If you are unable to attend a class in person or online, most sessions are recorded and can be viewed later online at your convenience at Family History Library classes and webinars. Online classes are noted on the schedule as webinars. Webinar attendees need to click the link next to the class title at the scheduled date and time to attend the class online. Those attending in person simply go to the room noted. Invite your family and friends.Classes focus on beginning skills using the free FamilySearch Family Tree, Research Wiki, Catalog, mobile apps, and online community. Some classes will be offered in Spanish and Portuguese. Participants can attend in person or online. See the calendar below for the complete list of classes. No registration is required.
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Discovering the FamilySearch CommunityFamilySearch.org and Family Tree Classes will be offered every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. mountain daylight time MDT throughout the month of March. The FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, has announced its free classes and webinars for March 2019.
“It was at a dance, and it wasn’t a very telling experience,” she said with a laugh. “I was a new girl in the community, and he didn’t dance with me. I was a little piqued at him. I thought it was the least he could do. That was before he went on his mission. He had been away and had come home and had lots of girlfriends.Expressing a firm conviction that there’s no happiness or satisfaction in wasting time or deviating from constructive living, Sister Kimball said, “A person always has to backtrack if he goes the wrong road, and it’s so hard to make up for wasted time.”“I realize that some people tend to judge the Church by individuals. One thing I’ve always tried to teach our children was that people are not perfect, but the gospel plan is perfect. ... I told our children to never be let down by what an individual does. If a bishop or a General Authority makes a mistake, that has no effect on the truthfulness of the gospel.”
Elder Spencer W. Kimball and his wife, Sister Camilla Eyring Kimball, pose for a photo in their home in the 1960s, about 20 years after he was called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Photo courtesy of the Deseret News Archives.Along with sensing the weight that rested upon her husband’s shoulders, she had a major asset: love.Among the Kimballs’ many common interests was their love for travel and dancing. They traveled throughout the United States with their young children, staying in inexpensive motels and taking their food with them.Sister Kimball had some definite views about love. “It’s something that grows,” she said. “I think compatibility is a very important thing; it’s important that you have common interests, common ideals, and common goals.“I think mothers need to be alert to the influences that are confronting their children so they can be in sympathy with the temptations that confront them. Even grandmothers should be influential to their grandchildren.”“The next time I saw him was after he came home from his mission. I was teaching school in Arizona and was waiting to go home on the bus. He was going to my hometown to visit a friend. He introduced himself and we sat together on the bus. He asked if he could come see me. That started a short courtship. We met in September and were married in November.”In their younger married life, President and Sister Kimball were active members of a square dance club. “We danced every week,” she said, “but as we grew older, it became apparent that we were so busy that we had to drop a few of the activities we had enjoyed when we were younger.”“I love people,” she said. “I love fun and I love to laugh. ... I love the gospel and I feel the only way a person can feel comfortable, secure, and happy is through living the gospel. I have a real assurance of the truthfulness of the gospel. ...In an interview in early January 1974, Sister Kimball used one word to express her feelings toward her responsibilities: anxiety.Having supported her husband, President Spencer W. Kimball, in his Church positions ever since he was called as a stake clerk three weeks after their marriage on November 16, 1917, Sister Kimball’s feelings of responsibility increased when he was set apart as President of the Church on December 30, 1973.As her ward Relief Society’s spiritual living teacher, she saw successful results of her challenges to women to read the scriptures and books pertaining to the subjects they were discussing. Seventy-two women accepted her challenge to read the Book of Mormon; 12 read it three times.I met Sister Camilla Eyring Kimball a few months after I began working as a Church News staff writer in 1972.Sister Kimball said women should be improving themselves constantly. “It’s important for a woman to stay alive intellectually,” she said. “It’s so easy to get lazy when you’re older and not really be stimulated to read widely and make the best use of time.“This is a foundation upon which you build love. I think many people think of infatuation as love, but there are many things besides just physical attraction, although I think that’s important, too. But that’s only one facet.”“Sometimes the sledding has been a little difficult. We went through the Depression, but we knew how to economize. We never got into debt; we never lived beyond our means. It was a firm idea for both of us that ‘you don’t buy anything you can’t afford.’”She attributed their successful marriage to their appreciation toward the gospel’s attitude of marriage and life. “We know that marriage is eternal and we’re making our future, as well as our present. We have the same ideals, and our backgrounds are similar; neither of us has had any real financial affluence. We’ve had to economize and our money values are the same. We share the same ambition for education and the gospel.She placed emphasis on the importance of education. She was a school teacher when she first saw Spencer W. Kimball.Sister Kimball’s route to happiness was no well-guarded secret: “People can find happiness through living the gospel. The gospel encompasses everything. It was designed to make people happy.”
With the two-day area review conducted in offices adjacent to the São Paulo Brazil Temple, Elders Uchtdorf and Kearon visited the recently dedicated temple visitors’ center, greeting the sister missionaries serving there. Learning that half of the sisters were away on their preparation day, they returned the second day to meet those they had missed.They followed with a February 23 leadership conference in Salvador, the city on the central-eastern coast of Brazil that will be home to a new temple, as announced by President Russell M. Nelson at the October 2018 general conference. Nearly 600 leaders attended that session, with several hundred viewing a broadcast of the meeting.Elders Uchtdorf and Kearon conducted a February 16 priesthood leadership conference in São Paulo with 955 in attendance and then held a February 19 family devotional in the city with another 981 attending in person and another nearly 10,000 viewing by broadcast. Elders Herick David Sousa Ventura and Robert David MonsonMonson of the Brazil São Paulo West Mission are joined by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as they teach a grandmother and her two teenage daughters in February 2019.“Everyone was deeply touched by Elder Uchtdorf’s kindness, love, and closeness,” said Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, a General Authority Seventy who is Second Counselor in the Brazil Area Presidency. “These leaders were amazed not only by the teachings they received but also the attention Elder Uchtdorf dedicated to everyone he encountered.”On February 19, the visiting leaders joined the Brazil Area presidency in meeting with Joao Doria, the recently elected governor of the state of São Paulo who previously was the city’s mayor. Besides gifting a small Christus statue to Doria, Elder Uchtdorf pulled out a pocket-sized summary of “For the Strength of Youth” and the regular booklet to give as well, explaining how they summarize the values and principles of the Church’s youth specifically and the general membership as well.In short, plenty of opportunities to minister to the many.Also, Elder Uchtdorf took part of an afternoon to go teaching with several companionships of elders from the São Paulo West Mission—something he hadn’t done with missionaries since serving in the Europe Area presidency a decade and a half earlier.While impressed and thankful for those experiences, Elder Uchtdorf returned to Church headquarters telling others of events he termed “on the sidelines”—the smaller settings and personal interactions. Those included consoling the family of a recently deceased full-time missionary, attending two ward’s sacrament and Sunday School meetings, going to teach with several companionships of missionaries as they visited part-member families, and being recognized by a recent convert while riding the São Paulo subway.“The vastness of the country comes as a surprise, but more impressive is the warmth and generosity of the people,” said Elder Kearon, noting his several rush-hour metro rides in the city of more than 20 million people and marveling “at the constant good nature of those on their way to work. This is not the norm in world cities of this size. This congenial approach to life was manifest wherever we went.”The Apostle and the elders visited part-member families—one including a woman and her teenage granddaughters and another of a returned missionary and his non-member wife. For one appointment, Elder Uchtdorf climbed stairs to the eighth-floor apartment.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf greets Melissa de Souza Sabino Ferreira, the daughter of President Paulo Ferreira of the São Paulo Brazil Jaraguá Stake, after meetings on Sunday, February 17. Standing nearby is her younger sister, Micaela de Souza Sabino Ferreira, and her mother, Regiane de Souza Sabino Ferreira, left.“It was a completely unexpected privilege to have an Apostle not just visit but actually work in our mission,” said President Thomas W. Thomas. “I knew this would be a life-changing experience for our missionaries—one that they would never forget.”Elder Leonário Lima Pereira, from Fortaleza, Brazil, said he was grateful to have the experience with the visiting leader: “I was able to learn and better understand how to testify as the Savior.” After a young child of the Jaraguá Ward of the São Paulo Brazil Jaraguá Stake rushed up to give him a post-meeting hug, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf returns the gesture in February 2019.The governor spent several minutes reading topics and passages aloud before pocketing the smaller document.“It was amazing how focused everyone was there on exactly what these changes brought,” he said, complimenting the appropriateness of the talks and the vibrant class discussions. “I’ve not seen very many Sunday School classes with such an active and profound participation.”“Elder Uchtdorf brought encouragement and enthusiasm to these great missionaries,” said Elder W. Mark Bassett, a General Authority Seventy and First Counselor in the Brazil Area Presidency. “He reminded the missionaries of their divine calls and responsibility while leaving them feeling excited to press forward giving their very best. João Doria, second from left, the governor of the Brazilian state of São Paulo, is joined by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, second from right; Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy, right; and Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, left, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Brazil Area. They met February 19, 2019, at the Palacio dos Bandeirantes in São Paulo, Brazil.Elders Uchtdorf and Kearon conducted missionary devotional meetings with the São Paulo Interlagos and South missions on February 20, a devotional at the Brazil MTC later that evening, and a similar meeting with the Salvador and Salvador South missions later that week. