Boyd Matheson: Insights into what the apostles learn from traveling with the prophet and what it means for Latter-day Saints

It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep.  When it comes to President Russell M. Nelson working with the latter-day apostles, the journey of thousands of miles begins with faith in every footstep.

Since being sustained as the prophet, President Nelson has logged tens of thousands of miles, usually with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joining him. In reaching to members around the world, the prophet is also teaching his brethren about ministering in the Savior’s higher, holier way.

In a Friday meeting held in Brasilia, Brazil, for all missionaries serving in that country’s 35 missions, Elder Quentin L. Cook — the quorum member accompanying the prophet on his current Latin America Ministry Tour — provided some insight into what traveling and just being with the prophet means to the apostles.

Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a Brazil Brasilia Mission meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.
Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a Brazil Brasilia Mission meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

Read more stories from the Latin America Ministry Tour.

Elder Cook quoted Wilford Woodruff about his traveling with the Prophet Joseph Smith in Zion’s Camp, “We gained an experience that we never could have gained in any other way. We had the privilege of beholding the face of the prophet, and we had the privilege of traveling a thousand miles with him, and seeing the workings of the spirit of God with him, and the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and the fulfillment of those revelations.” (Deseret News, 22 Dec. 1869, 543.)

Elder Cook later said that while traveling with the prophet was a singular experience, that the counselors in the First Presidency and the Twelve regularly see “the workings of the spirit of God” with President Nelson in their meetings in the temple and that they have personal witnesses of “the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and the fulfillment of those revelations.”

Most of the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ will never have the opportunity to be in physical presence of the prophet. Yet the prophet seems determined to travel wherever he can, and where he cannot go he will send the Twelve, and where the Twelve cannot reach general authorities and general officers will visit. 

Above all, the prophet prays earnestly that the Holy Spirit will carry and reach every member in every area of the world with the prophet’s love and blessing. James Elroy Flecker wrote, “Since I can never see your face, And never shake you by the hand, I send my soul through time and space, To greet you. You will understand.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, attend a Brazil Brasilia Mission meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.
Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, attend a Brazil Brasilia Mission meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

As we listen for the whisperings of the spirit of God carried in President Nelson’s voice and as we seek to understand the revelations of Jesus Christ delivered through his chosen servant, we will understand across time and space the power and blessings of latter-day prophets and apostles.

I sensed that Elder Cook was actually inviting each of us to begin our own journey and have our own Zion’s Camp moments with a living prophet.