can be mended,
because He loves you. Trust that nothing
bad can come from Him. Because He “descended
below all things,” He makes it possible
for all things that have been broken in
our lives to be mended, and thus we can be
reconciled with God. Through Him all things are
reconciled, both things that are on the earth and
things that are in heaven, making “peace through
the blood of his cross.” Let us come unto Christ,
taking all necessary steps. As we do, may our
attitude be one of saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou
canst make me clean.” If we do so, we can receive
the Master’s healing touch alongside the
sweet echo of His voice: “I will; be thou clean.” The Savior is a
God we can trust. He is the Christ, the Anointed
One, the Messiah of whom I testify in His holy name,
even Jesus Christ, amen. Today I offer words of
counsel for everyone, but especially for you of the
rising generation–Primary children, young men,
and young women. You are deeply loved by the
Lord’s prophet for our day, President Russell M. Nelson–so
much so that he spoke to many of you last year in a special
worldwide youth devotional broadcast titled
“Hope of Israel.” We often hear, as
we did yesterday, President Nelson calling
you exactly that–the “hope of Israel,” the
rising generation, and the future of the restored
Church of Jesus Christ. My young friends, I
would like to begin by sharing two family stories. Years ago I arrived home from
work and was startled to see white paint splattered
everywhere–on the ground, the garage door, and
our redbrick house. I inspected the
scene more closely and discovered the
paint was still wet. A trail of paint led towards
the backyard, so I followed it. There I found my
five-year-old son with a paintbrush in his
hand, chasing our dog. Our beautiful black Labrador was
splattered almost half white! “What are you doing?” I asked in an animated voice. My son stopped, looked
at me, looked at the dog, looked at the paintbrush
dripping with paint, and said, “I just want him to look
like the black-spotted dogs in the movie–you know, the
one with the 101 Dalmatians.” I loved our dog. I thought he was perfect,
but that day my son had a different idea. My second story centers
around Great-Uncle Grover, who lived in a house in the
country, far from the city. Uncle Grover was
getting very old. We thought our sons should
meet him before he died. So one afternoon we took a
long drive to his humble house. We sat together to visit and
introduce him to our sons. Not long into the
conversation, our two boys, maybe five and six years old,
wanted to go outside and play. Uncle Grover, hearing
their request, bent over with his
face in theirs. His face was so weathered
and unfamiliar that the boys were a little scared of him. He said to them in
his gravelly voice, “Be careful–there are a
lot of skunks out there.” Hearing this, Lesa and I
were more than startled; we were worried that they
might get sprayed by a skunk! The boys soon went outside to
play as we continued to visit. Later, when we got in
the car to go home, I inquired of the boys,
“Did you see a skunk?” One of them replied, “No,
we didn’t see any skunks, but we did see a black kitty
cat with a white stripe on [his] back!” Well, these stories about
innocent children discovering something about life and
reality may make each of us smile, but they also illustrate
a more profound concept. In the first story,
our young son had a beautiful dog as a
pet; notwithstanding, he grabbed a gallon of paint
and, with paintbrush in hand, determined to create his
own imagined reality. In the second
account, the boys were blissfully unaware of
the unsavory threat that they faced from a skunk. Unable to properly identify what
they had actually encountered, they ran the risk of suffering
some unfortunate consequences. Stories of mistaken
identity–presuming the real thing to be something else. In each case the
consequences were minor. However, today many grapple
with these same issues on a much larger scale. They are either
unable to see things as they truly are or are
unsatisfied with truth. Moreover, there are forces
at play today designed to deliberately lead us
away from absolute truth. These deceptions and lies go
far beyond innocent mistaken identity and often have dire,
not minor, consequences. Satan, the father of lies
and the great deceiver, would have us question
things as they really are and either ignore eternal truths
or replace them with something that appears more pleasing. “He maketh war with
