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Ronald A. Rasband
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


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You may have heard me speak at general conference about my experience as a missionary with the Schaffer family. I was overjoyed to get a chance to spend a few minutes with more than 20 members of this family—and with my former missionary companion—after the Sunday morning session concluded.

While I was a young missionary in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, my companion and I felt prompted to knock on the door of the Elwood Schaffer home. Mrs. Schaffer politely turned us away.

As she began to shut the door, I felt to do something I had never done before and have never done since! I stuck my foot in the door and asked, “Is there anyone else who might be interested in our message?”

Her sixteen-year-old daughter, Marti, did have an interest, and had fervently prayed for guidance just the day before. Marti met with us, and in time, her mother participated in the discussions. Both of them joined the Church.

Resulting from Marti’s baptism, one hundred and thirty six people, including many of her own family, have been baptized and made gospel covenants. How grateful I am that I listened to the Spirit, and stuck my foot in the door on that hot, July day.

The Lord leads us by the Holy Ghost. May we live close to the Spirit, acting quickly upon our first promptings knowing they come from God. I am a witness of the power the Spirit has to guide us, guard us, and ever be with us.
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I recently returned home from a spiritually exhilarating trip to South America, during which my faith was increased thanks to the faithfulness and service of so many wonderful people there.

I’d like to specifically share with you our experience in Paraguay and Uruguay. While we were in these nations, we were able to share just a few portions of the dedicatory prayers of those countries with the people. It was visionary for them to be able to hear parts of President Ezra Taft Benson’s dedication of both countries in 1979.

In Paraguay, President Benson said there would not just be thousands, but hundreds of thousands, who would come to the Church in the country. We were able to share that message and let the people there know that we are still in this process. It was wonderful to be able to share with missionaries, members, and leaders the vision of the dedicatory prayer, the vision of where we are now, and the vision of where the Church is going. It was thrilling and definitely a high point of the trip for me.
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At general conference I mentioned the story behind my name. When I was born, I was given the name of Ronald A. Rasband. My last name honors my father’s ancestral line. The middle initial “A” was given to me to remind me to honor my mother’s Danish Anderson ancestry.

This painting hangs in my office. It captures so beautifully a symbolic reminder of that first meeting between my ancestors and those dedicated early missionaries. I am determined not to forget my heritage, and because of my name I will forever remember their legacy of faithfulness and sacrifice.

No matter where you come from or what your name is, you also have a legacy of faith in this Church. Do not forget that Heavenly Father knows your name and loves you deeply. He is always ready to help. Your loving and living Heavenly Parents desire your happiness.

Recently a friend of mine expressed to me some struggles that caused within him what he referred to as “a crisis of faith.” I was grateful he would share his feelings and concerns with me. I know there are others like him who may be reading this message.

Sometimes our minds can quickly forget about the spiritual experiences that strengthen our faith and guide us. I have learned to cherish such moments, “lest I forget.”

I can recall a time when I struggled with doubt. Initially, I had received a prompting in answer to mighty prayer. The answer was clear and powerful. However, I failed to act immediately on the prompting, and after a period of time I began to wonder if what I had felt had been real. Some of you may have fallen for that deception of the adversary as well.

Several days later, I awoke with this powerful verse of scripture in my mind: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart. … Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”

It was as if the Lord was saying, “Now, Ronald, I already told you what you needed to do. Now do it!” How grateful I was for that loving correction and direction! I was immediately comforted by the prompting and was able to move forward, knowing in my heart that my prayer had been answered.

Please, never forget, question, or ignore personal, sacred spiritual experiences. To anyone struggling with doubt, I encourage you: recall, especially in times of crisis, when you felt the Spirit and your testimony was strong; remember the spiritual foundations you have built.

I promise that if you will do this, avoiding things that do not build and strengthen your testimony, or that mock your beliefs, those precious times when your testimony prospered will return to your memory through humble prayer and fasting. I assure you that you will once again feel the safety and warmth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Recently I had a touching experience that again reaffirmed to me how much the “worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”

I was touched by the tragedy that befell several families in late July when a catastrophic fire in Tooele, Utah, destroyed 10 homes and damaged several others. Because I was not scheduled to travel anywhere over the weekend, I was able to arrange my schedule to visit with those who were affected by this massive fire.

As I came into town, I spoke on the street with a man who was not of our faith whose home was lost in the fire. I told him of a meeting we would be having later in the day and asked if he would like to attend. He told me he would be there.

We reserved spots at the meeting for him and others who had lost their homes in the fire. I was pleased to see him come into the meeting with his wife.

As I later met privately with those who had been displaced, we offered to give a priesthood blessing to anyone who would like to receive one. Seventeen people asked to receive a priesthood blessing.

It was a beautiful thing for me to be a part of. I was reminded of how much love the Savior has for each individual. Our ministry is to teach one-by-one as the Savior did, and I am humbled and inspired by the opportunity I have to serve Him.

Our personal journey through life provides us with many special experiences that become building blocks of faith and testimony. These experiences come to us in vastly different ways and at unpredictable times.

They can be powerful spiritual events or small enlightening moments. Some experiences will come as serious challenges and heavy trials that test our ability to cope with them. No matter what the experience may be, each gives us a chance for personal growth, greater wisdom, and, in many cases, service to others with more empathy and love.

