Episode 131: 10 international singers on performing with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during general conference
Listen to these international guest performers sing and talk about the ‘kaleidoscope of feelings’ while auditioning, rehearsing and performing for general conference
Episode 131: 10 international singers on performing with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during general conference
Listen to these international guest performers sing and talk about the ‘kaleidoscope of feelings’ while auditioning, rehearsing and performing for general conference
For the first time in its 175-year history, participants living outside the United States joined the 360-voice Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The singers, part of a pilot program for the choir, sang with the storied choir in the Saturday morning session and both Sunday sessions of general conference on April 1 and 2, 2023. The 10 singers from six countries — Brazil, Mexico, Ghana, Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan — join this episode of the Church News podcast to report on their visit to Salt Lake City and their experiences of testifying of Christ through music.
The 10 international singers are Sundae Mae Indino of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; Ronald Baa of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; Álvaro Jorge Martins of Natal, Brazil; Rodrigo Domaredzky of Curitiba, Brazil; Thalita De Carvalho of São Paulo, Brazil; Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha of Accra, Ghana; Jonathan How of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Denisse Elorza Avalos of Tijuana, Mexico; Georgina Montemayor Wong of Monterrey, Mexico; and Pei-Shan Chung (Kylie Zhong) of Taipei, Taiwan.
Pei-Shan Chung (Kylie Zhong): [Mandarin Chinese] 我是神的孩子 (Wo shi shen di hai zi)
Denisse Elorza Avalos and Georgina Montemayor Wong: [Spanish] Él me envió aquí.
Sundae Mae Indino and Ronald Baa: [Cebuano] Panimalay, ginikanan,
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: [French] des parents si gentils.
Jonathan How: [Indonesian] Pimpin aku, bimbing aku,
Rodrigo Domaredzky, Álvaro Jorge Martins and Thalita De Carvalho: [Portuguese] as leis de Deus guardar
All: [English] Teach me all that I must do To live with Him someday.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For the first time in its 175-year history, participants living outside the United States joined the 360-voice Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square for the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They sang with the choir in the Saturday morning session and both Sunday sessions.
The 10 singers from six countries — Brazil, Mexico, Ghana, Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan — are part of the Tabernacle Choir’s pilot program. They join this episode of the Church News podcast to report on their visit to Salt Lake City and their experiences with the choir. Welcome, everyone, to the Church News podcast.
All speaking: Thank you. Thanks for having us. Great to be here.
Sarah Jane Weaver: It is really great to be sitting around a table with such an elite group of singers. I want to start and have each of you just go around and tell us your name and where you’re from.
Denisse Elorza Avalos: My name is Denisse. I’m from Mexico.
Pei-Shan Chung: My name is Pei-Shan. I’m from Taiwan.
Ronald Baa: I’m Ronald from the Philippines.
Sundae Mae Indino: My name is Sundae from the Philippines.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: Elisha from Ghana.
Jonathan How: My name is Jonathan. I’m from Malaysia.
Thalita De Carvalho: And my name is Thalita. I’m from Brazil.
Georgina Montemayor Wong: My name is Georgina or [pronounced in Spanish] Georgina and I’m from Mexico.
Álvaro Jorge Martins: My name is Álvaro, and I’m from Brazil.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: My name is Rodrigo and I am also from Brazil.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I want to start, because you’ve now been here for two weeks. You’ve had an opportunity to perform with the choir. What is that like?
All speaking: Amazing. It’s unbelievable.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: So there’s usually one word I use: unfathomable.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: So it’s been like a dream come true for all of us, for sure. A dream that we never thought it would be possible.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Was it intimidating?
All speaking: Yeah, of course.
Jonathan How: At first it was, but I think our fears have gone away. We got more comfortable with working with doctors [Ryan] Murphy, Mack [Wilberg] and Rebecca Wilberg, as well. And Dr. [Cherilyn] Worthen, as well.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: I have known the choir from afar to be a choir that has very high standard. As I [was] coming in I wasn’t sure I’m going to fit in, you know. The way they do their things, in a way you watch their video, everything is perfect — from the conducting, to the singing, to the videography, everything is so perfect. So I kept wondering, “Can I fit in?” You know, but when we came everybody welcomed us with open arms. “You’re welcome.” “What can I do to help?” “Are you OK?” “You’re singing good.” And there’s this guy, Steve, in the choir, who always turn back to say, “Thank you, Elisha. You did great! This song was so great.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: And you had a chance to practice with the choir virtually first. What was that like?
All speaking: Scary.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: Because in the beginning, they were practicing for, like, a concert called “Elijah.” That was crazy, because it was so hard. And I was like, “I can’t sing that. I think I’m not going anymore.”
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: Well, the challenge, the challenge I had with those virtual rehearsals is that it was kind of one-sided. You know, guests only watch the video. Yeah.
Thalita De Carvalho: It’s completely different when you’re there. It’s just, like, we are getting used to it now, I hope you’re doing well with that. But we need to get used to the sound of the choir. So we need to fit in the sound of the choir and blend with the choir. So I think that was the great challenge for us. And I think we’re doing great, right? We’re trying our best.
Denisse Elorza Avalos: The first time when I saw the rehearsals on Zoom, I was scared. But when I came here and go to the rehearsal for the choir, they are so kind with us. They are, like, so happy that we are here. So, I feel so comfortable. I feel so grateful. I feel so humbled to receive all the kindness of all of you. So it’s wonderful.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I think many of us feel like we sing with the choir all the time. We turn them on in the car. We sing, we sing out, but to actually be among them had to be a daunting experience.
Jonathan How: Yeah, you guys actually missed out the term observation. Because we, remember, we were asked to observe at least two rehearsals or remote outside of the U.S. To be honest, I think it wasn’t that scary, but it gave us some good insights of how Mack actually worked with the choir in terms of warm-ups and the songs that they work on, whether it’s for “Music & the Spoken Word,” or if it’s for general conference.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: And another amazing thing, that I noticed that the leadership of the choir realized that we’re coming from different locations. And so language may be a problem, adaptation may be a problem, even the weather may be a problem. And so they factor all of that in how they related to us. I remember the time we had a rehearsal with Ryan [Murphy]. He wasn’t too hard on us, “Oh, get going,” you know, like what they were saying, what they do with the Choir School students, you know. It’s a little bit different from how they attended to us. They want us to feel comfortable, want us to feel we can blend in. And so they gradually moved us from where we were to where they want us to be.
Sundae Mae Indino: When we arrived, we weren’t set apart yet. But after we were set apart, it felt so different, because we were like, empowered by God to do this mission that we are, we were called in. And the first time, actually, the first Sunday that we went with a choir, I’m sure everyone shares the same opinion, like, we were kind of surprised, or like we didn’t know what to do. But like what they said, the choir members were really ready to help us. And I think also the Spirit during that rehearsal helped us and like all throughout their years of that we experienced, the Spirit of the Lord was really there. And actually, last Tuesday [March 28], Dr. [Mack] Wilberg said that it was one of the best rehearsals that they’ve had. And to be part of that was like, “Wow, we did a great job and we’re doing great.”
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: And we all celebrated that feedback.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I want to talk more with you about this spiritual side of it, because we’re all members of an international Church and the choir has traveled the world representing the Church. And now you come to headquarters and help the choir actually represent the world. What is it like to be in the choir and represent your country and your fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here?
Álvaro Jorge Martins: Well, I’m really glad that you mentioned representation, because that’s how they feel. I keep receiving messages from people around Brazil saying how happy they are that we have not only one, but three Brazilians singing at this time. And they feel represented. I have even received messages from people from Peru. They don’t have a representative right now, I mean, with international singers. But this friend of mine wrote to me and said, “We, in Arequipa, Peru, are really happy, and we feel represented that there are people from South America.” So that was really inspiring.
Pei-Shan Chung: So, I did a post on Facebook, I said that this is the highlight of my life. And one of my friends just replied. She said that this is the highlight of the Taiwanese people, as well.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: I had this very sweet experience, because we are going to sing, “This is the Christ” in general conference and there’s this line that says, “With Saints of old in joyful cry, I, too, can testify. This is the Christ.” So it’s been such a spiritual experience, because when we’re singing in the Tabernacle, I feel the strength of the pioneers and how we are joining our voices from around the world with them in the same purpose.
Ronald Baa: The people in the Philippines, they’re very excited for the April general conference. I have a family friend, it’s 10 years already they stopped going to the Conference Center towards the general conference broadcast, but when they found out that I’ll be singing with the Tabernacle Choir, they are excited and they said that, “I think it’s about time to watch the general conference, because I want to see your face in a bigger screen.” So they’re very excited. I also have friends who are not members of the Church who are also excited to watch the April general conference. So this program would really make a great impact.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: So a lot of people in West Africa are excited, I think all of Africa. But the excitement is also turning into something different, you know. Some are beginning to argue, “Oh, he’s a Nigerian,” “No, he’s a Ghanaian.” “No, we know him to be a Ghanaian.” “No, we know him to be a Nigerian.” So, they are all excited, at least somebody that I know carries the flag. And they usually do when I used to have the two country flags on my name tag. And they’ll go, like, “That’s so exciting that you have both flags on. So wherever you choose, we are with you excited, we want to watch conference.”
Georgina Montemayor Wong: I had a very beautiful comment from a friend who’s not a member of the Church. So I post this thing I will be doing on Facebook and she told me that even when she’s not a member of the Church, she was very happy for me and to have Mexico represented. So I think it’s like having a bigger impact that we thought it would be like maybe only for members, but it is not. It has been a great thing also for nonmembers.
Denisse Elorza Avalos: Yes, I post a video on my Facebook, and it’s shared like 70 times with my friends. And some friends that are not a member of the Church are asking me about how I become a member and why. And they want to know why I’m a member of the Church and why this is so important to me. So I feel so happy that I’m able to share the gospel with them. And it’s incredible, because this is part of the things that we’re going to do now, like missionaries. So I’m so happy to share the gospel through music, and through words, because they are asking you about it.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And you know, the question was, “Why are you a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, and how did you become one?” I think a lot of our fellow Latter-day Saints want to know how you got this opportunity to sing with the choir. What did you have to do? Now, this wasn’t an easy process. It was a condensed process. You were recommended, but then you still had to go through the traditional audition and actually show that you met all the standards required for the choir, including music theory and other skills. So the only thing that you lacked that every other member of the choir has is that you don’t live within a certain distance of the Conference Center. So tell me what the audition process was like for you.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: It was scary.
Denisse Elorza Avalos: I really enjoy every step. And when, in the next step, sometimes I think, “If I’m not passed to the next phase, I’m just happy to be able to audition, to participate in the audition.” So I really enjoy the process, because it’s like a spiritual process, too.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Tell me what the process entailed.
Pei-Shan Chung: OK, so we, the first one, I just emailed them to tell them what, you know, my past experiences are, according to the music in the past. The second one is I send the vocals, you sing to them as a recording, send it to them. And the last one is, you know, when you do the Zoom meeting.
Thalita De Carvalho: They asked for some exercises, to like vocalization.
Denisse: And the recordings is without music, without any pitch.
All speaking: No piano at all. No accompaniment.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: So we had to turn in seven recordings with different exercises and singing in different ways, so it was very complete. And the first phase we had some interviews and they wanted to know a little bit about us and some experiences that we had with music, and some of the prerequisites were speaking good English, know music and be able to travel to the United States.
Pei-Shan Chung: I still remember the last song with Dr. [Ryan] Murphy and another professor, because of the time difference, it was actually midnight in Taiwan. So I was so scared to wake the neighbors up, you know. But at the same time they are so loving and encouraging. So it was nice, scary in the first place, but actually happy at the end.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: When you first turn on the camera, I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s Ryan Murphy.” But they were so nice, him and Cherilyn Worthen. They were really, really nice and they helped me through my audition and it turned out to be a great experience, not a scary one.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: When I initially got an email that will have a live audition with Ryan [Murphy] and Mack [Wilberg], I said, “No, not those two guys. I’m gonna freak out.” You know, I was — that I had to pray say, “Please, I need that calmness to go through this,” because I don’t know what is (inaudible). But at the end, it turns out to be fine and so happy to be here.
