The Weak and Simple of the Church
President Boyd K. Packer
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve
President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said, “In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.”
The Church has no professional clergy. The call to leadership positions, worldwide, is drawn from the congregation. We have no seminaries for the training of professional leaders.
Everything that is done in the Church — the leading, the teaching, the calling, the ordaining, the praying, the singing, the preparing of the sacrament, the counseling, and everything else — is done by ordinary members, “the weak things of the world.”
We see Christian churches struggling to fill their need for clergy. We do not have that problem. Once the gospel is preached and the Church is organized, there is an inexhaustible supply of faithful brothers and sisters who have that testimony and are willing to answer the call to serve. They commit themselves to the work of the Lord and live the standards required of them…
When I was a young man, I was a home teacher to a very old sister. She taught me from her life experience.
When she was a little girl, President Brigham Young came to Brigham City, a great event in the town named after him. To honor him, the Primary children, all dressed in white, were lined up along the road coming into town, each with a basket of flowers to spread before the carriage of the President of the Church.
Something displeased her. Instead of throwing her blossoms, she kicked a rock in front of the carriage saying, “He ain’t one bit better than my Grandpa Lovelund.” That was overheard, and she was severely scolded.
I am very sure that President Brigham Young would be the first to agree with little Janie Steed. He would not consider himself worth more than Grandpa Lovelund or any other worthy member.
The Lord Himself was very plain: “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27).
Bishop Richard C. Edgley
Of the Presiding Bishopric
A couple of years ago a humor columnist for a local newspaper wrote on a serious and thought-provoking subject. I quote from this article: “Being a go-to-church Mormon in Utah means living so close to fellow ward members that not much happens that the entire congregation doesn’t know about in five minutes tops.”
He continues, “This kind of cheek-to-jowl living can be intrusive. It also happens to be one of our greatest strengths.”
The author goes on to say, “At work on Tuesday, I caught the noon news broadcast on television. A van had been obliterated in a traffic crash. A young mother and two small children were being rushed to emergency rooms by helicopter and ambulance. Hours later I learned that the van belonged to the young couple living across the street from me in Herriman, Eric and Jeana Quigley.
Not only do I see the Quigleys in church …we ate dinner with them at a neighborhood party the night before the crash. Our grandkids played with daughters Bianca and Miranda.
“Fourteen-month-old Miranda suffered serious head injuries and died three days later at Primary Children’s Hospital.
“Here’s where all that nosiness … pays off. Although the accident occurred several miles from home, the dust literally had not settled before someone from the ward stopped and was pulling through the wreckage. The rest of the ward knew about it before the cops and paramedics showed up.
“Ward members went to all three hospitals, contacted Eric at work, and organized into labor squads. People who didn’t get in on the immediate need level were frantic for some way to help.
“In 48 hours, the Quigley yard was mowed, home cleaned, laundry done, refrigerator stocked, relatives fed and a trust fund set up at a local bank. We would have given their dog a bath if they had one.”
The author concludes with this insightful comment: “There is a positive side to the congregational microscope my ward lives under … what happens to a few happens to all” (Salt Lake Tribune, July 30, 2005, Section C1).
Strengthen Home and Family
Sister Mary N. Cook
Second Counselor, Young Women General Presidency
My brother and I were born of “good parents” (1 Nephi 1:1) who loved and made great sacrifices for the two of us, but our family had not been blessed with the sacred ordinances of the temple.
Many years ago on a day in late December, we received a letter from my brother, who was serving in the California North Mission. The outside of the envelope cautioned:
“DO NOT open until you are ALL together.”
As my father, mother, and I gathered to open his seven-page typewritten letter, we read his testimony of prayer. He taught us the doctrine of eternal families from the scriptures. We read his experiences of how fasting and prayer helped his investigators prepared to receive the ordinance of baptism. He assured us that our family, too, could be blessed through fasting and prayer. Then came this challenge:
The bishop of the Stanford Ward spoke on a topic a couple of months ago which really hit home …The bishop’s talk made me stop and realize the goals I want to accomplish in life. Uppermost in my mind is the goal I want to achieve with my own family … that, of course, being sealed to you, Mom and Dad, for time and all eternity in the House of the Lord. I love you very much and want our family to be together in the eternities.
Then his closing words:
May the Lord guide you in this important decision and may you pray together as a family is my prayer.
