When President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stood to address members of the Parleys Creek Branch of the Salt Lake East Millcreek North Stake on Oct. 30, he spoke to them not only as fellow saints in the gospel of Jesus Christ but also as a fellow refugee.
Many members of the branch are refugees from African nations. President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke from his heart when he told them, “I can relate to your experiences in some way.”
He was a refugee twice — first as a 4-year-old boy fleeing with his family from Czechoslovakia during World War II and then as an 11-year-old escaping from East Germany to West Germany in the aftermath of the war.
President Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, visited the Parleys Creek (Swahili) Branch’s sacrament meeting, during which some 90 children participated in a Primary presentation. After observing the children giving talks and singing, President Uchtdorf spoke of what he and the branch’s members have in common.
He noted that, prior to the Primary’s presentation, six members of one family — a mother and father and four of their children — were confirmed as members of the Church. Watching the confirmations, he said, reminded him of when six members of his family were baptized: his grandmother, his parents and three siblings. He said that since he was just 6 years old, he had to wait another two years to join the Church.
President Uchtdorf repeated several times the theme of his message to members of the branch, especially those who left their homes as refugees: “Always remember that wherever we are, the gospel is home. It doesn’t matter where we are, the gospel is home.
“For you who are here now, the gospel is home. See that as your goal for the future.”
He spoke of listening to the Primary children sing about wanting to be missionaries, and encouraged the young people, adults, parents, teachers and leaders to help the children reach their goals. To the future missionaries, he said that wherever they go, “know that the gospel is home.”
President Uchtdorf encouraged the branch’s members to “trust God, and trust His voice.”
He noted that President Emanuel De’Mzee, president of the Parleys Creek Branch, was translating his message into Swahili, the predominant African language of the branch’s members. President Uchtdorf said, “This afternoon, I have felt even more how inspiring the Holy Ghost is. Here we have a translator [President De’Mzee]. Often, we sit in meetings, not quite understanding the words that are spoken or how they all fit together. When we trust God and listen to the Holy Ghost, He will translate the words into a personal message to us. Whether you are 4 or 40 or 84, the message will be translated by the Holy Ghost.”
Concluding his message, President Uchtdorf said, “The gospel is home for everyone. Trust in the Lord. Keep the commandments. He will be close to you. ... You will find a home among members of the Church.”
President Uchtdorf said, “As you trust the Lord, you will never be alone. He will always be with you; He will be on your side. He knows you. He has confidence in you.”