Jonathan How: Interestingly, I had a bit of a challenge, because I was around the time when I received those emails that when I returned back home from a YSA [young single adult] convention, and unfortunately I caught COVID after that. And there was one instance, I had to postpone the first audition to just another week or so, even though I wasn’t fully recovered, I felt that I needed to just go through it. But even though I wasn’t back at my full self at that time, I was able to get through the next set of auditions and such. So in a way, it wasn’t a pretty experience, but something to remember. And also, the good thing about it is that I felt I needed to recently work with my former choirmaster who I studied back at university. I felt those two lessons were doing the proper vocal training and all the techniques has helped me to prepare myself and get through the audition.
Sarah Jane Weaver: That is remarkable. And we’re so glad you’re all here. I understand that you’ve also had a chance during your visit to Salt Lake to review some of the hymns that have been submitted for the upcoming hymnbook that will be released by the Church. What was that like?
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: It felt like being part of history, you know. The current hymnbook we have was released way back 1985, right? And so to hear the new hymn book is coming when it will be finally out, I see myself sitting in the sacrament meeting and telling somebody, “Ah, I was part of that project.”
Álvaro Jorge Martins: It’s really interesting how all the staff from the Church Music Department and also other departments in the Church Office Building, they really want to listen to us. So they really ask us how is it to be, like, a member of the Church in our home countries. And that’s amazing, because they want to learn from us what we could do better as an institution and how people can improve their serving in the Church.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You’ve also had a chance during your visit to go to some historic sites in and around Church headquarters, that, you know, we’ve mentioned already, that sort of connects you to the early history in Salt Lake City to the pioneers who crossed the plains to establish Zion. And yet all of you were pioneers, too. What is it like to visit those sites and think about all that encompasses being at the headquarters of the Church?
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: So when we were touring the Tabernacle and the organ, I had, what I would describe as a “kaleidoscope of feelings.” Too many things in my mind, just imagining the sacrifices that they put in to build that magnificent organ. And the thing that over this year is it has remained that way, firm and still producing good music to all over the world. It’s so enthralling.
Sundae Mae Indino: I also liked when we toured the Tabernacle, because they explain why it has, like, many entrances, many doors. So like, it means that everyone can enter whichever way and, like, everyone is welcome. So, it adds more, like, symbolism to the Church, being very inclusive and very welcoming to everyone, not just members, but also non-members. And when I found out that every “Music & the Spoken Word,” most of the audience are also nonmember, so it’s such a, it’s a great, what do you call that? A sign, or like it’s, it signifies that the Church is really a church for everyone. And the gospel is for everyone, just like what Jesus Christ wants.
Pei-Shan Chung: So among all the tours, I think my favorite one is the one to the Bishops’ Storehouse and the Humanitarian Center, because in Taiwan, people, when they need help, they just go to the bishop and they have an agreement with the supermarket. But here, like, they really have a lot of volunteers to do all the sorting and, you know, manufacturing the cans and stuff. So we really just, we saw that. And that I just amazed how the Church did, you know, this kind of loving thing is such an organized and profound way to people. So that really made me want to be a better and loving person. Yeah.
Jonathan How: So LDS Charities [Latter-day Saint Charities], I find that was the most meaningful reason why our Church is service-oriented. We care for everyone over the world, especially who are sick, needy, who was going through life challenges, experiences and so forth.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I think that’s beautiful that in addition to being here, you can see how the Church looks out at people through welfare initiatives, like wheelchairs or clean water.
Ronald Baa: I didn’t have a chance to go with them when they visited those places, because I arrived just last week [March 2023].
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: You are busy chasing someone.
