Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited French Polynesia last weekend [22-23 February]. While in the territory, Elder Nelson met with Latter-day Saint leaders, members, missionaries and government officials.
Elder Nelson was accompanied by his wife, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, and Elder Tad R. Callister of the Church’s Presidency of the Seventy, and his wife, Sister Kathryn Callister. Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Church’s Pacific Area Presidency and his wife, Sister June Pearson, also accompanied Elder and Sister Nelson.
Elder Nelson encouraged around 200 missionaries serving in French Polynesia to study and apply the teachings of the Book of Mormon, and to use the Book of Mormon as they taught individuals and families who are learning about the Church. Quoting from the Book of Mormon, Elder Nelson urged the missionaries to “hold to the iron rod.” In Mormonism, this symbolizes the studying of sacred scripture and applying the teachings learned though that study in a person’s daily life.
Over 400 Church members and guests attended a cultural celebration on Saturday evening. Local Latter-day Saints performed dances and songs to the delight of all in attendance.
At a training meeting for over 300 local lay leaders of the Church, Elder Nelson urged the leaders to be good examples to their children, and to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ by word and deed.
“We know the purpose of our Heavenly Father, expressed in Moses 1:39, ‘For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,’” he said. “This declaration must be part of our thoughts of every hour of the day. If you can understand its purpose, then you can understand yours, because you are His agents.”
Elder Nelson continued: “Because of the Lord’s sacrifice, immortality became a reality, a gift of God offered to each of us. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, eternal life becomes an opportunity for all those who will qualify. The gift of eternal life is granted under conditions: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and ordinances of the temple, and our faithfulness to these covenants.”
“The Lord told us that His goal was to be an example. He taught us how to live, how to love,” Elder Nelson said. “He also taught us how to pray. We pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of His son Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
“He gave us a way to acquire knowledge — the scriptures. It is the same thing for a car, we read or not read the instruction manual. Sometimes we do the same thing with the scriptures. We act with lightness. Yet the Lord wants us to feast on His word.”
Elder Nelson also spoke to around 700 young adult Latter-day Saints in another meeting. He encouraged the young adults to develop their faith in God and faith in the scriptures. He reminded them that they were all children of God, and that their bodies were marvels of God’s creations, and should be respected as sacred temples.
Elder Nelson invited the young adults to choose what they wanted to become, to seek knowledge, use choice and responsibility wisely, show love to others by doing good works and serving those in need. He urged the young Latter-day Saints to practice integrity throughout their lives, and to be virtuous and pure.
Elder Tad R. Callister spoke to youth and parents of youth at another gathering held at the same time.
On Sunday the visitors attended three different stake conferences. Elder Nelson spoke to over 1,100 Latter-day Saints at the Tahiti Stake Conference. He encouraged parents to be diligent in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children.
In particular, he emphasised the need for parents to teach children that they are sons and daughters of God; to pray; to learn about Jesus Christ’s atonement and crucifixion; to partake of the sacrament worthily every week; to follow the Lord’s prophets; to be good members of their families; to value the importance of education; and to obey the law of tithing.
French Polynesia’s president, Mr Gaston Flosse, attended the Tahiti Stake Conference. He expressed gratitude for French Polynesian Latter-day Saints, especially for their high standards and health practices. President Flosse was accompanied by other government officials including the Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism.
Elder Callister addressed Church members at the Paea Tahiti Stake Conference, and Elder Pearson spoke to Latter-day Saints at the Papeari Stake Conference.
Elder and Sister Nelson’s visit to French Polynesia was their last stop after two weeks in the Pacific Area. They also visited New Zealand and Australia.