the saints of God” and has spent millennia
calculating and practicing the ability to persuade God’s
children to believe that good is evil and evil is good. He has made a
reputation for himself, convincing mortals that
skunks are just kittens or that, with an
application of paint, you can turn a Labrador
into a Dalmatian! Let’s now turn to an example
of this very principle found in the scriptures, when the
Lord’s prophet Moses came face to face with this same issue. “Moses was caught up into an
exceedingly high mountain, … he saw God face to face,
and he talked with him.” God taught Moses about
his eternal identity. Though Moses was
mortal and imperfect, God taught that Moses was “in
the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten
… shall be the Savior.” To summarize, in this marvelous
vision, Moses beheld God, and he also learned something
important about himself: he was indeed a son of God. Listen carefully
to what happened as this wondrous vision closed. “And it came to pass, that … Satan came tempting him,”
saying, “Moses, son of man, worship me!” Moses courageously
replied: “Who art thou? For behold, I am a son
of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten;
and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?” In other words, Moses said,
“You cannot deceive me, for I know who I am. I was created in
the image of God. You don’t have His
light and glory. So why should I worship you or
fall prey to your deception?” Now pay attention to how
Moses further responds. He declares, “Get thee hence,
Satan; deceive me not.” There is much we can learn
from Moses’s mighty response to temptation from
the adversary. I invite you to respond
the same way when you feel influenced by temptation. Command the enemy of your
soul by saying, “Go away! You have no glory. Do not tempt me, or lie to me! For I know I am a child of God. And I will always call
upon my God for His help.” The adversary, however,
does not easily abandon his destructive motives
to deceive and demean us. He certainly did not
do so with Moses, instead desiring Moses to
forget who he was eternally. As if he were throwing
a childish tantrum, “Satan cried with a loud voice,
and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am
the Only Begotten, worship me.” Let’s review. Did you hear what he just said? “I am the Only
Begotten, worship me.” The great deceiver said,
in effect, “Don’t worry; I won’t harm you. I’m not a skunk; I am just
an innocent black-and-white striped kitty cat.” Moses then called upon God and
received His divine strength. Even though the adversary
trembled and the earth shook, Moses did not yield. His voice was certain and clear. “Depart from me, Satan,”
he declared, “for this one God only will I worship,
which is the God of glory.” Finally, he “departed …
from the presence of Moses.” Following this, the Lord
appeared and blessed Moses for his obedience, saying: “Blessed art thou,
Moses, for … thou shalt be made
stronger than many waters. … “And lo, I am with thee, even
unto the end of thy days.” Moses’s resistance
of the adversary is a vivid and enlightening
example for each of us, no matter our stage in life. It is a powerful message for you
personally–to know what to do when he tries to deceive you. For you, like Moses,
have been blessed with the gift of heavenly help. How might you find this heavenly
help, even as Moses did, and be not deceived or
give in to temptation? A clear channel for
divine assistance was reaffirmed in
this dispensation by the Lord Himself
when He declared: “Wherefore, I the Lord,
knowing the calamity which should come upon the
inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant
Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven,
and gave him commandments.” Using simpler
words, we might say that the Lord, who knows
“the end from the beginning,” knows the unique
difficulties of our day. Therefore, He has
provided a way for us to resist challenges and
temptations, many of which come as a direct result of
the deceitful influences of the adversary
and his attacks. The way is simple. Through His servants, God
speaks to us, His children, and gives us commandments. We could restate the verse
I just quoted to say, “I the Lord … called upon my
servant [President Russell M. Nelson], and spake
unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments.” Isn’t that a glorious truth? I bear solemn
witness that the Lord did in all reality
speak to Joseph Smith from heaven, beginning
with the grand vision. He also speaks to President
