Elder Holland counsels New England Latinos

Credit: Photo by Vincent Peck
Credit: Photo by Vincent Peck


“Buenos noches, mis amandos hermanos Latinos. Tengo gozo en mi alma hoy. Esta es una noche perfecta. La Iglesia es verdadera.”

That’s how Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle greeted — in Spanish — a May 31 gathering of Latino members and their friends.

First, a translation: “Good evening, my beloved Latino brothers and sisters. I have joy in my heart today. This is a perfect night. The Church is true.”

Elder Holland has traveled throughout Latin America on Church assignments. But his participation in this most recent Latino gathering did not take place in, say, Mexico City, Santiago or La Paz. This conference occurred in Boston, one of the oldest and most storied cities in the United States.

During his time in New England, the apostle also spoke at a Church-sponsored women’s conference in Lowell, Massachusetts, that included more than 3,000 women of various religious backgrounds.

Like many regions of the U.S., New England has become home for a growing number of Latinos, including many Latter-day Saints. A sizeable percentage of the missionaries serving here have been trained in Spanish.

“Speaking to most of you in this audience, I thank you for the crucially important decision you made to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said. “After your birth into this world, your baptism into this, the true Church of Jesus Christ, is the most important thing you have ever done.”

Elder Holland acknowledged that not all of the many folks gathered at the Boston Stake Center were Church members. He invited them to listen to the missionaries, their LDS friends, and, especially, the testifying whispers of the Holy Spirit as they learn more about the Church.

The apostle shared something of a “first discussion” himself as he taught about the importance of prophets, the priesthood, the mission of Jesus Christ and the Apostasy.

The Apostasy and the loss of priesthood authority in the world brought about centuries of confusion and spiritual darkness. Truth-seeking men and women sought for greater spiritual light and the restoration of truth and priesthood authority.

“When the time was right, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to a young man named Joseph Smith, directing him to reestablish the true Church on earth for the last time,” he said. “Joseph was given the holy priesthood, which included among other things the authority to baptize and to call twelve apostles, characteristics of the true Church that had been lost from the earth for more than 1,500 years.”

The Prophet Joseph, he added, brought forth the Book of Mormon.

“Joseph Smith did not write it; ancient prophets did, but he did translate it and that book has led the way for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to now be flourishing in 190 nations and territories of the world, teaching the gospel in 123 languages,” he said.

Elder Holland then focused his counsel on members in the gathering. He acknowledged that the world has become morally, politically, socially and culturally troubled.

“But whatever troubles we may face locally or globally, I testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ, and only the gospel of Jesus Christ, holds the answers to those problems,” he said. “Truly, it is only the teachings of the Savior of the world that can bring peace and salvation to individuals, to families and to nations. How blessed we are to have this great gift in our lives and how urgently we need to try to spread its truths and its influences in every neighborhood and community in which we live.”

Safety and happiness, he taught, can be found “standing in holy places” where the Lord’s Spirit can offer protection from the dangers of the world. The first such holy place is the home.

“Our homes should be a safe haven physically, emotionally and spiritually for us, for our children and for all others who enter there,” he said. “The size or shape or cost of the home has nothing to do with its sanctity. It might be made of the poorest of materials or have the most modest furniture, but that does not matter—it is righteousness and love we cherish in a home, not its ornamentation.

Homes should be places of love, kindness, gentleness and peace.

“Speak softly. Never curse or swear. Please know emphatically that there is no place in an LDS home for abuse, for violence, or disrespect. Have personal prayer and family prayer. Read the scriptures faithfully. Let the Spirit of the Holy Ghost fill the home. Treat each other the way you would treat the Savior if He came to visit your home.”

Elder Holland then encouraged husbands and wives to “remain in love with each other.” Be kind, thoughtful, courteous and forgiving, he counseled.

“Work hard at having a good marriage. Be patient with your children. Praise them. Build their self-esteem. Remember these are God’s children, too. Try to treat them the way He would.”

He then counseled the children to be respectful, loving and obedient to their parents. Be grateful for their sacrifices, work hard in school and make plans to serve a mission and marry in the temple, he told them, and asked them to be good examples to friends who are not Church members.

Ward and branch meetinghouses are also dedicated “holy places” to worship and enjoy the company of fellow members, he noted.

“As valuable and as fundamental as the home and family are, there are some experiences in the Church available only in a congregational setting,” he said. “One of the most important of these is to partake of the sacrament of the Lord ’s Supper, a commandment given by the Lord to all members. A sacrament meeting is the most important weekly meeting that we hold in the Church, and it is crucial that we attend in order to receive that small piece of bread and tiny cup of water. It is there that we promise to remember Jesus always, to keep His commandments and to have His Spirit to be with us.”

The temple, he declared, is the holiest place of all — a true sanctuary of both ancient and modern times.

“We have such a magnificent temple here in Massachusetts. We will soon have another one in Connecticut. There will be more after that. What a magnificent day it is when these truly holy places, these special sanctuaries, in the highest meaning of that word, now begin to dot the earth.”

Elder Holland testified that the temple is the literal “Casa del Señor” — or House of the Lord. Christ is at the center of the temple experience. “Everyone in this room should make plans to go to the temple as often as means and circumstances permit.”

The apostle then shared his witness of Jesus Christ.

“He must be our way, our truth, and our life,” he said. “So wherever else you want to go in life, I ask you to ‘come unto Him’ as the imperative first step in getting there, in finding happiness, strength and success in your journey. Come to Him. Walk with Him. Worship Him. He will lead you to every righteous blessing your heart desires.”

By clinging to the gospel of Jesus Christ, a person can weather life’s storms, sorrows, troubles and heartbreak.”

Elder Holland concluded his remarks in Spanish and testified of the truthfulness of the restored gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon.

“El Evangelio y el expiacion de Jesucristo son mis mas grandes posesiones, los regalos de Dios mas grandes que he recibido en mi vida.” (The gospel and the atonement of Jesus Christ are my greatest possessions — the greatest gifts of God that I have received in my life.”)

— The May 31 women’s conference in Lowell was entitled “Let Your Light Shine 2015” and included scores of participants of all faiths from across New England. The event was the first of it’s kind and included words of counsel from Elder Holland and other keynote speakers, along with some 25 workshops and a variety of service projects.

“It was a great day — we had a great group of women who brought a [special] spirit to the conference,” said Angela Hughes, a Church public affairs specialist in New England.

Elder Holland’s involvement in the conference was a special surprise. Most at the event did not know he would be included on the opening session program at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

“Elder Holland focused his message on letting your light shine,” said Sister Hughes.

Other keynote speakers at the opening session included Dr. Sandra Rogers, a BYU vice president and a member of the Church’s Relief Society General Board, and popular LDS author and blogger Stephanie Nielsen.

While the event was attended by thousands of Latter-day Saint women, hundreds of women from other religious backgrounds also joined in.

The workshops includes classes on effectively utilizing social media and a wide variety of gospel topics. @JNSwensen

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed