“This Jesus”PROVO, UTAHThe Savior has always had a specific doctrine associated with His covenant, Sister Beck said.
Julie B. Beck, former General Relief Society President, speaks during the 2019 BYU Women's Conference. Photo by Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo.“It is by looking to Jesus Christ with an eye of faith that we participate with Him in His miracles,” Sister Beck said.From before the birth of Christ, during His ministry, and down to the present day, there have been disputes concerning Jesus Christ. “The question still lingers in millions of hearts, ‘Who is this Jesus we are to seek?’” Sister Beck said.“His doctrine is that we must exercise faith in Him, repent through His Atonement, receive baptism by immersion in His name and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure throughout our lives in His covenant and service.”Seeking this JesusMoroni taught that miracles are wrought by faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning power (Moroni 7:37). “And so,” she said, “we are to pray for miracles and expect them.”It is often the struggles in life that propel one to Christ. “We cannot miss the fact that most people are having a demanding mortal experience,” Sister Beck said. “In most cases, it is the pain and stretching we experience which give us the greater knowledge of Him.”There are many remarkable accounts of faith found in the scriptures, and even today, “many still forsake family, destructive habits and addictions, and former customs in order to ‘seek this Jesus of whom the apostles and prophets have written,’” Sister Beck said.A personal, faith-based workLife is meant to be a personal, faith-based work, Sister Beck said.His covenant and His doctrineBy entering into and living worthy of the covenants made at baptism and in the temple, one becomes heir to all the blessings Heavenly Father has promised His children.In closing, Sister Beck testified that “this Jesus we are to know is a God of might and mercy. He is real, and His work is real, and His covenants and ordinances have been restored with His priesthood power.”It was this very question that the Prophet Joseph Smith sought to answer when he went into a grove of trees near his home to “learn for himself which Christian church he should join.”One can demonstrate faith in Christ by repenting daily, beginning a covenant marriage, seeking personal revelation and help with his or her decisions, ministering to others, or choosing not to be defeated by life’s circumstances. Women gather in the Marriott Cneter on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, for the annual BYU Women’s Conference on May 2, 2019. Photo by Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo.The theme of the 2019 BYU Women’s Conference comes from Ether 12:41, in which the Prophet Moroni encourages readers to “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written.”“No one can do it for us and we build our faith one day and one experience at a time.”“I find it interesting that Moroni writes of ‘this Jesus,’” Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society General President, said in her opening keynote address on May 2. “He gives an interesting specificity of Whom it is we are to seek.”Having knowledge of the Savior’s character, attributes, mission, Atonement, doctrine, and covenants makes it easier to seek Him. This also requires faith in Jesus Christ.
Usher Hall in Edunburgh, Scotland.“We stand on the shoulders of these musical pioneers who created a legacy that has influenced the entire world for good, said Choir president Ron Jarrett. “What an honor it will be to share the joy and peace the music of the Choir brings in some of the very places where it all began.” DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen, Denmark.The tour will begin June 25 and will last 22 days through July 16.Performance dates, cities and venues are:Visit The Tabernacle Choir’s website for more information.John Parry was an early Welsh convert to the Church and became the first conductor of The Tabernacle Choir. He and other converts from these nations were pioneers of the Choir and Orchestra and have contributed to their great heritage.
One of Taylor’s passions was politics and helping others to understand the importance of voting as a way of maintaining and protecting freedom, Cox said. “And Jennie feels inspired, I think, that it is her mission to carry on that legacy,” he said.
Jacob Taylor looks at names on Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center prior to a ceremony where the name of his father, Maj. Brent Taylor, was added to the wall on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.A legacy of service“We really feel as a family that Brent’s greatest legacy was in leadership—leadership as a father, leadership as a soldier, leadership as a mayor, and leadership as a friend, a brother,” Jennie Taylor said.Attendees at the private ceremony included the Taylors’ seven children and extended family as well as military officials and university and community leaders.“I have a picture on my phone. … I took a picture of him in front of this wall, having no way of ever knowing or imagining his name would be added to this wall,” Jennie Taylor told the Church News at the May 23 private ceremony where her husband’s name was unveiled, joining the four others listed under the inscription “War on Terror.”“This is our roots,” Jennie Taylor said explaining that many of their family firsts took place on or near the campus. “It’s where Brent and I began our family.” Maj. Brent Taylor and Jennie Taylor along with their seven children. Photo courtesy of Jennie Taylor.“But this is where we began. … This is where everything began, and I can’t help but think as cheesy as it is: ‘enter to learn, go forth to serve.’” Maj. Gen. Brian L. Tarbet hugs Jennie Taylor during a ceremony where the name of her late husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News Jacob Taylor touches names on the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center prior to a ceremony where the name of his late father, Maj. Brent Taylor, was added to the wall on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.Jennie Taylor said the faith and love of others has strengthened her the most, adding that soon after losing her husband, the thought came to her that “gratitude softens grief.”She added: “I know people are praying for me and for my family, and that is a power I can feel and recognize.” Jennie Taylor stands with her children as the group Gentri sings the National Anthem during a ceremony where the name of her late husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018.As a member of the Utah National Guard, Brent Taylor understood the many sacrifices those whose names appeared before him had made. What he didn’t know was that less than a year later, his name would appear there beside them.When she was younger, Jennie Taylor experienced similar heartaches when her family lost their father.Watching her older sister experience the loss of her husband, Kristy Pack said that for Jennie, “from the beginning, it’s all been about faith.”“She’s experienced loss and tragedy before and so has Brent,” Pack said. “They’ve been through tragedy and have really conditioned themselves to rely on faith, and that’s how Jennie has been her whole life. She’s always been stalwart, she’s always had this testimony that showed. She leads the way and she’s letting [her faith] lead the way right now.” Maj. Gen. Jefferson S. Burton talks with Jennie Taylor and her children during a ceremony where the name of her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.Finding strength through faith and community Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox talks with Jennie Taylor and her children during a ceremony where the name of her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.Reflecting on life changes since losing her husband more than six months ago, Jennie Taylor recently wrote a blog for ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Sharing the shock she felt when she first learned of her husband’s death, she described how the knowledge of the gospel has helped her family since that loss.Just nine months before, in August 2018, Jennie Taylor had stood in that same spot with her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, while he was home on leave from his fourth combat tour in the Middle East. After touring through campus and reminiscing about their early years as a couple at the university, the two stood together at the south side of the newly remodeled Reflection Room and gazed at the names of fallen servicemen embossed on the memorial wall honoring students and alumni who lost their lives in service to their country.She noted that throughout their 15 years of marriage, there were times when they had been physically separated by his work, but through it all, they had “remained spiritually and emotionally united.” And while their separation now will be much longer, she said she takes great comfort knowing that it is not forever.“Our separation is still only temporary, and the family we have built together remains strong and intact, even as he and I now work together from different sides of the veil,” she wrote.“It’s incredibly humbling to know that I’m not standing on my own strength,” she said, emotion straining her voice. “On my own, I should be a terrible mess right now. So I can only say that I am somehow the face of everybody else’s faith. I can’t explain it, but I can feel it when I need to stand and speak or show up when I feel like I just can’t do it. There’s something much greater than me that I know comes from the prayers of other people.” Three of Maj. Brent Taylor’s children—Jacob, Eleanor and Alex—unveil a plaque containing his name on the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center during a ceremony on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.
Jennie Taylor talks about her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2018, during a ceremony where Taylor’s name was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.“Brent was a good friend,” said Lt. Gov Spencer Cox, “and an incredible public servant.” Jennie Taylor listens to a song during a ceremony where the name of her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2018, was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.To have Brent’s name honored at BYU—where together they fostered a lifelong desire to live by faith in service of their community, their country, and their freedoms—“means everything,” Jennie Taylor said.Part of that legacy, as Jennie Taylor announced during the May 23 ceremony, will be carried on through the creation of new scholarships in her husband’s name.PROVO, Utah Maj. Brent Taylor’s name was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center during a ceremony on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.The Major Brent Taylor Legacy Foundation will provide one scholarship for undergraduate work at BYU in political science and two scholarships at the University of Utah—one at each the masters and doctoral levels—aimed at helping the future generations of leaders. The scholarships mirror the path that Taylor took in his own studies, including a Ph.D. from the University of Utah awarded to him posthumously earlier this month.Standing in the Reflection Room in Brigham Young University’s Wilkinson Center, Jennie Taylor’s bright red hair seemed to glow, despite the muted light from overcast skies coming through the windows. As a crowd gathered, she warmly welcomed everyone—some wearing military uniforms and others in civilian attire—hugging and greeting them with a smile, despite carrying a crying child on one hip. Jennie Taylor talks about her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2018, during a ceremony where Taylor’s name was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.In many ways, that simple BYU motto encompasses the life and legacy of Brent Taylor and his family. When Jennie and Brent Taylor first met as young students on campus more than 15 years ago, they were young, ambitious, and wanted to learn and study, she recalled. But their time at BYU instilled in them the desire to go forth and do something greater. Jennie Taylor sits with her children during a ceremony where the name of her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, was added to the Reflection Room Memorial Wall in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus in Provo on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Photo by Steve Griffin, Deseret News.During the final months of his second combat tour in Afghanistan, Taylor was killed during a “ruck” march—a load-carrying march—while working with joint forces in Afghanistan on November 3, 2018. Prior to his Afghanistan deployment in January 2018, he had been reelected for a second term as mayor of North Ogden, Utah, in the fall of 2017 and was a well-known, beloved community leader.After announcing the scholarships, she expressed her hope that future beneficiaries would take the time to learn about her husband and find inspiration through his story and legacy.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, arrive in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.To blessPresident Nelson’s message had special meaning for Mateo Lautaimi. Tohiminiti Latu talks about his family at his home in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Latu is bishop of his LDS ward has 10 children and a grandchild. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Members in Tonga show faith as they gain an education and work to become self-reliant, he said. Earning a living in Tonga is hard. “Members show faith by giving all they have,” he said.“Protected by heaven”Palolo Tohiminiti said the feeling at the airport changed when President Nelson’s plane landed. “It’s a feeling that is so very special,” she said.“But some things don’t change: The love of the Lord for the people of Tonga, the faith of the people of Tonga, the music sung by the people of Tonga will never change.”The group met together first, then split, with the king meeting with the men and the queen with the women.Bishop Tohiminiti Latu and his wife, Anna, took their children to the Tongan airport Wednesday evening to greet President Nelson and his traveling party.Interviews were conducted with the Nelsons, Gongs, and Halecks inside the palace gates; it has been more than a century that anyone not of royal blood has been given permission to be interviewed inside the gates.
