When deadly wildfires spread through the Hawaiian island of Maui in August — destroying the town of Lahaina — the spiritual, temporal, mental and physical challenges felt overwhelming to those affected and those responding to the disaster.
The first Sunday after the fires, the Kahului Hawaii West Stake gathered several congregations together in the same meetinghouse that had served as a primary shelter for evacuees.
During one of the meetings, a bishop whose family had lost their home and whose ward had lost a family, bore his testimony. “I was not prepared for this,” the bishop said.
But stake President Benjamin J. Hanks had a clear impression: This bishop “was uniquely prepared for this.”
Whether it be amidst the devastation of disaster or in the quiet day-to-day lifting of others, “You are uniquely prepared for a time such as this,” President Hanks said in a BYU-Hawaii devotional a month later.
As a person receives the Holy Ghost, learns to discern and understand His promptings, he or she will be guided in matters large and small, President Russell M. Nelson taught in his first general conference as Prophet.
“Imagine the miracle of it,” President Nelson said. “Whatever our Church calling, we can pray to our Heavenly Father and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own.”
After the Maui fires, Kahului Hawaii Stake Relief Society President Lory Aiwohi was barely sleeping as she helped gather supplies, organize volunteers and set up a shelter.
In the midst of the “chaos and craziness” as she put it, she got home late one night and found herself with some rare quiet time.
As she sat there pondering, wondering how she could do it all, a very strong prompting came to her mind.
“It was just like, ‘I placed you in this position at this time for this purpose,’” Aiwohi remembered.
Speaking to the Church News on the grounds of the Kahului Hawaii West Stake Center in the days after the fires, Aiwohi reflected on what that prompting meant to her.
“He is definitely with us, and we are being instruments in His hands.”
In that April 2018 general conference address, President Nelson invited all to pray in the name of Jesus Christ about their concerns, fears, weaknesses and the very longings of their hearts.
“And then listen,” he said. “Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation.’”
In addition to pleading with everyone to increase their spiritual capacity to receive revelation, President Nelson has testified of capacity and potential.
“Each of us has a divine potential because each is a child of God,” President Nelson taught in October 2020 general conference, and he invited people to let God prevail in their lives.
He told youth in June 2018 about their capacity: “My beloved younger brothers and sisters, you are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world. You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.”
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
President Oaks encouraged young adults in May 2023 to establish in their minds the truth that they are beloved children of God.
“His love endows you with the self-respect, the strength and the motivation to move against whatever problems you face in your life. And never forget that His servants love you. We love you.”
Recognizing there may be times a person may feel as though the heavens are closed, President Nelson said, “I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you — even miracles — will follow.”
As people recognize their capacity and potential and as they seek to grow in revelation, they can remember how the Savior Jesus Christ is their advocate.
“In all our concerns, as we work through all our challenges, we urge that we be of good cheer, because He has overcome the world. We can too. Remember, our Father’s plan is a plan of happiness,” President Oaks said.
— Mary Richards is a reporter for the Church News.