President Ballard to Latino youth in Utah: ‘Get all the education that you can’

Live your life the best way you can to make wonderful future memories, President M. Russell Ballard said during a special Utah Area Latino devotional held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Sunday, June 5.

“Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind,” said President Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We are gathered here tonight in His name. He is a very important part of our education.” 

President Ballard addressed Latino youth 15 to 18 years old, their parents and youth leaders. Joined on the program by Bishop German Lopez, bishop of the Riverton YSA (Spanish) Ward, and Sen. Luz Escamilla, who has served 14 years in the Utah Legislature, President Ballard spoke about the blessings of education and how it prepares Latter-day Saint youth for service to their families and communities.

“Get all the education that you can,” he said. “I am 93 years old and I learn something new every day.”

As the address began, President Ballard greeted the congregation in Spanish, recalling a time in his youth when he studied the language.

To the delight of the congregation, he recalled that his Spanish teacher called his younger self “Russellito.”

But he didn’t pick up the language as quickly as his teacher hoped. One day she thumped his desk. “Oh, Russellito!” she said.

Then looking out across the Spanish-speaking congregation, President Ballard — expressing a desire to speak the language better — added: “So Russellito is in the same position tonight. But my heart is in the right place and my love for you is unlimited.”

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, speaks with the help of translator Alejandro Melecio, left, during a devotional for Latino youth, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 5, 2022.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, speaks with the help of translator Alejandro Melecio, left, during a devotional for Latino youth, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 5, 2022. Credit: Alex Goodlett, for the Deseret News

Addressing the Latino youth and their families with the help of a translator, President Ballard spoke about education.

The revelations of Joseph Smith and other latter-day prophets “teach us who we really are as sons and daughters of God,” he said. “What is our destiny? What is our purpose? What are we trying to accomplish in this sojourn in mortality?”

It all comes down to one word: education, he said.  

Latter-day Saints should learn everything they can about life.

President Ballard recalled participating in a high school chemistry class and mixing chemicals in a test tube — which eventually exploded. To this day he doesn’t know what made his test tube react differently from the others in the classroom. The path of life will include some mistakes, which can be corrected, and many right decisions, he added.

“In the process of your education, in the process of living, you are going to do a lot of right things. … What greater blessing did our Heavenly Father give to His children than the reality of the life and ministry of His Beloved Son, our Savior, and the Holy Ghost as our teacher, to help us move through life making right and wise decisions.”

President Ballard asked the congregation to follow the promptings of the Spirit and through sincere prayer come to accept and know that Jesus Christ is “our Savior and our Redeemer and our friend.”

Pursue an education, he continued. “You have got a tremendous life ahead of you.”

Stay on the covenant path by keeping the commandments, avoiding pornography and repenting when mistakes are made, he added.

Life, he said, is wonderful, explaining that as a young man he had no idea he would become the father of seven children and a grandfather of 43. He then said, “I held in my arms today my 103rd great-grandchild.”

The sure path to happiness is simple, he said: “Keep the gospel burning brightly in your hearts.”

Looking out across the congregation he told the youth they are the future of the Church.

“Do everything you can to live your life in such a way that when the Lord needs you — for whatever purpose — that you might be able to say, ‘Father, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27).’ …

“Know how much we love you. We realize as leaders of the Church that this great work will someday be passed into your hands.”

Utah Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City speaks during a Latter-day Saint devotional for Latino youth, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 5, 2022.
Utah Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City speaks during a Latter-day Saint devotional for Latino youth, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 5, 2022. Credit: Alex Goodlett, for the Deseret News

He asked every youth to have a desire to be found worthy of the blessings of the Lord and to stay focused and anchored. “May the Lord bless every one of you according to your needs,” he concluded.

During his remarks, shared in Spanish, Bishop Lopez spoke about coming to the United States from Mexico 21 years ago to gain an education. The family, which included five children, lived in a two-bedroom apartment. Together they overcame fear, difficulties and stress. “The main purpose of education is to help others,” he said.

Senate Minority Whip Escamilla, also speaking in Spanish, said education gave her the power to determine her own future. Everything in life is easier when a person makes the decision to follow the commandments, she added. “We are not alone,” she concluded. “All of our experiences are for our learning.”