With the theme “Stand Ye in Holy Places”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and the General Young Women’s Presidency-Elaine S. Dalton, Mary N. Cook and Ann M. Dibb-addressed 20,000 in the Conference Center Saturday night and hundreds of thousands around the world connected by satellite.
Here are excerpts from their talks:
This story begins a very long time ago, long before the earth began spinning in its orbit, long before the sun began to reach its fiery arms into the cold of space, long before creatures great and small had populated our planet. At the beginning of this story, you lived in a faraway beautiful place.
We do not know many details about life in that pre-mortal sphere, but we do know some. Our Heavenly Father has revealed to us who He is, who we are, and who we can become.
Back in the first estate, you knew with absolute certainty that God existed, because you saw and heard Him. You knew Jesus Christ, who would become the Lamb of God. You had faith in Him. And you knew that your destiny was not to stay in the security of your pre-mortal home. As much as you loved that eternal sphere, you knew you needed to embark on a journey. You would depart from the arms of your Father, pass through a veil of forgetfulness, receive a mortal body, and learn and experience things that hopefully would help you grow to become more like Father in Heaven and return to His presence.
In that sacred place, surrounded by those you knew and loved, the great question on your lips and in your heart must have been, “Will I return safely to my heavenly home?”
There were so many things that would be out of your control. Mortal life would be hard at times, filled with unexpected bends in the road: sickness, heartbreak, accidents, conflict. Without a memory of your previous existence-without remembering that you once walked with your Father in Heaven-would you still recognize His voice amid all the noise and distractions of mortal life?”
The journey ahead seemed so long and uncertain-so filled with risk.
It wouldn’t be easy, but you knew it was worth every effort.
So, there you stood on the edge of eternity, looking forward with unspeakable excitement and hope-and I imagine, also with a degree of worry and fear.
In the end, you knew God would be just-that His goodness would triumph. You had participated in the great heavenly councils and knew that your Savior would provide a way for you to be cleansed from sin and rescued from physical death. You had faith that, in the end, you would rejoice and raise your voice with a heavenly chorus shouting praises to His holy name.
And so, you took a deep breath…
And a great step forward…
And here you are!
You have, each one of you, embarked on your own wonderful journey back to your heavenly home!
…You are not alone on this journey. Your Heavenly Father knows you. Even when no one else hears you, He hears you. When you rejoice in righteousness, He rejoices with you. When you are beset with trial, He grieves with you.
Heavenly Father’s interest in you does not depend on how rich or beautiful or healthy or smart you are. He sees you not as the world sees you: He sees who you really are. He looks on your heart. And He loves you because you are His child.
Dear sisters, seek Him earnestly, and you will find Him.
I promise you, you are not alone.
Now, take a moment right now and look at the people around you. Some may be your leaders, friends or family members. Others you may have never met before. Nevertheless, everyone you see around you-in this meeting or at any other place, today or at any other time-was valiant in the pre-mortal world. That unassuming and ordinary-looking person sitting next to you may have been one of the great figures you loved and admired in the sphere of spirits. You may have been such a role model yourself!
I can think of no more important counsel from a loving Heavenly Father than His admonition for each of you to stand…in holy places and be not moved.” He is saying, Stand firm. Be steadfast. Stand for truth and righteousness. Stand as a witness. Be a standard to the world. Stand in holy places. And so my message to each of you is a simple one-“Be not moved.”
… [This] is one of the greatest love stories ever told. You might ask, “What does a love story have to do with standing in holy places?” It has everything to do with standing in holy places. This is the story of a young woman named Rebekah. As this story unfolds, Abraham charges his servant with finding a worthy young woman to be his son Isaac’s wife.
Abraham sent his servant on a long and dangerous journey to a place called Haran. The reason he went there is clear-holy men need holy women to stand by their sides. As the servant approached the city of Haran he stopped at a well to water his camels and he prayed that he would be led to the right young woman and that he would recognize her by her offer to get water for him and his ten camels. Now, I have ridden a camel and this much I know-camels drink a lot of water!
In Genesis we read that Rebekah not only went down into the well and got water but she “hasted”-or hurried to accomplish the task. The servant then placed bracelets and jewelry on Rebekah and asked if there was room in her father’s home for him to stay. I am sure the jewelry helped! The scripture reads, “And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things.” Rebekah must have been a runner!