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, right, climbs the stairs between the seventh and eighth floors of an apartment building in São Paulo, Brazil, as he goes out teaching with a companionship of full-time missionaries.Said Elder Robert David Monson from Pleasant Grove, Utah: “Elder Uchtdorf is a man of God and it was amazing to see how easily he was able to connect with people he was in contact with.”The mid-February itinerary for a nine-day assignment in São Paulo and Salvador, Brazil, for Elders Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Patrick Kearon looked similar to any global visit by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and one of the Presidency of the Seventy—a review with the Brazil Area leaders, several leadership conferences and devotionals with members, a stake conference, missionary meetings with four missions, an evening devotional at the Brazil Missionary Training Center, a government visit, a stop at the new São Paulo Brazil Temple Visitors’ Center, and more.In short, opportunities to minister to the few—or to the one.Since the temple grounds and area compound are surrounded by a new subway station, bus station, busy streets and intersections, and a myriad of stores and a major shopping center, Elder Uchtdorf called the location “a lively spot—a place for a visitors’ center that couldn’t be better.” The high-traffic area provides ample visibility of the large Christus statue seen through the second-story display windows.Elder Uchtdorf and others took a short subway ride from the new metro stop adjacent to the temple. While in transit, he was recognized by Manuela Barrosa, a convert of six months and designer of computer games, who approached and introduced herself in English, a language she had learned over the internet.“This is a country of people so diverse that you see every race of the globe represented—it’s on the streets and in the Church,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “No one is looking down their nose at anyone, whether you’re black or white or a mixture in between, whether you are tall or whatever it is. It’s a perfect place where the thought that we are all children of Heavenly Father is really visible and practiced.”On February 17, Elder Uchtdorf visited the sacrament and Sunday School meetings of the Jaraquá and Taipas Wards in São Paulo, attending a meetinghouse in a small neighborhood sandwiched between two favelas, or Brazilian slums. He commented on how the meetings followed the intent of recent “home-centered, Church-supported” schedule and curriculum changes.On the same day, Elder Kearon—making his first visit to Brazil—presided at the Baueri Brazil Stake conference. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf pauses for a photo with Manuela Barrosa while riding on a subway in São Paulo, Brazil. Barrios, a convert of six months, recognized the Apostle while riding the subway and approached him to introduce herself.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, right, embraces Raimundo Ferreira Rodrigues in the latter's home in São Paulo, Brazil, on February 17, 2019. Elder Uchtdorf was consoling him and his family following his son's passing the previous month while serving as a full-time missionary in Portugal.“The testimony of the members in the stake concerning ministering is strengthened every time I bear witness that I have seen an Apostle of Jesus Christ ‘weeping with them that weep,’ when I saw him embrace Elder Gondim’s mother and cried with her,” said President Paulo Ferreira of the São Paulo Brazil Jaraquá Stake, citing Romans 12:15.“It was a very humble environment but very spiritually oriented,” he said, mindful of a struggling, distraught mother and a father who is returning to activity in the Church.“There was a wonderful spirit there … a peaceful acceptance of what had happened and that the gospel is really the answer for any challenge.”On Sunday, February 17, Elder Uchtdorf—in Brazil on a nine-day assignment to meet with leaders, members, and missionaries in the cities of São Paulo and Salvador—visited the Jaraquá Ward in São Paulo to console the Gondim family and the ward family.He explained the ministering, mourning, and consolation provided moments of great respect as well as a strong presence of the Spirit—and that the experience not only moved the people who witnessed the interactions but also those who have heard others speak about it.Elder Uchtdorf said he was impressed how the Gondims, who could have turned inward while mourning their loss, were instead turning outward and concerned about the welfare of others. He celebrated them as “examples of goodness and a radiance of happiness and of the gospel.”It was still very fresh for the ward and for the family—they were quite devastated,” said Elder Uchtdorf of his visit in the meetinghouse and with the Gondim family in their apartment. “The whole ward loved him and knew him from his growing up there.”“I can testify that I personally saw all the sufferings of the parents—they cried so much that only after 1 a.m. they were able to remain calm enough to receive a blessing of comfort,” President Ferreira said.Less than three weeks after a missionary unexpectedly passed away after collapsing during a soccer game with peers, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with the missionary’s parents in their São Paulo, Brazil, ward meetinghouse and in their home to console them in their grief.“He was already crying, and hearing the report, I could not believe what I was hearing,” the stake president told the Church News. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joins the Gondim family for a photo outside their meetinghouse in São Paulo, Brazil, on February 17, 2019. At right are parents Rusana Gondim Rodrigues and Raimundo Ferreira Rodrigues; at left are friend Aline Lima Pereira and brother Matheus Gondim Rodrigues.On Monday, January 28, Elder Gondim collapsed during a soccer game with other missionaries and soon passed away.“I want to testify that the family felt completely consoled after the visit of Elder Uchtdorf,” he said, “because I had the opportunity to see the day of greatest suffering when I brought the news and the day of greatest comfort when Elder Uchtdorf visited.”The Apostle also made a visit to the Gondim home, finding a number of family and friends gathered in the humble, clean, and small apartment. The Gondims had invited a less-active sister and a yet-to-be-married young couple expecting their first child to join them in hopes that they and the others could be uplifted by Elder Uchtdorf’s presence, message, and priesthood blessings.Elder Uchtdorf, who chairs the Missionary Executive Committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was on assignment recently in Brazil. The fortuitous timing provided him an opportunity to gather with family of Elder Joao Victor Rodrigues Gondim, 20, of São Paulo, Brazil, who had been serving in the Portugal Lisbon Mission since July 2017.Added Elder Bassett of Elder Uchtdorf: “While many of us have spent the past year talking about ministering like the Savior, it was inspiring to see this sincere and love-filled ministry at work. He left blessings and peace with a family who was in great need for just this.”President Ferreira underscored the difference in his first visit to the Gondim home and that of Elder Uchtdorf. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, right, listens to Rusana Gondim Rodrigues in the Gondim home in São Paulo, Brazil, on February 17, 2019. Her son, Elder João Gondim, passed away January 28, 2019, while serving in the Portugal Lisbon Mission, and Elder Uchtdorf sought out the grieving family at their meetinghouse and in their home during his recent two-week assignment in Brazil.Elder W. Mark Bassett, a General Authority Seventy and First Counselor in the Brazil Area Presidency, presided at the missionary’s funeral in São Paulo earlier this month. “As can be imagined, this was a very difficult time for the parents and siblings of this dear missionary,” he said.“In the following days they were comforted by the daily visits that I and the bishop made and also of friends and relatives, members, and non-members.”Later in the evening of January 28, President Ferreira joined Bishop Rodinei Fernandes Hegedus of the Jaraquá Ward in sharing the sad news of Elder Gondim’s passing to his parents, Raimundo Ferreira Rodrigues and Rusana Gondim Rodrigues.President Ferreira recalled the early afternoon call on that fateful January 28 from the mission president in Portugal, nearly 5,000 miles—almost 8,000 kilometers—across the Atlantic Ocean.
Teaching the Book of Mormon to Central Americans, he added, “is like teaching them family history.”“Gospel study at home—both individual and family—should increase significantly from what it has been, generally,” Elder Christofferson told the Church News.Elder Godoy shared a defining moment of choice in his own family not long after he and Sister Godoy were married. Thieves stole the money the couple had set aside for tithing. Initially, Elder Godoy was certain that he had “done his part” in setting aside the tithing money. The Lord, he figured, knew his intentions to pay tithing. He couldn’t help that the tithing money had been stolen.A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle, Elder Christofferson was joined in the February 15 broadcast by his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, Elder Carlos A. Godoy, and Sister Mônica Godoy, along with the Central America Area Presidency and their wives.“You’re okay,” he said. “Keep adding things that will improve your abilities and understanding and skills as a missionary.”Young Carlos Godoy was 16 when he was baptized. He did not belong to a so-called “traditional” Latter-day Saint family. But he still found blessings in home-centered gospel learning. He was a treasured member of a gospel family. He had friends and peers who doubled as mentors, and many invited him into their homes. It wasn’t a formal assignment. They simply opened their hearts and living rooms to one in need of support.Homes can be transformed into “a sanctuary of faith” and Sabbaths will become “true delights.” Meanwhile, children will be more “enthusiastic” to learn and live the gospel. And finally, the “influence of the adversary” diminishes in the home.The “real foundation” of gospel learning, taught Elder Christofferson, “is what happens at home.” The weekly lessons found in the manual are priceless resources for family and personal home learning. Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Sister Kathy Christofferson join other General Authorities and their wives for a Family Home Evening broadcast to the Central America Area. The discussion focused on how to improve home-centered gospel learning.Elder Godoy said his young wife taught him a key lesson: Any financial hardship exacted in paying a full-tithe never compares to the blessings awaiting those who follow the Lord’s commandments.Another key point in their discussion: Everyone is accountable for his or her own gospel learning. Meanwhile, the Church is designed to support those efforts. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said young, married Latter-day Saints in Central America will be blessed for their gospel study at home.The Central America Area is a power in the Church, with hundreds of thousands of members and several temples. More than 272,000 Latter-day Saints are in Guatemala, serving in 48 stakes and two temples in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango, respectively.In a recent Home Evening broadcast viewed by Latter-day Saints across Central America, Elder D. Todd Christofferson promised that blessings await members of all backgrounds who make their homes a classroom of gospel learning.“Her insights stimulate mine. She often has questions that I haven’t considered and that cause me to think more deeply and study further… I don’t want to get left behind,” he said, smiling.Elder Christofferson and Elder Godoy’s service in Guatemala City coincided with the annual review of the Central America Area. Over eight days (February 9-February 17) they visited two countries—Guatemala and El Salvador—and participated in a variety of gatherings for local priesthood leaders, missionaries, and members.“So I told Mônica, ‘I think we’re fine right?’—and she said, ‘No, no. We have to pay the tithing again.’”Blessings await young married couplesOn February 13, Elder Christofferson and Elder Godoy and their wives also participated in a devotional for young married couples that was broadcast from Quetzaltenango to members in Guatemala.Diligence and patience for missionaries“It’s easy to understand why the Church is growing across the Americas because of the promises that we can find in the Book of Mormon for this special land,” said Elder Godoy.“It was tender,” said Elder Christofferson. “I have seldom felt such strength in a blessing.”