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Quentin L. Cook
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Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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At general conference, I shared an experience I had when I was 15 years old that was foundational for me. I shared this with the hope that others may benefit from my experience.

My faithful mother valiantly tried to help me establish the foundations of faith in my life. I attended sacrament meeting, Primary, then Young Men and seminary. I had read the Book of Mormon and had always prayed individually.

At that time a dramatic event occurred in our family when my beloved older brother was considering a potential mission call. My wonderful father, a less-active Church member, wanted him to continue his education and not serve a mission. This became a point of contention. In a remarkable discussion with my brother, who was five years older and led the discussion, we concluded that his decision on whether to serve a mission depended on three issues:

1. Was Jesus Christ divine?
2. Was the Book of Mormon true?
3. Was Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration?

As I prayed sincerely that night, the Spirit confirmed to me the truth of all three questions. I also came to understand that almost every decision I would make for the rest of my life would be based on the answers to those three questions. I particularly realized that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was essential. In looking back, I recognize that, primarily because of my mother, the foundations were in place for me to receive the spiritual confirmation that evening. My brother, who already had a testimony, made the decision to serve a mission and ultimately won our father’s support.

I testify that spiritual guidance is received when needed, in the Lord’s time and according to His will. My plea is that we will make the sacrifices and have the humility necessary to strengthen the foundations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
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At the dawn of the new year, I wish to share a message with the young adults.

You are a magnificent generation. The scriptures are clear that in the last days there will be “wickedness and abominations.” However, the Saints, small in number and scattered upon all the face of the earth, will be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” The Lord promised that He will “preserve the righteous” and we “need not fear.”

You need not be afraid, despite the dangers and challenges you will face. You will be blessed and protected when you seek righteous, worthwhile goals.

Plan and work with grit and determination, avoid inappropriate use of social media and the internet, and rely and focus on faith, repentance, saving ordinances, and the Savior’s atoning sacrifice as you endure to the end. Focusing on the temple will help you achieve these goals.

To paraphrase Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” You can avoid the distractions of life and enjoy and achieve all that the Savior has promised us.

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About eight months ago, the terrorist attacks occurred at the Brussels, Belgium, airport. Four of our missionaries were at the checkout counter. All of them suffered significant injuries. Some were serious.

A senior missionary, Elder Richard Norby, had very serious injuries. Recently he indicated that while life will never quite be the same, he “has chosen to rely on the Lord and not fear.” He further said, “I’m going to live my life, and I’m going to teach my children and grandchildren that we [must] put our trust in God.”

Even though our world literally seems to be in commotion, we should not fear. We can have complete joy because of the Savior. The world’s commotion is part of the Savior’s plan. His suffering, which is beyond our comprehension, has resulted in victory over sin and spiritual death. Because of Him, we will all live again. When we remember this, faith will replace our fear. 
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We often speak about how we as members of the Church can reach out to those of other faiths to build bridges, but it is equally important to appreciate those instances when those of other faiths do the same for us.

One person who is an excellent example of one who reaches out to build bridges is a good friend of mine, Robert Abrams—the former attorney general of New York and a prominent advocate for the Jewish community.

Robert recently reached out to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and myself with an invitation to spend some time in Jerusalem with several prominent Jewish leaders and others who have influence in the Jewish community. How grateful we are to Robert for this opportunity we had to continue to build relationships with him and others.

This trip was the first time that I have ever been to Jerusalem. It was one of the highlights of my life to witness the Garden Tomb and the Garden of Gethsemane alongside my former missionary companion, Elder Holland. For us—together—to see many of the places we taught about so long ago was a special experience I won’t soon forget.

My deep love and appreciation for the Savior was enhanced during this trip. How grateful I am for the life and ministry of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I testify that He lives today.

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12/12/16
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I am particularly concerned about how many young adults fail to set righteous goals or have a plan to achieve them. I am also concerned that many underestimate and devalue their own talents and capabilities. Resolving these two issues will bring much joy into your life.

My challenge to you is to examine your goals and determine which ones will allow you to fulfill family obligations and keep you on your covenant pathway and allow you to have the joy the Lord wants for you. Remember, having a goal allows you to save time and effort by planning ahead and not missing important prerequisites and deadlines.

