LANGLEY, B.C. — President Russell M. Nelson strained to see the Primary-age children in the congregation of 4,600 Latter-day Saints gathered in the Langley Events Center on Sunday evening, September 16.
So he asked them to stand, raise their arms high in the air and wave “like french fries.”
“Oh yes. Now I can see you,” he said.
“I feel a little like the Resurrected Lord might have felt when He first appeared to people on the Western Hemisphere. He directed His attention to the children...," President Nelson said. "Is there anything more that you parents and teachers would like for your children than to have real peace in their hearts and in their minds?”
One day after addressing a record audience of 49,000 Latter-day Saints in Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington, President Nelson traveled to Langley, British Columbia, to address Latter-day Saints from the greater Vancouver area.
The meeting in British Columbia marked another stop this year for President Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, who have also visited Canadian Latter-day Saints in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.
“Do you think that Wendy’s being from Canada might prejudice me in some way?” said President Nelson. “I’ll confess she is a very good influence on me. Actually, we love all the Saints wherever they live and we love to be with them.”
British Columbia — where the Church dedicated the Vancouver British Columbia Temple in May 2010 — is home to nearly 31,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Latter-day Saints are drawn to the province not only for employment and universities in Vancouver and Victoria, but also “for the beauty of its vastness,” said President Frank Hitchmough of the Victoria British Columbia Stake. “Ocean, mountain ranges and large areas of arable land drew the saints here as well.”
Jenny and Scott Friesen of the Surrey, British Colubmia, live in the area, where they enjoy hiking, skiing and other outdoor activities with their three sons. Zach Friesen,14, participated in an all-youth choir that performed Sunday night for President Nelson.
Jenny Friesen, a teacher and the Surrey British Columbia Stake young women president, could not wait for her sons to see President Nelson personally.
“They have never experienced the flooding of emotion that happens when he enters the room and everyone stands up,” she said. “They have never experienced the feeling that says, ‘I want to follow him.'”
During Sunday’s devotional, President Nelson — a father of 10, grandfather of 57 and great-grandfather of 119 — directed his remarks to the Friesens and other Church members teaching “precious children.”
First and foremost, teach them what it really means when they sing, “I Am a Child of God. God is their Heavenly Father,” President Nelson said, noting children can call upon their Father in prayer anytime “without recharging batteries or paying service fees.”
Teach them about God’s Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, President Nelson continued. “He came into the world to do the will of His Father, because His Father sent Him.”
Help children understand “the significance of the sacrament” and that this is the “Church of Jesus Christ,” said President Nelson. “It is His Church.”
Then, singing a line from a popular Primary song about prophets, President Nelson said God teaches His children through prophets. He shared his personal witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
“The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God,” said President Nelson. “Do you realize more than 180 million copies have now been distributed? It is another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is the instrument by which the promised gathering of scattered Israel will take place."
President Nelson asked parents and teachers to “read the Book of Mormon to these wonderful children. Read the Bible and other standard works to them. They will be better students in all of their subjects if they learn to read along with you.”
He also asked the congregation to teach children about the restoration of priesthood authority. Let “your homes be sanctuaries of faith for these children,” he said.
“Of course, our children need correction from time to time,” said President Nelson. “That’s why they have parents. Please correct them quietly and privately.”
Continuing, he said, “Please help them to focus, even at an early age, on the blessings of the temple. … That is where they will receive their greatest blessings.”
Teach them to be worthy to be called as missionaries for the Lord, to be tithe payers, to keep the Word of Wisdom, to shun the “perilous plague of pornography,” to gain an education and to be good citizens, he said.
President Nelson closed by leaving a blessing on those in the congregation.
Sister Nelson shared her testimony and witness of her husband’s prophetic mantle.
“At 94 years of age, my husband is becoming more and more of his true self every day,” she said. “Why wouldn’t he be? He is doing exactly what he was foreordained to do.”
These are the latter days, she said, and “the Lord really needs us to be his Saints.”
President Eyring said members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share the blessing of being under covenant with God.
“My intent today is to increase your gratitude for the covenants you have made with Him,” he said. “And even more, my hope is to build your faith that you will be able to claim the eternal blessings promised as you keep those covenants.”
During the devotional, President Eyring spoke of the feeling he received at his own baptism, his service in the Church, and of his marriage.
“The promised blessing from the baptismal covenant holds marriages and families together in a bond of love,” he said. “Always remembering the Savior and keeping His commandments is the path to marital love and family happiness.”
President Eyring said his wife, Sister Kathleen Eyring — now suffering from the effects of age — only speaks a few words each day.
“She can no longer comfort, mourn or serve as she always has,” he said. “But she is growing more powerful in bearing witness of the Savior.”
Closing, President Eyring said, “I bear you my witness that the covenant path in the Church of Jesus Christ is the way to happiness in this life and joy in eternal life forever.”
Kristen Potter of Vancouver, British Columbia, said the teachings from the meeting were a good reminder to focus on family and home.
Joshua and Jamille Clair, who live with their daughter Callista in Delta, British Columbia, said President Nelson’s message was directly for them. “Hopefully we will be able to apply everything from the prophet we have heard today,” Jamille Clair said.
Romney Udani of Surrey, British Columbia, said the meeting marked the first time he has ever been in the presence of a prophet. “I have always had a testimony of prophets," he said. "Being here confirmed that for me.”