A Canada-wide Stake Conference was held on Sunday, June 1. The broadcast originated from Salt Lake City and featured talks from Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy, Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and President Henry B. Eyring.
Elder Perkins directed his message to the youth, calling on them to live by the high standards set out in the “For the Strength of Youth” booklet. He suggested that social media could be the positive means by which today’s youth would reach out to their friends and thereby hasten the work of salvation. He mentioned three young Canadians who stood out as remarkable examples of faith, courage and endurance. The first was Brendon Mayta of Montreal, a young immigrant from Honduras, who worked as a teenager to help support his single mother who was ill. At the same time, he excelled in high school, graduated from seminary and saved for his mission. The second was Elder Tyler Johnson of Lethbridge who was serving a mission in Toronto when he suffered a severe head injury as a bystander to a car accident and, after 18 months of recovery and rehabilitation, still went on to complete his mission. Finally, Zoe Webster, a young adult from New Brunswick who in spite of a diagnosis of severe colitis at age 14, manages to live, excel and find true joy in her life through her faith in Jesus Christ. Elder Perkins reminded us that it is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that our efforts, pain and suffering will lead to the achievement of worthy goals.
Sister Burton mentioned several members of her family who had served missions in Canada and so she feels a strong connection to Canadian Saints. She spoke of a particular visiting teacher in Korea who by her words, deeds and deep respect for her sisters demonstrated the pure love of Christ. She compared the service of women with the blessings of the Priesthood and emphasized how they complemented each other as both have much to offer in the succoring and nurturing of Heavenly Father’s children. Earthly trials are part of God’s plan for us, but He has provided a way that our burdens may be lightened and our challenges overcome through faith in Jesus Christ.
Sister Burton continued by demonstrating how family stories can become the means by which we let our children know that God knows and loves them. She recounted the story of an ancestor who found herself and children in desperate straits after her husband had been gravely injured and unable to support the family. Just when all seemed lost and she was about to lose her home, after her family's earnest prayer, a stranger appeared at her doorstep, introduced himself and said that he had had a dream that someone living at this address needed help and he was there to offer that help. The Lord hears and answers prayers, often through the inspired responses of others. Our faith opens up these sacred channels of communication.
Elder Holland pointed out the scripture in Matthew 11: 28,30. “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He suggested that the first words of this selection, ‘Come unto me,’ are the ones we should always have in our minds. Wherever we are going, we should first ‘Come unto Him.’ When the Saviour first sensed the two disciples, Andrew and Bartholomew, following Him, he turned to them and asked “What seek ye?” When they could not respond, He answered His own question – “Come follow me and see.” The counsel to these disciples is the one that is repeated today. What will they find when those seeking Christ come to the Church today? They will not find a group of perfect people, but others trying their best to follow Christ. What does it mean to follow Him? It means that we do what He did, that is - love, comfort, nourish, teach, heal, and bless the lives of others in any way we can. In order to do that well, we need to live more by the promptings and promises of the Holy Ghost.
President Eyring spoke about the role faith plays in building eternal families. He noted that our lives are profoundly shaped by our families, that we can’t imagine happiness in the world to come without our families, and that within the bounds of families there are both obligations to fulfill and joys to experience. President Eyring cited sections of the Proclamation on the Family to remind the Saints in Canada that we have a duty to our children to teach them to have faith, pray, repent, forgive, work and enjoy healthy recreation.
We also have a duty to seek out the ones who have strayed and President Eyring assured us that God has an interest in our endeavours to find the lost sheep and will provide a way to accomplish our goals. That is the miracle of recovery. By exercising our faith in the power of the atonement to be cleansed from sin, a way will be prepared to do what is asked of us. Faith that the power to rescue will be provided also strengthens ourselves as we bring the lost ones back to the fold.
President Eyring said that he saw lots of young families in the Church working hard to ensure that their children would not be lost. Children’s lives were being blessed as their parents taught them about the power of prayer and the strength and legacy of a family. Their parents also demonstrated the capacity to be humble and surrender themselves to the will of Jesus Christ.
He further referred to the restoration of the eternal sealing power given from Elijah to Joseph Smith, that the hearts of fathers would be turned to their children and children to their fathers. This sealing power has been passed in an unbroken line to President Thomas S. Monson who holds and exercises those keys today. Thus by those keys, available only in our dedicated temples, can families be bound together by the power of God forever.
President Eyring concluded by saying, “May you have faith to reach out to family members to invite them to join you in an everlasting family and may your faith in a loving Heavenly Father and His beloved Son move you to reach out today to someone in your family you are prepared to serve and to fortify with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”