His Majesty King Tupou VI greets President Russell M. Nelson at the Royal Palace in Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.This gathering, she said, “should mean everything to you.”In her devotional remarks, Sister Nelson recounted meeting the king and queen of Tonga and “how I was impressed with their goodness.”Tonga is now home to one mission, one temple, 21 stakes, and 65,000 Church members, and still values religious liberty. A second temple—to be built in Neiafu, was announced by President Nelson in the April 2019 general conference—will join the existing, operational temple here in Nuku’alofa. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, wave after a devotional in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Wanting to protect his land from Western colonization in 1839, Tonga’s Christian King George Tupou I offered a simple prayer: “O, God the Father, I give unto you my land and my people and all generations of people who follow after me. I offer them all to be protected by heaven.” The Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. The Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.A year ago, Lautaimi’s house was destroyed in Cyclone Gita, which left two dead and at least 200 more without homes in Tonga.“It’s important for us to be able to thank leaders for the privilege of religious freedom in their country,” President Nelson said. “It’s a really precious aspect of governmental relations to allow the people to have the ability to practice the religion of their choice.”During the devotional Sister Haleck told the congregation gathered under dark, wet skies that there are lessons she has learned from them over the years. “Besides your welcoming smile, faithful spirits, and amazing voices, I have come to know you as gatherers of Israel.” Tohiminiti Latu talks with some of his children at their his home in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Latu is bishop of his LDS ward has 10 children and a grandchild. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Falakika Latu sits on the porch at home in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Her father Tohiminiti Latu is bishop of his LDS ward has 10 children and a grandchild. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Bishop Alonihea’s wife, Losaline Kalonihea, said she was excited to go home and be a better example. “I am speechless,” she said. “I am so grateful to see the prophet and hear what he preached to us... I learned so many things from him.” Cousins Katherine Latu and Falakika Latu play at home in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Their dad and uncle Tohiminiti Latu is bishop of his LDS ward has 10 children and a grandchild. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Looking out among a vast congregation where all but a few thousand seats were totally exposed to the elements, President Nelson said Tongan Latter-day Saints have learned to live with both the blessings and hazards of water. “You know what it is to be in deep water and rough water. As you go through rough water and face challenges of life, hold on to the iron rod of the gospel.”Sister Gong spoke of her uncle Ken Lindsay, who lived in Tonga for six years and lauded Tongan bananas, singing, and fish. Although he recently died, Ken Lindsay recorded a message for Sister Gong to share with the Tongan saints.Tongan legend tells of the king bending down, picking up soil, and tossing it in the air as a symbolic act of conveying his land to God. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with His Majesty King Tupou VI and Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u at the Royal Palace in Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Also pictured are Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, and Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Church’s Pacific Area, and his wife, Sister Peggy Haleck. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Comfort and hope Tohiminiti Latu and his wife Ana sing a hymn with some of their children and neighbor outside their home in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Latu is bishop of his LDS ward has 10 children and a grandchild. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Falakika talks with her sisters Telesia and Uinise at their his home in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Thier father is bishop of his LDS ward has 10 children and a grandchild. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Just a few months later, Lautaimi’s wife died of a sudden illness, leaving him to raise their three young daughters. When he learned, however, that President Nelson was coming to Tonga, he said his heart began to heal. Pain and sorrow were replaced with great hope, he said.In this land of deep spirituality—where 60 percent of the population claim Church membership—more than 10,000 Latter-day Saints welcomed President Russell M. Nelson “home” on Thursday evening. Missionaries wait for President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to a devotional in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“We love you,” he said. “We miss you when we are away from you. You are precious to us and to the Lord. He has special feelings for his covenant people on the isles of the sea.”
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Russell M. Nelson, and Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Church’s Pacific Area, leave the Royal Palace after meeting with His Majesty King Tupou VI in Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Attendees sit in the rain during a devotional in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Locals wave to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after he landed at Fuaʻamotu International Airport in Tonga on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Religion ties people to God and a higher way of life,” President Nelson said after emerging from royal palace.The significance of the moment more than 50 years before Latter-day Saint missionaries would come to this South Pacific paradise in 1891—is celebrated by Tongans in song, dance, and poetry, and is spoken about from the pulpit and in hymns.“I was overwhelmed,” Lautaimi said, noting that President Nelson told him his “wife is smiling at us.’” Tohiminiti Latu and his wife Ana sing a hymn with some of their children and neighbor outside their home in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Latu is bishop of his LDS ward has 10 children and a grandchild. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“This visit,” she said, “is already one of the treasured experiences of my life.”The two leaders also spoke about education and living a healthy lifestyle during the 30-minute meeting. Joining the Nelsons and Gongs in the meeting were Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Pacific Area, and his wife, Sister Peggy Haleck.—Tad Walch of the Deseret News contributed to this report“I am very happy,” said Bishop Latu. “I know the prophet came to bless all the families here in Tonga.” President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comforts Mateo Lauta and his daughter Sipinga in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019, after his wife passed away. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. A choir sings during a devotional in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Missionaries wait for President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to a devotional in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on May 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Tonga in 1891. But the Pacific island nation has a rich and deep spiritual legacy that began long before missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived.NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga A group waits outside the hotel where President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, are staying in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.
Rendering of the priesthood room in the St. George Utah Temple during the day. Rendering of the baptistry in the St. George Utah Temple.“If the pioneers would have put in an annex,” Roberts said, “we believe they would have done it something like this.”Michael Suhaka, who on July 1 will become managing director of the Church’s Temple Department, said the St. George temple district includes some 12,000 youth and 90,000 adults living in southwestern Utah and parts of Nevada and Arizona. During the temple closure, members in the district are welcome to attend other temples, including the Cedar City Utah and Las Vegas Nevada temples, two of the closest. Rendering of a sealing room in the St. George Temple. The St. George Utah Temple. The site plan of the St. George Utah Temple. Rendering of the celestial room in the St. George Utah Temple. Rendering of an instruction room in the St. George Utah Temple. Rendering of the baptistry exit plaza at the St. George Temple.
The St. George Utah Temple circa 1877.And “sympathetic” was an adjective Brent Roberts, the Special Projects managing director, and others underscored throughout a morning news conference conducted at the temple’s adjacent visitors’ center.
The St. George Utah Temple circa 1900.ST. GEORGE, UtahAs renovation plans and accompanying renderings for the St. George Utah Temple were released Wednesday, May 22, several key words became oft-repeated descriptive phrases.He was baptized as a child in the temple’s cast-iron font—when baptisms for living individuals were done in the temple—and he and his wife, Denise McArthur, were married in the St. George Utah Temple 51 years ago, in 1968. Each of their seven children have been married there as well. New temple annex perspective showing the west tower of the St. George Utah Temple.During the renovation, some public access to the temple block will be restricted and some walkways closed. Also, utility construction will require temporary closure of some nearby roads, as well as the leveling and grading of 400 South to the north of the temple block.“Our goal working with the Church History Department was to go all the way back and look at the moldings, crowns, baseboards, and existing woods and to be able to put that back (in the project design)—that is beautiful and sympathetic,” Roberts said. “And our goal is to walk into the temple and feel that this is a pioneer temple.” The St. George Utah Temple.James A. McArthur, a 74-year-old St. George resident, said “to see that beautiful facility they’re going to build just brings such an exciting spirit to our hearts.”Said Roberts of the temple visitors’ center: “This will be the best viewing area of the construction.”“I was thrilled,” said Denise McArthur, “to see them making the annex to match the temple. I think it’s beautiful.”Temple activity will be monitored at those two—especially in Cedar City, just 50-plus miles to the north of the St. George temple—with schedules and operations to be adjusted if necessary.The project will include extensive structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and finishing work—with much of all but the finish work ending up out of view behind walls, ceilings, and floors. However, a number of the project’s resulting efforts will be visible—both within the interiors of the temple and north-side annex as well as the exteriors of both and on the temple block.And while a temple presidency, matron, and assistants and all workers, staff, and volunteers are released when a temple is closed, some temple workers from St. George could receive an exception to serve in Cedar City if warranted, Suhaka said.Kirby detailed other aspects of the renovation, particularly that all areas—from the temple recommend desk in the lobby to the celestial room—will reflect the period when the St. George temple was finished and began operation:The temple has undergone significant renovations previously. The cupola was replaced in 1883 following a lightning strike, and the first temple annex was added the same year. Other renovations followed in 1917, 1938, and 1975, with the baptistry renovated in 1999. The St. George Utah Temple in January 1876. Rendering of the recommend desk in the St. George Utah Temple.“Preservation, restoration, renovation, and new construction” is how Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations for the Church’s Special Projects Department, summed up the upcoming three-year period of the St. George temple, which will close on November 4 until a projected reopening in 2022.The temple block will feature new walkways, landscaping, water features and additional shade trees. A new bride’s exit and plaza will be added to the east side of the temple annex, while with a new baptistry entrance and exit on the temple’s south side will result from doors replacing a pair of large, ground-level windows.
Twenty-three-year-old Meenakshi Muthu had never met an Apostle before President Ballard’s visit, and his visit exceeded her expectations. She explained that she could feel the love he had for her as well as for everyone in the world. In his first visit to India, President M. Russell Ballard of the expressed his love for the people there.“The Church is in over 140 different countries, we have the earth pretty well covered,” President Ballard said, according to Newsroom. “I have been traveling and representing Jesus Christ and His Church for 43 years. How have I missed coming? I am thrilled to be here. You are stunning.”Nearly 700 Church members and friends went to the Hyatt Regency in New Delhi, India, to listen to President M. Russell Ballard, where he expressed his love for the people of India during his first visit to the country.President Ballard counseled them to keep the gospel simple and to focus on building their spiritual, eternal self.Read the full story on Newsroom.“His actions show how much he loves us,” she said. “In old age it’s hard to travel and he is going around the world. He is serving because he loves us.”Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric and Elder Robert C. Gay of the presidency of the Seventy and their wives also accompanied President Ballard in India.
Sister Penha is an assistant to the matron of the Recife Brazil Temple and a former stake Relief Society and Young Women president, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, and ward Young Women president. She was born in Três Rios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to José Carlos and Ivanete da Silva Tepedino.Sister Duffield is a stake Primary presidency counselor and temple ordinance worker, and a former ward Relief Society president, gospel doctrine teacher, and seminary teacher. She was born in Provo, Utah, to Daryl Hassell and Mary Olive Fowkes Stanley.
Judy S. and George M. Keele
Nancy H. and Bruce B. StratfordPedro Jorge da Cruz Penha, 60, Torreão Ward, Recife Brazil Stake, called as president of the new Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple. President Penha’s wife, Sonia da Silva Tepedino Penha, will serve as temple matron. He is a Recife Brazil Temple presidency counselor and a former Area Seventy, Brazil Belém Mission president, stake president, bishop, and patriarch. Retired institute director for the Church Educational System, he was born in Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Alcidéa da Cruz Penha.Reno Nevada TempleGeorge Marion Keele, 71, Piñon Hills Ward, Carson City Nevada Stake, called as president of the Reno Nevada Temple, succeeding President Robert F. Weed. President Keele’s wife, Judy Dunreath Smith Keele, will serve as temple matron, succeeding Sister Rebecca H. Weed. He is an assistant ward mission leader and a former Area Seventy, stake president, and bishop. An attorney and president of George M. Keele A.P.C., he was born in Reno, Nevada, to Vincent S. and Teddyanna Alwyn Pease Keele.Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple
Pedro D. and Sonia T. PenhaChristopher Lawrence Donald, 61, Springvale Ward, Melbourne Australia Braeside Stake, called as president of the Melbourne Australia Temple, succeeding President Lindsay J. Sanders. President Donald’s wife, Cindy Kay Westerlund Donald, will serve as temple matron, succeeding Sister Helen F. Sanders. He is an elders quorum president and a former Indonesia Jakarta Mission president, stake president, bishop, and branch president. Retired inspection station manager, he was born in Mordialloc, Victoria, Australia, to Robert Stanley Donald and Betty Phyllis Webber.