Ronald Baa: Yeah, but I really like … we had our meeting yesterday with Ryan [Murphy] before we sang hymn number, the “Come, Come Ye Saints.” What hymn number is that?
Pei-Shan Chung: Hymn No. 30.
Ronald Baa: Hymn No. 30, he related to us the history of that music. And I was like, very emotional. Because when I was preparing, before coming here in Salt Lake City, I really struggled a lot for my visa. And then I remember the pioneers when they come here, the experience that, they have experience, because I almost give up is not even half of what I have experienced before I came here. So I was very emotional that time, because I remember that experience of the pioneers.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: I’m glad you mentioned that, Ronald. We had an opportunity to listen to, actually to watch, Richard Elliot play the organ for us, like it was a private little concert for us. And he played this beautiful arrangement of “Come, Come Ye Saints.” And it was very touching. And one part of the organ stays, like, across the room, like right in the back. And those pipes of the organ are still the original pipes from where, when they built the organ back in 18, 18-something. And one part of that, his arrangement, it’s just that particular part of the organ playing. And we really felt like it was the pioneers singing for us, “Come, Come Ye Saints” and it was a very special moment for all of us.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, it’s, it feels like you feel a connection to the past and two Saints at headquarters and you can feel the unity you feel with one another. And what does it been like to get to know each other? Do you feel like you all have 10 new friends?
Thalita De Carvalho: Yeah, we have, you know what, we have been talking about like spending Christmas together already, going to you know, some weddings with, that we hope so.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: So you planned and put us all here.
Jonathan How: You know, I have friends, especially, that come I’m right, I’m talking about circle of friends here, right now. They come from three different areas, that just looking back into history, I’m just impressed how the membership grew over the years. I’ll say from where I come from, we have a lot of work to do than short. But I think, I guess the numbers don’t really matter. To me, what matters most is our love for each other, our faith and our continued support help one another. And because we are basically on the same team, working with the Tabernacle Choir, also working with possible music projects in future. And also, most importantly, as what I’m thinking of myself, reflect on myself, taking the things that I’ve learned here, bringing them back to my own country.
Thalita De Carvalho: The best thing from this whole pilot program, because we’re talking about get close to the world, somehow, we are from different places. We look different. We have backgrounds that are completely different from each other, but we do have something in common: We all believe in Jesus Christ. And we actually all have a strong testimony about Him. And as we are being here together, like for these two weeks, we can see everybody has a very strong love for the Savior. And what is actually that makes me very emotional about, like, we’re not just going to be singing together, as we are representing Brazil, Mexico and all the countries, but we will be also with members from the choir, sharing the same testimony there all over the world: We know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. And this is the whole purpose of it, like mean, we’re assignment as missionaries and we are doing that by and through music. But we do know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. And this is the best thing that we could do to share our love for music through music and testify about Jesus Christ.
Sundae Mae Indino: I’m just a little giddy about the fact that we call ourselves “The First 10.” Yeah, because there’ll never be another first. I think that was Sister Stevens who told me so, yeah. I’m just very grateful to be part of this group and especially also the senior missionaries who are coming into this all the time. They’re our parents.
Thalita De Carvalho: [Everyone] that is working with us. They’re our parents now, here.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I was going to mention that, because yes, you have each other as newfound friends, but you also have the 360 people that are in the choir that will count you as friends, and then every other person that you’ve had the opportunity to come in contact with. We’re so glad that we had a chance to visit with you today, because we all, at the Church News, consider you our friends now, too.
We have a tradition at the Church News podcast. We like to end every episode with the same question and give everyone an opportunity to bear their testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ. And I’d like to have you do that in the order that you introduced yourselves. And then the question is, “What do you know now?” So what do you know now after having the opportunity to be set apart as a member of the Tabernacle Choir and how is that a reflection of your testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ?
