Returning to her rural roots: The message Elder and Sister Holland gave to Saints in Sister Holland’s hometown

ENTERPRISE, Utah — Standing at the pulpit where she bore her first testimony and gave her first talk as a youth, Sister Patricia Terry Holland humbly declared her witness of the Savior to Latter-day Saints in her rural southern Utah hometown. 

“I’ve traveled all over the world, standing at pulpits from here to Zimbabwe and India, and I have voluntarily, from my heart and soul and my faith, stood as a witness for Jesus Christ, for I know He is our Savior,” Sister Holland said. 

“I have seen too much, I have felt too much, I know too many things to ever say otherwise. This is His Church. He is with us, and we are children of a loving Heavenly Father.”

Sister Patricia Holland, left, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stand for a portrait following the Enterprise Stake Conference in Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.
Sister Patricia Holland, left, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stand for a portrait following the Enterprise Stake Conference in Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Holland, returned to Sister Holland’s roots for a stake conference in Enterprise on Sunday, Oct. 17. The small farming community of a few thousand residents is located about 35 miles north of St. George, through the red rocks of Snow Canyon and rolling hills of Dixie National Forest. 

Many of Sister Holland’s relatives were among the 900 gathered in the Enterprise Utah Stake center, including two of her brothers, a sister, an aunt and uncle, and numerous cousins and their families. “I can say here I’m grateful to be with my brothers and sisters because you literally are my brothers and sisters,” she told the audience. “I can claim you all as family because you are!”

Elder Holland, who was born and raised in St. George, pleaded with the Saints in Enterprise not to take the gospel of Jesus Christ for granted just because they are a multigenerational, pioneer community. All need to be faithful in comfortable times so they will have strength to be faithful when difficult times come. “Any hand can be on the tiller of the ship when the weather is calm,” he said. 

“But when the weather turns bad and the waves are high, we need strong people. We need people who are determined to persevere and to believe, to trust and to worship and to give thanks for what we too often take for granted — the wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the Enterprise Stake Conference in Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the Enterprise Stake Conference in Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

A community of faith

Four generations of Sister Holland’s family once lived in Enterprise. Sister Holland’s great-grandfather, Thomas Sirls Terry, was sent by President Brigham Young to bring Church-owned cattle to the Southern Utah area. He and the others searched for good pastures and eventually traveled west to what is now Enterprise. 

“They saw this beautiful land that was filled with grass at that time, up to the belly of the cattle,” she said in an interview after the stake conference. “That’s what Brigham Young said — ‘you’ll know it when you find it’ — and they found it, and it was here.”

A building, part of the Terry Ranch, is shown west of Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.
A building, part of the Terry Ranch, is shown west of Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

The old Terry Ranch established in 1864 is still standing, about 10 miles west of the city center, and Sister Holland’s family still calls it home.  

“My great-grandmother was an amazing woman,” Sister Holland said. Her home became a stop for mail couriers between Nevada and Utah, “and she actually cooked for those who came.”

Growing up in Enterprise in the 1940s, young Patricia Terry found security in her close-knit town. When she was 16, her family moved to St. George, where she met a young man named Jeff Holland. The two became high-school sweethearts and married in the St. George Temple in 1963.   

“I’ve been blessed by her childhood heritage here,” Elder Holland told the Church News. “It is a community of faith.” 

As he and Sister Holland dated, Elder Holland enjoyed being in her home and spending time with her faith-filled family. “They were the personification of people who persevered, people who endured and believed, and the Lord always blessed them in magnificent ways — not the least of which is the quality of their character that was formed,” he said. 

Sister Holland described her hometown as “a land of miracles,” “a holy city” and a “refuge from the storm.”

A capital E on a hill overlooks the town of Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.
A capital E on a hill overlooks the town of Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

This summer Enterprise was threatened by a devastating wildfire and later faced heavy rains and flooding. The community prayed for miracles, and they came. 

“I’m grateful to be part of a community who believe in miracles, who are not afraid to ask for them, and have enough faith that they will come,” Sister Holland said. 

A message to the youth

Both Elder and Sister Holland offered specific counsel to the youth of the Enterprise stake. 

Elder Holland shared the story of a man who was once his opponent in high school athletics. The man had a difficult childhood and decided to go to church to find some solace and strength. At church, someone made an off-putting comment about him being there. He didn’t go back. 

This man, now faithful and active in the Church, expressed his regret for “what might have been” in those intervening years that he lost.

“If it were possible, I would gladly forfeit all my sports experience, all my accolades and trophies, all my ribbons and honors, just to have once been a member of the deacons quorum and just once to have passed the sacrament,” the man said. 

“Don’t grow up with regret,” Elder Holland told the youth. “We’re not perfect. Your parents aren’t. Your leaders aren’t. Your teachers aren’t. … But be grateful you have people in your lives who care about you, who sacrifice for you and who teach you.” 

Sister Patricia Terry Holland in high school.
Sister Patricia Terry Holland in high school. Credit: Screenshot RootsTech Discovery Day presentation

Sister Holland echoed a similar sentiment. “I pray that you’ll know sooner than I did that people are more alike than they are different,” she said. “We all have similar hopes and dreams.”

The scriptures don’t talk about degrees from universities, athletics or beauty, she noted. But they do emphasize two important things: the ability to love and the ability to be humble. 

“Your talents and your beauty and your goodness are God-given, but they are not the things He wants from you. He just wants you to have humility, to go to Him often, time and time again … and then share with others the love you feel from Him. Believe, please believe, and believe that God has wonderful things in store for you if you will be humble and bear witness of His love,” Sister Holland said. 

God is the healer, no matter what the wound

As challenging as the fires and floods were in Enterprise this summer, Elder Holland acknowledged that the personal fires and floods many are dealing with can be more devastating — job loss, health problems, wayward children and other hardships.   

“Things fall apart, things that you wanted to be perfect,” Elder Holland said. “Life comes along, and shatters dreams, hopes and ideals. In times like that I want you to be strong and faithful because there are blessings and promises at the end. They do not give blue ribbons at the start of a race — they are awarded down at the other end of the track. Keep running. Keep trying. The Savior set that example in persevering even when He was ‘running’ all alone.

“Don’t give up. Hang on and see it through. Be believing and trust. … God loves you. He understands when things don’t go well, but if anything gets broken, He can give it back to you better.  In fact He gives it back to you in perfection, better than it was originally.”

Sister Holland honored “the heroes and mentors” of her hometown who helped inspire her and build her faith. She concluded with her testimony: “I know God is with you. Hold His hand, talk to Him often and walk in peace.”

Enterprise Utah Stake President Mark G. Evans said many who attended the conference felt that Elder and Sister Holland were talking to them individually. “To have them come and just talk to us as a stake membership was wonderful — an experience not to be forgotten, a truly moving experience. … Everyone wished that it could have lasted longer.”

People exit the Enterprise Utah Stake center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following stake conference in Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.
People exit the Enterprise Utah Stake center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following stake conference in Enterprise, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Deseret News