Elder Neil L. Andersen: ‘Spiritually Defining Memories’

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Notable quotes:

“God powerfully and very personally assures each of us that He knows us and loves us, and that He is blessing us specifically and openly.”
“Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Let them bring patience to your doubts and understanding to your difficulties.”
“When personal difficulty, doubt, or discouragement darken our path, or when world conditions beyond our control lead us to wonder about the future, the spiritually defining memories from our book of life are like luminous stones that help brighten the road ahead, assuring us that God knows us, loves us and has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to help us return home.”

Summary points:

  • The prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith, provides a timeless example of discovering and finding strength in spiritually defining moments.
  • Today’s Church president, President Russell M. Nelson, offers an essential invitation: “How do you hear Him?”
  • Navigate life’s challenges with constant prayer, keeping covenants and following the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Talk summary: 

Joseph Smith knew many “difficult hours” in the decades following the First Vision and the restoration of Christ’s church. But the Prophet never doubted God’s love for him or his testimony of the things he had witnessed.

“There is a lesson for us in the Prophet Joseph’s example. Along with the peaceful direction we receive from the Holy Ghost, from time to time, God powerfully and very personally assures each of us that He knows us and loves us, and that He is blessing us specifically and openly. Then, in our moments of difficulty, the Savior brings these experiences back into our mind.”

Defining reminders of God’s love often come while learning about the gospel or sharing it with others.

There are times when spiritual feelings penetrate the heart “like fire” — illuminating the soul. Joseph Smith taught that such feelings sometimes arrive as “sudden strokes of ideas” and “the pure flow of intelligence.”

 The Lord’s living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has invited Latter-day Saints to ponder the essential question: “How do you hear Him?”

“We hear Him in our prayers, in our homes, in the scriptures, in our hymns, as we worthily partake of the sacrament, as we declare our faith, as we serve others, and as we attend the temple with fellow believers. Spiritually defining moments come as we prayerfully listen to general conference and as we better keep the commandments. 

“And children, these experiences are for you as well.”

One navigates his or her way through life with constant prayer, keeping covenants and by utilizing the gift of the Holy Ghost.

“Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Let them bring patience to your doubts and understanding to your difficulties.”

In the news:

About the speaker:

  • Elder Andersen was sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 4, 2009.
  • Elder Andersen served a mission in France, presided over the France Bordeaux Mission from 1989-1992, and accompanied President Henry B. Eyring as he dedicated the Paris France Temple on May 21, 2017.
  • Elder Andersen is multilingual, speaking French, Portuguese and Spanish, in addition to English.
  • Elder Andersen and his wife, Kathy Williams Andersen, are the parents of four children.
  • He was called as a General Authority Seventy in 1993; his Church assignments gave him responsibilities in Brazil, Western Europe, Mexico and Central America.

Recently on Social:

  • Elder Andersen shared the video, “The Wounded Shall Be Healed,” based on his October 2018 general conference address, on Facebook on March 23.
The Wounded Shall Be Healed

In our mortal journey, we search for happiness. We long for peace. We hope for love. And the Lord showers us with an amazing abundance of blessings. But intermingled with the joy and happiness, one thing is certain: there will be moments, hours, days, sometimes years when your soul will be wounded. You may be feeling wounded right now, with the unexpected difficulties, the uncertainty, and the confusion that exists in our world this very moment.I often reflect back on these words from my talk entitled “Wounded”:“Never give up—however deep the wounds of your soul, whatever their source, wherever or whenever they happen, and however short or long they persist, you are not meant to perish spiritually. You are meant to survive spiritually and blossom in your faith and trust in God. …“Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through the incalculable gift of His Atonement, not only saves us from death and offers us, through repentance, forgiveness for our sins, but He also stands ready to save us from the sorrows and pains of our wounded souls” (general conference, Oct. 2018).Please know that I send my love and prayers as you face the challenges before you.

Posted by Neil L. Andersen on Monday, March 23, 2020
  • Following his assignment to Thailand, Elder Andersen shared in a Feb. 12 instagram post how his spirits are always lifted when he is with members of the Church around the world. “Being with the Saints in Thailand, I truly felt their goodness and the light they bring to all around them,” he wrote. 
View this post on Instagram

My spirits are always lifted when I am with members of the Church throughout the world. My recent trip to Thailand was no different. Thailand is a country of 63 million people, with those who are Christians being less than one percent of the population. When Jesus spoke to His disciples, He said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16). . In Thailand, we have 22,000 Church members in four stakes and two districts. Being with the Saints in Thailand, I truly felt their goodness and the light they bring to all around them. . Several years ago on a trip to Bangkok, I met Sathit and Juthamas Kaivaivatana and their devoted children. I shared their story in the April 2015 general conference. Sathit joined the Church when he was 17 and served a mission in his native land. Later he met Juthamas at the institute and they were sealed in the Manila Philippines Temple. In 1993 the Kaivaivatanas were hit by a truck whose driver had fallen asleep and Sathit was paralyzed from his chest down. Their faith has never wavered. Sathit now serves as the stake president of the Thailand Bangkok North Stake. We see God’s miracles in His wondrous work and in their beautiful family. I loved having the chance to see them again on this trip. . Let us each be as the Savior said—a light on the hill. Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ will more and more mean that we are different from those in the world. I am thankful for our fellow disciples in Thailand who are unafraid to love the Savior, keep His commandments, and be a light to their nation. Let us learn from their example.

A post shared by Neil L. Andersen (@neillandersen) on

  • Elder Andersen invited followers to “be filled with the awe, gratitude, and wonder of the Savior’s sacred Atonement,” in a Dec. 23, 2019, tweet. 
  • Elder Andersen shared images of his grandchildren passing out a Thanksgiving card to missionaries in the MTC in a Dec. 6, 2019, Facebook post. “The holidays are a time when some missionaries feel homesick or downtrodden,” he wrote. “We wanted them to know how thankful we are for their sacrifice and share our love with them.”

This year my family had the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving with missionaries around the world. The holidays are a…

Posted by Neil L. Andersen on Friday, December 6, 2019