’Aisake K. and Lose K. TukuafuSister Mogrovejo is a temple ordinance worker and a former assistant to the matron of the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple, stake Relief Society presidency counselor, and ward Relief Society and Young Women president. She was born in Sorata, La Paz, Bolivia, to Lizandro Cerruto Valverde and Ema Bozo Marin.Seoul Korea TempleRussel Bruce Duffield, 67, Naperville 1st Ward, Naperville Illinois Stake, called as president of the Chicago Illinois Temple, succeeding President Sherman L. Doll. President Duffield’s wife, Denise Stanley Duffield, will serve as temple matron, succeeding Sister Linda S. Doll. He is a public affairs specialist and a temple sealer and a former bishop, stake presidency counselor, and high councilor. Partner and Senior Counsel for Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, he was born in Magrath, Alberta, Canada, to Russel Charles and Gladys Alston Duffield.Melbourne Australia TempleSister Park is a Relief Society teacher and temple ordinance worker, and a former area welfare missionary. She was born in Bujeon-dong, Jin-ku, Pusan, Korea, to Park, Kyuheon and Kim, Indeok.Kim, Chiwon, 68, Sinchon Ward, Seoul Korea Stake, called as president of the Seoul Korea Temple, succeeding President Min, Hyae Kee. President Kim’s wife, Park, Soonju, will serve as temple matron, succeeding Sister Kim, Sung Sook. He is an elders quorum president and temple sealer and a former stake president, bishop, and area welfare missionary. Retired university professor, he was born in Kyong-Buk, Korea, to Kim, Jaeyoung and Yoon, Ilchul.Sister Donald is a ward temple and family history consultant and a former mission president companion, stake Young Women president, district Primary president, ward Relief Society president, and ward Young Women and Primary presidency counselor. She was born in Auckland, New Zealand, to Oscar and Phoebe Donation Ah Mu Westerland.Nuku’alofa Tonga TempleSister Tukuafu is a former mission president companion, stake and ward Relief Society president, and ward Primary president. She was born in Kolofo’ou, Tongatapu, Tonga, to Sione Vaiokema and Taina ’Ofa Hoko Kinikini.Juan Carlos Mogrovejo Rocabado, 65, Rosedal Ward, Cochabamba Bolivia Sarco Stake, called as president of the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple, succeeding President Luis García Dávila. President Mogrovejo’s wife, Deyzi Eusebia Cerruto Bozo de Mogrovejo, will serve as temple matron, succeeding Sister María Del Rosario de García. He is a patriarch and temple sealer and a former Cochabamba Bolivia Temple presidency counselor, stake president, bishop, and branch president. Retired university professor, he was born in La Paz, Bolivia, to Narciso Mogrovejo Nogales and Felicidad Rocabado Soria Galvarro.
Denise S. and R. Bruce DuffieldThe following eight new temple presidents and matrons have been called by the First Presidency. They will begin their service in November.Chicago Illinois Temple’Aisake K. Tukuafu, 63, Ha’ateiho 6th Ward, Nuku’alofa Tonga South Stake, called as president of the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple, succeeding President Taniela S. Langi. President Tukuafu’s wife, Lose Kinikini Tukuafu, will serve as temple matron, succeeding Sister ’Anaseini V. Langi. He is an Area Seventy and a former Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission president, stake president, bishopric counselor, and high councilor. Retired managing director of Oregon Pacific, Int., he was born in Fua’amotu, Tongatapu, Tonga, to Viliami Kauvaka Tukuafu and Losaline Lapu’aho.Cochabamba Bolivia TempleBruce Ballantyne Stratford, 68, Trumbull Ward, New Haven Connecticut Stake, called as president of the Hartford Connecticut Temple, succeeding President Wayne S. Taylor. President Stratford’s wife, Nancy Hadfield Stratford, will serve as temple matron, succeeding Sister Carol J. Taylor. He is a Sunday School teacher and temple sealer and a former stake president and bishop. Owner, CPA, and certified fraud examiner for Financial Integrity Restorations LLC and finance director for the Town of Winchester, he was born in Palo Alto, California, to Ray Paul Stratford and Claire Elizabeth Dennery.
Park, Soonju and Kim, ChiwonSister Keele is a Primary teacher and a former stake Relief Society and Primary presidency counselor, and ward Relief Society and Young Women president. She was born in Tucson, Arizona, to Edward Byron and Ann Marie Rejda Smith
Juan C. and Deyzi C. Mogrovejo
Cindy W. and Christopher L. DonaldHartford Connecticut TempleSister Stratford is a stake Relief Society president and temple ordinance worker and a former stake and ward Primary president, ward Relief Society president, and ward Young Women presidency counselor. She was born in Houston, Texas, to Elden Edward and Sarah Hall Hadfield.
Recalling the first time she heard her baby’s heartbeat, Sister Nancy Duncan said, “It was his heart I was hearing, but it was my heart that was exploding. Exploding with a feeling of love and joy like nothing I had ever experienced before.”Sister Duncan explained that the feeling of pure love she had for her baby was an experience President Russell M. Nelson described as “the Spirit of Elijah—a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family.”
Students gather for a devotional outside the BYU–Idaho Center on May 21, 2019. Photo by J. Lawsont Turcotte, BYU–Idaho.“I had served a mission and thought I knew the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Duncan said. “But in the temple endowment instruction I finally began to feel the gospel of Jesus Christ and His infinite love for the Father and for me. That love is so binding and strong that as we turn to Him, it is sufficient to bring us back to the Father.”These blessings include:For any who didn’t find a name, Sister Duncan invited them to go to the temple anyway. She then quoted President Nelson, who said, “If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—then keep that appointment with exactness and joy” (“Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 114). BYU–Idaho devotional guest speakers Elder Kevin R. and Sister Nancy Duncan address students on May 21, 2019. Photo by Ericka Sanders, BYU–Idaho.
Bread of LifeOn the air, the Sellers were able to share their testimonies of the work of God and Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ is whom we serve and we emulate His service,” Sister Sellers said.Though their mission was totally different from what they expected, they were all-in. “We believe the Lord guided us to whatever we needed to do. He has directed us to help the poor and the needy, so we rescue. We could see how the Lord guided our path. He put people and resources in our path,” said Sister Sellers.In an unprecedented action, Mary Vazquez of the Houston Metro United Way, the chair of the Houston Area Long-term Recovery Committee, invited the Sellers to be on the steering committee along with 90 other organizations. The committee was full of very busy organizational caseworkers, but the Sellers were the only ones actually in the field talking directly to and advocating for individuals with needs. Sister Diane Sellers helps at the City of Houston’s “See to Succeed” eyeglasses for young students initiative. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.Elder and Sister Sellers were the subjects of an extensive interview on 102.5 Restoration Radio Houston. They were presented with the Beacon of Light award by Catherine Flowers, CEO of Bread of Life, a 26-year-old disaster relief organization that responds to life adversities. The Sellers worked often with Flowers and Bread of Life, distributing food and goods from their warehouse, connecting individuals to assistance, and even spending Christmas dinner with Flowers and her family.
A local resident with physical limitations receives support from Elder Kory Sellers. The Sellers were called to serve a member and leader support mission in Houston, Texas. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.Elder Kory Sellers discusses individual needs with a fellow member of the Houston Area Long-term Recovery Steering Committee at the United Way. Photo by Kelly Foss.Led by the SpiritFor example, the Sellers had an “angel couple” that would donate for specific needs. They relied on the BYU alumni societies for referrals and assistance. Ward members came through with help. Elder Kory Sellers addresses the local community at the Super Neighborhood #52 monthly meeting in Houston. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.They also discovered that they were as close as a two-hour drive from their youngest son who was also serving a mission just over the border in Louisiana.At their last meeting, Vazquez led the group in praise for the couple’s tenaciousness. “I so appreciated you coming to Houston, Texas, to help us after Hurricane Harvey. Thank you so much. You have done a tremendous service to our community,” Vazquez said.Elder Sellers added, “An ancient prophet said, ‘When [you] are in the service of your fellow beings [you] are ... in the service of your God’” (Mosiah 2:17).
Senior missionaries Elder Kory Sellers and Sister Diane Sellers introduce themselves to the community. The Sellers were called to serve a member and leader support mission in Houston, Texas. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.The Sellers arrived in their mission not long after Hurricane Harvey struck. As they visited with the Texas Houston Mission president Jordan Peterson, it was evident that the Lord planned to use their skills in unique ways to bless the locals in the community.Houston Metro United WaySo when Sister Diane Sellers and Elder Kory Sellers turned in their mission papers in 2017, they were fairly certain of a humanitarian assignment in some far-flung corner of the globe. The Lord, however, had other plans for them.The Sellers were called to a member and leader support mission on the near northeast side of Houston, Texas. What they didn’t realize at the time was that their mission was a unique gathering place of people from all over the world. As it turned out, they didn’t have to go to faraway places to serve those people; those people came to them.
Elder Kory Sellers participates in a food distribution project. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.Elder Sellers created a meticulous spreadsheet as they tried to hone in on supporting individuals who had specific needs. They focused on finding those who were in need and had been overlooked. Many don’t seek agency assistance directly for numerous reasons, including fear and hopelessness. As the Sellers got more involved, the needs came to them. Their willingness led them down paths and into situations for which they had no expertise or training. Sister Diane Sellers and Elder Kory Sellers participate in a Habitat For Humanity project. The Sellers were called to a member and leader support mission in Houston, Texas. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.“We didn’t know what we were doing, we just followed the Spirit. The first four months were spent building relationships with humanitarian organizations in the city. We got to know them and visited with all the organizations to see how they could help people who fall through the cracks. We volunteered with each and put ‘skin in the game,’” Elder Sellers said.The Sellers filled the gap between the individuals and the system, connecting those in need with organizations that could help them. They spent their time pleading the cause of the overlooked and unrecognized.They were world-traveling career CIA administrative employees who had lived in Ecuador, Macedonia, Argentina, China, England, Mexico, and Australia. Before their marriage, she served in the Toronto Canada Mission and he in the Costa Rica/Panama Mission.“There are so many miracles we have seen, we know God has had His hand in it,” Sister Sellers said.“The hat we really wore was advocate,” Elder Sellers said. “We sometimes had 20-30 families at a time we were trying to help.”
Elder Kory Sellers and Sister Diane Sellers after their final Long-term Recovery Steering Committee meeting at United Way of Greater Houston. Photo by Kelly Foss.Elder and Sister Sellers receive the Beacon of Light award for their service to the community during a radio program with hostess Catherine Flowers of Bread of Life. Photo by Kelly Foss.Bread of Life is a partner listed on JustServe.org and the value of the site was discussed during the radio interview. “Remember JustServe.org if you are looking for an opportunity to get connected to a service project or you just want to give back,” Flowers said in the interview.
