In August, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles led dignitaries and government officials through an open house tour of the Brasília Brazil Temple.
As the tour passed through the changing area, Elder Soares said he paused with Brazil’s vice president to describe the symbolism of the white clothing worn inside the temple.
“I explained to him that this universal use of white clothing symbolizes that we are all alike unto God and that in the temple our identities were not vice president of a country or a church leader, but our eternal identity as sons of a loving Heavenly Father,” the Apostle said.
Elder Soares was one of several leaders who taught about the divine identity of humankind during the first three sessions of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, Sept. 30.
Iguazu River and divine heritage
Speaking during the Saturday evening session, Elder Soares described how the Iguazu River that flows through southern Brazil empties into a plateau that forms a system of waterfalls known as the Iguazu Falls, which he called “one of the most beautiful and impressive of God’s creations on earth” and considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Elder Soares compared this remarkable system of waterfalls to God’s family on earth — sharing the same spiritual origin and substance, derived from a divine heritage and kinship, but flowing from different cultures, ethnicities and nationalities, with different opinions, experiences and feelings.
“Despite this, we move forward, as God’s children and as brothers and sisters in Christ, without losing our divine connection, which makes us a unique people and a beloved community,” Elder Soares said.
Humankind is not an accidental byproduct of nature, a cosmic orphan or the result of matter plus time plus chance, said Elder Alan T. Phillips, a General Authority Seventy, in the Saturday afternoon session.
“Where there is design, there is a designer,” he said. “Your life has meaning and purpose. The ongoing Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings light and understanding regarding your divine identity. You are a beloved child of Heavenly Father. You are the subject matter of all those parables and teachings. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to heal, rescue and redeem you.”
Teach the children
During the Saturday afternoon session, Brother Jan E. Newman, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, said one way parents can help their children to strengthen their relationships with Jesus Christ is by teaching them who they are.
“As you teach them you will come to know their true nature as beloved sons and daughters of God,” he said. “They may forget the Savior for a season, but I promise you, He will never forget them. Those moments when the Holy Ghost speaks to them will persist in their hearts and minds.”
One ‘hallmark of happiness’
“It is crucial to our happiness that we remember that we are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father,” he said. “Knowing and trusting this reality changes everything.”
Zoom out to an eternal view
Sister Tamara W. Runia, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, invited the conference audience to “zoom out” and view themselves and families from an eternal perspective. Families are a “God-given laboratory,” she said.
“Let’s zoom out to view family relationships as the powerful vehicle to teach us the lessons we came here to learn as we turn to the Savior,” Sister Runia said. “When they pass to the other side of the veil and draw close to that loving gravitational pull of their heavenly home, I believe it will feel familiar because of how they were loved here.”