Sarah Jane Weaver: How President Nelson’s invitation to ‘eat your vitamin pills, get some rest’ is needed now

Recent events in the Church of Jesus Christ reflect President Russell M. Nelson’s words about the increasing reach and influence of the Church and its members

From a room overlooking the newly dedicated Concepción Chile Temple on Oct. 28, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson spoke about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We are witnesses to a process of restoration,” he said. “If you think the Church has been fully restored, you are just seeing the beginning. There is much more to come.”

Then with a sweet, knowing smile, he added:

“Wait till next year, and then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get some rest. It’s going to be exciting.”

I will never forget the feeling in the room when President Nelson spoke those historic words about the increasing reach and influence of the Church and its members. In a single moment, we glimpsed what might be coming for both President Nelson’s fast-paced ministry and the Church he leads.

Characteristically, however, President Nelson — sitting by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — instantly directed the conversation heavenward. “It’s the Lord’s work, and it’s a privilege for us to participate in any way,” he said.

I have thought about those words often in recent days while working with the Church News staff to create a “living record of the Restoration.” There was a time early in my career when things in the Church quieted in the weeks before general conference, so everyone could catch their breath and prepare for the global event.

However, that has not been the case this past week.

Instead, as the Lord has continued to hasten His work on earth, covering the Restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has required the full-throttle efforts of speed, energy and flexibility. For example:

Temples: On Sunday, Sept. 17, in a historic first for the Church, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles each dedicated one of three temples in a single day. These dedications were sandwiched between a news conference and media tour of the newly renovated St. George Utah Temple on Wednesday, Sept. 6, and a similar event for the Okinawa Japan Temple on Sept. 21. The Church now has 315 temples that are dedicated, under construction or announced, including the 133 temples announced by President Nelson in the five-plus years he has been President of the Church.

The Okinawa Japan Temple.
The Okinawa Japan Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Education: Also on Sunday, Sept. 17, Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Ronald A. Rasband, joined by Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson, participated in a BYU–Pathway Worldwide devotional originating from Mexico City, Mexico, and broadcast throughout Latin America on the availability of education to Church members. BYU–Pathway Worldwide serves more than 61,000 students annually from more than 180 countries. Students improve their English skills, and certificates and degrees are offered in partnership with BYU–Idaho and Ensign College

Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson speaks in Mexico City with several Church leaders behind her on the stand.
Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses BYU Pathway Worldwide students during a Spanish-language devotional, originating in Mexico City and broadcast throughout Latin America on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. | Patricia Frandsen, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Nowhere was the power of education more evident than in the life of C. Shane Reese, the 14th president of BYU who was inaugurated on Tuesday, Sept. 19, by President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency and Elder Christofferson and Elder Rasband. President Reese is an only child raised by a single mother and went from being a first-generation college student to being a university president.

History: On Thursday, Sept. 21, the Church marked the 200th anniversary of Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith and the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The heavenly messenger revealed the nearby location of an ancient record written on gold plates — the Book of Mormon. The book has now been translated into 112 languages, and the Church is nearing 200 million printed copies of the sacred book. And earlier this year the Church culminated 20 years of work with the release of the last of 27 volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers.

Humanitarian: The Church announced on Sept. 19 a $8.25 million donation to two organizations in response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Sudan. The money will help feed and provide core relief items to hundreds of thousands of refugees in the region. The donation follows many other significant humanitarian efforts — including the September 2022 donation of $32 million to the World Food Programme, the Church’s largest one-time contribution to a humanitarian organization to date. In all last year, the Church spent more than $1 billion to care for those in need around the world through projects in 190 countries and territories.

A Sudanese woman sits as she prepares food outside in various bowls at a refugee camp
A Sudanese woman at a refugee camp in Chad in 2023. The Church is donating a combined $8.25 million to two organizations to help with the humanitarian crisis. | World Food Programme

For me, the most extraordinary thing about this past week is just how ordinary it was. Each day the Church News staff creates a Church News Today video and newsletter — documenting three things taking place in the Church on that day. Finding content for these products is not the difficult task; rather the challenge comes from choosing what can and should be included.

On Sept. 9, President Nelson turned 99. The year he was born, the Church had a membership just shy of 598,000. There were six operating temples, 90 stakes, 25 missions and 867 missionaries. I wonder if anyone then could have contemplated that just one century later, in a single day, the Church of 17 million would dedicate three temples, while broadcasting a devotional to all of Latin America from Mexico City.

It is not only a miracle but also a fulfillment of prophecy.

Still, I suspect if we asked President Nelson about that historic day, he would just share a knowing smile and say: “There is much more to come.”

— Sarah Jane Weaver is executive editor of the Church News.

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