“It was almost like [the couples] were taking his hand and saying, ‘I need your words, they are an answer to my prayers.’”Listening to Elder Christofferson offer an apostolic blessing on the young married couples prompted tears and emotions, remembered Elder Godoy.A land of sacred promiseThey were hosted by the Central America Area Presidency: Elder Juan A. Uceda, Elder Jorge F. Zeballos, and Elder Valeri V. Cordón.The discussion between the Brethren and their wives also focused on flexibility and included thoughts on how, say, a single mother can best use the Come, Follow Me materials to teach her children.For almost 90 minutes, they exchanged insights on home-centered gospel learning—and the opportunities Latter-day Saints have in supporting families of all kinds in their own home gospel study.To be sure, social and economic obstacles are facing Latter-day Saint Central Americans and their neighbors. Realizing self-reliance can prove challenging, while others know the reality of gang violence. Many are looking to the gospel to find protection for their children.Family gospel study sometimes works best when people look outside their own immediate families.The 2019 Come, Follow Me manual for individuals and families is just weeks into its implementation, but already families in Central America and beyond are being fortified and inspired.In El Salvador, more than 125,000 Latter-day Saints belong to 22 stakes. The nation’s first temple, the San Salvador El Salvador Temple, was dedicated in 2011.Many of the key, gospel-learning points emphasized at the “home evening” gathering—which was streamed to Latter-day Saints across the Central America Area—resonated deeply with Elder Godoy, a Church convert.“I felt that I was not alone,” he said. “When you have peers who are just like you … you feel that you are not alone and that you can do it.”Elder Christofferson noted his appreciation for Sister Christofferson’s daily commitment to personal prayer and study.Sister Christofferson’s personal devotion, he added, “adds to our joint study.”“She pursues her own spiritual development—she doesn’t sit back and wait for me.”“Be diligent—but be patient with yourself at the same time.”That power found in loving peers and friends was one of the guiding anchors of the unscripted February 15 Family Home Evening broadcast.“The solutions are there through the gospel,” said Elder Godoy—including a proliferation of temples across the Central America.“Ward councils, representing all of the resources of the ward, can talk about these situations and seek revelation and guidance on how they can help individuals,” he added.The discussion also offered Elder Christofferson, Elder Godoy, and the others opportunities to remember the many promises made by President Russell M. Nelson to families making home-centered gospel learning a central priority.The Book of Mormon, he stressed, remains the key for missionary success. It is the key to conversion.Learning, say, a new language or “picking up the skills of a missionary” requires both time and effort. Elder Christofferson recalled his own struggles learning Spanish in the early days of his own mission to Argentina.Central America remains a land of sacred promise.Home-centered gospel study can make any house, apartment, or dorm room “a sanctuary of faith.”They taught the importance of gospel study and prayer—both as couples and individuals.In a February 15 visit to the Guatemala City Missionary Training Center, Elder Christofferson offered counsel applicable to young elders and sister serving anywhere in the world:“Some investigators may have a testimony and not get baptized, and that’s their choice. But we don’t want anyone to get baptized who doesn’t have a testimony of the Book of Mormon.”Ideally, “ministering brothers and ministering sisters” seek opportunities to invite others into their homes from time to time and include them in their gospel study, said Elder Christofferson.Home-centered gospel learning also ensures “deeper conversion.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the name of the Church Latter-day Saints believe came by revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (see Doctrine and Covenants 115:4). “Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power,” President Russell M. Nelson has said.“Every day we should ask ourselves, ‘How can we better live as Jesus Christ taught and lived?’” President Nelson said. “This mindset will help fill our lives, our homes, our neighborhoods, and our churches with more of Christ’s light and power.”Eventually, Mormon.org will be incorporated into the new domain as well. However, because its primary audience is those outside the Church, merging it with the Church member-focused ChurchofJesusChrist.org will take more time.
“It was so easy to give up. My friends were telling me, ‘You should give up, Saroo. That’s in the past,’” Brierley said. “But in order for me to go forward, I had to go back.”“I had this massive block of chocolate in my hand and it was dripping on the floor ... my adopted mother got a tissue out of her pocket and (wiped my face) and gave me a teddy bear,” Brierley recalled. “At that point, the (connection) between mother and father and son was created.”He continued, “Never give up hope. ... If you lose hope, you lose everything. I never lost hope, I soldiered on.”With that, Saroo hopped on a plane to Khandwa, India, and when he returned to his hometown, it was like he never left.Confused, the 5-year-old Saroo decided to board the train in front of him, which eventually landed him at a bustling train station in Calcutta.Twenty-nine years ago, at the age of 5, Saroo left his slum suburb in India and followed his older brother to a local train station. After falling asleep on a bench at the train platform, Saroo became separated from his brother. When he woke up, his brother was nowhere to be found.“I'm so privileged to have two mothers, a mother that gave me birth, to a mother that gave me a second chance in life,” he said.With the help of Google Earth, Saroo finally had a breakthrough in his years-long search. He was looking for a train station in India with a water tower on the left, a ravine further on, a bridge, and a train station on the right-hand side. Saroo described it like trying to “find a needle in a haystack.”Finally, in his early 20s, Saroo decided to do something about it. He started compiling information detailing everything he could remember from his hometown: were there hills, mountains, rivers? What kinds of animals were there, what kind of cultural events, etc.?Saroo was reunited with his mother after 26 years of searching. In a subsequent 60 Minutes documentary, Saroo's biological mother and his adopted mother met for the first time, something he will never forget.Though Brierley loved his life in Australia and felt fortunate to have been adopted by such loving parents, there was still a nagging void in his heart.Within weeks, Saroo was flying across the world to Australia where he was adopted by Sue and John Brierley. He remembers meeting them for the first time at the Melbourne Airport.In a Q&A after the presentation, Saroo couldn’t emphasize enough the role that hope and spirituality played in his journey.After deciding to leave the train station, Saroo spent weeks wandering. From almost drowning in a river, to nearly being taken prisoner, Saroo ended up at a local police station where officers started to advertise his name in the local paper. There was no response.Saroo Brierley, whose life was the inspiration for the 2016 Oscar-winning film Lion, was a keynote speaker at RootsTech in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 1. While addressing a packed audience, he described his life as “a story of hope” and said that after many trials and tribulations, “miracles can happen.”Saroo had finally found his home, but it wasn’t without sacrifice.“I zoomed in on this train station and it looked exactly the way I remembered it,” he said. People listen as Saroo Brierley gives a keynote address at the RootsTech conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 1, 2019. Brierley talked about the importance of soldiering on with hope in the face of trials. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.“He had a massive influence on me to value nature and spirituality,” he said. “(I can’t deny) that this (story) has massive spirituality in it.”“The fusion elements of hope, determination, sheer grit, and being fierce is how I managed to do what I did. I took a chance, and created a difference.”Saroo was then turned over to ISSA (Indian Society of Sponsorship and Adoption) where he stayed for a few months before being put up for adoption.“As time went on, I never forgot about my past. I had this feeling of nostalgia, the feeling of being stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Brierley said. “I often thought, ‘Is there ever a way of finding my family?’”Saroo noted that when his biological mother wasn’t around, he spent a lot of time with a religious leader in his village named “the Holy Man.”“The muscle memory in my legs decided to follow a path, and within about 30 minutes I was standing outside the house where I was born.”“It dawned on me that I was lost, and I started to cry ... and fell to my knees,” Saroo said. “(But) the great thing about human beings is that when we do fall on our knees ... we learn to pick ourselves back up.”
Elder Soares also visited and counseled with the three elders who were living with Elder Conrad at the time of his death, along with Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission President Bret Smith and Sister Jeanette Smith.Elder Soares shared the Lord’s assurances to Joseph Smith during the Prophet’s imprisonment in Liberty Jail:He chose to focus his words on Jesus Christ, whom he called the “ultimate Caregiver.”Healing and comfort are found by surrendering to the Lord. Remember the words of the psalmist: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (Psalms 55:22).“It was very beautiful. … They loved Elder Conrad and are trying to follow his example in every way,” he said.Comfort was found by surrendering to the Lord.Elder Soares “reminded us that because of the Savior we could be healed from whatever pain we carried and he blessed us that we would recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives.”“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; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8).“So many missionaries and members love Elder Conrad and we miss him,” he wrote. “It was a true tender mercy to have Elder Soares speak to us.”It’s difficult to understand why the tragedy occurred. Understanding such matters, he said, is often only revealed when “we cross the veil and our eyes will be open to many things.”So the Apostle adjusted his travel schedule so he could meet on February 23 with the missionaries and leaders of the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East and West missions.“Elder Conrad was very obedient and a very good leader,” he said.“We can place our burdens on the Savior and then go forward,” he said.Elder Ulisses Soares knows the timing of his recent travels was no coincidence.President Smith said the mission continues to mourn for Elder Conrad.Elder Soares concluded by offering an Apostolic blessing on the Dominican Republic missionaries. “I leave a blessing upon you that you may be healed of your pains of any kind. I bless you with the capacity to recognize the hands of the Savior in every experience you go through.”On February 20, Elder Brennan Conrad, an 18-year-old missionary, died after falling from the roof of his Dominican apartment building. In his seven months of full-time missionary service, the Hyde Park, Utah, resident had earned the love and respect of his fellow missionaries because of his faithfulness and aptitude for the Spanish language.He also encouraged the missionaries to share the divine strength they receive with others who are also in pain—to be patient and remember that healing comes “in the Lord’s time.”The tests and trials of mortality, he told the missionaries, sometimes come with pain. Many are mourning “the loss of one who we hold dear—Elder Conrad.”“We gave up that pain and turned everything over to the Savior Jesus Christ,” he said.Being with the missionaries in Santo Domingo, he added, “was a very tender moment. … We felt the Spirit comforting and give peace to us.”Elder Soares spent the night before the gathering prayerfully deciding what message to share with the missionaries. “So many thoughts came to my mind,” he told the Church News.President Smith said the missionaries continue to draw upon Elder Soares’ word “in every meeting we have had since he was here.”At that same moment, missionaries and members in the Dominican Republic were grieving.“I shared with them the importance of facing pain and overcoming that pain to prepare for the future,” he said.“But be assured,” he said, “no one need grieve alone.The Latter-day Saint Apostle was in the Caribbean last week visiting several nations for a variety of ecclesiastical assignments.Elder Soares knew Elder Conrad’s fellow missionaries were in pain—and he was anxious to reassure them they were loved and remembered. They could find comfort.Elder Soares spoke of his own experiences with grief. Over a two-year period, he lost his father, two of his brothers, and two children “whom we lost during my wife’s advanced pregnancy.”
