- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsQuorum of the Twelve Apostles, 2009 - present
Elder Neil Linden Andersen was named an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 4, 2009.
Elder Andersen was serving as the senior member of the Presidency of the Seventy prior to his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve. He was named a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1993, at age 41. He previously led the work of the Church in southern Brazil and, again as a member of an Area Presidency, oversaw the Church in western Europe. He has also assisted in supervising the work of the Church in Mexico and Central America. In addition, he supervised Church audiovisual production, including the filming of The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd, and managed construction of the broadcast facilities in the Conference Center as the Executive Director of the Church Audiovisual Department. He speaks French, Portuguese, and Spanish in addition to his native English.
Prior to his call as a General Authority, Elder Andersen served as a mission president in the France Bordeaux Mission and as president of the Tampa Florida Stake.
Elder Andersen was born in Logan, Utah, on August 9, 1951, and was raised in Pocatello, Idaho.
He graduated from Brigham Young University, where he was a Hinckley Scholar, and earned a master's of business administration from Harvard University. After completing his education, he settled in Tampa, Florida, where his business interests included advertising, real estate development, and health care.
Elder Andersen and his wife, Kathy Williams Andersen, are the parents of four children.
- Brigham Young University
- Harvard UniversityMBA
Such was the case these past three months. Yesterday, I attended the funeral of David Roper. He was 60 years old when he died.
His health seemed perfect until he began to feel sick in late December. In the first week of January, he had more thorough tests, where they found an aggressive form of cancer perforating his intestines. Very capable doctors went immediately to work, with surgery and chemotherapy, and for a few weeks there was hope of a remedy. By March 3, however, the aggressive nature of the cancer was winning the battle, and David was settled that his mortality was nearing completion.
David had been a friend for 20 years. We both had graduate degrees from the same Eastern school, and we met after my call to the Seventy, as he was employed by the Church. With his background, he could have had much more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, but his strongest desire, above those of loving his precious wife, Meleea, and caring for his children and grandchildren, was to build the Kingdom of God.
I talked to David on two occasions after his sudden news that his mortality was ending. He spoke only of his gratefulness and appreciation. There was no self-pity. He told me how happy he was that he had been allowed to stay on earth for two months after a precarious surgery in January. It had given him time to express his love and deep affection for Meleea, and to be certain she understood details of wills and insurance.
He told me how much he had loved waking up and knowing he had another day to live. He had been able to speak to his children and grandchildren, sharing with them his love for and faith in the Savior. He spoke warmly of his parents and seven younger brothers and sisters. He expressed his tremendous appreciation for those who had cared for him, prayed for him, and shown so many kindnesses to him.
His life was not one that required quick repentance. He held no grudges. He had no enemies that I knew. Just last October at his 60th birthday, the family had prepared a beautiful album, “The 60 Year Reign of King David.”
He did not feel as though he had been given an unfair fate. Rather, he delighted in the magnificent blessing of life with which he had been blessed. He was at peace. He said calmly and happily, “I am going home.”
When I thought of David yesterday, this powerful scripture came to mind:
“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend . . .
“And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you” (Mosiah 4:9,12).
I was happy I could rejoice with David in the sureness of the resurrection. We talked about the anticipation of the days ahead and the joys that awaited him. I assured him of my certain witness. His memory will be a blessing to me until we meet again.
During the next two years, the temple will be built. Only the best of materials from around the world will be used. Craftsmen will not be hurried, and this will ensure the highest of quality. I challenged the members in the DR Congo to see this as an example for them in their own lives. It is a good challenge for us as well. Let us be better husbands and wives, better children; let us be more true to following the Savior. Let us be honest in our tithes and offerings. Let us be kind and generous to those around us. Let us pray with humility and real intent.
Temples are a testimony to the immortality of the soul. God, our Eternal Father, lives and He has a plan to bless His sons and daughters of all generations. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, makes this plan possible. Life beyond the grave is as certain as the sun arising in the morning. One day the Savior will return to the earth. To some degree because we have temples, there will be a covenant people here to receive Him.
Sally Mart was diagnosed in 2001 with advanced breast cancer. Despite the challenges this brought to Chris and Sally’s life together, the couple held fast to their faith in the Savior.
Of learning of her diagnosis, Sally said, “When I returned to my room that day, I knelt and poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father and I asked Him, ‘Heavenly Father, what can I do to magnify this experience and make it count for everything, make it beneficial for others and for my family?’ The answer came clearly and surely, ‘Don’t just endure this experience. Be grateful for it.’”
Sally—with Chris by her side every step of the way—battled cancer for 14 years until she passed away just two months ago. Her life is a powerful example to me of someone who rose above her own challenges, relied on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and looked outward as she dedicated her life to caring for others.
Sally leaves behind a remarkable legacy of love and service that lives on with Chris and the children. After suffering eight miscarriages, Sally and Chris adopted 17 children, most of whom faced significant physical and mental challenges. Throughout her illness, Chris and Sally devoted their lives to loving and caring for their precious children.
Before passing, Sally said, “I have come to the realization and conclusion, through the years that I have dealt with many issues, as have all of you, … it’s part of the human experience. … If we shrink from opportunities like this, no matter how painful they might be, we are denying the power of the Atonement in our life. My testimony of the Atonement is literally soaring! I am here to tell you that as the points of the refiner’s fire become higher and higher, the Lord Jesus Christ, through His atoning sacrifice for us, enables us to increase our spiritual vertical and rise above those flames.”
When I visited with Chris and the children, I was so impressed by each member of this family. Chris’s words and actions are examples of his faith, humility, and desire to follow the Savior. Though death separates Sally from Chris and the children for a season, their family bond is eternal.