Graphic by Mary Archbold, Deseret News.Although service as a General Authority Seventy will take him away from the Netherlands, Elder Boom said he looks forward to helping build the kingdom in whatever capacity the Lord calls him. His first assignment is as First Counselor in the Europe East Area Presidency.Time with his family in that small branch proved to be a training ground for Church service and learning to rely on the Lord.“That whole process has been in my life to stay close to the Lord,” he said.As a young man, Hans developed asthma, making it difficult for him to breathe.After completing school at age 17, Elder Boom decided he would join the police force in the Netherlands. But, being only 17, he was told he was too young and to apply again in a year.He followed this pattern throughout the night.Like most evenings in the Netherlands, the wind swirled through the small attic room. Wooden beams creaked as the 9-year-old boy knelt and began to pray. Although he had prayed there many times before, this night was unlike other nights in the family home—just one floor beneath him, his mother was giving birth to his younger sister.A few months after he returned from his mission, he met Ariena Johanna “Marjan” Broekzitter at a Church young adult conference. Quickly the couple knew they wanted to be married, but the distance of their homes and her schooling made it difficult. After dating for a year, they married on July 27, 1984, in Rhoon, and then three days later they traveled to the London England Temple, where they were sealed. The couple has three sons.He again went to his attic room and began to pray.“The blessing mentioned that if I did what the Lord wants me to do, I will always have sufficient for my needs and always have bread on the table,” he said. “He didn’t say ‘you have to go on a mission,’ but he always gives you little things to think about.”Other experiences in his youth continued to strengthen that resolve.“So from that day on, I have never missed a day of prayer—never ever. I never doubted a split second that this is His Church, and I gave it my full attention in whatever I could do.”“I waited and waited and waited and nothing happened,” he said. “And then after almost two months, there came a letter with the call.”At that time his father offered to give him a blessing.He spent many nights fighting for air.When Elder Boom was 8 years old, his family moved from Amsterdam to the city of Breda, located in the southern part of the Netherlands. His father, a Dutch man who had grown up in Indonesia, felt like the family needed to leave the large city and return to his ancestral roots.“Our bathroom was the only place in the house that was dust-free,” he said. “So for many years, I slept in there.”Because his father served as branch president multiple times over the years, the family spent a lot of time at the church. Often, Hans would go early with his dad.“We love to do the Lord’s work full-time,” he said. “This is a great blessing. Everything I am and everything I have—everything—I owe it all to the Lord and the opportunities He has given me to learn and grow.”“I think that is the time that I really learned who Heavenly Father is,” recalled Elder Hans Theodorus Boom, newly called General Authority Seventy. “I went up several times [that night] and pled to Heavenly Father to save my mother. She survived and the baby lived. That event was for me a very important moment in my life.”“I did not enjoy it because it was early in the morning and we never had a car. We did everything on the bicycle—that is the Dutch way,” he said. “I decided I needed to find out if the Book of Mormon was really true or not. I admit, the reason I wanted to find out is if it wasn’t true, I didn’t have to go to church.”Over the next few hours, the young boy did what he could to help—he brought towels and hot water to the doctor, and then he’d go up to his attic room to pray.“My father handed me a letter that was given to him when he was young by the mission president,” he said. “The letter stated, ‘we would really like you to stay in the Netherlands and build the Church.’ He handed me the letter and said, ‘It has your name on it as well.’ So I decided to really stay and build the country.”“No answer,” he said. “I was discouraged.”“My father had a terrible youth,” Elder Boom said. “He spent it in a concentration camp. But he’s the most loving and gentle and wonderful father you can ever imagine. No hard feelings towards the enemy. No, never ever a bad word, which helped us in our childhood to have respect for others.”
Map of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Graphic by Joseph Tolman, Deseret News.This time the answer was very clear.“In the middle of the night, I heard a doctor come,” he recalled years later. “I noticed something was wrong and that this was not going to be an easy thing. I was nervous, so I got out of my bed and went to my mom. [My parents] tried to keep me out of the room, but I wanted to be there.”“And then I gave it a third shot,” he said.“We always had the missionaries in [our branch], so I went with them twice a week from when I was 15—knocking on doors and doing the work,” he said.“The answer was the feeling of ‘why do you ask me things you already know to be true? You are asking—you know this is My Church. You know.’
Elder Hans T. Boom was sustained Saturday, April 6, 2019, as a General Authority Seventy.A new plan arose for the teen—he decided he would work to save money and serve a mission a year later.A few days later, he asked again and still no answer.Just as he had been told that he was too young to join the police force, he was told he was also too young to serve a mission. Despite his age, he followed his plan and worked for a year to earn the money needed for a mission and turned in his mission papers.“My father had a feeling that it was good to go to the southern part where the Church was so small,” he said. “We moved from a very large-size ward. There were only a few people in the branch. I was the only boy until I was 13.”At age 23, he accepted the call to serve as branch president, and by age 30 he was serving as a counselor in the stake presidency.Elder Boom served in the England London East Mission from 1981–1983, and while there, he learned important lessons, especially the importance of obedience.The Booms have watched as the small branch has now become a ward, and the Church has continued to grow in their area.Born in July of 1963 in Amsterdam to Hans and Ankie Boom, the younger Hans is the second oldest of the Booms’s four children. His parents, both converts to the Church, taught their children the gospel and provided a happy home life.They chose to live in the same town Elder Boom grew up in and have made living the gospel a priority.
Latter-day Saint cadet Joshua Mooney leads campus tour during May 4, 2019, gathering at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.Spending a May 4 evening at West Point was unforgettable for the decorated retired Army officer.Latter-day Saints made history recently at a place that’s synonymous with American military history.It’s one of the premier places on earth to master the basics of military history, battlefield strategies, and leading soldiers.Both the local Church leaders and West Point administrators were quick to support “A Day of West Point.” The conference included speaker presentations and cadet-led tours of the Academy, followed by dinner and a dance.But after attending past regional YSA conferences in New York City and Princeton, New Jersey, Cadet Rebekah Cutler and others began asking, “Hey, why not West Point?”In his seminar presentation, President David H. Bean, a counselor in the Manhattan New York Temple presidency, emphasized being a balanced person, following Christ’s example as a person who “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).The decorated retired Army officer focused his counsel to both the civilian and cadet YSAs on seeking and receiving personal revelation to bless and impact others.“Today, the Latter-day Saint cadets are much more ‘out there’ in the community than when I was a cadet,” he said.Fellowship found among Latter-day Saint cadets“I was very pleased with how things turned out,” said Cutler. Latter-day Saint cadet Joshua Eatough leads campus tour during May 4, 2019, YSA gathering at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.The ward also offers missionary preparation classes each year. Latter-day Saint cadet Makena Huber enjoys instruction at May 4, 2019, YSA gathering at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.For more than two centuries, the service academy in West Point, New York, has functioned as a rigorous training ground for many of the United States’ most prominent military leaders. Eisenhower, Custer, MacArthur, Schwarzkopf, and rival Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant are among the Academy’s alums.“I wanted to talk with them about ‘paying the price’ to receive personal revelation,” Elder Wickman told the Church News.Sister Ann H. Hess, the wife and mission companion of New Jersey Morristown Mission president Paul W. Hess, focused her seminar presentation on building a “rock-solid, gospel-centered” marriage.Other USMA cadets are serving missions. Returned missionaries have enjoyed great success gaining readmission to West Point following their full-time service. That “mission friendly” trend is found at the other American service academies as well.“West Point is such a historic place; it just reeks of tradition,” he said. “The cadets are fine young people. They’re trying their very best to be strong Latter-day Saints while they pursue their professional training.”
Latter-day Saint cadet Helen Schroeder enjoys fun moment during YSA gathering in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.The West Point Ward, which meets on school property, also offers cadets opportunities to worship in a traditional ward and perform in Church callings. The ward clerk, for example, is typically a cadet. And at least one counselor in the elders quorum presidency is always a West Point student.“The camaraderie that comes from within the LDSSA is one of the pivotal things that allows our cadets to continue to be successful here,” said Grant. “They have a support group of like-minded individuals that can care for them and help them when they struggle or just have one of those days when you’re in a funk.”“It reaffirmed that we are all good friends and that we support each other and we’re there for each other,” Cutler added.Like all West Point cadets, Latter-day Saints at the Academy balance a crazy load of academics, physical training, and military and professional development.But for one recent Saturday, West Point’s “training” focused on receiving personal revelation, preparing for marriage, and strengthening one’s relationship with God. Dozens of Latter-day Saint cadets and civilians gathered for the daylong, first-of-its-kind YSA gathering at the storied school.Training for the eternities“But one result from the conference that I didn’t really expect was the bonding that happened between all the YSAs,” Cutler said. “It was great getting to know the civilian YSAs better.”Seventy-two members are cadets at the USMA for the 2018-2019 academic year.Successfully pulling it off “really speaks to the cadets—and them wanting to do this,” said Army Capt. Wiley Grant, a TAC officer (trainer, adviser, counselor) at the school who oversees the LDSSA at West Point.Many participants were in uniform; others wore civilian garb. But the YSA themes proved universal.“It was great being with so many YSAs at such a historically significant, super beautiful place,” said Nicole Thaxton, an Orem, Utah, native and longtime participant of the West Point institute.Dubbed “A Day of West Point,” the YSA gathering was initiated and organized primarily by Latter-day Saint cadets at the Academy. The future Army officers have been frequent attendees at YSA conferences in several northeast states. Given the growing number of members simultaneously enrolled at the Academy and the local Latter-day Saints Student Association, West Point was ripe to host a YSA conference of its own.Cadets and civilians from several states and varied backgrounds gathered May 4 for a young single adult conference at the United States Military Academy.Elder Wickman’s words reminded Cutler “that we don’t always get the answers that we think we will get—but we just need to make decisions, and God will correct us as we go forward.”Marriage for many of the cadets may be several years off because of future full-time missionary service and military obligations. “But it’s still important to prepare yourself to be the kind of person you want to marry,” said Cutler.First, the weather cooperated. Rain soaked the Academy grounds on the day before and the day after the conference—but clear skies allowed for tours of the scenic, history-laden grounds. Adriana Morales Rios enjoys historic YSA conference on May 4, 2019, at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.As an Army officer, Grant said he has seen Latter-day Saint cadets benefit from time away from the Academy for missionary service. Many return with a mission-honed maturity that stands out among their peers.Meanwhile, bonds deepened between the YSAs in uniform.Elder Lance B. Wickman—an emeritus General Authority Seventy, Vietnam War veteran, and the Church’s general counsel—shared the conference keynote remarks at the Eisenhower Hall Ballroom.“It was almost like a revelation,” said Cutler, a second-year student and Highland, Utah, native. “West Point is a perfect venue—so why not share it with the YSA civilians in the area?” Elder Lance B. Wickman speaks to young single adults during May 4, 2019, gathering at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.The gathering also “allowed the YSAs to connect with other individuals of like-minded faith and values,” said Grant.
Elder Lance B. Wickman and West Point cadet Kendall Munsey during the YSA conference at West Point. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.“I actually have two callings,” said Cutler, who will soon be leaving West Point for a couple of years to serve a mission in Korea. “I’m a Sunday School teacher for the 17- and 18-year-olds, and I’m also the YSA copresident.”Personal worthiness, correctly asking for the Lord’s help, and learning “how to recognize the promptings of the Spirit when they come” anchored his counsel.Grant was not a member when he was a West Point cadet from 2005-2009. He joined the Church after graduating and can’t remember much about the cadre of Latter-day Saint cadets when he was a student. Young women gather for May 4, 2019, YSA conference at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler. Civilian and military cadets enjoy fellowship at May 4, 2019, YSA conference at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Photo by Cadet Rebekah Cutler.
