ANAHEIM, Calif. — Thousands of Latter-day Saints from Orange County, Calif., — including 4,000 teens — gathered in the Arrowhead Pond arena, and in meetinghouses across the county's new temple district, to hear President Gordon B. Hinckley speak Aug. 27.
Held in conjunction with the Newport Beach Temple dedication Aug. 28, the meeting was sandwiched between two performances of "A Sacred Place," the temple youth celebration.
"This is the driest pond I have ever waded in," said President Hinckley, playing off the name of the arena — home to California's "Mighty Ducks" hockey team. "What a great and wonderful privilege to be with you, this vast congregation in the Pond."
Also speaking during the member meeting were President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Seventy, and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband. A local choir of young women performed "I Am a Child of God."
During his remarks, President Hinckley spoke directly to the youth. "I say, what a great generation you are," he declared.
He asked them to "have the courage to do what is right and not succumb to the ways of the world."
Avoid gangs, drugs and tatoos, he counseled. "Stand strong, stand tall, be grateful, be true, my beloved young people."
Then calling this year — the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith and the 175th anniversary of the organization of the Church — "a great season," President Hinckley bore powerful testimony of the first Latter-day prophet and the restored gospel he brought forth.
"As all of you know, we are here today because of one man," he said.
President Faust also called the evening a "historic occasion" and, in a good-humored manner, told the congregation, "You don't look like the Mighty Ducks."
He commended the Church members for all their efforts connected to the Newport Beach California Temple open house and dedication.
Speaking to the youth, he said, "You are doing great. You are better than you think you are. We are proud of you. We have confidence in you."
He asked members of the congregation to make a decision regarding the extent to which they take advantage of the blessings of the temple. And "not making a decision is a decision in and of itself," he added.
Looking back on his own life, President Faust said many defining moments stand out — his marriage to his wife, Ruth, being the greatest. "The decision about our eternal marriage partner is, in my opinion, the single most important decision in our lives," he said.
He told the young people to prepare for the future in school, to select a career and serve the Church. "So, my dear young friends, your defining moments are more subtle and not as clear cut as mine have been." A person needs "to make one decision to do what is right and stick by it."
"Reach your potential," he added. "Let the Spirit of God in your lives. Be faithful and true and humble."
Elder Rasband asked the vast congregation to "resolve at this moment, in this meeting, to always follow the teachings and commandments of the living prophets of God."
He challenged members to read the Book of Mormon this year, as President Hinckley requested they do. "I personally have greatly enjoyed accepting President Hinckley's challenge," he said.
Sister Rasband said that with the dedication of the new temple the time has come for members in Orange County to, as President Hinckley has counseled, "stand a little taller."
Speaking of a time she hoped to shrink from a sacred opportunity and responsibility, she told Church members that remembering their Heavenly Father will help them remember who they really are.
"May we stand a little taller to do the work of the Lord and be who we are covenanted to be — sons and daughters of our Father."
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