An Evening with Elder Russell M. Nelson

I was blessed to be able to attend a Leadership Training Meeting this week where Elder Russell M. Nelson, the visiting General Authority, was presiding.

Strictly speaking I wasn’t meant to be there, but I went, first of all to take notes for a friend who couldn’t go, and also because, who wouldn’t want to be there, really? 😉

Elder Nelson was the final speaker. He was preceded by the Area President, James J. Hamula and his wife, and Sister Wendy Nelson. I won’t share the preceding speakers’ remarks, at least not today.

It was such a privilege to hear an apostle of the Lord in the Latter Days. He is such an engaging and charming speaker.


His address was basically based on this question:

What message represents the message from the Brethren?

And here it is, in four parts:

1. They pray that we may increase our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

That we not focus our attention on the programs, but on Him whose Church this is. That we make sure that He would be comfortable if he were present amongst us, in our meetings, in our homes.

That we recognize that the temple is a symbol of our membership, a sign that we believe in life after death, our link to eternity.

2. They pray that we will strengthen our families.

He urged us to understand that the family, the most essential part of the Plan of Happiness, is under attack in the sociology of the world. He emphasized that Satan is at war with God, and has been since the beginning.

“Heavenly Father wants us to choose to come home.”

He shared how since the Restoration, the kinds of adversities faced by the members have evolved. In the early days of the Restoration the attack was focused on Joseph Smith. Then the attack was on the Book of Mormon and the Book of Mormon ‘is irrefutable. Absolutely irrefutable!’. The focus of the attack was then turned to the leaders and prophets, and now, ‘they are going right for the heart of the Church – the family!’

“There is a plague on this Earth more destructive than any other the world has ever seen, and that is pornography.”

And how do we combat this plague? Elder Nelson reinforced the idea of a family with both the father and the mother, focused on the temple and the sacred ordinances performed therein. I thought about that for a while, and let me tell you, there is nothing vague about that statement at all.

3. What the Brethren are hoping will happen in this Church.

That the Ward Council will hold its proper place in the Church!

4. The Brethren hope that prospective Elders will be rescued, along with their prayerful wives and pleading children.

Elder Nelson stated the need for the work of reclamation, the need to rescue that army of prospective elders. He hopes that there will be focused, meaningful appointments everyday, in reaffirming our love and our need for these brethren. That to rescue one person could mean the rescue of a whole pyramid of posterity.


In his closing remarks, Elder Nelson urged:

“Wherever your influence is greatest, focus on the Lord. Teach your children principles, don’t respond to behavioral issues with behavioral solutions.”

To say that that statement hit me like a ton of bricks would be an epic understatement! How badly I needed to hear that, no-one will ever understand!

He finished off his address by evoking an apostolic blessing (and this is my favorite part), that:

  • We would be faithful, devoted, devout disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • We would be blessed to feast on the words of Jesus Christ.
  • We would have love at home.
  • We would have the blessing of healing.
  • We would be blessed with his testimony.

This part in particular gave me goosebumps. I have been facing challenges lately that relate very specifically to the blessings he pronounced, and to hear these words uttered by the mouth of a prophet, seer and revelator was nothing short of miraculous for me.

I feel so blessed to have been in the presence of so wonderful a man, foreordained to help lead the people of the Lord in such perilous times. I left the meeting feeling the sweet, calming witness of the Spirit that the words I’d heard were truly from a loving Father in Heaven for the guidance and strengthening of His children.

How blessed we are to live in a world where prophets and apostles once again administer to the people of the world!






Covenants and Cake

For the past few months, my little girl has been preparing for her baptism. When asked what she was most excited about for her eighth birhtday, her prompt and enthusiastic response was always, ‘Getting baptized!’

In the lead up to the day, we talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation and our place in it, and the gospel of Jesus Christ – Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. In all of our interaction, she demonstrated so much maturity and awareness that there was no doubt in my mind of the presence of the Holy Ghost in all these interactions. I kept marvelling at how ready she was.

On the day, which was Saturday, 22nd September, she woke up so giddy with happiness that she was almost literally bouncing off the walls! Her happiness was so contagious that I felt like I was floating on clouds, and although there were things that threatened to derail that happiness, I felt consistently buoyed by the sheer joy radiating from her. She could not stop smiling!

This smile is so characteristic of how she was looked that entire day. And I love how the sun’s rays are casting a spotlight on her in this picture.

As we walked into the bathroom to change her into the dress she would wear into the font, she exclaimed, ‘It feels like a dream, but I know it’s real!’ I swept her into a hug because I knew what she meant, except for me, the delight was in knowing my child had a love for and a testimony of Jesus Christ.

She walked into the font (she later told me the water was so cold that it gave her brain-freeze but it didn’t matter because she was so happy!) I went around to watch the ordinance. As I watched her, I was filled with a powerful feeling that she was at the right place at the right time and I felt the Spirit bear an undeniable witness of my Heavely Father’s approval. That moment had to be the highlight of my whole day – that and the squealing hug my little girl gave me when she came out of the font!

She had chosen to sing ‘When I Am Baptized’ at her baptism. She sang with such conviction that I had goosebumps. Her sweet, angelic voice carried to my heart the simple message that a child of God was on her way to live the life he had sent her to earth to live, and it began that day with the very first covenants she would make in this life.

My kids and I have always loved going to baptisms. I jokingly call us ‘baptism groupies’. But seriously, there is such a sweet spirit present during a baptism that I just can’t articulate.

When the congregation sang the closing hymn, ‘A Child’s Prayer’ I was so overwhelmed by the Spirit again. The songs we’d selected had special meaning to us.  They were the songs I’d sung to her as I had put her to sleep as a baby and the songs that she would sing to me in her baby lisp when I would stay up with her on the nights she was sick. How grateful I am for those memories, for music, for motherhood.

The image she had chosen for a cake held a lot of significance for her.

Rainbows, raspberries, Little Ponies and mother-and-child affection all held significance for her.

At the end of that day, I realized that it was one of those days where I could truly say, ‘My cup runneth over.’ I’m so proud of my little girl for making such an important decision with such conviction. I’m so grateful for the example she has set. I’m so grateful for generous friends. Most of all, I’m grateful for covenants and cake and how they all came together on this one perfect day for one perfect little girl.