Denisse Elorza Avalos: I think that I need to do more, that I feel so blessed about my Heavenly Father. And I want to share all these things that I’ve learned here, all the things that I felt here, with others, with my country. They are so happy that I’m here, that we are here. And I know that this is The Church of Jesus Christ. I know that He’s my Savior. And I know with all my heart and I’m so grateful, because I mentioned before, that I always want to serve a mission and I love music. So this is a great opportunity to meet you and do both. And it’s like a dream come true, because I know that my Heavenly Father knows me and He knows that I want this so much. I want to share the gospel with everyone, and I feel so grateful, because I’d be able to do it through music and the Tabernacle Choir. Because we are ready to listen the words of God through the prophets, through, I know that we can help to prepare the hearts of everyone through music.
Pei-Shan Chung: As you can imagine, we have memorized a lot of songs, actually 11 of it. Before, I am not a person who memorizes lyrics a lot, but because we need to sing in a choir, so I need to really, like, study the lyrics. And actually, after, when I get closer and get more familiar with the lyrics, I do feel like those are really like, kind of a proclamation and testimony that we are going to share to the whole world. So when I am truly grateful that this time, I can really sing those testimony. I can, you know, be as a tool as an instrument to sing those testimony and hope people listen to it can echo their heart to waken their testimony about Jesus Christ. So I, yeah, I remember last time, actually, just yesterday, when I sing with the choir, I do feel like, “Wow, this is really my testimony,” that Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ [this] is doing Their work and will help me to fulfill my calling at this time.
Ronald Baa: If I didn’t meet the missionaries 15 years ago, I don’t know where I would be. I love the Church so much. I’m grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, They live. I’m really grateful for His atoning sacrifice and I’m grateful for the gift of music. We are so blessed, because we have a living prophet today, President Russell M. Nelson and I know the Church is true. The Book of Mormon is, is true. It’s another testament of Jesus Christ.
Sundae Mae Indino: What I usually pray for every day is to have at least one opportunity to serve every day. And through the years, since I grew up in the Church, I’ve always loved singing and I’ve always been a member of the Church choir, a community choir and, now, to be able to sing with the Tabernacle Choir is a huge milestone in my life. And I have discovered that one of the ways that I can serve best is to sing. And I’m very grateful for the talent that Heavenly Father has given me and this is my way of sharing that talent and to be able to touch and inspire people through singing, especially sacred music, is such a very fulfilling accomplishment in my life. And I’m very grateful for the Church and for the gospel in my life, also. And I feel very important, even though I am just an ordinary person. Like, I haven’t accomplished much in life yet, but this is such a huge opportunity to just give back and to serve my brothers and sisters and to share my testimony through music.
Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha: So, Charles Wesley, years ago said, “If I had a thousand tongues, I’ll praise Christ with all of them.” And I feel that same way. If I have even more than that, I will spend it all in, you know, singing praises to God, because music, like food, satisfies me when I sing it. And everybody here knows I love food. So it’s also like a food to my soul. Music heals me, you know. Music comforts me. It motivates me. It spurs me to do more, to love God and my neighbors as myself and to stay on the covenant path, you know. Music reminds me of the covenants I’ve made with God to continue being on the right path. And so when I sing sacred hymns, especially, I feel countless blessings, supernal blessings, that guides me, you know, helps me to stay true and gives me the confidence to stand boldly and say, “I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that the Church is true. I know that God lives.” Those testimonies I have shared competence times through music. When I feel bereft of words to express myself, I just sing, “I believe in Christ.” And that song alone is, is a huge and very powerful testimony to anyone that listens to it. All we do here, all we here, traveling almost 18 hours from Accra, Ghana, to this place, is all about Jesus Christ, you know. Every other thing is just an appendage to the whole process, you know, but the center of it all is about Jesus Christ, and I feel closer to God when I sing praises to God.
Jonathan How: Oh, I recently got to know one of the Tabernacle Choir members. She told me that music is a universal language. And reflecting on this quote, I have to agree that regardless of the language that you’re singing in, when you study music, you understand that the elements, in terms of the techniques, in terms of the way how they play the music, is universal. It’s like across many nations. Many people are familiar with, whether they’re musicians or not, they’re able to hear it. They are familiar with the elements or the things that are present in music. And I just want to say that this has been a huge opportunity, a huge blessing to work with the members in the Tabernacle Choir. And I’m just grateful to especially sing praises to God and especially hope that as all of us prepare for this general conference, that we will continue to touch the hearts of those who are not as fortunate, who are struggling with their lives and their faith, as well. And also that they were able to rekindle their faith in the testimonies.
