President Boyd K. Packer
President of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
We live in those “perilous times” which the Apostle Paul prophesied would come in the last days. If we are to be safe individually, as families, and secure as a church, it will be through “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”
On July 24, 1849, the Saints had been in the valley two years to the day. They finally were free from years of mobbing and persecution. It called for a great celebration…
Just a few years earlier under dreadful conditions, the Prophet Joseph Smith suffered in Liberty Jail for months while the mobs drove the Saints from their homes…
It may seem puzzling, incredible almost beyond belief, that for the theme of this first great celebration they chose patriotism and loyalty to that same government which had rejected and failed to assist them. If you can understand why, you will understand the power of the teachings of Christ.
Their brass band played as President Brigham Young led a grand procession on to Temple Square. He was followed by the Twelve Apostles and the Seventy.
Then followed 24 young men dressed in white pants, black coats, white scarves on their right shoulders, coronets or crowns on their heads, and a sheathed sword at their left sides. In their right hand, of all things, each carried a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. The Declaration of Independence was read by one of the young men.
Next came 24 young women dressed in white, blue scarves on their right shoulders and white roses on their heads. Each carried a Bible and a Book of Mormon.
Almost but not quite as amazing as their choice of patriotism for a theme was what came next: 24 aged sires (as they were called) led by Patriarch Isaac Morley. They were known as the “Silver Grays”—all 60 years of age or more. Each carried a staff painted red with white ribbon floating at the top. One carried the Stars and Stripes. These men were a symbol of the priesthood, which was “from the beginning before the world was,” and had been restored in this dispensation.
The Saints knew that the Lord had told them to be “subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.” That commandment, revealed then, is true now of our members in every nation. We are to be law abiding, worthy citizens.
The Lord told them: “I established the Constitution of this land by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.”
And in another verse, the Lord told them that “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.” They were therefore anti-slavery. This was a very sore spot with the settlers in Missouri.
And so on that day of celebration in 1849, “Elder Phineas Richards came forward in behalf of the twenty-four aged sires, and read their loyal and patriotic address.” He spoke of the need for them to teach patriotism to their children and to love and honor freedom. After he briefly recited the perils that they had come through, he said:
“Brethren and friends, we who have lived to three-score years, have beheld the government of the United States in its glory, and know that the outrageous cruelties we have suffered proceeded from a corrupted and degenerate administration, while the pure principles of our boasted Constitution remain unchanged…
“As we have inherited the spirit of liberty and the fire of patriotism from our fathers, so let them descend unadulterated to our posterity.”
The Apostle Paul explained, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned…We have the mind of Christ.”
That Spirit defined those early members of the Church as followers of Christ.
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In this world abounding with misery, we are truly thankful for God’s “great plan of happiness.” His plan declares that men and women are “that they might have joy.” That joy comes when we choose to live in harmony with God’s eternal plan.
The importance of choice may be illustrated by a homespun concept that came to mind one day when I was shopping in a large retail store. I call it “patterns of the shopper.” As shopping is part of our daily live, these patterns may be familiar.
Wise shoppers study their options thoroughly before they make a selection. They focus primarily on the quality and durability of a desired product. They want the very best. In contrast, some shoppers look for bargains, and others may splurge, only to learn later—much to their dismay—that their choice did not endure well. And sadly, there are those rare individuals who cast aside their personal integrity and steal what they want. We call them “shoplifters.”
The patterns of the shopper may be applied to the topic of marriage. A couple in love can choose a marriage of the highest quality, or a lesser type that will not endure. Or they can choose neither and brazenly steal what they want as “marital shoplifters.”
The subject of marriage is debated across the world, where various arrangements exist for conjugal living. My purpose in speaking out on this topic is to declare, as an apostle of the Lord, that marriage between a man and a woman is sacred—it is ordained of God. I also assert the virtue of a temple marriage. It is the highest and most enduring type of marriage that our Creator can offer to His children.