Elder McConkie agreed to be photographed for my report. He wore a T-shirt that one of his sons gave him. Lettering on the back of the shirt read, “Lengthening my stride,” an adaptation of President Spencer W. Kimball’s admonition, “Lengthen your stride.” Elder McConkie put the shirt on backwards so that the motto would be seen in the photo.I often think of Elder McConkie and his extensive writings about Jesus Christ, especially as the Come Follow Me manuals help us—individuals, families, and class members—learn about Him.Speaking in a trembling voice, he concluded, “I am one of His witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in His hands and in His feet and shall wet His feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that He is God’s Almighty Son, that He is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through His atoning blood and in no other way.”Further, he said: “People eternally ask me questions, and they ought to figure them out themselves. I mean, I don’t have any more obligation than they do to know what the answers to these things are, and they have the same sources to look to that I do.”In a Church News interview with David Croft in 1975, Elder McConkie said, “One of the things that I enjoy doing more than anything else is just the simple matter of studying the doctrines of the gospel and organizing them by subject and solving and analyzing doctrinal problems.”Entering its sesquicentennial year in 1980, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introduced a physical fitness awards program that encouraged members to engage in physical activities. I knew Elder McConkie walked to his office from his home in the foothills above Utah’s Capitol and walked the return trip home several days each week and that he enjoyed running. I figured if we could show a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles engaged in some physical activity, that might encourage the general membership of the Church to find time for exercise.I learned from Elder McConkie’s wife, Sister Amelia Smith McConkie, that he was an avid rock hound. They often went out into the desert and mountainous areas looking for agates, jasper, petrified wood, or various kinds of rocks. When I visited their home for an interview in 1976, she showed me the tumbler he used to polish the stones, from which he would make various pieces of jewelry, such as rings, necklaces, or pendants, and other items, such as bookends.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1972–1985.Here are some examples of his sense of humor:
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1972–1985.Elder McConkie said: “Life surely isn’t eternally a long-faced thing. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of life and associating with people.”I doubt any of us who were present in the Tabernacle or who saw or listened to the broadcast of the 155th Annual General Conference, on April 6, 1985, will ever forget Elder McConkie’s powerful, stirring testimony of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.Born in 1915, he was called as a General Authority in 1946, initially as a member of the First Council of the Seventy, and then served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1972 until his death in 1985. He is better known and widely respected as a scholar, particularly of the scriptures—and especially those pertaining to the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus Christ.Elder McConkie died 13 days later.On several occasions, I had the opportunity to see Elder McConkie as a leading theologian who also had a keen sense of humor.One day, I was surprised to receive a gift from Elder McConkie—an oval bloodstone that he had fashioned into a pendant.John Hart, one of my Church News colleagues, was the photographer. We met up with Elder McConkie outside his home. John suggested Elder McConkie run in a wide circle so he could a get variety of shots. Elder McConkie happily complied and kept up a conversation as he ran the laps. I remember a particularly humorous quip that he took several laps to complete: “When you go home tonight—you can write in your journal—that you had a member of the Twelve—running around in circles today.”Humorous quips and practical jokes aren’t the first things that come to mind when many Latter-day Saints hear the name of Bruce R. McConkie.Elder McConkie’s books include a set of six volumes about the Messiah and the three-volume Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, as well as other books. His last book, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, was published a few months after his death on April 19, 1995.In an interview in 1976, Elder McConkie said, “I have a keen sense of humor, actually, but it doesn’t project over the pulpit and it’s not generally known. For instance, one of the Brethren who came into the Twelve said, ‘The greatest shock of my life was to find out what Elder Bruce R. McConkie is really like.’”“There’s been a good many instances where some elaborate and extensive practical jokes have been pulled on me by Dilworth Young (a member of the First Council of the Seventy from 1945 to 1975) or someone else that add a savor and an interest to what’s going on.”
St. George choirmaster John M. Macfarlane, who knew Father Scanlan from his work as a land surveyor and having shared boarding house accommodations in the Silver Reef area, led his choir in acquiring the Mass music and practicing the Latin lyrics for several weeks. Macfarlane is known for penning the Christmas hymn “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” and composing “Dearest Children, God Is Near You.” Elder Craig C. Christensen (left), General Authority Seventy and Area President of the Utah Areas of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, talks with Bishop Oscar A. Solis, Catholic Diocese, Salt Lake City, prior to the start of the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah, on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News. Attendees listen during the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News. Attendees listen as Ralph Atkin (at podium, left of image), Director, St. George Public Affairs Council, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opens the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News.The celebration of Mass in the St. George Tabernacle in 1879 sparked an ongoing relationship between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church, with words spoken and gestures of kindness and service replicated today—not only in Utah but across the country and the globe. Terence Moore, Reverend Monsignor, delivers remarks at the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah, on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News.Bishop Solis called the 1879 hosting of Mass “interesting and inspiring” and the start of “a journey of hope” in relationships between the two faiths.After visiting with Latter-day Saint missionaries almost a decade ago, Filippella learned from reading a book about the faith of the 1879 Mass and looked for a way in his native Italy to return the favor. An organist for his parish in Salerno, he arranged to play for Catholic services on Sunday afternoons so he could serve as pianist for the small Latter-day Saint congregation on Sunday mornings 40 kilometers away in Battipaglia.
Bishop Oscar A. Solis, Catholic Diocese, Salt Lake City, enters a press conference following the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah, on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News.The May 2 commemoration was held on the same day as the National Day of Prayer. So with the recounting of past connections and present-day partnerships, what would be the hopes and prayers of Bishop Solis and Elder Christensen for the future of Catholic and Latter-day Saint relationships?It has become, to borrow an oft-used phrase, “the gift that keeps on giving.”Counsel given by Catholic Father Lawrence Scanlan at the start of the 1879 Mass sounds very similar to the insight shared by President Russell M. Nelson after the Latter-day Saint leader met with Pope Francis in the Vatican earlier this year.The St. George choir singing the Mass in Latin for the visiting Catholic miners 140 years ago has been returned in kind today by a Catholic organist in Italy who has arranged his schedule in order to play for the parish’s services on Sunday afternoons and to provide piano accompaniment Sunday mornings for a small Latter-day Saint branch nearby.In his remarks, Monsignor Moore added several other “rest of the story” experiences of his Catholic and Latter-day Saint relationships, from the helping to pack clothes at Welfare Square to his friendships and working associations with the late Church President Thomas S. Monson and former Presiding Bishop H. David Burton. He specifically cited receiving individual attention from President Monson after being diagnosed with leukemia, an interaction he described as being “with such compassion and in a personal way that I was left teary-eyed.”He called the 1879 Mass “a little seed” that has grown to a closer collaboration between many faiths. “It opens the door to so many possibilities.”“140 years ago, it started right here,” said Elder Craig C. Christensen, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Church’s Utah Area, who added, “We have a long-lasting legacy of working together.”Both Catholic leaders spoke of long-time Latter-day Saint partnerships in Catholic Community Services in Salt Lake City and throughout Utah as well as the global humanitarian partnerships between Catholic Relief Services and LDS Charities.That acknowledgement of differences and the invitation to come together on common ground run parallel to those of Father Scanlan from 1879, he noted.Elder Christensen listed the shared values and efforts—the concern for human suffering, the desire for religious liberty for all, the importance of building bridges of friendship, and the significance of families and youth coming to God.On May 25, 1879 (some say the date was May 18), miners having traveled the 20-mile distance were joined at Mass by several thousand curious Latter-day Saints. Prior to the start, Father Scanlan stood and said to his Latter-day Saint hosts, noting doctrinal differences: “I think you are wrong, and you think I am wrong, but this should not prevent us from treating each other with due consideration and respect.”He and other Latter-day Saint and Catholic leaders gathered to commemorate that Mass—one of the first celebrated in what is now the state of Utah—in an interfaith tribute held Thursday, May 2, at the same St. George Tabernacle.He added: “He blessed me and prayed with me. I felt such a healing presence in my heart and in my soul, and I’m eternally grateful for that.” Father Oscar Martin Picos (left), Saint George Catholic Church, and Reverend Monsignor Terence Moore listen at the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah, on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News. Terence Moore, Reverend Monsignor, delivers remarks at the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah, on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News.“What seems inconceivable becomes credible; what people deem impossible becomes possible; and what a man can only dream becomes a reality,” he said, expressing gratitude for the “great gesture of hospitality” that has fostered “a close bond and fellowship.” Bishop Oscar A. Solis (center), Catholic Diocese, Salt Lake City, speaks on the topic of building relationships between faith communities at the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle. Solis is flanked by Elder Craig C. Christensen (left), General Authority Seventy and Area President of the Utah Areas, and Elder Steven E. Snow (right), General Authority Seventy and Church Historian, both of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News. Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority Seventy and Area President of the Utah Areas (left), speaks with Elder Steven E. Snow, General Authority Seventy and Church Historian, both of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the Historic Interfaith Tribute. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News.In the late 1870s, St. George was a thriving Latter-day Saint community in Utah’s southwest corner, the jewels being the recently finished temple and tabernacle. Twenty miles to the north, silver had been discovered—the area earning the name “Silver Reef”—with a good number of Catholics among the myriads drawn by the mining.Even the distances seems strikingly similar—the Catholic miners in Utah’s Silver Reef traveling 20 miles to attend Mass in a Latter-day Saint building, and the Catholic accompanist covering 25 miles each Sunday to play at a Latter-day Saint sacrament meeting.He added, “As President Nelson said in Rome to the Pope, we just want to go out and do good things together, to put our differences that exist aside and find this unity.”“I love how acts of kindness can come back, even 140 years later,” said Elder Snow, adding in comments to the Church News: “It’s the best example of Christlike service; in my view, it’s even better than the original story. He’s more than made up for the fact that we let them use the tabernacle that one afternoon.”Also speaking were Bishop Oscar A. Solis, bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake; Elder Steven E. Snow, a General Authority Seventy and Church Historian and Recorder; and Reverend Monsignor Terence Moore, who retired after more than a half-century of service in the diocese and parishes in Utah.Elder Snow recounted the story of Alfredo Filippella, which he also shared at last year’s rededication services of the St. George Tabernacle.All acknowledged how the two faiths continue to build on the gesture of 140 years earlier. Members of the Interfaith Choir sing Mozart’s “Ave Vernum” during the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah, on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News.
The cover of a copy of the music used by the St. George choir when it sang as Catholic Mass was celebrated in the St. George Tabernacle on May 25, 1879. The copy bears the name of St. George choirmaster John M. Macfarlane, who was key in helping arrange the historic event. The music is part of the Church History collection. Photo by Scott Taylor.“There is a tremendous potential of good in the relationships that will benefit our community—not only in Utah but all over the world,” Bishop Solis told the Church News, underscoring the humanitarian partnerships. “It really is a strong witness of our collaboration, our combination of serving humanity and serving other people—a very good witness to the world that when we pull ourselves together, what a big difference it will make to create a better world for everyone.”Elder Christensen said, “We already work so closely together that sometimes you can’t distinguish between the two.”“The differences in doctrine are real,“ he quoted President Nelson as saying of the Vatican visit. “They are important. But they are not nearly as important as things we have in common.”Elder Christensen linked the historic Mass with Pope Francis’ recent hosting of President Nelson on March 9.With a Catholic church there still under construction, Father Scanlan—who oversaw the faith’s efforts throughout the western territory comprised by modern-day Utah and Nevada—inquired if Mass might be celebrated in the St. George Tabernacle. Erastus Snow, the Latter-day Saint Apostle overseeing the Church’s mission in Utah’s Dixie, agreed.Said Elder Snow, born and raised in St. George and a great-great-great-grandson of Erastus Snow: “I think that kind of counsel is every bit as effective in today’s world.” Elder Craig C. Christensen (center), General Authority Seventy and Area President of the Utah Areas of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gives the closing remarks at the Historic Interfaith Tribute at the St. George Tabernacle. Christensen is flanked by Bishop Oscar A. Solis (left), Catholic Diocese, Salt Lake City, and Elder Steven E. Snow (right), General Authority Seventy and Church Historian of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Photo by Nick Adams, Deseret News.
Let us show you how to access this resource. Open the Gospel Library app and choose Topics and then Gospel Topics. Then choose a topic you are interested in. Let’s choose Temples this time. Now scroll toward the bottom of the topic. Just before you hit the bottom, you will see the Stories section. Three stories are listed. The first is by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Let’s look at his inspirational talk titled “Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples.”This particular information is a secret only because very few people know about it. It is a hidden treasure. We hope that fact is about to change. So we are asking you to help us transform this secret treasure into a well-known and oft-used teaching tool.The secret is out. Enjoy this wonderful new hidden treasure in Gospel Topics.Can we tell you a secret? Normally, if we shared a secret, we would ask you not to tell anyone. But in this case, we are going to do just the opposite. Please tell our secret to everyone you can.So the next time you need an inspiring story to invite the Spirit to your lesson or to edify your personal or family study, go to the Stories section of the topic you are teaching or studying.—This article was written prior to Brother Callister, Brother Durrant and Brother Ashton being released as the Sunday School General Presidency in April 2019 general conference.As Elder Stevenson’s talk opens up, you will see the highlighted story about “never [being] lost when you can see the temple.” Using Stories is that easy. Let us add a bit of advice. If you haven’t previously downloaded the April 2009 general conference, you will be prompted to do so before you can access Elder Stevenson’s story.
Screenshot of the new resource found in the Gospel Topics tab in the Gospel Library.Here’s the secret—Stories. Stories is a newly added section in Gospel Topics in the Gospel Library. It is a bit difficult to find, like most hidden treasures, but once you discover it, you will return to it often.
Young people, he said, are concerned about their education, employment, dating and marriage, and physical and emotional health. So, it’s vital that they maintain a spiritual equilibrium by attending church, taking the sacrament, praying, reading the scriptures, and ministering to others.Home-centered and Church-supported gospel instruction offers further protection, he counseled in priesthood and leadership conferences with local priesthood and auxiliary leaders. The home remains the most reliable place to prepare children and youth for conversion and future temple and missionary service.Brazil and Japan enjoy a long history of cultural and economic exchange. In fact, the South American nation has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. More than 1.5 million people of Japanese descent call Brazil home. Likewise, Brazilians represent one of the largest non-Asian ethnic groups in Japan.“We were able to meet with many groups of people,” acknowledged Elder Stevenson, who was accompanied at various locations in his travels by Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, Elder W. Mark Bassett, and Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella—General Authority Seventies and members of the Brazil Area Presidency.“Elder Stevenson must have shaken close to 3,000 hands with a beautiful smile, God-given love and compassion,” said Elder Aidukaitis. “This handshake may have been the greatest thing he could have done for many that were there. The countenances of those who had this opportunity said it all.”Each day seems to bring another news story or opinion column debating the importance of being vaccinated against one form of physical illness or another.A hopeful futureElder Stevenson’s recent Brazil travels was a reminder of the Apostleship’s cross-generational influence.“It was incredible,” he said.Listening to the loving counsel of a visiting Apostle was a blessing for his many young audiences, said Elder Bassett.“The Lord is aware of each of His children and will help in any of their trials, challenges, and adversities,” he said.A legacy of Apostles in BrazilConnecting with Brazil’s youth, missionaries, and young adults was a priority for the Stevensons.Vaccination talk has grabbed plenty of headlines in recent weeks.A latter-day success story Elder Gary E. Stevenson visits with Church leaders and employees of the new Church Distribution Center in São Paulo, Brazil, on April 23, 2019.Hundreds of missionaries—including those serving in the field and at the Brazil Missionary Training Center—also enjoyed learning from the Stevensons and other Church leaders.Elder Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, spent nine days (April 19–28) visiting with thousands of members and missionaries across Brazil in a variety of meetings ranging from gatherings of local priesthood and auxiliary leaders to devotionals with youth and their parents.In an April 21 devotional in Cuiabá for youth and parents, Elder Stevenson encouraged young men and young women to stand in front of the mirror each morning and say: “I’m amazing and awesome. I’m a son or daughter of God.” Elder Stevenson and Elder Bassett greet members at a leadership conference in Cuiaba, Brazil.Brazil’s rich history even offered Elder Stevenson opportunities for him to practice his Japanese—a language he used as a full-time missionary and as a mission and area president in Japan.The Stevensons’ final weekend in Brazil included a stop at the open house for the soon-to-be-dedicated Fortaleza Brazil Temple in the country’s fifth largest city. From left, Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis and Elder Gary E. Stevenson welcome Fortaleza Mayor Roberto Claudio and Vice-Mayor Moroni Torgan (a former Area Seventy) to a April 26, 2019, tour of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.In his meetings with young single adults, the Latter-day Saint Apostle offered four items of counsel.“We have the antidote.”“The most important ‘like’ of all is knowing the Lord ‘loves’ you,” he said.But at a time when spiritual ailments are also afflicting people across the globe, “spiritual vaccinations” are proving both vital and reliable.Elder Stevenson and Elder Aidukaitis hosted a tour at the temple along with President Paulo Grahl for local dignitaries and reporters that included Fortaleza Mayor Roberto Claudio and Vice Mayor Moroni Torgan, the latter a former Area Seventy. Elder Stevenson greets sister missionaries during his April 2019 visit to Cuiaba, Brazil.“They need to properly balance anything that’s competing for their time and attention against their spirituality.”“Juiz de Fora grew from only having a single branch to now having an established stake and a mission—the Brazil Juiz de Fora Mission,” he said.Regardless of their locale or audience, Elder and Sister Stevenson provided encouragement to continue living and teaching the gospel at home, worship in the temple, and care for one another through ministering.“The gospel of Jesus Christ serves as a vaccination for the ills of society,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told the Church News.Besides an expected large number of new elders and sisters from South and North America, there were also missionaries preparing for service from Europe, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and even Dubai.It’s home to almost 1.4 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comprising over 270 stakes. Six temples are in operation—with five more announced, under construction or awaiting dedication. One of which is the Fortaleza Brazil Temple, to be dedicated in a few weeks on Sunday, June 2.
Brazil city locator. Photo courtesy of Joseph Toman, Deseret News.“We had a spectacular experience in the temple and were able to discuss the importance of eternal families and the ordinances of salvation and exaltation while gathered together in the sealing room.”
Missionaries from the Argentina Resistencia Mission roll up their trousers to walk through the flooded streets of Resistencia to attend missionary meetings with Elder Neil L. Andersen and Sister Kathy Andersen.The meetings—“a very visual reflection of the faithfulness of the Saints,” some who traveled many hours “in very difficult conditions”—were part of a trip April 18-29 to the Church’s South America South Area.“What struck me was how interested Minister Moreno was in the calling of an apostle,” said Elder Villar. “He asked a few times what an .apostle was and what were his functions. It was great to see it all explained to him by an apostle of the Lord.” Elder Neil L. Andersen and Sister Kathy Andersen pose with missionaries from the Argentina Resistencia Mission during a recent visit to the South America South Area.He said in many countries in the world, more and more people are not feeling accountable to God. “The choices in life are not between wealth and poverty, fame, and obscurity,” he said. “The choices in life are between good and evil.” Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Kathy Andersen participate in devotional in Chile during an April 2019 trip to South America.“They came to hear the words of a prophet, seer, and revelator to bring them comfort, to give them hope and to provide guidance,” continued Elder Bragg. “They came despite very difficult travel circumstances and left having received the spiritual experience that they were hoping to have. It was an amazing sight to see the Saints so spiritually full after the meetings as they headed back out into rough weather.”They “rolled up their trousers and skirts and came,” said Elder Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Water filled the streets and ran down the sidewalks. Latter-day Saints had not seen this kind of flood in 34 years. But it didn’t stop them from attending the meetings.Elder De Hoyos said the leaders spoke to the minister about The Family: A Proclamation to the World and the Church’s humanitarian efforts in Chile. “He was very gracious in his praise for the Church and very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet personally with Elder Andersen. They made an immediate connection.”Traveling with Elder José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Maria Teixeira, Elder Andersen met with government and religious leaders, conducted a review of the South America South Area, held a mission leadership training session, and addressed members and missionaries in Argentina and Chile. The Andersens were accompanied by the South America South Area Presidency—Elder Benjamín De Hoyos, Elder Bragg and Elder Juan Pablo Villar.“Wherever the Andersens went, they greeted the members in a very loving and personal way,” said Elder Mark A. Bragg, General Authority Seventy. “I was with them in Resistencia during a torrential storm and flooding. It was amazing to see people wading through water—at places waist-deep—to get to the chapel to hear Elder and Sister Andersen speak.” Rains caused flooding in the streets in Resistencia, Argentina, prior to a missionary meeting and stake conference with Elder Neil L. Andersen and Sister Kathy Andersen.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Kathy Andersen participate in devotional in Chile during an April 2019 trip to South America.Also during the trip, Elder Andersen and Elder Teixeira held a mission leadership training session with mission presidents and their wives in Santiago and Viña del Mar, Chile, that was recorded and shared with every mission leadership couple in the area.The visit took place just a few months after the October 28, 2018, dedication of the Concepción Chile Temple. “The area is experiencing an incredible moment of growth,” said Elder Teixeira.Themes emerged from Elder and Sister Andersen’s counsel to the members—including self-reliance, the importance of education, and helping the youth progress on the covenant path.Located in northern Argentina on the border of Paraguay, Resistencia is home to faithful, humble, hardworking Latter-day Saints, hit hard by difficult economic times in their country.“With all the differences we have, we all believe in God, a Supreme Being,” said Elder Andersen.Elder Andersen and Elder Teixeira also participated in an interfaith meeting in Chile.A highlight of the visit was a meeting with Alfredo Moreno, Chile’s minister of social and family development. Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, left; Elder Neil L. Andersen, second from left; and Elder José A. Teixeira, right, present Monsignor Óscar Vicente Ojea, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Isidro, Argentina, with a Christus statue on April 22 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.Elder Bragg called the government meeting positive and said Minister Moreno asked what the Church does to support the family and the needy in society. “A meeting that was supposed to last 20 to 30 minutes lasted an hour and a half,” he said. “There was a great discussion and sharing of ideas.”“In his teachings throughout the area, Elder Andersen emphasized the teachings of President Nelson and how we enter and stay on the covenant path,” said Elder Villar. “He spoke in Spanish to the members, which allowed them to feel that he was speaking directly to them and endeared him to the congregations. He spoke of personal revelation, strengthening marriages and families, and how we can ‘do better and be better.’”“The Church in the South America South Area is vibrant,” said Elder Teixeira. “It is growing. We have a growing number of people attending sacrament meeting and a growing number of convert baptisms.” Rains caused flooding in the streets in Resistencia, Argentina, prior to a missionary meeting and stake conference with Elder Neil L. Andersen and Sister Kathy Andersen. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Kathy Andersen in Buenos Aires, Argentina, visit the spot where Elder Melvin J. Ballard blessed the land of South America in 1925. In Elder Andersen’s hands is a book of history, including the decision in 1925 to open the South American Mission. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addresses missionaries in Argentina during an April 2019 trip to South America. Elder Neil L. Andersen shakes hands with a young girl following a stake meeting in Resistencia, Argentina, in April 2019.They taught about the importance of working with members and inviting friends to “come and see,” “come and help,” and “come and stay.” They instructed on inviting more people to Church meetings, setting mission goals, and working better with local leaders to accelerate missionary work.It rained and rained in the hours and days before Elder Neil L. Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, arrived to participate in missionary meetings and a stake conference in Resistencia, Argentina.