As a teenager, I, too, had prayed for this blessing to come to my family. This letter now brought hope for my righteous desire.
The new year was an opportunity for our family to make some changes. In the many months that followed, we established family patterns of righteousness. We prayed together, studied about the ordinances of the temple, paid tithing, and attended our meetings regularly — as a family. Shortly after my brother returned from his mission, we were prepared to receive the ordinances of the temple. I knew the Lord heard and answered my brother’s and my prayers as we surrounded the holy altar in the temple and were sealed as a family for time and all eternity.
Can you make a difference in your family? Yes, you can! I often wonder about my family’s eternal progression if my brother had not written that powerful letter.
His patterns of righteousness and example changed our lives.
Why Are We Members of the Only True Church?
Elder Enrique R. Falabella
2nd Counselor in the Central America Area Presidency
“…Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich” (D&C 6:7).
Riches were not a part of my childhood. We were a family of five ? my father and four siblings. My mother had passed away when I was five years old. My father’s meager income was used to buy our food; the purchase of clothing was put off as long as possible.
One day, somewhat bothered, I came up to my father and said, “Papa, why don’t you buy me some shoes? Look at these; they’re worn out and you can see my big toes through the hole in the shoe.”
“We’ll fix that up,” he replied, and with some black polish gave a shine to my shoes. Later on he told me, “Son, it’s fixed up.”
“NO,” I answered, you can still see my big toe.”
“That can also be fixed,” he told me. He again took the polish, and put some on my toe, and before long it shined like my shoes. So it was that early on in life I learned that happiness does not depend on money.
As time went by, a pair of missionaries taught us the riches of the restored gospel, of the doctrine of the Plan of Salvation, and of eternal families. We were baptized, and when my father began his calling as district president, his first objective was to journey to journey to the temple and receive the blessings which would come because of that sacrifice.
It was a 15-day journey, covering 4,800 miles, a journey filled with difficulties and setbacks, highways in poor condition, uncomfortable buses, not even knowing the route, but with great hope in the ordinances we would participate in. Upon arriving in the city of Mesa, Arizona, we headed down an avenue at the end of which we could see the House of the Lord, gleaming and beautiful. I remember the joy which filled our hearts; we all broke out in songs and praising, and tears ran down the cheeks of many saints.
Later in the temple, we knelt as a family to hear the beautiful promises about an eternal family, with the certainty that our mother, though absent, was now our mother forever, and we felt the peace which comes from knowing that we are an eternal family.
Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises
Elder Spencer J. Condie
Of the Seventy
Sometimes, in our earthly impatience, we may lose sight of the Lord’s precious promises and disconnect our obedience from the fulfillment of these promises. The Lord has declared:
Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above (D&C 58: 31-33).
Important components of faith are patience, long suffering and enduring to the end. The Apostle Paul recounts the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sara, concluding that, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). These faithful Saints knew that this earth life was a journey, not their final destination.
When Abram was seventy-five years old the Lord promised him: “I will make of thee a great nation,” this at a time when he and Sarai as yet had not children ….
As Jacob matured and became of appropriate age, his parents, Isaac and Rebekkah sent him to the household of Laban, where he would meet Laban’s two daughters Leah and Rachel. Jacob told Laban: “I wll serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter … And Jacob served seven years for Rachel: and they seemed unto him but a few days for the love he had to her” (Genesis 29).
You will recall how Laban beguiled young Jacob into first marrying Leah and then Rachel. “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened up her womb, but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31). And Leah bore Reuben, then Simeon, then Levi, and Judah. Meanwhile, Rachel remained childless” (Genesis 29: 32-25).
The Apostle Peter testified that, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering” toward us (2 Peter 3:9). In this age of one-hour dry cleaning and one-minute fast food franchises, it may, at times, seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold, or filed them under the wrong name. Such were the feelings of Rachel.
But, with the passage of time, we encounter four of the most beautiful words in Holy Writ: “And God remembered Rachel.”
Have We Not Reason to Rejoice?
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
I still rejoice in the wonderful spirit we felt as we sang together this morning: “Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation. No longer as strangers on earth need we roam. Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation.”
These words by Brother William Phelps are quite a contrast to the world’s tendency to focus on bad news. It is true, we live in a time foretold in the scriptures as a day of “wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places” (Mormon 8:30), when “the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 45:26).
