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Neil L. Andersen
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


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This Easter, I am again reminded of the Christlike example of my friend, Elder Bruce Porter, and of an Easter letter he wrote to his children several years ago.

If you heard my conference address, you may remember that Elder Porter struggled for more than two decades with a kidney defect. This led to more than 12 years of dialysis, countless hospitalizations, and 10 surgeries. This would be demanding for anyone, but it was a particularly difficult experience for Elder Porter, since he was also serving as a General Authority throughout these substantial health challenges.

In a letter to his children, which he penned just before Easter several years ago, Elder Porter eloquently wrote of the importance of opposition in all things and of the Savior’s role, as our Redeemer and our friend, in helping us to overcome the world.

“I have taught you much about Christ,” Elder Porter wrote, “but now I want to be certain that you actually know Him as a real person and love Him as your Savior.”

“Certainly if you live righteous lives, you will know more happiness than sorrow, but even the righteous are not spared from pain and bitter trial in this world. …

“You will need every ounce of strength and righteousness to endure. But even more than that, you will need the power and comfort of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. You will need a Savior, a Support, a divine Friend, one who will protect you, stand by you, and make you strong in every hour of trouble. …

“There was a time when we personally knew and loved Jesus as our Captain and Friend. … Our challenge now is to know Him again and, through faith in Him, to overcome the trials and temptations of this world. …

“Jesus, the author of salvation, that Great Captain whom we loved so much, promised us that He would undergo the trials of earth life together with us. …

“For me, Easter symbolizes the total and consummate triumph of our Lord over death, evil, and a fallen world. That brilliant Easter morning is an everlasting reminder that while there is opposition in all things, life and light and truth and God will ultimately prevail.”

As Elder Porter showed through his words and example, overcoming the world does not mean we live a cloistered life, protected from the unfairness and difficulties of mortality. Rather, it opens up the more expansive view of faith, drawing us to the Savior and His promises. As you trust more fully in the Savior, I promise you blessings of greater peace in this life and a greater assurance of your eternal destiny.

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During #LDSconf I mentioned that the spiritual work of helping someone come into the kingdom of God is a group effort. Enlist the missionaries as soon as you can, and pray for heavenly help. But remember, the timing of another’s conversion is not fully up to you.

A month ago I was in Santa Maria, Brazil. Elder João Grahl, an Area Seventy, told me that as a young man, he had attended church for two years, wanting to be baptized, but his father would not allow it. One day he told his sisters, who had the same desire, that they needed to get on their knees and pray that God would soften the heart of their father. They knelt in prayer and went to school.

When they returned home that day, surprisingly an uncle, their father’s brother, had come from a distant city. He was in their home talking to their father. With their uncle in the room, the children again asked their father if they could be baptized. Their uncle stepped forward and placed his hand on his younger brother’s shoulder and said, “Reinaldo, it is true. Let them be baptized.” Unknown to any of them, the uncle had been baptized a few months previously.

The uncle was prompted to travel to his brother’s house, and because he “stood as a witness of God” that day, his nieces and nephew were allowed to be baptized. A few weeks later, Reinaldo and his wife were baptized. God answered the prayers of those children in a miraculous way through one who was willing to be “a witness of God.”

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Tens of thousands of young men and young women are serving full-time missions across the world. We are very proud of them for their faith, their courage, and their devotion to the Savior. In the Pacific Area missions I recently visited, missionaries come from more than 25 different countries.

There are many young men and women who are willing and ready to serve, worthy in every way, but because of health reasons are unable to take on the full rigors and responsibilities of a two-year or 18-month mission. While they are honorably excused from missionary service, these young men and women are equally devoted disciples of the Lord. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

For many of these noble youth, there are other valuable services they can contribute, sometimes in welfare centers, sometimes in caring for Church properties, and sometimes in the communities in which they live.

Grant Campbell is one such young man. Living at home and serving in his home city of Brisbane, Australia, Elder Campbell served in a Church-service special assignment for 16 months.

Grant Campbell was born with congenital varicella syndrome, a medical condition that has resulted in numerous health challenges. At different points in his life, medical specialists declared him blind, concluded that he had brain damage, and asserted that he would be paralyzed. Brother Campbell and his family held steadfast to the many blessings pronounced in his behalf as he worked diligently throughout his life to improve physically. He progressed from wheelchair to walker, walker to crutches, and finally crutches to walking on his own. He worked hard in the gym to gain strength and balance.