Elder Bednar, standing with Elder Stevenson and Elder Renlund, gave voice to their united witness of the ”truthfulness, the divinity and the reality“ of temple and family history work.To effectively engage consultants and enhance communication, coordination meetings need not be long, should be people-oriented, and at times could be done by text, email, or phone rather than in a formal meeting, Elder Renlund said.Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, said many 11-year-old children are qualifying for limited-use recommends following the recent age-group progression changes. “Not only are they coming to the temple,” she said, “they are coming with family names to perform ordinances for and—this is even better—they’re bringing their families with them.”
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, speaks during an instruction meeting to ward and stake leaders and members with temple and family history work callings and responsibilities. The image is from a screenshot from the February 28 broadcast.Asking that wards clarify their leadership patterns, plans, and coordination meetings, Elder Renlund promised: “As you do, the Lord will hasten His work on both sides of the veil, and you will be blessed in the process.”The summaries included:Elder Bradley D. Foster, a General Authority Seventy and the executive director of the Church’s Family History Department, underscored the Family Tree app features as key “to first discover who you area, which will lead you to discover who your family is, which will ultimately lead you to discover how you’re connected to your Heavenly Father.”
Screenshot of Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking during the the February 28 broadcast of the instruction meeting to ward and stake leaders and members with temple and family history work callings and responsibilities.Because of the organizational adjustments that have occurred in the past year, there has been some confusion among temple and family history consultants wondering where they fit in the ward organization. Elder Renlund shared various ways temple and family history callings could be organized depending on the size and strength of the ward or branch.Elder Bednar concluded the training with a statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith: “The building up of Zion is a cause that interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests, and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we lived; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and wrote and prophesied of this our day;—but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in, and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory. … A work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets—a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family” (History of the Church, 4:609–10; from “The Temple,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, May 2, 1842, p. 776; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical).[Watch the recorded event below.]Elder Stevenson: Strengthen family connections for promised blessings
In a screenshot from the broadcast on February 28 to ward and stake leaders and members involved in temple and family history work, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offers remarks.Each leader offered counsel and direction to ward temple and family history leaders and consultants, helping them understand the responsibilities of their calling, discover how temple and family history service can strengthen families, and learn how to organize temple and family history service in their wards.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks about family history tools while holding a “My Family” booklet. The image is from a screenshot from the February 28 broadcast of the instruction meeting to ward and stake leaders and members with temple and family history work callings and responsibilities.Elder Stevenson said in an age where talk of technology often revolves around hazards and cautions, Family Tree “is a place where technology is filling the measure of its creation.“He also invited family history consultants to help members in their units take advantage of the My Family booklet and Family Tree mobile app in strengthening connections.In his remarks, Elder Stevenson focused on the promised blessings of family history and temple work and creating personal connections with our ancestors. Recently, he was in Rome, Italy, for the open house tours. While hosting VIP tours, he described:Elder Stevenson then repeated one of his previous teachings in relation to connecting with ones’ family history: “Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will lead us to our family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will lead us to the temple.”
Richard M. and Laurie N. MarshBrother Ernst is a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, bishopric counselor, temple ordinance worker, and missionary in the Indiana Indianapolis Mission. He was born in Norwalk, California, to Marvin Charles Ernst and Sharon Lynne Floe Ernst.Bart D. Browning, 62, and Gail H. Browning, three children, Twin Falls 15th Ward, Twin Falls Idaho Stake: Italy Milan Mission, succeeding President Kent J. Allen and Sister Reneé Allen. Philippines Cavite MissionTexas San Antonio Mission
Clark and Jennifer WhitworthArmando Maldonado, 60, and Graciela Flores de Maldonado, four children, Oceania Ward, Saltillo México Valle de las Flores Stake: México Pachuca Mission, succeeding President Jeff D. Kimball and Sister Tracy S. Kimball. Sister Duarte is a seminary teacher and a former ward Primary president, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, institute teacher, and missionary in the Brazil Marilia Mission. She was born in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, to Mauricio Teixeira Coelho and Maria Aparecida Coelho.Michigan Detroit Mission
Howard N. and Lisa Sorensen
Stephanie L. and Jason J. Tveten
Soraia and Saul S. DuarteBrother Marsh is a self-reliance specialist and a former stake president, bishop, high councilor, stake mission preparation instructor, elders quorum president, and missionary in the Ecuador Quito Mission. He was born in Dallas, Texas, to Howard John Marsh and Virginia Moyle Marsh.Gary J. Severson, 58, and Juanita Severson, six children, Central Park Ward, Bentonville Arkansas Stake: México México City North Mission, succeeding President Alfonso Urrea Gutiérrez and Sister Cynthia Thompson de Urrea. Elder and Sister Severson are senior missionaries in the England London Mission. Brother Sorensen is a stake presidency counselor and a former high councilor, bishop, bishopric counselor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Perú Lima Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City to Maynard Melville Sorensen and Leonora Nelson Sorensen.Brother Mutariswa is a Zimbabwe Harare Mission presidency counselor and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, bishopric counselor, and elders quorum president. He was born in Bindura, Mashonaland Central, Zimbabwe, to Arnold Usavi Manhombo and Rosemary Mucherengi.Brother Meredith is a Sunday School teacher and a former Area Seventy, stake president, mission presidency counselor, bishop, and missionary in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission. He was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Alvin Frazier Meredith Jr. and Mary Read Smartt Meredith.Utah Salt Lake City South MissionGuatemala Antigua Mission (newly created)Verne M. Ernst, 59, and Shawny Ernst, four children, Johns Creek Ward, Roswell Georgia Stake: Kansas Wichita Mission, succeeding President Mitchell D. McCuistion and Sister Pamela McCuistion. Brother Barney is a stake presidency counselor and a former bishop, high councilor, bishopric counselor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Chile Santiago South Mission. He was born in Provo, Utah, to Lawrence Hall Barney and Erlene Child Barney.Sister Marsh is a nursery music leader and a former stake Relief Society secretary, stake Primary president, ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary president, and ward Relief Society presidency counselor. She was born in Salt Lake City to Russell M. Nelson and Dantzel White Nelson.Sister Whitworth is a Primary teacher and a former ward Primary president, and ward Relief Society and Young Women presidency counselor. She was born in Logan, Utah, to Chester Hal Rasmussen and Janette Bailey Wyatt Rasmussen.
Bart D. and Gail H. Browning
Alvin Frazier and Jennifer Edgin MeredithPhilippines Quezon City MissionAlvin Frazier Meredith III, 48, and Jennifer Edgin Meredith, six children, Sembawang Ward, Singapore Stake: Utah Salt Lake City South Mission, succeeding President J. Christopher Lansing and Sister Erlynn E. Lansing. Brother Welch is a ward Young Men secretary and a former stake president, bishop, high councilor, bishopric counselor, and missionary in the Japan Sapporo Mission. He was born in Logan, Utah, to Thomas Nash Welch and Wanee Israelsen.Brother Whitworth is a YSA stake presidency counselor and a former bishop, bishopric counselor, ward Young Men president, gospel doctrine teacher, and missionary in the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City to Leon Charles Whitworth and Elinor Bosley Whitworth.Perú Arequipa MissionRichard M. Marsh, 61, and Laurie N. Marsh, six children, Meadows Ward, Murray Utah South Stake: Perú Arequipa Mission, succeeding President Douglas R. Johnson and Sister Camille Johnson. Scott R Palmer, 49, and Heather Ann Palmer, five children, Greenfield 3rd Ward, Chandler Arizona East Stake: Colorado Fort Collins Mission, succeeding President Sean S. McMurray and Sister Kristin K. McMurray.
