WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — President Russell M. Nelson delivered a unifying message at Sunday’s Salt Lake Granger West Stake Conference:
“We’re all in this together.”
Just weeks after being set apart as the Church’s 17th president, the veteran Church leader said he’s already experiencing unforgettable moments:
“You’ve made marvelous memories for Sister (Wendy W.) Nelson and me,” said President Nelson as he looked across the vast congregation gathered at the stake center.
His message of togetherness resonated with the Granger West Stake members who were thrilled to be joined Sunday by President and Sister Nelson.
“I’ve concluded it really doesn’t matter much what your calling is in the Church, as long as you are doing it well,” he said. “Your work and your calling are just as important as my work and my calling.
Life is often defined by the unexpected. So it’s essential, he said, “to be prepared.”
President Nelson spoke of Elder Von G. Keetch, a General Authority Seventy who died on Jan. 26, just 10 days after helping coordinate the worldwide broadcast announcing the new First Presidency.
“He was suddenly called home. I spoke at his funeral on Friday.”
Elder Keetch’s unexpected passing is a reminder of mortality’s uncertainties.
“We need to prepare,” said President Nelson. “We need to know that we are ready to meet our Maker, whenever that day may come.”
In their separate remarks, the Nelsons recounted a question that was once posed by a nurse to Dr. Russell M. Nelson after he performed a difficult surgery: “Why are you not like other surgeons?”
Some surgeons, the nurse knew well, could be short-tempered and profane as they performed their pressure-filled duties. Dr. Nelson’s reply?: “Because I know the Book of Mormon is true.”
That answer prompted the nurse and her own surgeon-husband to study the Book of Mormon. President Nelson later baptized the nurse.
Decades passed and President Nelson lost contact with the couple. The husband later died and his wife eventually remarried. While presiding over a stake conference in Tennessee shortly after being called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Nelson enjoyed an unexpected reunion with the nurse who, years earlier, had asked why he was not like some of his colleagues.
That woman’s conversion, brought about by the influence of the Book of Mormon, brought about the conversion of 80 more people, said President Nelson.
On another occasion, President Nelson said he was on an assignment in Ghana when he was introduced to a tribal king. He explained to the handsome king that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ and that the Book of Mormon offered an account of the resurrected Christ and His ministry in the Americas.
He then offered the king a copy of the Book of Mormon. He won’t ever forget the king’s response: “You could give me diamonds or rubies, and that would not be nearly as precious to me as additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Members of the Granger West Stake have “missionary opportunities galore,” he said. They live in the heartland of the Church and in a community enriched by cultural diversity. There will be many opportunities to share the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Christ.
“So be ready,” he said. “Be ready to explain the Church.”
President Nelson said the saving doctrine of the Atonement is fully revealed in the Book of Mormon. Because of the Atonement, a person who is obedient to the Lord’s commandments and enters into sacred covenants “can qualify for the greatest of all blessings — eternal life.”
Eschew pornography, be a good example and “rejoice in the joy of the gospel.”
President and Sister Nelson visited the Keetch family a short time after Elder Keetch’s death. The Keetch home was filled with peace and faith even at a moment of grief and mourning. Strength was found in prayers and priesthood blessings.
It was like being in a temple — “a holy nest to the Lord.”
Make “your own homes” holy nests to the Lord, counseled President Nelson.
He concluded by bestowing an apostolic blessing that the Granger West Stake members would be good examples; focusing their lives on the temple and the Lord.
In her remarks, Sister Nelson testified of the essential, guiding role the Book of Mormon could play in every aspect of life. All can offer the same answer once offered by Dr. Nelson: “Because I know the Book of Mormon is true.”
Questions to Latter-day Saints about why they pay tithing, or help others, or attend multiple Church meetings, or dress modestly, or avoid drugs or alcohol can all be answered with the same reply.
“Because I know the Book of Mormon is true.”
She encouraged the members to discuss that proven “answer” in their own family home evenings and other gatherings.
“Have heart-to-heart conversations about what you know to be true,” she said, adding members can enjoy sweet peace as they involve the Book of Mormon in their day-to-day lives.
Sister Nelson also saluted the Granger West Stake members for their commitment to family history work and missionary work. Many are eagerly anticipating the fast approaching rededication of the Jordan River Utah Temple, their “home” temple.
Granger West Stake President Duane R. Kendell encouraged the members to focus on Christ by simplifying their personal lives and their family priorities. Simplifying service to others will also result in many being rescued.
Other talks or testimonies Sunday were offered by recently returned missionary Franchessca Panoussi; local priesthood leader Mark Santini and his mother, Ann Santini; and President Bruce Clark of the Jordan River Temple Presidency and his wife, Sister Glenys Clark, an assistant to the temple matron.