- We all know there are special keys, covenants, and responsibilities given to the presiding officers of the Church, but we also know that the Church draws incomparable strength, a truly unique vitality, from the faith and devotion of every member of this church, whoever you may be. In whatever country you live, however young or inadequate you feel, or however aged or limited you see yourself as being, I testify you are individually loved of God, you are central to the meaning of His work, and you are cherished and prayed for by the presiding officers of His Church. The personal value, the sacred splendor of every one of you, is the very reason there is a plan for salvation and exaltation. Contrary to the parlance of the day, this is about you. No, don’t turn and look at your neighbor. I am talking to you!
He shares a powerful reminder with us of something that President Faust had shared in General Conference years ago. Too often the big things in life that we regret are not showing the love we have for those we love the most.
- Too often I have failed to express gratitude for the faith and goodness of such people in my life. President James E. Faust stood at this pulpit 13 years ago and said, “As a small boy … , I remember my grandmother … cooking our delicious meals on a hot woodstove. When the wood box next to the stove became empty, Grandmother would silently … go out to refill it from the pile of cedar wood outside, and bring the heavily laden box back into the house. I was so insensitive … [that] I sat there and let my beloved grandmother refill [that] box.” Then, his voice choking with emotion, he said, “I feel ashamed of myself and have regretted my omission for all of my life. I hope someday to ask for her forgiveness.”
Elder Holland shares a personal story of sacrifice that his own parent did when he left home to serve a mission.
- When I was called to serve a mission back before the dawn of time, there was no equalization of missionary costs. Each had to bear the full expense of the mission to which he or she was sent. Some missions were very expensive, and as it turned out, mine was one of those.
- As we encourage missionaries to do, I had saved money and sold personal belongings to pay my own way as best I could. I thought I had enough money, but I wasn’t sure how it would be in the final months of my mission. With that question on my mind, I nevertheless blissfully left my family for the greatest experience anyone could hope to have. I loved my mission as I am sure no young man has ever loved one before or since.
- Then I returned home just as my parents were called to serve a mission of their own. What would I do now? How in the world could I pay for a college education? How could I possibly pay for board and room? And how could I realize the great dream of my heart, to marry the breathtakingly perfect Patricia Terry? I don’t mind admitting that I was discouraged and frightened.
- Hesitantly I went to the local bank and asked the manager, a family friend, how much was in my account. He looked surprised and said, “Why, Jeff, it’s all in your account. Didn’t they tell you? Your parents wanted to do what little they could to help you get started when you got home. They didn’t withdraw a cent during your mission. I supposed that you knew.”
- Well, I didn’t know. What I do know is that my dad, a self-educated accountant, a “bookkeeper” as they were called in our little town, with very few clients, probably never wore a new suit or a new shirt or a new pair of shoes for two years so his son could have all of those for his mission. Furthermore, what I did not know but then came to know was that my mother, who had never worked out of the home in her married life, took a job at a local department store so that my mission expenses could be met. And not one word of that was ever conveyed to me on my mission. Not a single word was said regarding any of it.
He concludes talking about how thankful he is for all who sacrifice and give as the Savior did.
- My thanks to all you wonderful members of the Church—and legions of good people not of our faith—for proving every day of your life that the pure love of Christ “never faileth.” No one of you is insignificant, in part because you make the gospel of Jesus Christ what it is—a living reminder of His grace and mercy, a private but powerful manifestation in small villages and large cities of the good He did and the life He gave bringing peace and salvation to other people. We are honored beyond expression to be counted one with you in such a sacred cause.
I have been blessed to have great people in my life that have sacrificed so much for my learning and growth. I remember my young men's leader who took us camping in the High Sierra's and threw his hit out making the 12 mile walk in and had to be carried out by several young men because he could no longer stand the pain he was in. Never did he complain about being with us boys. I remember the priesthood leader who had to take extra food up to girls camp because the girls didn't plan accordingly. Never did he complain about a three hour drive to just get in the car and come home. I am reminded of the great man who helped my family when I was growing up, at the darkest moments of my childhood years, offer priesthood blessings to me and my siblings when we were scared and worried about what our future looked like. There are countless stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things. I am grateful for those that try to do what the Savior would do. I am grateful for those that share a little of the Saviors love with me and my family in our times of need. I am going to try to be that person a little more that gives as the Savior gives and lives in a way that the Savior can use me to bless the lives of His children.