Armando and Graciela Flores de MaldonadoColorado Fort Collins Mission
Heather Ann and Scott R PalmerSister Palmer is a ward Relief Society president and a former stake Young Women presidency counselor, ward Primary president, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, and Primary teacher. She was born in Pocatello, Idaho, to Walter Jay Tranmer and Nancy Ann Hilmo.México México City North Mission
Juanita and Gary J. Severson
Timothy L. and Paula A. BarneyTimothy L. Barney, 51, and Paula A. Barney, four children, Valley View 9th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay North Stake: Guatemala Antigua Mission (newly created). Saul S. Duarte, 41, and Soraia Duarte, two children, Alphaville Ward, Alphaville Brazil Stake: Brazil Curitiba Mission, succeeding President Douglas K. Hart and Sister Cheri Hart. Terry E. Welch, 55, and Cyrrena Welch, six children, Farmington 11th Ward, Farmington Utah South Stake: Philippines Quezon City Mission, succeeding President David J. Koster and Sister Mary G. Koster. Albert Mutariswa, 53, and Melion Mutariswa, four children, Mabelreign Ward, Harare Zimbabwe Stake: Nigeria Enugu Mission, succeeding President Francis O. Nmeribe and Sister Ada U. Nmeribe. Sister Tveten is a ward Primary president and a former ward Primary presidency counselor, Relief Society teacher, and missionary in the Texas Houston Mission. She was born in Portland, Oregon, to Ronald Irvin Oldroyd and Cathy May Watters Oldroyd.Brazil Curitiba MissionSister Barney is a ward Relief Society presidency counselor and a former ward Primary president, ward Young Women presidency counselor, and missionary in the Netherlands Amsterdam Mission. She was born in Salt Lake City to Parry A Peterson and Lavon Wright Peterson.Sister Mutariswa is a Relief Society teacher and a former ward Primary presidency counselor. She was born in Murehwa, Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe, to Eliah Kandunya Muza and Estery Chidziva.Sister Severson is a former stake Relief Society presidency counselor, ward Young Women president, ward Relief Society and Young Women presidency counselor, nursery leader, and ward missionary. She was born in Salt Lake City to Merrill Ray Chandler and LaVerne Chandler.Sister Ernst is a Primary music leader and a former stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Young Women president and presidency counselor, seminary teacher, and missionary in the Perú Lima North Mission. She was born in Mildenhall, England, to Neal F Christensen and Lois Ann Christensen.Nigeria Enugu MissionSister Cauilan is a ward Primary presidency counselor and Sunday School teacher and a former stake Relief Society and Young Women presidency counselor, ward Relief Society and Young Women presidency counselor, and missionary in the Philippines Cebu Mission. She was born in Olongapo City, Zambales, Philippines, to Normando Catudioc and Concepcion Brucelo Perfecto Boettcher.Brother Duarte is an elders quorum president and a former high councilor, stake Young Men presidency counselor, bishopric counselor, regional welfare agent, ward Young Men president, seminary teacher, and missionary in the Brazil Marilia Mission. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Saul Rodrigues Duarte and Raymunda Cezith Moreira da Cunha Scattolini Rodrigues Duarte.Brother Palmer is a ward Young Men presidency counselor and a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the England Leeds Mission. He was born in Tucson, Arizona, to Rodney Dean Palmer and Mary Joyce Maynard Palmer.México Pachuca MissionHoward N. Sorensen, 62, and Lisa Sorensen, five children, Oakley 1st Ward, Kamas Utah Stake: Michigan Detroit Mission, succeeding President Larry Cleveland and Sister Jennifer Cleveland. Kansas Wichita MissionSister Welch is a Primary teacher and a former ward Young Women president, ward Primary presidency counselor, Young Women adviser, and Cub Scout leader. She was born in Salt Lake City to Elmer Leon Haward and Bonnie Fern Packer.
Terry E. and Cyrrena WelchSister Browning is a former stake and ward Young Women president, stake Young Women presidency counselor, stake single adult representative, Young Women adviser, ward Primary presidency counselor, Relief Society compassionate service coordinator, and Primary music leader. She was born in Pocatello, Idaho, to Gerald Ezra Hawkes and Dorcas Ann Green Hawkes.Brother Nixon is a former high councilor, ward Young Men president and adviser, MTC branch presidency, and missionary in the Portugal Lisbon Mission. He was born in Provo, Utah, to Ezra John Nixon Jr. and Charlotte Macdonald Nixon.Brother Maldonado is a stake president and a former stake presidency counselor, stake executive secretary, bishop, high councilor, and elders quorum president. He was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, to Domingo Maldonado Ramírez and Adelfa Benavides de Maldonado.J. Scott Nixon, 59, and Shiree Parker Nixon, four children, Kaysville 12th Ward, Kaysville Utah Crestwood Stake: Brazil Fortaleza East Mission, succeeding President Ricardo C. Leite and Sister Cristiane C. Leite. Brother and Sister Nixon were recently released as assistant directors of Church hosting. Darwin S. Cauilan, 48, and Michelle P. Cauilan, six children, Iligan 3rd Ward, Iligan Philippines Stake: Philippines Cavite Mission, succeeding President Aaron B. Speirs and Sister Pamela Speirs. Brother Browning is a former stake presidency counselor, stake Young Men president, stake single adult representative, high councilor, bishopric counselor, elders quorum president, Sunday School teacher, and missionary in the Italy Rome Mission. He was born in Pocatello, Idaho, to Lloyd Duncan Browning and Natalie Anne Wells Browning.Brazil Fortaleza East MissionMéxico Villahermosa MissionThe following new mission presidents and their wives have been called by the First Presidency. They will begin their service in July of 2019. Biographies of other mission presidency couples will be published throughout 2019 on news.lds.org. (See other published biographies.)Sister Sorensen is a Young Women adviser and a former ward Young Women and Primary president, ward Primary presidency counselor, Relief Society teacher, and ward choir director. She was born in Salt Lake City to Gerald Leland Whittaker and Margaret Angeline Whittaker.Brother Cauilan is a stake presidency counselor and a former mission presidency counselor, bishop, branch presidency counselor, and missionary in the Philippines Cebu Mission. He was born in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, Philippines, to Juan Cordon Cauilan and Juliet Serrano Somera Cauilan.Italy Milan MissionElder Severson is a former stake presidency counselor, mission presidency counselor, bishop, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission. He was born in Sacramento, California, to Harold James Severson and Margene Wanlass Severson.Sister Nixon is a former ward Relief Society and Primary president, stake Relief Society presidency counselor, and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Logan, Utah, to Jon Stauffer Parker and Ronda Kay Mathews Parker.Clark Whitworth, 59, and Jennifer Whitworth, five children, Porter Lane 2nd Ward, Centerville Utah South Stake: México Villahermosa Mission, succeeding President Kasey N. Haws and Sister Julia W. Haws.
Michelle P. and Darwin S. CauilanSister Meredith is a Young Women adviser and a former ward Primary presidency counselor, Relief Society teacher, Sunday School teacher, and missionary in the Argentina Salta Mission. She was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Gordon Ray Edgin and Cheryl Denise Jensen Edgin.
Verne M. and Shawny Ernst
Albert and Melion MutariswaBrother Tveten is a stake presidency counselor and a former bishop, high councilor, ward clerk, and missionary in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission. He was born in Olympia, Washington, to Jan Thyge Tveten and Ruth Lorraine Dahle Tveten.Sister Maldonado is a Sunday School teacher and a former ward Primary president, ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary presidency counselor, Primary teacher, institute teacher, and temple ordinance worker. She was born in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, México, to Marcos Flores Zapiain and Wenceslada Reyes Galindo.Jason J. Tveten, 49, and Stephanie L. Tveten, five children, Castlerock Ward, Wenatchee Washington Stake: Texas San Antonio Mission, succeeding President Todd B. Polley and Sister DoraLea Stapley Polley.
J. Scott and Shiree Parker Nixon
The Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple will hold its open house from Wednesday, April 24, through Wednesday, May 1, 2019, excluding Sundays.Originally dedicated on April 23, 2000, by President James E. Faust, then-Second Counselor in the First Presidency, the Memphis temple will be rededicated by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.Updates to the scheduled open houses for the Memphis Tennessee and Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temples were announced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday, February 28.The Memphis temple open house tours will begin on Saturday, April 13, and go through Saturday, April 20, 2019, excluding Sundays.Open house tours for the Oklahoma City temple will run from Wednesday, April 24, through Wednesday, May 1, 2019, excluding Sundays.The Oklahoma City temple was originally dedicated by President Faust on July 30, 2000. The rededication will be presided over by President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.Attendance for both temple rededications will be by invitation and no youth devotionals are scheduled. There are no broadcasts to local meetinghouses planned for either of the rededications. Regular two-hour Sunday meeting blocks will be held as planned.The rededication dates for both temples will remain as previously announced with the Memphis temple on Sunday, May 5, and the Oklahoma City temple on Sunday, May 19.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented the Church's donation to Michael Boulware Moore, president and CEO of the museum. Martin Luther King III, son of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was on hand for the announcement.“Because of this generous donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the center will catapult into a level of excellence that simply would not be achievable,” said Riley in a news release. Michael Boulware Moore, CEO of the International African American Museum, shows his excitement at the Church’s $2 million donation to the organization during the evening session of RootsTech 2019, February 27, 2019, in Salt Lake City, Utah. RootsTech 2019 opened in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 27, 2019. During the evening session, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented a $2 million donation in behalf of the Church to the International African American Museum.With thousands packed into the Salt Palace Convention Center, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kicked off the ninth annual RootsTech family history and technology conference by announcing a $2 million donation to the forthcoming International African American Museum Center for Family History.
