LAIE, Hawaii In reference to the love President David O. McKay and other Church presidents have had for the saints of the seas, President Thomas S. Monson said, "You have been blessed. The prophets have cherished the spirituality which you exemplify."
First counselor in the First Presidency, President Monson spoke to members in a multi-stake conference that originated in the Cannon Activities Center on the BYU-Hawaii campus and was transmitted via satellite to stake centers and other buildings throughout the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday, Oct. 23.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve and Bishop Keith B. McMullin, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, also addressed the conference, with Bishop McMullin conducting. Sisters Mary C. Hales and Carolyn G. McMullin offered remarks.
President Monson reflected on his many visits to Hawaii and other parts of the South Pacific, recounting faith-promoting experiences of members he has met. He cited the experience of Mayre Naisbitt Nielsen of the Primary general board, in Sydney, Australia. Concerned about staying at the home of a local Primary president whose husband was not a member, she was counseled by President Monson to "just be yourself." Her example, which included a heartfelt prayer for the welfare of the family, led to the baptism of the Primary president's husband.
He recalled a visit to Tahiti, where members welcomed him by placing so many floral leis around his neck that some were removed so other members could make their presentations. He said that one member, Tahauri Hutihuti, a pearl diver, had faithfully saved most of his money to travel to the Hamilton New Zealand Temple to be sealed to his family. When he approached President Monson, he "whispered, 'I have no gift but the love of my heart,' and he kissed me on the cheek."
After mentioning these and other examples of stalwart members of the Pacific, President Monson said, "I have a great love for the isles of the sea and for the people who dwell thereon."
He counseled members to live by the blueprint the Lord gave in Doctrine and Covenants 88:119 pertaining to the building of the Kirtland Temple: "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."
After he elaborated on how each principle in that blueprint could bless individuals, families and couples, he said that he and his wife, Frances, have been married 57 years. "Benjamin Bowring, who performed the sealing ceremony, counseled us, saying, 'May I offer you newlyweds a formula which will ensure that any disagreement you may have will last no longer than one day? Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray."
Elder Hales spoke of the history of the Church in Hawaii, which today has a membership of approximately 61,715.
"From the beginnings of the Church in Hawaii in 1843 until today, 162 years later, a mighty change has come about in Hawaii. New generations have grown up to strengthen the Church because of strong families obeying the commandments of God."
Elder Hales shared "a few of the most important gospel principles you will need to live so that you can continue your growth and development in Hawaii."
Included in those principles were entering into and keeping baptismal covenants, partaking of the saving ordinances of the temple, being worthy to partake of the sacrament each week, and the payment of tithing.
Bishop McMullin commented on nature's artistic handiwork and frightening powers that are equally displayed so that man might understand the differences between beauty and peril. He said that the messages of Hawaii can easily be overshadowed by the enjoyment they provide. "We can safely assume that many visitors to these islands see in them more seashore than sermon, more indulgence than introspection. This phenomenon is not unique to Hawaii. It can be experienced in most every home in America. Surfing is no longer an exclusive, seaside sport."
Through technology, he said, people can surf waves on the Internet, television, radio and CD player. "Surfing today can mean that people are 'ever learning, . . . (but) never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). It is a spiritual peril of the information age."
Further, Bishop McMullin said, "We may wish to surf the media to learn of man's perspective. But if we wish to know truth, if we wish to understand the course we should follow or the thing we should do, there is no need to search. The site is sure. It is our Heavenly Father, in the name of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ."
Sister Hales spoke of times when reading the Bible had been forbidden and the sacrifices made to make it available to everyone. She spoke of the Book of Mormon, and those who preserved and brought it forth, and emphasized the First Presidency's request for members to read or re-read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.
Sister McMullin referred to President Gordon B. Hinckley's call for members to be more forgiving, loving and tolerant. She spoke of companions to these virtues: patience and faith. She noted that Charles W. Penrose, having been wronged by a fellow member, wrote a poem that became a hymn, "School Thy Feelings."
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