President Thomas S. Monson
“Welcome to Conference”
President Monson announced new missionary guidelines as well as new Temples at the Saturday morning session, leaving audience members with mouths dropped open.
The age for young people to serve missions was lowered to 18 for young men and to 19 for young women. The previous ages were 19 for young men and 21 for young women.
“I am not suggesting that all young men will — or should — serve at this earlier age,” President Monson said. The decision to serve a mission at these new ages is based on individual choice in combination with local Church leader approval.
Temples will be built in Tucson, Ariz., and Arequipa, Peru. Members in Arequipa currently travel five hundred miles to attend the temple in Lima. Currently, there are 400,000 members of the Church in Arizona. The Tucson Temple will be the sixth in the state.
The remainder of his message updated members on temple dedications that occurred since April’s general conference.
President Monson dedicated the Kansas City, Mo. Temple in May. The Manaus, Brazil Temple was then dedicated a month later by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf. Also in South America, the Buenos Aires, Argentina Temple was rededicated by President Henry B. Eyring after 27 years in operation. The Brigham City Temple was most recently dedicated two weeks ago by President Boyd K. Packer.
This brings the worldwide temple count to 139 in operation.
“No Church-built facility is more important than a temple, President Monson said.
President Monson concluded his greeting by encouraging senior couples to serve full-time missions as their health and circumstances permit.
Elder Quentin L. Cook
“Can ye feel so now?”
Elder Quentin L. Cook began his remarks by calling attention to his concern for a lack of commitment to righteousness and an increase of moral unrighteousness in the world.
He asked the question Alma the Younger once asked members of the Church: “… if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”
If members of the Church cannot feel this now, Elder Cook said, it is necessary for them to evaluate their lives and figure out how to get out of spiritual drought.
When people are in a “spiritual drought” it may not be that they have committed any serious sin; rather, their priorities may be skewed.
“Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants,” he said. “Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes.”
Elder Cook explained that repentance and the nourishing power of scripture study are always available and are requisite for spiritual commitment.
Unkindness and sexual immorality are two reasons Elder Cook gave for weakened commitment. He put down any form of verbal, physical or emotional abuse, regardless of cultural background.
Impure thoughts and sexual sin also act as hindrances to spiritual growth and increase individual, spiritual drought. Society is struggling more than ever, especially with the growth of available technology, but members of the Church remain firm in righteousness.
“Local leaders across the world report that when viewed as a whole, Church members, especially our youth, have never been stronger,” he said.
Parents were advised to fulfill their callings as parents by having the courage to teach and advise their children in righteousness. They must defend truth. They must bear testimony. They must show faith in Jesus Christ. Parents must monitor their children’s activities and media involvement.
“My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed by the family,” Elder Cook said. “My prayer is that each of us will take any necessary action to feel the Spirit now.”
Sister Ann M. Dibb
“I know It. I Live It. I Love It.”
If Sister Ann M. Dibb of the Young Women General Presidency had a t-shirt stating her testimony, it would say, “I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.”
I’m a Mormon
Sister Dibb expressed that conviction in the gospel of Jesus Christ is an individual process, a life-long pursuit.
“As members, we are followers of our Savior,” she said. “Such conversion and confidence is the result of diligent and deliberate effort.”
Pulling from the words of the ancient Apostle Paul, Sister Dibb said being a Mormon is something no member should be ashamed of.
I know it
Testimony will increase as people delve into spiritual study. When people understand gospel teachings, life direction will become more clear.
“All truth and knowledge is important, but amidst the constant distraction of our daily lives, we must especially pay attention to increasing our gospel knowledge so we can understand how to apply gospel principles in our live,” Sister Dibb said.
I live it
Integrity and faith are manifestations of a person’s testimony. People must not only listen to the word, they must follow it. People must do what is right even when others are not watching. And when people make mistakes, they can access the Atonement through repentance.
I love it
People will feel the love of God as they actively gain a knowledge of the Gospel and follow it. Sister Dibb advised people to expand their gospel knowledge and patience if they do not feel this love.
“Gaining a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and diligently living gospel principles in our everyday lives leads many members of the Church to exclaim enthusiastically, ‘I love the gospel!'”
Elder Craig C. Christensen
“An Unspeakable Gift from God”
Elder Christensen began his address about the Holy Ghost with the story of his six-year-old son recognizing the Holy Ghost while at the Bountiful Temple dedication in 1994.
Elder Christensen broke down his talk into common questions about the Holy Ghost.
“Who is the Holy Ghost?”
The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and is the third member of the Godhead. He knows our thoughts. He knows our hearts. He can give us direction. Members of the Church can receive personal revelation through the gift of the Holy Ghost.
“What is the mission of the Holy Ghost?”
“The primary purpose of the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and to teach us the truth of all things,” Elder Christensen said. “A sure witness from the Holy Ghost carries far more certainty than a witness from any other source.”
The Holy Ghost is a comforter when hearts ache. The Holy Ghost teaches truth. The Holy Ghost prompts people to minister in service to others.
