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Children entrusted to parents' earthly care

- Teach prayer

- Inspire faith- Live truth

- Honor God

With a touch of autumn in the air, daylight hours growing fewer and the weather turning cooler, one is reminded that winter is just around the corner, noted President Thomas S. Monson in his Saturday morning conference address.

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, observed that the Christmas season "will soon be upon us."

"Inevitably," he declared, "the spirit of Christmas inspires kind deeds, touches human hearts and prompts one's mind to reach back to that humble stable in far-away Bethlehem, to a time when the prophecies of the prophets, both in that area and here on the American continent, became a living reality. Christ the Lord was born."

President Monson spoke of children today and said some parents dismiss their responsibilities, feeling they can be deferred until the child grows up. "Not so, the evidence reveals," he declared. "Prime time for teaching is fleeting. Opportunities are perishable."

To parents, grandparents and others who fill the role of teacher in a child's life, President Monson offered four suggestions: Teach prayer, inspire faith, live truth and honor God.

1. Teach prayer. "We learn to pray by praying. We can devote countless hours to examining the experiences of others, but nothing penetrates the human heart as does a personal, fervent prayer and its heaven-sent response.

2. Inspire faith. President Monson spoke of the sesquicentennial year as an example of how members throughout the world have learned about and been inspired by the epic pioneer trek.

3. Live truth. "At times, the most effective lesson in living truth is found close to the home and dear to the heart."

He told of a tribute expressed at the funeral of Elder H. Verlan Andersen, a member of the Seventy from 1986-1991 who died in 1992. Elder Andersen's son said he failed to put gasoline in the family car one Saturday night. On Sunday morning, when Elder Andersen discovered the gas gauge showed empty, the son watched as he put the car keys on the table and walked the long distance to the Church meetinghouse. "In the Andersen family the Sabbath day was a day for worship, a day for thanksgiving, and not for purchases," President Monson said.

4. Honor God. "No one can surpass the Lord Jesus Christ in setting an example of living this goal. The fervency of His prayer at Gethsemane says it all: `Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.' (Luke 22:42.) His example on the cruel cross of Golgotha speaks volumes: `Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' " (Luke 23:34.)

President Monson said that Jesus taught a simple yet profound truth when He sat a child in the midst of a gathering and said, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me." (See Matt. 18:1-5.)

"I think it significant that Jesus so loved these little ones who recently had left the pre-existence to come to earth," President Monson said. "Children then and children now bless our lives, kindle our love and prompt good deeds."

He noted that adults can learn from their children and grandchildren. He recounted a delightful experience of his 6-year-old grandson, Jeffrey Monson Dibb, and a 6-year-old girl who knocked on a door and announced to the woman who opened it that they were "the home visiting teachers."

"I am certain

the parents of the childrenT were restrained in counseling the little ones," President Monson said. "Perhaps they remembered the words from the scriptures, `And a little child shall lead them.' " (Isa. 11:6.)

In a tender story of compassion from one child to another, President Monson described a situation that a volunteer, Dr. Lynn Oborn, found at an orphanage in Bucharest, Romania. Dr. Oborn had performed surgery to correct club feet on Raymond, a little boy who is blind. He knew a child-size walker would help Raymond learn how to walk. In Provo, Utah, the Richard Headlee family joined others to assemble a 40-foot container with 40,000 pounds of supplies, including food, clothing, medicine, blankets and toys to be shipped to Romania. At the last possible moment, a family brought forth a child's walker and placed it in the container.

When the Headlee family arrived in Romania with the container, Dr. Oborn said, "I hope you brought me a child's walker for Raymond." One of the Headlee family members went inside the container and searched among its contents for the walker. "When he found it, he lifted it up and cried out, `It's a little one!' " President Monson said. "Cheers erupted - which quickly turned to tears, for they all knew they had been part of a modern-day miracle."

He said that at the recent 75th anniversary of the Primary Children's Medical Center, he met "the angel of mercy touched by the Lord" to play such a vital role in that human drama - Kristin, the daughter of Kurt and Melodie Bestor. She is the one who felt impressed to send her walker to Romania, hoping that some child there would be benefited. Kristin was born with spina bifida, as was her younger sister, Erika.

President Monson said, "A popular song includes the words, `There are angels among us.' These angels are quite frequently the precious little ones God, our Father, has entrusted to our earthly care. To them may we teach prayer, inspire faith, live truth and honor God. Then we shall have heavenly homes and forever families. For what higher gift could we wish? For what greater blessing could we pray? None!"