While salvation is an individual matter, exaltation is a family matter. Only those who are married in the temple and whose marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise will continue as spouses after death and receive the highest degree of celestial glory. For this reason a temple marriage is also called a celestial marriage. Within the celestial glory are three levels. To obtain the highest, a husband and wife must be sealed for time and all eternity and keep their covenants made in a holy temple.
The noblest yearning of the human heart is for a marriage that can endure beyond death. Fidelity to a temple marriage does that. It allows families to be together forever.
The goal is glorious. All Church activities, advancements, quorums, and classes are means to the end of an exalted family.
Gospel Teaching—Our Most Important Calling
Brother William D. Oswald
2nd Counselor Of the Sunday School General Presidency
What are some of the principles of teaching and learning we might identify by observing the way Moroni taught Joseph Smith? There are a number of important principles we could discuss, but let us focus on three basic principles essential to good teaching.
Principle 1: Show Love to Those You Teach and Call Them by Name. Joseph Smith said that when the angel Moroni first appeared to him, Joseph “was afraid, but the fear soon left him. What was it that Moroni did to dispel this fear? Joseph said, “He called me by name.
” Teachers who love their students and call them by name are following a heavenly pattern.
In a recent meeting with President Thomas S. Monson, I noticed that he greeted each of us by name. He spoke to us about his boyhood Sunday School teacher, Lucy Gertsch, noting that she was a teacher who knew the names of each student in her class. President Monson has said of her, “She unfailingly called on those who missed a Sunday or who just didn’t come. We knew she cared about us. None of us has ever forgotten her or the lessons she taught.”
Principle 2: Teach from the Scriptures. Another teaching principle practiced by Moroni is that he knew and taught from the scriptures. Joseph Smith said that at their very first meeting Moroni commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament…He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations. From the many scriptures quoted by Moroni, Joseph learned about his prophetic role in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel again to the earth.
Principle 3: Encourage the Pondering of Gospel Truths A third principle employed by Moroni in teaching Joseph Smith was to cause him to ponder on what he had been taught. Joseph states that after his third meeting with Moroni, he “was again left to ponder on…what [he] had just experienced. Effective teachers will want to follow the pattern of the resurrected Christ among the Nephites when He asked the multitude to return to their “homes and ponder upon the things” He had taught them so that they might “understand.”
Nephi reminds us that the act of pondering involves using not only our heads but also our hearts. He said, “My heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” The act of pondering on the scriptures and the things we have seen and heard invites personal revelation to come into our lives.
Elder Eduardo Gavareet
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
Let me share with you something that has been happening in some stakes and districts in Peru and in so doing, I will mention some family names:
The Causo family
The Banda family
The Vargas family
The list goes on, and it contains over seventeen hundred names of members who have come home. They are members of different wards, branches, stakes and districts from all over the country of Peru, who were invited by stake presidents, bishops, and leaders of quorums and auxiliary organizations to return home. They accepted the invitation made by priesthood leaders, full time missionaries and by other members who took upon themselves the responsibility to help them return to Church and come unto Christ.
To each one of them, we say: Welcome home!
What made it possible for those persons to return home?
It was the combined effort of 14 stakes and 4 districts in a mission who labored for one year to bring about the return of all these persons through reactivation and the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.
This effort was inspired by the Savior’s words: “Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep.”
And by the teaching of President Thomas S. Monson, who said, “Over the years we have issued appeals to the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor—to come back. Come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of the fellowship with the Saints.”
Testimony as a Process
Elder Carlos A. Godoy
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
A few years ago, while serving as an Area Seventy in Brazil, my family and I were on vacation in the beautiful city of Florianopolis. On Sunday, as usual, we went to the closest church that we could find. My wife and I and our oldest daughter attended a Sunday school class when they where they were discussing our personal testimony of the gospel.
At some point in the lesson, the teacher asked the class members if they would share a powerful or spiritual experience they had while developing their testimony of the Church. While some brothers and sisters were sharing their stories, I mentally reviewed my own experiences as a convert for something I could share with them, but I could not think of anything very remarkable in my process of gaining a testimony.