RootsTech 2019 opened in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 27, 2019. During the evening session, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented a $2 million donation in behalf of the Church to the International African American Museum.“We want to support the museum and the Center for Family History because we both value the strength that comes from learning about our families,” Elder Bednar said in a prepared statement. “The museum will not only educate its patrons on the important contributions of Africans who came through Gadsden’s Wharf and Charleston, it also will help all who visit to discover and connect with ancestors whose stories previously may not have been known.”Joseph P. Riley, a lifetime board member of the museum, thanked the Church for helping the Center for Family History to become one of the museum's “crown jewels.”
LDS Charities has announced its partnership with JustServe.org to launch the #YouCanDoSomething initiative, inviting people to serve locally and donate to good causes globally to help change the world.You can start by sharing one of the #YouCanDoSomething videos which will be posted on the LDS Charities Facebook page and LDSCharities.org. Then, commit to do something: Find an organization and opportunity where you can volunteer locally.The most effective humanitarian work involves finding local solutions to local problems. When disasters or needs come up in communities or countries far away, the Church encourages members to donate to the global Humanitarian Aid fund to respond to those needs. And then, members are asked to go and serve in their local communities.So how can you get involved and inspire others to do the same? Check out these ideas:
After all, bringing God’s children closer to the covenant path is what inspired music can help each member do, said Elder Larry S. Kacher, a General Authority Seventy. Speaking to musicians at the banquet before the festival, Elder Kacher said music can bring the Spirit into our lives, but it shouldn’t end there. The award-winning musicians are then honored by hearing their works performed at one of the biannual Church Music Festival concerts the following year, and their music is published and made available for use online. Marshall McDonald, the director of the combined choirs of the Salt Lake Institute of Religion who performed the music, said the choirs started learning the music when the semester began in January—leaving them just two months to have all 22 pieces “learned, polished, memorized, and mastered.” A children’s chorus sings during the Spring Church Music Festival. The Church Music Submission has youth and children’s music categories.The 2019 Spring Church Music Festival, held on February 22, honored the 2018 awardees for the Church Music Submission. The event, a free concert held for the public and live-streamed on LDS.org, featured 22 award-winning submissions from across several different categories.Katie Bastian, a music manager for the Church who helped put together the 2019 Spring Church Music Festival, said 2018 was a record year for the Church Music Submission. Members submitted more than 1,000 pieces of music for consideration—blowing the previous high (around 700) out of the water. “The Savior is in charge of this work and the hastening of the work is His, but I testify that the hastening of the Savior's work involves music at this time in ways that it never has before,” Schank said. “What a blessed day that we live in.” “I'm not a professional composer, but I asked the Lord to help me,” she said, “and I know that He helped me to do that.” “It's not just the prophets and apostles and Church leaders that receive revelation,” McDonald said. “I think tonight is a true indicator that the members of the Church themselves are receiving inspiration. The arts are one of those ways that inspiration has come and can really touch a lot of people.”“We felt closer to the Savior, felt closer to his gospel, and have stronger resolve to live it in our lives,” McDonald said. “We hope that [the concert] can be the beginning of the opportunity for this music to touch people worldwide, both in and outside of the Church.”Alice Goldthorpe, a composer from Melbourne, Australia, who wrote new music to, “Les anges dans nos campagnes” (Angels We Have Heard on High), said the performance exceeded her expectations.It might not be a seemingly earth-shattering announcement or unexpected change, but the Spring Music Festival (and the Church Music Submission)—for McDonald—was just one example of the many ways members are hastening the Lord’s work of restoration on the earth.
Young service missionaries, different than their proselyting counterparts, volunteer in their hometowns as close to full-time as their circumstances allow, up to 18 months for women and up to 24 months for men. Elder Nielsen said there are currently more than 800 young service missionaries and about 22,000 total Church service missionaries (including senior missionaries) serving worldwide.“Service missionaries can do hard things, even living at home. It doesn’t take going someplace distant to do hard things.”
Church service missionaries at Old Town State Park help paint white picket fences during a service project. The service missionaries dress in period clothing and serve as museum docents at the park. Photo courtesy of Elder Richard Bramwell.
Church service missionaries eat lunch at Old Town State Historic Park. Service missionaries there have given over 4,000 hours of service over the last two years. Photo courtesy of Elder Richard Bramwell.It’s the consistent, small acts of service—all done with a smile—that set apart the young Latter-day Saint service missionaries volunteering at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.The Medallion award is the most prestigious given by California State Parks to volunteers. Downing only gives one each year.That's according to Tim Downing, volunteer coordinator for California State Parks, who said, “We can always expect them to be there with a smile; they’re being polite; they’re willing to learn what they need to do.”
Church service missionaries participate in a Mormon Battalion reenactment march in San Diego, California. Photo courtesy of Elder Richard Bramwell.A historic award“You may not and probably don’t have a companion, you’re walking into a California State Park on your assigned day to give service, you’re wearing period clothing, you’re wearing your black name badge, and that takes a tremendous amount of courage for a young man or young woman to do,” Bramwell said.In fact, when Downing tells anyone about the young service missionary program at Old Town, he likes to use one photo in particular because it’s—in his words—the “epitome of everything that everybody should be doing.”Indeed, whether represented by a single photograph or by the numbers, Downing said the dedication given by these service missionaries has been remarkable. Their combined service hours in 2017 and 2018 made up 12 percent of the total service hours given to the park during that time—the work equivalent of 2.5 part-time staff members and 2 full-time staff members, Downing said.The Bramwells, who previously served as mission presidents in Ohio, said the highlight of their mission in the San Diego Service Missionary Area has been seeing the young service missionaries’ lives change as they become better prepared for life after their missions. Service missionaries “try so hard and give all of their heart and stretch and grow just as much as our proselyting missionaries,” Sister Bramwell said.“Hearts are changed, and that’s the difference a service missionary can make,” Sister Bramwell said. “Because a service missionary doesn’t teach, they just give pure service, there has been a great change in attitude and view of [missionaries] being at Old Town and around San Diego.” California State Parks volunteer coordinator Tim Downing smiles with Elder Richard Bramwell and Sister Jennifer Bramwell. Downing presented the Bramwells with the Volunteer Medallion for Superior Achievement on January 26, 2019. The Bramwells served in the San Diego Service Missionary Area for three years, working with Downing to help start the Church service missionary program.Although the missionary, Elder Spencer Larsen, has since finished his service mission, the impact his small act of kindness had on Downing’s view of the Church service missionaries is memorable. “This picture, to me, represents the quality, dedication, and compassion these missionaries have for their community,” Downing said.The impact yet another Latter-day Saint group had on the San Diego community, like the Mormon Battalion had before them, wasn’t lost on Downing when he inscribed the award plaque for the Bramwells.That kind of service isn’t so different from the Latter-day Saints of the Mormon Battalion who helped settle San Diego more than 150 years ago—it’s the kind that makes a lasting impact.Since January 2019, any young adult desiring to give missionary service now applies through the same online portal. An assignment comes from an apostle to proselyting and service missionaries alike, and then they both receive a call letter signed by the prophet. Elder Nielsen said this unified application process gives equal opportunities to all who want a chance to serve God and their fellow man, regardless of their health condition.The value of missionary serviceOld Town State Park sits adjacent to the Church-owned Mormon Battalion Historic Site, and gives visitors a chance to dive into 19th century San Diego. Proselyting missionaries, also dressed in period clothing, give tours at the neighboring Historic Site to explain how the Mormon Battalion helped settle the area.“The Bramwell’s passion for not only the service mission but also their love of the park has helped to make the program the success it has been,” Downing said. “California State Parks needs more people like the Bramwells to have that passion and love for our parks.”Taking on that many visitors requires a unique kind of bravery from the service missionaries, Elder Bramwell pointed out.“The charitable organizations and government municipalities where these service missionaries serve all say the same thing—that they’ve got the heart of a true volunteer,” Elder Nielsen said. “They serve consistently during the week, day in and day out, making a difference with a smile on their face. It’s tremendous. You can see their testimony of Jesus Christ in their service.”For Elder Bramwell, the rare opportunity of watching service and proselyting missionaries work side-by-side is a wonderful thing.“Being able to be a missionary and live at home is unique, we enjoy that,” Elder Bramwell said. “Hopefully more senior couples will have the opportunity that we have had to connect with these outstanding service missionaries who are giving so much in so many different ways.” This plaque commemorates the service given by Church service missionaries at Old Town, comparing their service to that of the Mormon Battalion before them. Photo courtesy of Elder Richard Bramwell.“These missionaries have allowed us to keep museums open that would otherwise be closed due to staffing issues,” Downing said. “The missionaries have allowed the staff the flexibility to work with our School Program, which sees about 12,000 kids a year. To be very honest, there have been days the park would not have run as smooth as it has had we not had the service missionaries.”The example of the Old Town service missionaries shows just how valuable service missionaries can be, Elder Nielsen said. “We hope that this will encourage other local charitable and community organizations to consider allowing service missionaries to come in and serve within their organizations.”Service missionaries participate in the immersive programs Old Town offers, including living history programs, guided tours, and museums. The service missionaries assigned to the park serve as docents, or museum guides, and also participate in special service projects and events at the park.When the Bramwells started their mission three years ago, they never would have dreamed they’d be awarded the Medallion. For them, the award is a testament of the power of “pure service.”A remarkable impact at Old TownElder Nielsen said the Bramwells are a great example of how the senior Church service missionaries can mentor and support the service missionaries to accomplish great things, like the Medallion award.“It’s really a heartwarming experience to see these service missionaries and the proselyting missionaries as their paths cross, which doesn’t happen often, but when they do, that’s a really tender scene,” he said.“What has happened in Old Town State Park has been so well received by the state of California that they are anxious and desirous to have service missionaries serve throughout the entire state park system,” Elder Bramwell said.The photo, shot from behind, shows a blind man holding on to a service missionary’s shoulder as the missionary leads him through the park (see photo above). Elder Richard and Sister Jennifer Bramwell, the service mission leaders who spearheaded the service mission program at Old Town, said the missionary would often help the blind man—a frequent park visitor—between his shifts, at breaks, and even during lunch.Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, the General Authority Seventy who has been given responsibility for the service missionary program, said this is the first community award ever received by young service missionaries—an historic first. “To be presented an honor like this shows the quality of service rendered by these remarkable young people. It’s a real commendation to the service missionaries who are on their missions living at home and serving the Lord. We’re humbled by it.”And now, just as the Mormon Battalion paved the way for so many others after them, the group of service missionaries at Old Town has opened the doors of additional service missionary possibilities in California.