It was wonderful to minister to these new friends and offer blessings to them. I will keep them in my prayers.

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Today I would like to share a very personal pioneer story. This story has taught me that out of tremendous adversity can come great blessings.

My great-grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Moulton was born in rural England in 1837. Early in her childhood, her parents were baptized. For years, their family scrimped and saved bits of money in a fruit jar hoping to immigrate to America. In 1856, with the help of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, the growing family of nine had barely enough money to make the journey. Their mother, pregnant at the time, received a blessing that promised her that every member of her family would make it to Utah safely.

The Moulton family was assigned to the Willie handcart company and began their journey in one covered and one open handcart. But supplies for the 1,300-mile journey quickly diminished. At one point, the family of ten had only barley bread and one apple for every three persons.

One morning in early October, they awoke to 18 inches of deep snow. The company struggled along to the Sweetwater River in Wyoming and decided they could make it no further. The Saints, my great-grandmother included, waited in starvation, cold, and misery for help from Salt Lake City.

My great-grandfather John Bennett Hawkins was one of the 27 young men who answered the call from President Brigham Young to help. On October 21, 1856, the rescuers reached the frozen and starving pioneers. This was the first meeting of my great-grandparents.

The Willie handcart company made it to Salt Lake City on November 9, 1856. True to their mother’s blessing, not a single member of the Moulton family perished in the journey.

Having endured excruciating hardship, Sarah was filled with gratitude and appreciation for her family’s rescue. These feelings soon blossomed into romance for Sarah and John, and they were married later that year. They were blessed with three sons and seven daughters.

We may not starve or walk across frozen plains, but we each face trials suited to our circumstances. Our trials may shake us to our core. May we come to understand, as my great-grandparents did, that out of tremendous adversity can come great blessings and eternal happiness.

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I just returned from a wonderful trip to South America. I met with many youth, missionaries, young adults, members, and Church leaders in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. We also visited the Barranquilla Colombia Temple site and saw the sacred site where Elder Spencer W. Kimball dedicated Colombia 50 years ago.

We finished our trip by visiting the earthquake-ravaged cities of Puerto Viejo and Manta, Ecuador. 1,500 members came to meet with us on Monday morning. Many had lost loved ones and everything they owned. It was just overwhelming to cry with them and bless them. We shook every hand and gave tender hugs to most everyone. Unforgettable experience for sure. They have their faith in Christ and hope for the future. We love them.
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Questions are an indication of a further desire to learn, to add to those truths already in place in our testimonies and to be better prepared to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.” The Restoration of the gospel began with a youth, Joseph Smith, asking a question. Many of the Savior’s teachings in His ministry began with a question. Remember His question to Peter, “Whom say ye that I am?” And Peter’s response, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” We need to help each other find Heavenly Father’s answers through the guidance of the Spirit.
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I was privileged to meet and speak with students of the April 2016 graduating class at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I know the Lord is pleased with these righteous, faithful, and obedient graduates.

They are prepared to make a difference in a world that needs them and their strength.

I love the whole environment here in Rexburg. I love the glorious Rexburg Temple. I love the BYU-Idaho campus. I love the members of the Church in the community and the faculty who works here. As I spent the day with the students, I felt the Lord’s powerful love for all them as well. I felt how special Rexburg and this university are to the Lord.

What I told the students applies to all of us. Real success in life means also helping others to reach their goals. The Lord has commanded each of us: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” What does that mean for us today?

It means being the Lord’s disciples for a lifetime. It means reaching out to family members with a humble and contrite heart to heal a wound you may have inflicted on someone, or that may have been thrust at you.

It means forgiving when you do not feel like you were at fault, or choosing to lift someone’s spirits rather than attack their weaknesses. It means to be loving and kind. We cannot afford to walk by when someone is in need. As we strive to live like the Savior, I testify that we will find ourselves successful in these endeavors.
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I just returned from a two-week trip to Nigeria and Ghana. What a special trip for us to be with these wonderful Saints and dedicated missionaries. One experience from this visit in particular stands out, because it showed again to me the great love that God has for His children.

I have shared before the experience I had with Elder Joseph Appiah, who was one of my missionaries when I served as president of the New York New York North Mission. You may remember that Elder Neal A. Maxwell was scheduled to visit our mission and I was asked to select a missionary to offer the opening prayer in preparation for the meeting.

As I thought about which missionary to choose, Elder Appiah’s name stood out boldly to me. When I met with Elder Appiah and extended to him the invitation to pray, he began to weep deeply. At first I was confused, but he explained to me that Elder Maxwell was very beloved by his family. Elder Maxwell had both called his father to be the district president in Accra and had sealed his mother and father in the Salt Lake Temple.

That experience has always stayed with me. I thought about Elder Appiah while in Ghana—the country in which he was raised. As we drove through Cape Coast, I felt prompted to go out of our way and make an impromptu visit with Elder Appiah’s father, Thomas. 

We were blessed to find Brother Appiah home at the time. As he and I both spoke of our love and admiration for his son, we decided to call Joseph—who now lives in the United States. You can see in my photos how happy this father was to visit with us and to talk to his son. 

Again, I was reminded how our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know and love us individually. I urge all of us to embrace the Savior’s warm invitation to come unto Him, one by one, and be perfected in Him.
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