Elder Andersen's travels in Argentina and Chile. Graphic by Joseph Tolman.Elder Neil L. Andersen shakes hands with a young boy following a stake meeting in Resistencia, Argentina, in April 2019. Elder Neil L. Andersen and Sister Kathy Andersen visit Buenos Aires, Argentina, with Elder José A. Teixeira and Sister Maria Teixeira and the South America Area Presidency and their wives—Elder Benjamín De Hoyos, center left, and Sister Evelia De Hoyos; Elder Mark A. Bragg; and Elder Juan Pablo Villar and Sister Carola Villa. They stand at the spot where Elder Melvin J. Ballard blessed the land of South America in 1925. Elder Andersen is holding a book of history, including the decision in 1925 to open the South American Mission. Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, left; Elder Neil L. Andersen, second from left; and Elder José A. Teixeira, right, present Monsignor Óscar Vicente Ojea, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Isidro, Argentina, with a Christus statue on April 22 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“There was a unity, a reconciliation in the highest degree because of the gospel and the Church,” he added. “Here you see a reconciliation in action because of gospel values and truths.”
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf greets members following a regional Face to Face broadcast.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf helps plant a ginster bush on the meetinghouse property in commemoration of the Gorlitz Branch’s 210th anniversary. Photo by Kevin Kroll.Ministering Elder and Sister Uchtdorf greet members following a securement meeting and branch conference with the Gorlitz Branch. Photo by Kevin Kroll.Gathered with the branch members were members from both Germany and Poland and mission presidents from Berlin and Warsaw. “For me, it is always a symbol of the power of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ—even in the most difficult circumstances the gospel binds you together,” Elder Uchtdorf said. Elder and Sister Uchtdorf greet missionaries of the Germany Frankfurt Mission following a mission conference in Frankfurt.The Uchtdorfs also made an unexpected appearance at the Europe Area mission leadership seminar being held at the same Frankfurt hotel where they were staying.Missionaries arrived in Görlitz in 1899 and soon established a branch; after World War II, the city found just inside what then was the German Democratic Republic, just west of the Oder River separating East Germany from Poland.“I was overwhelmed by the endless love I felt when Elder Uchtdorf suggested to visit my mother in the hospital,” Bishop Grünauer told the Church News. “He had never met my mother before. But he was so compassionate with her situation. It felt just like the Savior Himself as He was going around doing good—doing good to people he never met before.”“All 26 mission presidents and their wives were gathered in Frankfurt to begin their mission leadership conference for the 38 countries they cover in Europe, and Elder Uchtdorf surprised them, much to their delight,” Elder Sabin said. “His message was very uplifting regarding their calling and purpose and that success is a matter of the heart as opposed to numerical.” Elder Uchtdorf helps plant a ginster bush on the meetinghouse property commemoration the Gorlitz Branch’s 120th anniversary. Photo by Kevin Kroll.Walking from a bishop’s office in the building to the podium for the broadcast, Elder Uchtdorf noticed two items—a Lindt chocolate bunny and a small Christus statue.Touched and near tears as he recounted the experience, Elder Uchtdorf reminded Markus that the two men held the same priesthood and then found words and ways to comfort, console, and encourage both wife and husband. Markus soon recognized that his priesthood blessings for Isabella had indeed extended her life and alleviated much of her suffering.Elder and Sister Uchtdorf met with three missions on as many days—the Alpine German-Speaking Mission in Salzburg and the Frankfurt Germany and Berlin Germany missions in their respective headquarters city. Each gathering totaled just shy of 200 missionaries.Sister Uchtdorf spoke on unity among members and Elder Uchtdorf on missionary work. “This was a wonderful meeting encouraging the Saints how to share the gospel in a normal and natural way,” Elder Sabin said.“This feeling that we have done everything we can,” Elder Uchtdorf said, “should give not only the peace we talk about at funerals but also the peace in normal-life situations.” Elder and Sister Uchtdorf share a smile while surrounded by members following a sacrament meeting and branch conference with the Gorltiz Branch. Photo by Kevin Kroll.Ministering to a bishop’s ailing mother in a Salzburg, Austria, hospital. Encouraging missionaries gathered from three different missions. And recalling the memories of Germany’s Görlitz Branch, where a Latter-day Saint Apostle a half-century earlier promised all the blessings of the restored gospel despite the branch’s location deep behind the Iron Curtain.The Uchtdorfs learned while attending a Salzburg Ward sacrament meeting that Bishop Elischa M. Grünauer’s aged mother was hospitalized. But Bishop Grünauer was hesitant to impose on the visitors. “I said, ‘Bishop, you should know that is why we are here,’” said Elder Uchtdorf, emphasizing the focus on ministering.Missionary workWhile in Frankfurt and on the eve before Easter Sunday, the Uchtdorfs participated in a regional Face to Face broadcast to all German-speaking members, answering submitted questions. They were joined by Elder Sabin and Area Seventies Elder Michael Cziesla, Elder Thomas Hänni, Elder Markus Zarse, and Elder Helmut Wondra.“So, I took them both to the pulpit and said, ‘These special events in Christianity, in our religious life and in our Church life—let them shine to the outside,’” he recalled, then posing a question while holding the two objects in outstretched hands: “This weekend, are we focusing more on the bunny, or on the Savior?”Similar to his planting a rose bush on the meetinghouse property during his visit four years ago, Elder Uchtdorf was invited to commemorate the branch’s 120th year by planting a yellow-flowering bush in German called ginster (also known as ulex or gorse). Sister Harriet Uchtdorf and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf greet missionaries of the Germany Berlin Mission following a mission conference in Berlin. Photo by Volker Schmitz.He encouraged the missionaries to be creative in contacting and effective in listening, as well as to communicate spirit to spirit and find common ground. Europeans know the basics of religion, he said, so missionaries should teach the basics and remind and reconnect others to those basics.Through those experiences and others of his April 11–29 assignment in Germany and Austria, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles found a common thread—“that the gospel, the plan of salvation, and the promises given to those who live by the covenants bring great peace to the heart,” he said.Little by little, those blessings came—the arrival of missionaries, the calling of local members to serve missions, and the longed-for patriarchal blessings. Then in the mid-1980s, a temple was built in Freiburg, followed a few years later by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Communist era in Europe. Elder and Sister Uchtdorf greet members following a sacrament meeting and branch conference with the Gorlitz Branch. Photo by Kevin Kroll.Elder Uchtdorf underscored the importance of continuing to learn the German language and speaking with confidence. “Have the confidence that you are speaking for the Savior as a representative and disciple,” he charged, “so that even if your language is not good, you can say what you have in your heart. Trust in the Lord that He will fill in the empty places, and the Spirit will do the rest.”Görlitz is well known in Latter-day Saint history as the branch then-Elder Thomas S. Monson visited on November 10, 1968, offering the members isolated behind the Iron Curtain what seemed to be an impossible promise: “If you remain faithful to the commandments of God,” he said, “every blessing which the members of the Church enjoy in other countries will be yours, too.”MemoriesFor their recent visit, the Uchtdorfs joined the branch—now celebrating the 120th anniversary of its existence—for a sacrament meeting and branch conference. “It was very emotional and special to be there, to see these members again,” Elder Uchtdorf said, adding, “I looked into a lot of familiar faces—and a lot of new faces.” Elder Uchtdorf greets missionaries of the Germany Berlin Mission following a mission conference in Berlin. Photo by Volker Schmitz.“It was especially tender for the missionaries in Frankfurt to hear Sister Uchtdorf tell her conversion story as a young girl living in Frankfurt,” said Elder Sabin. “It gave the missionaries a renewed sense of purpose.” Elder Uchtdorf joins missionaries form the Germany Berlin Mission—including his grandson, Elder Eric Evans, far left—in holding signs that say “Invite normally and naturally,” “Come and see,” “Come and serve,” and “Come and stay.” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf holds a Lindt chocolate bunny in one hand and a small Christus statute in the other as he speaks of the importance of Easter.“Now I know I have tried everything—it is the Lord’s will,” he said, as recalled by Elder Uchtdorf. “Whatever comes now is good.”At peace with the prospects of passing, Isabella Grünauer seemed more interested in having her grandchildren meet the attending Apostle. Her husband, Markus Grünauer, however, was struggling with accepting the inevitable, wondering if he had done all possible for his wife as a husband and priesthood holder. “I hoped an Apostle could make the difference,” he told Elder Uchtdorf.The Apostle added: “He felt at peace.”That peace can be found at all times and in moments of disappointment or uncertainty—whether one feels isolated, one wonders if missionary efforts are accepted of the Lord, or one reflects on life as it comes to a close, he said.In 1995, Elder Uchtdorf—then a General Authority Seventy—accompanied President Monson—then a counselor in the First Presidency—for the dedication of a new meetinghouse in Gorlitz. Then as a counselor in the First Presidency in 2015, President Uchtdorf returned to commemorate the meetinghouse’s 20th year.The assignment returned Elder Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, to their homeland. “There is a palpable sense of excitement among the members and missionaries whenever Elder and Sister Uchtdorf come to Europe,” said Elder Gary B. Sabin, a General Authority Seventy and counselor in the Europe Area Presidency, who accompanied them as they went from Salzburg to Germany’s Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Dresden, Berlin, and Görlitz.
