CONCEPCIÓN, Chile — President Russell M. Nelson is “fearless” in his focus as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson.
Speaking from Chile — the final stop of a five-country, nine-day tour through South America — Sister Nelson said her husband’s inspired focus on ministering; simplifying and reducing; shifting to a home-centered and Church-supported curriculum; using the full and inspired name of the Church; and emphasizing a covenant path comes from the Lord.
“He is not playing to the crowds with this at all,” she said. “He is only reporting to the Lord, and he is fearless with that focus.”
The historic trip to Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile this October followed President Nelson’s 94th birthday. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been officially organized for 188 years — exactly double President Nelson’s age.
In addition, when President Nelson was born in 1924, there were no Latter-day Saints in South America; today Church membership on the continent exceeds 4 million.
“He loves South America,” said Sister Nelson of President Nelson, who visited Uruguay and Chile as a cardiac surgeon before becoming an Apostle.
“He has seen the faith of the people. He’s seen the love of the people for the Lord. Now he’s seen the love of the people for the temple.”
Sister Nelson has been to South America with President Nelson many times. But this trip felt different, she said.
“I’ve never been to South America with the President of the Church,” she said.
“What’s caught my attention about that is to see how much the people love the Lord, and therefore they’re so drawn to the prophet.”
In the 10 months since President Nelson has been the President of the Church, he has found great happiness, said Sister Nelson. “He’s doing what he came to earth to do, so why wouldn’t he be happy?” she said.
Sister Nelson said she has seen changes in herself during the last 10 months.
“The reality of the Lord is more real,” she explained. “The reality of the truthfulness of the gospel is more real. The reality of … the previous 16 prophets of this dispensation is more real. The fact of Joseph Smith is more real. It is like everything that I have known is now on steroids and put in a beautiful gold frame.”
During the trip, President Nelson asked parents in every country to teach their children what it means to be a child of God. His sentiment is deep, Sister Nelson said.
She spoke of being with the children in South America, who are “drawn to … the Savior’s love that my husband exudes.”
“They feel very safe with him. They feel they can trust him.”
Sister Nelson said President Nelson’s innovative approach has prepared him for some of the responsibilities he shoulders as President of the Church. When he receives inspiration, “he’s not afraid to do something different. …
“He is saying, ‘What really is needful?’ If we’re really preparing the Church and the world for the Second Coming of the Savior, he is sincere about that. He doesn’t want us spending money, time, energy on anything that isn’t really focused on that.”
Sister Nelson said she sees the Lord strengthening her husband. Being among the membership of the Church is energizing to him, she added. “If he is at home, he’ll say, ‘It’s wonderful to be home, but I need to be with the people.’”
And when he has the chance to worry, what does President Nelson worry about?
“He worries about what is needful,” said Sister Nelson. “What does the Lord really want him to put in place? What does the Lord want him to get people doing?”