In spite of the many challenges facing him, Elder Campbell has been able to develop his talents and contribute to the building of the kingdom of God, serving as a Church-service missionary in the Australia Brisbane Mission from August 18, 2014, to December 24, 2015. During his valuable tenure, he completed many essential technology initiatives, including creating a virtual temple tour program that was used by missionaries during a period when international dignitaries were visiting the grounds of the Brisbane Australia Temple. In all of his work, he served with devotion and discipleship.

How grateful I was to meet Grant and express to him my love and admiration and the appreciation of the leadership of the Church. We don't get to choose many of the challenges that confront us in our mortality, but we are able to choose how to respond to them. When I meet someone like Grant who moves forward with faith in God and confidence in the promises of the Savior, I find courage to better face my own mortality.

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

(With Elder Kevin W. Pearson, President of the Pacific Area; Elder Grant Campbell; President Lon E. Henderson, Australia Brisbane Mission President; and Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy.)

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As I mentioned in general conference, many members of the Church are baptized and live the gospel with little or no family support. We love these members, and we need to reach out to them and invite them into our family circle.

There are many who eventually get the family they so eagerly desire, often as a result of the good example shown by a single faithful member in a family. This is true for Brandon Caywood, a young man I briefly mentioned in my message in general conference.

Brandon grew up in Colorado, where he became friends with several LDS youth. These friends extended several invitations to Church meetings and activities, many of which he declined. Brandon noticed, however, that his reluctance to accept these invitations never affected his relationship with his friends.

Over time, Brandon agreed to go to Mutual. Then he went to Church dances and eventually started to attend early morning seminary. Once, as he was preparing a spiritual thought for his seminary class, he opened the Book of Mormon. As he read, he felt he needed to pray about whether this book and this religion were true.

He told me, “I sat in my room with my arms folded for what seemed like forever. I didn’t really know how to pray. Awkwardly, I began to speak to God for the first time ever. Immediately my nerves were calmed, and I felt peace in my heart.”

Not long after this, Brandon went to church and began visiting with the missionaries. It was around this time that Brandon learned that both his father and grandfather had been baptized when they were much younger but were no longer active in the Church.

Six years after he made LDS friends in middle school, Brandon was baptized. He said he owes his conversion to his friends’ persistence, love, and friendship.

Although it was a challenge for both Brandon and his family, he decided to serve a mission. Some miraculous things happened while Brandon was away. For one, Brandon’s father started attending church again. Brandon’s sister went with him. On the day Brandon returned from his mission, he was able to baptize his own sister. She was his last convert before he was released from his mission.

The story doesn’t end there. Five years after Brandon joined the Church, his mother also chose to be baptized. Later, Brandon’s grandfather received his endowment in the temple just a few months before he passed away.

The common thread I’ve noticed in Brandon’s story is the power of love and example. Because of the example of LDS youth in Brandon's life, his heart eventually softened and he honestly prayed about the restored gospel. And because of Brandon’s own righteous example, his family eventually went to their knees to get answers to their prayers, although it didn’t happen overnight.

I pray that we will all be righteous examples, especially to our youth. Think about them, welcome them, embrace them, and do everything you can to strengthen their love for the Savior.
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So often we learn as we watch the lives of others. When I see someone who is facing enormous challenges in life hold firmly to an eternal perspective and acknowledge the blessings of life and the goodness of God, I humbly pray that I can always remember his or her example.

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.

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I have always marveled that in October 1831, when there would have been only a few hundred members of the Church, the Lord made this powerful declaration through the Prophet Joseph Smith: "The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth" (D&C 65:2).

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.
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Recently I had the sacred privilege of dedicating ground for the new Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo Temple. I do not hesitate to say that it was a day that will be long remembered in the records kept in heaven and by the saints of God in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Surely the angels rejoiced with us as we began construction of this new temple.

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.
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While in Arizona recently, Elder L. Whitney Clayton I went to see the Eagar family who had just experienced a tragedy. This young family had just moved into a new home a few blocks away. Their children were still not very familiar with the roads. Through no one’s error, but unfortunately standing just maybe 50 feet from their house, their little four-year-old girl darted out into the traffic and was killed instantly.
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.

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Recently, my wife, Kathy, and I had the privilege of meeting with Chris Mart and his children. This remarkable family recently lost their wife and mother—an extraordinary woman who was an example of what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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 (

“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.”
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During my general conference address, I spoke about wonderful Latter-day Saints who showed that faith is not by chance, but by choice.

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.
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