Church service missionaries participate in reenactments celebrating the efforts of the Mormon Battalion to help settle San Diego, California. Photo courtesy of Elder Richard Bramwell.Church service missionaries serve in unique ways, Elder Nielsen pointed out. Though not all service missionaries may receive top awards from their community like the ones at Old Town, all of them are known for serving with a smile and dedication.“Your passion, dedication, and commitment to the park is a direct link and living testament to the memory of the Mormon Battalion,” the plaque reads, “Like the Battalion, you both have helped lay a great community foundation here in the park.”Spread across just 16 acres, Old Town State Park is the smallest state park in California. However, sitting right in the heart of San Diego, the urban park receives the most visitors—welcoming approximately 4 million guests each year.The growth isn’t just limited to the young service missionaries though, and the Bramwells were quick to note how their missionary service has blessed their own lives.Paving the way like the Mormon BattalionThat consistent, positive presence over the last two and a half years—compounded with around 4,000 volunteer hours of service—is why Downing decided to award the Volunteer Medallion for Superior Achievement to the Bramwells on January 26, 2019, in honor of the service they’ve given to the park with the young service missionary program.
Go to the temple, Sister Costa counseled. The temple is a key part of the plan of salvation and a necessary part of each individual’s earthly education. “Bring to the temple your greatest joys, your biggest sorrows, and your deepest questions,” Sister Costa said.“The temple is the Lord’s classroom,” Elder Costa said. “Please, make … temple attendance part of your education.”Growing up in Argentina, Elder Joaquin E. Costa, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Renee Costa, had very different backgrounds. Elder Costa grew up in a traditional Catholic family while Sister Costa was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a single mother. But despite their different backgrounds, both had a profound desire to seek the love of Christ.“My English was limited, and I didn't know anybody. I felt lost,” Sister Costa said. But in a place far from home, she depended greatly on the love and guidance of her young single adult ward bishop. Sister Renee Costa greets students following a devotional at BYU–Idaho on February 26. Photo by Sarah Jones, BYU–Idaho.Speaking at a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, February 26, Elder and Sister Costa shared some insights into the things they wish they had known as young adults while seeking their education.“Buenos Aires in the ’80s was not like Rexburg today; the list of eligible bachelors was pretty short,” Sister Costa said. “Imagine then how hard it was when this amazing young man that melted my heart asked me to marry him and I had to say, no. It was painful and heartbreaking. It was a sacrifice, an act of faith.”At that time, Elder Costa had not yet joined the Church and said he did not know that there was someone called “to unleash the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life.”Turning to the Lord for help by visiting His temples can help individuals see their problems with greater perspective, Elder Costa explained.Whenever he has a challenge, Elder Costa said he turns to the Lord for help by visiting Him in His house.“Repentance is an act of faith,” Elder Costa said. “And forgiveness, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is an act of love.”The importance of repentance Elder Joaquin E. Costa and his wife, Sister Renee Costa, greet students following a devotional at BYU–Idaho on February 26. Photo by Ericka Sanders, BYU–Idaho.While some may feel that meeting with their bishops is scary or that because their bishops are less than perfect, it is not necessary to meet with them, Elder Costa cautioned students to withhold judgment. Quoting advice from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Costa reminded students that while God is perfect and His doctrine is true and pure, He chooses to work through “His imperfect children.”Concluding his remarks, Elder Costa encouraged students to use this year as an opportunity to come to know the Savior better through their study of the New Testament.“I did not know about temples,” Elder Costa said, reflecting on his young adult years. “I wish I had known that there was a place I could go for peace, to share my yoke with Him, to learn about the plan of salvation.”The importance of the templesHe explained how, although he knew about Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary as a young man, he wishes he had known more about Gethsemane and the true meaning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. “We need to learn about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, speak about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and apply the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives,” Elder Costa said. “We need to know Him. Just like any other relationship. The more we know someone, the more we love him or her.”The important role of bishops“We have now an extra hour every Sunday to gather with friends, roommates, ministering brothers and sisters to learn more of Him,” Elder Costa said. “As we invest time in learning about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice, we are drawn to participate in another key element of accessing His power: we choose to have faith in Him and follow Him.”At the age of 19, Sister Costa was similarly removed from her family and friends when she traveled to Utah.Like many his age, Elder Costa noted that he often felt secluded from friends and family who could offer him counsel, and because of that, he didn't always make the best decisions. In those instances, Elder Costa described how he wishes he had known about bishops—“someone who is ordained and set apart with special rights to give [individuals] counsel and love.”“I will never forget my dear Bishop Moody,” she said. “I grew up without a father, but as soon as I met him, he became a father figure to me. I am not sure we communicated very well because of language barriers, but I remember the power of the sanctity of his office. I remember feeling so strongly that he was my bishop. I looked up to him, and I never wanted to do anything that would disappoint him.”“The bishop has the keys to repentance; it is an act of faith to see your bishop. Do not fear meeting with your bishop. You will never find peace without the keys to repentance. He will help you apply the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your life,” Elder Costa said. “Trust the keys of the priesthood and give your bishop a chance. I wish I had had a bishop when I was in college.”For many, attending the temple can be a great sacrifice, Sister Costa said. Recalling the early days of when she and Elder Costa began dating in Argentina, Sister Costa shared how she felt heartbroken when she initially declined to marry Elder Costa in order to keep her goal to marry in the temple.While studying at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Elder Costa lived far from his family home and traveled 45 to 90 minutes on a bus every day to attend his classes.
In addition to the host commentators, “guest analysts” appearing in video segments include Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, a General Authority Seventy who is an assistant executive director of the Missionary Department, and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, the Young Women General Pesident who is a member of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council.“The videos are focused on helping the missionaries with a lot of common sense and practical tips—to be safe in their missions and to protect each other, to help each other and to watch over each other,” he said.“We wanted to create an environment to teach the principle and then give them example after example,” said David Wade, director of operations for the Missionary Department.Most safety issues involve common sense, said Wade, emphasizing the key principles of awareness, obedience, and respect. “What the missionaries lack the most is experience,” he said.“We felt like we needed to build upon the foundational understanding,” he said.In many cases, the missionaries themselves who were involved in the incidents recount what happened, what was learned and—in some cases—what the individual should have done to avoid the hazard.Using mostly full-time missionaries in the video segments, filming was done in several locations worldwide, and using filming locations to double as other areas as well—Jamaica to represent the Caribbean as well as scenes from West Africa, Taiwan for Asia, Hawaii for Polynesia, and Guatemala for Latin America.Throughout their missions, missionaries will receive what Wade calls “micro-learning strategies”—periodic brief reminders via text messages or video clips “that hearken back to the principles in the 12 videos.”From safety on the street to fighting germs and avoiding the criminal intent of others, a new video series released today by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is designed to increase the safety of the 65,000 currently serving full-time missionaries as well as those yet to serve.Initially available in English, the videos are being translated into Spanish, Portuguese ,and French, with other languages to follow. Episodes range from 12 to 29 minutes in length, with the average being about 15 minutes.The messages and clips will be available to the missionary via smartphone or tablet or when using a desktop computer.Watch Episode 1Besides their use in training centers, the safety videos will be available for missionaries to review through online portals. They will also be available for mission presidents and their companions to use as needed in conference and training meetings.“The safety of the missionaries is our prime interest and desire,“ said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who chairs the Church’s Missionary Executive Council.The video segments were directed and produced by Blair Treu, whose film and TV credits including writing and directing “Meet the Mormons,” the feature-lengthened documentary produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Additional topics include bicycle, pedestrian and driving safety and preparation-day safety as well as residential and environmental topics dealing with carbon-monoxide, electrical wires, clean water and food handling. Also addressed are crimes against missionaries (including physical and sexual assault), proper behavior with children and diet, hygiene and exercise. The ”SafetyZone“ studio logo for the Church's new series of missionary safety videos, which was released March 1, 2019.The videos have been screened by a handful of focus groups, including missionaries at MTCs and in the field. After sharing the videos recently with missionaries at the Provo MTC, Elder Nielsen said: “There’s always a very prominent point to every one of these videos that’s going to help you, that’s going to keep you safe and keep you focused on what the Lord has called you to do—that is to invite all to come unto our Savior Jesus Christ.”As an example, Wade points to the segment on safety with electrical wires. While many missionaries have grown up in metro or urban areas where power lines are either entrenched or located high away from possible contact, some may serve in areas where electrical wiring is more exposed and in closer proximity to an individual.Some safety videos and reminders will be used in some areas more than others, depending on the missionary’s location and local risk factors. For example, missionaries in developing countries may get more reminders on the importance of water filtration than those serving in more developed areas; while those in high-traffic areas may receive more frequent tips on bicycle and driving safety.The 12-part video series features “The SafetyZone”—a fictitious TV show mirroring the highlight videos and back-and-forth banter of an in-studio sports show. To emphasize safety principles and practice, the videos combine entertainment, humor and repetition along with the more serious retelling of real-life missionary experiences.The first video in “The SafetyZone” series has been made public by the Church with today’s announcement. Episode 1 begins with the fundamental safety principles—situational awareness, obedience to laws and mission rules and respect for risks and for the people in the areas where they live.“We had some incredible families and missionaries willing to tell their experiences for the benefit of others,” Wade said, adding that some “Let’s Get Real” segments are somber and serious in tone. “Some are very graphic. They were designed to be real, so we show real outcomes.” The Church's new missionary safety video series is patterned after a fictitious studio show called ”The SafetyZone,“ with hosts talking about safety principles and showing ”highlight“ clips.Elder Nielsen proves to be a natural fit for the videos’ sports-show presentation style, since he played six seasons as a quarterback in the National Football League with a career as a television sports anchor.During a missionary’s time in the MTC, he or she will re-watch the first video and view the other 11 videos while at the MTC. Missionaries currently serving in the field will also be asked to watch all 12 videos between now and early May 2019.Portraying “The SafetyZone” hosts are Jarom Jordan and Spencer Linton of BYUtv’s “BYU Sports Nation” and Viviane Quintela, who has worked for Univision.Besides the hosts’ commentary and humorous “highlight” clips, the safety videos feature “Let’s Get Real” segments, real-life experiences told through retelling and re-enactments.The video episodes are designed to be engaging while sharing examples of right and wrong practices.The first “Safety Zone” episode—the one available to the public—is designed to be watched by prospective missionaries with their parents after a mission call is received and prior to entering a missionary training center.