Thalita De Carvalho: I was, when I discovered this pilot program and that everybody will come from their own countries to be together, I was very excited about [it], because I knew that the gospel of the Lord will be just pushing on time to make all of the world know that Jesus Christ is the Savior. That is actually my thoughts and my feeling about this whole process. And with that, I’ve learned that I need to help more and just share the gospel through all the world, because the Lord is coming. And we must do our part and actually be a witness of the love of our Savior Jesus Christ and testified that because of His Atonement, we all can be together one day, as families, as friends, that makes me very, very happy. And also very humble, because we are being part of this. And we need to come back to our countries and make a very speed. I don’t know how to say that, but we need to hurry. You know, like, the time is coming and we need to do something. We need to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we must do that yesterday, you know. That is my, my feelings about this. So I’m very happy and grateful for the Lord for this opportunity.
Georgina Montemayor Wong: I have felt a lot of love from day one. And it has been the most wonderful experience, like, actually sharing many live things with many people, not only we 10, but with the members of the choir. To me, it has been like if I had connected with each one of them, like in their experiences, in their hearts and their testimonies. It’s like I could feel Heavenly Father love for each one of them. So I’ve been pondering about singing with the Tabernacle Choir in this conference. And now I’ve been thinking about all of the voices that had sung there before. And it only, last year, or 10 years ago, but lots of years ago, right, many, many years ago. And I’m grateful and thinking that I am joining, not my voice, but my testimony of Jesus Christ and His Church with them.
And I felt that power, yesterday and Tuesday. When I’m singing with them I feel that we are praising the Lord and people need to hear it. People need to know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them and care about them. And people in our countries, when people here and everywhere, they need to know. They must be closer to our Savior and music is a very nice, you know, beautiful, easy, perhaps, instrument to do this, because sometimes it is hard to talk to people about the gospel, but it is easy to talk about music. And you can always invite them to, “Hey, you know what?” Or, “I’m doing this.” Or “How, how don’t you listen to this? It will make you feel peace in your life.” So, I know that Jesus Christ is our Lord and I know He lives. And I know, this is His Church. And I believe things that we are doing right now is very important for the people back in our countries, that, as Thalita said, we need to do more. We need to, to have great effort in everything we plan to do from now on, just to help the Lord with the gathering of Israel.
Álvaro Jorge Martins: I feel humbled and amazed about how many people help where they can to make this work go forth. We have hundreds and hundreds of people serving as singers, musicians, logistics in the choir, and see that many volunteers doing that, what they can, what they know, just to help the work move, just to bring this kind of happiness and this Spirit to every home of those who watch the broadcast or conference. It’s just amazing how that works. We have a true prophet of God. President [Russell M.] Nelson is inspired and part of what we are seeing now, has his finger, because he received it from God. And as it was said previously, the work is speeding up and this is part of this pace that we must accompany. So I’m really glad to be part of it and I know our Lord Jesus Christ lives in He is the head of this Church.
Rodrigo Domaredzky: A thought that has been occurring to me, is that the Tabernacle Choir doesn’t need me or, specifically, each of us, but we needed this for our lives. Because this has strengthened my testimony so much it has increased my will to serve and to be better and help more in my city and in the Church, that I have never experienced this before — even on my mission. This is different. Because we’re being so well taken care of and we’re so willing to learn and to help, that it has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. And the things that you asked us, what did we learn, I think I can say that I just learned better things that I knew is that the Church loves all people throughout the world. And this is Jesus Christ’s Church. I am 100% sure of that. And wherever we go, wherever we come from, it’s the same Church and He loves us and He’s happy with our work. I am sure of that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast and if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen, and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on TheChurchNews.com.