How Firm a Foundation

President Thomas S. Monson
1st Counselor in the First Presidency

All photographs Copyright 2006 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

At the time I met him, President [N. Eldon] Tanner was president of the vast Trans-Canada Pipelines, Ltd., and president of the Canada Calgary Stake.  During that first meeting, we discussed, among other subjects, the cold Canadian winters, where storms rage, temperatures can linger well below freezing for weeks at a time, and where icy winds lower those temperature even further.  I asked President Tanner why the roads and highways in Western Canada basically remained intact during such winters, showing little or no signs of cracking or breaking, while the road surfaces in many areas where winters are less cold and less severe developed cracks and breaks and potholes.

Said he, “The answer is in the depth of the base of the paving materials.  In order for them to remain strong and unbroken, it is necessary to go very deep with the foundation layers.  When the foundations are not deep enough, the surfaces cannot withstand the extremes of weather.”

Over the years I have thought of this conversation and of President Tanner’s explanation, for I recognize in his words a profound application for our lives.  Stated simply, if we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us.

Mortality is a period of testing, a time to prove ourselves worthy to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.  In order for us to be tested, we must face challenges and difficulties.  These can break us, and the surface of our souls may crack and crumble — that is, if our foundations of faith, our testimonies or truth are not deeply imbedded within us.

We can rely on the faith and testimonies of others only so long.  Eventually we must have our own strong and deeply placed foundation, or we will be unable to withstand the storm of life, which will come.

The Plan of Salvation
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

While attending a sacrament meeting during the summer months, I was fortunate to hear messages from three students who were home from school for the summer.  The talk of one of the students especially interested me.

She had been working during the summer recess in a restaurant frequented by truck drivers.  One driver who had a regular run stopped at the restaurant on the same day each week to eat.  The regularity of the stop created an opportunity for short visits.  He asked the young lady where she lived.  She reported that she was home for the summer earning money to return to school in the fall.  His next question was, “Where do you attend school?”  Her answer? “BYU-Idaho.” 

He wanted to know more about the school, which led into a gospel discussion.  Her first approach was to teach him about the Word of Wisdom.  It was successful.  She convinced him to give up smoking.

Then her shift was changed, and she no longer had an opportunity to serve him, so she wrote him a note and enclosed a Church missionary tract about the plan of salvation.  After several days, she received a note from the driver.  It simply stated, “You’ve created a monster.”  Thanks to this young woman, he had found information which caused him to think about the changes he must make in his life.  I do not know the full outcome of this little encounter between a waitress and a truck driver, but clearly his life was affected.

She then went on to explain how easy it is to let others know about the beauties of the gospel.  Opportunities are there every day in our normal pursuits of life to open our mouths to let people know of the gospel truths that will bless them here and now and into the eternities to come.

Honesty and Integrity
Bishop Richard C. Edgley
Of the Presiding Bishopric

In front of this vast audience and with some reservation I make a personal confession as an introduction to my remarks.  In 1955, after my freshman year of college, I spent the summer working at the newly opened Jackson Lake Lodge located in Moran, Wyoming.  My mode of transportation was a 14-year old 1941 Hudson automobile that should have received its burial 10 years earlier.  Among other identifying traits, the floorboards had rusted so badly that, if not for a piece of plywood, I could have literally dragged my feet on the highway.  The positive is that unlike most 14-year-old cars in this time period, it used no oil — lots of water in the radiator, but no oil.  I could never figure out where the water went and why the oil continually got thinner and thinner.

In preparation for the 185-mile drive home at the end of the summer I took the car to the only mechanic in Moran.  After a quick analysis, the mechanic explained that the engine block was cracked and was leaking water into the oil.  That explained the water and oil mystery.  I wondered if I could get the water to leak into the gas tank.  I would get better gasoline mileage.

Now the confession:  after the miracle of arriving home, my father came out and happily greeted me. After a hug and a few pleasantries, he looked into the back seat of the car and saw three Jackson Lake Lodge towels — the kind you cannot buy.  With a disappointed look he merely said, “I expected more from you.”  I hadn’t thought that what I had done was all that wrong.  To me these towels were but a symbol of a full summer’s work at a luxury hotel, a “rite of passage.”  Nevertheless, by taking them I felt I had lost the trust and confidence of my father and I was devastated.

The following weekend I adjusted the plywood floorboard in my car, filled the radiator with water, and began the 370-mile round trip back to Jackson to return three towels. My father never asked why I was returning to Jackson and I never explained.  It just didn’t need to be said.  This was an expensive and painful lesson on honesty that has stayed with me throughout my life…

In proverbs we read:  “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord; but they that deal truly are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22).

“Behold Your Little Ones”
Margaret S. Lifferth
First Counselor Primary General Presidency

Who are the children in you home or in your neighborhood?  Look at them.  Think of them.  The Savior teaches us that to enter the kingdom of God, we must become as a child…”submissive, meek, humble, patient, and full of love…” (Mosiah 3:19).

But, however full of faith children come to us, they face the challenges of a fallen world.  What does it take to help these children keep the light of faith in their eyes?  We know that nothing can replace a righteous family in the life of a child.

  But in today’s world, children will need not only a devoted mother and father; they will need each of us to protect, teach, and love them.

Brothers and sisters, protecting children means that we provide an environment that invites the spirit into their lives and validates it in their hearts. That automatically eliminates any form of indifference, neglect, abuse, violence, or exploitation.

And while conditions of depravity are more serious, we also protect children from other detrimental conditions such as expectations that are too high or too low, over-indulgence, over scheduling, and self-centeredness.  Either extreme dulls a child’s ability to identify trust, and be guided by the Holy Ghost.

Children are open to gospel truths more than at any; other time, and protected childhood is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to teach and strengthen children to choose the right.

“The Great and Wonderful Love”
Elder Anthony D. Perkins
Of the Seventy

Children in pure faith proclaim, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”  But sometimes we adults do not feel the power of this simple declaration.

Satan is the “enemy to all righteousness”; thus he plants doubts about the nature of the Godhead and our relationship with Them.  Jesus Christ prophesied that in the last days even the very elect would be deceived.  Consider three examples of how Lucifer is “laying traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God.”

The snare of false inadequacy.  A faithful young person feels unable to meet the expectations of others.  At home and school, she is rarely praised and often criticized.  The popular media tells her she is not beautiful enough or smart enough.  Every day this righteous sister questions whether she is an individual worthy of Heavenly Father’s love, the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, or the Spirit’s constant guidance.

The snare of exaggerated imperfection.  An outstanding missionary feels incapable of meeting the expectations of God.  In his mind, this worthy elder imagines a stern Heavenly Father bound to irrevocable justice, a Savior capable of cleansing others’ transgressions but not this elder’s own, and a Holy Ghost unwilling to accompany an imperfect person.

The snare of needless guilt.   A middle-aged woman is a devoted mother, a loving friend, a faithful Church servant, and a frequent temple patron.  But in her heart, this sister cannot forgive herself of sins committed years ago that she has repented of and full resolved with priesthood leaders.  She doubts that her life will ever be acceptable to the Lord and has lost hope of eternal life in Heavenly Father’s presence.

If you have any thoughts and feeling similar to these good Saints, I invite you to become as a little child and feel again “the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world” (D&C 138:3). Childlike faith in the perfect love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will “divide asunder” Satan’s snares of inadequacy, imperfection, and guilt. (Helaman 3:29).

The Gathering of Scattered Israel

Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Prior to His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus Christ had established His church.  It included apostles, prophets, seventies, teachers, and so forth.  And the Master sent His disciples into the world to preach His gospel.

After a time, the Church as established by the Lord fell into spiritual decay.  His teachings were altered; His ordinances were changed.  The great apostasy came as had been foretold by Paul, who knew that the Lord would not come again “except there come a falling away first” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

This great apostasy followed the pattern that had ended each previous dispensation. The very first was in the time of Adam.  Then came dispensations of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and others.  Each prophet had a divine commission to teach of the divinity and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In each age, these teachings were meant to help the people.  But their disobedience resulted in apostasy.  Thus, all previous dispensations were limited in time and location.  They were limited in time because each ended in apostasy.  They were limited in location to a relatively small segment of planet Earth.

Thus a complete restoration was required. God the Father and Jesus Christ called upon the Prophet Joseph Smith to be the prophet of this dispensation.  All divine powers of previous dispensations were to be restored through him.  This dispensation of the full of times would not be limited in time or in location.  It would not end in apostasy and it would fill the world.

The Faith to Move Mountains

President Gordon B. Hinckley
The First Presidency

This is an important anniversary year in the history of this Church.  It is the 150th anniversary of the coming of the Willie and Martin handcart companies and the Hunt and Hodgett wagon companies which accompanied them.

Much has been written concerning this, and I need not go into detail.  All of you are familiar with the story.  Suffice it to say that those who set out on the long journey from the British Isles to the valley of the Great Salt Lake began their travel in faith.  They had little or no knowledge of what they were getting into.  But they moved forward.  They began their journey with great expectation.  That expectation gradually failed them as they moved west.  As they commenced the tedious journey following the Platte River and then up the valley of the Sweetwater, the cold hand of death took its fearsome toll.  Their food was rationed; their oxen died; their carts broke down; they had inadequate bedding and clothing.  Storms raged.  They sought shelter, but they found none.  The storms beat about them.  They literally starved to death.  Scores died and were buried in the frozen ground.

Fortunately, they were passed by Franklin D. Richards on his way from England.  He had a lightweight conveyance with horses and was able to travel much faster.  He came on to the valley.  It was this very season of the year.  The general conference was in session.  When Brigham Young received the news he immediately stood before the congregation and said:

I will now give this people the subject and the text for the Elders who may speak today and during the Conference; it is this, on the 5th day of October, 1856, many of our brethren and sisters are on the Plains with hand-carts, and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place, and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them.  The text will be — to get them here!  I want the brethren who may speak to understand that their text is the people on the Plains, and the subject matter for this community is to send for them and bring them in before the winter sets in…

I shall call upon the Bishops this day, I shall not wait until tomorrow, nor until [the] next day, for sixty good mule teams and twelve or fifteen wagons.  I do not want to send oxen, I want good horses and mules.

  They are in this Territory, and we must have them; also twelve tons of flour and forty good teamsters…sixty or sixty-five good spans of mules, or horses with harness…

I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you.  Go and bring in those people now on the Plains, and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, or temporal duties, otherwise your faith will be in vain; the preaching you have heard will be in vain to you, and you will sink to hell, unless you attend to the things we tell you (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 4:, p. 113-114).

Immediately horses and mules and strong wagons were offered.  Flour in abundance was forthcoming.  Warm clothing and bedding were quickly assembled.  Within a day or two the loaded wagons were moving eastward through the heaven snow. 

When the rescuers me the beleaguered Saints they were like angels from heaven.  People wept tears of gratitude.  The handcart people were transferred into wagons, so they could travel more quickly to the Salt Lake community.

Some two hundred died, but a thousand were saved.

Read Meridian tomorrow for a recap of the Sunday afternoon conference session.