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5,000 Native Americans gather to hear prophet

During the first visit of a Church president here Sept. 14, President Gordon B. Hinckley told more than 5,000 Native American Church members that their "future lies in education."

"This Church is a church of enlightenment, of growth, of understanding of the things of the world as well as the things of God," he said.The Window Rock Civic Center was filled to capacity with Church members, many of whom traveled hundreds of miles from remote areas of the Navajo Reservation to hear the prophet speak. Members also packed four overflow buildings and surrounding areas of the fairgrounds, some with standing room only. Other members sat outside on blankets in the warm Southwest sun.

Window Rock is a scenic area located in northeastern Arizona, on the border of New Mexico. Surrounding this area is the largest Indian reservation in the United States.

"You are a marvelous people, your leadership is growing and becoming strong. The Lord will help you stand strong as you live the gospel," said President Hinckley. "He will shed His light and build faith on this whole nation."

President Hinckley encouraged parents to see that their children take advantage of educational opportunities.

"Parents, work with your children, . . ." he said. "Lift them, help them to achieve in the world of which they will become a part."

The gospel, he continued, can help children raise their sights and give them opportunities.

"All of you boys and girls, go to school," he said. "Take advantage of every opportunity that you can. Learn the things of the world as you learn the things of God and He will bless you in both fields. He will bless your people. He will bless your nation. He will bless this great work as you do so."

President Hinckley also counseled parents to hold family home evening. "Sit down together once a week. You study the scriptures, talk about your problems. You draw your children closer to you, you pray together and you grow together as families. This is very, very important."

President Hinckley counseled the congregation to believe in God, go to Church, work together and listen to their bishops and stake presidents. "Everyone of us can do better than we are doing. It doesn't matter where you live, live the gospel."

He also encouraged the Native Americans to read the Book of Mormon - which he called their book.

"It tells about people worshiping the Lord and prospering in the land. And when they failed to live the gospel, and failed to worship the Lord, they lived in misery and trouble and poverty. Now that is the message of this great book which is your book concerning your people."

As President Hinckley completed his message to those gathered at Window Rock, he encouraged them to "be strong, faithful and good." He then blessed them, saying, " . . . if you will walk in faith and keep the commandments of the Lord, you will have bread on your tables and clothing on your backs and shelter over your heads and you will know that God has been good and kind and generous toward you."

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