Within the past week, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has heard many different names for the youth of the Church.
He heard the prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, refer to the youth as the "Hope of Israel," and from others the names "Zion's army," and "beloved sons and daughters of God."
"You are a special group of people," Elder Stevenson said during a Face to Face broadcast with the youth throughout Asia on Aug. 11. It was the first time a Face to Face has been held on the continent.
In an area of the world with more than one million Church members, the event, held in the Manila Missionary Training Center, brought thousands together in the Philippines — as well throughout the entire Asia Area via live broadcast.
"You are representing over half the population of the world," Elder Stevenson said. "In just the broadcast we are having today, my heart is just thrilled to think of young men and young women seated in all these countries tuned in today being uplifted and inspired as we are."
Speaking to "the future of the Church," Elder Stevenson asked the group, "can you imagine what you are going to see in your lifetime, and the very important role that you are all going to play? … Each one of you have a very important role to play in building the kingdom of God on earth."
Sharing the stage with his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, and two youth moderators, Charlene Lee and Austine Fernando, the Stevensons spent an hour answering questions submitted by the youth.
"We've seen some of the questions — you ask good questions," Elder Stevenson said. "Some of them aren't the easiest, but we will try our best. … Be prepared to try to remember the things that you (hear), … but also the things … that you feel in your heart."
Questions covered a variety of topics facing youth of the Church today: following the Spirit, receiving revelation, advice on how to stand valiantly, learning how to find balance and managing technology use.
The Stevensons spoke of their "toolbox" of "spiritual tools" that help in times of learning and with questions. Among the "spiritual tools" mentioned were the scriptures, "Preach My Gospel", the "For The Strength of Youth" pamphlet, and a reminder to live worthily to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
"One of the greatest blessings (that) we have as members of the Lord's Church is the gift of the Holy Ghost," Elder Stevenson reminded listeners.
To those wondering if they are following promptings from the Spirit, the Stevensons offered some advice:
"From my experiences, I have realized that things that are good, things that are positive, things that make you happy — these usually are coming from the Holy Ghost," said Sister Stevenson. "They are good things. … Basically, if something is good, something is helpful, you know it is from God. And don't doubt yourself."
When asked how to stay valiant in doing what is right, the Stevensons reminded listeners that a person doesn't have to be perfect to be a disciple of Christ.
"Sometimes we feel like we have to be perfect to be able to walk this path and to return to our Heavenly Father," Sister Stevenson said. "We get discouraged and we don't want to do it. We don't understand that we are supposed to get on this path to help us to strive to become perfect."
Elder Stevenson added, "The covenant path is not a path for perfect people. The covenant path is for those who are trying to become perfect."
Although a person may not be perfect, Elder Stevenson said that all can do some things perfectly.
"There are some things we just know we can do if we challenge ourselves," he said.
Using the example of scripture study, Elder Stevenson reminded listeners that they may not be perfect, but can be perfect in their scripture study.
"The gospel is a gospel of joy and it tries to teach us to be happy," he said. "Satan will try to make us miserable because he is. The gospel will bring joy and happiness to you."
For the young people thinking of going on a mission but feel as if they aren't good enough, Elder Stevenson encouraged them to move forward in faith and begin preparing now.
"I understand," Elder Stevenson said. "I've been a member of the Twelve for about three years now — wow! Can you imagine what it would be like to walk into a room and to be there in the Quorum?"
Important to accepting a call to serve is that a person is prepared.
"One of the ways you will be prepared is if you are always worthy to hold a temple recommend," he said, also reminding the young people that the Lord helps people who are willing to do His work.
Sister Stevenson shared one of her favorite scriptures, found in Philippians 4:13, which says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
"When I think about that scripture I realize I can do anything," she said. "That pertains to anything — whether it is going on a mission, whether it is saying prayers, whether it is standing up for the Church in front of friends — it is anything that might be hard. We can do this through Christ because He is always with us and will always be with us."
To the youth who are wondering about advice in "balancing technology and the real world," Elder Stevenson recognized there are positives that come with social media, but encouraged the youth to not get caught up in viewing the most fun pictures of another person's life. He also encouraged them to use time wisely.
"I want to express our gratitude for you being here … (and) being the youth that you are — for being strong, for being valiant and for being the bright light," Sister Stevenson said. "We can see it in your eyes, you're incredible and we want you to know how much we love you and we appreciate you and we pray for you."
The full broadcast, as well as archived Face to Face events, are available to view on LDS.org. Follow the conversation on the LDS Youth Facebook page or on other social media channels using the hashtag #LDSface2face.