'Happy Dutchman' still cheerful after 17 years

Love Church callings

Be satisfied- Honor covenants

Relating that the late Elder LeGrand Richards used to call him "the Happy Dutchman," Elder Jacob de Jager of the Seventy declared Saturday afternoon that the title is still appropriate after 17 1/2 years as a General Authority.

Elder de Jager, a native of the Netherlands who was granted emeritus status Saturday morning, said: "These years of service in the quorum have brought joy and countless blessings to my life and the life of my Bea, my eternal companion.

"I had the privilege to be assigned to stakes from Punta Arenas in South America to Anchorage, Alaska; and from Hobart, Australia, to Japan. I worked closely with faithful regional representatives and dedicated stake presidencies - always teaching them correct principles so that they would learn to govern themselves."

He said it was a blessing to visit missions and teach missionaries the real nature of missionary work: transferring sacred knowledge by the Spirit to people entitled to hear the gospel message.

"I am still as happy as when I was called to the quorum," said Elder de Jager, evoking considerable laughter when he continued, "and, in good Western American tradition, I now will ride off into the sunset. But I know there is a loving priesthood leader waiting at the roadside to call me under inspiration to another meaningful calling."

His first Church calling, three days after his baptism in Toronto, Ontario, was to be in charge of the hymnbooks in the ward, he related. The congregation laughed again when he said, "I really would not mind at all to quickly go back to the hymnbooks, because I can testify that this is a Church of workers and not a museum of Saints."

Elder de Jager shared some ideas he said have helped him maintain a cheerful disposition:

"Learn to love the calling that you have in the Church . . . so much it becomes invigorating."

"Learn to be satisfied. It is just as easy as being dissatisfied - and much more pleasant."

"Learn to accept adversity. . . . Remember, a kite rises against the wind rather than with it!"

"Get in the habit of saying pleasant things rather than making negative remarks."

"Live the present moment to the hilt, and do not live in the past or the future. Success is a journey not a destination."

"Live and honor the covenants that you made at the time of your baptism and in the temple."

"When you have reached the age of 70, you must resist the urge to straighten out everybody's affairs and admit occasionally that you might be mistaken."

He testified of God, the Savior and the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith and all who have succeeded him as president of the Church.

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