Nelson in our time. I testify that God communed
with prophets in past ages and gave them
commandments designed to lead His children to
happiness in this life and glory in the next. God continues to
give commandments to our living prophet today. Examples abound: a
more home-centered, Church-supported balance
in gospel instruction; the replacement of
home and visiting teaching with
ministering; adjustments to temple procedures
and ordinances; and the new “Children
and Youth” program. I marvel at the goodness and
compassion of a loving Heavenly Father and His Son,
Jesus Christ, who restored the Savior’s
Church to earth once again and have called a
prophet in our day. The Restoration of the
gospel of Jesus Christ offsets perilous times
with the fulness of times. Obedience to commandments
given to our prophet is a key not only in avoiding
the influence of the deceiver but also in experiencing
lasting joy and happiness. The divine formula
is rather simple: righteousness, or obedience to
commandments, brings blessings, and blessings bring happiness,
or joy, into our lives. However, in the same way that
the adversary tried to deceive Moses, he seeks to trick you. He has always pretended to
be something that he is not. He always attempts to
hide who he truly is. He claims that obedience
will make your life miserable and that it will rob
you of happiness. Can you think of some
of his ploys to deceive? For instance, he disguises
the destructive consequences of illicit drugs or drinking
and instead suggests that it will bring pleasure. He immerses us in the
various negative elements that can exist in
social media, including debilitating comparisons
and idealized reality. In addition, he camouflages
other dark, harmful content found online such
as pornography, blatant attacks on others
through cyberbullying, and sowing misinformation
to cause doubt and fear in our hearts and minds. Cunningly, he whispers,
“Just follow me, and you will surely be happy.” The words written so
many centuries ago by a Book of Mormon
prophet are especially relevant for our day:
“Wickedness never was happiness.” May we recognize Satan’s
deceptions for what they are. May we withstand and see
through the lies and influences of the one who seeks to destroy
our souls and steal from us our present joy
and future glory. My brothers and sisters,
we must continue to be faithful and
vigilant, for so is the only way to
discern truth and to hear the voice of the Lord
through His servants. “For the Spirit speaketh
the truth and lieth not. … These things are
manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. … For God also spake them
unto prophets of old.” We are the Saints of Almighty
God, the hope of Israel! Will we falter? “Shall we shrink
or shun the fight? No! … To God’s command, soul, heart,
and hand, faithful and true we will ever stand.” I bear my witness of
the Holy One of Israel, even the name of Jesus Christ. I testify of His
abiding love, truth, and joy that are made
possible by His infinite and eternal sacrifice. As we obey His
commandments, we will always be led in the right way
and will be not deceived. In the sacred name of our
Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. We are grateful to
the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square for
the beautiful music they have provided this morning. The choir will now favor us
with “True to the Faith.” The concluding speaker
for this session will be our beloved prophet,
President Russell M. Nelson. Following his remarks, the
choir will close the meeting by singing “Love Divine,
All Loves Excelling.” The benediction will then be
offered by Sister Becky Craven, who serves as Second Counselor
in the Young Women General Presidency. [MUSIC PLAYING: “TRUE TO THE
FAITH”] My dear brothers
and sisters, thank you for all you
are doing to help gather Israel on both
sides of the veil, to strengthen your
families, and to bless the lives of those in need. Thank you for living as true
followers of Jesus Christ. You know and love to obey
His two great commandments, to love God and to
love your neighbors. During the last six
months, Sister Nelson and I have met thousands
of Saints as we have traveled to Central
and South America, the islands of the Pacific, and
various cities in the United States. As we travel, our hope
is to build your faith. Yet we always return having
had our faith strengthened by the members and
friends we meet. May I share three
meaningful moments from our recent experiences? In May, Sister
Nelson and I traveled with Elder Gerrit W.