But how does this affect us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Are we living with apprehension, fear, and worry? Of have we amidst of all challenges, not reason to rejoice?
We all go through different life experiences. Some are filled with joy, and others with sorrow and uncertainty. I remember a time when things didn’t look good for our family when I was a child.
It was in the winter of 1944, one of the coldest during World War II. The war front was approaching our town, and my mother had to take us four children, leave all our possessions behind, and join the millions of fleeing refugees in a desperate search for a place to survive. Our father was still in the military, but he and Mother had agreed that if they were ever separated during the war, they would try to reunite at the hometown of my grandparents.
They felt this place offered the greatest hope for shelter and safety.
With bombing raids during the night and air attacks during the day, it took us many days to reach my grandparents. My memories of those days are of darkness and coldness.
My father returned to us unharmed, but our future looked extremely bleak. We were living in the rubble of postwar Germany with a devastating feeling of hopelessness and darkness about our future.
In the middle of this despair, my family learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the healing message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This message made all the difference; it lifted us above our daily misery. Life was still thorny and the circumstances still horrible, but the gospel brought light, hope, and joy into our lives. The plain and simple truths of the gospel warmed our hearts and enlightened our minds. They helped us look at ourselves and the world around us with different eyes and from an elevated viewpoint.
Mrs. Patton — The Story Continues
President Thomas S. Monson
Of the First Presidency
Thirty-eight years ago, at a General Conference held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, I spoke of one of my childhood friends, Arthur Patton, who died at a young age. The talk was titled, “Mrs. Patton, Arthur Lives.” I addressed my remarks to Arthur’s mother, Mrs. Patton, who was not a member of the Church. Although I had little hope that Mrs. Patton would actually hear my talk, I wanted to share with all who were within the sound of my voice the glorious gospel message of hope and love.
Recently I have felt impressed to refer once again to Arthur and to relate to you what transpired following my original message.
First, may I tell you about Arthur. He had blond, curly hair and a smile as big as all outdoors. He stood taller than any boy in the class. I suppose this is how, in 1940, as the great conflict which would become World War II was overtaking much of Europe, Arthur was able to fool the recruiting officers and enlist in the Navy at the tender age of fifteen. To Arthur and most of the boys, the war was a great adventure. I remember how striking he appeared in his Navy uniform. How we wished were older, or at least taller, so we too could enlist …
Arthur’s mother was so proud of the blue star which graced her living room window. It represented to every passerby that her son wore the uniform of his country and was actively serving. When I would pass the house, she often opened the door and invited me to read the latest letter from Arthur. He eyes would fill with tears, and I would then be asked to read aloud. Arthur meant everything to his widowed mother …
In March, 1944, with the war now raging, Arthur was transferred from the U.S.S. Dorsey, a destroyer, to the U.S.S. White Plains, an aircraft carrier. While at Saipan in the South Pacific, the ship was attacked. Arthur was one of those on board who was lost at sea.
The blue star was taken from its hallowed spot in the front window of the Patton home. It was replaced by one of gold, indicating that he whom the blue star represented had been killed in battle. A light went out in the life of Mrs. Patton. She groped in utter darkness and deep despair …
In General Conference those long years ago, as I related this account, I mentioned that I had lost track of Mrs. Patton but that I wanted to once more answer her question, “Will Arthur live again?”
… As part of my message, I explained to Mrs. Patton that … she would never be in the tragic situation of the disbeliever who, having lost a son, was heard to say as she watched the casket lowered into mother earth: “Good-bye, my boy. Good-bye forever.” Rather, with head erect, courage undaunted, and faith unwavering, she could lift her eyes as she looked beyond the gently breaking waves of the blue Pacific and whisper, “Good-bye, Arthur, my precious son. Good-bye — until we meet again.”
… I delivered my Conference message on April 6, 1969. Again, I had little or no hope that Mrs. Patton would actually hear the talk. I had no reason to think she would listen to General Conference …
Having no idea whatsoever who would be speaking at Conference, or what subjects they might speak about, Latter-day Saint neighbors of Mrs. Terese Patton in California, where she had moved, invited her to their home to listen to a session of Conference with them. She accepted their invitation and thus was listening to the very session where I directed my remarks to her personally.