The servant told Rebekah’s family the purpose of his long journey and Rebekah agreed to become Isaac’s wife. The servant desired to leave the next day with Rebekah but her family entreated her to stay with them at least ten days. They asked Rebekah what she wanted to do and her response was simply “I will go.” Does that response sound familiar to the response of thousands who resolutely responded “I will go, I will do” when our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, announced that young men and young women could not have an opportunity to serve missions at a younger age?
Now the moral and ending of this love story. Rebekah was prepared and worthy to make and keep sacred covenants and to become a covenant wife of Isaac.
She did not have to wait and prepare herself. Prior to her departure from her family she was given a blessing and the words are stirring to me, for she was promised that she would become “the mother of thousands of millions.” But the best part of this love story is when Rebekah first saw Isaac and he first saw her. It doesn’t say this in the Bible, but I think it was love at first sight! For “virtue loveth virtue: [and] light cleaveth unto light.” When Isaac went out to meet the caravan, Rebekah “Lighted off [her] camel.” And then it says, “And he loved her.” This is where I sigh!
For…Rebekah…standing in holy places was not easy. Being not moved was not easy. The winds blew fiercely, the water from the well was heavy, and departing from their familiar homes and former lives certainly was not easy. But they made correct choices. They were guided by the Holy Ghost. They were virtuous and they prepared themselves to make and keep sacred covenants. The Savior descended through Rebecca’s lineage. Did she know then that this would happen? No! Do your choices now matter? Yes!
A prophet of God said of you: “For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord…God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in…Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on [you]. Make no mistake about it-you are a marked generation.”
When You Save a Girl, You Save Generations
President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “When you save a girl, you save generations.”
Your covenant path began at the time when you were baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. It continues weekly in sacrament meeting, a holy place where you renew your baptismal covenant. Now is the time for you to prepare to make temple covenants. The “sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for [us] to return to the presence of God and for [our] families to be united eternally.”
Stand in holy places for your ancestors. “Every human being who comes to this earth is the product of generations of parents. We have a natural yearning to connect with our ancestors.” As you participate in family history and temple work, you weave your life with the lives of your ancestors by providing saving ordinances for them.
Stand in holy places for yourself and your immediate family. Your righteous example will be a source of great joy, regardless of your family circumstances. Your righteous choices will qualify you to make and keep sacred covenants that will bind your family together eternally.
Stand in holy places for your future family. Commit to being sealed to your husband by the holy priesthood in the temple as you begin an eternal family unit. Your children will be blessed with truth as you weave your virtuous example and unshakeable testimony into their lives and show them the way on the covenant path.
Your Holy Places
I’ve asked hundreds of young women to share their “holy places” with me. Whether they are geographic or moments in time, they are equally sacred and have incredible strengthening power. Here are nine of their tender responses:
-One: I was in the hospital holding my new baby brother.
-Two: Each time I read my patriarchal blessing. I feel I am known and loved by my Heavenly Father.
-Three: The day I turned twelve, the young women in the ward decorated my door with paper hearts. I felt loved, accepted, and happy!
-Four: As I was reading my scriptures one day, a phrase “popped out”. I had found an answer to my prayers.
-Five: I walked into a party where people were drinking. The Spirit told me to turn around and go home. I did, and yes, there were social consequences. However the moment gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could live the gospel.
-Six: During the sacrament, I was thinking about the Atonement. I recognized I needed to forgive someone I was angry with. My choosing to forgive was a positive action that would bring the Atonement into my daily life.
-Seven: After attending New Beginnings with my mom, she kissed me on the cheek and told me she loved me. This was the first time I remember her doing this.
-Eight: With my bishop’s assurance, I knew that the promise in the scriptures was true-“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” I felt hope and I knew I could begin my lengthy process of repentance.
-Lastly: One evening I summoned the courage to share my feelings about the gospel and a Book of Mormon with my best friend. Later, it was a privilege to attend her baptism. Now we attend Church together.
May I share with you one of my holy places? Once I was feeling overwhelmed, fearful and completely alone. Silently I prayed, “Heavenly Father, I do not know how to do this. Please, please, help me!” Soon, an individual unexpectedly came forward, placed a hand on my shoulder, and offered sincere, encouraging words. In that moment, I felt peace. I felt acknowledged. Everything had changed. The words of President Spencer W. Kimball came to my mind. “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” For me, that moment had become holy.”