The first Latter-day Saint missionaries did not arrive in Fiji until 1954; a mission was created on the Pacific paradise in 1971. President Spencer W. Kimball—accompanied by then Dr. Russell M. Nelson—visited Fiji in 1976.The temple was renovated and rededicated in April 2016. However, the worst tropical storm to ever make landfall in Fiji hit in the hours before the dedication. Government curfews, power outages, and downed trees prevented many Fijian members from participating in the meeting, during which President Henry B. Eyring, then the First Counselor in the First Presidency, offered a dedicatory prayer on the temple and the people of Fiji.She invited the congregation to write down a question and then kneel in prayer. Express gratitude for the scriptures, share the question, and “ask Heavenly Father to be with you as you read.”NAUSORI, Fiji An aerial view of the Fiji coastline on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. School girls walk home in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Elder Gong added, “We feel your love for your Heavenly Father and we feel God’s love for you.” Sister Wendy Nelson speaks during a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Julie Gaunavinalea and her son Sau bow their heads during the prayer during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Kaveni and Ilivema Ulunikoyo lisgen with their daughter Wainikiti to a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Mareca Tuibetua attends a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Brilliant colors painted the sky during the song, as the sun set on the stadium. Just 24 hours earlier, torrential rain and wind had hit the city. Local Church members weren’t able to build the stage for the devotional until that morning. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, wave goodbye to attendees after a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Using Nephi and his bow as an example, Elder Gong explained: “If you want to make an arrow that shoots straight, you need to start with a straight stick.” An attendee listens during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Sister Gong said Fiji reminded her of the Garden of Eden, telling the congregation their ancestors have great courage to sail to such a beautiful island. An aerial of the Fiji coastline on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson speaks the sun sets during a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Of the beautiful salusalu, or leis, presented to the official party, President Nelson added. “I feel like I have been wrapped in love.”These are glorious days, but they are also days filled with turmoil and heartache, said Sister Nelson during her remarks. “Can you think of one thing in your life that you wish were different? Can you think of one question you wish you could have answered?”“When we have the armor of God, we can make decisions that bless us today,” he said.During his 35-minute address, President Nelson asked the Fijian Latter-day Saints to study the scriptures, pay their tithing, and serve in the temple. The rain stopped as President Nelson’s plane landed in Nausori. “Thank you for your great faith,” he told the congregation. “I wondered if you could do it and you did. You turned off the rain.” Jis Eseta DiLoi listens to President Russell M. Nelson speaking during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“You can tell your grandchildren one day that you sang for the prophet,” he said.Elder Gong asked the congregation to put on the armor of God. Milika Taito smiles during a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.As had been his pattern at other locations, President Nelson offered an address unique to Fiji, often referred to as the gateway or hub of the South Pacific because of its central location. The nation is made up of 320 islands, which were isolated from the outside world for centuries.Strong strains of the Fijian farewell song “Isa Lei” filled Ratu Cakobau Park as President Russell M. Nelson waved to more than 4,000 Latter-day Saints gathered here for a devotional on Wednesday, May 22. Clouds darken the evening sky during a devotional featuring President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in Nausori, Fiji on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Behind him, a tapa cloth quilt—hung as a backdrop to the podium—declared what the tender song had already communicated: “THE PROPHET PRESIDENT RUSSELL M. NELSON.”During his remarks, President Nelson noted that there is a reason for many things: “What is the reason for the city of Suva? What is the purposed of the ocean? More important, what is the purpose of our Heavenly Father? He said, ‘What I want most of all is for My children to be immortal and have the gift of eternal life.’” Attendees listen during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Kicking off the tour with a devotional in Kona, Hawaii, President Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson—traveling with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong—visited Apia, Samoa; Sydney, Australia; and Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. After leaving Fiji, they flew to Nuku’alofa, Tonga, and will complete the trip on May 24 in Papeete, Tahiti.The Lord asks members of his Church to exercise great faith. “No task is too big or too small for the Lord,” he said.But, he promised, the visitors to Fiji would feel something on the Pacific island nation that they won’t feel anywhere else. “You will feel that when you hear the choir sing,” he said.Elder Haleck asked the members to be grateful for the Suva Fiji Temple. Quoting President Nelson he said, “My dear brothers and sisters, construction of these temples may not change your life, but your time in the temple surely will.”She encouraged the congregation to be grateful—always.Then, she said, open the scriptures anywhere and read until you have the answer. “Does that seem to simple? To simple to even try? It is my testimony ... that you won’t have to read very far.” President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, wave to attendees prior to a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Elder Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. The choir sings during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Attendees wave as President Russell M. Nelson leaves after a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Members did not complain, but expressed gratitude for the temple, she said. “Today I pray that you will feel that same stillness and trust in God as we are taught by the prophet.” Attendees wave as President Russell M. Nelson leaves after a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Closing, President Nelson promised, “The Lord will open the heavens and pour out blessings.” President Russell M. Nelson and other general authorities leave the airplane in the rain prior to a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.“Have you noticed that people who have a lot of things are grateful for very little, and people with very little are grateful for a lot of things,” she said.
Children wave flags at a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The Church has more than 21,000 members, four stakes, a mission, and a temple in Fiji. The Suva Fiji Temple has become a symbol of hope and light in the country where mariners look to the temple’s light to guide them into harbor.How wonderful, added Sister Nelson, it is “to know that we truly are brothers and sisters. We love you already.” Crystal Rabukara gathers water during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau stadium in Nausori, Fiji on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Choir members hold a sign as President Russell M. Nelson leaves after a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Varanisese Turua holds her daughter Etta Liahona Noa during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.In addition to the weather, local Church leaders had been struggling to find a way for aircraft to land in Suva. President Nelson’s party flew on a twin-engine prop plane from the international transportation hub city of Nadi across the island to the small airport in Nausori, near Suva. President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, walk to the stand during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau stadium in Nausori, Fiji on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.During her remarks, Sister Peggy Haleck—wife of Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and President of Church’s Pacific Area—said Latter-day Saints can learn from the Fijian members’ examples and expressions of pure faith, following both the temple dedication and rededication. President Russell M. Nelson speaks during a devotional in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.The devotional—the fifth stop on President Nelson’s nine-day, seven-nation Pacific Ministry Tour—was broadcast to meetinghouses across Fiji.Bringing new insight to the phrase “follow the prophet,” President Nelson invited all the children in the congregation to stand and led them in singing “I Am a Child of God.” President Nelson’s voice blended with the singing of the children.“It has been very, very difficult,” Elder Adolf J. Johansson, an Area Seventy in Fiji, said of planning the event. An aerial view of the Fiji coastline on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. President Russell M. Nelson waves to attendees after a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News. Attendees listen as the sun sets during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau stadium in Nausori, Fiji on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.Even finding a venue that fit the needs was difficult, Elder Johansson said.President Gordon B. Hinckley announced a temple for Fiji in 1998. Amid political unrest, however, the Suva Fiji Temple was originally dedicated on June 18, 2000, in a private service by President Hinckley. A family watches President Russell M. Nelson speak during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau Park stadium in Nausori, Fiji, on May 22, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Sometimes, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven, but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”After spending more than a year in the legal process and a “good portion of our savings” on the adoption, they were told the children were no longer adoptable. “We were not allowed to see them or contact them. In an instant we lost them.”“Their family is moving forward with confidence and trust in the plan our Heavenly Father has for them and for Millee.”During a BYU Women’s Conference breakout session on May 2, Sister Craven shared some of the trials she and her family have faced in their lives as she addressed how to have hope through struggles.However, she trusts that the Lord is aware of these children even now. She has kept their names on the temple prayer rolls for 16 years and continually prays for their safety.“Therefore, hope is expectation, even anticipation for happiness not only in the hereafter, but an expectation that we can have joy and contentment right now, regardless of our circumstances.”Waiting upon the Lord isn’t easy, she said, because the phrase is often misunderstood. Waiting can mean being stifled, biding one’s time, or stopping. “But to ‘wait upon the Lord’ is not biding one’s time. It is being patient while moving forward with confidence, faith, and trust in the Lord’s plan for us.”Sixteen years ago, Sister Craven and her husband, Brother Ronald L. Craven, were prompted to adopt two young children from Russia. “We fell in love with these children and felt so right about our decision to bring them into our family,” she said. Women wave as they move to other classes as they attend Women’s Conference. Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.Then a miraculous thought came to her: “Millee is perfect,” Sister Craven said. “Jana had been blessed with a perfect daughter. Regardless of how much she would continue to miss her, she wouldn’t have to worry about her. Millee would be exalted.”In closing, Sister Craven said, “I pray that while we continue on our mortal journey, that through Jesus Christ we may not only find peace and joy for ourselves, but that we will look for opportunities to deliver much needed help to those who also wait.”The Lord, at times, gives personalized and tailor-made challenges designed to help His children grow, Sister Craven said. Women take notes as they attend a “Sister to Sister” event at Women’s Conference at BYU’s Marriott Center. Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.For example, when she was set apart as a missionary to serve with her husband as he presided over the North Carolina Charlotte Mission, she was promised in a blessing that their children and grandchildren would be blessed with safety and health while they were gone.However, one year into their mission, their daughter, Jana, gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Millee. The loss was difficult for Jana, and though she was aware of many miracles, she was still filled with questions, Sister Craven said. “She couldn’t understand why she had lost her baby if I had been promised perfect safety and protection for our grandchildren.”“While we wait for answers, we keep moving forward with trust in the Lord and His plan for them.”Many questions remain unanswered. “What could possibly be wrong with bringing a couple of children we loved into our family? Our hearts were willing and our motives pure. Why would this happen to us? More importantly, why would this happen to them?” Sister Craven said. The Sweet Shots, a tennis team from Mesa, Arizona, pose for photos while attending Women’s Conference. Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.“Hope in a worldly sense is worrying, fretting, or wishing,” said Sister Becky Craven, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. “Hope in a gospel sense is hope in Christ. And hope in Christ simply means that we trust Him and we trust in our Heavenly Father’s plan.”Now as Jana waits to be reunited with her daughter, she reaches out to other mothers who have lost children, and her family visits cemeteries with baskets of homemade cinnamon rolls to share with others on Easter Sundays.
Sister Becky Craven, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency.There is a stark difference between hope in a worldly sense and hope in Christ.
Bud and Shirley Anderson haven’t slowed down in the gospel, and Gretchen Gregson, who served as their temple prep teacher, said they are great examples of constant progression.“Everything in my life has led me to this point—to join this church and to go to the temple,” Shirley said.Shirley was baptized on October 11, 2017, five days after Bud and Shirley were married, at age 89.Bud and Shirley Anderson have known each other since they were first-graders in a small Oregon town, but they lost touch in their teenage years. More than 70 years passed before they reconnected after both had been widowed.“She’s really become a student of the gospel,” Gregson said. “I just am so impressed that you can never stop learning. It’s just neat to see life being lived to the fullest.”The Andersons were sealed in the Dallas Texas Temple in March of this year. Bud and Shirley smile for a photo on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of Bud and Shirley Anderson.Shirley said she didn’t have any intention of joining the Church, but when she attended church, she couldn’t deny the Spirit she felt.“I just feel that by being baptized, I have been forgiven, and I feel free again. I feel it was something that washed away all of those other things that had been troubling me. I don’t worry about them. I don’t think about them anymore. I am happy,” Shirley said.Shirley told LDS Living she hadn’t been out with a man for 10 years when Bud asked her on a date. Though she declined the date because he lived in Arkansas and she was in Oregon, the two ended up talking on the phone every night. Shirley Anderson found this photo of her and Bud buried in the sand around the time of their eighth-grade year as she prepared to move to Arkansas to marry Bud. Photo courtesy of Bud and Shirley Anderson.