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BE COMPASSIONATE, KIND TO THOSE WITH DISABILITIES

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To show compassion to those with imperfections of body and mind is to follow the Savior's example of love for each child of God, said Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy.

Speaking in the Saturday morning session, Elder Zwick delivered his first general conference address since being called as a General Authority last April."Our discipleship," Elder Zwick said, "includes the sacred responsibility to follow His example of reaching out and loving those with disabilities. Valiant disciples seek meaningful ways to stretch their souls in service and love to others."

Elder Zwick told of his family's experience of attending the Special Olympics to watch Scott, the oldest son in the family, who has been mentally disabled since birth, participate.

"His courage and love have allowed many friends and each member of our family to feel through the Spirit, the `Savior's concern and interest, then the warmth and strength of His love,' " a phrase he quoted from Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Volunteers known as "huggers" accompanied each competitor, and waited at the finish line. "It didn't matter who crossed the finish line first. What did matter was that every runner finished the race and that every runner had a hug at the finish line. Both the courageous runners and the caring huggers taught important principles.

"Our task, facilitated by prayer," Elder Zwick explained, "is to recognize even the slight limitations of each person who may be suffering pain or discouragement. It may be a minor learning disability, dyslexia or a slight hearing impairment. Without our help, they may be unable to partake of the Savior's goodness or enjoy the fullness of life."

Continuing, Elder Zwick said that "each person wants to feel safe in what is sometimes a very cruel, competitive world. Everyone is of great worth because each is a spirit child of God."

He told of a woman in Chile, who suffers from arthritis and who walks two miles each Sunday with her mentally disabled daughter to attend and participate at Church services. "Her willingness to reach out to others is like a magnet for others to be of help to her disabled daughter." "Thank you to each thoughtful friend, teacher, bishop and all who ensure that no one feels alone or out of place," said Elder Zwick. "There is an ever-present need for meaningful involvement. We are all enriched and enhanced in the process.

"Our lives are blessed as we learn lessons from trusted friends whose disabilities and humility invite the Spirit. They teach us a new dimension of faith, courage, patience, love and individual worth."