May we all accept the Atonement in our lives and live with faith in the midst of our trials, as this exemplary family has shown. I echo the words that Elder Dallin H. Oaks said recently in the October general conference (http://bit.ly/1PpTmxl):
“Our Savior’s Atonement does more than assure us of immortality by a universal resurrection and give us the opportunity to be cleansed from sin by repentance and baptism. His Atonement also provides the opportunity to call upon Him who has experienced all of our mortal infirmities to give us the strength to bear the burdens of mortality. He knows of our anguish, and He is there for us.”
I challenged those who were in attendance to take a photo of the challenge extended to them and then post it on social media. I also invited them to use the hashtag #TempleChallenge when they shared it.
I challenge you to prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple and help someone else do the same.
One of the quiet confirmations of the restored gospel is the miraculous way this promise is being fulfilled.
On Wednesday, February 17, at 11 a.m., while traveling from Zimbabwe to Botswana, Kathy and I, along with Elder and Sister Carl B. Cook of the Seventy and Area President in the Africa Southeast Area, met with the branch members in Kasane, Botswana. Kasane, a small town with only a few thousand inhabitants, is far from the Botswana capital of Gaborone, where we have a stake. Isolated from other large population centers, the branch is not part of a district or a stake but is watched over by the mission president.
It was a blessing for Kathy and me to hear the histories and testimonies of the branch members. The branch president, Brother Tebogo Khombane, joined the Church as a student in Durban, South Africa. Sister Cornelia Rautenbach came to Kasane for work from Zimbabwe and was introduced to the Church by friends in Harare. Brother Meshack Keimetswe and Sister Nametsegang Keimetswe were family friends as children. Both eventually joined the Church and moved to Kasane shortly after getting married. The Lopez family is from Mexico and have a daughter, Aurora, serving a mission on Temple Square. Zambia and Kenya were also represented. Several had joined the Church in Kasane since the branch had been organized. A sister who had just recently been baptized this past December spoke of her desire to be an example to the six in attendance who were not yet baptized. I exclaimed to the branch, "And you did all this without missionaries?" They quickly and kindly corrected my declaration. "We are the missionaries," they responded!
The Spirit of the Lord filled our meeting together. We were sad to leave but left as friends and fellow disciples of Christ. I was deeply moved by their conviction of the Savior and the restored gospel. They reconfirmed what I already knew: the gospel is moving across all the world, and righteous people in every nation, among an amazing array of cultures, languages, and economic situations will greet the Savior when He returns. And while it is not easy to be apart from a large body of Church members, every disciple of Christ has access to his or her Father in Heaven through prayer; every baptized member has the right to the gift of the Holy Ghost; every committed Latter-day Saint can keep the commandments and study the scriptures; and to have the guidance of the prophet and the ability to have the strength of the sacrament and the other ordinances, we are deeply blessed.
They had at that time three children. The mother was in the house and, of course, was distraught about this. She was pregnant, and went into labor later that afternoon. Little Harvey was born the next morning. By the time we got over there to visit this family, they had just come home from the hospital. Although there were a lot of tears shed during the visit, we all took a deep breath and put on our best faces to rejoice in the innocence and blessing of having Harvey join the Eagar family. I held him and Elder Clayton and I gave what comfort we could in a very difficult situation.
Two things came to my mind: first, sometimes people think it’s difficult to be a member of the Church, to keep the commandments, and to strengthen our faith. But in times like this, which happen to all of us at sometime in our life, that faith comes back to make life livable. Without it, life would be so much more difficult. Many times we don’t realize that we are putting an investment into our pail of faith for times like these.
Second, while the mother went to the hospital, ward members, family, and close friends came over. The Eagar family’s belongings were still in boxes. These wonderful people put in hours of work to put the house together. What a kindness! Instead of just sympathizing with them, instead of just saying, “Oh I’m so sorry!”, they actually went to work. So when the mother came home from the hospital, of course she was saddened thinking of her beautiful little girl, but to walk into the house and see so much done for her, it lifted her spirits and helped give her hope and happiness. What a wonderful thing for them to do.
A few weeks after the plane crash that killed the parents and two of the siblings of Max, Zane, and Elder Porter Openshaw, I had the opportunity to meet with Max and Zane. Because of the special circumstances of this tragic loss, I arranged for them to speak by videoconference with their older brother, Porter, serving a mission in Tarawa, Kiribati.
I am amazed by the remarkable faith of each of these young men. In this difficult trial, their commitment to the gospel increased. Their parents clearly taught them well what it means to live their faith, and when faced with enormous tragedy, they put their trust in the Lord.
I also spoke tonight about Aroldo Cavalcante, a faithful stake president in Brazil who was the first member of his family baptized at age 21. After his baptism, he immediately began preparing to serve a mission. Sadly, Aroldo’s mother was soon after diagnosed with cancer. He promised his dying mother that he would take full responsibility for his two younger sisters and his younger brother. Though a mission seemed out of reach for a time, he later was again impressed that he should serve. After working diligently to save for his mission and take care of his siblings, he was called at the age of 23 to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary.
There is much more to the story of Aroldo’s commitment to his mother to care for his sisters and brother that I didn’t mention this evening. During the years following his mother’s death, he would openly refer to his brother and sisters as his “children.” During his mission, his letters and calls on Christmas and Mother’s Day often addressed the individual challenges of each family member. Through great sacrifice after his mission, Aroldo took financial responsibility for their education and the mission of his brother. Aroldo waited until his sisters and brother were married before he married at age 32. They remain a very close family.
I was very happy that Zane and Max Openshaw, as well as President Aroldo Cavalcante, here for a legal seminar, were in the Conference Center tonight and joined me afterwards for dinner.
I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts about this on Saturday, February 14, during Family Discovery Day at the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. I invite you to watch the streaming broadcast and learn more about the day’s events. http://bit.ly/1FbKJzj