Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve made several stops during a tour of Southeast Asia, Feb. 20-28. They included meetings with members and missionaries.
He began by presiding over the Miri East Malaysia District conference on the island of Borneo on Feb. 20-21.
Despite limited means, humble saints in the district arranged weeks ahead of time to be off work for the weekend conference, according to Sister Julie McKellar, a senior missionary serving in East Malaysia. She said, they scrubbed their children, dressed in their best available clothing, and boarded buses and other transportation to make the trip.
After traveling for hours, they entered the meetinghouse with great anticipation, filling the entry foyer and halls as they sat on the floor in traditional Malaysian style and waited, many families up to four hours before the meetings began, Sister McKellar said. There were 437 in attendance at the district conference.
Elder Nelson, the first apostle in this dispensation to visit Borneo, was accompanied by his wife, Wendy; Elder Kent Watson of the Seventy and counselor in the Church’s Asia Area presidency and his wife, Connie; and Singapore Mission President Terrence Clark and his wife, Laraine.
The Malaysian members were joyous as Elder Nelson welcomed all who would like to, to shake his hand. That gesture was something the members deeply longed for. They quietly lined up for the opportunity, many going away with tears streaming down their faces.
After the conference, district president Benedict Saran Ingkon best represented the feelings of all when he said, “These two days were the happiest of my life.”
While on Borneo, Elder Nelson also visited a few members living in Brunei.
He then proceeded to Kuala Lumpur in West Malaysia, where he met with missionaries and members. Elder Nelson was the first member of the Twelve to visit Kuala Lumpur since 1998. Members joined in a meeting Tuesday evening, Feb. 23, to be taught by the Spirit. Members in attendance were from more than 30 countries in this “melting pot” of Asia. Elder Nelson taught about the Savior using many languages.
Elder and Sister Nelson were greeted in Singapore by Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy and Asia Area president, and his wife, Christine. The next night, more than 675 members of the Singapore Stake went to the stake center, joined by 65 more saints from the Ipoh Malaysia District participating by webcast.
Elder Victor Kah-Keng Chen, an Area Seventy from Singapore, commented, “What a choice blessing it was for the saints of the Singapore Stake and Ipoh Malaysia to have the opportunity of listening to the counsel of Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve. The saints were not only edified by his counsels but they also received an apostolic blessing pronounced by Elder Nelson.”
Singapore Stake President Stephen Lai said of the meeting with Elder Nelson: “It was a very spiritual experience that few would ever forget. His timely message was a clarion call to everyone to return to the basics not only in our daily living but also to teach our children diligently the gospel principles as taught in the scriptures and by latter-day prophets. In fact, a young institute convert related that she was so moved by the Spirit of God that she could hardly control her tears throughout the meeting.”
A conference of the Jakarta Indonesia District was held Saturday, Feb. 27,. More than 400 adults from the Jakarta district joined in that evening’s session, with another 230 in six chapels elsewhere in Indonesia joining by webcast.
Saturday evening instruction increased faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthened the family. Elder Nelson taught of the Lord’s mission and ministry.
All speakers encouraged the Indonesian saints to put aside their fear and doubts and trust in the Lord to bless them, even if trials are lengthy. A clear message was to never give up on the salvation of nonmember, less-active or wayward family members.
Nearly 900 members attended the Sunday general session, greeted by a 110-voice seminary and institute choir.
Elder Nelson reminded parents of basic doctrines and principles they should be teaching their children. Sister Nelson advised members to prepare for “personal earthquakes” in their lives.
Elder Subandriyo, an Area Seventy from Indonesia, said, “We have been blessed by Elder Nelson’s visit. We were reminded to strengthen our family by putting our wife first and teaching our children the gospel of Jesus Christ in our home. Many members told me later that they have been blessed as they did what he taught us. His apostolic blessing was one of the most needed blessings for the members. He taught us the importance of temple ordinances.”
Other speakers bore testimony of the blessings from following the Lord and His living prophets. Members were encouraged to share the gospel.
A highlight for all the members was shaking hands with Elder and Sister Nelson following the general session – smiles and tears shined from nearly every eye.
Elder Nelson assured the members that their desire for a stake of Zion to be created in Indonesia was in their hands if they lived the gospel, served missions, and shared the gospel with family and friends.
After his tour, Elder Nelson said in a Church News interview that he was impressed with the members he had visited. While most of the members in East Malaysia are first generation, he said he saw four-generation members in Indonesia, gathered in one room. “It was a sight to behold,” he said.
He called the members in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia “people of great faith. They came long distances. They are in a very visible position being a minority religion. But once they convert, they stay converted and they are faithful.”
He continued, “They have deep testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith, and our present leaders, of course.”
He said he was impressed with “the devotion they have to the Church even under strenuous circumstances.”