“May I thank you for your great faith,” said President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he addressed a large crowd under cloudy skies in Fiji Wednesday afternoon. “I wondered if you could do it and you did it. You turned off the rain.”
President Nelson traveled to Fiji from New Zealand with his wife, Wendy, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan. Fiji is the fifth destination on his nine-day Pacific ministry to seven countries in a region where Church membership is growing.
The global faith leaders addressed a capacity crowd of about 4,700 Fijian Latter-day Saints at an outdoor devotional meeting at Ratu Cakobau Park in Fiji’s capital city of Suva, known as the economic and cultural capital of the South Pacific.
Prior to the devotional, the senior Church leaders met with the youth and attended a reception for government and interfaith leaders and other dignitaries.
Seek the Gift of Eternal Life
Following the music of a youth choir, the prophet invited the children to stand as he led them in singing a verse of “I Am a Child of God.”
Then, he explained, “We talk about being a child of God, and we sing about being a child of God. What does He want [from us] for Himself? Fortunately, He has given us the answer. He said, ‘What I want most of all is for my children to be immortal and to have the gift of eternal life.’”
President Nelson also talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon and the purpose of temples.
A Book of Mormon Challenge
Sister Nelson challenged the audience to read the scriptures instead of social media to find the answers to all of life’s questions. “I invite you to try this experiment for 30 days and record your experience. … Imagine what can happen to your life when you start to know that the scriptures are answer books.”
Avoid Illicit Drugs, Be Grateful, and Gain an Education
Elder Gong began by saying, “We feel your love for Heavenly Father, and we feel God’s love for you.” He also encouraged the Fijian Saints to stand strong against the rising tide of illicit drugs entering their country: “We can decide today that we will not use any of them. We can decide today to stand in holy places. These are the places in our homes, in our Church and at the holy temple.”
Sister Gong said, “One thing we need to learn in this life is how to be grateful for everything always, and that can be hard because bad things happen to good people.” She went on to explain, “We have a Heavenly Father who loves us and who knows that the hard times can be the beginning of better times.”
She also addressed the importance of getting an education. “President Nelson has taught that the difference between wanting to do good in the world and being able to do good in the world is to get an education. … When you have an education, you can make a bigger difference in the world.”
After the closing prayer, the audience sang the Fijian farewell song, “Isa Lei,” to the Latter-day Saint leaders.
The Pacific ministry runs May 16–25. The Nelsons and Gongs left Salt Lake City on Thursday for stops in Kona, Hawaii; Apia, Samoa; Sydney, Australia; and Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. The final two destinations are Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, and Papeete, Tahiti, where the senior leaders will attend a 175th anniversary cultural program celebrating the arrival of the first missionaries to French Polynesia.
The Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City, has more than 16.3 million members worldwide and more than 200 temples in operation, announced, under construction or being renovated around the world.
There are nearly 22,000 Latter-day Saints in 50 congregations living in Fiji.
The Suva Fiji Temple was originally dedicated in 2000. It was rededicated in 2016 after undergoing extensive renovation.
President Nelson was sustained as the 17th president of the Church in January 2018. Since becoming the global faith’s prophet, seer and revelator, he has traveled to Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, South America and the geographic area of Oceania, which includes Australia, to meet with Latter-day Saints, government and interfaith leaders and the media.