While I was thinking and listening to the others’ experiences, I realized that the teacher expected me to participate. She was listening to the other members, and she let me know that she was waiting for my great experience to be shared. After all, I was an Area Seventy and I should have something impressive to share.
Feeling that the time was passing and she was waiting for me, I tried harder to find something that would fit in this category of a powerful event, but I was not able to think of anything, to the disappointment of the teacher. For all I wanted to help, I could not meet her expectation.
Fortunately, that was a fast Sunday, and during the sacrament meeting, I took the opportunity express my testimony to the congregation and especially to that sister and her Sunday school class. It was not a remarkable experience that I had to share, but a sincere testimony that I have about the truths of the restored gospel.
Sometimes, we think that to have a testimony of the Church, we need some great, powerful experience, or a single event which would erase any doubts that we have received an answer or a confirmation.
President Boyd K. Packer taught: “The voice of the Spirit is described in the scriptures as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh.’ It is ‘not a voice of thunder, neither…a voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a still, voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause (the heart) to burn’ (3 Nephi 11:3; Hel. 5-30; D&C 85:6-7). Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a ‘still, small voice’ (1 Kgs. 19:20).
Hope Ya Know, We Had A Hard Time
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
My youngest son, Joe, was three years old and my son, Larry, was six. We were traveling by car from San Francisco to Utah in June. The weather had been very good.
As we started our ascent to the Donner Pass summit in the Sierra Mountains, suddenly, and without warning an enormous snowstorm hit us. None of the drivers was prepared. A semi-truck in front of us had jack-knifed and was spread across two lanes. Other trucks and cars had slid off the freeway. One lane was open and many vehicles including ours were desperately trying to gain traction to avoid the other vehicles. All traffic then came to a halt.
We were not prepared for this blizzard in June. We had no warm clothing and our fuel was relatively low. I huddled with the two boys in an effort to keep us warm.
After many hours safety vehicles, snowplows, and tow trucks began to clear up the massive log-jam of vehicles.
Eventually a tow truck hauled us to a service station on the other side of the pass. I called my wife knowing she would be worried because she had expected a call the prior evening. She asked if she could speak to the two boys. When it was the three-year-old’s turn, with a quivering voice, he said, “Hope ya know, we had a hard time.”
I could tell as our three year old talked to his mother and told her of the “hard time” he gained comfort and then reassurance. Our prayers are that way when we go to our Father in Heaven. We know He cares for us in our time or need.
The incident I just recounted, while a difficult travel situation, was brief and there were no lasting consequences. However, many of the trials and hardships we encounter in life are severe and appear to have lasting consequences. Each of us will experience some of these during the vicissitudes of life. Many listening to this conference are experiencing situations of a most serious nature at this very moment.
We resonate with the Prophet Joseph’s petition after he had been falsely accused and imprisoned in Liberty Jail for months. “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” The Lord’s answer is reassuring, “My son, peace be unto thy soul, thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment: And then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.”
Until We Meet Again
President Thomas S. Monson
President of the Church
We are a global Church, brothers and sisters. Our membership is found throughout the world. May we be good citizens of the nations in which we live and good neighbors in our communities, reaching out to those of other faiths as well as to our own. May we be men and women of honesty and integrity in everything we do.
There are those throughout the world who are hungry; there are those who are destitute. Working together, we can alleviate suffering and provide for those in need. In addition to the service you give as you care for one another, your generous contributions to the funds of the Church enable us to respond almost immediately when disasters occur anywhere in the world. We are nearly always among the first on the scene to provide whatever assistance we can. We thank you for your contributions and know that you will continue to help as much as you can.
There are other difficulties in the lives of many. Some, particularly among the young, are tragically involved in such things as drugs, immorality, gangs and all the serious problems that go with them. In addition, there are those who are lonely, including widows and widowers, who long for the company and concern of others. May we ever be mindful of the needs of those around us and be ready to extend a helping hand and a loving heart.