Tender testimonies of Presidents Eyring, Ballard at Sunday morning session of conference
Elder Uchtdorf says the prodigal son is a parable for modern times: ‘Our Heavenly Father will run to us, his heart overflowing with love and compassion’
Senior leaders testified tenderly Sunday morning about the need for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and deep gratitude for Joseph Smith during the penultimate session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“My testimony to you is that the Lord speaks to us personally through his servants. As we listen and then heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we gain greater insights and blessings,” said President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency.
President Eyring described his talk as a brief letter to his descendants on how to cultivate the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
“The key for me and for you is to want what the Savior wants,” he said. “Our motives need to be driven by the pure love of Christ. Our prayers need to be ‘All I want is what you want. Thy will be done.’”
“Of all the things to which the Holy Ghost testifies,” he added, “the most precious for us may be that Jesus is the Christ, the living Son of God.”
President M. Russell Ballard, 94, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke extemporaneously because, despite wearing glasses, he said he can no longer read the teleprompter in the Conference Center.
“We thank the Lord for Joseph Smith and for his courage to go to that grove of trees in 1820 near his home in Palmyra, New York,” he said. The boy reported he was visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
On Sept. 21, the church commemorated the 200th anniversary of Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith to show him where the record that became the Book of Mormon was buried.
“I’ve just been thinking of all the things we know and have,” he added. “... We have an understanding of the purpose of life. We know who God is. We know who Jesus is, because we have Joseph, because he went into a grove of trees, really seeking relief and forgiveness for his sins.”
The opening prayer for the session included a plea for restored health for church President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who watched the conference from home. President Nelson fell and hurt his back soon after he turned 99 on Sept. 9.
Other speakers on Sunday morning encouraged church members to walk the covenant path of Jesus Christ and said that relief and peace and hope are available through Christ during suffering and tribulation.
President Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency
President Eyring, who has created more than 1,000 paintings for his posterity to capture his feelings at different moments of his life, said he wanted his descendants to know what he’s learned that might help them.
- “The Holy Ghost is being sent to the faithful covenant members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Now, your experiences will be unique, and the Spirit will guide in the way best suited to your faith and capacity to receive revelation for you and for those you love and serve. I pray with all my heart that your confidence will grow.”
- “If you find yourself having difficulty in feeling the Holy Ghost, you might ponder whether there is anything for which you need to repent and receive forgiveness. You can pray with faith to know what to do to be cleansed and thus more nearly qualify for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.”
- “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as a sweet evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.”
President Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President Ballard, 94, said he no longer can read the teleprompter at the pulpit in the Conference Center, so he gave an extemporaneous talk.
“My eyes aren’t what they used to be,” he said. “I went and saw the eye doctor and said, ‘I can’t see the teleprompter,’ and he said, ‘Well, your eyes are old, they’re not going to change.’”
He testified of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
- “I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I also know that our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ appeared and spoke to Joseph and prepared him to become the prophet to restore the fullness of the everlasting gospel once again upon the Earth.”
He asked church members to “be a little better, a little kinder, a little more prepared for that day, which surely will come, when we pass back into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s getting a little closer for me. I’ll soon be 95.”
- “In 50 years, I’ve had the privilege to cover the world in my assignment as a general authority of the church. It’s been a wonderful blessing. I think almost all parts of the world I’ve gotten pretty close to.”
- “I’ve met with members of the church all over the world. Oh, how I love you. What a glorious experience that’s been to look into your faces, be in your presence and feel your love that you have for the Lord and for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“President Ballard,” Elder Uchtdorf said, “you don’t have 20/20 eyesight anymore, but you have 20/20 spiritual vision.”
In his talk, Elder Uchtdorf said the parable of the prodigal son is one for modern times.
- “Who among us has not departed from the path of holiness, foolishly thinking we could find more happiness going our own self-centered way? Who among us has not felt humbled, broken-hearted, and desperate for forgiveness and mercy?”
He said each person can know how God reacts if he or she tries to return.
- “Our Heavenly Father will run to us, his heart overflowing with love and compassion. He will embrace us, place a robe around our shoulders, a ring on our finger, sandals on our feet, and proclaim, ‘Today, we celebrate! For my child, who once was dead, has come back to life!’ Brothers and sisters, heaven will rejoice at our return.”
- “Though choices may have taken you far away from the Savior and his church, the Master Healer stands at the road that leads home, welcoming you. And we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ seek to follow his example and embrace you as our brothers and sisters, as our friends. We rejoice and celebrate with you.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Latter-day Saints should strive to be peaceable followers of Christ, in spite of and because of trials, tribulation and adversities, Elder Cook said.
He noted that he and his wife have lost many friends in recent years and suffered the death of a 23-year-old grandson in a car accident. They have watched others step away from faith or suffer health challenges.
- “Whenever trials occur, we mourn and strive to bear one another’s burdens. We lament things that will not be accomplished and songs that will not be sung. Bad things happen to good people on this mortal journey. The devastating fires on Maui in Hawaii, Southern Chile, and Canada are examples of horrendous events good people sometimes face.”
He said almost all people have experienced “physical and spiritual storms in our lives, some devastating,” and that church leaders often are asked why. He quoted the new edition of “Preach My Gospel.”
- “As we rely on Jesus Christ and his Atonement, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
- “Our Father’s plan of happiness for his children includes not only a premortal and mortal life, but also a potential for eternal life, including a great and glorious reunion with those we have lost. All wrongs will be righted, and we will see with perfect clarity and faultless perspective and understanding.”
President Emily Belle Freeman, Young Women general president
Walking in a covenant relationship with Christ will provide additional peace, President Freeman said.
- “We must remember that the One who was bruised and broken for us will allow mortality to do its work in us, but he doesn’t ask us to face those challenges alone. No matter the heaviness of our story, or the current course of our path, he will invite us to walk with him.”
She talked about the Lord visiting Jacob and making what she called “the five-finger promise” — I am with you. I will keep you safe. I will bring you home again. I will not leave you. I will keep my promise to you.
- “The Lord will answer each of us in our day of distress if we choose to tether our life with his. He has promised to walk with us in the way.”
- “We call this walking the covenant path. A path that begins with the covenant of baptism and leads to deeper covenants we make in the temple. Perhaps you hear those words and think of checkboxes. Maybe all you see is a path of requirements. A closer look reveals something more compelling. A covenant is not only about a contract, although that is important. It’s about a relationship.”
- “His is a mission of condescension. Jesus Christ will meet us where we are as we are. This is the why of the garden, the cross and the tomb. The Savior was sent to help us overcome. But staying where we are won’t bring the deliverance we seek. Just as he didn’t leave Jacob there in the dirt, the Lord doesn’t intend to leave any of us where we are. His is also a mission of ascension. He will work within us to lift us up to where he is and, in the process, enable us to become as he is.”
- Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric — “The hero, now and always, is Jesus Christ, and anything, or anyone, that distracts us from his teachings, as found in the scriptures and through the words of living prophets, can negatively impact our progress on the covenant path.”
- Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella of the Seventy and president of the Brazil Area — “My purpose today is to remind us that we can show God that we take the name of his Son upon ourselves by bearing testimony in word and deed, and as often as we can, that Jesus is the Christ.”