It is expected that when people receive inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they are to act on it immediately.
“How does the Holy Ghost speak to us?”
People may not always recognize when the Holy Ghost speaks, but His message will reach both heart and mind.
“As inspired thought come into our minds, we know them to be true by the spiritual feelings that enter into out hearts,” said Elder Christensen.
“What does it mean to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?”
Members receive the gift of the Holy Ghost when confirmed as members of the Church after baptism. The gift of the Holy Ghost allows for Him to always be with a person. Before baptism, people may feel the influence of the Holy Ghost
People receive spiritual gifts as a result of the gift of the Holy Ghost. . They receive increased protection. They receive increased revelation. They receive increased guidance.
“The gift of the Holy Ghost is Heavenly Father’s precious and unspeakable gift to all who will come unto His Son, be baptized in His name and receive the Holy Ghost through confirmation in His Church,” Elder Christensen concluded.
Elder Shayne M. Bowen
“Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also”
Death can knock at a door anytime, but because the Savior lives, all shall live.
Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy told of the passing away of his eight-month-old son Tyson and his own spiritual growth stemming from the experience. His son had choked on a piece of chalk and passed away at the hospital later that day.
“Feelings of guilt racked my soul,” Elder Christensen recalled. “I felt so guilty. I felt dirty. I was his father; I should have done more to protect him.”
Elder Bowen went on to describe the overwhelming grief he and his family experienced at the loss — guilt, anger, self-pity. He soon found himself tired of being consumed by these feelings and prayed to the Lord for relief.
“Through very personal sacred experiences, the Lord gave me a new heart,” he said. “I was able to look froward with hope, rather than look back with despair.”
He testified that the Lord will not leave people without comfort. He testified that all sorrow can be relieved because of the love of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice.
Elder Russell M. Nelson
“Ask the Missionaries! They Can Help You!”
“Ask the missionaries! They can help!” was Elder Nelson’s repeated line as he spoke to members and non-members alike.
Elder Nelson shared the story of a Protestant gentleman named Jerry. One evening, Jerry was watering the trees in his yard when he noticed two men riding past on bikes. He heard a voice tell him, “Stop the boys on the bikes.”
Jerry discovered they were missionaries, and soon after, he and his friend Priscilla began meeting with them and learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jerry, Priscilla and her children were all baptized.
Elder Nelson explained missionaries are not only meant for teaching and baptizing investigators:
- Missionaries can help with family history work.
- Missionaries can help inactive members return.
- Missionaries can help people overcome addictions.
- Missionaries can help people find direction in their lives.
- Missionaries can help struggling families.
- Missionaries can help people increase their knowledge of the gospel.
- Missionaries can help people understand the plan of salvation.
In addition, Elder Nelson gave introductory information about the Church, and he explained what missionaries do.
“Our young missionaries set aside their education, occupation, dating, and whatever else young adults would typically be doing at this stage of their life,” he said. “For 18 to 24 months, they put it all on hold, because of their deep desire to serve the Lord.”
He also explained the name of the Church, the apostasy and Church leadership — mainly, apostles and prophets.
Elder Nelson encouraged people to not ignore the missionaries, stating they are ambassadors of the Lord and can be heaven-sent resources to help all people in many ways.
Because of their sacrifices and diligence, missionaries’ lives are also enriched.
“The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come,” Elder Nelson said.
President Deiter F. Uchtdorf
“Of Regrets and Resolutions”
Elder Uchtdorf began his address with these simple lines:
“We are all mortal. None of us will be on this earth very long.”
The main idea of Elder Uchtdorf’s message was the changing of personal lives now so people are not left with regrets when they leave this earth.
“The older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is,” he said. “But we also remember the regrets, the things we wish we could go back and change.”
Elder Uchtdorf’s talk was broken down into three common regrets people experience:
“I wish I’d spent more time with the people I love”
People often lose sight of what matters most as they become immersed in the hustle and bustle of life, even losing sight of loved ones. Technology can keep people connected far and wide, but Elder Uchtdorf said there are better ways of staying in touch and building relationships.
“If we fail to give our personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it,” he said.
Throughout His life, Jesus Christ ministered to people. “When he interacted with those around him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people he encountered,” Elder Uchtodorf explained.
“I wish I had lived up to my potential”
Elder Uchtdorf was not referring to climbing the business ladder as he introduced this regret; he was speaking about living up to spiritual potential, people becoming who God desires them to be.
In order to reach this potential, people must simply do what the gospel teaches and do it will full intent.
“When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toes in the water then claimed he went swimming. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more,” he explained.
“I wish I had let myself be happier”
Elder Uchtdorf explained that often people live with the notion that something better is just beyond their reach. This in turn causes them to feel unfulfilled, even unhappy as they progress in life.
“Sometimes in life, we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey,” he said. “External circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.”
Elder Uchtdorf concluded by encouraging people to repent and make changes in their lives so they do not have these regrets.
“The deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today,” he said.