President Gordon B. Hinckley paused for a moment while addressing members of the Church from Switzerland and southern France to revel in the beauty of that part of the world.
"I love the mountains, the Alps which rise from the valleys of Germany and Switzerland, the great rivers which flow with waters from melted snow, the crystal lakes, the forests, villages, farms," he said."But the most beautiful thing I have seen is not the mountains, not the rivers, not the lakes, but you, my faithful brothers and sisters, giving strength to one another."
President Hinckley was in Europe to dedicate the Preston England Temple and to address meetings in three other countries. Prior to dedicating the temple on June 7, he spoke in Paris, France, on June 4; Frankfurt, Germany, on June 5; and Geneva, Switzerland, on June 6. (See the June 13 Church News for coverage of the temple dedication and President Hinckley's address in Frankfurt, Germany.)
In Paris, President Hinckley addressed missionaries in the Versaille Chapel during the afternoon of June 4, and spoke to 2,400 members from the Paris France and Paris France East stakes, as well as members from the Caen, Tours and Rennes districts that evening in the Les Pyramides Convention Center in Paris.
In Geneva, President Hinckley addressed 4,200 members from the five stakes of Nice France, Lyon France, Geneva Switzerland, Zurich Switzerland and Bern Switzerland. He opened his remarks in Geneva by reflecting on the growth of the Church in Europe since he attended an area conference in Munich, Germany, 25 years ago.
"It is a miracle what has happened in the last 25 years. "Most of you are converts.
"How you appreciate those who befriended and loved you. I plead with you to reach out in love, in friendship, in companionship to the new converts of the Church. Let them feel, in you, an anchor in the storm they encounter; an anchor of faith, truth, and friendship.
"With all our numbers, we are still a small group in the midst of the population of this world," he continued.
"The crown of the gospel of Jesus Christ is upon our head. In this dispensation, the Lord has declared that this Church is `the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth.' "
President Hinckley then related an experience from his mission in England when a young man came to his door.
"He was soaking wet," remembered President Hinckley.
When I joined the Church,' said the young man,my father asked me to leave, the athletic club where I belonged dropped me, the girl I wanted to marry told me that she could not marry me because I was a Mormon.' He also had no work.
"I asked him why do you not leave the Church so you can go back to your father, to your work and to the others?
"He cried, and said, `I could not do that. I know it is true regardless what happens to me. I cannot leave it.'
"I watched him as he walked away. There was, in him, the strength of the Church, not in the buildings, not in the facilities, but in the hearts of members. The same is true for you. You carry the truth. There is no alternative but to go forward.
"I feel blessed to be here in Geneva which harbored the reformers, gave asylum to those who spoke with a different voice, who spoke with the truth as they found it.
"I believe that the Reformation was inspired by God to lay the foundation for another time when an angel would come to preach the gospel. I salute the men of the Reformation such as Luther. They knew loneliness, but they stood up. Some gave their lives.
"Joseph Smith knew loneliness, even at 14 years of age. He was reviled and persecuted. We can see his loneliness when he said: `Why persecute me for telling the truth.'
"Brothers and sisters," he said in conclusion, "I remind you that when you have embraced the gospel, you need to stand even if it means loneliness for you.
"The world may scowl at you, friends may ridicule you, but your testimony must thrive in your life. Walk boldly, quietly, but with confidence and assurance in your life."
Accompanying President Hinckley on the tour was his wife, Marjorie, who spoke during the member meeting of her happiness and her testimony.
In his remarks in Paris, President Hinckley said the most beautiful thing in all of this great nation is those who have in their hearts a conviction that this work is true. "Each of you has the opportunity and the responsibility of gaining that conviction."
"How?" he asked, and then mentioned three ways: serving in the Church, reading His sacred word and simply living the gospel.
Continuing, he said: "I am grateful for the marvelous blessings of the Lord, and that I can stand before you this night my beloved brethren and sisters, and lift my voice in testimony of the truth of this work. . . . When all is said and done, the most important thing I can do, I believe, is to speak out without equivocation and say that I know that God, our Eternal Father, lives. He is the great Almighty."
In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints "do not believe in the traditional Christ. No, I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He, together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages.
"Am I Christian? Of course I am. I believe in Christ. I talk of Christ. I pray through Christ. I'm trying to follow Him and live His gospel in my life."
Following President Hinckley's visit to Paris, Elder Alain A. Petion, an Area Authority Seventy, described the sense of unity and love that prevailed following the member meeting.
"Looking over the congregation from the stand as everyone was waving farewell to President and Sister Hinckley," he said, "there was a moment when all the waving hands swayed from side to side in harmony, as if everyone were in one accord.
"Sister Hinckley mentioned in her talk how being in the meeting seemed to lift her off the ground," he continued. "After the meeting, members came up to me and said that the experience was so edifying, it seemed that they, too, were lifted off the ground."