and Sister Susan Gong to the South Pacific. While in Auckland, New Zealand,
we had the honor of meeting with imams from two
mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, where just
two months earlier, innocent worshippers
had been gunned down in an act of horrible violence. We extended our sympathy to
these brothers of another faith and reaffirmed our
mutual commitment to religious freedom. We also offered volunteer labor
and modest financial assistance to rebuild their mosques. Our meeting with
these Muslim leaders was filled with tender
expressions of brotherhood. In August, along
with Elder Quentin L. and Sister Mary Cook, Sister
Nelson and I met individuals in Buenos Aires, Argentina–most
of them not of our faith–whose lives have been changed by
wheelchairs provided to them through our Latter-day
Saint Charities. We were inspired as they
expressed joy-filled gratitude for their newfound mobility. A third precious moment occurred
just a few weeks ago here in Salt Lake City. It came from a unique letter
I received on my birthday from a young woman I will
call Mary–age 14. Mary wrote about things
she and I had in common: “You have 10 kids. We have 10 kids. You speak Mandarin. Seven of the kids in my
family, including me, were adopted from China, so
Mandarin is our first language. You are a heart surgeon. My sister has had two
open-heart [operations]. You like two-hour church.” [LAUGHTER] “We like two-hour church. You have perfect pitch. My brother has
perfect pitch too. He is blind like me.” Mary’s words touched
me deeply, revealing not only her great spirit
but also the consecration of her mother and father. Latter-day Saints, as with
other followers of Jesus Christ, are always looking for
ways to help, to lift, and to love others. They who are willing to be
called the Lord’s people are willing to “bear one
another’s burdens, … to mourn with those
that mourn; … and [to] comfort those that
stand in need of comfort.” They truly seek
to live the first and second great commandments. When we love God
with all our hearts, He turns our hearts to
the well-being of others in a beautiful, virtuous cycle. It would be impossible to
calculate the amount of service that Latter-day Saints render
around the globe every day of every year, but it is
possible to calculate the good the Church as an organization
does to bless men and women–boys and girls–who
are in need of a helping hand. The Church’s humanitarian
outreach was launched in 1984. Then a Churchwide
fast was held to raise funds to assist those afflicted
by a devastating drought in Eastern Africa. Church members
donated $6.4 million on that single fast day. Then-Elder M. Russell Ballard
and Brother Glenn L. Pace were dispatched to
Ethiopia to assess how those consecrated
funds could best be used. This effort proved
to be the beginning of what would later be known
as Latter-day Saint Charities. Since that time,
Latter-day Saint Charities has provided more than
two billion dollars in aid to assist those in need
throughout the world. This assistance is offered
to recipients regardless of their Church affiliation,
nationality, race, sexual orientation, gender,
or political persuasion. That is not all. To assist members of the
Lord’s Church in distress, we love and live the
ancient law of the fast. We go hungry to help
others who are hungry. One day each month,
we go without food and donate the cost of
that food (and more) to help those in need. I will never forget my first
visit to West Africa in 1986. The Saints came to our
meetings in great numbers. Though they had little in
terms of material possessions, most came dressed in
spotless white clothing. I asked the stake
president how he cared for members who had so little. He replied that their bishops
knew their people well. If members could
afford two meals a day, no help was needed. But if they could afford only
one meal or less–even with family help–bishops
provided food, financed from fast offerings. Then he added this
remarkable fact: their fast-offering
contributions usually exceeded their expenses. Surplus fast offerings were
then sent to people elsewhere whose needs exceeded theirs. Those stalwart
African Saints taught me a great lesson about
the power of the law and the spirit of the fast. As members of the
Church, we feel a kinship to those who suffer in any way. As sons and daughters of God,
we are all brothers and sisters. We heed an Old
Testament admonition: “Thou shalt open thine hand wide
unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy.” We also strive to live the
teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in
Matthew chapter 25: “For I was an hungred, and ye
gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a
stranger, and ye took me in: “Naked, and ye clothed me: I
was sick, and ye visited me: … “… Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Let me cite just a few examples
of how the Church follows these teachings of the Savior. To help relieve
hunger, the Church operates 124
bishops’ storehouses throughout the world. Through them, approximately
400,000 food orders are given each year to
individuals in need. In locations where
no storehouse exists, bishops and branch presidents
draw from fast-offering funds of the Church to provide
food and supplies for their needy members. However, the challenge
of hunger goes far beyond the
boundaries of the Church. It is increasing
throughout the world. A recent United Nations report
indicated that the number of undernourished people in
the world now exceeds 820 million–or almost one in nine
of the earth’s inhabitants. What a sobering statistic! How grateful we are
for your contributions. Thanks to your
heartfelt generosity, millions throughout the world
will receive much needed food, clothing, temporary shelter,
wheelchairs, medicines, clean water, and more. Much sickness
throughout the world is caused because
of unclean water. To date, the Church’s
humanitarian initiative has helped provide
clean water in hundreds of communities in 76 countries. A project in Luputa, in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is
a great example. With a population
exceeding 100,000, the town had no running water. Citizens had to
walk long distances for sources of safe water. A mountain spring was
discovered 18 miles away, but townspeople could not access
that water on a regular basis. When our humanitarian
missionaries learned about this
challenge, they worked with the
leaders of Luputa by supplying
materials and training to pipe the water to the city. The people of Luputa
spent three years digging a one-meter-deep
trench through rock and jungle. By working together,
the joyful day finally arrived when fresh, clean
water was available to all in that village. The Church also helps refugees,
whether from civil strife, the ravages of nature,
or religious persecution. More than 70 million people are
now displaced from their homes. In the year 2018
alone, the Church provided emergency supplies
to refugees in 56 countries. In addition, many Church
members volunteer their time to help refugees integrate
into new communities. We thank every one
of you who reach out to help those who are trying
to establish new homes. Through generous donations
to Deseret Industries outlets in the United States,
millions of pounds of clothing are collected and
sorted each year. While local bishops
use this vast inventory to help members in need,
the greatest portion is donated to other
charitable organizations who distribute the items worldwide. And just last year, the
Church provided vision care for more than 300,000
people in 35 countries, newborn care for thousands
of mothers and infants in 39 countries, and wheelchairs
for more than 50,000 people living in dozens of countries. The Church is well
known for being among the first responders
when tragedy strikes. Even before a hurricane hits,
Church leaders and staff in the affected locations
are mapping out plans for how they will
deliver relief supplies and volunteer assistance to
those who will be impacted. Last year alone, the Church
carried out more than 100 disaster-relief projects
around the world, helping victims of hurricanes,
fires, floods, earthquakes, and other calamities. Whenever possible, our Church
members in yellow Helping Hands vests mobilize in great
numbers to help those afflicted by the disaster. This kind of service,
rendered by so many of you, is the very essence
of ministering. My dear brothers and sisters,
the activities I have described are merely a small part
of the growing welfare and humanitarian outreach
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And you are the ones who
make all this possible. Because of your exemplary
lives, your generous hearts, and your helping
hands, it is no wonder that many communities
and government leaders are praising your efforts. Since becoming
President of the Church, I have been amazed at how many
presidents, prime ministers, and ambassadors have
sincerely thanked me for our humanitarian
aid to their people. And they have also expressed
gratitude for the strength that our faithful members
bring to their country as loyal, contributing citizens. I have also marveled as world
leaders have visited the First Presidency expressing their
hope for the Church to be established in their lands. Why? Because they know
Latter-day Saints will help to build strong
families and communities, making life better for
others wherever they live. Regardless of where we call
home, members of the Church feel passionately about
the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Thus, our greatest joy comes
as we help our brothers and sisters, no matter where we
live in this wonderful world. Giving help to others–making
a conscientious effort to care about others as much or
more than we care about ourselves–is our joy. Especially, I might add,
when it is not convenient and when it takes us
out of our comfort zone. Living that second
great commandment is the key to becoming a true
disciple of Jesus Christ. My dear brothers
and sisters, you are living exemplars of the
fruits that come from following the teachings of Jesus Christ. I thank you! I love you! I know that God lives. Jesus is the Christ. His Church has been restored
in these latter days to fulfill its divine purposes. I so testify in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING: “LOVE DIVINE,
in Heaven, we love Thee and Thy Son,
Jesus Christ, and we are so grateful for the
outpouring of Thy Spirit and Thy love which we have
felt during this session of conference. We are grateful
for living prophets and for their
guidance and direction that they give to us in
this, Thy Son’s Church. We ask that Thou will
help us in our efforts to seek and act upon personal
revelation as we minister and to serve our brothers
and sisters around the world. We ask Thee that
Thou wilt help us as we continue to
strive to become more like Thy Son and our
Savior, Jesus Christ. And this is our sincere
and earnest prayer in the name of Thy Son,
Jesus Christ, amen. This has been a broadcast of
the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Speakers were selected from the
General Authorities and General Officers of the Church. Music was provided by
the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. This broadcast has been
furnished as a public service by Bonneville Distribution. Any reproduction,
recording, transcription, or other use of this program
without written consent is prohibited.