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square concluded that remarkable conference by singing a venerable yet timely hymn, “Let Us All Press On.”Seated at the Conference Center that Sunday afternoon was Tabernacle Choir president Ron Jarrett. Like members everywhere, he marveled at the events of that revelation-defined weekend while listening to the words of that hymn’s collective call to action.
The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will release its new CD—Let Us All Press On: Hymns of Praise and Inspiration—on March 8, 2019.“We tried to select hymns that were joyous,” he said. Even the more meditative selections “still have a feeling of solace and comfort.”President Nelson accepted Jarrett’s invitation to attend the Saturday afternoon recording session of “Our Prayer to Thee.” The choir and orchestra did not know they would be having a special visitor in the recording audience.Choosing 14 hymns from a massive inventory of potential selections proved daunting, said choir and orchestra music director Mack Wilberg. But the selection criteria was guided by the energizing events happening today in the Church.The release of Let Us All Press On: Hymns of Praise and Inspiration marks another chapter from an already busy season for the choir and orchestra. Beyond their traditional performing schedule, they performed in seven different cities in California; Washington; and Vancouver, Canada, during the 2018 Classic Coast Tour. The choir and orchestra also shared the Conference Center stage with actress/singer Kristin Chenoweth last December during the organization’s annual Christmas concert.Let Us All Press On: Hymns of Praise and Inspiration is available, via pre-order, at deseretbook.com, and arrives in stores on March 8. Additional information can be found on the Tabernacle Choir website.The entire CD was recorded at the Tabernacle “loft” utilizing the latest recording equipment and expertise. Wilberg said quilts were draped across the benches on the main level to dampen any outside noise.President Nelson remained in the Tabernacle for the entire recording session of his hymn before sharing a few appreciative words with the orchestra and choir.“There was such an energy at conference,” said Jarrett. “I knew that we just had to have a new CD with ‘Let Us All Press On’ and some other great hymns that will allow people to be inspired to really push forward and let the music of the choir fill their lives with that kind of drive and spirit.”Also offered is “Our Prayer to Thee,” a hymn with text written by President Nelson that was sung by the Tabernacle Choir during the October 2018 general conference. The CD recording features a full accompaniment with the Orchestra at Temple Square.The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square CD he envisioned—aptly entitled Let Us All Press On: Hymns of Praise and Inspiration—is ready for release on March 8. The recording features 14 hymns—including the eponymous track and several other beloved selections such as “Press Forward, Saints,” “Rejoice, the Lord Is King!” and “Have I Done Any Good?”
“Goodness, talent, and ability to contribute can and do come from everywhere,” Elder Gong said.To this day, some 50 years later, Wilberg remembers how disappointed his mother was, and he committed to never be unprepared again.4. Preparation creates opportunity.Inspiration also comes by recognizing that one doesn’t lean on his or her own intellect but stands on the shoulders of others. Wilberg is constantly studying other master composers. Elder Gong quoted him as saying, “So much can be done when we recognize the inspiration of others and build on or from it.”Elder Gong closed with a plea for students to do their very best. “At the same time, please remember perfection is in Christ, not in the perfectionism of the world,” he said. “Whatever your background or talents, study and work with the sincere desire to bless those around you, including your family. … As you do so with humility and gratitude, the Lord will help you.”Wilberg has conducted on many famous stages in important venues with well-known artists. His arrangements have been performed at the funerals of three presidents of the United States—President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, and President George H. W. Bush.In all things, the Savior is ultimately the perfect example, Elder Gong said. Like Wilberg, Jesus Christ was born in what many would consider a small and obscure place. “He observed, learned, and grew, line by line, grace by grace, until He received a fulness,” Elder Gong said.
Erick Tshimp smiles up at Elder Gerrit W. Gong as Elder Gong greets students and staff from LDS Business College in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.With that in mind, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles focused his devotional address to LDS Business College students on the life and example of someone he considers a hero on Temple Square.This preparation includes education, which is a key to long-term self-reliance. “Here self-reliance includes our ability to trust the Lord and to develop the attitudes and abilities to sustain ourselves and our loved ones and to help others around us.”“Love for something and aptitude can help us identify our life’s interests and profession,” he continued. “Education, experience, and diligent improvement are all part of discovering, growing, and becoming.”“When we connect by covenant, our ties of belonging to the Lord and to each other are especially strong and motivating. We become our best, greatest selves when we lose our narrow, self-centered selves.”Wilberg also believes in giving back to the community. Every Wednesday, he goes to the Utah State Prison to conduct the inmate chorus. Elder Gong quoted Wilberg as saying, “We work and rehearse like we do with the Tabernacle Choir.”6. Inspiration is a spiritual quality.But despite all these accomplishments, “Brother Mack Wilberg has never lost or forgotten his small-town roots,” Elder Gong said. “With a twinkle in his eye and a tenderness in his heart and in his voice, he also says, ‘I have a soft spot whenever someone comes to audition and they come from a small town.’”At the age of 4, Wilberg learned to play the piano by ear. He liked playing piano so much growing up that when his mother encouraged him to go outside and play with friends, he asked to play the piano at his friends’ homes.“His music is performed and loved all over the world,” Elder Gong said.“Every person has something amazing, extraordinary, and remarkable about each of them.”The perfect example“Not all of us finds a passion or interest so early or clearly,” Elder Gong said. “Nor should you feel you cannot choose a major or a profession if you have not yet identified such a passion. Usually we learn and discover our interests and aptitudes as we go, one step at a time.”2. Challenges and obstacles can be met with the help, love, and support of others.When Wilberg was 9 years old, his father died. Though his widowed mother worked five days a week as a public school teacher, she made sacrifices to help him develop his talents. Elder Gong quoted Wilberg as saying that “she sacrificed her Saturdays to drive me to piano lessons.”Wilberg knows from experience that even talented and gifted individuals cannot achieve what a dedicated group working together can accomplish, Elder Gong said. Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints greets students and staff from LDS Business College in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.7. Our interests need not become our profession.5. Some achievements are possible only when we work in harmony.Wilberg’s piano teacher had a gift for nurturing talent in others, Elder Gong said. “Often it is not only what we can do, but what we can see and help others do and become that constitutes a great gift.”1. Success and the opportunity to lift others does not depend on one’s birthplace.The Savior loves each person individually and has compassion for all, whatever their backgrounds or circumstances.Mack Wilberg is from Castle Dale, a small town in central-eastern Utah. While growing up, his town’s population fluctuated between 500 and 600 people.“Something remarkable happens when talent collaborates, when individual interests blend, when parts become a greater whole,” Elder Gong said.Inspiration comes with preparation, which comes with determined, disciplined, hard work.Mack Wilberg, music director of the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, met with Elder Gong in his office on January 10 and the two shared an open, candid, fun, insightful, and spiritual conversation. In the February 26 devotional, Elder Gong shared eight lessons he learned.Wilberg told Elder Gong that opportunity comes when one is prepared and qualified for that opportunity.Wilberg has said that musical inspiration has come to him at the “oddest times and places,” like when mowing the lawn, sweeping the floor, driving the car, or taking a shower.One skill that this piano teacher helped Wilberg develop was a habit for preparation and practicing. Due to his natural skills, Wilberg could often play well without much practice. Once when Wilberg was young, “his piano teacher surprisingly withdrew [Wilberg] from a piano competition because he had not prepared sufficiently to perform the concerto he was supposed to play,” Elder Gong said.In Wilberg’s case, passion and profession overlapped. This is not always the case, however. For instance, one of the first trumpet players in the Orchestra at Temple Square is a dentist by profession and “a very fine trumpet player by avocation and service,” Elder Gong said.3. Everyone can find his or her aptitude, capacity, talent, passion, and ambition.Each person has people who believe in, trust and support, and sacrifice and help them, Elder Gong said. “Please, let’s each of us become such an individual to those around us. Please remember, thank, and be grateful for those who help.”8. Humility and gratitude bless.“In the arts, talent, preparation, and development are all required,” Elder Gong said.