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In my #LDSconf address, I told a story about the cabin my father built on the ranch property where he was raised. When I visited one day, I was surprised that the window with the best view focused directly on a power pole that was a short distance from the house. To me, it was a huge distraction from the magnificent view.

I said, “Dad, why did you let them put the power pole directly in front of your view from the window?” My father said, “Quentin, that power pole is the most beautiful thing to me on the entire ranch! When I look at that pole, I realize that, unlike when I grew up here, I will not have to carry water in containers from the spring up to the house to cook, wash my hands, or bathe. I will not have to light candles or oil lamps at night to read. I want to see that power pole right in the middle of the view window.”

My father had a different perspective on the power pole than I did. To him that pole represented an improved life, but to me it was a stumbling block to a magnificent vista.

I invite you to think about what could be some of the stumbling blocks that confuse and complicate your testimony of the Father and the Son and keep you from being valiant in your testimony.

May we avoid the stumbling blocks that entrap and impede our progress. Let us determine to always be in His service. We need to avoid looking beyond the mark and focus on Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, and follow His doctrine.

For us, being valiant in our testimony of Jesus is a stepping-stone towards qualifying for the Savior’s grace and the celestial kingdom. Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven by which we may be saved.
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I recently returned from a remarkable trip during which I was able to take opinion leaders from various faiths and government entities through the Philadelphia Temple open house.

It was an incredible privilege to take these friends through one of the Lord’s sacred temples and share with them why the temple is so important to us. The feelings one experiences in the baptistery, sealing rooms, and celestial room can be quite profound for those of all faiths. Many of those who toured the temple had spiritual experiences as we sat silently in the celestial room.

We were especially pleased to have visitors from the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, which is just across the street from the new temple. The visit made us feel like we were being welcomed by friends to the neighborhood.

While in Philadelphia, I also had the opportunity to visit with roughly 1,800 of our young people who are preparing to participate in the cultural celebration just before the temple is dedicated.

When young people focus on the temple, there is a light in their eyes, a hope in their countenance, and a spiritual quality that is really magnificent. It was a marvelous experience for me to be with them.
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9/2/16
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It is common today to hide one’s identity when writing hateful, vitriolic, bigoted communications anonymously online.

Any use of the Internet to bully, destroy a reputation, or place a person in a bad light is reprehensible. What we are seeing in society is that when people wear the mask of anonymity, they are more likely to engage in this kind of conduct, which is so destructive of civil discourse. It also violates the basic principles the Savior taught.

The righteous need not wear masks to hide their identity. I encourage you to continue to seek to become who you should be—a disciple of Jesus Christ in thought and in action. Set goals to apply Christlike attributes to your lives and pray for help in developing them. As you do, you will allow yourself to be an influence for good wherever you are.

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Recently, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, and I returned from a historic trip to Vietnam, Japan, and Guam. In Vietnam, the Church was granted official recognition, fulfilling a blessing Elder Gordon B. Hinckley gave many years ago in 1968. He spoke of “a silver thread, small, but radiant with hope” and “his certain faith” in anticipation of the day Vietnam would be officially recognized.

As we traveled through these areas, I felt reminded that the most important unit in time and eternity is the family. No success can compensate for failure in the home. It really is true that families can be together forever.

Our great desire is that the divine attributes of faith, hope, and charity will strengthen each family and individual—throughout the world.
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2016-07-01
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I feel impressed to share with you some of my thoughts about how important it is for us to not camouflage ourselves in regards to who we are and what we believe. As you are honest about your beliefs, you will influence others for good and they will protect you.

I love the account of Teresa Echo Hawk, wife of Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk. Teresa was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a youth. One of her first experiences with the Church came when some in her school came to “warn” her that one of her friends, Tammy, was a member of the Church.

Teresa’s friends told her to “watch out,” because Tammy would invite her to meet with the missionaries. Teresa enjoyed spending time with Tammy, so the two continued to be friends. Sure enough, Tammy did invite Teresa to meet with the missionaries—just as Teresa’s friends had said.

As you can probably guess, Teresa accepted the invitation to meet with the missionaries. She gained a testimony of the restored gospel and was later baptized. Her life changed for the better thanks to Tammy’s willingness to live her faith.

Never underestimate the power that comes from you openly living and standing up for your faith. I assure you that you will bless others’ lives for good.
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